By the way, who are the de-cons?

October 28, 2007 at 1:03 pm 200 comments

Family Prayer By some of the discussions on this blog, I’m not sure many Christians know where many of us de-cons are coming from. So I want to take a minute just to be sure they are aware.

  • Most of us were Christians for many years.
  • Most of us were very involved and dedicated.
  • We were in the Faith a long time (I can name several of us here who were in it for 20, 30, 40 years or more).
  • We read our Bibles daily, and prayed, and were at Church whenever the doors were open.
  • We read Christian books, and went to conferences to learn and inspire our faith, and we studied apologetics and hermeneutics and eschatology, and some of us went to seminary.
  • We ran Bible studies, we went out and evangelized on the street, at school, whenever we could.
  • We tithed, we taught Sunday school, we were on committees, and we loved singing in the choir.
  • We were the 20% that did 80% of what needed to be done. And we did it all because we genuinely believed, were thrilled about the Faith and our God.

In your churches, you have some of us (like we used to be that is) and they are the folks you count on, and that you are happy to have because they are the real, solid, growing Christians.

I say all that so that you know that we know the Faith. We lived it. We gave all the answers you gave. But, as Karen said, eventually the structure fell. And then we didn’t just give up.

You should read about the fear and anguish most of us felt when we saw the Faith that defined us slipping away.

We fought it.

We asked others for help and answers, and got the same answers that didn’t work.

We read more, and found nothing more.

We prayed and even screamed and cried and pleaded in prayer.

And heard silence, and felt the emptiness.

- LeoPardus

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Does God love everybody? A Hobbit’s Tale of the Soul

200 Comments Add your own

  • 1. marymc  |  October 28, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Just stumbled upon this blog, and Wow. The last few lines of this really hit home. I fought hard against loosing my faith, I wanted to believe. But what I read, just reinforced my doubts, especially when I read or talked to christian sources.

  • 2. marie  |  October 28, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    great post!!!

    I think the world needs to learn about us. Christians make so many assumptions, assumptions I made as a Christian for the fitst 22 years of my life. Being a de-convert can be a very lonely existence–especially when all of your close friends and family are strong christians.

    If God is real, then I believe we are innocent victims of his practice of hardening hearts.

  • 3. loopyloo350  |  October 28, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    I understand what you are feeling believe it or not, I have been on both sides more than once. I was always looking for answers. I went to almost every branch of church there is in my area. From “Assembly of God”, Seventh Day Adventist”, Jehovah’s Witness”, Baptist, Church of Christ, Presbyrtarian, Methodist. Truthfully except for Catholic, and I don’t really know why I didn’t try that. I was always disappointed. I went for many years even denying there was a God. I blamed God because my middle son was mentally retarded. But always ther was a spirit inside me that was searching for answers. I would find myself picking up my Bible and discussing it with others and always came back to the phrase “wherefore three or more of you are gathered in my name is my church” I believe that we don’t need someone else to tell us how to believe or even how to act.. I believe, except for a few unfortunate individuals, we all really know what God wants. It is written in our DNA if you will, and if we follow our hearts and try to do the best we can, we are doing God’s will. We don’t have to attend some fancy church, or have someone interpret the Bible for us, we just have to “seek and ye shall find’. And as for Muslims or Hindu or any other sect out there, God is the only one who can say if they are right or wrong, just as he is the only one in the end who judges us all. If you are happy with the choices you make, then they are the right choices for you. I feel that this is what God wants from me, but I am not out to justify my faith or to change any minds. This is a benefit to me and maybe it will help someone else. To think that God wants perfection is a myth if you think about it, he didn’t chose perfection when he had the chance, he chose imperfection instead. If you garden, do you ever watch what the birds leave for you or do you pull all your weeds?

  • 4. ollie  |  October 28, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    My story is slightly different. My journey away from “faith” was an evolution of sorts.

    It started when I read the Bible and saw how full of superstition and downright immorality it was (e. g., approval of mass murder in Joshua)

    Then, in mass, I began to ask myself “do I really believe that?” In all honesty, I had started to interpret all of the miracles as being symbolic; I realized that I really didn’t believe them.

