Out From Under the Umbrella

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Dismissing the Dismissive

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You were never a real christian

If you claimed to be a Christian, and now claim that you are not, you were never a Christian to begin with.  There is no such thing as a deconvert.

How many times have we heard these words?  How many times has it stung?  With the wave of a hand a TrueBeliever™ dismisses the very idea.  It devalues and belittles the experiences that former Christians have faced. The audacity!

When you’ve been a Christian, though, you know why these Christians dismiss you.  The first reason is because the Bible tells them so:

“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” 1 John 2:19-23

So, my fellow deconverts, we are liars and antichrists.  You can clearly see why questioning your faith becomes problematic.

it takes faith to please god

Secondly, the TrueBeliever™ truly believes.  They believe that Yahweh is the one true God and that Jesus is his divinely conceived son.  They believe that he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, hung and died on a cross, was buried, and raised on the third day.  Sure, there are some Christians who don’t subscribe to all of these things, but this is the basis of Christianity and not to do so is heretical at best.  There is no value in Christianity any of this is not true.  A TrueBeliever™ cannot fathom how or why anyone who truly believes would change their mind.  No matter how much a Christian might like to believe they are taking the intellectual position and no matter how much “evidence” they think they have Christianity boils down to simple faith:

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

“Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Mark 10:15

Anyone requiring evidence to believe is misguided.  In the times in which the Bible was written it was easier to blindly believe.  We didn’t know what we know now.  Many of our Christian friends see the evidence that is in conflict with their beloved scripture and attempt to reconcile it and intellectualize it.  They choose to believe that this passage or that is metaphor or allegory or hyperbole because in our times it doesn’t make sense to believe it literally.  That belief, too, is faith.  The authors themselves never mention that they are using metaphors for these passages.  When Jesus speaks in parables the authors tells us he is doing so.

everybody receives an education

“Indoctrination” carries a negative connotation of undue coercion. Maybe what you are referring to is plain old “education”. Every human being, unless he was raised by wolves, is educated: by word and example he is taught a language, a set of values, a notion of the meaning of life…..If you got a typical cultural education and not some sort of high-pressure indoctrination, then your experience is probably not different from the rest of humanity: accepting some values, rejecting others, and muddling along as best you can.

Everybody is taught something.  If you were just taught what your parents were taught you probably weren’t indoctrinated; it was just an education.  This implies that indoctrination is somehow your own fault; that it’s an intellectual weakness.  By the time most of us reached an age where we might consider critically questioning our faith we were quite convinced that God existed, that Jesus was his son, that heaven was nice and that hell was really hot. We received an education by indoctrination.

    • indoctrinate
  1. cause to believe something: to teach somebody a belief, doctrine, or ideology thoroughly and systematically, especially with the goal of discouraging independent thought or the acceptance of other opinions

In the area in which I live this is especially true.  Baptists are the largest religious group in the Bible Belt.  They indoctrinate children into their faith by teaching them that the Bible should be read literally, that it is inerrant, contains no errors, and that Jesus died, was buried, and literally was raised from the dead after three days, and that hell is a literal place. Studying and repetition solidify these beliefs from an early age.  Studying materials that are not approved by the Southern Baptist Convention is highly discouraged, and never encouraged. Studying critically is referred to most often as a slippery slope. Just accept what is in the Bible. The TrueBeliever™ needs no other book to learn all he or she needs to know about the nature of the world around us. Baptists are taught to reject out-of-hand any worldly wisdom that conflicts with or contradicts the literal reading of scripture. It is suspect – a temptation of Satan.

Goldilocks theology

Deconverts from Christianity find themselves in an awkward space.  That space between remembering what it was like to be a TrueBeliever™ and knowing what it means to have left their faith behind.  We are often dismissed by Christians saying we never were real Christians.  We are often challenged to reassess our positions as agnostics or atheists because we just believed the wrong way.  Our theology was either too strict or too liberal.  We are invited to seek out a theology that is just right.

If only we’d been taught that hell was hyperbole.  Or wait, maybe hell is real.  If only we’d been taught that the resurrection wasn’t a real event but a metaphor for our own spiritual revival.  Oh, no, that’s wrong.  If only we’d known Jesus really did physically raise himself from the dead.  If only we’d known that the Genesis account of creation was allegory; a fictional story used to explain a very real truth.  No, others say, you must know that Yahweh spoke everything we see into being in six literal days.

This belief is too hot, that one is too cold, but my belief is just right.  How do we know that this theology is just right?  It’s the one that keeps the believer believing.

mutually dismissive

On the face of it being dismissed as not having ever been a TrueBeliever™ might feel like a slap in the face.  With the wave of a hand and the turn of a phrase the former believer’s entire experience, whether they believed for one year or fifty, is seemingly negated.  Only seemingly, though.  What a Christian has to say about a former Christian doesn’t change what they’ve been through.

As much as Christians would like to believe that we never were one of them, whatever their reasons, it doesn’t change the reality that we were.  We don’t believe that the Bible is inerrant.  We don’t believe the Bible is infallible  We don’t believe it is even divinely inspired with just a few human errors.  We don’t believe there is any evidence of Jesus’ divinity nor his supernatural resurrection.  There are some of us who don’t even believe Jesus existed at all.

Just as easily as we are dismissed as having never been a real Christian we could dismiss the religious as having been indoctrinated, or being naïve, or uneducated, or delusional.  We can, and sometimes do, dismiss the dismissive.

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129 thoughts on “Dismissing the Dismissive

  1. No-one’s ever told me I wasn’t a real Christian. I might be relieved if they did. It’s a bit like an embarrassing secret I’m not keen to dwell on, so if someone doesn’t believe I ever was, I’m one step closer to deluding myself it didn’t happen.

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    • Ooh! I’ve never thought about it that way! 😀

      I know that many are genuinely hurt by the implication, but I expect it. It’s what I thought when I was a Christian.

      When I was a Christian I was always asking other Christians why they were so condemning of non-believers. Why should a Christian be surprised or offended that non-believers act like non-believers?

      As a non-believer I have the same philosophy. Why should I be surprised or offended when Christians act like…Christians?

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      • It is a very hurtful accusation and like Zoe wrote on her blog, it’s basically being called a liar.

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        • It does sting for me but not for very long as I consider the source. They are calling us liars because they believe we are lying.

          I’m calling them indoctrinated because I believe they’re indoctrinated to believe we’re liars. They’re lying; to themselves and thereby to us. “Bazinga!” as Sheldon Cooper would say.

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          • Considering the source, yes, that makes sense:) I still have some believing friends who don’t think that I was never a believer.

            And as far as Goldilocks Theology (love that) I wonder why there are people who want us to accept “just right”? Why can’t we just not believe. I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in being back in the fold.

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          • I used to reckon it was because they were afraid we were going to the hot, hot place. But many of those trying to persuade us to just love Jesus don’t believe hell to be a literal place. Beats me. Maybe they take it personally, like they think we think we’re smarter than them(I don’t)? *shrug*

            I have zero interest in being a sheep in the fold of something I don’t believe is real. It doesn’t make sense to.

