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Steve Ransomovitch Lays Down a Challenge to Bruce and His Fellow Atheists

i challenge you

Repost from 2015. Edited, rewritten, and corrected. 

A man by the name of Steve Ransomovitch (real name?)  sent me the following:

Hello Bruce,

I have read through your entire blog. You write honestly and you choose to do so publicly. Therefore, you should also publicly be prepared to defend your theological/philosophical position in certain areas. But the Bruce Gerencser ‘rules of play’ on your site have all but ruled this out. The many, many dos and donts aimed at the ‘evangelicals’ certainly provide an effective earthly shield for you. The thing is Bruce, do you dare enter a very public debate ‘one on one’ with somebody who does not need to resort to any of the cheap shots you quite rightly cite as unacceptable on your site?

And by cheap shots I mean such things as lobbing that favourite scriptural/philosophical hand-grenade (you know, the one we Christians like to lob as a last ditch defence of our position – Ha! That’ll sort ‘im!-type grenade) resorting to such defences as calling on guilt or hell or ‘the evolution v creation debate’ or resorting to looking somehow to ‘save Pastor Bruce’ in order to try and resolve my own inner demons or soul baggage – all these cheap shots plus a load more have undoubtedly already been aimed at you and your loving family – a family that very evidently been strung out and wrung out to dry so many times already and who’ve heard all these cheap shots so many times before.

The thing is Bruce, having read through your entire blog, I am confident that none of those arguments are necessary in order for you and your family (and dare I say many of your readers) to be set on your feet and enjoying God’s favour. But do you dare take that step? And I certainly don’t use the word ‘dare’ lightly or as some kind of you don’t dare means I win position. No, by dare, I mean, look at the blog and the subsequent new life you have since created – the huge emotions involved in your journey so far – the investment can hardly bear thinking about. What if was taken from you? Could you face all of that spiritual upheaval all over again? Do you even want to?

So, here’s my take on this Bruce. I certainly don’t want to be a waste of your time and you’ll certainly read my post to you and you’ll take a position on all of this.

And here is my challenge to you: I challenge you to reproduce this post word for word on your site, ask what your readers think, and let’s take it from there. Have I broken any Gerencser site rules as yet? And be assured, none of you guys out there on the glorious www will be wasting any of my time, that’s for sure.

Thanks for reading.

Steve from the UK.

No, I am not going to waste my time with this man, but I thought I would publish his letter so others could read it. I will make this challenge to the letter writer: in ONE succinct, direct paragraph please share the argument you think I have never heard. One paragraph that will clearly show that you have a new argument, a new line of discussion, a new game plan to win atheists to Jesus. One paragraph. Just one. If you make an argument I have never heard before, then I will take the time to answer the newfangled argument that is sure to set my family and me, along with readers of this blog, “on our feet and enjoying God’s favor.”

I would also ask that the letter writer actually read through ALL OF MY BLOG. Numerous Christians have made such a claim, but the server logs reveal another story. Like with the Bible, most Christian speed read my writing, rarely taking the time to read Bruce Almighty’s Genesis, First and Second Chronicles, and Lamentations.

Steve, if you are reading this, please leave your new argument paragraph in the comment section.

It’s time to start a betting pool.

  • How many of you think the letter writer has a new argument that I have not heard before?
  • How many of you think it will be an old argument dressed in new clothes?
  • How many of you think it will be the same old shit?

Please take the time to read the comments. You will find that Steve did not come through as promised. I know, I know, shocker, right? Since writing this post, Steve has stopped by now and again to drop loads of bullshit. He has been banned several times. For readers not aware of how I handle banned commenters, let me state my policy. Only one person is permanently banned from commenting on this site. Annually, I restore commenting privileges to everyone who was banned during the previous year. Bruce Almighty grants them grace, an opportunity to prove that they can play well with others. Unfortunately, many of them end up right back in jail.

Best I can tell, Steve last commented in 2018. Here’s what he had to say to Brian:

Your problem brian and thousands of hardened atheists like you is that your war is an everyday war in your mind against the God you know exists, and also that Jesus drew a line when it came to grace and patience, He rightly pointed out the false teachers and pharisees of His day were satanic in their lineage and indeed that satan was their father, there was no wheedling or hoping for a miraculous turnaround on Jesus’ part, He knew exactly who He was dealing with, Bruce Gerenscer and his godless crew are nothing new, theyve heard the Gospel and they have chosen their path to eternal destruction. Oh but wait, here comes the reply, ‘well, will you all look at that, doesnt that loveless graceless steve from the uk prove our point so well.’ Yawn yawn,

Yawn, yawn, indeed.

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

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  1. Avatar

    My money is on option #2 … a new wrinkle (or an outdated/rarely used old wrinkle brought out of the mothball fleet) on an old argument. I guess that makes me technically hedging between #2 and #3 … but who is counting. Either way, I’d almost bank on the answer to this new/old argument being “We don’t know and CAN’T know … but neither can you “know” … and “faith” is not “knowing”.

    There’s my wager 😉


  2. Avatar

    Well, the only way anyone could possibly be an atheist is if they haven’t considered ALL of the evidence for God’s truth.



  3. Avatar

    Yep. Same old stuff. He doesn’t really know your story (or any of ours) and assumes he has something we have never heard of that will make all the difference. Orrrrr… He will back it all up with the Bible not understanding that we don’t believe the Bible to be anything other than an old book.

  4. Avatar

    I vote for #3 but the writer thinks it is #1 although there is probably a good bit of #2 and I and #2 in the bathroom sense!!!

  5. Avatar

    I believe Steve will have a #2 that he thinks is #1. Look at all of the Mel-Calvinists coming out of the woodwork. They all have “new” revelations me that are just a rehashing of old ideas, with extra legalism sprinkled in for spice.

    On a side note, I noticed he signed as Steve from the UK. I have a friend that I text with everyday who is from the UK. There are subtle, but distinct, differences between our writing. I noticed none of those in Steve’s writing. Steve’s writing looks exactly like any of the numerous writers who like to write lengthy sermons promoting Calvinism. The use of “favourite” over “favorite” is a KJV nuance. I’m wondering if Steve isn’t someone who has already been kicked off once or more times before. It is no big deal to log into a UK site and post from there. Just my thoughts.

  6. Avatar

    i’d say #2, or #3.

    he’s a step above the typical theist, in that he didn’t quote any bible verses at you, and didn’t threaten you with hell day one.

    however, he also gave you no information at all — no indication what his argument is, or why his argument can’t be made under your rules. if he actually has a new argument, and has actually read all of your blog, then he should have given the gist of his argument in the first posting, since you’ve demonstrated numerous times a willingness to let new posters and first-time posters have their say.

    so my guess is that he can’t or won’t give the gist of his argument in one paragraph, but will complain that your rules are too strict, again, without providing any new information, and that his super-special argument can’t be summarized into a single paragraph.

    knowing you check the logs, how many pages did he actually read before posting?

    you could always send him over to gary’s blog if you lose patience with him! 🙂

  7. Avatar

    I think Steve probably is from the UK, simply because the tone sounds UK rather than American. If he is from the UK then I’m a bit embarrassed; I thought we’d finally disposed of these cranks.

    Your approach of inviting a new argument is absolutely right and, of course, he will be unable so to do. The last of the ‘new’ arguments were those of William Lane Craig with his ‘Kalam cosmological’ and the fine tuning argument (I discount his argument from morality, as that was worn out even before he brought it up, and his ontological arguments really are silly). Yet here we are several years on and Craig’s arguments have been soundly disparaged, with no new ones to take their place.

    Steve is really going to struggle here I’m afraid. After all, if he actually had something new to say then surely he’d have said it!

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Well I hope his “new” argument is not a philosophical one. I have little patience with such arguments. Take the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Rather than chase the philosophical rabbit around the yard, I say fine, I grant your premise. Now, connect THIS first cause to the Evangelical Christian God of the Bible. Show me the bridge that gets us from point A to point B. I’m still waiting 🙂

      In these kind of arguments, the Evangelical gives up the one thing he supposedly holds dear; the authority and sufficiency of the Bible.

      • Avatar

        ‘Kalam’ is an apples and oranges argument. It seeks to equate our normal perception of things changing with an act of creation. To say ‘ooh, gosh, he just created a watch’ isn’t really true. What the watchmaker did was take some materials and convert them, ingeniously one has to say, to another form. In this case the ‘creator’ isn’t a creator but a ‘manipulator’. That is a far cry from biblical creation, a concept that I find impossible to conceive.

  8. Avatar

    Just answer one question: Why must I ‘defend’ something that simply is? Explain why I must defend my disbelief in any other religion or myth. Explain just one of these things to my satisfaction, on it could be on like donkey-kong.

    PS: No one has ever been able to explain why I MUST defend my disbelief. Steve’s not going to be able to, either. As they say in Texas: All hat, no cattle.

  9. Avatar

    Evidence. Data. Anecdotes are a waste of time. Holy books don’t count as arguments unless there’s solid secular evidence for backup. You say, you can’t meet those criteria, that your evidence is historical? Look, we can figure out the age of the earth and much of its large-scale history from rocks, dammit. A deity who is as great as the one you likely espouse, whose continued presence throughout all of history is less well documented (evidence-wise) than the historical data contained in a rock, is not very believable.

