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Category: Science

Frozen Embryos: If Life Begins at Conception . . .

3 day old human embyro
Three-Day Old Human Embryo. Why He Looks Just Like his Father.

According to anti-abortionists/forced birthers, life begins at conception. At the very moment the sperm and egg unite, a new life is created. Anti-abortionists are intractable when it comes to their position. Life begins at conception . . . end of debate.

Let me tell you a story . . .

This story takes place at the We Make Life Possible Fertility Clinic, owned by Dr. David Tee, a renowned gynecologist, fertility expert, and archeologist.

Sue gave birth to a beautiful baby girl through in vitro fertilization. Her baby girl is one month old. Sue stopped by the Fertility Clinic to show off her newborn to the clinic staff.

While Sue was there, a huge explosion rocked the place and the clinic was engulfed in flames. Later speculation on World Net Daily, Charisma, Protestia, and TheologyGynocology, suggested a supporter of Barack Obama/Joe Biden/Nancy Pelosi/Kamala Harris/AOC was behind the attack.

John, named after John the Baptist, a forced birth activist, happened to be passing by the clinic when the explosion took place. John went running into the clinic hoping to perhaps save someone from the fire.

John had been to the We Make Possible Life Fertility Clinic before. His wife Purity had problems conceiving, and not wanting to wait on God to open her womb, she went to the clinic for non-vaginal-sex fertilization. While the treatment was successful, Purity miscarried a few months into the pregnancy.

John knew the clinic stored hundreds of fertilized eggs (embryos) in a freezer. As he rushed into the clinic, John saw Sue huddled in a corner with her newborn daughter trying to get away from the fire. John thought, “Surely I should save these two.”

John thought for a moment, asking himself What Would Jesus Do? Suddenly, he realized the fire was going to destroy all the frozen embryos. John told Sue and her baby Sorry, maybe Jesus will come to rescue you, and he rushed to the freezer where the frozen embryos were stored. Through John’s heroic effort, hundreds of frozen embryos were saved. Sadly, Sue and her newborn daughter were burnt to death.

Who among us would fault John? After all, he acted according to the greater good. Who wouldn’t save two hundred lives at the expense of two lives?

The above story follows the logic of the life-begins-at-conception viewpoint to its illogical conclusion. There is no difference between two hundred embryos and Sue and her baby. Life is life. It makes perfect sense for John to save the frozen embryos and not Sue and her little one. Surely John would be praised for saving the two hundred embryos, right? If the clinic is unable to reopen, perhaps the frozen embryos can be put up for adoption. After all, EVERY embryo is a life.

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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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Chronic Pain: Living Life When There Are Few “Better Days”

pain and suffering
I am sure glad I am so close to Jesus 🙂

“I hope you will feel better soon,” is an oft-heard line by chronic pain sufferers from well-meaning people. There’s this idea that our pain is temporary; that a cure awaits somewhere beyond the next doctor’s appointment. “A better day awaits,” people confidently say. How they could possibly know this remains unsaid, but such thinking finds its impetus in the idea that all suffering is temporary; that deliverance awaits just around the next corner.

For chronic pain sufferers, however, there are few better days outside of death on the horizon. We know there will never be a day when we “feel better,” outside of the marginal relief we receive from medications and treatments. In our minds, “it is what it is,” and no amount of good thoughts, wishful thinking, or prayer is going to change that fact.

Why, then, do the family members and friends of chronic pain sufferers ignore, marginalize, or reject this fact? If the pain sufferer can live with “it is what it is,” why can’t they? Certainly, family members and friends want the pain sufferer to feel better. I never doubt that such people are sincere or that they want what they perceive is best for me. Others have warped understandings of medical science or the specific medical conditions chronic pain sufferers face. They deify science, thinking that no medical problem is beyond treatment or cure. Doctors, of course, know better. They know that they can actually cure a handful of maladies. Most often, pain is managed and controlled. I know my doctors cannot cure me. My health problems are beyond simply taking medication or having surgery. Everything my doctors do is in the hope of giving me quality of life during what time I have left. I told my primary care doctor that I don’t expect him to cure me. I want him to do what he can to make my life better: less pain, and more mobility, or at the very least, no increased pain or debility That’s the contract we have with each other.

Many well-wishers think that if pain sufferers can, they should. If there is a treatment or procedure that “might” help, we should do it. Such people are convinced that a “miracle” awaits if the pain sufferer will just swallow this pill, eat these foods, take these supplements, have this surgery, or go through yet another treatment. They are unwilling to accept that “it is what it is.” When concerned family members and friends think (often wrongly) pain sufferers are giving in or giving up, they lecture and badger chronic pain sufferers, prodding us as a farmer with a cattle prod, to move forward through the chute of life. In their minds, giving in or giving up is always wrong, even if doing otherwise leads to more pain and suffering. I have watched numerous people — including my wife’s father — go through horrific pain and suffering, all because family members didn’t want their loved ones to give in or give up. And in the end? They died anyway.

I take a stoic approach to life. I have had a lot of trauma, tragedy, and suffering in my life. All suffering is personal. I know that what I have experienced is less than what some people have faced, but more than what others have gone through. When one of my toddler grandsons gets a boo-boo, his pain is every bit as real as Grandpa’s. The difference, of course, is that I have had almost sixty-six years of trauma, tragedy, and suffering. My lived experiences are far different from that of grandchildren or people decades younger than I am. All I know to do is to empathize with people when they are suffering, even when I know their pain is less than mine. I know that pain is a great teacher. I have had numerous steroid injections over the years. Polly always goes with me when I get juiced up. She usually remarks about my stoic mentality when the orthopedic doctor is sticking a long needle into my shoulder, hips, or hands. I always tell her that I have experienced horrible pain in my life; that the injections are uncomfortable, but nothing compared to my day-to-day pain or some of the painful procedures I’ve had in the past. I have developed mental processes that help me embrace the pain; the mental version of gritting one’s teeth and clenching one’s hands.