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    • Thankfully I’ve never had this accusation thrown directly at me either. I would have been offended and affronted.

      However, I like your stance. Maybe the correct response should be something along the lines of. “Thank Allah for that. Real Christians would never follow any god that doesn’t exist.”

      We should wear the ‘Never a real Christian’ badge with pride and rejoice in the apostasy. I wonder if there is a T shirt I could get ….

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      • There’s always the double-patronise-back option:Oh, don’t worry, I totally understand why you have to believe that. I would have said the same to someone like me when I was a deluded Christian. *big empathetic smile*

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        • Oh you’re naughty!

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          • She is! And I like it! 😀

            What I was going for is this:

            Christian: “Well, you were never really a Christian. You lack understanding and knowledge. You were lying to yourself if you thought you were.”

            Me: “Okay. And you are indoctrinated. That is some really good kool-aid.”

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      • I submit that no one is a “real Christian”. The Jesus and God of the Bible don’t exist, therefore it’s an impossibility. Even when we thought we were, we weren’t. So I suppose, in a way, they’re right. But they’re not really Christians either, then.

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  2. Reblogged this on kindism and commented:
    Replace “TrueBeliever™” with “properly practicing Christian Science.” Change up some of the theology so it is a little more allegorical and less literal. Add in the lines “turn to the books” and “pray harder” and this parallels what many former Christian Scientists deal with as well.

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    • This would be true of any belief system, I think. Replace any of the religious ideas I wrote about with Islam, or Judaism, or Methodist, or Presbyterian, and the deconvertees will be dealing with the same thing.

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  3. Nice one. I’ve been chatting with a preacher these last few days and despite never mentioning anything of my past he took every opportunity to say things like, “but you wouldn’t know this because you were never a Christian…” Don’t get me wrong, he was a nice enough bloke, we didn’t get into any serious debate, nothing untoward said between us, but i noted every time he made this broad-stroke assumption which, as you so well pointed out, is a defensive mechanism employed by the believer to rationalise their own faith. We “couldn’t possibly” have understood, or even remotely understand.

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    • Ah, yes, the old “you can’t possibly understand” unless you become a Christian. Nancy Pelosi infamously said prior to the approval of the Affordable Care Act, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

      Republicans have had afield day with that. Christians have the same answer, “But you have become a Christian to find out what’s in it.” Absurd!

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  4. I know I’ve written about this myself. It’s only online where I dealt with the accusation. In real life no one has said this to me. They wouldn’t dare because they know better. On the other hand, they refuse to see me as anything other than Christian. Still Christian in their eyes.

    Great post.

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    • Nobody in real life would likely say that to me either. In fact I rather suspect they’d assume I’m just ‘going through a phase’ and pray extra hard for my return to the fold.

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  5. I like this post.
    A friend recently told me that maybe I was in the wrong congregation and or maybe I need to consider the NT god and I could see things differently.

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  6. Comments like dp’s make me want to gag, and I’m not even a deconvert (in the true sense)
    Every deconvert I have read has experienced this form of bigotry.
    I have read Nate Owen’s deconversion tale; seemed his own family disowned for him a while.

    There must be times when you just want to slap their stupid heads.

    We wouldn’t stand idly by and allow thousands of children to be indoctrinated with Nazism or the racism of the KKK, yet there are elements who are stridently advocating for Creationism t be taught in public schools; and it is already been rammed down the throats of children in schools such as A.C.E.

    Maybe at some stage it will all be recognised for the abuse it is?

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    • He seems to be ignorant of the fact that large segments of society are indoctrinated with threats of hell and punishment. He seems to believe his version of la-dee-dah, sunshine and rainbows Christianity is prevalent. I can assure you that, at least in the Southern U.S. it is not.

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      • I have found that many who subscribe to this brand of religion tends to intellectualize the faith and many similar bloggers are heavy into the philosophical aspects and drone on and on about morality ad nauseum.
        Prayson is one, truth and responsibility another.
        Debilis too.
        And the only way they seem to be able to justify this is by concluding atheism is devoid of moral.
        foundation.
        And, of course, they develop an instant blind spot where deconvertees are concerned, especially those who are more savvy about the bible than they are.
        They truly don’t know how to handle someone piddling on their bonfire.

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        • I’ve been accused of not giving up my fundamentalism. What I mean by that is; because I don’t subscribe to the more allegorical/metaphorical concept of scripture I’m just “uneducated” about it. Clapham tried that one on Victoria. ‘We don’t understand the meaning of the text.’ According to whom?

          I did look into that ‘softer’ form of Christianity, but the simple fact of the matter is I’m not sure why or what purpose Christianity serves if the resurrection is not a real, physical event.

          Why can these people not look around and see that there are many, many people who don’t subscribe to any form of religion who have as much, if not more, integrity and morals than the subscribers to religion? That was one thing that really woke me up. I once believed that morality was objective and came from God. Then I met people who assumed to be Christian because “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” Gal. 5:22. I was absolutely astounded when I found out they were atheists.

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          • And this – morality comes from god – is what the likes of William Lane Craig espouse; and how he justifies Divine Command.
            If you put a thousand Christians from a broad cross section of sects in an auditorium and called for a moratorium on a dozen specifics of Christianity I’ll bet a million bucks you would not get a unanimous show of hands for anything.

            From Hell to the virgin birth even to the Resurrection.

            How on earth are they expected to be taken seriously if they cannot agree among themselves?

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          • Well, yes.

            “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16: 12-13

            If Jesus were ultimate truth wouldn’t there be more consensus on…anything?

            There are so many different opinions within Christianity on the very foundations of what make it truth that it’s hard to imagine there is a Spirit of Truth. And if any one of them is right and actually has this “Spirit” how the hell would you even know which one?

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          • Many may dismiss me and my disbelief because I am not well versed in archaeology, or science, or ancient history, or cosmology. But what I am well versed in is what the Bible says; about God, about Jesus, and about itself. A plain reading of the text is all it takes to refute Christianity, IMHO.

            When you start having to twist and turn it this way and that to make it all metaphorically and allegorically true then what happens to the uneducated. Why must someone who is not schooled in higher learning need someone else to interpret the text for them? Why would a God not have left a plain, simple message? Oh, wait…he did!

            “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. 1 Corinthians 3:19

            I’m pretty sure the gospel message was supposed to simple. When even the simplest of minds has refuted it the crafty resort to complicated interpretations in an attempt to validate it and keep it alive.

            Not everyone is suited to years and years of mental gymnastics. Not everyone has that luxury.

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  7. Ruth – looks like at just the same time yesterday that you posted this, I was responding to this exact thing over on Nate Owens’ blog. Here’s a link to the response I gave.

