Originally posted in February 2015. Edited, updated, and expanded.
Jason, an Evangelical Christian, asked:
What would cause someone with your Biblical education and years of preaching the Word of God not just claiming to be a Christian but also living it one day decide to not believe and do a 180 and turn your back on it?
While I deal with this question at length in the From Evangelicalism to Atheism series, today I want to give a short, condensed answer to this question.
People like Jason are often perplexed by how it possible for someone with my background and training to one day walk away the ministry and Christianity. Most of the clergy who deconvert do so at a much younger age, often in their 20s and 30s. In my case, I spent fifty years in the Christian church and I pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years before I deconverted. When I started going to counseling, my counselor told me that it was quite rare for someone my age and with my experience to walk away from a lifetime of belief and work. It happens, just not very often.
Jason is not alone. A number of my ex-friends, former ministerial colleagues, family members, and former parishioners can’t understand how it is possible that the man they called Preacher or Pastor is now an atheist. Often they cannot or will not believe the reasons I give for my deconversion. Instead, they try to divine some other reason to explain why Bruce Gerencser, the man of God, the pastor, the preacher, their colleague in the ministry, is now an apostate, an enemy of God. “Is there some secret past I am hiding, some secret sin,” they ask themselves? They wonder if I have mental problems, that I am “unstable.” They rack their brains trying to come up with a plausible explanation, anything but accepting the reasons I give for my deconversion.
Christian Fundamentalism taught me to stand firm on my beliefs and convictions. When I was a pastor, people appreciated and applauded my willingness to resolutely defend my beliefs and convictions. But now that I do the same with atheism, humanism, and liberal politics, they think there must be some other reason I drastically changed my mind and life. Let me be clear, I am the same man, a man who thinks that beliefs matter.
My mother taught me, from my youth up, that it was important to stand up for what you believe. Now, this doesn’t mean that I am not now tolerant of the beliefs of others, because I am. As I get older, I realize that tolerance is an important virtue. Stepping outside of the box in which I spent most of my life, I have found a rich, diverse, and contradictory world that continues to challenge me and force me to be more accepting and tolerant.
When I entered kindergarten I could already read. My book-loving mother taught me to read, and she developed in me an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. This may seem counter-intuitive at first, since I was raised in a Fundamentalist environment that is known for its ignorance. However, by becoming a proficient and avid reader, I had at my disposal countless opportunities to expand my knowledge. Sadly, my quest for knowledge became quite stunted as a pastor because I rarely read books that would conflict with my Christian beliefs. However, when I began to have doubts about Christianity and its teachings, my thirst for knowledge kicked into high gear and I began reading books that I once would have considered heretical.
I never made a lot of money pastoring churches. I never had church provided health insurance or a retirement plan. The only benefits I received were a check I got once a week IF the offerings were sufficient to pay me (all too often, they were not). Outside of the time I spent pastoring Community Baptist Church in Elmendorf, Texas, every other church I pastored paid a part-time or poverty-level wage for the full-time work I gave the church. I often worked outside of the church, as did Polly when I pastored Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio. I am not pointing a judgmental finger at the churches I pastored. Most of the churches were either small or in poverty-ridden areas. Over the years, I was privileged to pastor many gracious, giving poor people. They gave what they could.
About now you are thinking, what in the world are you talking about, Bruce? I thought this post was about WHY you stopped believing? It is, and what I have written above can be distilled down to these three important statements:
- I was taught to stand firm on my convictions and beliefs
- I was taught to read at an early age and I developed a thirst for knowledge
- I never made much money in the ministry
Since I never made much money in the ministry, there was no economic reason for me to stay in the ministry. I always made more money working outside of the church, so when I decided to leave the ministry, which I did three years before I deconverted, I suffered no economic consequences. In fact, life has gotten much better economically post-Jesus.
Freed from the ministry, my wife and I spent several years visiting over a hundred Christian churches. We were desperately looking for a Christianity that mattered, a Christianity that took seriously the teachings of Jesus. During this time period, I read countless books written by authors from a broad spectrum of Christendom. I read books by authors such as Thomas Merton, Robert Farrar Capon, Henri Nouwen, Wendell Berry, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, John Shelby Spong, Soren Kierkegaard, and NT Wright. These authors challenged my Evangelical understanding of Christianity and its teachings.
I decided I would go back to the Bible, study it again, and determine what it was I REALLY believed. During this time, I began reading books by authors such as Robert Wright, Elaine Pagels and Bart Ehrman, These three authors, along with several others, attacked the foundation of my Evangelical beliefs: the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible. Their assault on this foundation brought my Evangelical house tumbling down. I desperately tried to find some semblance of the Christianity I once believed, but I came to realize that my faith was gone.
I tried, for a time, to convince myself that I could find some sort of Christianity that would work for me. Polly and I visited numerous liberal or progressive Christian churches, but I found that these expressions of faith would not do for me. My faith was gone. Later, Polly would come to the same conclusion.
I turned to the internet to find help. I came upon sites like exchristian.net and Debunking Christianity. I found these sites to be quite helpful as I tried to make sense of what was going on in my life. I began reading the books of authors such as John Loftus, Hector Avalos, Robert M. Price, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins.
I read many authors and books besides the ones listed here. I say this to keep someone from saying, but you didn’t read so and so or you didn’t read _______. So, if I had to give one reason WHY I am no longer a Christian today it would be BOOKS. My thirst for knowledge, a thirst I still have today, even though it is greatly hindered by chronic illness and pain, is what drove me to re-investigate the claims of Christianity and the teachings of the Bible. This investigation led me to conclude that the claims of Christianity and the teachings of the Bible could not rationally and intellectually be sustained. Try as I might to hang on to some sort of Christian faith, the slippery slope I found myself on would not let me stand still. Eventually, I found myself saying, I no longer believe in the Christian God. For a time, I was an agnostic, but I got tired of explaining myself, so I took on the atheist moniker, and now no one misunderstands what I believe. (see Dear Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners and Dear Friend)
The hardest decision I ever made in my life was that day in late November of 2008, when I finally admitted to myself, I am no longer a Christian, I no longer believe in the Christian God, I no longer believe the Bible is the Word of God. At that moment, everything I had spent my life believing and doing was gone. In a sense, I had an atheist version of a born-again experience. For the past eleven years, I have continued to read, study, and write. I am still very much a work in progress. My understanding of religion and its cultural and sociological implications continues to grow. Now that I am free from the constraints of religion, I am free to wander the path of life wherever it may lead. Now that I am free to read what I want, I have focused my attention on history and science. While I continue to read books that are of a religious or atheist nature, I spend less and less time reading these kinds of books. I still read every new book Bart Ehrman publishes, along with the various Christian/atheist/humanist blogs and publications I read, and this is enough to keep me up-to-date with American Christianity and American atheism/humanism.
I hope this post adequately answers the question of WHY I stopped believing.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 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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Even to ask the question ‘do you believe in evolution’ is telling.
Evolution is as factually established as pretty well anything else I can think of. I know it’s normal to compare it with our knowledge of gravity, but that’s getting stale. To deny evolution is almost to deny our humanity, because that’s how important the science of evolution is.
Jason comes from a world, the same world I was a part of, where the Bible is the final answer for everything, including science questions. This kind of thinking forces a person to live in denial of much of the world around them.
Had you and yours on my mind. How is your health these days? Drop me a note!!
Where do you go when you die now? Since you don’t believe in God and his heaven? Thank you
The same place you will go when you die — the grave. End of story.
Are you certain, my friend? Can you be so sure of your eternal destiny? Are you gifted to see beyond the grave?
Believers are happily with Christ forever after death. They even eagerly anticipate to die (2 Cor 5:8). Will you be confident when death comes to you?
Eternity is a long time to wait. You probably knew what the Bible about the fate of Christ-rejectors (John 3:18). I’m fearful that you firmly rejected Christ after knowing Him so well (read Hebrews 6:4-6).
Don’t let your conscience be so seared that you lose soul. Think for eternity!
Outside of quoting Bible verses, what evidence to you have for your claims?
You taunt me by saying:
Are you certain, my friend? Can you be so sure of your eternal destiny? Are you gifted to see beyond the grave?
Implying I can’t know these things. And neither can you. You cannot possibly know that after you die you will go to Heaven. Not one shred of evidence has been provided for this claim. I’ve interacted with thousands of Evangelicals over the years. Not one of them provided evidence for their claims. They just believe it. Fine, but if you are going to convince me of the veracity of your beliefs, you are going to have to provide evidence (not proof texts).
I’m an atheist for a variety of reasons. One reason is that I’ve seen no evidence for life after death. Dead people stay dead, including Jesus. If you have actual evidence to the contrary, please provide it. I won’t hold my breath.
Bruce, you know you had already rejected Christ before you read those books.
The books just help you provide what you though was justification for what you had already decided. You and I both know this. although you can not admit that here.
But what I have found is that although the Lord will forgive, atheists won’t. I really believe they will kill Christians in mass is they end up getting control.
After all, its happened before.
There are perilous time ahead for humanity, as atheistic scientists continue to provide the means for its final destruction.
And unless Christ returns, there will be “no flesh saved”.
Wow, a real live psychic who knows me better than I know myself.
Let me quote a bit of Bible. Randall, I know they works…and that’s why this is your first and last comment.
Dude has no idea how this sort of thing actually happens, does he? I mean, he actually sounds like he’s never changed his mind… about anything… ever. Completely at a loss about it.
You say in your post here:
“So, if I had to give one reason WHY I am no longer a Christian today it would be BOOKS.”
For me that brings to mind what Paul says in Colossians 2:8 – “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
Just a simple observation and question for you, not to stir anything up or rile you up:
Do you believe this could be the true here in your case? I’ve always been taught and believe that the Bible is God’s limited revelation of an unlimited God intended for our limited minds. Thoughts?
Since I don’t think there is a God, I would reject the notion that the Bible is in any way “God’s” word or a divine, supernatural book. The Bible is a book, just like any other book.
So, books are not my problem. I don’t divide knowledge into categories like you are doing. Granted, some knowledge is more valuable. But what value depends on what’s important to us. For you, the Bible is important. For me? Not important at all. I have read countless books I would value more than the Bible.
Thanks for commenting.
Robert, the problem with this conclusion is that the content of some books are obviously and demonstrably real. Therefore they cannot be by any definition “…philosophy and vain deceit…” or any form of deception.
Colossians 2:8 fits a lot of “Christian” books, especially falsehoods such as particular brands of creationism and wealth+health doctrines (making a penny from telling people what they want to hear).
An error that is commonly made is thinking “deception is that which disagrees with what I already believe in” and “truth is that which agrees with what I already believe in”. But some ideas that challenge aspects of common belief can be demonstrated to be true.
Jason’s comment, “…one day decide to not believe…” assumes that atheists “decide” to not believe in God. Belief or nonbelief is not a decision; it is a result. Christians have a hard time understanding that we could “turn our back on” the God who makes their life complete. It’s unfortunate that they can’t think for themselves unless and until they can find a way to take some time away from the church environment. When I did that, my thoughts came into crystal-clear focus and everything made sense, easily.
My transition from belief to non belief was similar to yours, although my time spent in pastoral ministry was less before the transition began, about 12 years. The trigger for me though was the incongruency between Christian doctrine (especially that of an indwelling Holy Spirit – the Spirit of a God of love) and Christian practice (lack of empathy over doctrine), and how this relates to the fatherhood of God and Christians being his children. Only an abusive father would allow his children to bring harm to their brothers and sisters in his name, and keep silent about it. Yes, the pain I experienced was emotional, but we are emotional as well as intellectual beings. It was this pain that “snapped” me out of evangelical belief. Once that happened, I explored a whole new world though the eyes of many authors through my prolific reading.
I currently consider myself an agnostic when it comes to epistemology, and an atheist when it comes to belief (I heard Bart Erhman speak of that, and it described my position well). I don’t believe there is a god or some higher power, but I cannot be certain of it, except where the God of the Bible is concerned. I see nor experience any evidence of the existence of that being. I believe when we move away from monotheism, the result tends to be atheism, since we do not naturally believe there is some other god to believe in. I mean, if the one god doesn’t exist, that means there are no gods, right?
Anyway, I enjoyed reading your blog! All the best!
Thank you for sharing a bit of your story.
Do you every write about Christians who did stand by you and show your love?
I meant to say, do you ever write about Christians who did stand by you and show you love?
There were none. Even before I deconverted, I lost friends and colleagues over what they considered my liberal beliefs. Once I said I no longer believe, all of my friends save two walked away. And the two that remained. They too recently walked away after being warned repeatedly not to associate with Bruce, the enemy of God. I still have a glimmer of hope that this last friendship might be saved.
I’ve learned that my friendships were conditioned on fidelity to certain beliefs. This was the glue that held our relationships together. So, for the past eight years I’ve had to make new friends. Most are internet friends, but I find they are quite tolerant, giving me wide latitude to authentically live my life. My only regret is that I have few friends that live near me. It’d be nice to be able to go out to eat with likeminded friends. I have met in person several of my internet friends. I have found these meetings to be quite encouraging.
The good news is that my best friend, my wife, is still close by my side. With six grown children and ten grandchildren, I am quite blessed and it is family who motivate me to put physical disability and unrelenting pain aside and get up in the morning. If I never had another friend, I can say I’ve been blessed beyond measure with wonderful family.
I’m glad you have your family. I am in the process of deconversion at age 35 (really, the process is over, I just have to tie up loose ends). So far everyone that has found out has abandoned me except my wife, but she is still a firm believer. It is really painful. I’m not a pastor, but I am “in the ministry” and am paid by a Christian parachurch organization. Soon I will have no job, no meaningful/widely accepted education, and no friends. Hopefully I won’t loose my family too.
Sorry you never deconverted: You were never converted!
Andy Miller wrote: “Sorry you never deconverted: You were never converted!”
Zoe responds: Oh wow. Really? Like Bruce hasn’t heard that a kazillion times. So original.
Andy first came to this site via a search for info on serial adulterer David Hyles. He based his spiritual judgment of me on his reading of two posts (beside the post about Hyles). So neat and tidy, yes?
Andy is also eloquently commenting on my Facebook page. I have challenged him to read a couple of Bart Ehrman’s books. I hope he will do so, but I doubt he will. According to Andy, unsaved folks like us are ignorant and blind.
Bruce, I noticed in your comments you noted that you had your wife, children and grandchildren as friends and that you have been quite blessed. I would like to you tell me WHO blessed you.
