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Your Questions, Please

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Greetings, earthlings and residents of other galaxies.

It’s been a while since I asked readers to submit questions for me to answer, so I thought I would, once again, open the call lines and ask readers to submit their questions, along with $66.66 donations to help me reach Evangelicals throughout the universe. Reason — praise be to Reason! — has called me to evangelize Evangelicals, and your donations will help me take the gospel of critical thinking and skepticism to infinity and beyond. Just kidding. While donations are always appreciated, what I really want are questions; your pithy, short, erudite questions. Please try to ask questions that you think I haven’t answered before.

If you have a question you would like me to answer, please ask it in the comment section of this post. I will answer questions in the order they are received; that is unless you are a bigly donor. Readers who shower me with cash, checks, gold bullion (ouch), Bitcoins, and restaurant gift cards just might be moved to the front of the line or be sent a 13×19 glossy photo of me pole dancing at the Big Bear Strip Club — “might” being the operative word. (Long-time readers who know and understand my humor, sarcasm, and snark know whether I am speaking factually. Everyone else? Keep on dreaming of Bruce Almighty swinging on a brass pole wearing only his shorts, suspenders, and wingtips.)

You can also email your questions to me via the contact form.

Please do not answer the questions. In the past, well-intentioned commenters have answered the questions, making my responses moot. Once I answer the questions, feel free to give your own answer.

Let the fun begin.

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

29 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Sage

    Big Bear Strip Club….hmmm…I’m leaving that alone.

    I personally have escaped christianity and do not consider the Christian Bible to have any useful value. But lately I have heard LGBTQ people, who still attend church, saying that the biblical prohibition on homosexuality is a misinterpretation introduced in the 20th century, and prior it was prohibiting pedophilia. What are your thoughts?

  2. Avatar
    William

    History is replete with different types of religious beliefs, why is this do you think? Are humans programmed to believe in a superior deity(ies)? Is the mind hardwired to explain things through magical ways? Are rituals to please a God(s) just another form of gambling, hoping to strike it lucky? Or is it just a throwback to our heightened imagination pre-agricultute as a defense mechanism when we really had to be afraid of the dark?

    • Avatar
      Matilda

      Hope OK to comment on a question you’re asking Bruce. On the hillside behind my house are the remains of Bronze Age hut circles. It’s a harsh, unforgiving, atlantic coastal site in Wales. As I walk there, I think of the grimness of life. One drought and water disappears. One flood and your crops growing sparsely on rocky land, die. One storm or unseasonal activity and the shoals of fish you need to dry over winter, fail to arrive, or the seabirds don’t nest on the cliff one year so no eggs or meat. Folk must surely have looked out at that oncoming thunderstorm or other inexplicable weather event and decided a malevolent being greater than themselves needed to be appeased. Sacrifice your one sheep or that winter store of dried fish and nothing happened, kill a virgin maybe and the storm ceased, so, voila, that ‘deity’ was finally happy with you and needed more from time to time to keep him/her/it looking favourably on you!

      • Avatar
        William

        The dominant religion tends to attract the intellectual class. The druids for instance of the bronze age you mention. Christianity has attracted some of the greatest minds, and entertwined with philosophy, medicine. For Christianity it no longer attracts the same thinkers as it used to, which I think is a sure telling of its decline.

      • Avatar
        thatotherjean

        Matilda, that seems quite likely to me. Religion is a way to explain the inexplicable. Today, we have science–ways to explain things that rightly terrified our ancestors, so fear and appeasement of a power so much greater than yourself makes less sense to a lot of us.

        • Avatar
          William

          It may be, but we’d be wrong I think to suggest that people didn’t apply science in the past. There was the science of alchemy, astrology, the ‘ether’. A lot has been disproven so much of it is now labelled as false or a pseudo science. I wonder if it might be something to do with our imagination, I wonder why we evolved it…

          • Avatar
            Matilda

            Ancient humans had survival skills we know nothing about. A TV documentary puzzled how huge Standing Stones got from one side of a scottish island to another – like Easter Island statues did too. Logs for rolling broke, as did ropes. Archeologists on the programme were baffled.A local man passed by – this may have been staged – but he said he had a distant memory of locals using seaweed. Bucketfuls were collected, placed under the Stones and they slid easily across the island.

          • Avatar
            Davie from Glasgow

            I’ve got a few thoughts related to the evolution of brains like ours. But I’m going to do what I’m told for once and sit on my hands until Bruce has given us his!

          • Avatar
            thatotherjean

            Of course people in the past sought explanations for things they didn’t understand. A lot of them were wrong, of course, including–in my opinion–religions. That doesn’t mean they were stupid, only that they didn’t have the tools to discover the right answers. I’m sure people in the future will correct our errors, too.

  3. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Okay, here’s one for you: Can you recall how far back you decided to acknowledge your worthlessness? Was there an event or feeling that stays with you illuminating the knowledge you garnered, convincing you that you required ‘saving’? Some people say it was the Bible, the Bible says etc. but for me it was nightmares of hell, awful feelings of doom. I was just a youngster and went running to my mom. I had been preached at of course and had been told by adults that we are all bad without Jesus…. I guess it was all that input that build up in me and grew night horrors. And of course seeing how important it was to my mom and dad. What about you, Bruce?

  4. Avatar
    Kel

    Hi Bruce,

    As part of a minority group in my home country, I feel that religion, in this case Christianity, provides me with a sense of belonging. It helps since a lot of people of my own ethnicity are Christians, too.