    My main point to him was this: “…All that is fine. But then this calls into question everyone’s salvation. While you may be extremely sure of your belief right now, you don’t know what tomorrow may bring. With this kind of methodology there is no way I can see how anyone can know that they are truly saved. Again, I don’t believe there is such a thing.”

    I wish I could say that the guy on Nate’s blog was “a nice enough bloke” like the guy John spoke to, but I thought the guy on Nate’s blog was far from nice. He took absolutely every chance he could get to blast away at the sincerity and honesty of all the people who disagreed with him on that post. I think that made him feel better because it confirmed his own doctrinal beliefs to try and make false accusations of sincerity. I called him out on a very clear false one.

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    • Howie, I think that’s why a lot of Christians fight tooth and nail with atheists AND why they just dismiss us as never having been. First of all they’re taught that we were never sincere; wolves in sheep’s clothing. Secondly, if we were so devout and dedicated and truly believed and we could lose our faith, I think it frightens them that it could happen to them too. Hence your point about no one’s salvation being secure.

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  8. Pingback: Dismissing the Dismissive | Christians Anonymous

  9. The problem with Christians commenting that someone was never a “true Christian” is that, given enough time to observe their lives, I could probably easily find several bible passages that show them to not be “true Christians”, either, by biblical standards. They should be careful of pointing the “never a true believer” finger at people, lest they find that finger pointing back at them.

    All in all, though, it doesn’t really bother me to be told I wasn’t a “true believer”, despite having turned my entire life upside down for love of Jesus. After having read the bible, I’m quite glad to be disassociated from that club…I just couldn’t see myself stoning to death my family and friends who are sinning, as commanded of “true Christians” in both the Old and New Testaments…

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    • When I first deconverted I was deeply insulted by the accusation. Now…meh…whatever. Maybe I wasn’t a real Christian. Maybe the ones pointing fingers aren’t either. Maybe their just as deluded and unaware of not being a real Christian as I was. For I was certainly convinced that I was. That bad, bad debbil sure is a cunning rascal.

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  10. I’m baaaack!

    By the way, orthodox Christians believe that all persons who have been baptized in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are and remain Christians and that their baptisms are never invalidated by anything they do including declaring themselves an atheist.

    An orthodox Christian would tell an ex-Christian atheist that he/she should repent to restore their relationship with God (and avoid the torments of hell if they happen to die prior to repenting), but they would not say that your Baptism is invalidated and that you must be “re-saved”.

    I think you all would be interested in a discussion I am having with DagoodS on my blog regarding whether any Jew in the first century would have been expecting a suffering/dead messiah. Here is an excerpt:

    Ehrman is making this argument to prove that Jesus really did exist; that Jesus of Nazareth is not a myth. However, I believe that Ehrman’s argument can also be used to support the Christian contention that Jesus of Nazareth arose from the dead.

    If no Jew was expecting an executed/dead messiah, then what Jew would expect an executed/dead…then…alive-again/ascended-into-heaven messiah?

    The tale of Jesus has just gone from completely unbelievable to any Jew, to completely IMPOSSIBLE to any human being!

    Why would ANY first century Jew believe the story of Jesus the Messiah…unless he/she saw, or someone that they knew and trusted saw,…a walking, talking corpse!

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    • lol! The pool we had going wasn’t for whether or not you would be back; it was on when!

      Interesting…so in Orthodox Christianity a person can’t lose their salvation but a saved person can go to hell? That’s so encouraging…sign me up!

      Yes, I’m well aware and even as a Southern Baptist believed that the resurrection was a supernatural event the couldn’t be proven with evidence. I also thought, however, that the other events in the Bible were provable with evidence. As those events have crumbled to nothing more than allegory and metaphor and myth I have no reason to believe that the resurrection account is any more reliable. I, too, believe Jesus existed. I now believe he was highly mythicized after his death.

      Your rationale for believing in Jesus resurrection is no more credible than the Islamic belief that the Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven.

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      • This bloke is more insane than SOM…
        Nate Owens has got one on his blog at the moment, a real plonker called Mike Anthony ( who isn’t the ex bass player for Van Halen)
        But this Gary fella is right out there on a limb with a saw in his hand yelling, “Look Ma, no problem, honest.”

        You cannot even have a conversation with this type of animal.It is on a par with unklee.
        It is best just to say, There there and take it to the vet….it is is the kindest thing to do.

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  11. Muhammad taught a new religion and a new god to polytheistic “pagans”. These people already believed that there could be other gods. Muhammad convinced them that there was and that his name is Allah. Later, under threat of the sword, he convinced them that Allah is the ONLY god.

    That is very different from telling Jews that their promised Messiah had come, and when these Jews asked who this messiah was, telling them that Jesus, the dead convict that they had just seen hanging from a Roman cross a few weeks earlier, is alive and well, the Son of David, the Anointed One, the Redeemer of Israel, “repent in be baptized in his name!”

    There is no evidence that any Jew prior to Christianity believed in a suffering/dead messiah. Ehrman himself says that there isn’t a “shred of evidence” for this assertion. In my opinion, the fact that no Jew would believe such a man was the promised messiah, accompanied by the numerous sources who attest to the disciples abandoning Jesus in the Garden, and then their despondency after the burial, tells me that not even Jesus’ closest disciples would have believed that a dead man could be the Jewish Messiah, unless, like Thomas, they were able to “touch the evidence”!

    Admit it, my atheist friends, the Resurrection is not just wishful thinking on the part of Christians, there is very compelling evidence that it really happened. If Bar Kokhba’s movement died out immediately upon his death there is zero reason that Jesus’ movement would not also die out.

    If you are looking for a evidence to believe, friends, this is it. If you don’t want to believe, even a video tape of the event isn’t going to convince you.

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    • Wow! Muslims seem to see their beliefs much different than you do. They think they’re worshiping the Abrahamic God, Yahweh.

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    • “In my opinion, the fact that no Jew would believe such a man was the promised messiah, accompanied by the numerous sources who attest to the disciples abandoning Jesus in the Garden, and then their despondency after the burial, tells me that not even Jesus’ closest disciples would have believed that a dead man could be the Jewish Messiah, unless, like Thomas, they were able to “touch the evidence”!…Admit it, my atheist friends, the Resurrection is not just wishful thinking on the part of Christians, there is very compelling evidence that it really happened.”

      The very opening to this salvo is “in your opinion”. Many others have come to the same conclusion and still many others have come to an opposing conclusion. This “evidence” isn’t as compelling to everyone else as it seems to be to you.

      Now you should understand that we don’t “want” to believe just for the sake of believing. It isn’t that we don’t want to believe either.

      We want the truth. So as to the question on your own blog as to why, if we don’t believe, we talk about it so much; it is because we are interested in the truth, not just convenient “facts” – if they can be called that – to confirm our bias.

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      • What facts would you require, Ruth, to convince you that Jesus of Nazareth was resurrected from the dead and is God?

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        • which ones do you have?

