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Tag: Claims vs Evidence

Dear Evangelicals, Your Personal Testimony is NOT Evidence for the Existence of God or the Veracity of Christianity

my testimony

I am hopelessly behind on answering emails readers send me. I have emails dating back six months that I still need to answer. As I was quickly leafing through these emails, I noticed that many of them are from Evangelicals who wanted to share their personal testimony of saving faith with me, suggesting that if I met their God, their Jesus, interpreted the Bible as they did, or had the experiences they did, I, too, could become a Christian. With a quick wave of their hands, these believers dismiss my past and present experiences. You see, I have a personal testimony too. We all do. We all have stories that explain our lives. These stories may or may not be true. More often than not, they are an admixture of facts, misunderstandings, distortions, delusions, fading memories, and lies.

Generally, I take at face value the testimonies of others. If someone says that he is a Christian or that Jesus saved her, I believe them. I believe that they think they have a real, personal relationship with Jesus. That, however, doesn’t mean that I think their testimonies are factual. If Christians want me to, based on their personal experiences, become like them, then they must provide evidence for their claims. I cannot and will not take their word for it.

No matter how detailed a testimony you share with me — and believe me, I have had Evangelicals send me emails thousands of words long that go into minute detail about their experiences with God — I am going to have a lot of questions for you, starting with what evidence do you have for the existence of your peculiar God or the particular claims you made from the Bible? Quoting Bible verses is not enough. Verses are claims, not evidence. The Bible may be enough for you, but for atheists, agnostics, and other unbelievers, quoting words from a religious text will likely be unpersuasive.

If God, Jesus, Christianity, and the Bible give you purpose and meaning — fine. Awesome, Go with God. If you find personal peace and satisfaction through these beliefs, who am I to object? However, when you want me to abandon my worldview and beliefs for yours, you are going to have to do better than just telling me a subjective story. You say Jesus delivered you from ______________, but how can I possibly know that he did? Countless behavioral changes are attributed to the supernatural actions of a supernatural deity, yet when asked for evidence for such claims, Evangelicals often run to faith or say, “I know what I know . . .” And that’s fine — for you. But if you want me to join your merry band of Christians, it is going to take more than a personal story for which you have no evidence other than you believe it to be true. But, Bruce, look at what Jesus supernaturally did for me. Again, these are claims, not evidence. I have found that most supernatural claims can be easily explained away, and the few that can’t are not enough for me to abandon atheism/humanism for your peculiar version of God and Christianity. I will politely listen to your testimony, but I cannot and will not become a Christian just because you tell a good story.

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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Dr. David Tee Says I Have No Right to Criticize Evangelical Christianity

david thiessen
David Tee/Derrick Thomas Thiessen is the tall man in the back

The following is my response to Dr. David Tee’s post titled Where is Their Evidence? Tee, who is neither a Tee nor a doctor, took issue with my post Understanding Religion from A Cost-Benefit Perspective. Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, refuses to mention me by name or properly link to this site, while, at the same time, using my copyrighted material as the main, and often only, source of material for his blog, Theology Archeology: A Site for the Glory of God. Quite frankly, without my writing, Thiessen would have little, if anything, to say. This boorish behavior has been going on for over three years.

It is tempting to ignore Theissen, writing him off as just another ill-bred Evangelical who is pathologically unable to play well with others — including Christians. Thiessen considers himself a “true Christian,” while evidencing behavior that suggests he is anything but. I choose to respond to him — as regular readers are well aware — because I don’t like people who piss in my corn flakes; people who misrepresent my views or attack me personally. Bullies such as Theissen must not be given a pass, though I try my best to only respond to him when a post of his is egregious or absurd. His latest post is both.

Now to my response:

Unbelievers make astounding statements about Christianity, God, Jesus, and the Bible. It is not their faith, yet they feel they have a right to criticize something they do not believe in or accept.

Thiessen seems to forget that I was a Christian for fifty years; that Evangelical Christianity made a very deep imprint on my life. I have as much right as anyone else to critique Evangelicalism. It was the religion of my tribe, one that I know well and continue to follow from a distance to this day.

Thiessen is a Fundamentalist; a cultist. His peculiar brand of religion causes harm, both psychologically and physically. Many ex-Evangelicals feel duty-bound to expose Fundamentalism for what it is — a pernicious cult. How could I possibly be silent while people are being harmed, knowing that telling my story and critiquing Evangelicalism might help them? Shall I stand by and do nothing while well-meaning, sincere people are drowning? Shall I say nothing while cultists such as Thiessen harm others? Sorry, but I cannot and will not be silent.

