Harmonization by Omission

May 26, 2007 at 10:25 pm 23 comments

Is the Bible the inerrant Word of God? Would God allow contradictions in his inspired message to us? If you are a Christian, you can safely assume that a loving God would not, so how do we explain the many contradictions that are in the Bible? Or – apparent contradictions, as my former Fundamentalist self would say. Consider these two separate accounts of the death of Judas, by two separate authors:

Version 1:

Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor. Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. Matthew 27:1-5 (NASB)

Version 2:

At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. “For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out). Acts 1:15-18 (NASB)

So Matthew has Judas hanging himself. Acts has Judas falling and gruesomely spewing his intestines. Is this a contradiction? Nope. Not if you are hell-bent on harmonizing contradictory passages like these to make the Bible inerrant. To harmonize these passages you can do either one of two things:

The first tactic is what I call ‘Harmonization by Omission’. That is, when two passages contradict each other with different accounts, you claim that they both really happened, but each has omitted some crucial detail and is only telling part of the story. Why different authors would only tell different halves of the same story is beyond me, but we just chalk that up to a mystery known only to the Mind of God, and press forward. A simple search through Fundamentalist websites on these two verses will show us this tactic being used to full effect. For instance, here is one attempt to put the jigsaw together:

from http://home.earthlink.net/~ronrhodes/qjudasdie.html

Matthew 27:5 tells us that Judas died by hanging himself. Acts 1:18 tells us that Judas fell onto some rocks and his body burst open. Is there a contradiction here?

No. Both accounts are true. Apparently Judas first hanged himself. Then, at some point, the rope either broke or loosened so that his body slipped from it and fell to the rocks below and burst open. (Some have suggested that Judas didn’t do a very good job of tying the noose.) Neither account alone is complete. Taken together, we have a full picture of what happened to Judas.

Doncha just love these medieval engravings?See how this works? We just combine two contradictory accounts into one story, and say that each separate account is incomplete, even though both had to happen to keep the Bible inerrant. Using this technique also comes in handy for explaining away the contradictions of Peter’s Denial of Jesus stories (you have to have Peter denying Jesus up to 9 times), the Cleansing of the Temple stories (Jesus had to cleanse the temple of moneychangers twice) and don’t even get me started on the contradictions in the Resurrection of Jesus stories (I have heard people claim that Jesus had to ascend to heaven and descend back to earth up to 3 separate times in order to harmonize the contradictions of the Resurrection stories in the Gospels).

The second tactic is to do what Fundamentalists claim that they do, and take the Bible literally. In this case, just interpret it as two accounts from two different authors, probably based on hearsay, tradition or oral folklore. Thus you have two similar, but contradictory accounts. That’s it. Pretty simple if you ask me. The problem is that God, who inspired the Scriptures, is completely removed from the picture, and the doctrine of inerrancy is brought into doubt.

But really, which scenario is more likely? Which is the simpler explanation? Which requires the least amount of creativity, presumption and text manipulation?

If you decide to choose the Harmonization by Omission Tactic, as every inerrantist ultimately must, the problem is actually worse than I made it out to be. You see, there is another contradiction in the two passages besides how Judas died. Matthew has Judas scatter the 30 pieces of silver, the price for his betrayal, into the temple sanctuary. Acts has the money, called the price of his wickedness, being used by Judas to purchase a field. This is yet another contradiction, so how do we use the Harmonization by Omission Tactic to solve this? Yikes – we have two separate contradictions in the same passages of Scripture! This calls for all the harmonization creativity that we can muster.

Let’s try. Did Judas actually purchase the property at a ridiculous discount so that rounded up he still has the same amount of money to scatter into the sanctuary? Was Judas such a scoundrel that he purchased the property with the ransom money immediately after betraying Jesus, steal it back from the seller sometime the next Passover morning, then hang himself on the property causing the rope to break and scatter his pilfered coins? Did Judas actually purchase the property from a seller who was in the sanctuary when her heard the news that Judas had hung himself, broke the rope and spewed his intestines on the property, which startled the seller so that he scattered the money in the sanctuary when he learned of Judas hanging himself, thus making Judas the indirect cause of the scattered money?