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          • He has Paul and the fact that some Jews believed when they weren’t expecting a dead Messiah or for said Messiah to resurrect himself.

            He believes that is substantial proof that they or someone they knew saw the resurrected Jesus.

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          • Then am not interested in his evidence, no one witnessed the resurrection paul among them.

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          • Here are excerpts from his comments here:

            “If no Jew was expecting an executed/dead messiah, then what Jew would expect an executed/dead…then…alive-again/ascended-into-heaven messiah?

            The tale of Jesus has just gone from completely unbelievable to any Jew, to completely IMPOSSIBLE to any human being!

            Why would ANY first century Jew believe the story of Jesus the Messiah…unless he/she saw, or someone that they knew and trusted saw,…a walking, talking corpse!”

            and

            “There is no evidence that any Jew prior to Christianity believed in a suffering/dead messiah. Ehrman himself says that there isn’t a “shred of evidence” for this assertion. In my opinion, the fact that no Jew would believe such a man was the promised messiah, accompanied by the numerous sources who attest to the disciples abandoning Jesus in the Garden, and then their despondency after the burial, tells me that not even Jesus’ closest disciples would have believed that a dead man could be the Jewish Messiah, unless, like Thomas, they were able to “touch the evidence”!

            Admit it, my atheist friends, the Resurrection is not just wishful thinking on the part of Christians, there is very compelling evidence that it really happened. If Bar Kokhba’s movement died out immediately upon his death there is zero reason that Jesus’ movement would not also die out.

            If you are looking for a evidence to believe, friends, this is it. If you don’t want to believe, even a video tape of the event isn’t going to convince you.”

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          • Are we now to accept jeebus in our lives?
            It is only a person steeped in belief that would find the above compelling.

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          • I think he is really grappling because he recently had his world rocked with regards to fundamentalism. So it appears he’s trying to hold onto Jesus even if the rest of scripture falls apart.

            I can remember what it was like to have my beliefs shaken and that it took quite some time to process the information.

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          • That makes sense. Maybe if he spend more time and give the matter some more thought, he may just free himself from the shackles he is in at the moment.

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          • He’s kind of sensitive when we tell him that. But my hunch is that he is trying quite diligently to convince himself.

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          • Convince himself about the reality of Zombie Jesus? Now that requires some work. It’s better not to try to use reason that way believing the story true comes like second nature and best also to avoid atheists blogs.

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          • 😀

            Last week he said he wasn’t interested in visiting and commenting on atheist blogs. Then yesterday afternoon he popped back up.

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          • Then maybe, just maybe he will soon be on the road to where there is light in the tunnel, where no phantoms and zombies exist. I wish him well

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          • He’s trying to embrace an Eastern Orthodox Christianity which doesn’t cling to fundamentalism. It appears to me he’s kind of mishmashing EOC with some fundamentalism.

            His faith was shaken pretty badly but now he has a renewed vigor with evidence which is, apparently, new to him and thought he might be able to “rescue” us.

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        • Since Jesus of Nazareth is supposedly part of the Triune God of the Old Testament I would need proof that the God of the Old Testament exists.

          The purpose of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection were to satisfy the sacrificial requirements of OT Yahweh. Since I no longer believe in a literal six-day creation and, hence, the fall, I have no reason to believe Jesus meets any such requirement. Not only do I not believe in the ‘fall of man’ I don’t believe that any God named Yahweh handed Moses stone tablets engraved with ten commandments, nor the sacrificial requirements.

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        • What facts would you require, Gary, to convince you that Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t resurrected from the dead and is not God?

          You see, Gary, that cuts both ways really. I’m not trying to convince you that Jesus wasn’t resurrected. You want to believe so facts won’t matter much anyway.

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          • Well, the best would be if someone would find a corpse and could prove by DNA evidence that it is the body of Jesus of Nazareth. I would stop believing that day.

            The next best evidence for me would be, if someone finds records from the Romans AND the Jews that gives several witnesses testifying that the disciples stole the body, that the Romans tossed the body into an unmarked, common grave, etc.

            Even if it were just evidence from the Jews stating that there were witnesses that saw the body being stolen, disposed of, etc., it would be strong evidence for me, even though there is the issue of the Jews having a motivation to falsify the record on this issue.

            If someone finds a first century document with testimony from an early Christian that gives any indication that the post-resurrection sightings of Jesus were simply visions, or testimony stating that the resurrection was a concocted story to keep the disciples “in business”, that would be enough for me to seriously question my Faith.

            If someone can give evidence that Jesus of Nazareth never existed, but that is a long shot since so many scholars, including atheists, think he did.

            Any evidence of a conspiracy among the Christians to promote this new religion knowing its claims are false.

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          • So now would you tell me, my friend, what evidence would convince you?

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          • Ruth, I have looked at the response from Gary to your question of what evidence he would require to disbelieve which in all honesty seems to me to be saying he is not about to disbelief. How would anyone living now find an unmarked grave of 2K years? And against whose DNA shall it be compared with? God’s? Mary’s? Whose? It is an impossible standard so to speak.

            His second best ignores the fact that we haven’t so far found anything in the Roman antiques to suggest an innocent citizen was crucified by order of the pilate on the eve of the Sabbath. We also don’t have evidence that the fellow was. How do we such for DNA of a person who may not have lived?

            Some of the first century Christians or rather believers disputed the divinity of Jeebus. Those who won were those who were supported by the emperor and were able to silence the voices of dissent. Is this not enough for him to question his faith?

            What evidence would he consider persuasive to the non existence of Jesus?

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          • Some of his answers indicate that he is not about to give up his belief but others indicate he already has.

            In his faith he doesn’t have to believe, all he has to do is want to believe, take the sacraments, repent, and be obedient.

            He’s stated on many occasions it doesn’t matter if he actually believes or not. To be honest, I think he has real doubts and I’m not sure he actually believes, but because of his fear that this may be the wrong position he’s swallowing the blue pill.

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          • Since faith requires belief without or even against evidence, one hopes that his asking for evidence is because he can no longer in all honesty buy the bs

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          • This is why he lists such unattainable proofs. He’s hedging his bets, so to speak.

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          • Such proofs are unattainable. We will have to first find mary and joe to ask if the story in the bible is true among many other things

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          • I think his making his standard of “proofs” so impossible it leaves a loophole for him to continue believing.

            I remember when I first began to doubt I tried to find ways to hyper-spiritualize my beliefs so I could hang onto them. In the end I was unable to do so. The whole “Gods ways are not our ways” and “the ways of God are a mystery” just didn’t cut it anymore. That was tantamount to calling God a trickster. If faith is all it takes why make it so “mysterious”? Why would a God who claims he wants everyone to believe test us in that way; even while claiming not to test us. Makes no sense.

            Even for those who say it’s because he wants us to want him(how narcissistic) it doesn’t wash. Revealing specifically his character in clear and concrete ways in no way forces anyone to love nor revere him. It would still be a choice.