As I sit sideways in my recliner typing this post, my body hurts — literally — from head to toe. Herniated discs in my spine and neck, degenerative spine disease, osteoarthritis in numerous joints, muscle pain from fibromyalgia, and nerve pain in my legs and feet have left me in constant pain. I take narcotic pain medications, NSAIDs, and muscle relaxers to cope with my pain. They help, to be sure, but these drugs do not magically deliver me from pain. That has never been the goal. Pain medications and muscle relaxers, at their best, tamp down pain spikes. Certainly, I could take high enough levels of narcotics to make my pain go away, but in doing so I would sacrifice living a meaningful life. You see, “not dying” is not my grand goal. I don’t want to spend the last months and years of my life so drugged up that all I do is sleep, hoping that doing so will add a few days to my life. I choose quality over quantity, even if it means more pain than I would otherwise have.

I try to educate myself about the various diseases and debilities that I have. When I was diagnosed with gastroparesis (an incurable stomach disease) two years ago, the first thing I did was study up on the disease and its treatments. Knowledge really is power. With knowledge, I can know what to expect and how to best treat symptoms. I work in partnership with my doctors, knowing that the person who best knows my body is me. Unfortunately, family members and friends aren’t going to do this, so they often say ill-informed, ignorant, and, at times, stupid things to chronic pain sufferers. Typically, I ignore them. Other times, I ask, what treatment or drug do you suggest? Well, uh, I heard, I read on Facebook . . . You see, they don’t have any answers either. Why? In my case, there are no treatments, drugs, or surgeries that will lessen my pain and suffering in meaningful ways. And if there were, don’t you think I would investigate them and act accordingly? Or do some family members and friends think I want to be in pain; that I enjoy crippling pain, debility, vomiting, and diarrhea?

I have accepted that “it is what it is.” Unless there is a major medical breakthrough, I know that my life tomorrow and the day after will pretty much be, pain-wise, as it is today. I have embraced this fact. Are there treatments that I could have done that would offer short-term, temporary relief? Sure, but to what end? In 2021, I had a procedure done under anesthesia that used Botox to paralyze a muscle in my stomach. Did it work? Did I find relief? Sure, for three days, and then I was right back to being nauseous and vomiting. The same goes for epidurals and nerve blocks. They last for a short amount of time and are prohibitively expensive. I tried all of these procedures, but I decided, in the end, I didn’t want to deal with the false hopes and highs and lows that come from such treatments. A while back I had a night when I slept for nine hours, only waking up twice. I hopefully thought, “is this a sign of better days ahead”? Of course not. It was an anomaly. The next night I got two hours of sleep, and after that, I had on-and-off sleep for ten hours, as is typical for me.

I have accepted the fact that “better” days are not on my radar; that if I want to live, write, and enjoy what life I have, I must embrace my pain, do what I can, and try to ignore the well-meaning well-wishers. And when I can’t, I write a blog post. 🙂

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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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

With God, All Things Are Possible

ohio motto

The state motto for Ohio is “With God, All Things Are Possible.” Is this theological statement really true? First, “God” in this statement is not just any old deity, it’s the Christian God. And as far as Evangelicals are concerned, this God is theirs alone. Evangelical orthodoxy states that Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, liberal Christians, and other sects deemed heretical worship false Gods. For Evangelicals, the God of all things possible is the God of the inspired, inerrant, infallible Bible. It is through the Bible (and conscience and nature) that God reveals himself to us, thus God is who and what the Bible says he is.

Second, are ALL things really possible with God? 1 John 5:14, 15 says:

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

This passage says that only those prayers that line up with God’s will shall be answered by God. This is what I call God’s “divine escape clause.” Countless other verses, however, explicitly say and or imply that whatever Christians ask of God, he will grant it to them. John 14:13, 14 says:

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

John 15:16 adds:

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

And finally, John 16 22-24 says:

And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.  And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

These statements are in RED in the Bible, so that means Christians believe Jesus said these things. Another RED passage on the subject is found in Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him.

Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) evangelist John R. Rice, wrote a book titled Prayer: Asking and Receiving. Rice believed in a formulaic approach to prayer: ASK and RECEIVE. Based on the aforementioned quotes from the gospels, Jesus believed the same. Evidently, by the time we get to the writer of 1 John, things had changed a bit. Instead of prayer being simply asking and receiving, answered prayer was contingent on praying according to the “will of God”; a will, by the way, that no mere mortal knows. The LORD says in Isaiah 55:8,9:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Thus, when we see how this whole praying thing works out in real life, suggesting that “all things are NOT possible with God,” Evangelicals will appeal to God’s escape clause to defend his callous indifference to the plight of his Creation. God, then, is never accountable or responsible when Christian prayers go unanswered. “You didn’t ask according to my will,” God says. When the sincere believer asks, “Jesus, what is your will?” the King of Kings replies, “Oh I can’t tell you. That’s just between me and Dad. Besides, even if I told you, you wouldn’t understand. Me and Dad, our thoughts and ways are higher than yours and beyond human understanding.” Christians, then, are either left with choosing to believe what they can see and know or turning off their intellect and critical thinking skills and believing as Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Most Christians, sadly, choose the latter. When occasional lapses of faith or doubt force them to face the irrational nature of prayer, they are reminded of Paul’s words about doubting God:

Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (Romans 9:19-21)

In other words, shut the fuck up. God is the sovereign ruler over ALL, and he does whatever he wants to do. End of discussion.

Christians who trust what they can see and know instead of Bible proof texts and unsupportable faith claims are left with a conundrum of epic proportions: God rarely, if ever, answers their prayers, and there is no evidence for the theological claim, With God, All Things Are Possible. Countless Christians in the Middle East pray daily for God’s protection — surely a prayer the Big Man Upstairs would want to answer, right? Yet, these followers of Jesus continue to be slaughtered by Muslim jihadists or killed by the actions of the American war machine. In Africa, countless Christians earnestly pray:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)

And yet, they continue to have their daily food and water needs unmet. While they are starving to death, God, evidently, is too busy directing an American Christian to the location of her keys or working any of the innumerable “miracles” Western Christians say he does every time they dial his number, to stop and feed the hungry. Does God’s behavior not contradict what the Psalmist said in Psalm 37:25, 26?