This criticism would not be so bad if they did not just want everyone else to take their word for it. That is all that it amounts to, their opposition to Christianity is just their rejection of the truth. If they had an argument, they could point to real, objective evidence that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Bible is in error.

I have written over 5,000 posts since 2014. Not one time have I ever told readers to “take my word for it.” Not-One-Time. Further, Thiessen knows that I have extensively explained why I am no longer a Christian. One need only read the posts on the Why page to know why I deconverted.

Thiessen believes the Bible (including translations) is inerrant and infallible. Every word is without error. Such a fantastical claim cannot be rationally sustained. It is absurd at face value. One need to only point to ONE error to bring the whole house of cards down. I could quote dozens and dozens of glaring errors, mistakes, and contradictions in the Bible, but doing so would be a waste of time. No amount of evidence will move Thiessen off his belief that the Bible is inerrant. As Evangelicals are wont to do, he will have an “explanation” — no matter how superficial and lame — for every error.

Typically, I ask people to read one or more of Dr. Bart Ehrman’s books on the history and nature of the Bible. Don’t take my word for it. Read the words of an esteemed New Testament scholar. Thiessen, however, won’t do this. He has read articles and blog posts about Ehrman’s books, but I doubt he has actually read one of his books from cover to cover. No need, right? The Bible is inerrant and infallible, and Ehrman is an atheist. He has nothing to offer to this discussion. Never forget, you can’t argue with an inerrantist, presuppositionalist, or creationist — Thiessen is all three. Fundamentalist minds are shut off from anything that does not fit in their narrow worldview and beliefs.

Yet, all they point to is either their unbelief or made-up evidence created by them or their fellow unbelievers. Case in point:

Many of my fellow atheists and agnostics have a hard time understanding why, exactly, people are religious. In particular, many godless people are befuddled by Evangelicals.

How can anyone believe the Bible is inspired and inerrant; believe the earth was created in six twenty-four-hour days; believe the universe is 6,027 years old; believe Adam and Eve were the first human beings; believe the story of Noah and the Ark really happened; believe that millions of Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years, and believe a Jewish man named Jesus was a God-man who worked miracles, was executed on a Roman cross, and resurrected from the dead three days later.

I could add numerous other mythical, fanciful, incredulous Bible stories to this list, all of which sound nonsensical to skeptical, rational people. (BG website)

The first paragraph is easy to refute, the Bible says that the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who do not believe. Every Christian has experienced that attitude from unbelievers.

It remains foolishness to them because the unbeliever only experiences the here and now. Unfortunately, the unbeliever will reject any physical evidence presented to them. We have seen this done and experienced it ourselves. The best thing to do is to stop arguing with them and leave the unbeliever with the evidence we have.

The unbeliever wants physical evidence but will always find ways to reject the presented physical evidence. Some do as the late Phillip Davies did one time and just close their eyes and deny that the evidence proves anything.

Thiessen says unbelievers live for the here and now (how is this relevant to the discussion at hand?) and are averse to any evidence presented to them by Evangelicals. Thiessen uses his own subjective experiences with non-Christians as proof that unbelievers will reject any evidence shown to them by true Christians. He never bothers to consider that maybe, just maybe, the real issue is the quality of evidence being presented to unbelievers; that quoting Bible verses is not evidence. The Bible says — according to how Evangelicals interpret the Bible — that the universe was created in six literal twenty-four-hour days. This is a claim, as is the earth being 6,027 years old. Claims are not evidence, science is, and science overwhelmingly says that Thiessen’s claims are wrong. Thiessen, who fancies himself as an author, rejects much of what science has to say about the world (even though he has no substantive science training). He has the B-i-b-l-e, and that’s all he needs. In Thiessen’s world, whatever the Bible says is true, and if what it says conflicts with science, science is wrong.

In other words, a majority of unbelievers do not believe because they do not want to believe. No matter what evidence you present, it will never be good enough to convince them. The question really is not about unbelievers being amazed at why Christians believe in God and the Bible, the question is with all the supporting evidence, Christians are amazed at why unbelievers do not believe.

I am open to evidence for the central claims of Christianity. I am open to evidence that supports the claim that the Bible is inerrant. Unlike Thissen, I am willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads. But saying, “Bruce, you are wrong, the Bible says __________, is not evidence. Those are assertions, assertions for which Thiessen has yet to provide empirical evidence.

Thiessen seems unaware that only a small percentage of earthlings are “true Christians”; that the overwhelming majority of people are unbelievers, and that a minuscule number of people — mainly Evangelicals — believe the Bible is without error and infallible. Yet, Thiessen arrogantly thinks he is right and 7+ billion people are wrong. There’s not much you can say to a person who thinks like this. The first step to intellectual honesty is to admit that you could be wrong. It wasn’t until I gave space for the possibility of being wrong that I was able to consider whether the central claims of Christianity are true.