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          • The moment one begins to think about it, one wonders how a god as talked about by believers would take offence when not worshipped?
            If a man was such as god is portrayed, he would be considered a tyrant and we would do our best to be done with him.
            A god who works in mysterious ways and one who does nothing look so much alike.

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        • The trouble is, all of the facts that you have are not facts at all but are instead edited narratives created by people who wanted to show the divinity of Jesus. A fact implies something that can be demonstrated and there isn’t a viable argument against. When it comes to the resurrection, there are no facts, only fables. Some choose to believe while others choose to take the very reasonable view that until shown otherwise, people rising from the dead doesn’t happen.

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    • It was only a matter of time.

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  12. I made this comment to a Southern Baptist pastor on my blog who believes that the Gospels are enough evidence for atheists to believe:

    Just to be clear, Dagood, Bruce, Ruth and others of my atheist friends DO believe in the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. And Dagood seems to believe that Isaiah fifty-three IS speaking about a suffering Messiah.

    What they are not convinced of is the supernatural event of a Resurrection. I thought I had something with Ehrman’s statement that there is “not one shred of evidence that any first century Jew, prior to Christianity, would have believed in a suffering messiah”. If Ehrman is wrong, then my argument that the conversion of first century Jews to Christianity is good evidence for the Resurrection, goes down the toilet.

    Once again we are left with the testimony of Saul of Tarsus and the accounts in the Gospels. That evidence is going to have to be enough. It is for me, but not for them.

    There are some of my atheist friends who I think are happy to be ex-believers: they feel liberated, especially the ex-fundamentalists. But in others, especially Dagood, and maybe Ruth, I detect “resignation”: Someone gave them evidence that destroyed the foundation of their belief system—the inerrant Bible—and they are diligently searching every rock and cranny for any evidence to re-justify their faith….but time after time they come up empty.

    I thought I had found “it” for them. But if they don’t believe Ehrman on this, it was all false hope. I wish Ehrman himself would prove to them he is right on this one.

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    • Lol….are you on monthly retainer from Apologists inc. ?

      There is no evidence for Jesus of Nazareth. The character as portrayed in the bible is wholly (sic) a narrative construct.

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      • Nooo. He recently encountered DagoodS from Thoughts from a Sandwich blog and Bruce Gerenscer from The Way Forward blog. He was, up until a couple of months ago a fundamentalist. They’ve shattered his fundamentalist perspective-according to him, though I’m not sure. It seems to linger. He’s really trying to convince himself of the merits of his views. I think that he thinks if he can convince someone else it will validate his Faith.

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        • Such as Ruth ‘you were never really a Christian’.?

          lol…..

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          • He’s not even saying that! His take is that if you’ve been baptized – EVER – you’re still saved, still a Christian(even if you renounce it). But you can still spend eternity in hell if you don’t repent of some(even small, I guess) sin before you die. So there will be believers in hell? *shrug*

            Like I said to him, ‘sign me right up for some of that action!’ lol

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    • If this Ehrman bit is so compelling why isn’t Ehrman a Christian?

      What is wrong with being ‘resigned’ to following the evidence where it leads.

      You asked me that question already and I answered it. I believed that man had fallen and that Yahweh instituted a system of sacrifice to deal with that. I also believed in an all-powerful God who could do supernatural things(i.e. creation in six literal days, part the Red Sea, The Flood account, The Wall of Jericho, etc.). If those are false and only myths or legends then how do we know that a) Yahweh exists and b) he requires any sort of sacrifice?

      I would need credible evidence that a god could resurrect Jesus. I would need credible evidence of a supernatural God.

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    • The entirety of a redemptive sacrifice rests on OT law and sacrifice. If a god didn’t do these things and there was no “fall” there is no need for a resurrected savior.

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    • Furthermore I think you’ve gotten the wrong impression about something.

      I believe that if your God is so good and so merciful he can withstand a little skepticism. Having said that I’m not looking in every nook and cranny for a reason to justify my faith. I’m looking for the truth of the matter and I am okay with whichever way that turns out.

      I take new evidence as it comes and evaluate it accordingly. What you’ve presented here is neither new nor unique. I could have and did get what you’ve derived from Ehrman straight out of the Bible.

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  13. On the orthodox Christian view of Salvation and Hell, this is what I said above:

    “orthodox Christian would tell an ex-Christian atheist that he/she should repent to restore their relationship with God (and avoid the torments of hell if they happen to die prior to repenting), but they would not say that your Baptism is invalidated and that you must be “re-saved”. Let me clarify:

    Orthodox Christians (RCC, EOC, Anglicans, Lutherans) believe in “Once Baptized, Always Baptized”, but we do NOT believe in “Once Saved, Always Saved”. In other words, someone who has been baptized is justified before God, his sins have been forgiven, and is on his way to heaven for eternal salvation… IF he perseveres in the Faith. He/she can lose their salvation, and if they die, go to hell. Hell is a bad place and is eternal, but whether there is real fire and real physical suffering, we do not know. All we know is that we don’t want to go there.

    To us, the term saved, means that we get into heaven. So in our theology, there will be no “saved” people in Hell, but there will be plenty of baptized people in hell.

    If a baptized person abandons or deliberately neglects his Faith in Jesus Christ, that doesn’t change the fact that he previously was justified, a Christian. All he has to do to restore his relationship with God is to repent. Evangelicals don’t want to believe that a true Christian can become an atheist, so that is why they deny that you were ever a Christian to begin with. You present a real dilemma to their belief system, especially those of you who were evangelical pastors, like Bruce Gerenscer. However, a baptized Christian declaring himself an atheist is not a dilemma in our belief system. We believe it can and does happen. It is consistent with our beliefs that true believers can have the Holy Spirit and then chose to lose him, just as Hebrews chapter 6 says. So when Christian abandons his faith as all of you have, we are deeply saddened, but it is not contrary to our belief system.

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  14. My comment to an atheist friend:

    You may very well be right, my friend, and to tell you the truth, I hope that you are right.

    I would happily give up heaven and seeing my loved ones again if it meant that no one else has to go to hell. Hell is an absolutely horrific concept. In my opinion, no one deserves to be burned alive day, after day, after day, without there ever being an end.

    I hope you are right: I hope that when we all die, the only thing that will happen to us is that our bodies will decay and provide nutrients for new life from the earth. And that’s it. However, if you atheists are wrong, and I buy into your story, I will suffer horrific torment, possibly being burned alive, in a black hole, in the center of the earth, forever and ever.

    Maybe some of you ex-Christians have been able to get that fear out of your heads. I can’t.

    I’m not going to take the chance of YOU being wrong. No, I will not deconvert from Christianity.

    I will obey God. Whether I believe in Him or not is irrelevant in Lutheran theology. I have been baptized. I am a child of God. As long as I do not reject God, or willfully disobey him, I will attain eternal life. The consequences of not obeying are too horrific for me to contemplate.

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    • I’m not sure what Allah would have to say about that.