Are you so God-blind that you are unable to think of how the word BLESSED might be used apart from a religious context? Think, Phyllis, think. Could the word blessed have any other meaning except a religious one? Let me know if you get it figured out.
Hi Bruce. I am a 33 year old single mother working toward a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Religion at a very liberal University. I am a Christian. Evangelical to boot. It wasn’t until after a ten year depression, years of extreme closet emotional abuse from my “Christian” husband, a very intense year long relationship with about 300 bottles of liquor, a whole bunch of shit before and beyond that… That I found Jesus, surrendered my life, and entered into Christianity as an adult. NEVER did I think I would associate myself with the term “Evangelical” but here I am. I began to STUDY the bible again, as an ADULT.. as well as many other sacred texts. Like you, I have a thirst for knowledge. Whether this is a blessing or curse, I have yet to determine. Haha. I am now on the road to Chaplaincy which I do feel a calling on. I share this brief summary of my testimony because, for me, my “feelings” and extreme, I mean EXTREME transformation, in itself, has provided me with more peace of mind and evidence for an argument than I can find in science, religion, or any other world view. JESUS, not the church, but JESUS provides this substance I can’t find elsewhere. Because of the analytical thinker that is me, I want answers. I want substance and I want absolute answers. . Yes, I still have questions. Yes, I still don’t understand fully the whole suffering aspect, although I am really starting to. The fact is, no matter what we believe. God or Science there will always be more questions than answers. We will not know the ABSOLUTE TRUTH until we are dead, and at that point we could very well just be… well, dead! I stumbled upon your blog about an hour ago and I’m still reading. I have to say, your approach is refreshing. From what I have read thus far, you seem to stand firm in your personal beliefs and you do it in a very respectable very loving very kind and very welcoming way. Although we do not have the same beliefs, I already have an honorable respect for you based on your ability and willingness to be transparent and honest, in a non condemning way. You are putting yourself in an extremely vulnerable position by exposing your story for the purpose of what I feel is an honest effort to be a resource to help people who are wrestling and struggling with these issues. From a humanitarian perspective alone, that is extremely commendable. I would also say from a follower of Jesus perspective, your characteristics and the way you speak to opposing sides is equally commendable. I may be speaking too soon as I have not read the “I hate Jesus” tab I just noticed at the top of your page. Oh well, I will risk it and stick with my honest first impression. At any rate, this world needs more people who are willing and able to defend, discuss, and debate specifically these major philosophical and theological issues, in PEACE. So, high five for that! Blessed are the peacemakers. I believe it. Speaking of, I had a couple of genuine questions from the start which I was going to ask after reading but stopped suddenly at your use of the word blessed. I will assume you are not using this as one would in Christian context. Here are my first questions for you, and they are 100% genuine, as I myself wrested with but was unable to find an acceptable, sustainable, and absolute answer from science.
1.) What would be a synonym for the context in which you use blessed? I assume you are not referring to the Christian “blessed”.. perhaps lucky or fortunate or thankful? Luck doesn’t tie in with science right? Maybe overjoyed but that is an emotion which is another question I haven’t been able to answer- EMOTIONS. Help sort this one out please.
2.) You said you are “a man to whom beliefs matter. How does you believe in beliefs if you don’t believe? If you don’t “believe in beliefs” and would rather phrase it “beliefs matter” then why does anything matter if in fact we are just matter? How do you explain feeling and validate beliefs and convictions and emotions if we’re just matter. How do you explain anything having a value or even provide a moral basis or standard or guideline to live by.
3.) It is VERY unfortunate that you have lost your Christian friends. Unless you are being down right demeaning, degrading, and disrespectful I can’t see a justified reason for giving up on anybody regardless of their beliefs. MAJOR problem in Christianity- makes NO sense to me and definitely NOT what Jesus would do. Are your children and grandchildren Christians? How do they feel/treat you?
4. What is your view on the historical Jesus? Do you believe he was a person who walked on this earth?
Ok, I think that’s it for now. I would very much appreciate a genuine response.
I don’t because there really aren’t any examples. When I first deconverted, a couple of my seminary buddies came to see me and were non-judgmental, but they disappeared quickly after that. That would be the closest any evangelical has come to showing me love. My experience in evangelical Christianity is that doctrine trumps everything else, including human compassion and empathy. I didn’t really expect that to change when I deconverted.
What caused me to move away from Christianity is that life was black and white. If the Bible says that something is right or wrong then it is so. I learned that life has shades of gray in between the lines and that how can one expect to find answers for today’s issues such as homosexuality and abortion in a 2000 year old book?
Considering evolution was what started my deconversion. But what you say about life having shades of grey has pushed my deconversion along too. Things like homosexuality and abortion and also a friend’s partner coming out as transgender made me wonder about God. Why would God let people be created as homosexual or trans and watch the anguish this causes when they are told this is wrong and they have to suppress it? Would a loving God be so cruel as to let a woman not only be raped but to maybe even get pregnant and be expected to carry the child? And other such questions like this made me wonder.
Only the notion of God having lived through human suffering himself could allow anyone to make sense of a world of death and suffering. (Or “the most progress in that fool’s errand”, if you like to call it that.) I trust that God has led by example, even if others do not.
Actually, it is the opposite. You are viewing death and suffering through the lens of original sin. For those of us who reject the religious concept of sin, death and suffering is evidence for there not being a God–especially the supposedly loving, kind, just, compassionate God of the Bible. A God with these moral qualities would not ignore death and suffering. You might appeal to the notion of original sin and human depravity, but then you are left with a God who allows (and ignores) non-human animal suffering and death. Since these animals are incapable of sinning, why does God ignore their suffering and death? Surely it is within his power to do otherwise? And please, do not appeal to “God’s ways are not our ways.” Surely we should expect God to be at least as moral as humans, yet, based on what is in the Bible, humans are morally superior to God. Which is, by the way, a good thing. Imagine a world filled with people who patterned their lives after the God of the Bible.
Say what you will about God. As for me, I try to treat others as I wish to be treated — supporting what will protect the poor — and supporting the freedom of anyone who is not an immediate and definite threat to someone else’s rights.
Christians says that the Bible is divine revelation, that it reveals to us God. My opinion of God, then, is based on what is revealed in the Bible. Do you have any other objective method by which to judge your God?
I read the same book and draw a different conclusion. You may write me off as a “liberal theologian” (though I do not identify as this), but I do not need to defend my decisions against those who have finalized theirs.
So, there is no objective facts/evidence/truth that can be found in the Bible? If you say there are objective facts/evidence/truth found in the Bible, then the issues are we are discussing are not matters of opinion.
As far as “defending” your decisions is concerned, you do realize you are commenting in the discussion section of an atheist’s blog? If you are going to posit that the Christian God exists and make arguments for this claim, then you are obligated to defend your claims. Or, stop commenting. Your comments have not said anything that has not been said on this blog countless times before. For true Christian liberals (who are, for the most part, universalists or pluralists) the fact that we are atheists, agnostics, humanists, or pagans wouldn’t matter. Each to their own, right? However, if you believe that humans are sinners in need of saving, and that after death the saved go to heaven and the lost go to hell, well, that’s not liberalism, it’s Evangelicalism. Many Christians are social liberals and theological Evangelicals. Perhaps you can share your view of sin, salvation, and the final destiny of the human race?
A modern sense of human rights is surprisingly modern. And the center for its development is in places with historically a strong Christian heritage. It did not come from China, India, or the the Muslim world.
If you think egalitarianism violates the teachings of Christ, go on ahead. But I hypothesize that a fading away of Christianity will end with reversion toward pre-Christian ways — the opposite of “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant”.
“They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ “
I agree with you about human rights. However, you have a blinkered view of the effect Christianity and the Bible have had on civilization. You want to claim the “good” and ignore the “bad.” Take, for example, the history of Christian Spain, Italy, and England. Their histories are filled with war, violence, slavery, and death. The same could be said for Christian America, Mexico, and even Canada. All of these countries did good things, but to ignore their bloody, violent, warring histories — often in the name of God — is to present a skewed view of Western civilization. Trace the history of Christianity back to the First Century, and what do you find? Love? Peace? Nirvana? Hardly. I will grant that Christianity has had a good influence on the world, but whether that good influence outweighs the bad is certainly debatable. In my opinion, the bad outweighs the good.
I will leave it to the practitioners of other religions to defend their gods. The United States is a Christian nation in the sense that the majority of its citizens profess faith in the Christian God. Yet, as the current election aptly illustrates, millions of Christians support and defend political policies that directly contradict the teachings of the Bible. Again, I am hard pressed to see how modern American Christianity is “good” for the world. Perhaps it is time to set Christianity aside and give humanism a try.
If you are not familiar with the humanist ideal:
Surely, this ideal is every bit as good or superior to the Bible and how Christians interpret its teachings.
I understand that atheism does not equal humanism. My point is — I doubt that atheists will normally choose your humanist principles.
I suspect I know a few more atheists than you do, and I think I confidently say that most atheists to some degree or the other affirm (practice) the humanistic ideal. Yes, some atheists are strict materialists and nihilists, but they are very much in the minority. Christianity has a similar problem with Calvinism, a growing belief system that believes everything is predetermined.
I encourage you to visit some of the atheist/humanist/secular student groups in the Houston/Texas area. I think you will find a number of atheists/agnostics who are very much committed to the humanistic ideal (with no thought of a divine payoff after death).
We will see how many use their atheism for the betterment of mankind, rather than for things like “Communism” and “Social Darwinism”. I have my hypothesis; you have yours. Thank you for your time.
Atheism does not equal humanism. Atheism is not a moral or an ethical framework. To properly make a judgment you need to compare humanism and Christianity.
I think this discussion has run its course.
Re: black and white thinking, the Bible is no different than the Koran, and Christians are no different than Muslims. They both have a black and white view of their holy books. “But,” say both, “MY holy book is right and there’s is wrong!”
Bruce, like you I have disabilities that have made me question God. I live in pain. I’ve had horrible things happen to my family and I…all the while believing in the bible…that never proved true.
I’m being pulled apart because I know what happened to me all those years ago was real. I just don’t understand why God allowed me to suffer so badly, and those I love. Nothing makes sense. The bible doesn’t seem truthful because I tried many times to claim the promises yet for the most part my prayers went unheeded. There were a few times they were answered but I still question.
Books by skeptics helped me see religious supernatural claims for the sham they are. That was in 1988 and I’m still a work in progress too. Thanks for sharing your story.
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I recommend “A Manual for Creating Atheists” by Peter Boghossian
Boghossian wants to see religion reclassified as a mental illness in the DSM.
They tried that in the old Soviet Union.
He is a truly evil man, and truly stupid.
Here’s what Boghossian actually said:
“There is perhaps no greater contribution one could make to contain and perhaps even cure faith than removing the exemption that prohibits classifying religious delusions as mental illness. The removal of religious exemptions from the DSM would enable academicians and clinicians to bring considerable resources to bear on the problem of treating faith, as well as on the ethical issues surrounding faith-based interventions. In the long term, once these treatments and this body of research is refined, results could then be used to inform public health policies designed to contain and ultimately eradicate faith.”
” ‘ [O]nce these treatments and this body of research is refined, results could then be used to inform public health policies designed to contain and ultimately eradicate faith .’ ”
Substitute “homosexuality” and these words may sound much scarier to you.
A fundamental difference between religious faith and homosexuality is that the former is entirely learned post birth, whilst the latter is genetic. If you want to disagree then please consider; without exception religion is based on cultural background (a very few people change in later life, but that isn’t the point). Homosexuals are the same the world over; there’s no distinction between ‘Muslim homosexuals’ and Christian homosexuals’.
The whole notion of ” ‘contain and ultimately eradicate faith’ ” is a rejection of freedom of speech. Anyway, you do know there is such a thing as genetic diseases. For the record, I say anyone who wants hormonal therapy should be allowed to decide for himself.
Furthermore, it must be a genetic tendency of humans to develop their own concepts of God. Cultural conditioning cannot explain why religious cultures developed in the first place.
I’d actually agree with you on this much: I think the general tendency towards religious belief(s) is very much “wired in” for our species, though (as you’d expect) the specific tendency in individuals varies widely. The actual forms of the religious beliefs are, I think, essentially a matter of cultural conditioning.
Randall, You apparently hold an ability to classify stupidity. Can I play too? In my opinion assholes like you are the beginning of stupid. Also, using a word like evil around atheists requires some ability to define beyond applying the term. Go ahead, stupid. I believe there is much to gain by looking into the harm done to Christians that allows them to judge others so quickly and harshly and apply excessive terms like ‘evil’. By pointing your finger at the Soviet Union, you do not magically become a truth-teller. I recently listened to Putin explain how he sees the USA heading us into WW3 and you know what, he made many good points. You are perhaps a Christian like Donald Trump is a Christian, on the home team where all else is evil and must be destroyed.
Regarding religion being classified is the DSM, no… I would suggest that excessive religion/faith would be the way to go. There are many among us who like to believe in God and do not feel a need to impose their wishes on others. They are the healthy ones, I suspect and they take the evangelicals with a grain of salt, believing that as a believer lives their faith, they are fulfilling the need to go preach the gospel. All the rest are definitely headed for the DSM classifications, I trust, and I include you, stupid.
A very interesting post. A book also started my (not-yet-complete) deconversion – Douglas Adams ‘Salmon of Doubt’ (a posthumously released collection of essays, articles, letters etc). In this book evolution was mentioned and for once it sounded reasonable and I didn’t have my usual reaction of ‘God created the Earth, the Bible is right, evolution is wrong’. More books followed….including some Richard Dawkins and more recently Jerry Coyne’s book. I soon got to the point where I thought if you can’t take the first few pages of the Bible literally then what about the rest of it?
My own Xtian beliefs died at the age of 19, mostly due to what I saw as the childishness and improbability of the scriptures. Atheism came about 20 years later after a bunch of increasingly more ‘sophisticated’ spiritual paths. There are no emotional buttons to push for me, which seems to be a concept alien to the Full Gospel people I know. They keep trying to push me to try their Mighty Men gatherings, as if an emotional experience is going to reveal the Truth to me. They cannot grasp the clarity with which others see the failings in their approach to evidence and the bigotry and intolerance of their leaders, such as Angus Buchan. Many of these people are very well meaning and committed to helping others, which makes it even more disturbing when they quote old testament stories and impose their own positive meanings on them, when those same stories are full of intolerance, genocide and stark injustice on the part of god. The collective punishments, murdering of innocent children and animals, using entire nations as tools to punish Israelites and then having them massacred for it, commanding of people to kill and then punishing them for it. This is not to mention the blatant contradictions. This is not a source of any acceptable kind of morality. Yet these good people (not being sarcastic) cheer and whoop when Gideon and co. hand out the retribution because they are “following god’s plan for them”. Add the obvious human origins and motives of the gospels and there is little chance for an informed atheist to be swayed back to the faith.
