Today, I received an email from an Evangelical Christian named Karrie. Karrie is a student/professor/employee at The University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Karrie read all of two posts before emailing me:
Karrie spent a total of five minutes reading my writing before emailing me. While she accessed the WHY? page, there’s no record that she clicked on any post. (Please see Curiosity, A Missing Evangelical Trait.) As her email below will show, Karrie seems to know that I have health problems. Since neither of the posts she read mentions these things, it’s possible she has read other work by me.
Here’s what Karrie had to say:
Hello Bruce, do you believe that God is able and willing to heal you of the sickness you are suffering?
Most people who read this blog know I have serious health problems. I have (in the order of diagnosis) fibromyalgia (1996), osteoarthritis (2000), gastroparesis (2020), and degenerative spinal disease (2021). I also take medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, an irregular heartbeat, low potassium, and low B-12. I am anemic, and since being diagnosed with gastroparesis, I am having problems with my eyes. I was nearsighted for almost fifty years. I am now farsighted, with every eye exam I have (six in the past eighteen months) different from the others. Quite frankly, the only time I wear glasses is when we go out on the town, and this is mainly because I am vain. I stopped driving two and a half years ago due to declining motor function. I walk with a cane, and when covering longer distances, I must use a wheelchair. Throw in peripheral neuropathy in my feet, legs, and hands, and I spend every moment of every day fatigued and in pain. I take numerous medications to combat these symptoms, but unless I want to sleep all the time and be a lobotomized robot, all that narcotics, NSAIDs, and high-powered muscle relaxers do is keep me from wanting to kill myself. And some days, these drugs don’t work very well; those days I wish I could die. Currently, both of my hips are inflamed. I have gotten steroid injections, to no avail. No explanation for the inflammation. I just woke up one morning and my hips hurt. Gastroparesis, an incurable stomach disease, causes unrelenting nausea, bouts of vomiting, and horrific — and I mean horrific — bowel problems. (Yes, I eat right and take fiber supplements, so don’t, please don’t, for the love of Loki, do NOT email me your unsolicited medical advice. I have a team of doctors who care for me. Unless you are Dr. House, please keep your opinions to yourself. I am being nice. Email me anyway and I will set your house on fire.) Next week, I see a dermatologist. I have had three bouts of skin cancer, so I must see a dermatologist every six months. I have several growths that will likely need to be removed. I also have a purplish spot on my right breast that concerns me. I’ve had pneumonia twice, battled bronchitis for years, and almost died from mononucleosis in 1991.
I have given you my medical history so you will understand that I have had health problems since I was a teenager. My wife, Polly, and I married in July 1978. While she remembers a strong-as-an-ox, athletic Bruce, she doesn’t remember a time when I wasn’t battling some sort of health problem. When we were younger, I still had the proverbial tiger by the tail. Those days are long gone. The tiger now has me by the neck and is swinging me back and forth. There will come a day when he will finally succeed in ending my life. Not today, but maybe tomorrow, next week, or next year. I have no illusions about living a long life. My goal on any given day is to get up, move, do a few things around the house, write, and collapse on the couch watching TV before I haltingly and slowly make my way to the bedroom, hoping to get a few hours of sleep. (Typically, I sleep in 90-minute to two-hour segments. Sleep, wake up, sleep, wake up, hoping to get six or so hours sleep.) The goal is quality of life, not length of life. Imagine every time you eat the first feeling you get is not pleasure, but wanting to vomit. This is my life. Fortunately, I take a medication (typically used for chemotherapy patients) that curbs the urge to upchuck — usually in minutes. On those days it doesn’t work? I worship the porcelain God, violently offering it the contents of my stomach. Ain’t life grand. 🙂
Karrie fails to understand that virtually ALL of my health problems can be traced back to the days when I was a devout Evangelical Christian and a pastor. I prayed countless prayers to God, asking for strength and deliverance. These prayers were met by indifference and silence. In 2008, I left Christianity and embraced atheism. While the reasons for my deconversion are many, one reason I divorced Jesus is his indifference towards my suffering and that of billions of humans (and animals). God’s silence and apathy led me to conclude that he/she/it doesn’t exist; that he/she/it is a mythical being who is unable to do anything for me or any other human being.
So, to answer Karrie’s question: do I believe the Evangelical God is able and willing to heal me of the sickness I am suffering? The answer is an emphatic NO!
