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Atheists Like Bart Ehrman Because They Want to Suppress the Truth in Unrighteousness

bart ehrman

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

According to one commenter on Dr. Michael Kruger’s blog,  The Canon Fodder, the reason atheists like Bart Ehrman is because they want to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Here’s what a commenter by the name of Grant had to say:

“Jeff, just to add to your thoughts in this, Bart Ehrman has a ready audience of people who want to hear what he’s saying. The world will view him as an authority on the matter, and accept his claims as truth. 1 Timothy 4:3 warns of something similar: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”

Ehrman is a teacher who suits the passions of the world: to suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Thus, even though someone who refuses to believe the Gospel might spot this hypocrisy of Ehrman’s, rebuking moralizing while doing the same himself, they will likely suppress that truth along with the Truth of the Gospel. Because it suits their passions to do so.

So if we ignored him, Bart Ehrman might “go away” in the sense that we don’t hear so much from him, but he hasn’t really gone anywhere. He wants an adoring audience to validate his unbelief with their attendance to what he teaches as much as they want him to validate their unbelief by him teaching what he does.”

“Very good points. Of course, “agnosticism” and “atheism” are just a smoke-screen for their suppression of the Truth in unrighteousness, and it shows in Bart Ehrman’s hypocrisy. Basically he wants people to believe him, not the Gospel.”

I always love it when Christians tell atheists, agnostics, and humanists the REAL reason they don’t believe. Instead of having to do a bit of intellectual heavy lifting, a Christian like Grant can dismiss a whole class of people with one wave of the proof text hand. According to Grant, the reason atheists read Bart Ehrman is because his writing appeals to their fleshly desires. Atheists are unwilling to hear and understand the TRUTH — “truth” meaning the Bible — so they seek out writers who reinforce their beliefs and opinions about God, Jesus, Christianity, and the Bible. Of course, Christians don’t do that, right? (that’s sarcasm, by the way).

While Grant’s argument might have some merit when it comes to someone who never was a Christian, it falls flat on its face when it comes to people such as myself. I spent 50 years in the Christian church, and I was an Evangelical pastor for 25 years. I spent the majority of my life thinking the Bible was divine truth. Yet, here I am at age of sixty-two, an outspoken atheist and humanist. Could it be that the reason I no longer believe is because I intellectually found Evangelical claims about the Bible, God, and Jesus lacking?

Grant is upset because people such as I believe Bart Ehrman and not the gospel. In his mind, if one believes the gospel then everything else falls into place. Because I do not believe the Evangelical good news, that means I am an Ehrman fanboy. My recommendation of Ehrman’s books couldn’t be because I find them intellectually persuasive, right? Of course not. If I just believed the Bible — well actually if I just believed Grant’s interpretation of the Bible — then I would understand that Ehrman wants to be god in place of Jesus.

In other words, atheists, agnostics, and humanists are stupid. They are being led astray by Bart Ehrman, a false prophet. The answer is to have an old-fashioned Bart Ehrman book burning. Then we can return to reading and believing the only book that matters: the B-i-b-l-e. What’s funny, at least to me, is that Evangelical zealots such as Grant have shelves full of books that reinforce their beliefs and worldview. If the Bible is all an atheist needs to read, why do Evangelicals read so many books that purport to tell them what the Bible teaches? If the King James Version was good enough for the Apostle Paul and good enough for Bruce, shouldn’t it be good enough for Grant?

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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14 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Tige Gibson

    Bart Ehrman has been trounced by Richard Carrier a few times. He’s not the most diligent scholar and not very firm an atheist. If I were still a Christian I would be much more worried about Carrier as his work will have long term repercussions on the credibility of historical scholarship.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Well, I disagree with you a bit on Richard Carrier vs. Bart Ehrman. That said, Carrier’s work is important, a voice that needs to be heard, even if I, in some measure, disagree with him. Personality wise, I much prefer Ehrman. I’ve had several negative experiences with Carrier. Same goes for PZ Myers. I think Carrier could learn a lot from fellow mythicist Robert Price. Price is quite affable, as is Ehrman. it is not so much the evidence as it is the package.