Yes, those are preposterous harmonizations. But can you think of a better explanation to keep the Bible inerrant? Go ahead and try it. Use your imagination because the sky’s the limit when using the Harmonization by Omission tactic. Mine are no more preposterous than some other explanations that I found on the internet. Let’s try this one:

From http://www.scripturessay.com/q247c.html

But weaving together the two fuller accounts it appears that what really happened was that when the priests rejected the money Judas threw it down in the temple and then went out and hanged himself. After his suicide such disgrace was attached to him that no friends or relatives came to care for the body and that it had to be buried at public expense. The priests remembered that his money had been brought back, that it could not be put into the treasury since it was blood money; and now that his body needed burial they were appropriately decided to use the money to buy a burial ground, the very field in which he had committed suicide. Therefore, he is said to have obtained a field with the reward of his iniquity,–not that he personally bought it, but that it was purchased with his money and he was buried in it.

See what I mean? Do you see the pretzels the inerrantist must be willing to twist into to keep these passages harmonized? So is it easier to believe these admittedly contrived harmonizations to keep the Bible inerrant? Or do we admit that we have two similar, but contradictory accounts written two different men based on hearsay, tradition or oral folklore?

And if so, what does inspiration and inerrancy even mean?

- HeIsSailing

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Humans: A pattern seeking species God and Science: Oil and Water?

23 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Justin  |  May 26, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Hi HIS,
    many Christians feel “shaken” in their faith because of some differences in the gospels. However, if they were strong enough, they would know that the slight differences between the gospels doesn’t cause a problem for Christianity or Christians.

    Ancient writers often used certain literary and narrative devices to artificially adjust their reports to reflect specific themes, or to save space (in a time when paper was scarce and expensive).

    In addition, ancient writers had a looser view of what constituted “error” that is more like what we preserve in our popular wiritngs.

    Also, ancient people transmitted information orally (95% of the population was illiterate) and this caused natural variations in presentation for the purpose of making thing easier to remember.

    The alleged “problems” in the Gospels are no different than “problems” that can be found in the works of modern, professional historians whom no one distrusts.

    The classic apologist Simon Greenleaf composed a harmony of the Gospels, and applied principles of legal witness and testimony to show that these issues do not detract from the reliability of the Gospels. If you want, you can check out what he has to say at:

    http://www.tektonics.org/harmonize/greenharmony.htm

  • 2. beepbeepitsme  |  May 26, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    If your pressuposition is that the word of a god is automatically without flaw, contradiction or fault – then the religious text or book is automatically without flaw, contradiction or fault.

    It takes this religious faith to believe that the bible is one of those books. Suffice it to say, I don’t have that kind of unwavering faith.

    The only way I can assess the value, authenticity, “truth” of any book is to read its claims and then decide if the claims hold up to scrutiny or to critical analysis. I would suggest that the majority of us do this with any book we read. However, in the case of religious books, one is supposedly required from the beginning, prior to reading it, to have faith that all within it is perfectly true and without fault or contradiction.

    That is – one is required to have faith that it is all true and perfect from the outset. This flies in the face of how we assess the contents of any other book or any other written work.

  • 3. The Simple Light Cafe  |  May 27, 2007 at 2:31 am

    Jesus told he scribes that the Bible wasn’t the point, but the pointer. How we ever got to calling the Bible the “Word of God,” is a mystery, because even Paul refers to the Jewish Bible as simply the “scriptures,” “the writings.”
    The Bible is an account of human experiences with God. But as water tastes like the garden hose it runs through, so does the Bible relay a message of love, though with all of the flavor of humanity, including biases, inconsitencies, and the like; none of which cause water to cease being water.
    The follow up question is, “Do we have to drink from the hose?” No. “Oh, Lord! How can we know God apart from the Bible?! Blasphemy! It is His Word!”
    When the scriptures say that the word of the Lord came to a person, was is NIV, KJV, leatherbound, paperback, e-book, or was it a scroll? No, the word of God was God’s communication to and through that person, not a book. C’mon, when are we going to grow up?!
    And for those people who try to empirically demonstrate the existence of God, give it up! Jesus said that no man knows the Father except he, Jesus, show him.
    Faith is not a mental exercise, but a spiritual gift and made effectual according to our Father’s desire, not by our much convincing. If you want to evangelize, love you enemy, do good to those who despitefully use you, overcome evil with good. Stop protesting sin and start demonstrating kindness to those who seemingly are the least qualified to receive it. That will do more to demonstrate God than debunking Darwin.
    Keep It Simple.

