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Have We Lost All Sense of Reality?

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Our goal should be to believe as many true things as possible. This approach is antithetical to religious faith. Spare me the nonsense about rational or reasonable faith. Faith denies what we know to be true or what is likely true. People run to faith when they have no answers when asked to provide evidence for their claims. And that’s fine. We all exercise faith in our lives. I am woefully ignorant when it comes to science (and brain surgery). I know more today than I did yesterday about science, but I would never consider myself scientifically literate. Not illiterate, but not ready to lecture on any of the science disciplines. When I want or need information about the universe or our biological world, I turn to people with expertise in science — men and women who have spent years and decades studying their relevant field. Because I know what I don’t know, I put my faith in people who do know. This kind of faith is different from religious faith. Religious faith is a denial of what we know to be true. It is the rejection of facts and evidence about all sorts of things we know are true. That’s why no rational discussion is possible when an Evangelical appeals to faith to justify their beliefs.

Many Christians can compartmentalize their faith from what they know to be true. Scores of believers are scientists, doing excellent work in their relevant fields, while, at the same time, believing all sorts of religious nonsense or embracing subjective experiences as evidence for their claims. Personal testimonies, in particular, are often used as evidence for certain claims, but since their testimonies cannot be falsified or verified, they are no different from faith claims. But, Bruce, I KNOW, I KNOW, PRAISE JESUS, I KNOW that Jesus Christ delivered me from drug addiction. How can you possibly know Jesus delivered you? Is this not a faith claim? You may believe it to be true, but you cannot provide evidence for your claim. You may, in fact, no longer be a drug addict, but you cannot prove that it was Jesus who delivered you from your addiction.

Most Evangelicals grow up in Evangelical churches and spend their lives being indoctrinated and conditioned to believe things that are not true. From the cradle to the grave, their pastors — Sunday after Sunday — make all sorts of faith claims for which there is no evidence beyond the printed words of the Bible (as interpreted by them). Evangelicals will never be told that the Bible is a book of claims, and for those claims to be considered true, empirical evidence must be provided. Just because the Bible says Jesus was born of a virgin, resurrected from the dead, and ascended to Heaven doesn’t mean these claims are true. They might be, but proving them true requires more than prooftexts.

The average Evangelical spends thousands of hours by the time they reach adulthood hearing sermons and reading the Bible and religious books that make all sorts of fantastical claims. This indoctrination and conditioning robs people of the ability to reason and think rationally. How could it be otherwise? When faith trumps facts, it leads to irrational thinking. That’s why scores of people stupidly thought that Jesus was returning to Earth on April 8 to rapture (catch away) every bought-by-the-blood Christian. This claim has been made repeatedly over my sixty-seven years on planet earth, yet, here we are, no Jesus, no rapture. At what point do Evangelicals admit that they have been told a lie; that regardless of what Pastor Know-It-All says, Jesus ain’t coming back to earth? Answer? Never. Why? Faith. Sure, Jesus didn’t come back on April 8, but he could rapture Evangelicals away tomorrow, or next week, or next year, or two thousand years from now. Keep on believing, right?

When you are taught to think this way (as I was for most of my life), you are likely to fall for other unjustified/unwarranted beliefs. It is not surprising, then, that many of the people who tried to overthrow the U.S. government on January 6, are QAnon members; that many of those who embrace any and every conspiracy theory that comes down the pike are Evangelical Christians. When faith is part of the equation, no belief is out of bounds.

As I stated above, our goal should be to believe as many true things as possible. Anything that stands in the way of us achieving this goal should be abandoned, or, at the very least, not given priority in our thinking process. Facts come before faith, and if you have enough of them, faith is no longer necessary.

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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    Danny Plumber

    Great commentary, Bruce! We have lost our sense of reality. Anyone who grew up in an evangelical home has heard the rapture narrative over and over again. I remember when I was 7 years old, my father preached a sermon the day after Robert Kennedy was assassinated. He talked about the country and the imminent approach of the rapture. It will happen any day, maybe even tonight. As a seven year old it scared the crap out of me! And….of course, it didn’t happen. In the seventies we constantly talked about the rapture. It’s coming! We also formulated that Ted Kennedy or Henry Kissinger was clearly the Antichrist. Well, that didn’t work out so well either. In christian college we would tell lost souls that the time is short. Repent! Repent before it’s too late! ‘Life was filled with guns and war, and everyone was trampled to the floor, I wish we’d all been ready’. Larry Norman’s song was powerful. Of course it didn’t happen. When my father was dying a few years ago with prostate cancer he told me he wished that the rapture would happen before he died. I really wished (and prayed) for his sake that it would happen. Nope, it didn’t happen. He died. Fuck! So I turn on the tv and there were tons of people proclaiming that the eclipse will bring upon us the incredible experience of god taking his believers up to heaven in the rapture. Nope, didn’t happen. Jeez, I’m beginning to see a trend here. I’m 63, so will I get to see the rapture before I end up sucking dirt first? Well, let’s just say that I’m not holding my breath.

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    “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
    For by it the elders obtained a good report.
    Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”
    Hebrews 11:1-3 KJV

    I had to learn these verses in fundamentalist Christian school. I can’t say that I fully understood the verses, though. In my kid’s mind, I thought of God and the creation story and the resurrection and everything else that I didn’t understand being like atoms – they’re there, they exist, I don’t quite understand them, but something is happening. As an adult, now I understand that they writer was literally stating that faith is an assertion without quantifiable observable evidence. The idea that faith is a desirable virtue is ludicrous to me now. Questioning is a desirable virtue, in my opinion.

    As to Bruce’s point about not understanding some aspects of science, he could do so with diligent study if he were so inclined. He could read books, attend lectures, conduct experiments and eventually become an expert in the field he chose. He could continue to explore other topics, gaining expertise there as well. However, with faith claims unsubstantiated by evidence, Bruce could become an expert speaking of those things, but he wouldn’t be able to conduct experiments or gather evidence to fortify the concepts. He could say, “I know these things because the Holy Spirit tells me.” The problem is,no one else can converse with this Holy Spirit the same way Bruce can. I can’t interview this Holy Spirit, video his responses, nothing. There’s nothing to corroborate this Hoky Spirit’s supposed statements. I guess we could ask Dr. Tee….🤣🤣🤣

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    Being raised in a Charismatic / Pentecostal home, the end-of-the-world alert was long and drawn-out. Mom was a John Bircher back in the 1950s, and we were sure that the Russians would attack and lived in fear that we’d never make it past the early 70s. Everybody was ready with stored food and cisterns of water and they went full freak when the Bay of Pigs happened. But the Reds never attacked. Fast forward to 1972. Everyone was reading None Dare Call It Conspiracy. The book’s final message was, “fix this mess, or Satan’s Communists will enslave us by the mid-70s.” Well the Commies didn’t attack. There were a few spits and spurts that made people worry, but Ronnie put everyone back to sleep when the USSR fell.

    The next big freak-out was Y2K. Lots of worrying and preparing, all for a big dud. And now the remnant watchers see this latest threat: wokeness and an economy that will end everything they hold dear. Here they go again. But there are only a few of them now. Like an anaconda that squeezes the breath from its prey all of the worrying has suffocated the starch out of the remnant watchers. Big preparations followed by big duds. Everybody’s just tired of it.

    Hopefully, the church will go the same way as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and finally collapse. But humans are a superstitious bunch, especially when their controlling, money-grabbing leaders keep sounding the trumpet.

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    And today’s updated NAR worship, (which I’m sitting in right now) with it’s spotlights, screaming singers, and billowing smoke machines is just the latest incarnation of the insanity.

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