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.

Everywhere we look we see the followers of Jesus and unbelievers alike forsaken and begging for food. Where is this God of mercy, this God of love and compassion? From my seat in the atheist pew, he is nowhere to be found. Which stands to reason, since the Christian God exists only within the pages of the Bible. God is the leading character in a work of fiction.

The reason Christianity still exists in the twenty-first century is that Christians either choose faith over fact or they choose to live with cognitive dissonance. The latter know the evidence points to the nonexistence of the Christian God — any God, for that matter — yet they believe anyway. Why? Most often, such people want to believe that there is more to life than the present; that there is life after death. They are willing to live with cognitive dissonance because doing so meets some sort of psychological need or gives them answers to the “big” questions concerning human existence. They see little to no evidence for the claim, With God, All Things Are Possible, yet they believe anyway. Certainly, they are free to do so, but I hope thinking Christians realize that praying and waiting for God to come through on matters such as climate change, war, nuclear proliferation, and the like is a recipe for disaster and will likely lead to the end of life as we know it. Waiting on the God with the unknowable will to work his magic condemns our planet and its inhabitants to death. We mustn’t wait around to see what is possible with God. Instead, we should work furiously to see what is possible through human will, effort, and ingenuity. It is through the humanistic ideal, not faith and theological prescriptions, that the problems now vexing us will be solved. Perhaps it is time for Ohio to change its motto to With Science and Human Ingenuity, All Things Are Possible.

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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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Matthew 25: Will There Be Any Evangelicals in Heaven?

evangelicals-heaven

Warning: I paint with a broad brush in this post. If you are not the type of Evangelical mentioned in this post, no need to whine, complain, moan, and object to my unfair characterization of your tribe. Perhaps you should ponder why you are still an Evangelical instead of feeling butt-hurt over being unfairly characterized. When Donald Trump was elected, that was your cue to run, run, run. Unless you have no legs or are in a wheelchair, I can’t think of one reason for thoughtful, decent, socially aware Christians to remain Evangelical. Note that this was initially written in 2018 and has been updated.

Many critics believe that Evangelicalism is imploding; that the baby birthed by the Moral Majority decades ago has now turned into a full-grown, power-hungry monster. Drunk with political success, many Evangelicals have abandoned all pretense of being followers of Jesus. Eighty-two percent of voting white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump in 2016 — arguably the most unqualified, most vile man to ever sit in the Oval Office. In 2020, Evangelicals lined up and voted for Trump again. Trump made and continues to make a mockery of virtually everything Evangelicals supposedly hold dear, yet the former president continues to have widespread support in the Evangelical community. Trump is a pathological liar, capable of repeatedly contradicting himself in a matter of minutes. He is also guilty of trying to overthrow the Federal government. Showing all the marks of being a sociopath, the former president has no regard for women, children, the disabled, or, quite frankly, the human race. Trump is a one-man band, and all that matters to him is the fawning love he receives at campaign rallies and from positive news coverage. Trump continues to attack the very foundation of our democracy. He daily lashes out at the media — calling them fake, threatening them with punitive action. It is clear to all who are paying attention that Trump is in bed domestically and internationally with people out to destroy our country. Winning at all costs is what matters to Trump. Despite all these things, Evangelicals still overwhelmingly support porn-star-loving, pussy-grabber-in-chief, Donald Trump. It seems the disgraced ex-president was right when he said that he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone and people would still vote for him. It leaves me to wonder if there’s anything Trump could do that would cause Evangelicals to turn on him and demand an end to his reign. (And, no, Ron De Santis isn’t any better.) I have come to the conclusion that, for the most part, the pathological need for a return to the mythical days when America was white, Christian, and heterosexual precludes most Evangelicals from ever seriously asking themselves the question, what would Jesus do?

The current state of affairs has me wondering if there will be any Evangelicals in Heaven? I have my doubts. Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

According to this passage of Scripture — and yes, I am well aware of all the ways Evangelicals use to get around the clear intent and implication of this passage — there is coming a day when Jesus will return to earth with his angels and sit upon the throne of his glory. At that time, he will gather humanity together and judge them, dividing them into two categories: sheep and goats. The sheep will be rewarded with eternal life, whereas the goats will receive everlasting punishment as their reward. How will Jesus determine who is in what category? Will it be, as Evangelicals contend, right beliefs that put them in the sheep pen, and wrong beliefs that land most of the human race — past and present — in the goat pen? Is right belief the true gospel Evangelicals preach? Or is there some other standard by which Jesus will judge the dead and the living on judgment day? The aforementioned passage of Scripture is clear; it is good works and not right beliefs that determine our eternal destiny. I have long argued that one must ignore much of the Gospels to conclude that good works have nothing to do with salvation. Note carefully what Jesus said would be his standard of judgment:

  • Feeding the hungry
  • Giving drink to the thirsty
  • Taking in strangers and caring for them
  • Clothing the naked
  • Caring for the sick
  • Caring for those in prison

Considering the current state of affairs and Evangelicals’ continued support of the Republican Party and Donald Trump, it’s fair to ask if there will be any Evangelicals in Heaven. In fact, I wonder if the largest section in Hell will be reserved for American Evangelicals. Using Jesus’ standard of judgment, there will be few Evangelicals in God’s eternal sheep pen. And it’s just not their support of Republican policy and President Trump that will land them in Hell. For decades now, Evangelicals have increasingly found themselves on the opposite side of the teachings of Christ. While Evangelicals revel in their love for zygotes, many of them show little interest in life after birth. Once born, children are left to the wolves, expected to pull themselves up by their bootstraps before they even own a pair of boots. Evangelicals overwhelmingly support government-sponsored violence. Ever the flag wavers, Evangelicals continue to support the murderous actions of the U.S. military in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and countless other countries. Drones rain violence and death from the sky, and Evangelicals say nothing, believing that part of making America great again is fighting them [Muslims] over there [Middle East] so we don’t have to fight them here. Evangelicals seem indifferent toward the maiming and killing of hundreds of thousands of children, women, unborn babies, and innocent bystanders. I wonder what Jesus, the Prince of Peace, would say about Evangelical support of these things? Something tells me that, much like asylum-seekers on our southern border, Evangelicals will be turned away at St. Peter’s gate. You see, it’s behavior that matters, not beliefs. Don’t tell me what you believe, show me!