    There was no “please make me believe” anguish; I began to see religion as a relic of our superstitious past.

  • 5. kermittheagnostic  |  October 28, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    I grew up in a Christian home with a very liberal preacher father and amazing mother. I was lucky in that they understood my questioning and eventual total rejection of religion. It is nice to hear stories from others.

    People ask me why I get so worked up about all this and I say because I see how limiting religion can be. I rejoice and am excited by the the statement “I don’t know!” Why make up stories about what we don’t know? Why not just leave it at that and continue to research this amazing journey we find ourselves in? To me it is much more exciting and wonderful to be ready and waiting the truths of our existence that science is discovering daily. Rejoice in the reality of accepting the fact that we do not know all the answers and anticipate with a child’s excitement the unfolding of this amazing existence.

    Life for a me is not the life a dreadful lost soul but rather that of an awakened and honest, open human who does good in the world because THEY believe it is the right thing NOT because of fear. The world is a wonderful place and we are only just beginning to realize what possibilities there are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Be honest with yourself. Be OK with saying, “I don’t know.”

  • 6. swallowfeather  |  October 28, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    I was almost a de-con. I shouldn’t say too much here b/c I don’t want to offend or start controversy and I know how it feels, and I know all the jerks that try to brow-beat you “back into the fold.” I could say I’m a Christian in spite of what Christians are like, except… they’re not the only kind I met.

    Guess I just want to say there’s also us out there. I went all the way. A lot of religion and a lot of churches and the way organized Christianity is run is just plain toxic, and I saw that. I saw they were telling me doubt was a sin because they were afraid of it, because pseudo-moral peer pressure was the only way they knew to keep me “inside”. I refused to use the intellectual dodges they use. I refused to force myself through guilt to keep believing. I just tried to keep the question open till I knew the answer even though that hurt like hell. (A little different from being agnostic… I know how good “I don’t know” can be and honestly I don’t know a whole lot of stuff.) And if I was to tell you why I believe it would take too long and probably not make sense to you, OK maybe I’m just worried about pushing stuff on you that you don’t wanna hear.

    Just saying I’m out there too I guess and I don’t know 100% of how you feel but I’ve definitely felt some of it.

  • 7. missfossey  |  October 28, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    How can you journey away from faith? Because the church failed you? Because science and ‘intelligence’ said you were wrong?

    Christianity is not a mythology or a fanciful way to parade through life. It is based on evidence. Jesus showed his wounds to the disciples, Thomas put his hand into the Lord’s wounds.

    Even faith that is had for years and years can still be weak. The Bible says that there will come a day when men will turn away from the truth. You are walking in a prophesy it seems.

    I am curious… was it the church that failed you? Was it your leaders? I hope with everything that the actions of men and the repercussions of them were enough to pull you away from the living god. Do you feel God failed you? “All things will be worked together for good…” “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

    Perhaps your faith became too much? The pain or discomfort of submitting to the Lord is not the result of the ways and effect of God in our lives, it is the falling away of the chaff, the unnecessary in our lives; if you have given up and fallen distant from God, you will find yourself only filling that place once filled by Him with material things that will someday have no meaning.

    Jesus was himself was beaten, persecuted, and crucified, all the while before aware of the fate to become him. He never wavered.

    You read and asked questions? You asked and read in the wrong places. You cried out to God, but with doubt. Deep calls unto deep, but you had already swam to the shallow end expecting God to draw you out.

    Remember that the door back in is always open.

  • 8. swallowfeather  |  October 28, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    Oh and I would like to share the totally irrelevant fact that I detest Bush.

