There was no baby in the bathwater!

September 9, 2007 at 9:50 am 24 comments

Rubber DuckI hate clichés, especially – “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!”. When I began to publically explore my de-conversion journey, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I heard that one. With each step, I would stop to determine if maybe I had gone too far and thrown out the baby. However, I would quickly realize that the next step would be a piece of cake, so I took it. There were times I took steps backwards only to determine that I’d been there, done that, and quickly turn around.

Early in my journey, it was extremely frustrating because I kept shooting for the moon when I tried to develop a set of consistent beliefs in order to save my faith. Since I began to clearly see the contradictions and inconsistencies of the Bible (I know guys I’m beating a dead horse here), I focused on what I determined were Christian actions which would speak louder than words. I kept my fingers crossed and, with hope against hope, believed I could discover the ever illusive light at the end of the tunnel. However, at the end of the day, I failed miserably.

There were those who thought I was trying to think outside of the box just because I had too much time on my hands to twiddle my thumbs since I had ceased attending church and participating in all the activities surrounding that commitment. When in fact, I was quite busy truly experiencing life and lived in a constant state of being under the wire.

It was also no skin off my nose to be critical about some of the hypocrisy and abusive tendencies I saw in the church. As a result, some of my friends were all bent out of shape and could not understand why I insisted on airing dirty laundry and rocking the boat. In their opinion I should call it a day, take a chill, be a team player and just be content with some aspect of my Christian beliefs. In essence, they wanted me to keep the damn baby. However, the reality was, I no longer saw eye to eye with many of those friends. Spiritually, I took certain leaps that when push came to shove, strained some of those relationships. With my family, however, I did try my best not to make mountains out of molehills and to simply carry on like everything was just peachy (well, more or less).

Now that the dust has settled, I look back and realize the baby was only an illusion. All that was really there was dirty water than truly needed to be thrown out. Now I’m back to the drawing board and am as happy as a clam. I do still, however, hate clichés!

- The de-Convert

Entry filed under: The de-Convert. Tags: , , , , , .

And so it goes on … Myths and the Creation of Meaning

24 Comments Add your own

  • 1. girlwithnoname  |  September 9, 2007 at 10:29 am

    How funny!! This came at such a great time!

    You mean like this:

    “Some of us are NOT taking sides, just trying to understand it all. We don’t want “the wool pulled over our eyes,” but we are also not ready to “throw out the baby with the bath water”.

    The problem is…they do have the wool pulled over their eyes sitting in dirty water.
    So funny!

    Thanks for this.

    The quote came from another blog I read where a person is underfire for doing just what you said too…’rocking the boat.’

  • 2. Heather  |  September 9, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Now that the dust has settled, I look back and realize the baby was only an illusion. All that was really there was dirty water than truly needed to be thrown out.

    As I was reading the post, that’s just what I was thinking: what if there is no baby?

    Has anyone ever asked how one decides what’s the baby and what’s the bathwater, though? I’ve seen this cliche get used as well, and I think next time, someone should ask the cliche-user to say what portions are the baby and what portions are the bathwater — and see which portion is bigger.

  • 3. evanescent  |  September 9, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    I hate clichés too!:

    http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2007/07/18/my-cliche-diatribe-wed-18th-jul-07/

    I liked this post, it was clear and succinct and pleasant to read.

  • 4. The de-Convert  |  September 9, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    For me this was the baby …. that I should live my life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. At first, I thought these were “Christian” virtues… teachings of Christ… but realized those were just the good of basic human traits. I know they can be found in many different religious constructs. However, religion also adds so many contradictory elements that it’s near to impossible to actually live that way. Living with those principles without adding the religious overhead leads to a much more rewarding lifestyle (for me personally).

  • 5. HeIsSailing  |  September 9, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    You know what they say about cliches, right? Avoid them like the plague.

    *rimshot*

    Seriously though, I heard ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’ a lot too. I kept knocking more and more holes in my beliefs, and Christians would concede that I had good points, but .. just don’t throw it all out!

    But here is another angle to that. I think there is something to be said for this cliche. Recently, I took a commentor (rickl) to task about his/or/her literal belief in Noah’s Ark. rickl claimed that only divine providence could explain the description of Noah’s Ark as given in Gen 6, and defended Henry Morris’ and most creationists’ taxonomy of ‘Kind’ to explain why not many animals were needed on the Ark. I think I defended my position fairly well in debunking this stuff. rickl finally seemed to concede but fell back on this:

    Why the hangup with the whole concept of Divine guidance anyway, for Noah and his boat or whatever else?? If Jesus rose from the dead – and the evidence of history is that he did – only a God who gets involved in human affairs could have done it.