I’ve had Xtians telling me how they too used to be full of hate for Xtianity and all that was good until the Truth hit them. I used to feel quite offended by the assumptions, but now I just feel a little frustration and maybe a little sadness about the tiny worldview.
If I could add a note of caution for the OP. If you haven’t discovered this already, be wary of the minefield that is movement atheism. Speaking as a ‘member’ myself, there is an element of near religious ‘Social Justice Warrior’ ideology infecting the movement causing much rancour. There is a fair amount of snark and bile aimed at the religious from young people who see themselves as victims of fundamentalism and from the aforementioned ‘Social Justice Warriors’, although the latter aim most of their vitriol at other atheists. Please bear in mind when witnessing some of the treatment dished out to apologists by atheists that they have been dealing with the frustrating obscurantism and ‘sophistication’ of the D.B. Hart and Terry Eagleton types and outright dishonesty of the W.L. Craigs, Bill Dembskis and Casey Luskins for a long time. But at least we can speak out in most countries without being tortured now, which the Fundies rather amusingly regard as persecution of themselves.
I heard it said bible principles will work for anybody whether they believe it’s the word of God or not. I guess I don’t exactly believe in the version of the bible God. Ide like to believe me but I never could and I tried believe me on that too. People kill each other every day and take life so seriously over beliefs. God is real and he’s all around us. I can go with that. I can’t go with your special little man made book that promotes a bunch of shit. Hey maybe there’s a God but what about evolution? What about mentally challenged people? Am I right? God made them? And society tells me not to laugh? It’s a mixed up world I don’t believe in any of their bull shit.
You shoulda had a go at the prosperity gospel, Bruce. There’s some real money to be made there.
“chronic illness and pain” (I realize this isn’t your main thrust, but thought I would mention this)
Don’t know your situation, but if you have no other reasonable avenues to explore within your current faith/finances, you might wish to review and consider what has been written about fasting and its apparent effects on the bodies handling of cancer [try searching “fasting reset reboot immune system” or similar].
So far all I’ve found seems to be related to one major research project, and maybe one other minor one, with most of the other stuff seeming to post contradictory versions of what was actually done/necessary. (My distillation came up with fasting for a period of at least 3 days, some repeated number of times, over the course of at least six months, perhaps once a week to once a month. [At least one article reported on some indications that any period less than 3 days (72 hours) at a time was not sufficient to see positive results.])
That original researcher was planning to pursue possible effects on other diseases as well, so might be worth looking into.
For a few personally observed reasons, I suspect there is benefit to be had – but I have found it hard to fast at that level.
Sorry if this is too “aside”, but didn’t quickly see any other reasonable avenue to mention this.
I fully understand where you’re (Bruce) coming from. I too pastored a church for a short while in the 70’s but decided the ministry wasn’t for me. I’m now at the point where I’m disgruntled with ‘Christianity’ and no longer call myself a ‘Christian’ because it associates me with so many people and organizations that I dislike. I call myself a ‘believer’ instead.
I could tell you horror stories about some of the experiences I’ve had with Church and esp. with pastors. Recently, I found out that my cousin who I haven’t seen in 25 years pastors an AOG Church a few towns over from me in NH. I conversed with him once on the phone, and a few times by email and gave up. He had absolutely NOTHING good to say about me but criticized me for several things.
I’m also very TEED off by Christians these days. Most of them have no clue how to interpret the bible using a sensible hermeneutic, yet they even go to the extreme of questioning your salvation if you disagree with them.
The Church is a mess today. It’s stagnant and NOT growing but LOSING ground in America and Europe. Why? I say it’s because Christians can’t agree on anything and even pass judgment and condemn others who disagree with them. Christians love to discredit other Christians. They insinuate they have the truth and I don’t so it makes them feel spiritually or doctrinally ‘superior’ to others. I’m sick of Christians and wonder why I haven’t given up on God yet!
I go to the Baptist church ‘down’ the road, all I hear is Catholic and JW bashing. I go to the Baptist Chruch ‘up’ the road, all I hear is Mormon and SDA bashing. I go to the Baptist Church in another town, all I hear is the bashing of Pentecostals, Mormons, JW’S, SDA’s, and Billy Graham. I go to a Pentecostal Church ‘up’ the road, and all I hear is pre-trib and how to speak in tongues, and they have several ‘offerings’ in one service. So I don’t take people to Church with me any more because I’m tired of apologizing for God’s people. God’s people are stupid.
Probably the question I’m asked MOST while witnessing is, “How do I know which Church is right or which one is true?”
People on the outside looking in view Christians as a bunch of hypocrites who can’t agree on anything. They see Christians as a divided people who have nothing good to say about others in the faith. Why I’m still hanging on…I don’t know.
I wanted to drop a quick note and just say that I think you are very brave. It’s not easy going against the grain and I cannot imagine what it must have been like for you to do so as a minister. There is more I want to say but I don’t have the time at the moment.
I’m going through my own journey now. It’s tough and it’s scary. We are born trusting our parents implicitly. It’s amazing how much power their words have and continue to have through our lives. Again, it takes a very brave person to ask questions and challenge that authority especially when that authority has told us that their words come from God in relation to the bible, qur’an etc… I’ll be checking out the books you’ve listed as well as sharing my own story in future. Thanks for creating this blog. I find it encouraging.
I saw that you read Merton. Did you consider Roman Catholicism?
I was in a somewhat similar boat. I left an evangelical church because I didn’t think that “Sola Fide”, salvation by faith alone, made much sense in light of the gospels. I sought out various churches like you did, and shopped around for a while and eventually became Catholic. And like you, because of books.
I think you are articulating in “Why I Hate Jesus” on Patheos that you have qualms with the straw man that Christian fundamentalism says is Jesus and God. That is not the God that I worship, nor do I believe that to be the God that the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches have been sharing for the past 2000 and 1000 years, respectively.
Being an engineer myself, I couldn’t refute evolution, the big bang, or the natural inclination that is homosexuality. Fortunately, being Catholic does not mean having to compartmentalize faith and reason, and I found myself liberated to read Scientific American without getting uneasy about whether or not we lived on a “Young Earth”.
A few points though. The Catholic Church is far from anti-science, in fact a Roman Catholic priest/astronomer originated the idea of the big bang. Gregor Mendel, the father of genetic theory, was a Catholic Friar. Being Catholic does not force one into American conservatism. Pope Francis has been clear about the danger of unbridled Capistalism. Lastly, I think that the Catholic Church can trace its roots to the early Christian communities which were close to the source of the Historical Jesus. I recommend the book “The Mass of the Early Christians” by Mike Aquilina. Sorry, I know you tried to hedge against book recommendations in the article.
I valued Merton’s view of war and peace, not his Catholicism (not that he was an orthodox Catholic at the time of his death, he wasn’t). We visited Catholic churches a few times, an Orthodox church too. The Orthodox church was every bit as Fundamentalist as the Baptists, as is the case with some Catholic churches here in rural NW Ohio. Catholicism is not a homogeneous group. Catholics can be every bit as Fundamentalists as Evangelicals on certain issues(i.e. abortion, birth control,homosexuality, same-sex marriage, women in the priesthood). I view Catholicism as just another flavor of Christianity. While it has a long history….that history does little to present a Christianity worth believing. Forced conversions, mass exterminations, the Inquisitions, and the raging sex scandals are good examples of why, from a moral perspective, I could never be a Catholic. Add to this the Church’s hoarding of wealth while millions of people are starving…well…I am sure you get my point.
I am glad that Catholicism officially endorses science and evolution (though that has not always been the case). At the parishioners level, however, there are many people who, once again, who are as Fundamentalist about creation as Ken Ham. The church may speak for God, but it seems that many Catholics aren’t listening.
I think Pope Francis has been somewhat of a breath of fresh air. However, for the most part, all we have seen and heard are homilies. True change requires action.
Thank you for commenting.
I was never in ministry, but I’ve recently deconverted after years of belief. I had doubts sprinkled throughout those years. It was mostly the bible itself that caused me to finally give up any idea of belief. I couldn’t rationalize god asking Abraham to sacrifice his son anymore. I couldn’t rationalize the killing of the first born sons anymore. And so on and so on.
There are too many atrocious things and too many contradictions to keep believing.
Bruce, let me tell you my reasons for giving up Christianity, but not God. I am a deist now. I cannot accept there is no higher power because the odds of a human body assembling itself starting with a single atom are so infinitesimal as to be non-existent. But what forced me to give up Christianity was the logic that if Jesus was really truly divine and did actually die for our sins, then God would have seen to it that the evidence for Jesus’ earthly life was so conclusive, so incontrovertible and well-established that there’d be no way on earth anyone except a total madman could dare refute it. Every historian of the day would have mentioned him; none have. Every gospel would be in its original manuscript, notarized, authenticated and carefully preserved; none are. The tomb would be a preserved holy site with blood stains crusted on the rock Jesus laid on; it isn’t. The celestial events that accompanied his birth and death would be easily verifiable by astronomers today; they are not. Instead we don’t have a single shred of credible evidence for Jesus. Does that sound like a God who wants His son’s earthly ministry to be unassailable? So if God couldn’t care enough to preserve the evidence why should I?
The Bible indicates that those who do not want to have faith will not be swayed by any amount of evidence. In Christ’s day, according to the Bible, the evidence was “so conclusive, so incontrovertible and well-established that there’d be no way on earth anyone except a total madman could dare refute it”. But it didn’t stop him from getting hung on the cross.
God being able to relate to us as both a father (the Father) and a brother (the Son) makes the world feel complete to me. The thought of God having walked in our shoes makes me feel that none of my troubles are truly meaningless. As far as I can see, it is not a question of intelligence or knowledge. It really is a question of what people are willing to believe.
According to the Bible faith is believing without seeing (Hebrews 11). As a skeptic and a rationalist, I refuse to believe without seeing at least a modicum of evidence for the claims you and other Christians make for God, Jesus, the Bible and a host of other unsupportable, unverifiable, and irrational claims.
Christians demand evidence for everything but their religion. They ask other religions to “prove” their claims. Why don’t Christians accept the claims of other religions by faith? Wouldn’t that be the prudent thing to do — covering all the bases? If I said to you that I am the reincarnation of Charles Spurgeon, would you take my word for it? Would it be reasonable for me to ask you to “believe” without proof of my claim? Of course not, yet you demand non-Christians do that which you aren’t willing to do.
Surely it would be better for the world if your God provided sufficient evidence that would lead rational people to believe in him. Instead, your God hides, making it impossible for those not raised in Christian countries/families (The primary factors for why people are a particular religion) to “believe.” A few miracles would be nice too, say feeding, healing starving/sick children.
I know you will likely quote the Bible in response to my questions. If you do so, please be prepared to provide evidence for why anyone should accept the Bible as some sort of authoritative text and why we should accept it over other religious texts? Please avoid using circular reasoning that asserts that the Bible is true because the Bible says it is true.
Don’t worry. You have already said the Biblical God is too abominable for you to worship, even if you were convinced of his existence. But you have wonderfully demonstrated that one who repudiates his faith is never going to get it back.
Glad I could help.
“The Bible indicates that those who do not want to have faith will not be swayed by any amount of evidence.”
You know, this sort of comment would be a lot more convincing if the people who say things like this would actually present me with evidence. God exists? God is active in the world? Show me. Introduce me to him.
If God is not someone you want to trust, then I wouldn’t want to convince you of his existence. I think we would both regret that.
That rather misses the point.
I don’t think God actually exists. I don’t think there’s any such being. The question of trust is irrelevant.
Secondarily, that isn’t how trust works. I have never yet met a person that I “wanted” to trust, or that I “wanted” to distrust. You interact with people, and based on your observations of their behavior, you either conclude that they’re trustworthy, or you don’t (or, most frequently, you conclude that they’re trustworthy within certain bounds).
Unless, of course, what you’re talking about isn’t actually trust. If what you’re talking about is more along the lines of “being willing to swear unwavering allegiance to”, then your comment makes more sense. But in that case, it still doesn’t matter; I did swear such allegiance, decades ago. Then, some time after that, I came to conclude that the thing I’d sworn allegiance to didn’t exist.
re: “In Christ’s day, according to the Bible, the evidence was “so conclusive, so incontrovertible and well-established that there’d be no way on earth anyone except a total madman could dare refute it””
really? seems doubting thomas, with jesus standing right in front of him, doubted it. doesn’t seem that “incontrovertible” to me. and other disciples didn’t even recognize jesus. not to mention according to one of the gospels, lots of saints were also resurrected at the same time as jesus. and yet, the entire city of Jerusalem didn’t convert to christianity right away?
so the disciples, spending 1-3 years with jesus, and seeing him in the flesh, still doubted, and i’m given far far less evidence, and i’m going to burn in hell for not believing?
sorry, but i don’t think your claim of “conclusive” is remotely realistic.
Most of the Israelites despised what Jesus stood for. They wanted a military messiah, not one who preaches compassion. Faith is not simply acknowledging God’s existence. To believe is to trust.
You know, MW, reading your comments shows you are yet another “blind as a bat” Christian who has all the empty conventional convenient Christian responses lined up to fire back at doubters yet you have absolutely no discernment about weighing what you say. You merely regurgitate things out of a “play book–100 Best Christian Responses to Those Who Disagree With You.” Jesus never wrote a word. The apostles never wrote a word. Nothing about Christ got written within his lifetime and for 20 years after his death. The gospels don’t come along until 40-70 years after his death and they are written by biased church leaders pushing a religion. The first complete copies of any NT manuscripts don’t surface until 300 years after Christ’s death. The whole business is quilt of misshapen beliefs with absolutely no foundational support. But these truths you cannot accept and so you paper over them with this utter rot you peddle which is only your tainted version of how things are. You wouldn’t know truth if it slapped you in the face.