  10. Avatar

    Well, I’m on the edge of my seat! Imagine this person nobody’s heard of coming up with an argument that no Christian in the last 2000 years — or, indeed, the great Greek philosophers before that — ever thought of.

  11. Avatar
    Michael Mock

    The fact that Steve from the UK speaks as though he’s issuing a challenge — one he’s confident he can carry through, yet — doesn’t bode particularly well. The combination of complaining about Bruce’s “rules of play” and trying to tell Bruce how he should react to Steve’s email (“Therefore, you should also publicly be prepared to defend your theological/philosophical position in certain areas.”) sounds like any number of people I’ve spoken with who like to set their own ground rules so that they’re essentially guaranteed to win the argument. So, yeah, I’m not expecting much, here.

    But, to answer Steve from the UK’s question: sure, I dare. If you’ve got some evidence to share, share it; I’m happy to follow where it leads. I mean, don’t expect us to blindly eat it up; it’s not like most of us here aren’t familiar with Christianity and a fairly wide range of Christian apologetics, and it’s not like we haven’t given the matter any real thought. I mean, we aren’t just faffing around, here. We don’t say these things on a whim, or because we haven’t given any thought to the alternatives. When I say I don’t think God is out there, it’s because, after long and careful consideration, I actually don’t think God is out there.

    If you’re waiting for an invitation to speak, well, I’m with Bruce. I’d love to hear a one-paragraph summary of whatever it is you think will convince us of God’s existence. So, please, go ahead.

    But, I swear, some days it’s like that old joke about the guy who walks into a bar where the regulars keep calling out numbers.

  12. Avatar

    At work we have a plastic skeleton about 18 inches tall. I periodically issue a challenge to the kids to, ‘find Leopold’s femur’ or some other body part. Most of them take the time to look it up and are correct in the placement. We have one child, however, who ALWAYS knows every single part… without having to look it up.

    “I am looking *right* at it. I just choose not to tell you where it is.” Said with confidence and a perfectly straight face. She never points it out, of course. That would show that she has NO clue.

    ‘Steve’ hasn’t found anything new, but is pretending to look right at it. Pretty juvenile.

  13. Avatar
    Steve from the UK

    Wow! Bruce, thanks for posting! And so quickly too. And also, wow again! I wasn’t aware of just how many readers you have following your blog. Considering the general apathy that exists today, 21 responses so far is genuinely an excellent return. You pen a line and percentage-wise, it seems, you generate a great reaction.

    Anyway, thanks for inviting me into your home. Well, to the front door at least. But here’s the thing Bruce. Judging from the photos of you, and reading your posts, you really do seem a very friendly guy, so, despite your opening response to me about ‘a one paragraph chance at tempting Bruce into discussion’, I genuinely can’t at this stage picture you at your front door, arms folded, your not inconsiderable build blocking the frame, and saying to me straight, “My oh my. You actually turned up. But don’t you take another step further, until you’ve delivered me that one paragraph I’ve demanded – the one para that’s gonna blow my mind and that’s gonna convince me to continue speaking with you.” I just can’t picture you Bruce actually demanding that of me straight up “or take your sorry punk ass back to Blighty.” Haha! And yes indeed, for the doubters in the comments so far, I promise you I am a newbie to your site and I am from the UK and I am certainly not some previously banned, undercover malevolent.

    So, can I come in Bruce and tell you a bit about me? You see, from where I stand, from all of your writings so far (and I really do enjoy reading them – you’ve got a great, pithy style) I think I’m in the somewhat unfair position of knowing a lot more about you than you know about me. And that’s certainly unfair as far as I’m concerned because unfortunately, even at this early stage in proceedings, many of your blogging buddies have immediately resorted to that very popular and least taxing of www exercises – that of jumping to conclusions. You and your followers know nowt about me, yet already I am tarnished as brainless and mindless. Don’t you want to know anything about me? About where I’m coming from in all of this and why I’ve traveled all this way to meet you? As a tempter Bruce, look, I’ve bought some of your favourite choc chip ice cream with me. I really do think we could genuinely get to know each other a lot better. Or would you prefer I stand here and we just launch straight in? I genuinely don’t mind but I am genuinely gasping for a cup of tea!
    Steve from the UK.

    Btw, please send me a link that takes me to a chronological unfolding of your blog. And yes, I am very sorry Bruce plus readership but I must retract yesterday’s statement that I’ve read all of your blogs. I haven’t. Your site is much larger than it appears. I have though spent another 4 hours today though reading post after post and some of the responses.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      What I am asking for is a summation of your new, original, mind blowing argument. As you know, I was a Christian for most of my life and I spent 25 years in the pastorate. I know the Christian side of the field and I can’t imagine what “new” argument you might advance that has not, at some time or the other, been used by some other Christian commenter. I’ve been blogging since 2007. I have started and stopped a handful of times, so what is available now is what I have written/reposted since December 2014.

      You bear the burden of all who have come before you. As the regular readers of this blog know, uncounted Evangelicals/Catholics/Muslims/Calvinists/Arminians have come to this blog and tried to argue me back to God/Jesus. Yet, here I stand, still saying that the Christian God is a fiction. Most who have come before you end up attacking me personally, telling me I am immoral, or stomp off in a huff retreating to the safe confines of faith. Once a person appeals to faith, all discussion is over. I simply do not have the time nor the strength to engage in discussions that always end up the same way.

      So, one short, to the point summation of your new argument. If you want to attach some sort of biographical sketch to it, by all means do so.


    • Avatar

      I don’t think anyone here has said that you are “brainless and mindless.”. Most of us here were, at some point or other, in your shoes as believers. What we know is, that your “argument” is constrained by the dogma of your beliefs. You already have a steep up hill climb just to get past your own self imposed regulations (those of your god and the bible) before you can even begin to bring new and fresh evidence for us to even begin to consider. Many of us don’t hold out much “hope” that you do have a “new” argument/evidence. We’re skeptics here – even BEFORE we are atheists and between your email (that Bruce posted) and your comment/response above, you haven’t even alluded, even indirectly to ANY argument/evidence at all. This strikes me as curious as to your motives here. But it certainly does not build confidence by evading the point and stalling. I’m sure your back story is interesting to some, but I don’t think it will be found to have any bearing on your argument/evidence any more than the fact that I have five dogs effects, in any way, how I view theism.

      It seems more likely to me that you’re merely trying to establish (in your mind and to your like minded audience) that we’re somehow “unreasonable and close minded” over here in atheistland … I assure you, we are not. But we’re aren’t going to sit idly by while you take up space with off topic ramblings full of innuendo and passive aggressive insults.

      You’ve been given the opportunity to make your sales pitch … make it … don’t just walk in and stall while eating and drinking all the coffee and doughnuts, there’ll be time for that afterwards if you can prove to be more respectful and civil than previous theists who bring a lame argument that requires “faith” over evidence to buy into then stoop to threats of eternal damnation and name calling when we reject the idea of “faith” as a means of “proof”.

      The “rope-a-dope” works for Muhammad Ali … it won’t work here.

  14. Avatar

    I will apologize for calling your nationality into question. I am just a skeptical person and you wouldn’t have been the first to use subterfuge to gain access to this, and other, blogs. This is Bruce’s house and I will let him sort out the occupants.

    I do await you paragraph.

    • Avatar

      Hmm…I suppose I’ll have to apologise now for calling him a crank. And for being embarrassed.

      Okay Steve, over to you to show me why I was wrong.

  15. Avatar

    I, too, await your explanation. I really doubt your back story has any relevance; if so, chances are you are Arguing From Authority, and that won’t be greeted kindly here. Your command of English seems just fine, so you should be able to explain your argument. If you’re trailing through Bruce’s archives trying to find some personal gotcha with which to trap him, I will point out you have several other readers you need to satisfy now — and you don’t know squat about us, except that we tend to be skeptics.

    Either you have a general argument that works, or you don’t. And remember: evidence. I’m more generous than Bruce; I’ll read several paragraphs, if the first one hooks me. Your move.

  16. Avatar
    Michael Mock

    I’m confused. Did you challenge Bruce and His Atheist Friends (that should really be a band name) to publish your letter, hear your evidence/argument for the existence of God, and follow that evidence wherever it leads? Or did you challenge us to get to know you? (Admittedly, it’s a bit premature, but I’m actually feeling more dubious about the latter possibility.)

    I mean, if you want to hang out and get to know the people here — and you’re right, there are quite a few of us, though some are more active and conversational than others — this seems like an odd and unnecessarily confrontational way to go about it. On the other hand, if you’re basically here to set us straight about the truth of Christianity, then insisting that we should really get to know you and understand where you’re coming from first (complete with an elaborate metaphor about front steps and doorways, yet)… well, that comes across as flim-flammery and obfuscation, to me at least. If you have knowledge or insight that the rest of us aren’t privy to, please share it; but spare us the elaborate sales pitch. We’re quite capable of evaluating the product ourselves.