  • 4. HeIsSailing  |  May 27, 2007 at 9:03 am

    Justin sez:
    “Ancient writers often used certain literary and narrative devices to artificially adjust their reports to reflect specific themes, or to save space (in a time when paper was scarce and expensive). ”

    So you are telling me that God Almighty was stymied into placing contradictions into his Gospels because mankind had not yet figured out a way to mass-produce paper?

    wow. OK, that is a new one.

    Justin continues:
    “In addition, ancient writers had a looser view of what constituted “error” that is more like what we preserve in our popular wiritngs. ”

    Justin, what is your view with the passages in Matthew and Acts that I cite in this article? You seem to awknowledge there is a contradiction, and that the ancient writers had no problem placing “errors” into their writings (although, I gotta tell you I have never heard this claim either – they certainly had an oral tradition, and a different way of interpreting scriptures than we do, but no problem placing errors??) If this is true, then it seems like the whole Bible is up for grabs, and I will ask you the question I placed in this article:

    If there are errors, inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible, then what does inspiration and inerrancy even mean?

    Justin continues:
    “The classic apologist Simon Greenleaf composed a harmony of the Gospels, and applied principles of legal witness and testimony to show that these issues do not detract from the reliability of the Gospels. ”

    A 17,829 word article to harmonize the 4 resurrection accounts? Wow. 17,829 words. Do you see what I mean about the massive amounts of creativity that is needed to harmonize these things? Wouldn’t it have been easier for God to just spend a few extra bucks for a couple of extra sheets of papyrus and write down clearly and without discrepencies what happened during the Resurrection, then for us moderns to spend vast amounts of brainpower, creativity and wordplay in trying to piece the puzzle together again?

    Well, I do promise to read it before next Easter. Were you online a few months ago when I Resurrected Dan Barker’s Resurrection Challenge? (sorry for the pun) Basically, I challenged readers, including myself, to harmonize the four accounts – and it raised quite a fuss over at my site. I got several harmonizations, but completely missed this one by Greenleaf. I’ll check it out though, I promise.

    ***********************************************
    beepbeepitsme sez:
    “That is – one is required to have faith that it is all true and perfect from the outset. This flies in the face of how we assess the contents of any other book or any other written work.”

    Many pastors bemoan the fact that many in their flock simply do not read the Bible. I think this may be one of the reasons. A Christian knows that if they read the Bible, they have to believe it all, and it may challenge their faith if they do. I have to admit, that was certainly the case with me. When I began to really study the Good Book I really began to doubt.

    ************************************************
    The Simple Light Cafe sez:
    “How we ever got to calling the Bible the “Word of God,” is a mystery, because even Paul refers to the Jewish Bible as simply the “scriptures,” “the writings.”

    Concur about 80% with you here. Jesus is certainly called the Word here, and I don’t think the New Testament is ever referred to as such. However, the Word of the Lord is also referred to as a direct revelation from God. When we get to the Prophetic books of the old testament, we often see the phrase, for instance, “Then came the word of the LORD to Isaiah, saying, … ” followed by a direct quote from the LORD! In this case, I think it is safe to say that what is printed on the page is indeed the Word of the LORD.

    But in general, yes I do agree with you. The Bible as a whole never claims inerrancy for itself, although most Christian theologians through the centuries have certainly imposed inerrency onto it.

    SLC continues:
    “The Bible is an account of human experiences with God. But as water tastes like the garden hose it runs through, so does the Bible relay a message of love, though with all of the flavor of humanity, including biases, inconsitencies, and the like; none of which cause water to cease being water.”

    You know, since coming onto the Internet a few months ago, I have met more and more Christians that admit that the Bible is not wholly inspired, does indeed contain errors, etc.. Boy, that certainly would have been heresy in my old churches. But I guess that is admirable that I many Christians are facing up that there are many problems with the text, and with taking the mythology of the Bible as literal fact, and are admitting that it is indeed a product of human invention…. wait, or is it?