    And in a way, rickl is correct about this. Just because a literal belief in Noah’s Ark is foolish, does not make the resurrection of Jesus untrue. You don’t throw the baby out in this regard. But this makes me look at it from another angle. While de-converts are accused of ‘TOTBWTBW’, I accuse Christians of Swallowing all the bathwater when they only need the baby!

    You can be a Christian by belieing in the resurrection. I can respect that – and that is what defines a Christian according to 1Corinthians15. But why does it then follow that you must also believe that there was a global flood and God directed one guy to build a giant barge and save all the animals from descruction? Why does it follow that to be a Christian you must believe in a 6000 year old earth, parting of the red sea, the sun standing still in the Battle of BethHoron, etc. etc,… ? Why does it follow?

    I know many liberal Christians take my advice here, and do not take these myths as literal history. But when conservatives insist on making this stuff history, they make Christianity foolish and absurd, and I think it deserves more than that. When Christians spend time effort and money, not on caring for the poor and weak, but on building a dopey creation museum that does nobody any good, but turns their beliefs into a mockery, what does that turn Christianity into?

    So I am all for throwing out the bathwater, but saving the baby. I am gaining much more respect for people who re-evaluate and critique their beliefs then those who strangle it with rigid and unchanging stonewalling.

  • 6. lostgirlfound  |  September 9, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Wow! “Girlwithnoname,” I see why you first thought I may have written this post! OMG … The de-Convert, I am not where you are, but I feel like I’m walking the same road. But I don’t know if I’ll “take the plunge” and am a little hesitant to “count my chickens before they’re hatched” (sorry, guys, I couldn’t resist …).

    HIS: “I accuse Christians of Swallowing all the bathwater when they only need the baby!” That’s where I’m at right now. Again, you have a way with words.

    Thanks, The de-Convert, for the great write!

  • 7. Jon F  |  September 9, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    The de-Convert,
    You must be a prophet! I got this comment on my blog earlier today”
    “I haven’t explored much of your site yet so forgive me if this is begging the question but are you an atheist or are you just tired of the hypocrisy that so infects religious Christianity? (As I am as well.) I wouldn’t suggest throwing the baby out with the bath water.”
    Could I suggest we have a competition for the best alternative wording to this tired and worn-out old phrase? Could be fun!
    What about “Don’t throw the toilet out with the shit”
    Jon

  • 8. militant atheist  |  September 10, 2007 at 2:34 am

    When you don’t find God, theists will often claim you didn’t look hard enough, you didn’t search sincerely, or went about it the wrong way. So sure are they of themselves, that it doesn’t occur to them that maybe they are the ones in error…

  • 9. StaCeY  |  September 10, 2007 at 2:50 am

    I dunno…

    I LOVE bathwater!
    I find it very healing…

    I love watching my children play in the bathwater…
    and I love “soaking it all in” myself…

  • 10. PsiCop  |  September 10, 2007 at 9:41 am

    The metaphor of baby and bath-water is an apt one. If I might add a little to it: Lots of people say that religion has done some “good,” so rejecting it risks getting rid of this “good.” It is true that Christianity and other religions have done some good … especially in the last couple of centuries in the form of a number of religiously-motivated charities and service organizations.

    It would, indeed, be shame to have to throw all of that out, in order to get rid of the problems inherent in religion.

    The trouble is that none of the “good” things about Christianity, depend specifically on the ideas of Christianity. People can be charitable, with or without religion. Perhaps a famous example is that of Albert Schweitzer … who had been a devout Christian theologian, BEFORE he gave that up, became a physician, and devoted his life to serving the poor in Africa.

    If Schweitzer could be the humanitarian he was, after having rejected most of the tenets of Christianity, then there is no reason that anyone else cannot also do so. There is literally no “good” thing that religion can accomplish exclusively … i.e. there is no benefit that religion provides, which we cannot provide for ourselves by some other means.

    This means the admonition not to throw the baby out with the religious bath water, is irrelevant. Throwing out the bath water of religion will not inherently force us to get rid of the baby.

  • 11. The de-Convert  |  September 10, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    HIS,

    In reference to ricki’s quote in your comment above:

    Why the hangup with the whole concept of Divine guidance anyway, for Noah and his boat or whatever else?? If Jesus rose from the dead – and the evidence of history is that he did – only a God who gets involved in human affairs could have done it.

    you said:

    And in a way, rickl is correct about this. Just because a literal belief in Noah’s Ark is foolish, does not make the resurrection of Jesus untrue. You don’t throw the baby out in this regard.

    Can you expand on this. I understand your point that myths within the Bible are independent entities and not because one is a myth makes everything mythical. However, I’m curious as to your thoughts specifically on the reality of the resurrection.

    I thought about this after reading ATM’s latest piece where he mentioned the 1,000 people who supposedly saw the Lochness monster. I remember in Evidence Demands a Verdict, the proof of Jesus’ resurrection was the supposed 500 eye witnesses.