  17. Avatar
    Steve from the UK

    OK Bruce, so I’ll begin but if you don’t mind, not in the manner you’ve laid out. You want a ground-breaking, one paragraph evangelical bombshell from me. But I never, ever promised that. You were the one who framed that particular way forward. If you or any others care to skim my original post, what I actually said was I don’t believe I need to resort to lobbing any of the usual ‘christian hand grenades’ in order for you and your family Bruce to dare to begin to believe you could be set on your feet and enjoying the favour of God. And now it seems you and your fellow readers are baying for ‘that paragraph’.

    Firstly to fellow readers, this exchange is primarily between Bruce and myself. I’m not looking to enter into any debates with anyone other than Bruce at this stage. Onlookers (or onreaders) are of course free to comment and I’ll read them all but this is a conversation between Bruce and me. If any of the posts I hoik up strike a chord with others, then all well and good. But it’s Bruce and family who I’ll primarily be addressing for the foreseeable.

    Bruce, in one of your blogs, you’ve written about your life as comprising largely just one box – one that is, until you began thinking outside of that one and discovering other boxes existed. What I firstly want to do is to summarise the content of the first box you inhabited – the one you inhabited for approximately 50 years. Doing so might begin to show you that whilst I won’t have touched on your ‘inner sanctum’ as you call it ( and we all have those) I might at least be able to demonstrate I understand some of where you’re coming from. Can I do that?

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Here’s what I asked you to do:

      If you make an argument I have never heard before, then I will take the time to answer the newfangled argument that is sure to set my family and I, along with readers of this blog, “on our feet and enjoying God’s favor.”

      You set your argument against the arguments others have used in the past. So, it’s fair to assume you have some sort of new argument, which now, it seems, you don’t. Instead, you want to comb through my past, point out the errors or misdirections, and then point me on the right path. Is this the gist of what you want to do? No thanks.

      I am not interested in you understanding where I am coming from. As I now connect the dots of your email and two comments, I now see the path you intend, if allowed, to take.

      You also need to understand that I do not speak for my wife or children. I am sure that they are even less interested than I am of being set on their feet and enjoying God’s favor.

      Every Evangelical, unless they are a grade A asshole, gits one opportunity to say whatever they want to say. This is your opportunity. You have one chance to say whatever your want. Since no new argument is forthcoming, the same rule applies to you as it does all Evangelicals. One comment…say what you need to say.

      After you have made your comment, it is up to others to respond as they wish. In your email you mentioned my readers, so it is fair for them to respond if they wish. I may or may not respond, depending on whether I think a response will be helpful to my target audience: those who have left Christianity and those who have doubts and are considering leaving Christianity. I don’t debate, argue, or spend endless time trying to get a Christian zealot to understand my point of view. Again, you bear the burden of all who have come before you. Little is gained from such interactions, so I wisely refrain from engaging in them.

      I look forward to reading your comment.


    • Avatar
      Michael Mock

      “You want a ground-breaking, one paragraph evangelical bombshell from me. But I never, ever promised that.”

      That’s not precisely what Bruce (or myself, or, as far as I can see, anybody else) is looking for. We’re merely asking that if you’re going to come here and attempt to reconvert any (or all) of us, you not bore us with the same old stuff that we’ve heard over and over and over again. And, honestly, I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request. I realize that you’ve characterized this as a conversation between yourself and Bruce — and I don’t think that’s unreasonable, either; nobody, unless they’re engaged in a Pentecost-Class Supernatural Event[1], can answer three people at once, let alone six or nine or twenty — but please permit me to challenge you for a moment:

      What makes you think that you have anything to say that we haven’t all heard before? Do you dare consider the possibility that this is all well-worn ground that most of the people here have long since grown tired of re-treading?

      “…What I actually said was I don’t believe I need to resort to lobbing any of the usual ‘christian hand grenades’ in order for you and your family Bruce to dare to begin to believe you could be set on your feet and enjoying the favour of God.”

      The critical first step there would to convince Bruce — or any of us, really — that there’s a God out there for us to enjoy the favor of. I don’t see any indication that such is the case, myself; as far as I can see, the world simply (or complicatedly) doesn’t work that way.

      So if your groundbreaking approach to evangelism is simply to write well and Not Be An Asshole, well… I don’t think that’s going to get you very far on its own. I mean, I’m pretty sure everybody here knows Christians who are decent, moral, caring people. We know plenty of Christians who aren’t dicks about it. In fact, for most non-believers I suspect that’s the bulk of our day-to-day interactions with Christians. Maybe not our most memorable experiences, but by far the majority of our interactions.

      Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate that you write well, and I particularly appreciate the fact that you’re trying to share your views without being an asshole. But you’ve already opened your interactions here as a confrontation, by framing them as a challenge to Bruce (and, by extension, to the rest of us). So when Bruce says, “Give me a one-paragraph summary of an argument I haven’t heard before,” I don’t find that any sort of unreasonable burden on you. I don’t read that as “just hurry up and lay out your argument so we can refute it”. I read it as saying, “Take this opportunity to show us why talking to you isn’t a waste of our time and our emotional energy.” (While I don’t speak for Bruce, I believe he’d consider this a fair assessment.)

      Does that sound uncharitable? The sort of thing someone might say to a door-to-door salesman who interrupted them in the middle of trying to get the children to do their homework, say? Well… I believe the “standing on the porch asking to be let into the house” image came from your metaphor, not mine.

      So: what is it, exactly, that you think you have to offer?

      [1] I just made that term up, but if I ever write some sort of X-Files/Ghostbusters/Men In Black paranormal investigation story, I’m going to have to work it in.

      • Avatar
        Bruce Gerencser

        I concur with what you have written here.

        When I started blogging again last December, I made a promise to long time readers that I would not be drawn into lengthy debates that require great emotional and physical capital. This is why I don’t engage in unprofitable debates with Evangelicals. If I think a discussion will be helpful to others then I might play along for awhile, but rarely do such discussions present themselves.

  18. Avatar
    Steve from the UK

    I don’t doubt your desire to box me off real quick, as rightly, you have had 8 years of evangoshyte. I will reply with my assessment of the content of your box in the morning It’s 2.15 am here in Menorca where I am celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. I’ll post tomorrow.

  19. Avatar

    Really, let the fellow have some fallow in his 30th wedding anni…. He has nothing to share but #3. The very best he could do at this point is offer his personal testimony, the path(s) and miracles that brought him to a knowledge of God, the Woo-Woo Itself. Anything else will just leave off where his testimony starts anyway: I could have died right then and there but I lived etc. I am tired in my time zone too…. Lay out a challenge, Steve, and then politely, orally excite yourself because all say, Yes! Yes! State your case or please go away.

  20. Avatar
    Steve from the UK

    Morning Bruce. More than one paragraph I know. But here we go: me unearthing the content of the box you lived in for the first fifty years of your life and why I believe that content has such a great bearing on whether you believe there’s a loving God or not. Or any God for that matter. And let me say right from the beginning, this is not about me raking up your past. I have no desire to be just another person to be added to the long list of Bruce’s diggers, delvers and generally unwanted meddlers.

    But first please, an observation about your site just before we begin; the use of the term passive aggressive plus other similes appear quite frequently across your site implying generally how us ‘wild-eyed evangelicals’ out there generally aren’t able to string a single coherent argument together in defence of our God. To you, as soon as we open our mouths, we’re just being passive aggressive. To me though, many atheists blog sites are at their heart rabidly hypocritical and also quite aggressive.

    As an example Bruce, why the aggressive and quite snide footer in answer to my first post:

    It’s time to start a betting pool.

    How many of you think the letter writer has a new argument that I have not heard before?
    How many of you think it will be an old argument dressed in new clothes?
    How many of you think it will be the same old shit?

    21 of your followers then jovially and confidently predict b or c. All you’ve done there Bruce, in the words of 60s advertising guru Vance Packard, is pre-empt the vocabulary in order to gain the moral/philosophical/ political high ground. Before I open my mouth, I am condemned. Ho-hum. That line of defence will certainly offer you a temporary shelter but all the time we’re still breathing, life does not let us alone so easily.

    Yes, I am ashamed to be associated with so many of the harsh, bitter, unloving and downright childish responses supposedly in the name of Jesus. But seriously, I am not from that camp. But because you Bruce, don’t really consider it that important knowing who I am or where I come from (save the token few ‘biog’ lines begrudgingly granted me yesterday) in reality, you still can only assume you know who I am.

    Yes, your time constraints, the emotional input required to respond day and night to all and sundry, your severe health problems are all quite understandable reasons to limit me to a one paragraph argument for the validity of God. But by your own rules Bruce, you’ve conveniently boxed me off. Which is fine. Seriously. Just so long as you are reminded of the fact that what you do not have on your site is some independent 3rd party observer whose job it is is to ring a bell every time the rules you and your readers implicitly and sometimes aggressively set in place are broken by your own camp members.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sat here whimpering at ‘the beastliness of y’all’. Far from it. I’m a big boy. I can take it. And despite the seeming schism twixt atheist and believer, I genuinely get on fine in my discussions with people who don’t believe there is any kind of God. I think you just reminding every so often that there really are people of equal intelligence out there who believe there is a God and who can spot a mile off the intellectual double standards that crop up across sites such as yours.