    I mean, how do we determine what is human and what is of Divine origin in Scripture? Do we take the Raymond Brown approach and say that any of it can be fallible and of human design, except that which contradicts with the Creed of our particular Church? Brown, who I respect highly as a Catholic scholar, uses that approach, and it mystifies me. At what point is scripture inspired of God? Only in those places where it is required to keep the Creed intact. I mean, how are we to see Jesus if not through the Bible? And if the Bible contains errors, how are we to determine who or what Jesus is? We determine it by our Church Creed, and when the Bible lines up with that creed, that is where it is inspired? And the other stuff is a product of human infallability? So in other words, you are not revering the Bible, you are revering a Church Creed of your choice, and interpreting the Bible to fit into that Creed.

    Well, you are doing that if you are an inerrentist or not, so choose your poison I guess.

  • 5. Justin  |  May 27, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Hi HIS,
    divine inspiration from a fundamentalist mindset would require literal meanings which create apparent harmful contradictions.

    The bible read literally is not necessarily doing justice to the religion. In essence, it doesn’t allow for truth found in illusion, truth in humor, truth in paradox (like poetry), and the like.

  • 6. agnosticatheist  |  May 27, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    *HIS,
    A bit off the topic but I’ve always felt sorry that poor Judas got such a bad rap. He’s the only one who fell in line with the plan of God by assisting in the whole process of the atonement, and he gets framed as the bad guy. If you ask me, those who didn’t listen to what Jesus was saying his entire ministry and tried to stop the crucifixion should be the ones hanging themselves or falling or however else they would die as a judgment for trying to stop the plan of God. After all, this single event is the central moment in history for creation and Judas was the only disciple who got it.
    aA

  • 7. salahudin  |  May 27, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    the following is unrelated to this post, but you guys may want to check this out:

    http://iqbaldinho.wordpress.com/2007/05/28/response-to-salahudin-on-why-doesnt-god-show-himself/

  • 8. HeIsSailing  |  May 27, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Aa sez:
    “A bit off the topic but I’ve always felt sorry that poor Judas got such a bad rap. He’s the only one who fell in line with the plan of God by assisting in the whole process of the atonement, and he gets framed as the bad guy.”
    You know, I have sometimes wondered the same thing. Matter of fact, if you are a strict Calvinist, Judas was pre-ordained to betray Jesus, and as a result he forever is condemned. What a bummer, eh?
    On another sidenote, you ever stop and wonder why Jesus needed to be betrayed at all? It is not like the chief priests and elders did not know who Jesus was – the Pharasees seemed to be hounding him around every corner during his entire ministry. And after the incident at the Temple just a few days before, causing a ruckus the way he did, it just seems like them would have known very well who he was. Yet, according to Matt 26:48,
    “Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.”
    I guess the elders were just too dense after 3 years of Jesus earthly ministry to recognize him when nearly everyone else in Judea and Galilee could. Hmmm .. .. just seems fishy to me.

  • 9. HeIsSailing  |  May 28, 2007 at 1:41 am

    salahudin sez:
    “the following is unrelated to this post, but you guys may want to check this out”
    salahudin, I did check it out, then went and perused your website. I would really like to read some of your comments here – I think most of us here come from a Christian background. Speaking as an ex-Christian, I bet we would all welcome the persective of an apostate Muslim.

  • 10. pastorofdisaster  |  May 28, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    One thing that I have always thought was more interesting than the harmonizing that evangelicals do to the supposed historical data in the gospels, is that they also have an assumption that there is a unity of message. I think that the truth is that there are a multitude of differing (sometimes contradictory) teachings in the New Testament.

    I am not in a tradition that requires an innerant view of the scripture. Nor would I go back to a sect that held that particular absurd belief. These were questions that turned me away from the fundamentalism of my youth, thank God.

  • 11. salahudin  |  May 29, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    HelsSailing: Sure! In fact, I’d even be glad to contribute to this blog if they’ll have me!

    As for my perspective on christianity: i believe christianity was predominantly “broken” in the renaissance. the protestant movement went a long way towards breaking the idea of “blind obedience to dogma”, though not to the extent of relieving christianity from its absurdities (which would mean giving up the entire religion! lol)

    i can compare islam with christianity and i can say that islam is going through similar phases as christianity went through in its dark times.

    people like Irshad Manji (www.irshad-manji.com) are the closest thing Muslims have to a protestant movement.

    and then of course my own blog is full of apostates of islam, who are mostly agnostic atheists… we’re a different breed altogether, from “protestant muslims”, obviously.

    what else can i say except that muslims are more dogmatic and even more blind than christians – by and large – though i’m sure you’ll find both to have equally dogmatic people amongst them.

    the reason is that while secularism, reason and rationality, through the advent of the scientific method and other secular political movements have become the medium of discourse in the christian world, it is sadly the opposite in the Muslim world.