Evangelicals not only support the American war machine, but they are staunch supporters of unbridled capitalism and its immoral destruction of our planet. Jesus had a lot to say about money, and something tells me that if Jesus were alive today, he and Bernie Sanders might be best friends. Greed rules virtually every aspect of American life, yet most Evangelical preachers never say a word. How can they, with their fancy churches, stained-glass windows, and multi-million-dollar church budgets? Something tells me that these modern moneychangers would find themselves at the end of Jesus’ whip as he overturned their media tables and soundboards. Think of all the good that could be done with the money Evangelicals spend on buildings, staff, and incestuous programs that do little more than entertain fat sheep — or fat goats. Evangelicals support the rich getting richer at the expense of working-class people. I wonder who Jesus would hang out with if he came back to earth today? The ruling class? The rich? The powerful? Big name preachers? I suspect, as the Joshua series of books — written by Catholic priest Joseph Girzone — so aptly showed, that Jesus would be found hanging out at the local pub and caring for the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, and the imprisoned — the very people Evangelicals have no time for. But Jesus, some Evangelical might say, we are having a worship service in your name tonight. Surely you will want to spend your time with us. Why, we even pray for the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, and the imprisoned. And you know Lord, once a year our church has what we call Serve Day (a local church does just that). For five hours, we do good stuff for people. Don’t you want to join us, Lord, as we take five hours out of our busy masturbatory Jesus-worship schedule to give back to our community? I suspect that Jesus might inquire as to where all their money went; the money he gave them to do good works; the money he gave them to, you know, care for the weak, the poor, the disadvantaged, and marginalized.

Thanks to widespread ignorance concerning matters of science, many Evangelicals are also global climate-change deniers. Believing that the earth is six thousand twenty-six years old, created in six literal twenty-four-hour days, will ruin the best of minds. Besides, why worry about increasing sea levels, increasing temperatures, and wildlife habitat loss when the return of Jesus is imminent? To heck with the world, Evangelicals say, God is in charge of the weather, and if he wants increasing sea levels and increased temperatures, who are we to object?

Everything that I’ve written above will likely just piss off Evangelicals. I’m an atheist, humanist, pacifist, and a socialist, so Evangelicals will likely ignore what I have to say. I’m just a guy with an axe to grind. I hate God (just kidding — I don’t in any god), so it’s no wonder that I have it out for God’s chosen ones. However, Evangelicals might consider that perhaps I am right, and that their continued support of Republican politics, Donald Trump, capitalism, and a host of other anti-Christian behaviors might earn them a bunk in Hell. Perhaps Evangelicals need to consider Pascal’s Wager — you know, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, caring for strangers, and all the other things that Jesus said are the markers of a man or woman who follows after him, just in case Jesus really meant what he said. Yes, I am an atheist. The miracle-working Jesus of the Bible is a myth, but the human Jesus who walked the streets of Jerusalem and the shores of Galilee said some good things that Evangelicals might want to put into practice if they expect to be singing four-part harmony with the angels in the sweet by-and-by. And even if there is no Heaven or Hell, no afterlife, no judgment — don’t you want to be kind, thoughtful, and helpful to others? I know I do.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Why Do I Need an Explanation for the Beginning of the Universe?

why

Science tells us how our universe came into being. This is a pretty well established scientific fact. What is unknown is what happened before the Big Bang. Scientists posit various theories to answer this question, but, so far, the safest answer is “we don’t know.” Into this unknown step Evangelical Christians holding their inspired, inerrant, and infallible Bibles high, saying GOD DID IT! These followers of Jesus provide no evidence for this claim outside of failed philosophical arguments and quotations from the Christian Bible.

Recently, an Evangelical writer (whom I don’t have a link for) stated that the most important issue facing all of us is finding a satisfactory explanation for the beginning of the universe. I thought, at the time, really? I mean, really? I don’t know about you, but I rarely, if ever, think about the beginning of the universe. It’s just not on my radar. In fact, I simply don’t care.

My mind is filled with thoughts of Polly, our children, and their families, and how I am going to live out the last days of my life. I worry about our finances and how we are going to live after Polly retires in 2023. My declining health is never far from my mind. Just today, I had another extensive blood test done. My doctor and I are in the weeds now, looking for an explanation for some troubling symptoms I have. I will have the results in a few days. If everything is “normal,” then what? It is evident that I am not “normal,” so what is causing these symptoms?

When I am feeling up to it, my thoughts turn to my writing, politics, and sports. When I can get out of the house — which is not often, typically once or twice a week — I ask Polly to take me for a drive. Anywhere, it matters not. After my blood draw this afternoon, Polly took me for a ride northeast out of Bryan to West Unity, south to Lockport, over to Stryker where our youngest daughter lives, through Evansport, and then home. Not one time did my mind turn to the beginning of the universe. I thought about the church I pastored in West Unity and the furniture store which is closing there, owned by a former church member. As we drove through Evansport, I thought about the feral cats that used to roam the streets in droves. They are all gone, now. What happened to them? Polly and I chattered back and forth about the weather and the corn that stood in fields, ready to be harvested. It’s deer season in Ohio. Deer are running for their lives, hoping to not end up in a hunter’s freezer. We came upon a herd of deer along a gravel road south of West Unity, not far from where our oldest children once worked picking eggs. We stopped and watched them for a bit. As we neared Ney, we talked about painted houses, new homes, and junk-filled properties. Just two old people talking about nothing, but talking about everything, a ritual played out countless times over the past forty-six years.