    Rant over. And so, to your box and its contents, and think of me what you like Bruce, but I am writing from the heart here. Your box – a box you were summarily pitched into from a very young age, is, from where I sit, actually the stuff of nightmares. Without having ever met you, I will attempt to summarise that ghoulish box. And if my summarising strays off piste, you have every right to tell me to go #### myself. But if it stays relatively on point, and you will know whether it does or not, then how you respond is your matter.

    At aged five, you ‘gave your life to the Lord’. Now, unless you had a Samuel experience (and I’m not saying you didn’t), what does that actually mean? The last I heard, it was repent, believe and be baptised, and in that order. What does a five year old have going on in his life that he needs to be repentant of? I’m sure though the weekly works-driven hell and damnation message from the pulpit to the immaculate and obedient Sunday best congregation plus children (no children were ever spared the violent frothings from these pulpits) all this foaming at the mouth took its inevitable toll, shaping your thoughts about you and the observed world around you. No care-free, guilt–free childhood for you now that you’d literally given your little life to God – to church.

    And what weight of expectation now resting on your little shoulders when you should have been running around meadows, shrieking and laughing, having play sword fights. Instead, you became immersed in a world of holy dos and donts, with beatings no doubt for the some of the little tykes who strayed. Never mind the fact that the Jesus I know only sat little ones on His knees and loved them.

    As you grew older, and your mother taught you to read, your obvious intelligence became even more apparent and you were soon being groomed for great things for God. Re-dedicating your life to God at fifteen and with your parents’ separation imminent (or had it happened by then?) and only you and your siblings knowing how painfully that relationship unravelled within the family, you delivered your first sermon – the first of 4000 over your time as a pastor/preacher.

    You were a little kid who had already witnessed so much that was harmful about works driven, man-centred theology, and now at 15, you and your peers, if you hadn’t experienced it yourself, were quietly enduring the wandering hands of good ole Abe, Seth and Randolph, all super holy and much loved uncles and the pillars of the local community who so disgustingly betrayed the bright young things under their tutelage and leadership.

    No matter though, every Sunday, we all valiantly sang What a friend we have in Jesus, our faces scrubbed and cherubic, many of us starched-clean kids now with horrible little church and family secrets of our own that didn’t stack up with the meek and mild love of Jesus we’d had shoved down our throats by the Sunday school teachers who’d already been where you were headed, had seen through all the lies long before, and that it was only marital loyalty to or genuine fear of, Abe, Seth and Randolph that stopped these dumbed down ‘good ladies of the church’ from throwing boiling water over their pervert husbands heads and taking off with the kids to anywhere where church isn’t. But they don’t ever do that, to their own soul and spiritual shame. Such is the hold over the family of the cult of graceless, works-driven church.

    And then of course at about this age, you and your peers were at the start of raging hormones. Stop those filthy, natural urges and thoughts right now, you hell-bound creature you. Tie his right hand behind his back or to his bed, beat her black and blue for looking at Seb in ‘that way’. Puritanical pastoring and parenting carving out the way their helpless, stricken children would go.

    I don’t know at precisely what age you had to deal with the death of your beloved mother but Bruce, right now, as I’m writing this, my heart goes out to the little boy who lost his anchor. But hey ho, he’s a preacher now, we can’t have anything other than triumphalism or -‘the hell-bound sinners’ message being blasted out from the pulpit. No time for such selfish things as mourning the tragic death of a much-loved mother. Too many lost souls out there to win and all that.

    But from your writings Bruce, it seems you always strove to be different. You were obviously respected and well liked as a pastor/preacher. But how did you deal with all the shit that was already piled high in your box by now? Parents divorced, and now deceased, heart attack on one side and suicided on the other, how did you manage? And always the sermons, the weekly messages that were never going to get written by themselves.

    And then, as more and more pastoral sex abuse scandals surfaced and as you at approximately the same time felt it right to change your theological approach, and as you began witnessing the loss of friends and congregations as a result of your change in direction, and as you valiantly visited the pernickety and fernikerty to rightly explain your new theological position, and as you also visited the sick in body and sick in mind, praying for them, expending blood almost for them, who in all of this was ever there for Bruce? Who ever once took Bruce aside and saw to it that Bruce was OK?

    Mentoring? Don’t make me laugh. You were a pioneer and you had to learn to look after yourself all by yourself. Yes, it made you strong but at what cost?

    And right now Bruce, I don’t even know at what chronological point I’m at with your life but your box – the only box you ever knew, was now, top to bottom, full of the shittiest shit ever found in Shitville.

    But on and on with the visits, the caring, the church plants, the pittance wages, the thousands of miles, the jamborees, keeping the family together, straining relationships sometimes to breaking point, and those sermons that had to keep on coming – the sermon mill that wouldn’t ever give you a break. Sit down Bruce, preparation time Bruce. Shut up kids. I can’t see to anything family-oriented right now, I’m too busy concentrating on the work I’m doing for the Lord. Shelve all the shit in your mind Bruce. Shelve all the injustice, shelve all the perverts and vile hypocrisy, shelve your mothers passing, your fathers passing, your growing doubts, shelve it all, park it somewhere far away in your mind, park it all far, far away, think nothing but How Great Thou Art and getting that sermon done for Sunday.

    Bruce, the itinerant pastor preacher, who moved house and home and state more times than I can imagine, the flesh and blood man who, in his blogs, it is easy to see how he wanted nothing more than to serve and please God. But was there ever even just one single occasion when he could say that he knew without doubt that his God was with him in all of this?

    And your visiting approximately 100 churches towards the end of your faith life to look for somewhere you could call a spiritual home, this shows to me just how much you genuinely cared about pleasing God and wanting to honour Him. Bruce, if I could hug you now man, I would. To me, you have been incredible in so many ways despite your spiritually horrific circumstances. You’ve been shafted through and through.

    I could go on but I won’t. You have every right to look back, examine and be aghast at the childhood spiritual bullying and church grooming you went through and the vile harvest all that heavy shepherding over years and years eventually produced. You must feel a million miles away from any kind of deity, god, goddess, let alone the God of the Bible.

    If anybody berates you or vilifies you for needing to get out of the hell on earth you knew as church, then it is them who need a kick up the arse not you. The strongest man in the world would need time out to make sense of what you went through. From a crib sheet fashioned largely by spiritually and morally bankrupt man, it appears to me you eventually became an automaton in your service for God.

    And your frequent use of the term American church and how it repulses you. Hear hear! I say. The vileness of it all and now those $billion super churches on the up and up. Pass me the sick bucket or better still, pass me the offering bucket so I can be sick in that and offer that up as my gift to those saccharine, money grabbing, shiny suited, chromium plated heaps of mother love that pose as super pastors and their bewitching leadership teams promoting their own brand of God. (I wouldn’t actually do that, be sick in the offering bucket, that is. But that’s how angry I get by it all.

    Take all the time out you need Bruce to get your bearings.

    The above is a narrow attempt at laying out my primary argument why it is that Bruce and literally thousands of others like him who walked the same walk as him and who were churched almost to physical death (and certainly to spiritual death) now subsequently and quite unsurprisingly do not believe a loving God existed ever, anywhere in the universe at all.

    So, what’s different about me? Why do I believe in the God of the Bible? If the above gets printed and people want to ask me, I’ll gladly tell anybody about my relationship with Jesus.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Well, you did exactly what I thought you would do.

      This is your one comment, Steve. I hope you said everything you needed to say.

      You were condemned or ridiculed by readers (and myself) for exactly what you have done here. Do you think you are the first Evangelical who has tried to psychoanalyze me? You are a rank amateur compared to the Evangelical PhD’s who have come before you.

      You ignored the two reasons WHY I am not a Christian. Whatever my mental and emotional state may or may not be, the reason I am not a Christian is:

      1. I do not believe the Bible is an inspired, infallible, inerrant, supernatural text.
      2. I do not believe the claims Christians make for Jesus are true. Jesus was a man who lived and died, end of story. He was not God, born of a virgin, worked miracles, or resurrected from the dead.

      Based on these two facts, I reject Christianity and its God. Funny how you missed the two foundational facts that are essential for understanding my story.

      I hope readers will notice that you are not only dismissing my story, you are dismissing theirs. You arrogantly think that you have some sort of inside knowledge that allows you to invalidate the storyline of many atheists. Nothing new here.

      I returned the money you sent me. I have no interest in accepting any money from you.

      I will approve no further comments from you.


      • Avatar
        Steve from the UK

        Yes but why the two foundational issues Bruce?
        And for a man so vehemently against God atm, what makes you the final arbiter as to whether I can continue to comment or not? Are you not condemning me to your hell? Refusing me entry into your kingdom? Because I didn’t obey your rules? You seem to be assuming some quite God-like characteristics.

        • Avatar

          Wow, where you ever calling your shot and swinging for the fences – but like the mighty Casey at the bat, you hit nothing but air.