    Muslims today live in societies that consider it a sacrilege to publicly question scripture, challenge clerics or deny even a period in the quran. furthermore they have propped up spin masters like zakir naik who “debate the proof of the divinity of islam” with christian counter parts who are just not equipped to move an audience through rational discourse (since they themselves aren’t very RATIONAL! LOL!)

    this stuff is projected all across the muslim world on their tv, thereby satisfying any overt doubts some “moderate” muslims may have about the perfection of their religion.

    i could go on and on, but i actually have to run right now… i guess it would help if you had a specific question in mind! :)

  • 12. Karen  |  May 29, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    Salahudin, I really want to say I appreciate your perspective, too. I’m so glad to connect with an ex-Muslim – I was starting to wonder if there were any agnostics or atheists out there from the tradition of Islam.

    Two questions:
    Do you have any sense for how many former Muslims are now atheists or at least questioning their religion?

    What do you think of Aayan Hirsi Ali? She’s going to be at an atheist convention in Washington this fall and I’m seriously considering going to see her because I am so in awe of her courage.

  • 13. salahudin  |  May 29, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    9/11 put a lot of educated Muslims in an existential dilemma. Especially the ones living abroad in western countries who could not help but empathize with their neighbors, fellow citizens and human beings.

    After a bit of soul searching, there seems to be an emerging set of people who are openly questioning and debating islam these days. I can personally tell you that pre-9/11 we could not even concieve of a muslim leaving Islam! the indoctrination was so profound, complex and just generally “well done”, that we would personally chastise ourselves for even remotely doubting Islam. Note, i say “islam” instead of “doubting our RELIGION”, because islam is in most ways, a civilization, a culture… a literal way of life. not merely a belief. (which makes apostatizing an insanely difficult process because of severe social ostracization!)

    That said, these days there are many muslims out there who are questioning their beliefs. Many have opted to become agnostic theists, having a personal relationship with “god” and yet calling themselves muslims because they just won’t fit anywhere else… i mean, it’s literally their way of life.

    an equally large amount of people are leaving islam… these types are divided into two distinct categories:

    1- angry apostates: these would be people who feel they have been done harm by their religion. so they bear a huge grudge against islam… example would be ali sina on faithfreedom.org.
    2- people like myself, who disagree with Islam not because islam has persecuted them or caused them grievances, but because they simply oppose it on purely philosophical/intellectual grounds. (my blog is full of only the latter kind. feel free to check out our profiles here:
    http://towelianism.wordpress.com/profiles/ . We call ourselves the “Towelians”, which is just a name we slapped on to ourselves on a whim. it of course doesn’t define everyone else in the second category! heh. but there are about 55 of us, some of us are listed on the blog.)

    the first category has had many such people. One famous apostate is salman rushdie. heh. And they’ve been around for the longest time…

    the second category is the lastest to emerge, becoming prominent after 9/11.

    Now i don’t have numbers, surveys or polls to show you. I can tell you from personal experience that a lot is changing in the islamic world with all kinds of people trying to capture and control what it means to be “muslim”… and many disagreeing with it altogether.

    From the point of view of the LACK of apostacy movements pre-9/11, there has been a positive surge. but there are nowhere near as many ex-muslims as there are ex-christians, nor is the process moving at a “rapid” pace… but it’s definitely a huge change…

    as for ayaan hirsi: i’ll be honest: i have not read much about her. i heard about her from irshad manji (a canadian journalist who became famous for writing a controversial book on islam called “the trouble with islam today”. she’s a lesbian and insists on calling herself a muslim, which makes it extremely controversial in the islamic world.). From what i’ve gathered about ayaan is that islam/muslims have truly harmed her in her life… in fact just thinking about it makes me shudder.

    she may be objective in her critiques against islam, but by and large i think an emotional reason may be her PRIMARY motivation.