  • 9. Sage  |  October 28, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    Well said, Miss Fossey. Faith is a choice but it doesn’t have to be uninformed one. Faith is blind but its basis is in what can be seen, both with the eyes and the heart. Will you read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (of course), just one more time, for old time’s sake? And how about the gospel of John, while you’re at it? Forgetting all the hypocrisy in the church, in humanity itself, will you at least give your first love one last chance by going back to basics? Or…you could do it from a skeptic’s vantage point and try to deconstruct it for us still deluded believers ;)

  • 10. karen  |  October 28, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    When I first saw this thread title, I misread it as, “Who are the neo-cons” and thought it was political! :-)

    Thanks for doing this, Leo. I think/hope it helps to explain where many of us are coming from. Perhaps this will help commentors who drop by see what we are/were.

    Ollie – were you deconverted from a fundamentalist or a moderate or liberal religious background? Just curious.

  • 11. mangimosbi  |  October 28, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    I have been a backslider for 4 – 5 years now but I cannot begin to imagine life without God. Just knowing He is there helps to explain circumstances in my life and it helps me to rationalise my own extistence.

    You are all very brave.

    For those with a scientific bent

    http://www.reasons.org/

  • 12. ESVA  |  October 29, 2007 at 12:03 am

    No matter how clearly a de-convert tries to explain his or her reason for rejecting Christian faith, there are some Christians who just don’t seem to get it. We’ve already seen a couple of them on this thread.

    Many people de-convert because Christian doctrine does not make sense to them anymore. Some may leave because of hypocrisy or other hurts, but most de-conversons are based primarily on rational examination of the content of their faith. We’ve been around long enough to know that we can’t judge the entire church on the basis of the hurtful actions of a few. I think we could all affirm that most of the Christians we know are admirable people. Please don’t insult us by suggesting we’re little more than petulant children who are upset because a church leader didn’t give us our way.

    Also, please don’t quote the bible at us, as if we’ve never read it. Believe it or not, we’re familiar with the gospel of John, and we know all about Jesus showing his scars to Thomas. We also know that John probably didn’t write the books credited to him and that the story of Doubting Thomas probably didn’t happen. Believe it or not, most of what Christians assert to be historical faith is nothing of the sort. You see, most of us have read, in addition to the bible, church history, writings of church fathers, commentaries, etc., etc., etc.

    By the way, as much as I like this post, I think the site’s banner makes it pretty clear who we are. As usual, many of the Christians who stumble in here appear to be seeing only what they want to see, not what is actually there.

  • 13. Yueheng  |  October 29, 2007 at 12:12 am

    missfossey wrote:

    You read and asked questions? You asked and read in the wrong places.

    This is such an incredibly un-compassionate and dismissive statement. It arrogantly reduces the existential journey and search for truth of so many de-cons into a simple category – “Wrong.”

    But then again, when one believes in a loving God who can order the mass-murder of children and who will eternally torture those who do not subscribe to certain doctrines,standards of right and wrong that are contrary to human logic can be expected. ..

  • 14. Suse A Doodle  |  October 29, 2007 at 12:44 am

    WordPress put this blog on the front page so that brought me here. It takes courage to admit to losing faith or finding the faith you had so hollow that you can no longer embrace it.

    I’ve not gotten that deep into my decent out of Christianity as a religion. I came close. I finally cried out “If “THEY” are right, and all this legalism I see around me is what it is to be a Christian, I’m sorry. I love You and Your Son, but I’m going off to become a Buddhist nun. I can’t live that life!”

    But I was desperate to not go do that. I didn’t want to walk away from what I knew as a four year-old — God loves me and I loved Him back, then. Through the years, though, the legalisms, the pressures to conform, the religiosity and the manipulations (like, using guilt and fear to keep me “in line” and “inside” their fold), got to be too much and they overwhelmed that belief and understanding of “God is Love.” He became a type of Zeus or Thor sitting up in the sky somewhere just waiting to zap me if I did something “wrong.”

    Maybe because I really didn’t want to walk away, I discovered that what I’d come to “know about Him” was not the same as “knowing Him.” Now, I don’t have it all figured out, but I do know that I can safely walk away from those teachings that I find hollow without needing to walk away from Him.

    I don’t want to preach. I’m just saying that I can (somewhat) understand what leads a person to “de-convert.” I almost did the same.