          Fundamental mistake is not understanding “Why the two foundational issues”.

          And the simplest answer, had you cared to actually read and comprehend all that is on this and the multitude of other skeptic/atheist blogs is:

          Objective Evidence and independent corroboration

          Either it’s non-existent, underwhelming or severely lacking … but the “evidence that is almost always trotted out is “the bible tells me so … it says so in the bible” or “You gotta have faith”

          Neither of which hold up to even the lightest scrutiny, much less a science lab.

          So Steve from UK – the next time you wanna try this parlor trick, I suggest HIGHLY, that you bring real and hard corroborated evidence – without it, you got nuthin

          I was really pulling for you to bring “something” 🙁

          Abd PS – we’re not “against god” … we don’t think he/she/it exists in any shape or form … not to sound cliche, but it’s like being “against unicorns and dragons” … now religion … well hell, I know many religious/spiritual people who have a deep belief in god that are against organized religion … THAT, some of us are definitely against … but then that takes us well outside the topic of simple atheism which only covers the lack of belief in a deity/god(s)

        • Avatar

          Think of it as a science conference, Steve. You have data, you have evidence, you are willing to present it: you get a space at the table. Doesn’t matter (at least in theory) whether you’re a Nobel Prize winner or a lowly MS student. Okay, Bruce (and the rest of us, who you only deign to address periodically) asked for the evidence, asked for the data, asked why you should get a space at the table. You didn’t provide any, and now you’re whining that Bruce is playing God. He’s actually just being the scientist in charge of the meeting. It does seem you thought you could manipulate the meeting topic to deal with something other than data and evidence. Doesn’t work that way. Try a different venue.

        • Avatar

          Uhm….because it’s his blog and he can do what he damn well pleases. How hard is it for you to understand this concept? Then again, you still believe in fairy tales so I’m not surprised you don’t grasp this simple concept.

    • Avatar
      Michael Mock

      “So, what’s different about me? Why do I believe in the God of the Bible? If the above gets printed and people want to ask me, I’ll gladly tell anybody about my relationship with Jesus.”

      Now, see… this is the topic of the essay you should have written. Instead, you went with “I will now demonstrate how well I understand Bruce and his experiences and his reasons for becoming an atheist”, an exercise in hubris which (as predicted) was a complete waste of our time and your effort.

      Look: we’re not atheists because we’ve never had Christians try to be sympathetic to us (as, in part, I think you were attempting here — though of course I could be wrong). It’s not as if every Christian any of us have ever encountered was an unreasonable jerk.

      We’re not atheists because we think Christians are stupid, either; I’m willing to be money that every single one of Bruce’s regular and semi-regular commenters know quite a number of extremely bright Christians, either online or in person. (And that’s entirely ignoring the Christians who read Bruce’s blog.)

      We’re not atheists because we had bad experiences with church(es), or Christians, or both. We didn’t become atheists because we got hurt, or angry, or disappointed. We’re not atheists because we were exposed to The Wrong Kind Of Christianity, or because we just never found The Right Kind Of Christianity.

      Look, I appreciate that you were trying to avoid being an obstreperous jerk. But any time — any time — you find yourself telling someone else what their experience was like, well… you might want to step back and reconsider. It’s just an inherently dickish thing to do, and as a result there’s really no nice way to go about it, no matter how hard you try or how skillfully (or passionately) you write.

      • Avatar
        Michael Mock

        And yes, I realize it isn’t fair to say all this to you now, when Bruce is not going to approve any responses you might have. I still hope you’ll read it, and at least give it some serious thought. I don’t think you understand your audience anywhere near as well as you think you do.

      • Avatar
        Steve from the UK

        Yes Michael but so many people do become atheists because of previous church experience. And I was addressing Bruce not you.

        • Avatar
          Michael Mock

          As Bruce just pointed out…

          No, they don’t. That wasn’t my experience; that wasn’t (as best I understand it) Bruce’s experience; and, quite frankly, it doesn’t seem to be the case among any of the ex-Christians I’ve known or talked to. I’m sure there are people out there who became atheists because of “previous church experience” — people being people, it’s generally possible to find some examples supporting nearly any sort of behavior — but as a general thing, as far as I can see (and I think most of your audience here will back me up on this) that isn’t how it works. At the very least, there’s much more to it.

          It’s an easy mistake, because “previous church experience” is a fairly common reason why people start questioning their beliefs, and/or start seeking better answers or a better understanding of their existing answers. But it’s considerably more of a process than that, and that process of questioning doesn’t always end in atheism.

          Someone who has a bad experience with their church might seek out another church, or even another denomination. Someone who’s had bad experiences with Christianity in general might explore other religions (or the watered-down versions of them that are marketed to affluent Westerners), or settle into being some sort of Deist, or maybe “spiritual but unchurched”.

          But by the time someone gets to the point where they consider themselves an atheist, an ex-Christian, or even firmly agnostic… well, it’s because Christianity, as a way of looking at the world, has stopped making sense to them. For everyone I know who falls into that category, that wasn’t a choice; it was a conclusion, and very often an unwelcome one.

          And that’s a hell of a thing for you think you can just stroll on over and restore for us. It’s a vastly bigger job than you seem to realize. So, again, I repeat: I don’t think you understand your audience anywhere near as well as you think you do.

          Bruce, are you okay with me continuing this here? I’m willing to open a post on my own blog to continue this conversation, and/or give Steve from the UK a chance to explain what’s different about him, why he believes in the God of the Bible, and why his reasons for believing should make any difference at all to me. (I am, in fact, somewhat curious about whatever it is that he actually has to say, if and when he finally decides to get to the point.)

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            I know the search string that brought Steve to my blog. I’m curious to see if he will show his hand. 🙂 I can’t/won’t dance with him, but if you wish to do so, I’m fine with it.

          • Avatar
            Michael Mock

            As long as you’re okay with it. Contrary to Steve from the UK’s initial assertion, I don’t believe that you talking about your experiences in any way obligates you to defend your current views; that strikes me as a combination of gas-lighting and guilt trip, and frankly I’m a bit too old to respond to either with anything more than, “You make me tired.” So if you’d rather be done with him, I’m perfectly happy to invite him over to my blog instead, if he “dares” — or I’m willing to continue conversing with him here, if you don’t mind continuing to approve his comments.

            Your house, your rules, and all that. You know where I stand.

          • Avatar
            Michael Mock

            If he’s still in Menorca, it’s about 5:45 a.m. there and I hope he’s thoroughly asleep. I’m going to do the same.

            Steve from the UK, if you respond before I wake up (which, with the time zones, seems possible) there are really only two topics I’m interested in hearing your views on: why I should believe in the God of the Bible (which I think was the topic most people here were hoping you would address), and why you think atheists are, well, atheists (which is less interesting to me, but might be helpful to you).

            Actually, that’s not entirely true. I’d be perfectly happy to discuss books, movies, video games (I tend to hover in the general area of science fiction, fantasy, and horror), martial arts, swords, writing, and sundry other topics; but if we’re going to digress into any of those, we really should move over to my blog, or to Facebook, or something.

        • Avatar

          No Steve, you are completely wrong as regards the UK with your comment (by all means don’t reply if you just want to speak to Bruce).

          The UK has not had the love affair with religion that the US has had, and still has, though in a diminishing way. Of course, many people were brought up in a ‘culturally’ religious way, as I was myself, but there was no pressure whatever to remain, and indeed atheism was the norm amongst others of my generation over 40 years ago. So there was no pressure, excepting perhaps some of the more cult type groups.

          You need to understand that people are leaving religion in droves for intellectual reasons. Dissatisfaction with their church may well be true, but it seems to me that that follows the intellectual reasons. I’ve read Bruce for sometime and think I understand his reasons for leaving, though I would never have the temerity to attempt to analyse him on the subject. What I can say, however, is that if I were a believer wanting to tempt him back, then failing to address his logical criticisms of the bible, and all the other religious inconsistencies, is not the way to do it.

          Atheism for me should be the default position. Belief in god, any god, should be based on evidence, not what your parents believed or what your community expects you to believe.

    • Avatar
      August Rode

      Steve, what’s the matter with you? You were invited to state your case clearly and concisely and you refused. You were told the type of communication most likely to succeed and you did precisely the opposite. Why?

  21. Avatar
    Jo Arbeiter

    For a second there, I thought this guy was my ex husband. 2 days worth of foreplay for nothing but a bug disappointment. At a tiny level, I was excited to hear what he had to say. Unfortunately, my pre-spoof prediction was correct. A big ole pile of #3.

  22. Avatar

    Deeply underwhelming.

    Goodbye and good riddance, Steve from the UK.

    The rest of us are through with bad character analysis from people who have no clue, as well.

    And if you weren’t gone, we’d make sure the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

  23. Avatar

    I’m disappointed, but not surprised. He was told clearly by Bruce, and by many commenters here, directly or obliquely, that we were anticipating his approach and it wasn’t going to be welcome. Now he’ll go away, convinced that he did his best to bring Bruce back to Jesus but Bruce wasn’t having any of it. “I tried, God, I really tried, but those atheists, well, you know how they are!” Aaaand he can now pat himself on the back for trying (’cause good intentions count as success, I guess) and wash his hands of us.