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    • And so, go in peace Gary. That is not a statement asking you to leave, but be at peace. Your fear sustains you and it is totally understandable. Wrapping our heads around hell’s fire is suffocating. It was as believers and it is as former believers. Consistently I see you mention fear. I first approached you at DagoodS about your fear. I believe you and this fear is not a light matter at all.

      Many of us after leaving the faith still wrestled with that lingering fear that maybe just maybe there was/is a literal hell. Getting the fear of hell out of one’s head is not easy. Not when as we come into this world our brain is gradually wired for it, right from the womb.

      The first songs our first born heard while in the womb were hymns that I played most every day on the piano. The first songs sung to our child were Christmas carols (lucky December babies). Our child’s first prayers were at the kitchen table before eating and at the bedside before bed. Our child’s first teachings were about the love of Jesus and no matter what happens in life Jesus will always be there. I could continue with many of the “firsts” . . . then eventually one shares why Jesus came to the earth, why Jesus died, why Jesus rose, why believers are baptized . . . we are all born into sin, sinners who need to be saved. Who saves them? Jesus. What happens to those who reject Jesus or just don’t believe in Jesus? . . . hell. A place of torment for all eternity.

      You do not teach those things and have it not affect & effect their developing brains.

      When I left the faith 10 years ago to the month, though I had come to an intellectual understanding that hell was not real that did not eliminate 48 years of emotional & mental neuro-wiring in my brain believing hell was real. Fear was long embedded in the deepest parts of my brain, in my long-term memory. Just turning that all off, even after stepping out of the box of belief (whatever that entails) is not easy.

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    • I get that and I’ve written about it as have Zoe and DagoodS and many others. I will riterate that it is not my desire to deconvert you.

      Fear of hell is a very powerful motivation. It took me a bit to get past the PTSD associated with that insidious doctrine.

      Let me ask you a question: You love your children I’m sure. Can you imagine anything tney could do that you would punish them for the rest of their lives? How about eternity?

      Even if this God you want to believe in exists I don’t like him, much less love him. The doctrine of hell alone is so abhorrent that I wouldn’t wish yo spend eternity with him.

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      • I get your point. I may love God, but I fear Him even more.

        Again, my prayer is that you are right and that I am wrong. Eternal torment is just too horrific.

        But in my indoctrinated brain, I am an ant and God is the giant human in the back yard. He has the “ant spray” and has said he will use it if I become too much of a nuisance…so I will do as he says.

        I don’t think I would ever be able to get that fear out of my head.

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    • This comment was very encouraging until you came to the point where you abandoned reason completely and resorted to believing because you are afraid you may be worshiping a monster of a god who may punish you or others for eternity for not believing in him/ them whatever your beliefs!

      This is an appeal to Pascal’s Wager, a wager that everyone who has spent a few critical moments to look at it can’t take seriously!

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      • @ Gary — cont:
        My late husband had non-convulsive temporal lobe epilepsy also known as complex partial seizures (CPS) which developed about three or four years after a TBI (Traumatic brain injuries occur every 15 seconds in America). The doctors said he’d recover. Instead he had a sudden religious conversion. He had religious delusions and hallucination. You know, much like Paul did. Saw Jesus, heard Jesus, thought he was called to share the “good news”. Sudden religious conversion is a clinical term, as you should know, since you are a physician. Quoted in a medical paper one such experience from someone who had a sudden religious experience.

        “The religiosity of the epileptic has been recognized since the time of Esquirol [12] and Morel [35]. These, and later French workers (including [34]), have sought to explain the epileptics religiosity as being the result of his disability, social isolation and his enhanced need for the consolation of religion. A specific conversion experience after a fit was reported by Howden [22].

        The patient believed that he was in Heaven. He would appear to have been depersonalized, as it took three days for his body to be reunited with his soul. He maintained that God had sent it to him as a means of conversion, that he was now a new man, and had never before known what true peace was. [Classics in Epilepsy and Behavior: 1970 Sudden religious conversions in temporal lobe epilepsy. Kenneth Dewhurst a and A.W. Beard Research Psychiatrist, Littlemore Hospital, Oxford, UK —Physician in Psychological Medicine, The Middlesex Hospital, W.1, UK]

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      • @Gary cont.
        “Because of these affective, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms, patients with CPS are frequently misdiagnosed. Seizures can include gustatory and olfactory hallucinations; micropsia or macropsia; and intense delusions involving bodily harm, déjà vu, or “out-of-body” experiences. CPS have also been associated with certain personality features including moral rigidity, hyperreligiousity, hypergraphia, and viscosity (or “stickiness,” e.g., difficulty ending conversations).” [A Complex Presentation of Complex Partial Seizures Joshua L. Roffman, M.D. and Theodore A. Stern, M.D. Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry]

        Paul and my late husband had a lot in common. The early Greeks called epilepsy “the sacred disease.” See Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry “St Paul and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1032067/

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      • Mak — I accidentally posted comments to Gary under your post. As I told him on Ken’s blog — he doesn’t appear to love his god — he’s only “obeying” out of fear — to save his hide. What kind of life is that? One thing is for certain — Ruth, Pandora’s Box and I had a genuine love for Jesus when we were believers. How many so called “real” Christians can say that?

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    • OK Gary, since you copied and pasted that same message to me on Ken’s blog, I’m going to do a C/P here of my comment to you — and ask you again. How do you discern? I’m going to do this in sections since my comment was lengthy. With so many variables — again — why are you so trusting on hearsay?

      Definition: “Megalomania is a psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, omnipotence, and by inflated self-esteem.”

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    • @Gary cont.
      You are one trusting dude, especially since CPS/TLE is a very common neurological disorder. Approximately 200,000 people in America alone are diagnosed with epilepsy every year. Half of those will have CPS. That’s just one neurological disorder. Quote:

      “Hyperreligiosity is a major feature of mania, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, temporal-lobe epilepsy and related disorders, in which the ventromedial dopaminergic systems are highly activated and exaggerated attentional or goal-directed behavior toward extrapersonal space occurs.” [“The role of the extrapersonal brain systems in religious activity.”
      Previc FH. PMID: 16439158 PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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  15. Ruth — rats — I posted a couple of comments directed at Gary under Mak’s comment by accident.

    Anyway, here is my full comment to Gary on Ken’s blog.

    http://kcchief1.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/gary-responds/#comments

    As you can see, is appears he said said the very same thing to me as he said here.

    Again — Gary — how do you discern? How do you know this Jesus fellow and Paul didn’t have a neurological and/or pathological disorder since so many people get hyper-religious or have characteristics of a megalomaniac. As I said in my comment on Ken’s blog, I’m just scratching the surface here with regard to variables.

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    • I can’t tell you for sure, friend, why I believe, I just (still) do.