There is a wealth of physical evidence proving the Bible true. Noah’s flood alone has more evidence supporting it than any other biblical event. Just read Noah’s Flood Did Take Place to get a lot of that evidence.

Wealth of physical evidence? Really? Want to know about this so-called evidence? Read Thiessen’s 122-page “best-selling” book, Noah’s Flood Did Take Place. Theissen left off the rest of his title: An Examination of the Non-Scientific Evidence. Thiessen says there is a wealth of evidence proving young earth creationism is true, but his book says that this evidence is non-scientific.

Theissen says this about his book:

“Scientific evidence is not always the best field of research to use to know if an event, etc. took place in the past. This book goes outside of evidence to bring to the discussion all the evidence that is not talked about today and show that Noah’s Flood was real.”

As for creation, it is more rational to believe that God had the power and did create in 6- 24 hours days than it is to believe a theory that is statistically impossible to do.  It is also more logical and rational to believe in a supernatural creation than it is to believe that the universe came from a small pinpoint and expanded to a size no telescope can see the edges.

Or be filled with different elements that were created by matter crashing into each other, especially when every attempt to crash things together destroys the two objects not combine them into a set of planets and stars that miraculously creates gravity, a force that even science cannot figure out how it operates.

It is also more rational and logical to believe in a super being that has the power to do all of this than some unknown entity no one can touch, feel, or experience. All that evolutionary scientists can do is study the supposed results of evolution. They cannot study the process itself nor can they put it in a test tube and examine it.

All they can do is make faulty predictions, which are not 100% correct, and ruin their theory anyway, and then declare ‘evolution did it and is true’ even though every one of their experiments is not exclusive. Any process can produce the same results.

Again, Christians scratch their heads and wonder how can unbelievers in Jesus believe such fairy tales and nonsense? There is no evidence for the alleged original conditions that started and developed life, there are no transitional life forms, and there is nothing to support the theory of evolution except some fallible human’s word.

Sigh. I will leave it to readers with science backgrounds to challenge Thiessen’s so-called “rational” assertions. I know what I know, and most importantly, I know what I don’t know.

In every case, the unbeliever presents no evidence to support their views of Christianity. Take these words for an example:

Here we are living in 2024 — an age driven by technology and science — yet millions of Evangelicals and other conservative Christians flock to Kentucky to tour Ken Ham’s monuments to ignorance: the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum…Why is it that Evangelicals continue to believe, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary? (BG website, we left out his anti-Trump remark)

….

To answer the question posed in BG’s quote, we believe because Jesus and the Bible are both real and true. There is nothing the unbeliever can say or do to change that fact. We have eyewitness testimony, we have physical evidence and both come from the believing and unbelieving sides of the world.

Thiessen provides no physical evidence for his claims, and quite frankly, none is needed. Thiessen’s claims are based on faith, not facts. Faith needs no evidence — just belief. I have argued with, debated, and talked with scores of Evangelicals over the past seven years. Without fail, “faith” is always the final answer. And once someone runs to the house of faith, no further discussion can be had. Facts do not need faith. Evidence does not need faith. Faith allows people to believe things that are not true.

Thiessen claims he has eyewitness testimony that proves that “Jesus and the Bible are both real and true.” Wikipedia says, “The majority of New Testament scholars also agree that the Gospels do not contain eyewitness accounts; but that they present the theologies of their communities rather than the testimony of eyewitnesses.”

The alleged eyewitness accounts in the Bible are claims, not evidence. If Thiessen wants to me to accept his claims, he must provide evidence that supports his claims. Just because a book says something doesn’t mean what it says is true. I will await Thiessen’s empirical evidence for his claims, especially his fanatical claim that the gospels are eyewitness testimonies. I have been studying theology for most of my sixty-six years on earth. I have yet to see any evidence that supports Thiessen’s Fundamentalist claims. If he has it, he needs to cough it up.

So here’s my offer to Thiessen: write a guest post that provides evidence for your claim that the Bible is eyewitness testimony, and I will post it unedited to this site. Actual evidence, Derrick, especially that “unbelieving” evidence you speak of (which is hilarious since you reject “unbelieving” evidence any time it challenges or contradicts your narrowminded Fundamentalist worldview). You have my email address, Derrick. I look forward to reading your scathing defense of eyewitness testimony in the Bible. Who knows, your post might convince me to reconsider the claims of Christianity.