    Besides the legalism, there was a huge contradiction that I saw. Jesus said He came to bring Life more abundant, and to bring Joy to our lives. I never saw it or felt it. I couldn’t share the gospel because it was really handing someone a set of shackles — a long list of rules that make life miserable.

    When I threatened to become a Buddhist nun, I decided to embrace the opposite — the promise of life and joy and mercy over rules. While it gave me freedom, it was so contrary to the teachings of the CEIP where I grew up, I was afraid to share this gospel. What if I was deluded or just flat wrong? How dare I drag another into my delusion? I had come to this conclusion on my own, without the fellowship or input of other Christians; chances were I was deluded and had led myself astray. But I liked this delusion — that God and the gospel are all about love, mercy and not about me or my behavior at all. It’s all about Him and what He has done and continues to do.

    A CEIP is a Conservative, Evangelical, Independent (withdrew from its Association) Protestant Church. They would accuse me of heresy and probably start the practice of Shunning if they knew how far I have moved from their version of “the truth.” Yet, I have discovered I am not alone in my beliefs — maybe I arrived there alone but I’m not alone anymore.

    In a way I am a “de-convert” — from the organized, religious establishment definition of Christian. And I am seeking a different word to use to describe my faith. “Christian” seems to be mis-defined from both the outside AND the inside.

    The outside sees the very vocal CE(I)Ps and sees their Pharisaical attitudes and actions and rejects Christ. The inside sees the calls to righteousness as a command rather than as the proof of how impossible it is to “measure up” and thus misses the complete radical nature of God’s mercy, love and grace — the He requires nothing more than trust — and therefore, in their zeal to “measure up” they reject the free gift.

    I am a de-convert from a faith that is not a faith but a works religion. And I am a convert to “new” view — God IS Love, and He wants me to enjoy life, abundant, without the shackles of Law.

    As for the comment about rejecting the violence of the Bible — the wars and other hard things to understand: I recently heard something interesting. The speaker said he believed the Bible is true because it does not hide the flaws – like those instances. And he went on to say, he really believes that people misunderstood what they thought God was telling them to do; that it could not have been God’s command to go kill everyone in the cities — because the eternal truth is that God is Love. I’m not saying it as clearly as he did and it would take me too long to explain it. But, the idea that those who the claim God spoke to them in the OT, may have misunderstood His words, had not occurred to me before. It does not make the events described any less disturbing, but it maybe helps a little to see it as human in nature and not God’s command.

    I’m sorry, I did say I didn’t want to preach and here this “comment” ended up being far too long. It was a long way for me to go to say “I can feel your pain.” I wish I could ease it and help you but I am a mere mortal and quite limited in my abilities in that area.

  • 15. Samanthamj  |  October 29, 2007 at 1:54 am

    My de-conversion began earlier than many of those here (thanks to my atheist father and very religious mother and all that that entailed). and, yes, I AM *thankful* for this – because I believe that even if I didn’t come from my background, that I still would have eventually come to the same conclusions. I probably just would have just spent many more years trying to have faith, and had a harder time breaking away from it – as many here did.

    I still spent my first 17 years growing up very religious and active in the church. I then spent years after that struggling to come to terms with, and understand what it is that I did, and did not, believe. I’m still struggling a bit. I have chrisitian friends who think I just gave up on God too early, because of my background. They don’t seem to get that I did once truly believe, and did try to keep believing… but, just couldn’t. It’s even more difficult for them to greasp the concept that eventually, I became glad that I couldn’t… and have no desire to go back.

    I am thankful that I didn’t have to go through as much as many of you here did on your paths to deconversion. I am also thankful for this website and all the stories of the various deconverts.

    Like EVSA mentioned – I also don’t see how anyone can know some of your backgrounds (and just how active you were in your churches and just how deep you do know the bible and history around it, etc.), – and yet they still quote bible verses and make comments to the effect that you just didn’t have *enough* faith, or look in the right places, etc. ?? In a warped way, it makes me feel better that they even do it to you, though (and not just to me LOL ). I guess, you have to give them all an “A” for effort… (or is that for “annoying”?? ; )

    ~smj

  • 16. Oxysmoron  |  October 29, 2007 at 2:39 am

    Hi there!