    Which may not be a bad thing necessarily, but from what i’ve seen of the other kind of apostates (those holding a grudge), they tend to be more angry than objective. Some make good points but in a totally hateful manner… which ironically pushes questioning muslims away from taking a step further towards apostacy because they are repulsed by the vitroil being spewed forth… (and it makes our life more difficult because we, the other kind of apostates, are linked up with these people! lol…)

    I believe ayaan has some good points to make and i personally would love to meet her. although i’m not so sure if she can present an objective view of islam… and that is sort of discomforting to me, on an intellectual level.

    in any case, if you want to find more apostates of islam, i suggest you make an orkut.com account and check out a few islamic debating communities there. you’ll run into the whole gamut of muslims there, ranging from near-apostates to strongly rooted muslims… and of course, the towelians! :) )

    and while you’re about it, feel free to check our manifesto and introduction out as well:

    http://towelianism.wordpress.com/introduction/

    http://towelianism.wordpress.com/manifesto/
    :)

    hope that answers your question!

  • [...] 30th, 2007  Reader salahudin has replied to my Harmonization by Omission article with some fascinating insights.  Apparantly, there is a small but growing movement among [...]

  • 15. Karen  |  May 30, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Yes, thank you so much, salahudin! Really, really interesting and I’m so glad you guys are out there!

    I can so relate to what you said here:

    I can personally tell you that pre-9/11 we could not even concieve of a muslim leaving Islam! the indoctrination was so profound, complex and just generally “well done”, that we would personally chastise ourselves for even remotely doubting Islam. Note, i say “islam” instead of “doubting our RELIGION”, because islam is in most ways, a civilization, a culture… a literal way of life. not merely a belief.

    I could really replace your words “muslim” and “islam” above with “fundamentalist, born-again Christian” and describe the culture I came from. One thing that fundy Christians will hasten to tell you is that they don’t have a “religion” they have a “relationship with Jesus” that permeates their entire lives.

    So, I can really relate to what you’re talking about when you say that until recently no one could even conceive of someone leaving Islam. As a fundy Christian I could not even imagine someone leaving Christianity either – unthinkable! This is why ex-Christians make certain Christians today very, very uncomfortable – to the point where they have to deny that we ever were “true” Christians in the first place. (Something we’ve experienced here on this blog.)

    which makes apostatizing an insanely difficult process because of severe social ostracization!

    Yes, I’m sure it does. What has become of your relationship with your family and friends who are still believers? Do you find yourself estranged from them; are you open about your apostasy? Just curious.

  • 16. salahudin  |  May 31, 2007 at 11:55 am

    “As a fundy Christian I could not even imagine someone leaving Christianity either – unthinkable! ”

    Yeah, until recently I didn’t think Christians were like that. My impression of them before I moved into the US was that they tended to be less religious than Muslims, but some of them are literally on an equal footing. And that’s very discomforting! :P

    “This is why ex-Christians make certain Christians today very, very uncomfortable – to the point where they have to deny that we ever were “true” Christians in the first”

    Ahhhhh yes! We have also been getting that a LOT. Hell, we’ve been declared to be “enemies of Islam” by certain “moderate Muslims” out there. They even insist that we believe Ruport Murdoch is our “new god”, just because we criticize Islam! And we couldn’t be less conservative than we are…!!! lol…

    “Yes, I’m sure it does. What has become of your relationship with your family and friends who are still believers? Do you find yourself estranged from them; are you open about your apostasy? Just curious.”

    Well, we’re all planning to write out stories about why we left Islam. In fact a Southern Baptist Pastor who’s doing his masters in “Muslim Studies” was virtually cartwheeling when he discovered our existence and wanted us to write him our stories. We haven’t done that yet… we’re kind of suspicious of him because we don’t want to inadvertently help one religious group harass another religious group based on OUR experience, if you know what I mean.

    But we are going to write our stories and in mine, I will include my background relationships and almost all the social areas of my life that were affected by apostatizing. You’ll have to wait for it though… :P

    ___

    You know, something I’ve realized is that reading why and how Christians left their religion is readily acceptable to Muslims… but since the two religions run an almost parallel course, eventually such Muslims realize the similarities – which help them to doubt their OWN beliefs as well.

    I’m sure it could work vice versa… We could benefit each other this way.