You know, MW, reading your comments shows you are yet another “blind as a bat” Christian who has all the empty conventional convenient Christian responses lined up to fire back at doubters yet you have absolutely no discernment about weighing what you say. You merely regurgitate things out of a play book–“100 Best Christian Responses to Those Who Disagree With You.” Jesus never wrote a word. The apostles never wrote a word. Nothing about Christ got written within his lifetime and for 20 years after his death. The gospels don’t come along until 40-70 years after his death and they are written by biased church leaders pushing a religion. The first complete copies of any NT manuscripts don’t surface until 300 years after Christ’s death. The whole business is quilt of misshapen beliefs with absolutely no foundational support. But these truths you cannot accept and so you paper over them with this utter rot you peddle which is only your tainted version of how things are. You wouldn’t know truth if it slapped you in the face.
Jack, you should know that archaeology is a game of piecing together the pieces of an incomplete jigsaw puzzle. You should be asking yourself — why isn’t Christ little more than a footnote in history? Unlike Mohammed, he did not have the power of the sword. On the contrary, early Christians spread with the sword against them.
A Jew crucified by both Jews and Romans — winning over many in the Roman Empire — sounds like a miracle in its own right. For early Christians, their enemies included the Jews, the Romans, members of their own families, and the general public.
The Bible states in the book of Acts that the number of Jesus’ followers immediately following his death numbered around 120. In fact, during his mystery miracle working tour, some of his own family members wanted him to take his show elsewhere. It took an act of the State in the fourth century to legitimize Christianity, and it is this act that caused Christianity to grow.
So you disobeyed God and listened to unbelievers. It is no wonder and no surprise why you deconverted
This remark begs the question of whether Christianity can withstand scrutiny. A religion that can sustain itself only by refusing to ask questions is a religion with nothing to distinguish it from the others. In fact, you may find that the Koran is more heavy handed with the “hell” card.
MWH, I don’t believe we will ever agree on religion, God, and suchlike, but I have to say that I’m rather enjoying your approach to your faith.
In turn, I admire how humanist principles often challenge social Darwinism and other pseudo-scientific ways people like to rationalize selfishness. Here is an article on the harmony in nature and its importance for human health: http://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/How_Nature_Avoids_Competition_and_Chooses_Cooperation .
MWH, in regard to your earlier comment about the growth of early Christianity, I would point out that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has grown remarkably despite ridicule and active persecution. That’s not to say that their situation is identical to that of the early Christians, of course; but I think it’s comparable enough that I’d be wary of using that alone as evidence of any sort of divine intervention. (And, actually, much the same can be said of the “They wouldn’t have died for their beliefs unless their beliefs were true” argument as well.)
Sorry for replying way down here, but with the replies-to-replies-to-replies, I couldn’t figure out how to squeeze it in up above.
I understand that moral courage is not unique to any particular religion. On the other hand, Joseph Smith had a militant streak not seen in Christ or his disciples. For example, Wikipedia says the following:
“Tension increased until July 1833, when non-Mormons forcibly evicted the Mormons and destroyed their property. Smith advised them to bear the violence patiently until they were attacked a fourth time, after which they could fight back.”
“…By this time, Smith’s experiences with mob violence led him to believe that his faith’s survival required greater militancy against anti-Mormons.”
Finally, Mormonism does not seem like the radical break from American culture that Christianity was from pagan Roman culture. In all, the growth of Mormonism lives in the shadow of the trail blazed by Christianity.
Thank you for challenging me to keep strengthening my talking points.
I was raised as a Roman Catholic. I fell away from it and, frankly, just didn’t think about questions of the divine or the supernatural for a long time.
A few years ago, I lost a job and almost ended up homeless after breaking an abusive relationship with a man who spread the most vicious lies imaginable about me. Someone suggested that I start going to church again. I did, for about a year and a half. In fact, I even volunteered at some church functions and was invited to the homes of congregants. Some were quite kind to me.
Still, church was very, very depressing to me. I simply could not believe in a god that would allow people my ex to get off scot-free. Or who allowed others, through no fault of their own, to live in poverty, agony and desperation. And condemn them to eternal damnation because they weren’t baptized in the “right” church.
I have to admit, it was hard to break with people who showed me kindness. I still talk to a few of them. Or, more precisely, they still talk to me. The others…well, what can I say about them–or their God?
I’m Finnish – and Evangelis-Lutheran Christian –
After finding many Friends from USA –
“Christian” Friends –
Certain Ideas & Ideals that Christianity Preach & Proliferate –
Has made my beliefs waver –
I just CAN’T believe that
– True Christianity –
Can Have so Widespread & Differing thoughts
AGAINST so many –
– by Colour of People
– homeless, poor, or even wrong kind of Rich
– people grouped – not by ideals or beliefs – but how they look out / where they are coming from
And all those LIES that people spread –
– And GOD doesn’t hit them to ground
God is the biggest lie of all.
I would agree that the sheer variety of Christian beliefs (and, indeed, the sheer variety of religious beliefs in general) is one of the biggest arguments against the idea that there’s a single creator/deity who is sharing a consistent message with humanity.
I am intrigued by your blog, and having grown up in liberal NYC and then having moved to the Bible belt, I am constantly in awe of the social role that the church holds so prominently here in the South.
I call myself a Christian because I see in Christ the best example of living: living a life of love and forgiveness generates a life of kindness, peace, patience, and other fruits of the Spirit. I don’t see this replicated or exemplifed so well in any other way. So Jesus’ way, and his teachings on how to reach heaven (whatever you deem that to be)–those resonate with me.
What DOESN’T resonate with me is the sick interpretation of the Bible that so many churches and their followers carry out. Call them scripture twisters, call them right-wing psychos, call them modern-day Pharisees–but the judgement, the legalism, all of that–that’s not what Jesus is about, and it disgusts me that people carry on in this way and call themselves followers of Jesus.
I have lots of problems with the modern church and many of its people, but I don’t have problems with the Jesus of the bible. I gather from your “Why I hate Jesus” posts that you pretty much feel the same way (and please correct me if I’ve misunderstood).
I also think that the evangelical church DOES do a lot of damage to people, either on their minds, their souls, or their wallets, more than it does good. The guilt-inducing nature of these places is unreal. But even though these places use God’s name, they don’t truly represent God.
So my questions to you are these: what do you make of the Christ we see in the Bible and his teachings, his role, his character? Is He still someone you admire? I am not talking about the “jesus of today” you mention in your hate-jesus post, I am talking about the the original guy here. 🙂
I also am curious to know, beyond all of your reading and academic studies, if you can recall any interactions you had with God at any point in your life. I, too, am an avid reader; I have advanced degrees in literature and have lost track at this point in my life of how many books I’ve read. I’m an academic, and I understand the many lenses from which we can analyze and criticize literature.
You also mentioned that even after reading those books that you tried to attend some more progressive-minded churches, but that those expressions of faith wouldn’t do for you. I’m not sure what you were looking for at that point, and why you felt unsatisfied by those churches.
Not really related, but I’ve heard that fibromyalgia is a bitch, and I am sorry you and so many others have to deal with it. Here’s hoping something will develop soon to ease your physical pain.
Thank you for commenting.
You speak of your God being different from the God of Evangelicals; that your God is the true God and theirs is not. Of course, Evangelicals would say the same about your deity. And therein lies the problem. Every Christian worships a God made in their own image (not that that is a problem).
I think it is impossible to read the Bible and determine who and what Jesus was. At best, the Jesus of the Bible is an example or an archetype. I’m comfortable with saying Jesus was a man who lived and died in Palestine 2,000 years ago. The Jesus of the twenty-first century is likely nothing like the Jesus of the first century.
I still value some of Jesus’ teachings — the Beatitudes, Sermon on the Mount, and some of his parables. Of course, we don’t know if any of these teachings were actually Jesus’.
As far as our visits to liberal/progressive churches…we concluded that while there was theological diversity and practice among Christian sects, their core beliefs were pretty much the same. Frankly, many of the liberal churches were dead — passing time. We were looking for a church that took seriously the teachings of Christ. We met a lot of nice people, but their niceness wasn’t enough to keep us in the fold.
May I also add that anyone who runs around saying, “Follow me…” is suspect. Anyone who encourages desertion of family in order to fulfill a so-called higher purpose is suspect. I agree that Jesus was a great orator and that he offered some wonderful messages to bipeds. But that is far from God-worship, following, giving up one’s life for a cause more significant than human family. And really, for gawd sake, why wouldn’t a halfway decent dad correct the his own mistakes in Creation instead of saying, ‘Here, take my son.’
I was born into a preacher’s family to parents who came from preachers and misnionaires, believers from way-back and I have read as much as I can bear to be able to accept it but I have never been successful in holding to it without saying, finally, I really can’t go on with this charade. I don’t beieve that I know something special or that I am of more than a very normal intelligence but I want to be honest. I can’t join a club that would have the Christian God as a member. If you could sacrifice your son to save the world, would you? Could you?
As the mother of two sons, your last questions struck home hard. Not your intent, I’m sure, but it did.
If I try to look at the first question rationally, ethically, then I come to the conclusion that I should; one to save billions from hunger, homelessness, disease, abuse and the myriad other things that can make life a living hell. But it would have to be now, not some promise to be delivered in some hereafter. It is the second question where I stumble. Could I? And which one? They are questions too heartbreaking to even consider.
Both of my sons are grown men now, with children of their own. The oldest is Buddhist, sort of (“it makes the most sense”), and the other agnostic. As I pondered your questions, one thing stands clear. Given the conditions I stated above, that it truly would “fix everything right now”, there would likely be a fight between them over which one would do it.
anotherami, my intent was to point at the human reality that we are bound in love to our kids and it seems to me a very anti-human act to suggest. Yes, as an adult people give their liives all the time to save another life in various situations and cirises but for me, the blood atonement is quite a different matter. First, God is a the big cheese and can do whatever it likes, whenever. If you were the big boss yourself, I am sure you would consider fixing whatever was broken…. what average biped wouldn’t, given the opportunity. But the scenario is loaded in Christianity. It demands that you decide to admit you are fallen, as a foundational premise, that only the perfect one can save you from this state. And then it builds ‘faith’ from that point on. It ain’t even close to a fair proposition and Christians will gladly smile at me and say, So what? God is God and can do whatever. And It does do whatever, all the time.
This is not a club I could stay in, even though it was taught to me from the womb outward as the ultimate love and the only answer for the world….and I tried and tried.
And it just feels right and okay to me to tell the truth now, to seek a human balance in life that admits imperfection rather than a punishable fault built-in. I believe the punishment paradigm endangers humanity.
Jesus apparently did some real magic with a dead man and some loaves and fishes, you know, but I feel wary of magicians and I really don’t wish to follow a pied piper, no matter the perfect high he offers in his music.
Sorry if my comment seemed to be recommending religion. I intended to “leave religion out of it” when I considered your questions.
One of the reasons I read here so much is because both Bruce’s essays and the comments force me to think about what I really do believe and why. I used to say that my faith started with Christianity but didn’t end there. I never thought that “only Christians” had access to God and Heaven, or that the Bible was inerrant. These days I’m not sure what is the “proper” label for my beliefs, but I reject Calvinism and its “American Jesus” outright. These days I usually call myself a “woman of faith” and leave it at that.
My life experiences leave me no choice but to believe that there is Something Divine and that all humans carry a spark of it ourselves. But I am sure of almost nothing particular beyond that. Perhaps those sparks are all there is. Perhaps the Divine is nothing more than another type of wave/particle/energy/force that we do not yet know how to detect or measure. Perhaps it’s Jung’s collective consciousness. I don’t fucking know!! lol I do know that at times I have made efforts to reject it all, but to do that I would have to deny that certain things happened at all when I know it did and once even had 2 witnesses to boot. Like so many others, I do deal with chronic depression, but “delusional” was never part of the diagnosis, so here I stand, in a sort of no-man’s land.
I also know I am honored to fight shoulder to shoulder with you, Bruce, and the rest of this bunch, against theocracy and the US “Religious Right”. Namaste
Well said, anotherami! I sure appreciate your presence here and am thankful for your thoughtful, compassionate sharing. I am an agnostic flavor atheist because I always feel willing to change, if it seems in the evidence of experience, the honest thing to do. Best wishes
I started reading your work partly because I live in the areas you’ve pastor’d (Newark, Somerset…one of my step-dad’s owned a farm in Junction City, now live in Baltimore. Secondly, you know Bruce Turner, I attended Baptist Bible College East from 1981-84 and attended Bruce’s church a few times.)
Anyway, I read your posts and see many of the same struggles in myself that you experience/experienced (I’m 56 presently) in your years. Frankly, for the past 24 years I’ve almost convinced myself that I no longer believe in a God, Jesus or anything connected with the Christian Fundamentalism I was associated with, yet, I still have nagging thoughts and feelings that the baby is still there but the bathwater is FILTHY: let me explain.
From my early teens I’ve had the need to be accepted and the Christian faith (by whatever denomination) provided this acceptance, I was just too young to understand I was being manipulated. Things happened in my later teen years where things got kinda rough socially and of the “fight or flight” response, I ALWAYS chose the “flight” so I (being in the Ohio Air National Guard) I transferred into the regular Air Force and ended up in Plattsburgh, NY, it was there I got “saved” and the manipulation became more intense. I think it was during the years of 1981 to 1984 I developed my anxiety issues (after all, how many times can you be told “God’s going to kill you if you don’t _____________” and it not affect you?) Well, that reasoning pushed my to Bible College and it was an unmitigated disaster of, yes, manipulation yet again.
Fast forward to 1987, I came home intending to stay the summer and have been home since. I’ve been on the spiritual roller coaster up until probably 9 years ago when I decided (chose) to get to know God differently. When I look around me I see the money hungry Evangelical, the controlling Fundamentalist I know instinctively this isn’t what God intended and I eventually ask myself why He allows this to happen? I don’t have the answer. But what I do know is I don’t deserve any kindness or favor for my own sins. Anyway, I was reading William Barclay’s 1 Timothy commentary and his comments on 1:3-7 and something resonated with me, the word(s) or phrase “secondary orthodoxy”…me being the genius I am (sarcasm) made me realize that perhaps 97% to 98% of professing Christian types belief system is secondary meaning they didn’t come to conclusions of their own thought, their own blood, sweat and tears, instead, they’ve adopted what they’ve been told by other people’s manipulation. Strangely enough, this is where I am now after the years of the anger and sadness professing believers and “men-o-God” have caused me to experience.