    Okay, maybe I’m too harsh. Maybe he really is clueless and is now truly disappointed. But really, when your primary target and his minions all tell you DO NOT DO X, and you do X, what kind of a reception should you expect?

    • Avatar
      Michael Mock

      It wasn’t just “DO NOT DO X”, either (though there was plenty of that). There was a fair amount of “what I’d really like to hear is Y”[1] in the comments as well. So either he didn’t read it, or he didn’t see it as applying to him, or… something.

      I don’t know. I’m generally in favor of people trying to present their views (or defend the things they care about) without being butt-heads, and I think that’s what Steve From The UK was trying to do. But, man, his technique needs some serious work.

      Heh. I do think you’re right about “Those atheists, you know how they are,” though. Ex-Christians are just about the worst audience imaginable to try to evangelize. It’s enough to make me wonder why so many people feel compelled to try.

      [1] Yes, that was a deliberate pun. Premeditated, even.

  24. Avatar
    Becky Wiren

    Patronizing. This Steve from UK was told what to do, and then proceeded to explain Bruce to Bruce. It struck me as very self congratulatory: “I’m psychoanalyzing Bruce because his horrible life led him to give up God.” Never mind reason and evidence of God, which is what Bruce wanted. Sheesh.

  25. Avatar

    @Michael Mock,
    I’m intrigued now. What blog is yours? That is, if Bruce doesn’t mind you putting it out there. I probably had it at one time, but I had to reset my iPhones. Lost data as well as pics.

  26. Avatar

    When Steve from UK first wrote I was all excited. A challenge to prove God exists? Well, sign me up because I want to see this! Evidence! Proof at last! And then Steve from UK started to write and yeah… it was the same old same old song.

    Ecclesiastes has it correct – there is nothing new under the sun.

    Bruce, you are the caring, funny, amazing person you were before you left Christianity, just more free since you are no longer subject to silly rules put in place by men. As I see it you are more able to appreciate those amazing sunsets, cheeky birds, and awesome family that surrounds you. At least that is my impression from your writing.

    Steve from UK slammed into your blog, threw down a challenge, whined because you have (gasp) rules for civil discourse, ignored and was rather rude to those of us who follow you, and then huffed because the evidence he produced (a rehashing of your history – like you don’t know you??????) was nothing like he advertised.

    Really – I’ll tell you about my relationship with Jebus? LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL Like we haven’t heard that one before.

    Sending biofeedback (gentle because life hurts right now) hugs because this jerk really made me feel all protective of you. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  27. Avatar
    Bruce Gerencser

    Steve sent me this today:

    So, Bruce, having done nothing wrong except question your ‘laws’ for your kingdom, you have banished me to Gerencser hell, an action that mirrors the seemed character of the God you used to serve but now do not believe exists. Can you not see the glaring hypocrisy? You ban anybody who can stand against your edits. And you are now acting like God Himself. As in the natural…..

    So here is my single paragraph question.

    Given that most atheists are intelligent beings, you will have an eye on the times in which we live. So how do you square the fact that Revelation – a scholarly accepted dateable document ( contains prophecy written more than 1900 years ago that is coming true before our eyes today? Just Google Verichip and then read Revelation where it says man can neither buy nor sell lest he receive the mark in his right hand or forehead. As an atheist, how do you explain that degree of accuracy in an -allegedly ‘uninspired’ text?

    Btw, I think you need somebody like me on your site, somebody who can haul people up when they demonstrate intellectual inconsistency, and do so without resorting to nastiness. You haven’t given any reason that I can see in any of your writings WHY you gave up believing. I asked you for a link that gives me a chronological access to your writings. Maybe you covered somewhere but I haven’t seen it. nor did I ever receive any link.
    No hard feelings no matter what outcome Bruce. We’re all grown ups here. I do hope your constant pain dimishes. Best regards, Steve from the UK

    • Avatar

      He may not resort to ‘nastiness,’ but he won’t hesitate to resort to condescension and wild speculation. Might just as well be nastiness, then, FWIW.

    • Avatar
      Michael Mock

      For the record, I don’t see the glaring hypocrisy. In fact, I really don’t see how that logic works at all. I mean:

      1. Bruce has clearly-stated rules for commenting on his site, and enforces them.
      2. Bruce used to believe that God has rules and enforces them.
      3. Something something something…
      4. Therefore, Bruce is being hypocritical. Q.E.D.

      I don’t understand the comparison you’re making, here. Bruce isn’t acting like God; he’s acting like anybody who cares to establish interpersonal boundaries. If you want carte blanche to write whatever and however you like, use your own blog.

      You seem to think that Bruce has some sort of personal obligation to you. That just isn’t so.

  28. Avatar
    Michael Mock

    As far as the Book of Revelation goes… well, let me take a moment to consider how the Book of Revelation is relevant to present-day events.

    “John to manifold churches which are in western Europe and North and South America, which lands are currently unknown to you: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;”

    And here, again, in Revelation 1:10-11
    “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in the United States; unto the United Kingdom, and unto Mexico, and unto Canada, and unto Brazil, and unto Argentina, and unto Puerto Rico, and unto all the readers of Bruce Gerencser’s blog.”

    Look, at the risk of running this particular point into the ground… even if Verichip was really a thing[1], to tie it to Revelation you have to start with the highly dubious assumption that the Book of Revelation was A) secretly intended as a message for modern Christians, rather than the people to whom it was explicitly addressed, and B) a prediction of far-future events, rather than a coded message to Christians living in areas hostile to Christianity.

    Yes, I remember a goodly number of Christians freaking out about Verichip, and about various other signs that we were clearly living in the End Times — Right now! The world could end tomorrow! Or even TODAY!!! — forty years ago, and I know it’s been going on for centuries longer than that. And every bit of it was supported by comparison to scripture. So what I’m looking at is a text that just about anybody seems to be able to fit to the events of their time, which doesn’t say all that much for its degree of accuracy. Flexibility, maybe, but not accuracy.

    [1] “VeriChip… was the only Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved human-implantable microchip. It was marketed by PositiveID, a subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions, and it received United States FDA approval in 2004. Its manufacture and marketing were discontinued in 2010.” From Wikipedia; emphasis mine.

    • Avatar

      Back in the 1970’s, many people had similar reactions to bar-codes. They were the Mark of the Beast at that time. Then, people got used to them and forgot all about it.

      Mysteriously accurate prophecy? Not really.

  29. Avatar
    Steve from the UK

    Firstly Michael, in Bruce banishing me to Gerencser hell for having the temerity to not accept his rules he has become a sort of god himself. I did not offend or belittle or threaten. The only contrary voices you guys really want on your site are the usual dumbass backwoods typecast evangelicals as you would class them, and for them to threaten you with hell or various scriptures so you can all chime to one another, there you go. Bruce’s kingdom is a self-fulfilling circular reasoning site. Nowhere on Bruce’s site have I found WHY he abandoned his faith. So until I can find on his site where he explains that, I will continue to maintain that my last long post contains good grounds for him turning his back on it all.

    Secondly, Michael, if the cashless society arrives and Denmark is already well on the way, will you accept your identification/goods payment chip in your right hand or forehead if that time comes?

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser


      I’ve concluded you are full of shit.

      Let me give the chronology of your interaction with me and this site.

      1. You sent me an email that you asserted you could get me, my family, and perhaps some of my readers “set on your feet and enjoying God’s favour.”

      2. Suspecting that you had nothing new to say, I gave you one opportunity to make a new argument as to why I should believe in the Christian God. You send me 20.00 via Paypal. I return your money.

      3. You used this opportunity, not to make a case for your God, but to deconstruct my life, concluding that I am not a Christian because I was hurt by the church or I had some other sort of mental/emotional issue.

      4. I told you that I am not interested in any further discussion with you.

      5. Michael Mock offered to continue the discussion with you.

      6. You assert that I have banned you.

      7. You send me an email about Revelations and chips. Again, you could have put in a word for the Christian God. Instead, you wandered off into bat-shit crazy land.

      8. You ask me where I detailed why I stopped believing.

      9. I sent you a link and told you that Michael Mock is more than happy to continue the discussion with you.

      10. You send me an email stating:

      It’s OK Bruce, you’re the person I wanted to communicate with over whether God exists or not. I have to say, that if this is our parting communication, I found your writings gritty, interesting and on point in so many areas. But my thesis remains the same, you’ve been wrung out by church. So, I hope the pieces fall into place for you eventually. I shan’t bother you again unless you contract me.

      11. So, you wanted to communicate with me over whether God exits, yet you make no effort to do so.

      12. You assert you are banned. Untrue. I’m just not going to engage you. To quote the Bible, I’m not going to cast my pearls before swine.

      13. You again say that you have not read anything that states why I stopped believing. I sent you a link today to a page titled WHY I STOPPED BELIEVING. You are being disingenuous here because, according to the site logs, you read this post on July 19th.You read it again several hours ago. So, I answered your question. If you don’t like my answer, fine, but the WHY question has been answered. Any suggestion to the contrary is a lie.