    Paul

  • 12. Mike  |  September 10, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    The de-Convert- McDowell’s point in the Evidence that Demands a Verdict was that there were 500 people in one instance that saw Jesus resurrected, not a total of 500 people that saw him independantly of one another. From the way ATM presented the material on the Loch Ness Monster, it was a total of over 1000 individual sightings, spread out over a long period of time. I may have misinterpreted, but the differences between the two make a huge difference in how we might draw a comparison.

  • 13. StaCeY  |  September 10, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    Hi there Mike…

    I’m not “taking a side” in any of this…
    but as an XromanCatholic….
    it DOES come to mind quite naturally as a question….

    what about Fatima?

    How do we explain that?

    There we a few hundred people
    gathered in one place…
    newspaper reporters…
    major
    supernatural occurances seen by all.
    Including a downpour of rain that did not leave anyone wet…
    and the sun “spinning” toward the earth.

    I assume you’re not a catholic?

    So what was with “mary” and the “3 miserable little children” who saw the fires of hell.

    Was this some kind of “illusionist” event?
    Is it proof of “catholicism”?

    I just think there is so much going on that we can’t “explain” or “proove” with assurity.

    This life TRULY is a mystery to behold.

    Stacey.

  • 14. Stu  |  September 11, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    If there were 500 people who claimed that Jesus appeared to them at once, then that would be quite significant evidence. However, we don’t have that, we have one person (Paul) who claimed that there were 500 people who saw Jesus. Quite a significant difference.

  • 15. Thinking Ape  |  September 11, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    We don’t have 500 testimonies of sightings of Jesus. The best information we have concerning Jesus are in four spiritual biographies, the earliest written forty years after the death of Jesus. None of these biographies suggest the Jesus appeared to mass amounts of people (notably the earliest, Mark, which presents an obvious hastiness between the resurrection and ascension).

    Instead, we have that quote from Paul in one of his letters to the Corinthians, written between 20 and 30 years after the fact, to a thoroughly Greek city that knew nothing about Jesus other than what Paul told them. Josh McDowell says, “Paul reminded them that the majority of those people were still alive and could be questioned” and continues, “Paul says in effect, ‘If you do not believe me, you can ask them.'” Yet Josh McDowell forgets that these people don’t have telephones, planes, or the internet. How realistic do you think it would be for a citizen of Corinth to do a validity check on Paul’s statement? Next to nil.

    I repeat, we do not have 500 testimonies. We have five (or four, depending on your position of Mark’s “lost” ending) testimonies with easily explainable similarities and differences. The comparison to Loch Ness is faulty because, although unlikely, we have much more evidence to suppose that Loch Ness exists – more documentation, more “sightings.”

  • 16. mewho  |  September 12, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Cliches makes me hot under the collar, too, but there really is no time like the present to use cliches, which kill two birds with one stone, really. (Those birds being in the bush, not the hand.)

  • 17. mewho  |  September 12, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    We are witnessing a profound shift in Christianity, which is a dominant religion on planet earth for two reasons: it’s appeal to the common man and it’s ability to evolve in spite of it’s authoritative text, which is muddled enough to allow opposite thinking when it behooves the believer.

    I would suggest that Christianity’s appeal to the common man lies in the fact that one needs no more than belief to attain Heaven. In contrast, religions requiring human sacrifice have not survived! (At least it has not survived in institutional form. I’m sure it does occur, however.) The ancient Egyptians also practiced a belief system which is not practiced today. It required extensive preparations to secure the individual’s happiness in the after-life. They mummified their pets and some even had their servants entombed with them. The pharoahs stockpiled many earthly treasures in their burial chambers, being convinced they would be without them otherwise. This type of religion makes the after-life too darn unattainable for the common man. The fact that Heaven retained a human heirarchy also must have been revolting to the masses who were peasants, slaves or servants. Hence, Ra went the way of the dodo.

    HelsSailing makes a great comment about Christianity’s ability to adapt. He notes “You can be a Christian by believing in the resurrection …but why does it then follow that you must also believe that there was a global flood and God directed one guy to build a giant barge and save all the animals from destruction? Why does it follow that to be a Christian you must believe in a 6000 year old earth, parting of the red sea, the sun standing still in the Battle of BethHoron, etc. etc,… ? Why does it follow? I know many liberal Christians take my advice here, and do not take these myths as literal history.”

    I think this point is centerpiece in the discussion of how Christianity is shifting. How far it can shift is unknowable, but I belive a future mass exodus will occur that leaves the Christian Church little more than a community center (which in some towns is bigger than any of the churches!).
    There is a slippery slope that a liberal Christian walks when the literalness of scripture becomes myths-with-a-moral. When the Bible’s stories can no longer stand as true history, then the apparent deception of Scripture itself will be it’s undoing. The Bible really never allows you to think that these stories are anything but the real recording of God intervening in human affairs. The story of Noah’s Ark is not like The Good Samaritan which was told by Jesus in a teachable moment. It wasn’t told as a history lesson, but as a moral one. The story of Noah’s Ark doesn’t allow for it to be taken as fiction. It is written to convey real history. Most Christians would agree that once you begin suggesting that Adam and Eve are characters in a mythological tale, you have opened the door for everything recorded in the Bible to be studied as such, including the Resurrection.