These are all just my thoughts. I’ve never been a Pastor but I’ve experienced MANY of the same things you have, the end result is the only difference.
Thank you for taking the time to honestly share a bit of your story. I wish you well on your journey, wherever it leads.
Most Christians have what I call a borrowed theology. They believe whatever their parents/spouse/church/pastor believe. I entered and left college with a borrowed theology. It took years of study for me to determine for myself what it was I really believed. Of course, this approach led me to where I am today, so it might not be the best approach to follow. ? The best way to disabuse Evangelicals is get them to actually read and study the Bible. Many of the atheists I know were (and still are) students of the Bible. ?
If you’d like to talk more sometime, please send me an email via the contact form.
Again, thanks for commenting.
With all due respect you’re not going to find “True Christianity” among Rich Americans. They love money too much. That makes them God haters. True Christianity is readily seen especially among those who are very poor. I see this all the time in SE Asia. But in America even the “so called” poor are really Rich as the Government has several safety nets that do not exist in most nations.
Here in far poorer SE Asia we see believers who really believe and behave as Christ expects his people too. They love one another and care for another as Bible says we should. They do this even under persecution from Anti Christian groups. You will find a Rich believer now and then who does exactly that but they are few and far between. In the New Testament Zacchaeus was one just like that.
PART 1 =====
Fascinating discourse. I can say this, as a Mensan, always seeking knowledge, and having had faith struggles myself –, the God of the Bible is real.
Within that context, it is not my place to be your judge (although I don’t buy the liberal “judge not lest you be judged” narrative). It is not my place to be your judge because whether you reject it or not, you know what the Bible says and you know the message of Salvation.
However, the one challenge I have for you is your choice of religion. While you have clearly rejected Christianity all you have done is replaced a faith in the God of the Bible, and his son Jesus, with the verifiably FALSE RELIGION of Evolution.
Here are the problems with the evolutionary tenets of faith:
1) Bio-genesis, the beginning of life, expects me to accept the magical pixie dust fairy tale that “poof” magic, from a bunch of rocks, a few chemicals, and water life just “magically” appeared.
2) The conditions for life to be sustained, once established, CLEARLY points to the miraculous. The distance of the earth from the sun, water, temperate climate, even having a moon rotating around the waters of the earth at just the right distance to stay in orbit, and account for the tides which keep the ocean ABLE to sustain life. I could go on, and on, and on. Improbability, on top of improbability, on top of improbability. But, that is just math.
3) Darwin himself noted in the beginning of his classic work that demonstrating life is “irreducibly complex” would disprove evolution (or, prove it false). That has got to be the EASIEST thing to demonstrate which PROVES believe in evolution is a false faith.
4) Evolution DEMANDS you reject Christianity and replace that with blind, false faith! It is not surprising you have rejected the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ, and Christianity when you believe in Evolution. They are mutually exclusive. You can not believe in Biblical Christianity and Evolution because Evolution says we were not created therefore there was no original sin, therefore there is no need for a Savior, therefore, if I truly accept evolution I reject the Biblical need for redemption.
I could go on with many more points but these 4 are enough. So, let me dive right into the detail on #3 first. Irreducibly complex. Even the simplest biological life, a cell, is constructed of a few base chemicals, lipids (fats), acids, and water. Yet the “machinery” of a simple cell is so complex that A CELL CAN NOT EXIST WITHOUT ALL OF ITS DEPENDENT PARTS at once! Now, how many infinite, evolutionary MIRACLES had to take place for all of those complex mechanisms to form ALL AT ONCE? Why MUST they form all at once? Several of those base chemicals, lipids, and acids have a half life (where 1/2 is decomposed without active chemical reactions) of a few days. So, the machinery to maintain and retain the building blocks, must ALL exist, AT ONCE before any individual component part of the cellular machinery breaks down. And then you have the whole cell splitting mechanisms. Add to that the BILLIONS of sequences of information in DNA, and you have verifiable PROOF that intelligent design is the only answer. Heck, EVEN IN A LAB, *WITH* the intelligent design of scientists trying to intelligently invent a way to manufacture the basic protein building blocks to have magically occurred they can’t do it. Not to mention, even if they DID produce the protein building blocks, they would quickly rot and decompose before VIOLATING Newton’s Law of Entropy. You know, amino acid half lives? Most amino acids have a half life of 1-2 hours. There is only 1 that has a half life of 100 hours. So, all of those marvelous evolutionary MIRACLES have to happen SO QUICKLY that they don’t go extinct! And that is the case with every supposed “evolutionary” (read magical) improvement.
Oh, I forgot, we really should apply REAL science to the RELIGION of Evolution because it is then exposed as a false religion with the magical genesis of life from rocks and base chemicals, the magical violation on Newton’s Law of Entropy, the magical faith in the idea that accidents make things more complicated and magically build MORE dependent systems rather than less.
PART 2 =======
Consider this, just the eye. The amazing complexity. It requires structure to support it, it has incredible light processing functions that are transmitted down a nervous system, and then finally processed by brain matter. The eye is so complex it is not possible to have all of its complex dependent parts to happen by accident. That is the magical mystery faith of evolution; had ANY ONE PIECE not occurred at the same time (by some accident) then no part would function and even if it were possible for any one part, it would quickly decompose or be discarded by evolution as unnecessary without the component parts. In other words, without the magical invention of the other parts there is no need for any one of the appendages (eye, nerves, brain) independent of the others.
Then, let’s take this a step further, how does a 1 celled organism (evolution’s supposed magical faith in bio-genesis) bouncing around in the primordial “ooze” suddenly recognize that it even needs a spinal column, or a brain, or a nervous system, or an eye? Why not just be content being a mindless “thing”? Oh, I forget, the magical pixie dust RELIGION of evolution. Or, let’s look at another fascinating evolutionary miracle that requires blind faith. Supposedly we have a whole universe that came from a singularity (something so infinitesimally small as to amount to the size of 0 or “nothing”) then BANG!?! a universe so large that the human mind can not even comprehend its size. So we measure it in distances that light travels in years!
Evolution expects us to suspend ANY logic, reason, and rational thought and just accept that “from nothing, EVERYTHING so big we can’t even comprehend it!”
Frankly, I don’t have the kind of magical, fanatical, pixie dust faith to believe in the RELIGION of evolution. A RELIGION that demands there is no challenge to it and demands that REAL science, the kind of science Sir Karl Popper proposed that the whole world recognizes as “science” (he was the original inventor of the “scientific method”). Under the accepted SCIENTIFIC method falsification (or the idea that there are some wrong answers) is required because if something can not have a wrong answer then it is not science! The THEORY of Evolution does not pass the smell test as science and instead is PURE FALSE RELIGION! On the other hand, intelligent design as the source of creation DOES pass the Scientific Method. It is plain that there is design, and that it is orderly and adheres to certain “laws” or principles that are external to our understanding of the functioning of creation.
On condition #2 above, there is a mathematical probability with all of the events that are required just to SUSTAIN life (forget about its creation a moment). So, when you have improbabilities (1 in infinity) stacked on more improbabilities (1 in infinity again) you run into an impossibility EXCEPT by deliberate or “intelligent” and orderly design. Design DECISIONS are apparent throughout all of the known, natural universe.
Of everything I have noted above, can I PROVE to you the God of the Bible and his son Jesus Christ are the answer? Can I PROVE to you that aliens did not come in and through intelligent design create life on earth and align the sun, the moon, and the earth? No. But, once again, evolutionary THEORY is easily enough proven as a false religion. But, the RELIGION of Evolution, contrary to science, DEMANDS you accept unproven, and even UNPROVABLE explanations as scientific fact! Anyone as curious, and as deep thinking as you suggest you are, must arrive at the conclusion that evolution is a fraud if you are intellectually honest.
After HONESTLY examining evolution’s various holes it can only be maintained with blind faith, as any dogmatic and blindly religious cult is sustained. Just as with a blindly, cultish, fanatical faith, evolution claims that it is settled and no one can challenge it! YOU MUST BELIEVE. YOU MUST BELIEVE in easily verifiable LIES even though the claims is that evolution is real, but it CAN NOT BE PROVEN! Evolution is a RELIGIOUS LIE! It is a FALSE RELIGION and it demands you reject Christianity. After all, who needs a Savior when the story of the original sin, or the Garden of Eden, is just a child’s fairy tale because Evolution demands you reject the account of creation. Who needs a Savior when science demands you can not come back from the dead after several days, EVEN THOUGH NATURE TESTIFIES OF ITS POSSIBILITY WITH EVERY GRAIN PLANTED IN THE GROUND! That individual seed comes back differently than it was planted but if it is was not completely dried out, and completely “dead” before being planted, it would just rot in the ground.
So today I challenge you, at least have the integrity to admit you have TRADED a faith in the God of the Bible, or a religion, for another religion –, namely the FALSE RELIGION OF EVOLUTION!
*sigh* Feel better now?
My atheism has nothing to do with what I may or may not believe about science. Surely, you have had this explained to you before, right? Yet, you continue to conflate atheism with evolutionary biology.
I will leave it to others to set you straight on matters of science. I simply don’t care. MY deconversion has little to do with evolution. Concluding that creationism is false, was enough for me. Suppose everything you said in your sermon is true, how would it lead me any closer to Jesus and your peculiar brand of Christianity? Could I not believe all of these things, and still be an atheist, agnostic, deist, or some other non-believer?
Thank you Bruce for your response.
I guess I would have to ask a very honest question, how could you conclude creationism is false? Mine was not intended to be a sermon, rather, an exposition of an alternative religion that has infected the modern church. Since you have preached the Gospel message for 20+ years, and studied your Bible, I have no need to quote Bible verses, condemn you, or even directly challenge your walking away from Christianity. It is not my place to pronounce any kind of condemnation, judgement from God, or otherwise insist you are wrong. You are coming from a position of knowing what the Bible says, I have no need to do any of these things.
Reading your story it is plain you have had your share of struggles and trials. In many ways I can empathize because I have been through some things worse, some things not as bad, but certainly my share of trials and struggles.
As for a “brand” of Christianity, I have no idea what you are referring to. I suppose, much like you, I have grown tired of the Churchianity, which is not Christianity at all. To that end, I have studied my Bible for many years and I know the vast majority of “pastors” and those in the “ministry” are hirelings. Maybe your hurt and disappointment was in pouring your whole life into *genuine ministry* as a true shepherd and seeing the hirelings prosper while you struggled? Maybe it was in being misled and even abused by mortal flesh more worried about their own desires rather than sincere concern for their fellow man. Maybe it was reflecting on God and not seeing or hearing a tangible response? I do not know. Where you are concerned I am still trying to understand the pivotal turning point, the trigger, the turning point that finally led to “enough!” I do not see that in anything you have written but it is entirely possible I have missed it.
I have studied the religions of the world, I have challenged God, and I have struggled with faith in my younger years–, I was in many respects Thomas Didymus (doubting Thomas). But I know the God of the Bible through his son Jesus. I’ve been hurt and damaged by those in the “Church” many times, but we are all flawed flesh and I do not judge God, or his son Jesus who according to scripture, forgave his murderous torturers in the very act of killing him. I do not judge the accuracy of the Bible by the trials I have experienced at the hands of foolish and flawed flesh.
In your case in particular I’m trying to understand. Good, bad, or otherwise, the challenge to Evolution was merely an attempt to peel away reasons for rejecting faith in the God of the Bible. Still trying to understand the real driver, and if you honestly do not know that is okay.
As for your comment about accepting my form of “Christianity” of course you could believe there is an intelligent designer, and that evolution is false, and personally conclude it is not the God of the Bible. That is where faith is required and what makes that portion of Christianity a religion.
I must ask, is your real frustration and trial that as you have reached an age of retirement, that you look around and see no one with a genuine Christian heart and attitude like the First Century Church where they each helped each other? If so, I can understand and am more than happy to serve as an example of one who takes my Christian responsibilities to other brothers and sisters in the faith quite seriously.
Seeking to understand.
Creationism is false because modern science tells us it is. We know, for example, the universe isn’t 6,024 years old. We know Adam and Eve weren’t the first humans. We know all sorts of stuff thanks to science. What has the Bible given us except bondage? Besides, Genesis 1-3 is open to all sorts of interpretation. I know, I know, you have the “right” interpretation. I, for one, think Genesis 1-3 actually teaches polytheism. I can make a persuasive argument for this from the text. ‘This the nature of the Bible: you can make it say anything.
You can find my “reasons” for deconverting here:
I’ve read your entire story about why you have rejected Christianity and your complete and total renunciation of Christ in the flesh and him crucified. The spirit is quite plain. The reason is not.
So, as for the claims of creation, again, I’ve been accused of being a Christian zealot that has already expended my one chance. Yet, I have quoted no scripture, I have avoided proselytizing except to the extent to directly challenge claims that have been made.
Again, the claims of the earth’s age, and of the universe, and of its makeup, come from where? The same humans who once proclaimed the earth was flat? The same humans who pretend there is “dark matter” and “black holes” but have not yet explored the earth’s deepest oceans let alone the earth’s core? The same people who claim the Grand Canyon’s depth proves its massive age yet ignore the Mariana Trench that is far deeper yet has not had any wind, rain, or rivers flowing through it. Maybe that water just takes the path of least resistance.
As for the earth’s age. Another thought experiment here. Let’s assume for a moment there is a being who has the unfathomable power to speak all of creation into existence. Let’s assume the story of Adam and Eve is more literal than figurative. On the day of Adam’s creation, according to what we can reasonably glean from the Biblical narrative, Adam’s appearance would have been not of a baby, but of a young man. I can guess teens, possibly early 20’s by our standards. Yet, on day 2, how old was Adam? 2 days old. Yet by the little we can glean from the account, he had the faculties, capabilities, and physical appearance of one far older than 2 days. Further, let’s imagine a moment a God so powerful as to speak the universe into existence (i.e. the Big Bang!). Would the universe be some incomplete and so “inept” that God would have to get up every day and spin the earth like a top? Or push it around the sun to keep it going? That would be incomplete and foolish. A being powerful enough to speak all of creation into existence, could easily create the same universe with all of the mechanisms of a much older, self-functioning system. And in the illustration in Genesis we have Adam and Eve to indicate that *may* be the case. Does it mean I am right? No, it merely means that I must have some faith in God and I can not trust in myself. I can not become a god unto myself. Isn’t it fascinating that Eve’s temptation, in the original sin, was to become a god unto herself? To have “knowledge” so that she no longer needed to just have faith or depend on God?