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      • Gary, having once been in your shoes, I understand. Like Ruth, I feel for your situation. A lot of it is neurologically based. Fundamentalism causes the right amygdala (fear, negative emotions) to enlarge. It also causes your hippocampus to atrophy, and that’s bad too. It takes hard work to prune those neural networks. Here’s a short video to give you an idea of what I mean by (synaptic) pruning neural pathways and networks. You will have to change your thought processes and create new, positive thoughts, and again, that takes time. But the more you reinforce your fear of hell, the less chance you will have of decreasing the gray matter volume in your right amygdala.

        .

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    • No worries, Victoria.

      I saw that he had copied and pasted his comments all over. He has a very real fear and is held captive by it.

      He fails to see that my objective is not to deconvert him, nor to make my own rules. Would he not be more free to love and serve his God if he weren’t so damned afraid of him?

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      • Exactly, Ruth. My objection, as I just recently noted in your recent blog post, is that it dramatically changes the brain in a very disadvantageous way. This keeps people enslaved. It’s a sure thing that children will be taught this by parents who are indoctrinated, who fear their children will be tormented and suffer if they don’t get ‘saved’, and it’s passed on from generation to generation. It keeps people coming back to church. $$$

        I rarely use the term evil — but this teaching is EVIL.

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  16. I went back and read all the comments under this post. They are very interesting especially the part about how many non-Christians are much nicer people than Christians themselves.

    I grew up the son of a fundamentalist Baptist preacher. I went to Baptist Christian schools. All my friends were Baptists. I lived in a very insulated world. When I got older and ventured outside that world, I was shocked to find Methodists, Presbyterians, and even ROMAN CATHOLICS who seemed to be much nicer, much kinder people than me and my fellow fundamentalists. When I went to university, for the first time in my life I met Jews, Muslims and agnostics. Many of them were really nice people too! I was shocked. Venturing outside of my insulated world and seeing that one can be a good person and NOT be a born again, fundamentalist Baptist whom, and only whom, God has revealed the truth and turned into a “new creature”, helped me to leave the “born again” Baptist/evangelical branch of Christianity.

    Here is my question: It is absolute fact that there are many very nice people who are not Christians and who are not even of any religion. But where did our modern sense of morality come from? Is it a product of evolution? Are humans innately kind, giving, and generous, even to their “enemies”? No other animal behaves in this manner. Where did we in modern society get the idea that it is wrong to kill innocent people? Animals don’t worry about killing another “innocent” animal. Watch any episode of “Animal Planet’ for proof. The values of humanistic atheism are very noble but would they exist without religion, and without Christianity in particular?

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    • Gary,

      Are you familiar with the Code of Hammurabi?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi

      or the Code of Ur-Nammu?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Ur-Nammu

      Or the Law Code of Urukagina?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urukagina

      All of which predate the Ten Commandments.

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    • As you can see morality/ethics predate Christianity and Judaism. The Golden Rule is not unique to Christianity.

      http://www.teachingvalues.com/goldenrule.html

      I would submit that, yes, morality is evolutionary. While some animals do kill other animals, animals also have a code within their own species. Do lions kill their own?

      On that point, why did God create animals that could only survive by killing other animals? What purpose do parasites serve?

      I’m well aware that wikipedia is not a great source for all things knowledge related but here’s a good place to start:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_morality

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      • An adult male lion will kill the cubs of a rival to take over the pack.

        I didn’t bring this issue up as evidence of the veracity of Christianity, but as evidence of a Creator. I think that there is much stronger evidence for a Creator than there is for Jesus of Nazareth being that Creator. I believe that Christians must admit that our “evidence” for Jesus as God hinges on the verbal testimony of men that lived 2,000 years ago, who say that they saw the equivalent of a flying, talking cow. It takes a leap to believe in the Resurrection. I know realize how difficult it is for a non-believer to believe in such a concept. But the concept of a Creator is much greater.

        1. How is something created out of nothing?
        2. If the universe is a result of random chance, why are there so many laws in nature such as gravity, the boiling point of water, the precise orbit of the earth around the sun—-any closer and we would burn up—any farther away and we would freeze to death.
        3. Why haven’t we found life on other planets? True, maybe we haven’t checked out enough planets, but why have we found only soul, rock, and maybe ice on other planets in our solar system, but no nothing else. Why is only earth bustling with life?
        4. Why do humans have a conscience? An individual in a pack of wolves or a family of apes will follow the groups rules, but do they feel guilty when they break the rules, or just fear punishment?

        I can see how you guys would question Jesus’ claim to be the Creator based on a supernatural event like the Resurrection , but I have a hard time seeing how anyone can deny the existence of a Creator.

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        • Dear Gary,

          Since I am not acquainted with you, and only very rarely visit other blogs at this time of my life, I am going to ask forgiveness for being presumptuous, and risk being wrong when I make a bold assumption about you.

          My assumption is this: You are a Christian. But none of these thorny questions about the nature of matter and existence are the reason you are a Christian. You were not stumped after asking yourself why there is something rather than nothing and convert to your current religious beliefs. You are religious for entirely different reasons than the ones you are throwing out to us here.

          Gary, here is the problem. I am an ex-Christian, now non-believer, along with Ruth who hosts this blog. When I was a believer, my Christian community expected me to just believe. I did not have to justify my beliefs to anybody. Faith was a virtue. But soon after I left the Faith, I found that my old Christian community suddenly expected me to be an instant expert in physics, cosmology, neuro-science, and ancient history. The standards for non-belief are disproportionate to the standards for Faith. You are falling in the same trap when you ask us these kinds of questions. Nobody can possibly be knowledgeable of all these things, and it is unfair to ask these kinds of questions and expect an answer.

          Luckily I am a physicist, and I do have answers for some of the questions you have posed to Ruth. Some of them (particularly #1) are poorly worded and designed to already lead to the answer you want. Some of them are factually incorrect (particularly #3), and some are myopic in scope (particularly #2). But I will not answer them for you. If they are better worded, there are good answers for these questions. But I will not worry about giving you an answer, because an answer is not necessary for non-belief in the Deity you worship. We owe you nothing. I don’t believe in your Deity because I have found that the Christian religion makes claims about the nature of reality that are demonstrably untrue. Period. We can honestly answer, ‘I don’t know’ to every science stumper you throw at us, and we are still justified in non-belief. ‘I don’t know’ is not the same as ‘God did it.’

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          • Dear Friend,

            You have not been following my discussion with Ruth, DagoodS, Bruce, KC, etc. I’m open to having my belief system adjusted. I am only asking questions.

            I used to believe that the evidence for the Resurrection was a slam dunk. I now no longer believe that it is. For me, it all now depends on Saul of Tarsus.

            So I’m curious what you guys have to say about the “evidence” for the “Creator”, whoever He/She/It/they is/are.

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          • Gary,
            If your ‘evidence’ for a Creator consists of asking science stumpers, then you have no evidence for anything. Some of these questions do have legitimate answers. If we are ignorant or do not have specific expertise to answer the question, the proper and most appropriate answer is ‘I Don’t Know.’ Answering ‘Therefore A Creator Did It’ is never an appropriate answer to a science stumper, and is not evidence for a Creator.