      I will have nothing more to say on this matter.


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      And, as I noted up-thread, before the cashless society, barcodes were the mark of the beast. Also, Social Security numbers in the U.S. In fact, that worry is one of the reasons the U.S. still does not have any sort of national I.D. card. People have been interpreting and re-interpreting Revelations for a very long time. You’ve offered no reason why your current interpretation is uniquely accurate.

      Reasons. Evidence. Actual facts. That’s what led Bruce to his current conclusion. If you can’t address that, you really aren’t doing what you claimed to be able to do.

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      steve, you come in here, and every post you make tries in one way or another to manipulate or guilt bruce or others into doing what you want. you’re not interested in a conversation at all, and you’re not interested in understanding bruce, or anyone else. and you ignore every answer you don’t like.

      re: “…having the temerity to not accept his rules he has become a sort of god himself”

      really!?!?! do you let every random person that wants to into your house? no? i’m shocked! aren’t you making yourself a god? you wander into bruce’s blog, as if it’s your own house, and demand he give you a beer, and are shocked, shocked that he objects! you need to learn some basic rules of civility and boundaries.

      re: “The only contrary voices you guys really want on your site are the usual dumbass backwoods typecast evangelicals as you would class them …”

      we don’t mind contrary voices, so long as they’re polite, and they actually add to the conversation or engage with the actual issues raised. sadly, you meet neither of these criteria.

      most of the “contrary voices” are quite predictable in their behavior. there is often a name for their allegedly “new” or insightful argument that they can’t imagine we’ve heard before. (look up pascal’s wager; few evangelicals realize it’s so common, it has it’s own name. most of the drive-by shoutings by fundies make that argument at some point. many/most of the agnostics/atheists here are already aware of the argument and it’s weaknesses, and rejected it.)

      since they have nothing new to offer any of us, we usually start ignoring them, and they wander away. those that are fanatics (ie, “a fanatic is someone who won’t change their mind and won’t change the subject”), eventually get banned due to being a broken record, not because we disagree with them.

      so, while you’ve avoided quoting scripture (i think you may be unique in this regard), you’ve still managed to hit several other common evangelical negative traits. eg, not having an appropriate sense of boundaries. forcing everyone’s experience into your own limited theological framework (eg, “everyone who’s an atheist really just wants to sin.” ) your theology only gives you 2-3 choices for how/why atheists got theew, so you discount/ignore anything anyone says to the contrary. so what’s the point of a conversation if you’re not actually going to listen to what they say? certainly pointless from this side of the conversation.

      so for those of us that appreciate bruce’s writing, and know that he’s got limited time and energy, we’re going to react negatively to predictable, manipulative, emotionally-draining, time-sinks such as yourself.

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    Steve from the UK

    I read your page on why you stopped believing, not knowing it was the same link you sent me earlier – a link with no explanation attached to it which is why I didn’t click on it directly til just now. And still Bruce, here is your only paragraph that sheds any kind of light on your loss of faith
    “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.”
    Not a single supportive statement – just that you began to have doubts. Why. Did you have doubts? Was it lack of the miraculous? Too many real life inconsistencies cropping up? What Bruce? Nowhere can I see exactly at what point you started to feel none of this is real. Or what situation began the slow precipitation. And oh yes, the fact you started to read books outside of your strict ibf guidelines. So what Bruce? That alone does not explain what it was about God and a life in His service taut first made you start to falter. I also sent you taut paypal money in good faith because you had a donate button and realising you probably could do with a few bob and I also asked you specifically please not to tell anybody. Why did you do that Bruce?

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      There are actually two posts: (written for an obstinate Christian like yourself, one of a handful of people banned from commenting)
      (written for a former parishioner)

      If you can’t or won’t understand, there is nothing more that I can say that will help you. My writing is plain and direct and most people have no problem understanding my story. Your lack of ability to comprehend my story is your problem, not mine.

      Now, everyone has taken up way too much time with you. Michael has offered to continue on over at his blog. I suggest you take up the discussion with him or start your own blog. I will not approve any more of your comments.


    • Avatar

      while bruce didn’t lay out the details of the arguments, if you’re even generally aware of how the bible came to be written, what sorts of “alleged” discrepancies there are, etc, then you would immediately recognize some of the books bruce referred to.

      read (or watch) bart erhman, the new testament scholar, who covers well for a general audience the problems with the bible. bart started out as a fundamentalist, over time became a more liberal christian, and is today an atheist. (he deconverted due to the problem of evil, not because of the inconsistencies in the bible. however, he switched from fundamentalism to more liberal christianity due to those issues, and he makes some comments to that effect in his books.)

      you might also be interested in the writings of dagoods, a lawyer who was a very active christian for many years, and deconverted:

      his story should give you the basics of some of the issues with the bible and inerrancy. and the rest of his blog, or other writings on other parts of the internet, should show he’s well versed in the intricacies of bible issues, and uses his legal mind well in that regard. dagoods deconverted because he realized upon detailed analysis, that the bible was not inerrant.

      so for example, there is no archaeological evidence millions of jews for wandering in the desert for 40 years. paul’s letters don’t mention any of jesus’ parables, and no miracles except the last supper, even when events or sayings from the gospels would have supported his argument. ie, paul wasn’t aware of the gospels, even in an oral history fashion. there are inconsistencies in the events recorded in the synoptic gospels, eg, how many people were at the tomb? one gospel mentions a flight into egypt and 3 kings, but never mentions a census or shepards. the other gospel mentions the census as the reason for going to bethlehem, and shepards, but never the 3 kings or egypt. try to reconcile the timeline between these two accounts — it doesn’t work very well. one gospel says the angel told mary she was pregnant, another gospel says that joseph was told. was it both of them?

      this is just the tip of the iceberg, and a sample, not the complete list. there is a huge swath of these issues, which scholars have known about for decades or centuries, but laypersons are rarely aware of. erhman does a great job of translating it from obtuse scholarly language to knowledgeable layperson language. buy some of his books and read him. or watch some of his talks on youtube. that will give you an understanding of what bruce, and dagoods, and quite a few other atheists and agnostics learned that was frequently instrumental in their deconversion.

      but, if you’re not willing to spend some time on learning what those issues are, then you’re really not interested in understanding bruce, or many other atheists. there are far too many of these issues for you to expect bruce to lay out and address each issue by issue just for you.

  31. Avatar
    Michael Mock

    “Firstly Michael, in Bruce banishing me to Gerencser hell for having the temerity to not accept his rules he has become a sort of god himself.”

    Um… no. “Gerencser hell”? Really? Banning people who don’t mind the rules isn’t usurping the rightful place of the Almighty.[1] It’s basic comment moderation, and essentially a prerequisite for any sort of healthy online community.

    “Secondly, Michael, if the cashless society arrives and Denmark is already well on the way, will you accept your identification/goods payment chip in your right hand or forehead if that time comes?”

    Who cares? Why should I be even vaguely concerned about that?

    You posited that Verichip was the “mark of the beast” written about in the book of Revelation, and cited this as proof of the supernatural accuracy of the Bible. I pointed out that verichip is a discontinued product, and Revelation was most likely never intended as a chronicle of future — or even modern — history, making that an exceedingly weak example of accuracy. You then respond that Denmark — Denmark! — is well on the way to becoming a cashless society, as if that were some clear indicator of the impeccable accuracy of the Bible.[2] Even if we had somehow established that the Book of Revelation was in any way relevant to the economic activities of modern Denmark and/or any modern nation (and we haven’t), moving to a cashless society is still a far cry from implementing anything like the “mark of the beast”, so it’s still a weak and highly dubious example of The Accuracy Of Biblical Prophecy(tm).

    But that does bring me to another point: even if Revelation is a prophecy in the sense that you think it’s a prophecy, it’s self-defeating. At least here in America, the Mark of the Beast would be impossible to implement. Why? Because any time something that might even sort of vaguely resemble something like the “mark of the beast” comes along, huge numbers of Christians start freaking out about it. The prophecy is inherently self-defeating; the very existence of such a prophecy prevents it from coming true.

    So, if the cashless society arrives, will I accept my identification/goods payment chip in my right hand or forehead? No, I’ll pay with a credit card like everybody else. Sheesh.

    [1] Unless you’re referring to 1 Cortana 13:24 (“Let no man seek to ban another from comment threads, for that is the sole place and authority of the Lord.”) but that’s usually considered part of the Apocrypha.

    [2] Actually, now that I look again, that might be possible. Revelation 13:16-17 does say, “And he causeth all in Denmark, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Spooky.

  32. Avatar

    Wow. I’ve stayed out of the debate game for quite some time. (Having sufficiently explored the topics to my satisfaction, my natural curiosity moved on. I pretty much only read an occasional blog post or status because you all are friends.)

    As it turned out, this was a rare blog capturing my interest, following the comments and interactions over the past few days. My fingers have even lingered over the keyboard, thinking of framing a response.

    Thank you, sgl, for remembering me. I was touched and moved you recalled my blog—ancient by Internet standards.