The reasons — plural — are clear. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Ah yes, God created the universe with the appearance of age. And you “know” this how? Faith. And therein lies the problem. Faith. Once an appeal to faith is claimed, anything is possible. Science will likely never tell us everything we need to know about our universe. I’m fine with that. Science has told us enough that I’m comfortable with its theories and facts. Just tonight, I watched a TV program about how scientists are working (successfully) to cure sickle cell anemia. Amazing stuff, no thanks to your God.
“I’ve read your entire story about why you have rejected Christianity and your complete and total renunciation of Christ in the flesh and him crucified. The spirit is quite plain. The reason is not.”
You do know I know exactly what you have read on this site, right? You are using “entire story” quite loosely, I assume.
I am sure you mean well, Bill, but you will unlikely get what you are looking for. Too much to do I life to waste time arguing theology with zealots.
As for reading your story about leaving Christianity, maybe I made a wrong assumption that reading the summary, then the four parts, and a few other pieces, was the story. Have I read every, single post on your site? No. But those areas you claim to be the reasons for abandoning the faith I have read and I still do not see a plain answer.
As for my faith, it is the same as yours. But your faith is in theories that can never be proven. Not ever and are not possible to prove unless human initiated time travel becomes possible. And backward time travel is scientifically impossible for humans to ever invent.
As for God creating the universe with the appearance of age requiring faith, okay. And the faith of just blindly accepting scientific theories, some that can be proven false and some that can never be proven or even tested? That is faith also. It appears to me to be trading one religion for another.
Nice “save” Bill.
No, my faith is not the same is yours. Your faith rests on the Bible — a Bronze Age religious text. Mine rests on the present and ongoing work of educated scientists. Surely, you can tell the difference between the two? The Bible tells us nothing new, whereas science continues to amaze us with its findings. Granted, science doesn’t have all the answers, but it’s the best vehicle we have for understanding our universe. The Bible is an ancient religious text. Profitable, to be sure, for some, but it offers little of value for moderns. Sorry, Bill, but when I want to understand the world I live in, I don’t consult the Bible or any other religious texts. Wendell Berry? Maybe, but not the dusty pages of the KJV, NIV, ASV, ESV, etc. I spent most of my teen age years and adult life reading and studying the Bible. I know what it says. There’s nothing new to be had. (And you, a True Christian, haven’t said one thing I haven’t heard countless times before or preached myself.)
I wish you well, Bill.
Thank you Bruce for your comments below about the Bible being “bronze age religious texts”. While I agree the Bible is a collection of religious texts, it is more. It is also a history book.
While many (like you) challenge the authenticity of the miraculous, or the religious, the Bible as historical fact has never been disproven. Oh sure, there are lots of conspiracy theories, and lots of different ideas about the various “origins” of the Bible but, archaeology has proven the historically verifiable portions repeatedly, again, and again, and again.
The thing I find most fascinating is the willingness of those who wish to reject the Bible to simply dismiss it based on unproven conspiracy theories (the various councils, the reference to a Babylonian myth, etc.) while the verifiably proven archaeology repeatedly confirms vast portions of the Bible as reliable history. Sure, there are claims that the historical record of Josephus, and other non-Christian writers of the time, had their stories manufactured, but, these are conspiracy theories based on no evidence. In law and in fact the Bible’s account would hold up in a legal proceeding. The number of different eye-witness accounts, the repeated archaeological verification of numerous places and people, etc., pass the legal standards for admitting evidence. The conspiracy theories designed to bring about doubt do not. If one wants to find reasons to doubt, they are there. But as a historical text, proven by archaeology, that has been repeatedly verified, even when historians have challenged various recorded historical facts and repeatedly have been proven wrong over many years.
ANYTHING that is unproven requires faith. There is no much unproven in “science” and in the various contradictory theories of the Bible that all require faith. It is merely a matter of which religion one chooses.
OMG, Bill, did you really say:
“The thing I find most fascinating is the willingness of those who wish to reject the Bible to simply dismiss it based on unproven conspiracy theories (the various councils, the reference to a Babylonian myth, etc.) while the verifiably proven archaeology repeatedly confirms vast portions of the Bible as reliable history. Sure, there are claims that the historical record of Josephus, and other non-Christian writers of the time, had their stories manufactured, but, these are conspiracy theories based on no evidence. In law and in fact the Bible’s account would hold up in a legal proceeding. The number of different eye-witness accounts, the repeated archaeological verification of numerous places and people, etc., pass the legal standards for admitting evidence. The conspiracy theories designed to bring about doubt do not. If one wants to find reasons to doubt, they are there” too.”
Please read Dr. Bart Ehrman’s books — any of them — and then we will talk. You will learn that the Bible is not what you claim it is. If you really want to know, Bill, the truth is available for you to read.
Yes Bruce, I really did say that. I could care less about some author trying to make a buck by sowing doubt about trivial things and re-defining the meaning of words.
For example, I could care less about very small differences in the synoptic Gospels. In fact, if EVERY Gospel contained the exact same, identical message, with absolutely no differences a prosecutor, in a court of law, would accuse and then investigate them for coordinating and corroborating their stories. The fact that there are small differences between the Gospels is 100% consistent with what modern experience teaches us about eye witness accounts. That 4 people, seeing the exact same thing, can have 4 slightly different accounts… If there were not differences (in many cases entirely PETTY and not substantive differences) it would be an indication of a forgery.
My next favorite part is the claim of “forgery”… PLEASE! Vast swaths of world history have been accepted from oral tradition throughout all of recorded history. Even the Pentateuch, credited to Moses authorship, was through oral tradition. He was not there in the Garden of Eden. Further, and consistent with ACCEPTED history, it is quite common for a person to write of another’s events of the past, even ascribing it to that individual. And if the challenges of the “authorship” or penmanship, of a particular book is in question because it refers to Peter in the first person, or Paul in the first person, but there are questions of authenticity, it MAY have also been passed down through oral tradition. It may have even been written by one of them and then damaged through time, and then rewritten later.
So, rather than so much of the anti-Christian hype that many authors feed the public to make a buck, I am genuinely interested in what was so compelling, so convincing, and so completely overwhelming to you PERSONALLY that changed your perspective. Please point to the specific item(s) that you learned that changed your perspective. THAT is what I am interested in. YOUR story. YOUR reason. What causes someone with that much commitment to the faith to walk away. THAT is what I want to know.
As for me, as with all faith, it is a personal matter.
As I have read your story, one thing really, truly stood out to me. Your willingness to change course as you actually studied your Bible. For example, your move away from Pre-Trib, eternal salvation, etc. This is an indication (potentially wrong) that you are deeply concerned about doing the right thing, about being true and accurate. It is also (possibly wrong) an indication of being very emotionally connected and concerned about the well being of others. How much of what you studied in all of these books was emotional manipulation? How much was pessimism and cynicism couched as “truth”? How much was deliberately misleading?
So, in all of your studies of EXTERNAL materials, I suspect you have been manipulated again in an effort to abandon your faith. I have studied many of these materials, along side my Bible, independent of some college professor, and in context of the broader Bible itself and historical tradition. So, once again, I ask you, what were the specific things in all of these external works you reviewed that finally convinced you? When I did my study of many of these, many years ago, I was always fascinated how so many of these authors never followed accepted standards for historical review. For example, how many of these supposed Christian rebuttals you reviewed made it clear that there are other possible explanations? Such as oral tradition that has been fully accepted throughout all of recorded human history?
In the law, to avoid petty technicalities, there is a concept referred to as “a distinction with a difference” (paraphrased). That is the idea that although something is genuinely different such as evidence, testimony, or even the law itself, that if it does not really change anything then it is trivial or unimportant. I am trying to understand the IMPORTANT things that convinced you to walk away. I could care less about going back through many of the screeds and tomes you cite to, only to arrive at the same conclusions of an anti-Christian and agenda driven narrative that is mostly trivial. So, what finally convinced you? THAT is the secret I want to know. What specific evidence was presented in all of these books you cite to that finally caused you to say you are finished?
So, you haven’t read Bart Ehrman — as I expected.
I’ve written over 3,000 posts, Bill. What you seek you will find. That is, if you bother to do so. That you can’t or won’t understand why I deconverted is not my problem.
Per the commenting rules, this is your last post.
I am providing this closing clarification, and then I will respect your decision and never reach out to you again. It is not now, and has never been my responsibility or goal to “save” you. That my friend is between you and God (and be sure, I am quite comfortable delivering the Gospel message of Salvation).
At your request I have not once quoted scripture although I am *very* comfortable with doing so.
You have been provided numerous alternative explanations to many (though certainly not all) of the theories out there claiming Christianity is all a hoax. Together with this, many of the mis-directions, lies, and deceptions have also been presented around so much of the supposed “science” used to undermine Christianity.
Your decision to call an end to the dialog, presenting alternative and opposing views is between you and God. I’m not hurt or offended and I will let it rest there. Your years in the Bible show you know its contents and teachings so let it be as you have decided. I bear you no ill will and find it sad that one having run the race so diligently, and for so long, has abandoned the race near the finish line.
Best wishes on the remaining short portion of your journey that is left. At your final decision not to reply any longer I have completed what had been asked of me.
Bruce, your patience always impresses me. I didn’t make it through even his first sermon, after he said three or four things that made me realize he understands biology and probability about as well as my cats do. He’s not keeping up with archaeology, either. (Not that I’m an expert at any of these things, but an MS in geology has given me at least a little bit of understanding.)
Whatever, though: the real problem I have with people like this is that they seem to love the sound of their own voice (or their own fingers tapping keys). He declares that it isn’t his job or goal to “save” you, but he’s gone on for pages and pages.
I can’t imagine trying to convince him, or anyone else with strong religious beliefs, that they’re wrong and there really is no hard evidence that God(s) exist. No one could have convinced me of that, I had to learn it myself, and deconversion was as painful for me as it seems to be for most people. But these people seem quite reluctant to extend the same courtesy to us.
Bill, which god? The pentacostal god? The Calvinistic god? The evangelistic god? The Mormon god? The Methodist god? Baptist? Need I go on? You wowed us with your smarts, but you lost Bruce and most of the readers of this blog at the end of your first line. Many of us have examined many gods and found them all wanting. The god of the bible? That one who requires a blood sacrifice? That one who wiped out cities in anger, both the “evil” people and the innocent ones. The one who drowned everyone except 8 people – again killing innocent babies and children as well as adults who displeased god? The one who can’t seem to get it right – wanting people who will bow down to him in obedience, but who then have free will and refuse to do his bidding? Come on, Bill. Which god?
Bill, I have literally *seen* a cell strain evolve into two different strains when separated into two different chemical environments (my brother is a microbiologist). I find it infinitely easier to “believe” in evolution than to believe in the incompetent, vengeful nincompoop known as the god of the Bible. Even if it did exist, it isn’t worth worshipping.
Your religion is utterly ridiculous and unworthy of even a modicum of respect. Grow up.
Great, can you please point to the evidence of the experiment you claim? Next, assuming it is true, what does that disprove about any of the claims I made above? An experimental intervention, with deliberate purpose, by an intelligent being to create a different result. So? Intelligent design. Also, what chemical environments? Were those environments already compatible so that it was not a stretch? For example, human physiology can breathe our oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere, or, as in hospital environments pure oxygen. For short periods we can endure even hostile chemicals introduced into our breathing without long term damage. Okay, what does any of that prove or disprove about evolution?
Google “stochastic phenotype switching.” There are lots of experiments out there. That is the entirety of the help I am going to give you. Figure it out yourself, if you can.
Evolution is a fact. The “theory” of evolution is the current best explanation for that fact.
It’s also pointless for you to speak of intelligent design when there is no credible evidence for any alleged designer. You cannot point at an effect and then infer a cause — you have to point directly at the cause itself.
I don’t ascribe to any particular denomination. Although I attend a church, I do not accept “Church”ianity at all! So, bringing up the various denominational flavors does nothing.
As for mixing the various styles of God one wishes to cherry pick, it is out of context. If we want to get into a GENUINE theological discussion here, let me ABSOLUTELY assure you, I *am* up for the challenge. I’m just trying to be somewhat respectful of Bruce’s ideals. But, I’m more than ready to debate theology.
As for the God of the Bible requiring a blood sacrifice, that was under the old covenant, a life for a life. It also pointed to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ to give his life in place of ours to take the place of the curse of death that was brought about by sin.
As for the story of Noah and killing “innocent” babies and children, is any human innocent? We are all flawed flesh and we are all born into sin. So, who is innocent? Further, let’s do a thought exercise. If we assume for just one moment that there is such a being as the God of the Bible, who can “build” all of creation just by speaking it into existence. A universe so vast we can not comprehend its size. Then what does he owe us? Why is he beholden to my flawed human ideas of justice, of right, or wrong, or whatever. Why is the creator INVOLUNTARILY subject to the creation’s will? The underlying premise of the statement assumes we as flawed flesh are gods ourselves who can judge God Almighty.
If you want to have an honest discussion about the problems with “Church”ianity, I am all in on that one. In reading Bruce’s story that is one thing that grieves me. The idea that as a pastor he was indoctrinated into the various self-serving seminary and theological thought bondage until he took the time to diligently study his Bible for himself. In reading about his journey he apparently became disgusted with “Church”ianity and sought true Biblical Christianity. Unfortunately it was much later in his ministry.
So, if you want an honest discussion about the Bible and Christianity I’m wide open to it. If on the other hand the desire is to discuss the various denominational beliefs and incomplete interpretations of small segments of passages without the context, that is a waste of everyone’s time.
Please read the commenting rules. Christian zealots are given one opportunity to say their piece. You have already written hundreds of words, and to what end? You haven’t said anything that hasn’t been said countless times before. Many of the readers of this blog are well-schooled in Christian theology and history. I highly doubt you are going to say anything new or original.
Bill, you write screeds of what we here see as absolute nonsense, then finish a comment by referring to wasting people’s time!
You clearly are literate, in the sense that you can string together words into sentences, then into paragraphs. That doesn’t make your comments any more logical or even coherent. I find it hard to be open to discussion with a person who dismisses the science of evolution, the scientific theory (and don’t try and misrepresent the word theory in this context) that has more empirical evidence supporting it than any other theory, who then somehow is able to contort the negative evidence of the bible into their beliefs! I say that the bible is negative evidence because careful reading and assessment of it against what we now know strongly suggests that most of the bible is factually and historically wrong. To even mention Adam and Eve in polite company is definitely not going to improve your credentials.