  2. Avatar
    Tige Gibson

    I would be interested in specifically what experiences you’ve had with Carrier or Myers.

    While it’s a serious mistake to judge an argument based on how “affable” its proponents appear to be, the reality is that affability is assigned on what people say, not how they say it, so the most affable person in a debate is the one who says what you want to hear, not the one who criticized your cherished beliefs, and so claiming that so-and-so is more affable is just a post-hoc rationalization.

    I don’t defend the personalities or actions of others, but far and away more importantly I don’t defend others from what I can only assume might be offensive to them. In most cases, when people cry offense, what they really mean is that they don’t want to be criticized, or most often they don’t want some other person or group to be criticized. If someone is doing something indefensible, criticism is deserved, and you end up defending people who are actually not worthy of defense by complaining about rudeness. No one has a right to not be offended or criticized, and being offended forces you to deal with something which is normally left as a status quo. The absolute only way to change the most inert problems in society is to offend people.

    I spent many years trying to restore civility in my personal relationships to no avail. Once I finally took the gloves off other people finally had to deal with what I was saying and could no longer shrug me off. If you’re primary interested to have peaceful relationships you are going to have to quietly tolerate that some other people, more powerful people with larger organizations, are allowed to be offensive whenever they want, and those people will be the ones who do real harm to others.

    Fighting discrimination has nothing to do with protecting anyone from being offended. Censorship interferes with anti-discrimination by teaching barbarians how to sound civilized without actually being civilized, then it actually becomes harder to fight the bigots because they win defenders coming to their aid from the wrong side.

    Accusing someone of being impolite is just the easiest cop-out and never requires any evidence because it’s subjective and it’s also contagious. Expressing the feeling that you are offended appeals to people’s sympathies, then it can easily be segwayed into getting those same people angry, which can then be used to sway groups of people to take action. So you can start out with a few atheists worried that Christians might be offended, then all of a sudden you have a large group of atheists attacking another group of atheists, foolishly defending Christians from an actually valid criticism of Christianity.

    When someone who has been insulated from criticism suddenly is forced to deal with it, they may not be able to cope, but it’s the protection which weakens the coping mechanism. Political correctness is a gilded cage for anyone not willing to learn to cope.

    Feeling offended is always the problem of the person feeling it. You should deal with your own feelings and let others deal with theirs. The merit of an idea and how you feel about it are separate matters which should never be interdependent. People use their unwillingness to cope with the consequences of an idea to avoid having to accept its truth value, but we need to be honest about the fact that they are merely unwilling and there is no deeper explanation behind denial.

    If someone is truly unable to cope, they will have an emotional breakdown, possibly requiring institutionalization. Christianity provides a disguise for underlying psychological issues which really should be taken care of by professional counselling. People mistakenly believe Christianity helps people cope with the depressing facts of reality, but it does the exact opposite.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      How one presents themselves in public matters. As a person who has done a lot of public speaking over the years, I know how important externals are. A person may have great ideas, beliefs or arguments, but if they are nasty, arrogant, and abusive they will not be heard.

      My interaction with Myers and Carrier comes from their foolish attempt to demonize anyone who didn’t support their view of social justice. As I told Carrier at the time, his vicious treatment of people who disagreed with him had the effect of killing the baby, atheism+, before it could grow. The same can be said of Myers and a few other notable Atheism+ promoters.

      Their ill treatment of others and their either you are with us or you are a misogynistic pig approach was/is found offensive by many. Personally, their behavior was/is no different from a fundamentalist Baptist preacher. Even when called out for their abusive behavior, as Michael Nugent did recently, they remain unrepentant. It is for this reason, I want nothing to do with them or atheism+.