Polly pulled into our driveway, turning the car around so she will be able to pull out on the highway in front of our home and go to work an hour later. Polly and Bethany quickly went into the house. There was Polly’s weak bladder to address, and sirloin steak to fry, complete with steamed broccoli. I stayed behind, sitting in the car with the door partially opened, breathing in the crisp, cold winter air. I pondered my existence, wondering how many more winter days lie ahead for me. Not one thought entered my mind about the beginning of the universe or the end of my existence.

I choose to embrace the present. I have no time (or energy) to think about philosophical or existential questions. I am not criticizing people who do, but I am at a place in life where all that matters to me is the here and now, not finding a satisfactory explanation for the beginning of the universe.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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Are Factory Workers Mindless Drones Who Need “Smart People” to Tell Them What to Do?

sauder woodworking

I recently listened to a podcast that featured an interview with a scientist. The scientist extolled the virtue of education, especially science education. Everyone needs to think like a scientist, the thinking went. If not, they will end up working mindless jobs in factories. Such people don’t think for themselves. They want or need overlords to tell them what to do.

The scientist quickly caught himself, saying “not that working in a factory is bad.” In my mind, that was too little, too late. His statement revealed a bias that is common among “educated” people. Such people typically have no real-world experience with factory work. Had they any experience working the line at a factory, they never would have made such an asinine statement.

Instead of demeaning factory workers, how about valuing the work they do? Without them, our country would come to a standstill. If everyone was a scientist doing “cool” stuff, we would all die and our world would become uninhabitable. Look around your home, car, and businesses you frequent. Imagine what things would look like without factory workers (or other workers lacking college educations).

Polly, along with our oldest and youngest sons, works for a large local manufacturing concern. Both Polly and Jason have worked for the company for over twenty-five years. Jason started in groundskeeping and is now a mid-level manager. Polly is a shift manager for auxiliary services. Both are paid well and have good benefits. None of them works “mindless” jobs. Can factory work be monotonous? Sure, but don’t think for a moment that manufacturing jobs require employees to check their brains at the door. If factory work isn’t your cup of tea, fine. But, don’t demean people who play an essential part in the building and progress of our country.

One interesting side note is the fact that way too many people follow the scientist’s advice. They go to college, graduate with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and enter the workforce, thinking they will easily find a job in their chosen profession. And when they don’t, what do they do? They end up working the very jobs the aforementioned scientist disparaged. Scores of people with associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees work factory jobs. Why? They quickly find out that they can make more money working in a factory than they can working in their chosen professions. This is especially true for people with social science or education degrees. Polly went back to college, thinking she might want to work in a different field. She quickly learned that the jobs that would be available to her upon graduation would pay $6-$8 less an hour than what she was making in the factory at the time.

I see this same kind of thinking when society belittles rural people. We are just a bunch of low-life, uneducated hillbillies. Yet without us — and I gladly own my tribe — those deprecating us would starve. By all means, city folks, grow your own crops, raise your own livestock. 🙂 Let me know how that works out for you. You need us even if you don’t like us.

When you feel that people look down on you and view you as less than, what do you do? You look for people and groups that accept and respect you (even if they do so for political reasons as Trump and the Republicans are doing). Yes, rural people tend to vote against their own interests. What is never asked is WHY? Why has the Democratic Party lost rural America? Perhaps one of the reasons is that rural folks have been listening to what Democratic leaders say about them. “Oh they want our votes, but they think we are stupid hicks, deplorables, or dangerous gun owners.” None of us like to be talked down to, to be demeaned for who and what we are. We have now reached a point where rural people are outraged over how the government in general mistreats them. Sure, some of their outrage is misinformed, but much of it is not. Until Democrats shut the hell up and LISTEN, they will continue to suffer election losses.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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How I Answer Theistic Arguments For the Existence of a God

monotheism

Many atheists are anti-theists — those who actively oppose theism. I have friends who are anti-theists. I fully understand why they are, and as long as they are civil in their public interactions with theists, I have no objection. Sadly, way too many anti-theists spend their waking hours on social media engaging in shit-throwing contests with Fundamentalists affiliated with the Abrahamic religions. I do understand why atheists get into such contests. Tired of being pushed around and battered by religious zealots, these angry atheists push back, if for no other reason than the good feeling they get from doing so. Religious zealots do the same, thinking that their petty, shallow attacks will put godless heathens in their place.

I walked away from Christianity in November of 2008. Since that time, I have spent a considerable amount of time telling my story and critiquing Evangelical Christianity. As long-time readers know, I have been repeatedly savaged by zealots who object to my writing. One Christian man even went so far as to threaten to slit my throat. Several Christians have suggested I commit suicide. Other “loving” Christians have called on God to judge me swiftly, hoping that I die a painful death. Some Evangelicals have even threatened my wife, children, grandchildren, and my daughter with Down syndrome. I have had enemies who, using my name, set up fake social media accounts, hoping to screw with me and my friends. I am no longer on social media thanks to abuse from Evangelical zealots.

As a public figure —  who just so happens to be a former Evangelical pastor and an atheist — I know that public (and private) attacks come with the territory. I am willing to bear the brunt of these attacks because of the good accomplished through my writing.

One of the troubling aspects of the past fourteen years is having to deal with atheists who don’t think I am the right kind of atheist. I have had atheists — who are anti-theists — demand that I stop “coddling” Christians. They don’t like the fact that I tend to be an accommodationist when it comes to religion. I firmly believe that not all religions are the same; that there are some expressions of religion and spirituality that are harmless and might even be helpful to the people who practice them. Here in the United States, we have so many virulent forms of religion that I think my time is best spent trying to combat the belief systems that do the most harm. Anyone who can’t tell the difference between a nominal Episcopalian and a hardcore Baptist has no business saying anything about religion. Such people should at least educate themselves about the various religions of the world so they can understand their differences.