What really bugs me about creationists (and I’ll not grant the word creationism even a theory worth contemplating, it’s pure superstition) is that they have simply chosen not to accept evolution as the fact it is. You haven’t sat on the fence and assessed the evidence for evolution properly, then decided against it, you’ve decided against it then read Discovery Institute nonsense propaganda, for example Intelligent Design and irreducible complexity, so as to try and bolster your position. I’ll not bother, at this stage anyhow, refuting your silly fool analysis of evolution, because it’s clear you’ve never read a book on evolution. Anybody who actually picks up and starts reading such a book immediately knows this is the truth. I doubt very much the position of the likes of Michael Behe on the subject, the scientist who originally dreamt up Intelligent Design. He’s a scientist (though a relatively inconspicuous biochemist, not a biologist), and I’m quite sure he knows that evolution is true, but he’s managed to achieve a level of public visibility he could not otherwise have achieved.
In denying evolution you come head to head with 99% of the world’s scientific community (and I could undermine the 1%). I have no idea what job you do but if I tell you that you are useless at it, whatever it is, you’d be offended. You’d sort of be right, because I don’t even know what you do, never mind how well you do it, yet you are prepared to impugn the evolutionists of the world who have studied the subject for countless years, and brought benefits to humanity as a result. All because your ideology refuses to believe the facts, favouring the silliness of a set of texts penned often thousands of years ago, by people doing their best to make sense of a world which they were unable to comprehend in the least way.
Surely, killing little children and babies in warfare in the OT is barbaric. Weren’t some parts of the bible written by very violent, barbaric and ignorant savages who created god in their own likeness? It’s no use saying that babies were born in sin. What sins had they committed? Why did they deserve to die?
Wasn’t god the biggest abortionist who drowned all the pregnant ladies outside the so-called ark and himself killed little children? How is this compatible with Jesus command to “love your enemies”?
God does not think like you and you do not think like him. He knows much more then you know or understand. When Abraham passed the land, people that inhabited the land of Canaan were wicked people. They killed their children and sacrifice them to idols and false gods. God show them mercy and waited for long time for them to repent.When 400 years later the israelites came to this land that was promised to their father Abraham , God told them to killed everything for a reason. That reason was not to corupt themself with these idols and do the same thing later if they left some of the inhabitants alive. They killed even the kids. It is hard to understand, but when they did so, God was showing these kids MERCY. When a child die in young age, it does not go to hell, but to heaven. Of course theirs wicked parents , that sometimes burn them and sacrificed them to idols when to hell. Is it better to grow old and burn in hell or die young and go to heaven where you have eternal life? God paths is not yours and He knows better then you. He can see the future and He actually saved this kids from destruction from hell. Of coarse this was in the old testament and now is the grace period. I believe the Bible has the answer to most question if we diligently study it.
Ivaylo, just because a character is described in a book does not mean that the character is real. You could have saved yourself a lot of trouble by typing “God does not think” and left it at that.
And oh! how sweet of you to make excuses for the Biblical barbarity of your imaginary fiend “promising” someone else’s land to the Israelites. Your lack of insight and your callous dismissal of genocide (even a probably fictional one) leads me to believe that you are utterly unfit for civil society and that anyone with a modicum of sense should lock you out of their houses and out of your lives.
It is my wish for you that you lose your faith, so that you can see for yourself how hideously evil your words are.
Does not the potter has the right to do with clay, whatever he wants? Yes he does.
Does Creator need to explain to you whatever He wants to do? No He does not.
The problem is not that God is cruel. The problems are that people are cruel. When something bad happened and kids die, people ask “WHERE IS GOD. IF HE EXIST WHY THIS HAPPENED” That’s very hipocritical question to ask. First humans do not want God in their life and after something happens they blame Him for allowing this thing. The problem is not God , the problem is human nature and sin that bring us destruction. Sin brings death, destruction.
Christians are people with many failure, still they are the best people. Countries that are build on Christian’s values are much better , then countries build on atheistic values. I was born in communist (where they thought us atheism) country and human life had no value. That’s why China, Soviet union, Cuba , etc killed so many people, because of their communistic atheistic views.
Without Christianity USA, Canada, western civilization would not exist.
Christians abolished slavery in England and USA. Christians and countries based on christian values send more help to pure countries then any atheistic , muslim or communist country. Why?
Christians brings social justice around the world based on the Bible. Take for example William Carry who went to India. When men died there they buried the women windows alive. Because of him, India abolished this practice.
The best schools and universities are build by Christians-Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford. Now they all changed to atheism for worst.
The best science was build by Christians- about 75% of Nobel laureates are Christians, 5-10% are atheist. The antibiotic was invented by christian. Magnetic resonance was invented by Christian. Newton, Ainshtein, Bless Pascal and millions of Christians (not atheist) make your life easier. I can send you a list of millions (if you contact me at email@example.com) of Christians who are scientists and best in many fields.
Orphanages were build by Christians (ex. George Muller) in England when children had no more values then rats.
Best hospitals are build by Christians. Best music. I can go on and on…
Do you still believe that Christians are barbaric friend, really?
What about Darwin who believed the blacks are monkeys, what about comunist atheists who killed millions.
Yes christians have flaws and make a lot of mistakes, still they are better in any field of science, social justice, equality, woman’s right. BEST
If it is not enough for you, think about Jesus.
He gave his life for you. He said :
“No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”
Why friend, why?
We are criminals, filthy, dirty, even the best of us have done so many evil thing in our lifetime. Are you going to deny that you have done bad things?
Why Jesus lay down His life for US?
Because He loved us.
I am biophysicist ,I am biotehnologist, I read millions of books, I was a comunist, i was an atheist, I was orthodox christians. I taste it all.
But Jesus is the sweetest of all.
Christians faith is not build on fables, stories, but is build on MANY INFALIBLE EVIDENCES.
That’s why i believe the Bible, because of evidence, evidence, evidence. Not because I am stupid.
330 prophecies about Jesus in the old testament?
What are the probability that this was going to be fulfilled in Jesus.None.
Yet it happened.
Apostle Paul said 500 people seen Jesus after resurection.
Do you need more withness or evidence???
I know so many christians who were vile, murderer, thieves, drug addicts , suicidal and without any help.
The religion could not helped them, the Darwin theory could not helped them, Gouvernement could not helped them , psychiatrist could not helped them, BUT GOD helped them. If they did not told me their life I would not know they were so bad.
One atheist one said- I can deny the Bible, I can deny God, but I CAN NOT deny that faith in Christ and the Bible have changed so many lifes. Christianity contributed for the betterment of the whole society.
Why I am not an atheist? Because I am not stupid.
My faith is build on many EVIDENCE.
Another word salad, this time with a double order of bull shit dressing. Let me sum up your comment: Christianity is true, Christianity is wonderful, all the best people in the world are Christians, and the world owes its very existence to Christianity. Atheism is a lie, Atheism is terrible, all the worst people in the world are atheists, and the world owes nothing to atheism. Did I miss anything? Oh, and I forgot the Bible verses, sermonizing, and horrible apologetical arguments from a man who thinks typing INFALLIBLE EVIDENCES in caps makes it so; a man who thinks repeating the word evidence over and over again makes it so; a man who repeatedly reminds us he’s smart, not stupid.
Perhaps other commenters will respond to your comment. I’ll take a pass. Your mind is so deeply immersed in Fundamentalist Christianity — from reading millions of books — that there’s no hope of reaching you. I’m sure you wear this fact as a badge of honor.
sigh Talk about a word salad, complete with bull shit dressing. God killed children so they wouldn’t grow up, die, and go to Hell? What an awesome God you serve, Ivaylo. The Bible says God opens and closes the womb,right? If God was just going to commit infanticide, why not keep the children from being born at all? What greater purpose did their births serve? And don’t give me the God’s thoughts/ways are not our thoughts/ways cop out. In this instance, my thoughts/ways (and John’s) are superior in every way to your violent, vindictive God.
As there’s no link below your April 21, 11:43 a.m. post that I can use to reply, Ivaylo, I’m replying here.
First of all, clay is not sentient. If clay could feel pain, the potter would not be free to abuse it.
Secondly, there is nothing special about “western” civilization. Christianity’s contributions — a bit of mythology and some daft morality — pale in comparison to the contributions of other societies including Mesopotamia, Greece, Egypt, and pre-Christian northern Europe.
Thirdly, if you’re going to compare us to Mao, I’m comparing you to murderous Christian dictators like Charlemagne — who had 4500 Saxons executed when they refused to convert to dead-rabbi-totem-on-a-stick cult. Don’t like it? Then don’t do it to us.
And holy f%ck, you’re illiterate! “Ainshtein”? Heeheeheeheehee! No. Albert Einstein was a nonobservant Jew who actually wrote a letter in the mid-1950s disavowing the religious sentiments that people like you had falsely attributed to him.
Listened to any contemporary Christian music lately? Amateurish, artistically vile crap.
Paul of Tarsus (a.k.a. “The Antichrist” because he contradicted so much of the Gospel teachings) is not a credible witness. He never met Jesus, and in fact may have invented the character — along with the alleged 500 witnesses.
Finally, I reject unconditionally and for all eternity the alleged “sacrifice” of Jesus. I do not consent to anyone dying, even temporarily, for something I supposedly did.
Go away. You have nothing that we want.
As I’m reading this I realized you love knowledge. And as you suck knowledge receiving understanding.
I find peoples rationale of God false, un-arguable. Because it’s their belief system, based on their search for knowledge and understanding too.
When it comes to religion and politics it’s the speaker who has the floor. I can’t argue that..,,,
It’s foolishness to try
So, if I had to give one reason WHY I am no longer a Christian today it would be BOOKS.
Rationally and intellectually explain.
That is your why. At 20 years old I was functionally illiterate suffering from dyslexia I had to learn how to read and understand and I had to learn how to learn. So I’ve gone to college I struggle for years. Through my experience, life is an experience, I can’t use education and knowledge and other peoples knowledge to define my understanding of God. And yet I love to hear peoples hearts, That is a passion of mine. So I’m gonna keep reading your things and commenting because I like hearing your heart, I hear your heart beyond the books and the logical Explanation of what is what isn’t or what may or may not be. But I love the fact that as a human and a person I’m living in the United States we have a right to express all of it
humber702 said: …And yet I love to hear peoples hearts, That is a passion of mine….
What beautiful words! Thank-you, humber702, for reminding me of what is at the bottom of all the preaching and proselytizing once you scrape away the harm done over the ages, just people trying to speak their hearts. This is why when I hear the Toddler-in-Chief (apologies to all toddlers whose status is demeaned by this usage) I cannot gain any feeling of a depth of heart being expressed; only a shallow, blunt narcissism that is horrific to me, truly viral and ugly.
I have read many scientific books – physics, electronics, mathematics, rocket sciense, air missiles defence , biotechnology, ,medical laboratory in several languages ( russian, english, french, bulgarian)
Let get to the point. [let’s not. Rest of cut and paste deleted.]
Astreja you are right. Charlemagne was Roman Catholics and they are not true christian religion. They force their false, demonic religion to others. I was born orthodox and they did the same in Bulgaria around 950 AD. I hated orthodox religion (not the people) from my childhood and still do. Because it false and not true. The same is true with Roman Catholic religion. The Bible calls these religion prostitution ( see Rev. chapter 17 and 18).
But leave religions apart. I believe the Bible because it is credible.
[cut and paste deleted]
There is no “true christian religion,” Ivaylo. You’re all playing make-believe, imagining that you’re going to live forever. Death is permanent.
Well, Bruce seems that you lost all logic. You lost also your life serving and preaching from the Bible you did not understand. To understand it depends of someone heart.
Anyway good luck in this life and will see you some day for a short moment at the judgment seat of God, where you will be judged by the Bible and I will be one of you judges. (if you know the Bible you know what I mean).
But the worst Bruce will be your regret about your family.
I remember a story about young lady that visited one church and wanted her father to come. But the father was a drunkard and rip the Bible apart, then beat the little girl and forbid her to go there. The girl also become a drunkard and had promiscuous life. Later her father repented of all his sins and bad behavior. He tried to talk about his girl to forgive him. She became very sick and was ready to die. The father cried at her bed and begged her to believe the Bible and Jesus as she was facing eternity. She told him “It is too late father, too late. Do you remember when I ask you the same. Too late.” She went into eternity with a heart of stone.
I tried to help.
God bless you.
sigh I understood the Bible then, and I still understand it now. It’s not a mysterious book, nor is understanding it dependent on the condition of my nonexistent “heart.”
Your subtle threats of judgment and damnation — complete with sermon illustration — will not work with me.
But, what do I know, I’ve “lost all logic.”
No, Ivaylo, you are not helping anyone. You are uttering threats against total strangers because they don’t subscribe to Christian fairy tales.
If it were up to me, you would have nightmares about hell every night for the rest of your life until you sincerely asked yourself the question “Why am I worshipping a god that would create a hell?”
I am not going to hell AND I CAN NOT. I am saved. Do not dream at all about that. I warn others, because it is terible place.
Why God created hell?
Because He is just and good God. He hates crimes (sins). It is a logical reason.
In prisons we panish criminals, in hells it is the same – panishment for crimes (sins), seen or unseen
(unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, implacable, unmerciful and many more)
What about some heinous criminal comes before a judge and he let him go. Is this justice?
Hell is place where people recieve justice and God is just and good . Logic right?
I do not treat no one. I warn because I do not want anyone to go there.
Still do not understand people believing evolution (atheists) when it is not scientific.
Majority of scientists believe the Bible. 75% of Nobel laureat. Isnthat coincidence?
Evolution braches -all proven false. Scientifically.
Carbon 14 radioactivity for millions of years of evolution. Hahana. Do not go there. I am physicist.
Watch movie (or book) “The case for Christ” by Lee strobel and hopefully you will understand why atheist turn to Christ. Because it is scientific, logical, historicaly correct ( sorry textual critics, you homework is stupid, no offense).
Look put EMOTION aside. It will not help you. Think logic. Why people trust Christ?
You are not saved, Ivaylo. Eternal life is a myth. When you die you stay dead.
There is no justice in eternal punishment. It is infinitely unjust, and you worship a god of infinite evil because you falsely believe it will give you paradise in exchange for obedience. No. A being that insane would — if it actually existed — find the smallest excuse to throw you from heaven into hell. You can never be safe in heaven. You are always one thought away from hell, always at the mercy of a madman.