Evangelicals have had fifteen years to show me compelling evidence for the existence of their deity. None has done so. Outside of quoting Bible prooftexts, pointing to creation, or using lame philosophical arguments, no satisfactory evidence for the existence of God has been provided. Karrie makes no attempt to provide evidence for the existence of her peculiar God. She assumes I know that her deity is the one true God. I don’t. And even if she could provide such evidence, it still doesn’t follow that her God can and will heal me of gastroparesis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and degenerative spinal disease. I have watched scores of Christians and unbelievers alike horribly suffer and die. I have stood by the bedsides of devoted lovers of Jesus as they draw their last breaths. I have watched them writhe in horrific pain, with God nowhere to be found. You see, from my seat in the atheist pew, the problem of suffering, along with the problem of evil and the hiddenness of God, are insurmountable problems for Christians. I have heard every possible argument regurgitated by Christian apologists, and all of them come up short. You just don’t want to believe, Evangelicals say, but this is patently untrue, as I shall show in a moment.
Here’s a promise I will make to Karrie: if her God instantaneously heals me, without medical intervention, of gastroparesis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and degenerative spinal disease I will “believe.” The ball is in your court, Jesus. You are allegedly the “Great Physician.” Work your magic, and I will believe. The Bible records stories about you healing all sorts of people from serious diseases. You even raised the dead. And believe me Jesus, I am not too far away from needing resurrection. After I am dead and burnt into ashes that will be cast into the waters of Lake Michigan, perhaps Polly will ask you to recombine my molecules and give me a young, healthy body. That way, she can have some sexy eye candy by her side. 🙂 Do either of these things, Jesus, and I will believe, and I suspect Polly will believe too.
Of course, no healing or resurrection will be forthcoming. Expecting Jesus to do either of these things is akin to me going to my mom’s grave and asking her pop out of the ground fully clothed and with no bullet hole in her chest so we could share a cup of instant coffee (mom’s favorite) and have a chat. Well, we’d share a cup of coffee right after Mom lights up a Virginia Slim. “Butch, I have been hankering for a smoke for thirty years.” 🙂
To Karrie, I say, “with God all things are possible” and “if you ask anything in his name he will do it.” If you are as connected with the triune God of the Bible as your email suggests, surely God will answer your prayer for the healing of the unrepentant atheist Bruce Gerencser. Think of all the souls that will be saved if your God healed me. Why, I suspect my healing would cause reverberations across the world. “Is anything too hard for God?” Karrie, if Jesus can resurrect Lazarus from the dead, surely he can heal a lowly atheist who really, really, really wants to “believe.”
With bated breath, I await my healing. Time is running out . . .
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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If God wanted to prove he existed, there are hospitals all over the world that could use a healer’s touch. He could zap you and me, Bruce, so that we would be out of pain. But no, that isn’t happening and it’s never going to happen.
When secretly on the way to deconversion 7 years ago, Bruce, I discovered your blog. It was like a light coming on and continues to be so. For which, many, many thanks. One of the first posts I read said something like you sat down with Polly and tried to make a list of answers to prayers that you received. IIRC you said it was maybe five or fewer. It made me realise what a huge mountain of unanswered prayers we x-tians had in our lives – and we never confronted that notion. (Or we explained it away with ‘god moves in mysterious ways, or ‘his answer can be no.’) We prayed for an end to world hunger, war, natural disasters etc…as well as for all those sick people who died anyway. Churches here have notices outside: ‘Pray for Ukraine.’ That’s achieving a lot isn’t it? As is prayer for Covid to end. I seriously fail to understand fundies…of which I was one…believing prayer is so effective….when the state of the world and our personal experiences of life’s troubles and traumas clearly say the opposite. However much we sink to our knees, shriek at the ceiling, yell at the sky, we receive zilch, nada, zero, nothing, in reply.
So, as noted by Bruce, per the bible, Karrie can pray for Bruce and heal him. That Karrie won’t or can’t demonstrates all anyone needs to know about Christians and Christianity.
After reading many (not all, I admit) of Bruce’s posts, I can’t help but to think that at least some of his health problems were caused or exacerbated by his devotion to his loving, succor-providing Jesus. If anything, when I read about the conditions under which he and his family lived, it’s a wonder that he’s still here and his family is intact.
As for prayers: They really helped after al of those mass shootings, didn’t they?
No you wouldn’t believe even if he did a miracle.
Just like the Pharisees saying they would believe if Jesus came down from the cross.
Also King Herod wanted Jesus to perform a miracle and Christ remained silent for the same reason. Unbelief.
Which also shows that in 50 years of “Christianity “ you were likely a Pharisee.
Mr Wilson. Do you know what a stereotype you are? You come to an atheist blog, having read a couple of posts and, as another commenter said, initially cover your hatred and bigotry with a veneer of politeness…and bingo, very soon there it is…a personal insult….we all of us KNEW this would come. That’s all ya got, The fruit of the spirit eh?…not kindness, gentleness etc but gratuitous rudeness, ad hominem attacks and unpleasant personal insults. If I re-convert, will I have to do the same and write mean-spirited, unkind comments attacking complete strangers too? No thanks.