When I am asked about the God question, I give the following answer:

I am agnostic on the God question. It is statistically “possible” that a God, a creator, a divine engineer, or a higher power exists and has not yet revealed itself to us. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. Perhaps, in the future, some sort of deity will make a grand entrance into our time/space continuum.

Having sufficiently studied the various major world religions, I have concluded that the Gods these religions worship are the mythical creations of human imagination. I can say, with great confidence, that the Christian narrative is a work of fiction; that Jesus, if he existed at all, was a man (not God) who lived and died, end of story. I don’t expect any new evidence to be forthcoming that will change my mind.

Practically, I live my day-to-day life as an atheist. I see no evidence for the existence of any of the Gods humans currently worship. I do my best to live according to the humanist ideal, doing what I can to help others and improve the living conditions of people less fortunate than I.

Someone asked me how I answered those who remained theistic because of what they perceive to be order and design in the universe. I am not a scientist, so I am unable to adequately answer such questions from a scientific perspective. I choose, instead, to answer these questions from a philosophical and theological viewpoint. I acknowledge that atheism has no answer to questions concerning how everything came into existence. In his debate with young-earth creationist Ken Ham, Bill Nye readily admitted that this is a question science has yet to answer. The difference between science and Evangelical Christianity, however, is that science says, I don’t know, whereas Christianity, built on two presuppositions — God exists and the Bible is true — says, the Christian God of the Bible created everything. Of course, Evangelicals have no answer to the question, where did God come from? The fact is, no one knows for certain how everything came to be. I think, thanks to science, we know more now than we ever have. This knowledge has forced the Abrahamic religions to redefine their understanding of the universe. Those who refuse to do so are rightly labeled closed-minded, ignorant Fundamentalists.

But what about deistic arguments for the existence of some sort of creator God; a deity that created the universe and then went on a long, long, long vacation; a God who is not the slight bit interested in what is happening on planet earth? I readily understand how people can look at the night sky and the wonders of our planet and conclude that some sort of deity created everything. I know that most people want to believe that their lives matter — having purpose and significance. I understand why most people hope that there is life beyond the grave. We humans have a tenacious desire to live, so it is no surprise that many of us hope that after death we will go over the rainbow with Dorothy and Toto. While I have no need for such beliefs, I do understand why others might feel differently.

When I engage in discussions with Evangelicals about the existence of God, they will often point to the universe as “proof” of the existence of God. In a move that often surprises them, I grant their premise. Okay, a God of some sort created everything. How can we know that that God was the Christian God of the Bible? Perhaps one of the other Gods humans worship created everything? Perhaps it was a team effort, with numerous Gods overseeing the work of creation. The point is this: no one can conclusively prove that their God, or any God, created the universe.

Once backed into the corner, Evangelicals will always run to the Bible and faith. THE BIBLE SAYS and I BELIEVE are often the refrain of those who desperately want to believe that their peculiar version of the Christian God is the right God; that their God and only their God is the creator. Sadly, Evangelicals who appeal to faith — either in the Bible or its God — fail to realize that metaphysical claims have no objective basis and are impossible to refute. When someone invokes faith — a subjective, unverifiable experience — discussion, debate, and argument come to an end. I have yet to have a protracted discussion with an Evangelical that didn’t end with the believer backing his arguments into the garage of faith. This is why I try to attack the theological and historical foundations of their beliefs. Arguing about faith is a waste of time.

While I reject the deistic notion of a creator, I am not the least bit concerned about those who hold such beliefs. They are not the people clamoring for a theocracy or demanding that their beliefs be enshrined into law. Fundamentalism is the problem, not religious belief in general. Perhaps after Fundamentalism is destroyed and its monuments to ignorance (the Creation Museum, Ark Encounter, Dinosaur Adventure Land, and Evangelical colleges, to name a few) are weed-covered parking lots, there will be time to critique private, pietistic religious beliefs. For me personally, I have little interest in doing so, choosing to live and let live.

Besides, for all any of us knows, our so-called universe and existence might be some sort of alien race’s game simulation. I find arguments for this to be every bit as persuasive as those that are made for the any of deities humans currently worship. Silly? No sillier than Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or Mormonism.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Why I Could Never Be a Republican

just say no republicans

I am politically progressive and liberal. I make no attempt to hide my democratic socialistic tendencies. I am a registered Democrat and a supporter of Bernie Sanders. I am an inconsistent pacifist. I am of the opinion that the United States has not fought a just war since the two world wars. And even with these wars, the United States, with its immoral nuclear bombings of Japan and its firebombings of Germany, has shown itself to be as violently ruthless as its enemies. The same goes for the United States’ use of napalm during the Vietnam War. (Please read Napalm: An American Biography by Robert Neer.)  Americans love to think of themselves as kind, goodhearted people who only resort to violence when backed into a corner, when in fact the United States, thanks to its colonialist, imperialistic, and nationalistic tendencies, is a nation whose history is steeped in the blood of innocents. (Please read The Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in North America 1500-2000 by Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton.)

Prior to the turn of the 21st century, I was a registered Republican — the party of my tribe and religion. The reasons I am no longer a Republican are many. Let me list a few of them. These statements reflect my understanding of the Republican Party at the national level.  I realize that not all Republicans believe/support the positions that follow.

The Republican Party is and I am not:

  • Pro-life
  • Pro-Christian
  • Pro-gun
  • Pro-NRA
  • Pro-war
  • Pro-Israel
  • Pro-big business
  • Pro-Chamber of Commerce
  • Pro-dark money political contributions
  • Pro-unrestricted campaign contributions
  • Pro-charter schools
  • Pro-unregulated religious schools
  • Pro-Pledge of Allegiance
  • Pro-Christian nationalism
  • Pro-American expansionism
  • Pro-American imperialism and colonialism
  • Pro-military as the world’s policeman
  • Pro-Patriot Act(s) and other government intrusions into privacy
  • Anti-welfare
  • Anti-Environmental Protection Agency
  • Anti-Department of Education
  • Anti-Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Anti-affordable college
  • Anti-separation of church and state
  • Anti-LGBTQ
  • Anti-affordable healthcare
  • Anti-single payer option health insurance
  • Anti-immigrant
  • Anti-undocumented worker
  • Anti-Palestinian/Iranian/Afghan/Iraqi/Muslim/Russian
  • Anti-regulation
  • Anti-abortion
  • Anti-euthanasia
  • Anti-global warming/climate change
  • Anti-science
  • Anti-evolution
  • Anti-minimum wage
  • Anti-Black Lives Matter
  • Anti-atheism

And Best Hits of the Republican Party keep on playing.