And if you’re a physicist, you’re the very worst one I have ever met. Worse, even, than the worst student in my Grade 11 physics class, I’m not a professional scientist, but I am an amateur astronomer and well versed in the principles of physical cosmology, evolution via natural selection, radiometric dating and basic chemistry. Even I know that one doesn’t use Carbon-14 to date anything older than a few thousand years. One uses radioactive substances with much longer half-lives, of which there are quite a few.
In other words, you’re a liar. Your lies about evolution being proven false, and about 75% of Nobel laureates believing the Bible have sealed your fate.
See you in nonexistent hell, you pretentious little git.
I can not comment on this post because Bruce is deleting all he does not like.Like all the who cheat. It is not fair.
If you want to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
You are on moderation. I’m deleting anything you post that is cut and paste.
Insulting me will not work. I am immune to such behavior.
As I said in another post above, you have nothing that we want. I will not be e-mailing you, because it would be a waste of my time.
I changed his email address. ?? I don’t let anyone post their email address, especially Christian zealots.
thumbs up I noticed after I had posted that you had taken creative liberties with his address.
Even If I am wrong (which I am not) I loose nothing. I have good life and do not regret been a christian. I treat others the way I want to be treated (golden rule from the Bible). And even when they do not , still I do them good.
I win always – whether wrong or right.
But If I am right. you loose ALL. Your soul.
You might want to do two things. First, read up on why Pascal’s Wager is a terrible argument. Second, you might want to re-read the Golden Rule. You come off as an arrogant, know-it-all Christian asshole.
I know the golden rules, but since you do not like the Bible or erase things not good for you, just try to be gentle with you, less you get offended or insulted.
Since you know the Bible and been 25 years pastor, why never quotes it?
Are you afraid of it, that it has the power to transform? Yes it has .Wants examples?
Even the atheist now that . At least the most famous. Can you deny this?
Then you need to practice what you preach, dude. By now, you should have read the commenting rules. Please act accordingly.
You come off as delusional. No one is afraid of your words or the words of the Bible, for that matter. Your personal attacks are offensive and insulting. Since you are a guest in my house, I expect you to abide by my house rules. If you can’t, fuck off. Go find other atheists to preach to.
I preached thousands of sermons in my lifetime. I’ve spent thousands and thousands of hours reading and studying the Bible. I am confident that my Bible dick is bigger than yours. Think John Holmes (me) vs. Donald Trump (you).
The Bible is an inanimate object. I don’t generally fear inanimate objects unless they are a car heading straight for me. The Bible is a book, no different from countless other books I own and have read over the years. The Bible has no magical powers. Just because someone reads the Bible and it changes their life doesn’t mean the Bible is unique, special, or supernatural. Books can and do bring change and transformation. I found books by Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton, and Bart Ehrman to be inspirational. My life materially changed after reading their books. Using your illogic, these books must be supernatural. After all, they have the “power to transform.” The same, may I humbly say, can be said about my blog. Thousands of people read this blog every day. Some people have really been helped by my writing. Some of them have had born again experiences, leaving Christianity and embracing reason, skepticism, and critical thinking. Others have found encouragement and strength from my writing. My goal is to be a facilitator, not an evangelist for atheism. Any move away from your brand of mind-numbing, cultic Christianity is a good one. Unlike you, who thinks life is all about the destination, I believe life is all about the journey. Each of us are on our own path.
You are not going to find people on this site receptive to your preaching. You might consider whether commenting here is a good use of your time. Most of the regular readers/commenters on this site are former Christians. They know the Bible inside and out. Many of them were pastors, evangelists, missionaries, worship leaders, and Christian college professors. Scores of readers are former on-fire, filled with the Spirit Christians. No low-hanging fruit here, Ivaylo. In fact, your comments likely remind readers of why they left Christianity and how happy they are to be free from the chains of Fundamentalist bondage. We’ve found the Promised Land. Why we we ever want to return to bondage of Egypt? No thanks.
Bruce, I do not understand why you are angry at God. Many people had difficult childhood yet, they are not ungry at Him. Job said that we are born for trouble. All of us.
Yet God have blessed you and give you a good family. You had the best job (it is better to be called ministry). Better then the president of the United States or Bill Gates. Maybe not so much rewarded here on this Earth, but there is special reward in heaven for pastors (you should now that). I personaly lived for many years with 60-100 dollars per months. Bible tell us that we need to be content. We need to learn that. So you have been blessed abundantly in your life.
Now the important thing.
Do you know what is the difrence bettween backsliden christian and reprobate?
Backsliden christian is born again christian who is struggling with sin or walking with the Lord. Yet he is child to God. He knows the truth and often repent. Jonh Bunyan call such a Christian “Little faith” This christian will go in heaven.He never leaves the bible truths untill the end.
Reprobate chrisrian is NOT BORN AGAIN. This christian know the truth, the Bible and the gospel. He may have an externaly good life. He looks clean and other people think he is christian. Yes he is not born again. He has never realy repented. He is like the seed that falls on stony ground (heart) and wither . Such christian is watered by the word of God yet it produce thorn. He is tossed of every wind of doctrine. He has tasted of the goodness of God and the the world to come , yet they believe Him not. Even if they have knowledge of the Bible, they retain it not. They are false teacher, prophets. They are like dog who has been wash (by the word), but return to his vomit. They are weed, that produce not fruits and are burned at the end.
So GOD HAVE REJECTED THEM.
Reprobate christian is rejected by God , because of his unbelieving heart. He will go in hell.
Which one are you?
No need to write me. I will not read your blog anymore.
Wish you good.
You: No need to write me. I will not read your blog anymore.
Bruce: Good riddance.
There’s no “soul” to lose, Bibletruthbg. But if there was, what if Allfather Oðinn refuses to let you into Valhalla because your belief was founded on cowardice rather than honourable behaviour?
Pascal’s Wager breaks down as soon as there are more than two possibilities — and the possibilities are infinite. It’s a sucker bet.
Comment deleted. Commenter refuses to understand why using Pascal’s Wager is a bad idea.
You said, “I tried to help.”
No you didn’t. You know my background, so what could you possibly tell me that I don’t already know? No, your comments are all about you; your need to be be right, or at least “feel” right. What you’ve really done is what Christian apologists often do: public masturbate. Makes you feel good — sure told those atheists — but the rest of us wish you’d zip up your pants and go away.
Incorrect. As Astreja and Bruce have already pointed out, if you’re wrong you could end up in Helheim or any of the many other fantastic punishment-based afterlives that people have cooked up.
The real question is: why would you pose such an obviously dishonest argument? Unless you were born yesterday, surely someone has pointed out the problem with that argument before, yes? And even if you weren’t outright lying, why should I value your opinion on what to worship? You’re giving the impression that you’re not even willing to make the effort to understand reality or God or whatever.
Interesting read. I started by looking up what happened to John Denmark. All I can share is that the Creator of all Creation, must have another path for you. As for myself (an old war veteran), there must be a Great Force, otherwise how does all this around me ‘work’? I realized that everything that we know about science, God, time, matter, space, and energy, was encompassed in the first 10 words that were recorded in the scriptures. I view the Bible more as a type of ‘guidebook’ (for me, anyway), for living on planet Earth. Everything I understand about how everything works in harmony, is in Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning (time), God (Force), created (Energy), the heavens (Space), and the Earth (Matter). From there, it gets even more interesting along my journey. I sincerely hope that your happiness comes together for you:-) Respectfully, -JB
I’m commenting about that sick story Ivalo P recounted about the young girl with a horrible father, and I hope it’s a metaphorical story and not a real account. My question is–where was the church body while this girl was going to church !? Why didn’t they step in to get her away from her monster father ?? And if this man had really changed and became a Jesus follower,why didn’t God honor this man’s prayers for this girl. And also, why the hell was he even allowed to be in her room at all ? He, being so abusive before, was the LAST person she should hear about Jesus/God from ! This is such a crappy example, and the bad gadgets a free pass while the girl supposedly went to hell because she had “a heart of stone.” Really ? This is one reason why I really hate missionaries so much. It sounds like the lowest caliber of Christian is sent to East
I get it, I don’t agree with your conclusions, but that’s ok. Intellectual discussion allows for divergent of opinion. Tolerance demands civility. Personally, I have run the gambit of doubt, confusion, exploration, and back again. I’m not a deconstructionist but rather a rennovationist. We all start with presuppositions, and mine is that God exists, I believe my reasons for that are as certain as the Higgs boson.
I found your site while working on my thoughts about deconstructionism and the Christian faith. Your candor is appreciated. It helps to inform my thinking. And though you no longer believe, I will still ask God’ blessing on you and your wife.
Christians are by nature deconstructionists because they re-interpreted the old Jewish texts to prophesize Jesus as the messiah and the son of God.
When we look at modern science we have to deconstruct the bible again. Why does it not speak of evolution, instead saying humans came from dirt 6000 years ago, and that the earth is flat? We either try to justify these things by reinterpreting scripture or we remain intellectually dishonest about traditional biblical claims.
Sad. It was obviously a combination of reading heretical books and talking to a “ Sigmund Freud” counselor.
Remember Jesus still loves you just as much now and wants to rekindle the relationship with you.
Yes, I know Jesus still wants to fuck me. I’m not interested.
James Thompson, James, Tom, Deacon John, Bro. Shep,
The Bible is a heretical book? 😂😂
I can tell you know absolutely nothing about psychotherapy. My counselors use cognitive behavioral therapy — not Freudian techniques.
I can also tell you desperately need CBT.
Shep, why are you relaying messages from Jesus? Can’t he come here to Bruce’s site and do it himself?
Hi Bruce, I was raised in the IFB church and left the church at 16 and was disowned by my parents and pretty much everyone else in my family. It was a horrible, horrible experience to be shunned by everyone in my family. And I mean everyone, mother father brother aunts uncles cousins and later my parents would tell my children how horrible I was even though I worked 2 jobs to make ends meet, I was working my second job as a bar tender therefore I was a POS and no one should deal with me in the family. I was always blamed for divorcing my children’s father even though he cheated on me constantly, gave me STDs and beat the holy hell out of me every Friday night when he’d come home drunk after blowing his whole paycheck and we had no rent money or food money for the babies and I would go off on him. But somehow this was all my fault because I wasn’t “Right with the Lord”. OMG if I hear that one more time that all my issues in life are because I’m not right with the Lord instead of being born into poverty and raising 3 kids all by myself with no child support. Yeah, it’s because somehow I’ve pissed off God just trying to live my life around a ton of misogynist men. Anyway I just wanted to say that I agree so much that the Baptist Church (not just the IFB churches but also the Southern Baptist Churches have become a cult.) I mean every single day of my life since I was 4 years old I have asked God to let me die. I believe in Pro-Life and a woman’s right to choose. I wish my mother had chosen to abort me and never have me. I would not have suffered so much in this life. There is not one good thing in my life. I am a single mother and all I do is work, I have 3 kids and work full time. Being brought up in the IFB basically meant that I was taught the man gets to sit on his ass and do nothing but just go to HIS full time job. I was expected to work FULL TIME at a “real job” and then come home and do my second job- Clean the ENTIRE HOUSE ALONE, change every single diaper, do all the cooking and washing dishes, wash every single piece of clothes, take the kids on every single doctor visit, do all the grocery shopping, never ever get a break from my kids, and I mean do everything while the man sits around being the “MAN OF THE HOUSE” whatever the h e double hockey sticks that means other than being lazy while a woman waits on him hand and foot. I think that every single IFB Church out there should also be taxed. They are not a Church they are a Right Wing Propaganda machine that is only looking out for White Males. They enslave women end of story. It’s why I will never go to an organized religious Christian church again. I do believe in God, I’ve had some experiences with the supernatural that I just can’t explain and I know in my heart there is some kind of afterlife. However, I do not believe for one minute that our IFB churches are preaching Jesus’ message or God’s message for that matter. Each of us has to find that spirituality on our own. Don’t let anyone else tell you how to talk to God or what God wants or what God knows, because they’re lying to you. We can only find that inner peace through inner growth not being brainwashed with “group think”. I’m sorry I’m rattling on but the IFB has traumatized me my entire life and I need to speak and don’t know where else to go to do it. Thank you for your website and being honest about your experience in the IFB. I can relate so much to you thank you so much for this space where we can be safe to disagree with the IFB and the evangelical Juggernaut.
Rebecca Parrish: “They enslave women end of story.”
I wonder if you have reflected on how important it was for your christian beliefs that you thought that the bible was ‘written’ by god in some, perhaps mediated, sense, so that it contains no contradictions, and that by reading it you could know the mind of god. I am an atheist who lives in Australia, and when I discovered as a teenager that in the United States there were people called fundamentalists who thought that the bible should be read literally (e.g. there was a talking snake) I thought that was a historically losing proposition. At that time I was an atheist but schooled in an Anglican church that taught the various bits of the Bible as myth, metaphor, descriptive and what not as the context and a reasonable apprehension of reality required. E.g. you do not have to believe there was a real talking snake at one time to be christian, and would avoid mockery if you said there was. DId you believe there was a talking snake? Did you believe there were no textual contradictions? It seems to me that fundamentalism, which is just an interpretive strategy for reading texts, dooms the christian or muslim to ignorance and failure to see the world for what it is. I am interested in your thoughts.
All Christian sects have interpretive strategies, be they mainline Christians or Evangelicals. The Abrahamic religions are text-based religions. The Bible, however it is interpreted and what hermeneutics are used, is central to Christianity. No Bible,no Christianity.
My beliefs about the Bible moderated over the years.
Fundamentalism is actually a complex worldview, one where the Bible plays an integral part. If Christianity is anything, it’s an arena where sects and individual Christians battle to see who is right. Liberals are not above the fray. Their focus and motivations are different, but they too have hills they are willing to die on.
The questions all believers should ask themselves. Do I believe in something that is real? Why do I believe it is real? Is what I believe really historical? Is what I believe backed up by known things like observed sciences? Is what I believe truly moral in light of what common folk would say morality is? As a former believer religious ideas failed at all these categories. Why would a god be immoral or illogical, or unscientific or unenlightened not knowing anything more than what was available during the era things were written about? I attended a IFB church for a while. Legalistic joyless moralizers. Turns out Jack Hyles may have had some skeletons and his son-in-law and son were both removed from their pulpits for sexual behaviors. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”