    Who shall give good advice to you… for God does tell us to come and reason with Him; not man/woman.

    Logic does not = Faith; yet we tend to have faith in our Logic.

    Religion does not = God; yet we associate God with Religion.

    Both are like oxymorons to me.

    We as people in our zeal {for whatever it may be} seem to allow others to yoke us like oxen, and work us religiously to death. All the while saying how much they love us (to death) and how much good we are doing for the community and how we find favor in the sight of God. The term ‘christian’ is no longer defined by the word Christ. There are so many defining terms for the broad ideas of christianity; thus christian no longer mimicks Christ.

    Remember? It was the so called ‘christians’ who murdered true believers in Jesus, based upon those who followed Him and not RELIGION. What I see in our society today is a slow progression of Faith destroyers; by the use of Religion. These people disguise themselves as ‘christians’, but as you have indicated here you have found yourselves De-tatched, De-connected, De-programed, De-nounced and several other De’s. Smile.

    Could it be possible that this move of De-compartmentalization is actually a move of God on your behalf?

    Don’t get me wrong… I still believe Jesus is the One and only way, I just believe God tends to take us out from under that HEAVY YOKE and put us in another place (not another religion) in order to get our attention.

    His yoke is suppose to be easy and His burden is suppose to be light… it is people who yoke us down and weigh heavily upon us; not God.

    By the way, I stopped calling myself christian due to the confusion of what people define christianity today.

    I read your other journal on “ok, ok, maybe I never believed” and thought to myself… now who on earth has messed with the person’s mind? ” most likely well intended christians who wish to persuade you… you could have never been a christian to begin with?

    Boy, are we pressumptuous people! Did they then try to save your soul? My goodness.

    Believe it or not, I actually like reading what others have to say on this subject matter. No pretenses here are there? Appreciate the people who come here and just lay out their thoughts.

    Oddly enough, all of this sort of scares me and makes me realize I need to stay close to the Lord all the more.

    Will return for more reading.

  • 17. missfossey  |  October 29, 2007 at 10:23 am

    “But then again, when one believes in a loving God who can order the mass-murder of children and who will eternally torture those who do not subscribe to certain doctrines,standards of right and wrong that are contrary to human logic can be expected. ..”

    Forgive me if I came accross insensitive. I merely meant that there is much historical documentation that supports our faith, there are intelligent scientists who support faith based knowledge.

    God does not eternally damn anyone for differences of standards. The truth is this, who ever belives in him shall have eternal life. We all have ready it, as was said. So where then is the basis for stumbling over doctrine and standards?

    God killing children? I hardly even have words to describe how ridiculous that is. Who fights harder against abortion than the church? Who care more for sick children than the church? Rather our entire world is too busy saving trees, oil, and the freedom say or do anything anywhere. That is the genocide, that is the tragedy.

    Men have killed children, and God has only welcomed them as his father in heaven.

  • 18. the de-cons « someone once said  |  October 29, 2007 at 10:28 am

    [...] 29th, 2007 by missfossey This post about ‘de-cons’ of course frustrated me to no end. I myself left comments which received rebuttle. I encourage [...]

  • 19. Anonymous  |  October 29, 2007 at 11:20 am

    It is so funny to see how religious followers assume we are like lost little sheep and that they are the happy ones safe with the group. Actually it is quite the opposite for me. Until you seriously question all religion and understand why it is rationally absurd you will not know the true joy of existing in a wondrous world full of “I don’t knows” and taking on the responsibility to make it better because YOU, yes YOU want it to be so. If there is a God then he most assuredly wants individuals with him that use their brains and don’t just follow something because it sounds nice or it makes them happy. He wants bold, bright thinkers that truly care about those around them because they understand the value in it not because they a scared to go to Hell!

    Is it not entirely possible that God, if he exists, is using religion as a test and those that follow it have failed?