  • 17. Karen  |  May 31, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Yeah, until recently I didn’t think Christians were like that. My impression of them before I moved into the US was that they tended to be less religious than Muslims, but some of them are literally on an equal footing. And that’s very discomforting! :PM

    Yes, it really is. And actually, while the mainstream culture of the U.S. tends to be fairly secular, the really religious Christians are getting MORE conservative and separatist and gaining more political power and influence than they had even 20-30 years ago.

    If you look at the homeschooling movement, the “purity” and abstinence movements that emphasize modesty and virginity (mostly for women, of course), the theocracy movement and the creationism crowd – it’s really rather scary. There’s considerable debate on how many people are involved, how much influence they truly have, and whether they are starting to lose support in the last few years, but still it’s something to be wary of, from my perspective.

    Ahhhhh yes! We have also been getting that a LOT. Hell, we’ve been declared to be “enemies of Islam” by certain “moderate Muslims” out there.

    Heh, heh. Fun, isn’t it? ;-) I’ve learned to become rather sanguine about it, but at first it was really hurtful and made me very angry to be treated so disrespectfully.

    Well, we’re all planning to write out stories about why we left Islam.

    Cool! I’ll be watching for that – sounds fascinating. I wonder if we’ll have many of the same reasons in common, or if the motivations will be very different? I’ll stay tuned. :-)

    In fact a Southern Baptist Pastor who’s doing his masters in “Muslim Studies” was virtually cartwheeling when he discovered our existence and wanted us to write him our stories. We haven’t done that yet… we’re kind of suspicious of him because we don’t want to inadvertently help one religious group harass another religious group based on OUR experience, if you know what I mean.

    Yes, exactly. I’d echo HIS in saying that you should be very cautious of this pastor. I don’t know him, so he may just be motivated by compassion and respectful dialogue, but Southern Baptists tend to be evangelicals and fundamentalists. And their highest calling is proselytizing and conversion – and they can be very agressive and frankly even deceptive – as a means to an end to “bring more people to Christ.”

    And believe me, getting an ex-Muslim into the Christian fold would be QUITE an exciting “catch” for them!

    You know, something I’ve realized is that reading why and how Christians left their religion is readily acceptable to Muslims… but since the two religions run an almost parallel course, eventually such Muslims realize the similarities – which help them to doubt their OWN beliefs as well.

    I’m sure it could work vice versa… We could benefit each other this way.

    Agreed. I imagine there’s an intellectual process on both sides that perhaps starts with an emotional realization. At least that’s what seems to be the pattern in Christian deconversion stories that I’ve read. I think your stories will be very interesting for readers from all religious and non-religious backgrounds.

  • 18. In the Name of Towelie! Atheism - a unifying force! «  |  June 2, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    [...] we recently got “properly” in touch with them and have had some interesting discussions here. And guess what? They were enthused to learn of our existence (and vice [...]

  • 19. Is He Live or is He Memorex? « de-conversion  |  March 23, 2008 at 9:43 am

    [...] only way I have seen these two passages reconciled is with the tried and true Harmonization by Omission tactic. I have heard the theory that Jesus could have risen as spirit, ascended to heaven while [...]

  • 20. Errancy  |  January 9, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I wonder how far you can take this. If we had a third account that said that Peter stabbed Judas, could we come up with a harmonisation? What about if we had a fourth that said that Mary poisoned Judas’s communion wafer? I can’t see any contradiction emerging yet…

  • 21. Joshua  |  November 5, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Any explanation – no matter how improbable – which could potentially be the resolution to two or more apparently contradictory passages can be considered closest to the truth. Furthermore, it is accurate to teach that explanation – even if other unexplored or unimagined explanations may exist – as the actual truth, since the underlying and more important theological principle of divine honesty is being preserved.

    Thank you.

  • 22. HeIsSailing  |  November 5, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Joshua, if you want further proof that Christians will do *anything* to preserve their inerrancy, read comment #1. I wrote this article 2 1/2 years ago, and I still remember this classic:

    Ancient writers often used certain literary and narrative devices to artificially adjust their reports to reflect specific themes, or to save space (in a time when paper was scarce and expensive).

    wow. unbelievable…

  • 23. Anonymous  |  May 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    encuentro que saber eso es bueno

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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