  • 18. Mike  |  September 12, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Thinking Ape and Stu, you make some very good points and I think that Thinking Ape has well articulated the argument on both sides, however I do think you are underestimating the transmission of information in the Roman empire. In 2 Peter, Peter writes concerning Paul’s letters. They were well aware not only that each was writing to different areas, but Peter was even aware that the content of Paul’s letters were sometimes difficult to understand. Despite the geographical distance, information passed rapidly.

    Dont forget that persecution drove the Christian witnesses centered in Jerusalem (supposedly those who had actually seen the resurrected Jesus) to all parts of the Roman empire. This was within only a few years after the ascension. So all in all, I think there is good reason to believe that the witnesses of the event were at least more accessible than you make it sound, and that the verbal news of the event spread even faster than you are prepared to admit.

    Dont forget that by the time Nero came to power, he was well aware of the Christian movement and was more than happy to round them up and kill them, blaming them for burning Rome (which he was actually responsible for) in 64 A.D.

  • 19. Thinking Ape  |  September 12, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Thank you Mike, you make some very good points. I did not mean to underestimate the transmission of information in the Roman world, but I do think some previous comments, undoubtedly with McDowell in mind, were overestimating it. Information certainly did travel fast, but I stand by my point that the people of Corinth had not heard of Jesus and it would have been nearly impossible for anyone in Corinth to find someone in Palestine who had been a firsthand witness even if it was true (I very much doubt they had a list of names of people who saw the resurrected Jesus – but what a find that would be!).

    Regardless, taking Paul at his word is always a dubious business, especially when he is in the throes of his mythmaking.

    As for persecution, what one are you speaking of? There was very little persecuation of Christians by Romans for some time – it was mainly Jewish authorities that engaged in “persecuting” the Christians, although this persecution was mainly philosophical.

    The first “persecutor” of Christians was indeed Nero, but this is an area of history that is has been heavily scrutinized by historians. The earliest mention we have of Nero targeting Christians is Tacitus, but he says very little about the extent of this torture. The first Christian to talk about Nero as a persecutor came over hundred years after the fact (Tertullian). It is reasonable to believe that the relatively small group of Christians were killed, but this persecution, like almost all of the Roman persecutions, were centered in Rome, not Palestine or Syria.

  • 20. Mike  |  September 12, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Ah, I think I see what you are saying now. If I read you right, you are saying that Paul was the first one to tell the Corinthians about Jesus, not that 1 Corinthians was his first communication with them. I agree! Now, at the very least, when he does write to them, there seems to be at least an expectation that if the Corinthians wanted to, they could find an eye witness to corroborate his story. Whether or not they did or could is another matter, at the least Paul thought it was possible to do so.

    I should have been more clear on my point about the persecution, I realize it wasnt very well put.

    The first Christians worshipped in Jerusalem at the temple alongside Jews until persecution from the Jews forced them away from Jerusalem to other parts of the empire. After that, somewhere near 30 years later was the burning of Rome and Nero’s persecution of the Christians in Rome. My point was that the transmission of the Christian faith must have been powerful and reliable enough to convince a large enough number of people to have produced a large enough following for Rome to even notice amidst the myriad of religions. That is why I think it is a different situation than the Loch Ness monster.

    Truth be told, this kinda got off of The de-Convert’s original topic, so my apologies for the diversion.

  • 21. Thinking Ape  |  September 12, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    Despite our disagreements, I think we are, more or less, on the same page on what we’re talking about now. Have you read Burton Mack’s “Who Wrote the New Testament?” He is a great scholar, but definitely takes some liberties on that book but it answers, if anything from a Christian perspective (he isn’t a Christian nor does it seem like he likes them :P), why the Christian message, especially Paul’s Christianity, was so attractive to so many different sorts of people in the Greco-Roman world. The book is highly controversial for many reasons, but I recommend it for some of his insight.

  • 22. Mike  |  September 13, 2007 at 9:20 am

    I appreciate the recommendation, although I cant promise to get to it until winter break:)

  • 23. The de-Convert  |  September 13, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Mike,

    Truth be told, this kinda got off of The de-Convert’s original topic, so my apologies for the diversion.

    This is a healthy part of discussions… It’s fun to see where they go.

    Paul

  • 24. Mike  |  September 13, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    Well, if you cant beat ‘em, join ‘em. After all, a rolling stone gathers no moss for people who live in glass houses and dont throw stones:)

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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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