    Even after I started questioning my Evangelical faith – though I won’t consider myself an atheist – I can still feel a surge of (“Christian”) zeal when confronted with Evangelicals’ “tribal enemies” or unfamiliar situations (people with different religions, etc.). Strangely, I am never bothered by online atheists though 😂. Probably because they never threaten me with their version of Hell.

    My question is: as a humanist, do you still experience this “tribal pull” when you see unfamiliar people with different customs or religions? Especially if they seem threatening.

    • Avatar
      Grammar Gramma

      Off-topic from your question, Kel, but the first part of your comment reminded me: I think I speak for Bruce when I say that this is why he does not try to “evangelize” people to atheism. If someone derives a sense of community or comfort from their religion – whether Christianity or another version – he is happy for them and would never try to urge them to leave their religion. It is when religions are harming their members that he believes those members should perhaps consider re-examining their beliefs and perhaps moving away, either to a less stringent religion or sect, or beyond.

  5. Avatar
    Davie from Glasgow

    I have a quick one that you surely will already have answered somewhere but I just can’t recall – It’s clear that you are a particularly singular fellow Bruce but in your time (maybe most likely through this blog) have you come across any other people that were also once evangelical/fundamentalist PREACHERS for any length of time before deconverting and becoming agnostics/atheists? Or are you as unique as you seem??

  6. Avatar
    Logan

    Bruce,
    Would you perhaps write some about your dad, Robert. Maybe tell some stories about growing up and your thoughts/ feelings now. Just curious. Thanks for your time.

  7. Avatar
    Brocken

    Have you ever read the book Six Thousand Country Churches? It was written by two sociologists around the year 1919. It talked about how the people in Southeastern Ohio were badly served by the local preachers. The authors were Gifford Pinchot and Charles Otis Gill. The book talked about the low moral standard of the people of southeastern Ohio despite the churches having been around for about 100 years in that area. This book is online at Project Gutenberg.org. The book also stated how poorly the rural preachers were paid for their work at that time period.

  8. Avatar
    theologyarchaeology

    Since it is your decision to walk away from the faith, why can you not let evangelicals make their own decisions?

    Your evangelizing comment proves me right by the way

  9. Avatar
    missimontana

    Hi there, sorry I haven’t been diligent about opening your emails; stuff happens. I’m just curious, awhile back I told a story here about how I was unsatisfied about how the church explained where Cain got his wife. My Sunday school teacher was clearly flabergasted when I asked her this when I was 12. Did any kids ask you this question when you were a minister, and how did you handle the delicate subject matter? I was unhappy bebause adult Bible classes refused to even discuss this. If there were no other people than Adam’s family, then incest was the only explanation, right?

  10. Avatar
    Karuna Gal

    Have you ever read “When Prophecy Fails”? It’s a study of millennialist movements. This book was the final nail in the coffin of my Christian belief. It was clear to me,after reading that book, that the first Christians, disappointed that their messiah had failed, doubled down on their belief in him in spite of that. They were sincere, but sincerely deluded. Also, when are you going to discuss that 10-40 geography or whatever you call it? I’m waiting. 🙂

  11. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Hi, Bruce. I do have a couple of questions : do you know your ethnic background from your biodad,the truck driver,like having a DNA test,as some diseases are inherited. The second question is, since you wrote of your mother’s ordeals in relation to her progenitor ( he doesn’t deserve the title ” dad” or ” father”, even- did your two grandmother’s know that he was molesting her over the years,did she try to get help with getting away from him from other family members, and did any one consider calling the police on him( Teiken)? You appear to have some German/ English ancestry, though I could be wrong. It’s too bad you never had the chance to speak to your real father,to see if he was a good guy or not. People not knowing who their real fathers are/were is more common than I realized,even in the Era of ” yesteryear.”. It’s certainly true in my mother’s case. We needed to know his inherited disorders,but we don’t. My grandmother withheld everything she knew, out of sheer spite !

  12. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Hello, Glenn Wood. At times, I have wondered why in the Bible this thing with several resurrected people was just a deadpan,one – paragraph wonder ! Why wasn’t there any details or comments for such an outlier of an event ?? Sexual attitudes and conduct got far more attention !

  13. Avatar
    Astreja

    I have a question, Bruce: What were your (and your congregants’) relationships like with more liberal churches in the towns where you preached?

  14. Avatar
    Obstaclechick

    Related to questions others are asking, when you were fully in the fold, sold out, dedicated to the Trinity, did you ever feel any discomfort when you read things in the Bible that didn’t make sense or add up? Like, where did the children of Adam and Eve get their mates? Or about the dead that supposedly resurrected in the Easter Story in Matthew’s version? Or did Noah’s offspring all procreate with their siings and cousins? (And why if it took so long for Noah and his sons to build the Ark there were no grandchildren running around during that time – or were those kids horrible reprobates too?) Were you a “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” kind of guy? You mentioned that you actually would study and prepare for your sermons, so you must have seen all those issues and more…you’re a smart guy.

  15. Avatar
    BJW

    Bruce, did you ever meet any truly lovely fundamentalist/evangelicals…besides yourself? That is, people that loved their fellow man and actually tried to follow that directive to care about the sinners, and not to just preach and be power mad?

  16. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Hello, Bruce and Polly, are you still traveling on your vacation or have you returned to New yet ? How are you both doing ?

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away!

Bruce Gerencser