Yep. ❤️That’s why I called out his behavior in my response to him. Over the past 15 years, I only know of a couple Evangelicals who owned their bad behavior and apologized. Thousands of others? They double down, obfuscate, or ignore. They twist the Scripture to justify their behavior. Or they quietly slink away, upset that someone dared to call them out.
So true. I give my small g/sons a firm glare if they forget to say please or thank you and they know what I’m going to say. ‘Courtesy costs nothing and conveys much.’ But Howell et al are brainwashed that the rules don’t apply to them and their sky daddy has given them a hotline message to be rude and offensive. Do you know anyone who got converted cos a fundy was objectionable and derogatory to them? Cos I certainly don’t.
So, you are calling me a liar? Can you read my mind? Do you know my motivations? You don’t know anything about me, yet you judge me? What does the Bible say about your behavior, Howell? What does the Bible say about how you are to treat your “enemies”? Would you like me to educate you, or do you all ready know and you are deliberately “sinning” against God?
Howell, There are no miracles. And that you can’t do any is quite literally damning since Jesus said that anyone who believed in him will have their prayers answered, no exceptions.
Your Jesus was unable to do “miracles” when people disbelieved, just like any fraud. I’ve had some wiccan friends use that same rather silly excuse.
“4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown and among their own kin and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.” Mark 6
Pharisee’s claimed they knew all about the scriptures and gods will, and those who did not listen to them or follow their teachings were not following god.
Howell, shaddup. I doubt very much that you have the ability to read anyone’s mind. Therefore, I find you guilty of bearing false witness because you made an unsubstantiated claim about the future comments of someone else’s mind.
Repent, mendacious mortal. 😀
Howell, before calling anyone else a pharisee look in a mirror first, one will be staring back at you. The pharisees as portrayed in the christian new testament were nothing more than legalistic religious busybodies who talked about how holy and pure they were while ignoring the needs of the poor, the marginalized and the needy. If you spend more time condemning others for being different rather than helping others, you are no different than them and completely ignoring what jesus actually said his followers should do.
Apparently this god hates amputees because he never heals them. But people who go into hospital and then have teams of doctors, nurses, staff, and administrators care for them, resulting in them being cured, thank “god” for a miracle. Apparently none of the folks that actually cured them even deserve her thanks.
Hang in there, Bruce. We need you.
I discovered your blog recently when looking for information about Jack Hyles for my blog. Since then I have read a lot of your posts. You are doing a great job.
I hope that you and your doctors find the best possible life for you given the circumstances.
I think we would ALL love to be able to pray to a deity and have it fix things. But most of us have the experience that sometimes things are fixed or healed, and sometimes they aren’t. Personally, I have never encountered a miracle. I have encountered people whose medical ailments have been treated or cured, and those who have succumbed to ailments. When in church, we were told that God answers in one of 3 ways – yes, no, or wait awhile. We were told that only a small amount of faith was necessary – faith the size of a mustard seed. We were told not to doubt God, that our unbelief may affect the outcome. Which was necessary, a small amount of faith or unwavering faith? Was confessing and repenting of all our sun necessary for God to answer, or was he above that? It was all confusing.
The simplest answer is that prayer doesn’t work.
Obstaclechick, those three answers to prayer cover every possible answer. No matter what happens the prayer gets answered. Now there was some video about praying to a milk jug I accidentally watched as a kid on the internet and though I didn’t realize it at the time, I never could take praying seriously afterwards. Also to me praying in group settings out loud was just creepy, especially since god was all knowing and all powerful, shouldn’t he know what we wanted without needing to be asked
Hey Bruce, I may have asked this before, and if so, please forgive me for asking again. But why do you think Christians like this person write to you about this kind of stuff? Obviously, they have only read one or two posts, so they don’t realize that when you say to not try to preach to you, you mean it! Ugh.
As for the prayer/healing thing, like others have said, I started to look back on my (God’s) track record for answered prayers. One thing really stands out. I’ve prayed for, or been seriously involved with, praying for 10 people with a terminal disease. No cure. Only a miracle will save them. I came out of a group that believed it was God’s will to heal. But, you have to have enough faith! God is never to blame! I’m 100% with these prayers. I prayed in faith, my wife prayed in faith, others were praying with us in faith, the people we prayed for believed by faith… and all of them died of the terminal illness. Every one of them. Most of the 10 people were faith preachers. So, yeah… One thing that is interesting about the faith crowd is that when prayers aren’t answered, they just don’t talk about it. Because no one has any answers that people want to hear. I get it. Back then, I didn’t want to talk about it, either.