And if these things aren’t enough, Republicans committed the biggest political crime of the modern era — electing Donald Trump president. And . . . four years later, knowing that Trump was a criminal who caused the deaths of thousands of people from COVID-19, and was unfit for office, Republicans tried to elect him again.

From 2016 to today, what have we learned about the Republican Party? With lips dripping with the blood of injustice, unfairness, and unequal protection under the law, the Republican Party has waged an all-out war against LGBTQ people, people of color, and anyone else who doesn’t fit in their narrow, defined ideological box. Whatever moderate, centrist politicians that once existed in the Republican Party no longer exist. Republicans are now the party of Trump, the fomenters of insurrection, culture warriors intent on turning the United States into a violent theocratic state.

It is for these reasons, and others, that I could NEVER, EVER be a Republican. They are the antithesis of everything I believe and stand for.

Readers should not assume from this post that I am pro-Democrat. I am not. I held my nose and voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020 for one simple reason: they weren’t Donald Trump. Neither Clinton nor Biden was my first, second, or third choice. (I voted for Bernie Sanders both times in the primaries.) Currently, I am considering leaving the Democratic Party, registering as an independent voter. I’m done with voting for the “lesser of two evils.” The Democratic Party is weak, feckless, and cowardly, given over to extremism instead of getting things done for the American people. Is there no whack-a-doodle position too extreme for Democrats? Evidently not. In many ways, extremists in the Democratic Party are not much different from right-wing extremists in the Republican Party. The two-party system is irreparably broken, controlled by corporate money and career politicians. The “house” needs to be razed so a just, equitable system can be built. The upcoming midterm elections will go a long way in helping me decide whether I am finally done with the Democratic Party. Here in Ohio, both at the state and local level, the Democratic Party is as dead and missing as Jimmy Hoffa.

Maybe none of this will matter. If warmongers in the Republican and Democratic Parties have their way, we could be living in a nuclear wasteland by Christmas. Thinking a war with Russia is “winnable,” and the use of tactical nuclear weapons will show the world we are still the only true superpower, our political leaders are leading us down a path that leads to heartache and devastation. Coming soon will be a push to expand funding for the military and security industrial complexes. To some degree, this already happened before the war in Ukraine. I can only imagine how much money the people who allegedly “keep us safe” and “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” will be clamoring for now that we are sending billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine and NATO. Nothing like a military conflict — and make no mistake about it, we are waging war against Russia and Belarus — for the bottom line.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Dr. Patrick Johnston and His Dangerous Advice to Depressives

sin can make you sick

Dr. Patrick Johnston is a former Ohio family practice physician, the founder of the Association of Pro-life Physicians, and the former director of Personhood Ohio (link no longer active). He and his ex-wife Elizabeth have ten children, all of whom are homeschooled. Several years ago, Johnston wrote a rebuttal to a post that I published about my views on abortion and personhood laws. Johnston believes there are no justifiable reasons for women to have abortions. Rape? Nope. Incest? Nope. Life of the mother? Nope or maybe. Severe physical malformation? Nope. Ectopic(tubal) pregnancy? Nope. Huh? That’s right, Johnston does not think women should have access to abortion services if they have ectopic pregnancies. In a December 2015 Personhood Ohio article, Johnston stated (link no longer active):

Many sincere advocates of life fall prey to the argument that abortion is occasionally necessary to save the life of the mother. An example of an ectopic pregnancy is often given. However, a cursory investigation of the evidence reveals that many babies have survived ectopic pregnancies. There are life-saving alternatives to treat the mother and her ectopically-implanted baby. Successful transplantation of the embryo from the Fallopian tube to the uterus has been reported in the medical literature as far back as 1917. We do not have to kill these babies to save the mother. Their cases is [sic] not hopeless.

Johnston also wrote an article for his blog titled Saving Ectopically Implanted Boys and Girls. Yes, really.

Johnston and Personhood Ohio tried for years to amend Ohio’s Constitution. If successful, Article 1, Section 16 would have been amended to say (link no longer active):

(A) The words “person” in Article 1, Section 16, and “men” in Article 1, Section 1, apply to every human being at every stage of the biological development of that human being or human organism, including fertilization.

(B) Nothing in this Section shall affect genuine contraception that acts solely by preventing the creation of a new human being; or human “eggs” or oocytes prior to the beginning of the life of a new human being; or reproductive technology or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedures that respect the right to life of newly created human beings.

So far, right-thinking citizens and politicians have kept the amendment and its subsequent iterations from being enacted.

In an undated article titled Curing the Miseries of the Mind: Anxiety and Depression (link no longer active), Johnston and his now ex-wife Elizabeth offer up advice to those who suffer from mental health problems. According to the Johnstons, the cure for depression and anxiety is found in the Bible:

If you are suffering from severe depression or anxiety, I want to let you know that there is light at the end of your dark tunnel – and it’s not found in a pill! The God who created you loves you, and does not want you to be miserable. I believe that God’s Word – the Holy Bible – holds the key that, if not cures, greatly alleviates psychological symptoms.

Ah yes, the time-tested Fundamentalist maxim: the B-i-b-l-e is the cure for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Johnston admits that he does “prescribe a lot of medication for anxiety and depression because they help alleviate symptoms,” but he wants people to know that many physical and mental ailments have “spiritual roots.”  The Johnstons list seven reasons people suffer from anxiety and depression:

  • Genetic and social influences (Yea! Dr. Johnston makes an appeal to science.)
  • So that the sufferers faith will be strengthened
  • Punishment for sin
  • Unforgiveness
  • Ingratitude
  • Unbelief
  • Excessive worry
bible the cure for depression
This graphic is not Dr. Johnston’s, but it does show similar “Biblical” cures for depression.