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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Dear Evangelicals, Bible Verses are Claims, Not Evidence

evidence

Dr. David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, continues to misuse and misattribute my content, writing several posts about me virtually every week, saying he is just using my copyrighted material to teach believers — all ten of them who read his blog, anyway. I have largely ignored Thiessen’s posts, but a recent one titled Do They [Unbelievers] Really Want a Discussion? deserves a response.

Thiessen wrote:

Over the years we have had discussions with a variety of unbelievers and people who claim to be Christian. They have not always gone well. We are not trying to evangelize these people but work hard to plant and water seeds in them.

….

They usually do not want an open-minded discussion. Their minds remain closed and they only want the believer to be open-minded to their views and points. if they want to have an open honest discussion, then the unbeliever cannot simply dismiss the points made by the believer.

….

That specific unbeliever [Bruce Gerencser] already knows that science, archaeology, and other secular topics do not cover, fully support, or provide the information he is willing to listen to. That means he only hears what he wants to hear and can freely remain in his unbelief without guilt.

….

This is why we have stopped talking to many unbelievers. They just do not want to hear the truth and they want to shield themselves from what God has to say. A believer is not allowed to have an open and honest discussion because they are already forbidden to include what their belief is and where they came to that belief.

To be truly objective, the unbeliever has to be open to everything involved in the discussion and that includes quotes from the Bible. One cannot prove the Bible true without using bible verses as part of their examples and points.

….

Those Bible verses needed to present one’s point of view are backed up by both science and archaeology. Without that reference point, it is impossible to refute the arguments made by the unbeliever. One cannot appeal to both science and archaeology to prove a point if one cannot bring pertinent bible verses into the discussion.

….

BG [Bruce Gerencser] has our email address and if he has a list of questions he wants answered, then we would be happy to answer them for him. But we will not get involved in a discussion. He won’t like the answers but the truth is the truth and he does not have it anymore.

Thiessen wrongly thinks that I have doubts about the existence of God, Jesus, and Christianity. I don’t. I am fully persuaded that the Christian God is a myth, Jesus is a man who lived and died, and the central claims of Christianity are false. I have weighed these things in the balance and found them wanting. I don’t have questions that need answering, and even if I did, I would never, never go to a disgraced preacher who lacks understanding of basic Christianity — especially soteriology — for answers. If I want answers to religious questions, I seek out experts, not hateful, mean-spirited, argumentative Evangelical preachers.

Now to the focus of this post. Evangelicals, including Thiessen, think if they quote a Bible verse, they have provided evidence for their claim. This is not true. Bible verses are claims, not evidence. Evangelicals claim Jesus was born of a virgin, and give several Bible verses (which they grossly misinterpret) to justify their claim. However, these verses are not evidence of the virgin birth. They are claims, and if Evangelicals want me to believe that a teen girl named Mary was impregnated by God (the Holy Ghost) without consent and gave birth to a God-man named Jesus, they must provide more evidence than “the Bible says.” Of course, there is no evidence for the virgin birth apart from the Bible. The same can be said for many Evangelical beliefs.

When I ask for “evidence,” I am asking for more than proof texts. I am more than happy to talk about the Bible, but when Evangelicals appeal to the Bible as the sole source of evidence for their claims, I am going to call foul. First, there is no evidence that the Bible is anything other than a fallible, errant, contradictory ancient compilation of religious writings. Believing the Bible is God’s inerrant, infallible words is a faith claim, one for which Evangelicals can provide no evidence apart from saying “I believe it to be true.” Second, the central claims of Christianity rest on a foundation of faith — a faith I do not have. I refuse to ignore evidence and facts and just faith-it.

Ninety-nine percent of the emails and messages I receive from Evangelical preachers and apologists are filled with Bible verses and regurgitated arguments and claims. No new arguments, no new claims, just the same old shit, new day. I would love to hear a new argument, but none have been forthcoming for sixteen years. I am open to new evidence for the claims of Christianity, but I highly doubt any is coming. I spent 20,000 hours reading and studying the Bible. I preached over 4,000 sermons. I have read countless theological tomes. I am confident that I have a comprehensive understanding of Christianity. If the Thiessens of the Evangelical world have new evidence for their claims, I am more than willing to hear them out. However, regurgitating the same things over and over again is not helpful nor persuasive, and I wish the Evangelicals who contact me would realize this. Alas, they don’t, so I must endure email after email of quoted — often misused — Bible verses, appeals to Pascal’s Wager, heretical theological beliefs, threats of judgment and Hell, and questions asking me if I have ever read this or that book.

Do better, Evangelicals, do better.

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce Gerencser