On another blog I commented about a young pastor I knew who had terminal cancer and the church had a whole night of prayer. He died, leaving a wife pregnant with their first child. I said I wondered about vain repetition. All that the church wanted was for him to recover and his wife be OK. Did they go on saying those 2 simple sentences all night? Someone else replied they imagined god up there with a stopwatch or a whistle saying ‘OK folks, you’ve been on your knees for 7 hours , make it 8 and I might give you that miracle. Give up now and you’re all wimps’. My fundy friend just asked if I’d had problems coming through a disastrously busy UK airport last week. I said not, no 3 hour queues for baggage reclaim as I’d expected. My bag was the 1st out, no wait at all. ‘Wow,’ she said ‘The lawd was really with you. And with me, I prayed for a parking spot, I need one and a half car widths, my spatial awareness is bad..and he gave me one.’ Head desk from me, please imaginary sky fairy, use those awesome powers to end wars, poverty and disease and I’ll gladly forego my instant baggage reclaim for the next 10 trips, if that helps you!
Phúc healing. Jeeezus can tell his abba to keep his sadistic spirit. Just send benjamins (at least $10B) and a man will heal himself and many others or at least they will laugh their asses of on their way out of this world.
HOWELL J WILSON is merely doing God’s Will: Go into all the world and harm others. Tell them how rotten they are and always have been. Tell them they are liars and never deserved to be saved. Curse them as if they were devils. Yes, do God’s will and obey.
Dispense hatred far and wide and carry a big sign announcing your LOVE.
The evangelical mind is so depraved, so harmed, so ready to pass on the suffering… No wonder the dear, kind government gives them a break with taxes.
I truly do hope you are healed one day pain is miserable no doubt!
Many people don’t believe in God because he’s not showing up physically.
He did 2,000 years ago and he was crucified.
Here are some examples of God’s miracles today.
Anytime a teenager says no to drugs and alcohol and yes to Jesus Christ that’s a miracle.
When a 90 year old man finally gives his heart to Christ after decades of rejecting him that’s a miracle.
When a teenage girl says no to murdering her baby and yes to adoption that’s a miracle.
When a youth says no to gangs and yes to youth programs and an education that’s a miracle.
When a child with their whole life ahead of them trusts in Jesus Christ genuinely and will be used by him that’s a miracle.
6 When a couple says no to divorce and yes to reconciliation that’s a miracle.
The fact that Christ woke you up this morning that is a miracle.
“Many people don’t believe in God because he’s not showing up physically. He did 2,000 years ago and he was crucified.”
Yes, and he ain’t been seen since, which leads me to think his bones remain buried in a potter’s field in Palestine. Dead people stay dead. You can provide no evidence outside of quoting Bible verses that Jesus resurrected from the dead and is alive. Such a claim requires faith, a faith I do not have.
As far as your “miracles” are concerned. All of them can be explained naturally, materially, and scientifically. Sorry, no God needed. Is this the best you got? I’m so disappointed. 😩😩
By the way, the person who wakes me up every day, and has done so every day for forty-four years, is not Christ, it’s Polly. Dead people can’t wake me up. Polly is very much alive. 🤣🤣
howell demonstrates the greed of the typical Christian, trying to steal human hard work for his god. He is nothing more than the typical liar for Christ.
So, basically people do, that you believe to be properly godly, is a miracle.
Well that certainly helps a mythical deity be successful.
But that does set the best kinda low for your god.
Any time a teenager says “no” to drugs or alcohol…He’s seen the future in a friend or relative who’s dead or in prison.
When a 90 year old gives his heart to Jesus…he’s desperate.
When a teenage girl says no to abortion and yes to adoption…She’s poor. Or she’s been shamed, bullied or otherwise coerced.
When a youth (sic) says “no” to gangs and “yes” to education and youth programs…See #1.
When a child trusts in Jesus Christ…he or she is trying to please parents, a pastor or other authority figures.
When a couple says “no” to divorce and “yes” to counseling:
a.) one or the other can’t afford divorce
b.) one or the other has been coerced or intimidated
c.)!one or the other doesn’t know what else to do,’or
d.) they decided their issues weren’t as big as they thought they were.
I tried to stretch every definition of “miracle” and its synonyms I could find every way I could. None of them could include anything I’ve listed above.
Granted, nothing I’ve said makes for as good a sound bite as “miracle.” For me, part of growing up meant learning that just because something sounds good, that doesn’t mean that it is good.
It’s a miracle that Howell Wilson (and his Jeeezus) wasn’t born a gang-raped, HIV-infected, illiterate, penurious pregnant Somalian teenager who’s condemned to have 10 kids with different men before she dies at 30 leaving her children in the same conditions as hers.