    Steve from the UK,

    Everyone’s story is different. We all move from belief to belief for different reason—including our particular theistic belief. For some it may be an experience with a church. For others it may be an emotional response, a traumatic event, a rational determination, our family upbringing or societal input…the list goes on.

    Please note, I am NOT limiting this to a change from theism to non-theism. These factors can equally vary in changes from Protestant to Catholic, Agnostic to Deist, Muslim to Christian, Christian to Buddhist and so on. Simply put, we are all humans and all modify our beliefs for many, many reasons.

    I am glad you are curious about Bruce Gerencser’s story. Why did he change? What was it about his experience and place in life to cause a Christian—a Pastor, no less—to move so far away on the scale to become an atheist? May I make two suggestions, though?

    1) Ask, don’t tell. If you are curious…ask! Ask specifics, “Bruce…prophecy seems like a pretty powerful argument to me…why isn’t it powerful to you?” “Bruce was there one particular item making you change?” “Bruce, what would you tell 25-year-old Bruce he should be doing differently?” [Hmmm….I am really liking that question….]

    No one likes to be told who they are. I notice you bristle at being “tarnished as brainless and mindless.” Understandably—like most humans—you do not want us to proclaim who you are and what you are; you want us to ask. In the same way, don’t TELL Bruce who he is or where he came from…ASK.

    [There is this thing called “the Golden Rule.” If you don’t like being told who you are; don’t do it to others.]

    2) You are in a long list of 100’s if not 1,000’s who have asked the same question. Please understand their legacy—whether you like it or not, whether it is fair or not—comes with you. We have lost count how many times Christians have started off politely asking questions, only to bring out the hammer and claws a few moments later. It appears the politeness was only a cover to give opportunity to slam.

    We are wary. We are reluctant to expend the time and emotions responding to only discover…once again…it is a Christian bully wanting to shove their particular point (which we have already heard and been unconvinced).

    So even in asking, you will find reluctance. You will find quick links to where we have discussed this before. Because we do not have the time and energy to do it over and over and over…to only have the poster wander off.

    If you are truly interested in Bruce’s story, I suggest you change your approach, and you may have to spend some time and effort convincing us you are not like all the others. I know it seems unfair, but such is life.

    Now…as to your prophecy question, let me ask you this. If you could design Heaven, what features would it have?

  33. Avatar
    Steve from the UK

    Hello DagoodS thanks for the email. Please believe me when I say I am not bristling at being mocked and I realise there’s a long queue of people who have called themselves christian and who ended up getting nasty. What does irk though is the ease with which web moderators can frame the discussion to their liking. What Bruce didn’t like was the fact I didn’t want to begin with a one paragraph question to him. ‘You have one paragraph to tempt me.’ It’s almost like he’s holding court. I realise all of the constraints etc etc but that approach certainly warrants looking at. Anyway, I’ve moved on from all of that now and I’m sure Bruce has too.

    In answer to the following:

    Now…as to your prophecy question, let me ask you this. If you could design Heaven, what features would it have?

    My questions to you is. First of all is, what was the prophecy question? I don’t know what thread you’re looking at.

  34. Avatar

    Steve from the UK: “Given that most atheists are intelligent beings, you will have an eye on the times in which we live. So how do you square the fact that Revelation – a scholarly accepted dateable document contains prophecy written more than 1900 years ago that is coming true before our eyes today? Just Google Verichip and then read Revelation where it says man can neither buy nor sell lest he receive the mark in his right hand or forehead. As an atheist, how do you explain that degree of accuracy in an -allegedly ‘uninspired’ text?” [citation removed]

    If you could design Heaven, what features would it have?

    • Avatar
      Steve from the UK

      Hello DagoodS
      What would I like to see in Heaven? Well, I know it sounds a cop out but God says that no eye has seen nor mind conceived what He has prepared for those who love Him. So whatever I could imagine there being in Heaven, it would only be as good as my limited human imagination could conjure up. And what God has prepared will be so much better. However, if I had a choice, it would be to see all the people I love inhabiting Heaven, to somehow see all the people who hated God could also be given a chance to enter. In all seriousness, when you asked me, I immediately thought how great it would be if I could somehow have access to some kind of back door maybe. But I am not God. I would be so thrilledto let in Richard Dawkins, Ricky Gervaise, Bill Maher and others. What I look forward to most though is that we will all as a people be at peace. There will be no more tears.
      Steve from the UK

    • Avatar

      Steve from the UK,

      No, it does not sound like a cop-out. It sounds as if you wisely recognize whatever wondrous possibility you could imagine with your 21st Century mind, could soon be eclipsed by our own technology, and our children can imagine even greater things. How much more a god could do! 50 years ago microwave ovens, hand-held computers and flat-screen television were only a dream.

      Unfortunately for your argument…the author of Revelation was not so wise. In Revelation 21, he describes (by an allegedly god-infused text) a Heaven that was truly magnificent to a 1st Century author, but is not at all remarkable to our current view. Two examples to demonstrate

      1) In the First century, cities were refuges—places to defend and protect. Therefore they had walls—the better the wall, the better the city. It would be inconceivable to a First Century person to conceptualize a Great City and not have a wall. In Revelation 21, the author describes the greatness of the Holy City by the thickness of the walls, the height, breadth and strength.

      Of course, now that we have missiles and airplanes, a wall affords cities little protection. Your Revelation 21 would be far more interesting and fantastic if the 1st Century author realized what we now know—cities do not need walls.

      2) In the First Century, light was extremely difficult. Lanterns were of poor oil, giving off bad light. Glass windows were extremely poor (at best) and greatly diffused the light.

      In Revelation 21, the author describes how great it was to have light: “The nations will walk by its light and the kings of earth will being their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.”

      In the 21st Century, we are not very impressed. All we have to do is flick a switch and we have light. Again, the First Century author, in describing Heaven, describes items very wonderful to him, but to us, 2000 years later, are outdated and not remarkable at all.

      A few additional points.

      1) Apocalyptic literature was prevalent in the time. Descriptions of how one’s opponents and enemies were going to get it in the end. Daniel for example
      2) Descriptions of people ascending to heaven, and then describing it were also popular—See Book of Enoch and Ascension of Moses for examples.
      3) The Jewish use of Gemetria has assigned the identification of the Beast to numerous Roman Emperors.
      4) We have seen, in our lifetime, the identity of the Beast to Reagan, Clinton and Obama. We will see more before we are through.

      All of which points to one fact. There is nothing in Revelation anything more than human. It is a human work, created within its own time period, reflecting other similar works, within an appropriate genre.

      To turn your question around: as a Christian, how do you explain the degree of inaccuracy in an allegedly “inspired” text?

  35. Avatar

    Oh boy. I’m late to a very good party at Bruce’s house.

    Well it seems a fellow uk chap demonstrated that there really is nothing new under the sun. No surprise.

  36. Avatar
    Steve from the UK

    When you say nothing new under the sun, do you mean flint -foreheaded atheists? Haha! And also, it takes 2 to party, I’ll be replying to the Heaven question when I’ve recovered from my travels back from Menorca probably tomorrow

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    UK Steve, you are a polite, mean-hearted man. You are now baiting and continue to bait with your smarmy, polite shit about the blogger here being gawd and judging and so forth. That is your friendly hatred, Steve. Like a JW who brings their own sweet 10 year old child to stranger’s door and has that child recite bullshit about end-times and woo-woo prophecy, you come here and smile knowingly as if you had a real clue. Fuck off and spout your revelations at Michael’s house. Please don’t offer any more of your knowing smiles, and Steve, there is no heaven… but go and get people to imagine a pink elephant if you like… oh sweet Jeeby, heaven is real! I can see it all pink and very big! Please please fuck off.

  38. Avatar
    dale m

    Stevie …. Stevie ….. Stevie …. you R a Wonder (pun intended). I’m an atheist Steve. I can do what U cannot. I can convince U to become an atheist in just a few paragraphs.

    U threw down your gauntlet ….. then ran away. Allow me to throw down the gauntlet to U instead so that U may join us as a new atheist. Instead of evidence, I’m going to base mine on pure FAITH. Why ? Because It is not direct evidence U seek ….. it is a STRONGER FAITH !!!! A faith so powerful, so believable that, as a Christian, it will make U reconsider your position as a religious person.

    My turn to throw down the gauntlet ! Challenges can go both ways U know ! And I will do it based on simple reasonable FAITH. That’s because I don’t really need anything more. Take my challenge and I will truly shake your world view to pieces (Almighty BRUCE’s permission being granted to me on his blog not withstanding).

    It doesn’t take me pages and pages of bull shit either. A few paragraphs is all I will need. I will give U a truth from which U cannot escape ! No wiggle room !

  39. Avatar

    If we were to set the rules of the discussion so that the bible is not allowed to be used at all in the debate, how would Steve fare?

  40. Avatar
    amy b

    ??? Are his eyes brown because he’s full of shit??

    Christians who have the “perfect argument” to convince you to believe and then waste everyone’s time shooting the bull need the free book at the bottom of the following page, because I lost track of how many logical fallacies he crapped out.

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