  • 20. KermitTheAgnostic  |  October 29, 2007 at 11:21 am

    It is so funny to see how religious followers assume we are like lost little sheep and that they are the happy ones safe with the group. Actually it is quite the opposite for me. Until you seriously question all religion and understand why it is rationally absurd you will not know the true joy of existing in a wondrous world full of “I don’t knows” and taking on the responsibility to make it better because YOU, yes YOU want it to be so. If there is a God then he most assuredly wants individuals with him that use their brains and don’t just follow something because it sounds nice or it makes them happy. He wants bold, bright thinkers that truly care about those around them because they understand the value in it not because they a scared to go to Hell!

    Is it not entirely possible that God, if he exists, is using religion as a test and those that follow it have failed?

  • 21. KermitTheAgnostic  |  October 29, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Oxysmoron,

    You said:

    “Logic does not = Faith; yet we tend to have faith in our Logic.”

    I would argue with this statement. We do not have faith in our logic. We use logic not because we have faith, or belief without reason, in it rather we use logic because it works. If it did not then we would not use it. If it were to stop working we would abandon it which is completely the opposite of what one does with faith. Belief in something based on faith continues regardless of the logic of it. We saw this with Copernicus and the orbit of the planets and we see it today with evolution.

  • 22. Lyndon  |  October 29, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    You might also add that many of us were Pastors too. Shocking, I’m sure, but life happens. My journey began with liberal arts college studies in Christianity. The magic seems to disappear when you see the strings behind the curtain.

    Disallusionment followed during 9 years of pastoral ministry. Frustration and burn out made dropping off the grid much easier. I tinkered. I tried. I made another effort but to no avail.

    I go with my wife and kids to a liberal mainstream church downtown a few times a month and enjoy it mostly for what it’s not. I can sit through the service without becoming ill. I find some truth and beauty in what they do and appreciate the spirit in which they do it.

    That’s the short version but my story nonetheless. You are right. The more you search for answers the further it drives you away. I’m not angry anymore, just indifferent. If it helps some to sleep at night, more power to them. Just don’t try to cram it down everyone’s throats. I believe there is truth and beauty in the universe to be discovered and cherished, but it’s harder and harder to find either in the local church.

  • 23. LeoPardus  |  October 29, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    missfossey:

    >How can you journey away from faith?Because the church failed you?Because science and ‘intelligence’ said you were wrong?Christianity is not a mythology or a fanciful way to parade through life. It is based on evidence.Jesus showed his wounds to the disciples, Thomas put his hand into the Lord’s wounds.<

    Now THAT I’d be in for.

    Thomas said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands and feel the wound in his side, I will not believe.” Jesus showed up and said, “See my hands. Place your fingers in my side.” Then Thomas kneeled and said, “My Lord and my God.”

    If Jesus will do that again, I’ll believe. I’ll go convert half of India (that’s what tradition holds that Thomas did). Or Jesus could design a custom revelation that would clearly show Leo the reality of God. But the dead silence and total non-response is deafening.

    Please, don’t come back with “you wouldn’t believe if He did do a miracle” or “you can’t test God” or “………” Arguments aren’t going to carry the day. God will have to show up Himself. Not send armies of apologists to apologize for Him not showing up.

    > was it the church that failed you? Do you feel God failed you?Perhaps your faith became too much? if you have given up and fallen distant from God, you will find yourself only filling that place once filled by Him with material things that will someday have no meaning.You read and asked questions? You asked and read in the wrong places. You cried out to God, but with doubt. <

    Glad you were there to see it all. Why didn’t you pop out of your hiding place and point me to the right places? Since you don’t doubt, could you cry out to God for me?

  • 24. LeoPardus  |  October 29, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    missfossey:

    God killing children? I hardly even have words to describe how ridiculous that is.
    Numbers 31
    2 Samuel 11,12
    The Noahic flood
    The first-born of Egypt
    many many more……..

    You were saying???

    Who fights harder against abortion than the church? Who care more for sick children than the church?

    Good for them. God could learn a thing or two.

    Don’t conflate God and the Church.

  • 25. LeoPardus  |  October 29, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Lyndon:

    I’m amazed more pastors don’t quit. Talk about working for ingrates.