            You are right – I have not been following your conversation. I quickly scanned this comment thread (as quickly as I could while getting ready for work), and it seems that there is more than to your belief than being convinced a corpse rose from the dead based on a 2000 year old letter. From what I read, you are still suffering from the psychological abuse that was drilled into you as a child – that if you don’t believe, that if you don’t obey, that if you do not worship God, you will be tortured for your non-belief for all eternity. You will burn in never ending fire. I am sorry you are still believing in this boogyman story. It took a long time for me to get over also. But if you are motivated by fear, if you believe because you think God will torture you if you don’t, then you are just worshipping an evil tyrant. If you are motivated by fear, all the science stumper ‘evidence’ and being convinced in the Resurrection because of letters written in an ancient, alien culture are all just a smokescreen. The number of unanswerable questions you could use as ‘evidence’ is endless. None of that matters. You believe because you are terrified of the monster you worship. You need to get over that irrational fear before you able to think and evaluate in a rational manner.

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          • HIS,

            I’ve been trying to tell him the same thing. How can he even remotely entertain actual facts and process the information he receives objectively while he is living in fear? It isn’t possible.

            I gave him the links to your old de-coversion posts on hell and to another fellow-blogger’s more recent posts on hell and I’m in the process of writing my own. I’m not certain if he’s read any of them.

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          • Thanks for weighing in on this, HIS.

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        • “An adult male lion will kill the cubs of a rival to take over the pack.”

          Yes, to take over the pack. Have you watched the news lately? Don’t humans kill other humans to take over the pack? This is not limited to non-Christians either. Ever heard of The Conquests? The Witch Trials? Etc.?

          “I can see how you guys would question Jesus’ claim to be the Creator based on a supernatural event like the Resurrection , but I have a hard time seeing how anyone can deny the existence of a Creator.”

          I am agnostic, as are most atheists, with regards to a deity or deities in some shape or form. It’s impossible to prove a negative. I doubt the existence of one but would surely not be adamant about such.

          If you are floating the “fine tuning” argument as “proof” of a creator, that’s another can of worms all-together. While this planet may look finely tuned it is far from it. Many times species survive in conditions against the odds of survival. Are you arguing that lions killing the cubs of a rival to take over the pack is fine tuning? I wrote my own small observations about penguins here:

          https://gulliblestravelsdma.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/a-lesson-from-penguins/

          There are quite a few well-reasoned arguments against fine tuning. One is presented here:

          http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Fallacy/FTCosmo.pdf

          Finally, if it took millions and millions of years for life as we know it to evolve with much death and suffering along the way I hardly see how that can be fine tuning. Jerry-rigging more like.

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        • I have questions for you, Gary:

          1. If there were such a deity how would you know anything about Sh/H/It?

          2. Are you proposing that such a deity set the universe in motion and then stepped back to let it develop?

          3. If there were such a deity what difference would it make?

          4. Are you proposing that such a deity wants to be known?

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          • I was just curious how quickly you and other ex-Christians were able to go from “the Christian God does not exist” to “no god exists; there is no Creator; the universe, including me, exists by chance”.

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          • I think you misunderstand. Most of us didn’t, at least not quickly anyway.

            And some of us, like KC, remain deists. He doesn’t profess to be atheist.

            For myself, I am agnostic with regards to a deity. There’s a subtle difference between saying “No gods exist” and “I lack a belief in the existence of a god or gods”.

            Agnosticism is a position regarding knowledge, Atheism is a position regarding belief. An agnostic atheist is someone who claims not to know weather god exists or not, but doesn’t believe that he does. Agnosticism and Atheism are not mutually exclusive positions, nor are Agnosticism and Theism. One can claim no knowledge of the existence of god but still believe anyway.

            I am an agnostic atheist.

            And for what it’s worth, some agnostic/atheists never have believed in a deity, some of us lost our faith seemingly overnight(there was a straw that broke the camel’s back), and yet others have taken years and years to come to these conclusions.

            My own deconversion went more quickly than some, having taken nearly two years, and more slowly than others. For most it is definitely not an overnight experience. Those would be rather rare and depend on how sacredly they held their beliefs in the first place.

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    • Gary,
      I hope your asking the questions about morality are because you are interested in knowing.
      You say no animal behaves like we do. This indeed is true to a very big extent. We are among the only species who have devised tools of torture to injure our own species. We are the only race that makes weapons, collect as a group to invade another group for whatever reasons the generals can use to justify their calls for war.

      I admit there are also a great majority of us who are kind, generous and so on but this is true of other animals as well. There is nothing very particularly unique about us. For most people, this reality is one they do not like to consider. But take time, look around you and think about all the animals around you, you may find that we are more savage than the beasts.

      When you say the values of humanism wouldn’t exist sans Christianity, do you mean to imply that the lives of the Chinese, the Hindus, the Persians are less moral because they are not Christian? Have you really thought about the implications of your statement?

      I don’t know if you have heard of the Euthyphro dilemma. In the dialogue, Socrates wants to know if something is good because god says it is or god says something is good because it is good? Think about it.

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  17. Very interesting, Ruth. I thought that being agnostic and being atheist were exclusive to one another. Thank you for educating me.

    Have a great day, my friend!

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  18. Thanks Ruth for the shout out:)

    Gary said:
    I was just curious how quickly you and other ex-Christians were able to go from “the Christian God does not exist” to “no god exists; there is no Creator; the universe, including me, exists by chance”.

    I’m with Ruth on this one, too.

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  19. Ruth, I like the conversation this post has brought about. I did write a post on agnostic atheist and why I think it is not a tenable position. I would love to hear your thoughts about it.

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  20. I did not remember the 1 John passage. I’d wager that many religions have equivalent passages to dismiss those who leave the folds.

    Thanx for sharing.
    Yes, I have been accused of the same many times too. I can usually turn it around and show the accuser that if my Christianity was fake, then theirs may also be too. That makes them very uncomfortable to say the least. It actually made a Physician colleague of mine cry once.

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    • Yes, Sabio. I think that is probably the main reason this line of reasoning is used. Because Christians are afraid that if what I believed was real then they could lose their faith, too. If they can just dismiss it then they’re in no danger.

      There are nuances to this, though. Most Christians wouldn’t come out and call my faith “fake”. They would most likely say that I had been misled or that I only had a head knowledge, not a heart knowledge, or that somehow something I did wasn’t quite right. But if that is the case, how do they know they haven’t also been misled? I think they’d prefer to think that I was just a good pretender – a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

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      • Right, but like many things in my life, I was pretty extreme into my Christianity. Healings, praying in tongues, leading Bible Studies, hours and hours of praying, witnessing — so if they dismiss me, they realize that they can not tell if ANY of their friends are really Christians — or as in my colleagues case, if her husband is a Christian. That can shake them up or they have to see my as the devil ! 🙂

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