      In the public sphere, optics and tone matter. The best argument in the world will never get a hearing if a person is arrogant, bombastic, and nasty towards potential hearers. Quite frankly, I am often embarrassed by the behavior of atheists in the public square. While they are certainly free to behave any way they want, they diminish their reach by not be a decent human being.

      I am viewed by staunch atheists as a compromiser for my accommodationist views. I have even even been accused of not being a real atheist. Such behavior reminds me of my fundamentalist past.

      Myers, Carrier, etal have caused a huge fracture in the atheist community. If that was their intent, they succeeded. I have no interest in debating the merits of atheism+. For me, humanism is all I need. The humanist tent is large, allowing for diversity of belief.

      Bruce

      • Avatar
        Tige Gibson

        I’ve met Richard Carrier in person at a debate and I just don’t see it honest to accuse him of being a vicious person.

        If you’re talking about their stand against misogyny, then I have to agree with them. Misogyny is a major problem with atheism’s appeal to women, especially when you’re trying to build an alliance with feminism and the resources feminism has access to.

        Humanism isn’t feminism, in fact it pales compared to feminism. Not one single civil or human right has ever been won by humanism, or accommodationism for that matter. Humanism doesn’t acknowledge that any groups of people are discriminated against.

        The people Myers and Carrier are criticizing are people who defend actual vicous people, the people who post rape and death threats. You are defending those people. You are welcoming rapists and murderers in your tent.

        Atheism+ isn’t dead. It’s just called atheist feminism or feminist atheism. This is because feminism was responsible for building the whole social justice system which atheism just wants to benefit from. We want equal treatment under the law. We want to be treated with respect without being threatened in public. Feminism fought and fights for that. Humanism never has.

        • Avatar
          Bruce Gerencser

          My personal experiences with Carrier is just that, my personal experiences. You asked, I answered. I think both he and PZ Myers are a harmful element in the larger atheist tent, especially since they think people like me don’t belong in the tent. That you find me sharing my experiences as less than honest? Not much I can say. I know what I know. Your experiences are different and I accept that. For me, I wouldn’t walk across the street to hear either man.

          Your comment has quickly morphed into what I despise about atheism+. You said “The people Myers and Carrier are criticizing are people who defend actual vicous people, the people who post rape and death threats. You are defending those people. You are welcoming rapists and murderers in your tent.” I have done no such thing, as anyone who has read my writing knows.

          I get it , you don’t like humanism or accommodationism, but I have no problem with either. Humanism provides the framework for my moral and ethical beliefs and accommodationism allows me to interact with the larger religious world. Since I primarily write about religion, I find little value in deliberately offending the religious. This is why many of the readers of this blog are religious/spiritual. In my eyes, fundamentalism is the problem, and what I see in atheism+ is a secular brand of fundamentalism. Back when this all got started, I wrote a post about atheism+ being a secular fundamentalist religion. I still hold to this opinion. They have their priests, their doctrine and are exclusionary. Like the fundamentalist Christian, they demand purity of belief and if you refuse you are demonized and called names. I have no interest in being around or supporting people who act this way. Myers and Carrier are not the only ones who act this way. I will refrain from naming names because I have no intention of allowing myself to be pulled once again into the atheism+/generic atheism debate.

          I’ve said all I can say on this matter, Tige.

          Thanks for commenting.

          Bruce

  3. Avatar
    Tige Gibson

    I found a comment on Carrier’s blog from 2012 where you seem to be offended by being labelled with Atheism+. I find it odd at this point since Atheism+ was merely the convergence of the three disparate groups, atheists, skeptics, and feminists, and at this point people identify as either feminist or not, with the plus label having been forgotten.