  • 26. noogatiger  |  October 29, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Is Your Faith Arbitrary, or is it really based on verifiable facts?
    What is the Truth?

    Several years ago while still a Christian and out of town for a training session, I had a business associate ask me a question like this: Why do you believe what you believe?

    To tell you the truth I was stumped a little bit at the time to come up with a good explanation, other than, “I just did”, because I was taught it, I accepted it, a simple faith, and all of my family accepted it, I just had faith in it, and believed it since I was a child. Not a very convincing answer, I admit, but I never had any real reason to go any deeper.

    I simply believed. I believed that what I had been told, and taught, (since I was a small child), and what was preached to me was the absolute truth. Over the years, (I am 49 now), I never really had any reason to delve deep into any hard examination of the Bible, especially with any kind of skeptical eye. There was never any real reason for me to examine just exactly what it was that I believed, why I believed it, and if I should keep on believing it or not. As long as life went reasonably well, with only the normal hardships of work, bills, health issues, and family problems, which could be handled and kept within the scope of my worldview, then I simply stayed the course. I read scriptures, but usually as part of devotions, or guided Bible studies, or in Church or Sunday School, but I never sat down with this book to see for myself if it really was what I was taught that it was.

    I did question everything else in life however, I was not so trusting of anyone or anything, except in this one area, my faith. I was a “why” person about everything else except my religion. Sure there were times I had questions which were not answered to my satisfaction about the Bible, but I was in the middle of a whole family of believers, and in fact a whole community and a city full of believers, so I just filed it away under the “hard to understand” and went on, and forgot about it.

    However when I finally quit trying to prove to myself that the Bible was the Word of God, and started simply reading the book to see if it could be the so called Word of God, I suddenly saw a large and overwhelming list of problems in this book. There were a lot of things which I had ignored in the past. I saw that there are lots of errors, lots of contradictions, moral problems, inconsistencies, scientific problems, historical problems, failed prophecies, and things which were supposed to be prophecies that are not really prophecies. I had never seen these things before, mostly because I wanted to believe so badly that just to be honest, I had just ignored them.
    After going through five years of re-examination of everything in my faith and the scriptures and discovering that things just don’t happen in the real world like I had been led to believe, (especially prayer, or of God being in control), it was only then that I actually began to read for myself, and do studies myself about the Bible and why I should, or should not, hold on to any of the beliefs I had been taught. Suddenly most of them became indefensible.

    No other book in the world has spawned as much controversy, as many different denominations and different individual interpretations of itself, as the Bible has. (In fact every reader who reads it comes up with a different interpretation). However, people still hold to this book and believe it to be absolute truth, based on arbitrary faith, traditions, family teachings, their upbringing, the majesty of trees and mountains, blue sky, the power of tornadoes, warm fuzzy feelings in their hearts, or some authority figures who tell them what to believe.

    What proof do we have that this book is, or contains, the truth; absolutely none, there simply is no proof. In fact there is really is a lot more proof that it is not of devne origin.

    When it comes to faith, let’s suppose I tell you that something is an absolute truth, (whatever it may be), but that you will never have any way of checking it, or proving it, or verifying it, or testing it, or of even getting another reliable witnesses in testimony of it, nor will you be able to reconcile any contradictory statements I may make. If you then decide to believe it, then your faith in my truth is totally and completely arbitrary. You may even say that it makes you feel good to believe my truth, or in your heart you know that my statements are fact, but with no way to ever prove that it is indeed a fact, it will always be an arbitrary faith. So, Why spend so much time defending your faith, if in the end it comes down to an arbitrary decision to believe or not, simply based upon feelings, then just believe it and leave us alone? Biblical Apologetics is an oxymoron. People will say: “You either have faith that these are God’s words or you don’t”. They tell me that the rascally devil is just putting doubts in my head. However I say, that if you simply accept everything you are told in this world, on faith, then you will end up drinking the purple Kool-aid with Jim Jones, or someone like him, or living with the FLDS somewhere on the border of Utah and Arizona, being wife number 20 at age 14, to some 50 year old fart.