The Johnstons then give their Jesus-infused prescription for overcoming depression. Are you ready to be delivered, fellow depressives? All right, let’s all get h-a-p-p-y! The Johnstons believe that the following tips will help people “overcome the daily onslaught of anxiety and depression”:

  • Write out encouraging Bible verses, quotes, or thoughts, and tape them up at your house or work, or carry them in your purse or wallet. Refer to them and memorize them whenever you are struggling with unhealthy thoughts.
  • Turn on uplifting Christian music. Sing and meditate on the principles of God’s Word. Praise and worship the Lord. Try dancing to praise music! By all means, turn OFF any music or television that saddens you or causes you to focus on your troubles.
  • Make a list of ten things to think about when you are tempted to think things you shouldn’t. Make your list very practical. For instance: “What will I buy at the store?”, “Where will we go on our next vacation?”, “What will I say to my friend/neighbor/family member next time we speak?”, etc. Always have this list on hand to refer to when tempted to be anxious, depressed, or angry.
  • Occupy yourself with a big project or many projects that direct your mind off of yourself and onto others. There is no end to the number of nursing home residents, hospitalized patients, struggling families, volunteer organizations, and ministries who need a letter or a helping hand. Do not sit around and wait for your problems to disappear. Busy yourself with projects and invest your time in caring for others.
  • Always fight the tendency to pity yourself. You will find one hundred reasons to believe that self-pity will make you feel better but it never solves anything. When tempted to pity yourself, think of others you know who are in much worse circumstances (i.e. the paralyzed teenager, the young husband who just lost his wife, Christians who are persecuted for their faith in China, Cuba, or Indonesia, etc.). Make a list of such people and remind yourself of how blessed you are. Stop and take a moment to pray for those who are less fortunate than yourself.
  • Journal!! Write out your thoughts, regardless of how troubling or embarrassing they may be. Often, when you see on paper what is going on in your head, you will be surprised by how manageable your problem is through changing your way of thinking!
  • A few good Scriptures on topics of importance are listed below for your edification. Suffering: 1 Pet. 4:12-16, Rom. 8:17-18, 2 Cor. 4:17, James 1:2-4  Forgiveness/Mercy: Matt. 6:14-15, Matt. 18:21-22, Heb. 8:12, Prov. 11:19, James 5:9 Thankfulness: Phil. 4:11, Heb. 13:5, Rom. 1:21 Fear/Worry/Doubt: Matt. 6:25-34, Phil. 4:6-7, 2 Tim. 1:7, I Cor. 10:13

Certainly, some of the advice offered by the Johnstons can often help alleviate the effects (not the cause) of anxiety and depression. However, make no mistake about it, the Johnstons believe that the Christian God and the Bible are the CURE for those suffering from mental difficulties. I suspect that Dr. Johnston tells depressives who are not Christians that Jesus can and will cure what ails them. For those who are Christians, Johnston tells them to put mind over matter and remember that there are always people worse off than you. Trust Jesus and all will be well.

If Johnston is prescribing God and the Bible as a cure for anxiety and depression then he is committing medical malpractice. His patients should expect treatment by a doctor thoroughly grounded in the scientific method. Using the tips mentioned above to “cure” depression might work for a time, but true healing comes through counseling, behavior modification, and, if warranted, psychotropic drugs. As someone who has suffered from depression for most of my adult life — both as a Christian pastor and as an atheist — I know that the sort of Christian voodoo offered by Johnston does not cure depression. If Johnston objects to what I have said here, he is free to present empirical data that suggests otherwise. Until then, Dr. Johnston’s tips for curing anxiety and depression should be viewed in the same light as the chants and gimmickry of witch doctors.

Note

We know the Johnstons personally. We attended church with them in 2004-2005 at Faith Bible Church in Jersey, Ohio. Faith Bible is a family-centric, Reformed Baptist congregation.

Elizabeth filed for divorce in 2020, saying “he [Patrick] has been repeatedly unfaithful to me, as well as psychologically and emotionally abusive.”

Elizabeth stated at the time:

After repeatedly taking him back, covering for him, preserving his reputation, and forgiving him of adultery, pornography and sexual immorality, which began 16 years ago, I have been forced to come to the harsh realization that I’ve done all I can and am entrusting Him to my Savior! I don’t share this to harm or humiliate, but to help explain why I, a Christian woman who hates divorce, have decided to separate and pursue a divorce.

The deception and aggression has recently gotten very unhealthy, so I am being forced for the sake of my children to make the hardest decision of my life. To stay at this point would be more harmful to my children than to separate. I will be blasted for not staying married. Don’t listen to the critics, and just pray for us instead.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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

Songs of Sacrilege: The Steeple by Halestorm

halestorm

This is the latest installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is The Steeple by Halestorm.

Video Link

Lyrics

It stopped raining in my head today
I finally feel like myself again
Redemption’s here at last
Back where it all began
In the place where God and the Devil shake hands

This is my kingdom
This is my cathedral
This is my castle
And these are my people
This is my armor
This is my anchor
It’s been a long road outta Hell up to the steeple
For this is my church and these are my people

A choir’s singing in my heart today (Whoa)
Like a thousand angels breaking the silent parade
To the ones I call my own
I’m back where I belong
In the place where God and the Devil call home

This is my kingdom
This is my cathedral
This is my castle
And these are my people
This is my armor
This is my anchor
It’s been a long road outta Hell up to the steeple
For this is my church and these are my people

This is my kingdom
This is my cathedral
This is my castle
And these are my people
This is my armor
This is my anchor
It’s been a long road outta Hell up to the steeple

This is our church
You are my people
This is our church
This is our steeple
This is our church
You are my people
This is our church
This is my steeple
This is my steeple
This is my church
This is my steeple

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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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Bruce Gerencser