    Skeptics didn’t want to be associated with atheists, and feminists didn’t want to accept that atheism was a class worthy of protection. While skepticism isn’t really a substantial identity (the anti-flying saucer crowd?), the fact is very few people have any idea what feminism really is, what it espouses and teaches, how it came to be what it is now, how big it is, or how much of a role it plays in society. To learn this I had to take a university level course, and despite the fact that it’s a liberal arts course, it is very factual, with lots of real evidence, case studies, legal cases, as well as being a life changer for many people. Anyone who complains about “women’s studies” haven’t taken any such a course. The course I took had almost nothing to do with women. It covered race, especially native Americans who actually have the most barbaric laws presently on the books against them. It covered all gender identities. It covered class, including especially poverty in third world countries.

    But at the time, feminism didn’t consider any religion to be a privileged class, despite my insistence to the professor that religion played a major role in maintaining discrimination in society, formally religion was considered a choice, whereas gender identity and race are not.

    Atheism+ came about entirely as a result of how atheist women (who were and are a minority) were treated at atheist gatherings. Essentially atheism had to accept feminism in order for feminism to be able to accept atheism. This is actually a fundamentally important step in fighting bigotry against atheists since feminism brings a major power to us.

    All gains in the fight against racism are substantially indebted to feminism. Black people are far more dominantly religious, mainly because Christianity sells itself as a relief to oppression, which it isn’t. Black people are more likely to reject atheism than white people. By integrating with feminism, we’ve made a major inroad to helping black people out of the oppression of the church.

    But personally I am much more moved by the plight of native Americans and Canadians. (I’m in Canada.) Life for them is an abomination to civilization.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      My objection, both publicly and privately, was about their treatment of those who had a different opinion from theirs. I saw no need then, nor do I see any need now for atheism+. If others do, that’s fine. I just wish they’d stop demonizing those of us who don’t want to be a part of their club.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I would also add that I did a good bit of writing on atheism+ and the various personalities involved back when things first blew up. I’ve seen nothing in the intervening years that would cause me to change my opinion.

  4. Avatar
    Kurt

    I find it intresting that you chose to write an article about some relative unknown poster, Grant. Would not your time be better spent engaging the author and his article? Maybe you have done that also and forgot to provide a link? I, for one, would be much more interested in the latter. Or if not, could it be that you chose the easier target (after all, we dont want to much of that heavy lifting).

    As someone, who wants to “challenging his assuptions” i look forward to reading more of your un-conversion story.

  5. Avatar
    BJW

    I just read these old comments for the first time. You have the patience of a (non) saint! Tige illustrated quite well the problem with atheism+ you mentioned, an “either you’re with us or against us” mentality.

  6. Avatar
    ... Zoe ~

    Bruce: “What’s funny, at least to me, is that Evangelical zealots such as Grant have shelves full of books that reinforce their beliefs and worldview. If the Bible is all an atheist needs to read, why do Evangelicals read so many books that purport to tell them what the Bible teaches? If the King James Version was good enough for the Apostle Paul and good enough for Bruce, shouldn’t it be good enough for Grant?”

    Zoe: I was thinking the same thing Bruce. They read all manner of Christian books to help them understand, translate and apply the Bible to their lives. Why? Isn’t the Bible enough?

    Grand quotes: “1 Timothy 4:3 warns of something similar: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.””

    Zoe: This was a popular scripture preached from the pulpit to keep the sheep in line regarding straying from The One True Church. Not to keep them in the faith but to keep them from wandering to any other church or denomination or interpretation. So I’m never surprised when Christians use it against non-Christians. They use it on one another all the time.

    Christians have been church hopping for years to “suit their own passions.”

  7. Avatar
    Trenton

    The lack of self awareness and the amount of projection and hypocrisy never ceases to amaze. Anytime they complain about what other people are doing, they are really admitting their own faults. One fault I find especially egregious is their propensity to be 100% certain that their beliefs are completely true. This certainty kills their imaginations and their ability to see any form of nuance. Any form of entertainment they have is a poor imitation of the rest of the world because their lack of creativity only allows them to preach a message and conform a story around it. They dont let the story speak for itself. Of course they can’t let the Bible speak for itself, it has to be interpreted correctly with proof texts. If the Bible did speak for itself, there would probably not be anywhere near as many christians.

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