    You see, I can now accept the Bible as a work of polygamist who wrote about the God they made up, a work of genocidal men about the God they said told them to do this, or a work of slave owners about the God who they believe supported such a thing, and thus it puts into perspective the prejudices, the bigotry and the views about women in the Old Testament, and it helps to explain that these are not the morals of any true God, nor or they our morals today. I cannot, (any longer), defend all of the problems in the Bible if I am to still also accept that it is a perfect book by a perfect God about God and his dealings with humans. I can now see the convoluted theories and far fetched explanations and the great lengths people have to go to, to explain away the Bible problems, especially if they have any hope of holding on to their old preconceptions that this is a perfect word of God.

    Sure, I did have this Christian world view once upon I time, but the world just doesn’t fit into it anymore, and quite honestly neither does the Bible. I found out that my doubts about this stuff did not come from Satan, they came from an honest look at what was supposed to be the truth.

    The Bible, especially in the Old Testament, was written by men who were really for the most part not good people. They really weren’t, not even Lot or Abraham. The Old Testament writers were essentially; women hating, genocidal, slave owning, polygamists. I know it hurts to hear that, but if you look at these mens actions, they speak volumns about them. The New Testament writers didn’t have much better views about women, or slaves, so you never have to worry about why you can’t understand God’s word again, because God did not write this book. There is plenty of evidence for this, if you are willing to look objectively.

    As athiests and agnostics We still care about you and we do want you to have your best life right here and right now. You will see that those like us who can no longer logically defend the Bible, are not automatically immoral, or amoral and in fact many of us are very moral loving people. We are not seeking justification to do bad deeds, we will not steal your wives or your money, or your car, nor even kill your dogs and cats, any more than Christian people who do those very things themselves. We have found that morality comes from our parents, our extended family, our society, and mostly from within ourselves. Most people realize this, especially when they see all the bad things done by individuals who are supposed to be good moral Christian people.

    We have read the right books. We have studied the right things. We have just discovered that doubt is not the opposite of faith, but that TRUTH is.

  • 27. swallowfeather  |  October 29, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    I have to agree with some of you; this comment

    “You read and asked questions? You asked and read in the wrong places.”

    was dismissive, and the inventory of the moral mistakes you all might have made in your searching (and which would of course account for your de-conversion!) was worse. I believe it’s possible to become honestly convinced that God’s not real; but unfortunately a lot of Christians don’t believe that, and it makes it REALLY hard for believers and non-believers to talk to each other. Sigh.

    However, I do not see how this comment

    If there is a God then he most assuredly wants individuals with him that use their brains [like me] and don’t just follow something because it sounds nice or it makes them happy [like these Christians]. He wants bold, bright thinkers [like me] that truly care about those around them because they understand the value in it not because they a scared to go to Hell [like these Christians]!”

    is any better.

    Words in brackets are mine. I feel justified in putting them in, considering how heavily they were implied.

    Glad you understand my faith so well, kermittheagnostic.

  • 28. swallowfeather  |  October 29, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Oh crap. Sorry. Got the html wrong again.

  • 29. JP Manzi  |  October 29, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    “We prayed and even screamed and cried and pleaded in prayer.

    And heard silence, and felt the emptiness.”

    So powerful and so true, do you all remember what that felt like?

    I used to beat myself up over this thought of lonliness. Did I sin too much? Maybe the Calvinists are correct and I just so happen not to be a chosen one…..saddens me even to this day to look back.

  • 30. loopyloo350  |  October 29, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    It’s awfully dismissive to think because we have faith we can’t possibly understand how you feel. If that were true there would be not need for an explanation because you would be so far beyond where you think we are that we could not even communicate.It’s like a loop, “I feel therefore I am, I am therefore I feel”.Nothing destroys something faster than putting it in a box, where it is quickly forgotten. Searching leads to innovation, and innovation leads to even more searching.loopyloo350

  • 31. swallowfeather  |  October 29, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    JP Manzi–

    That’s the weird thing about all this for me. I remember what it felt like too.

    And then eventually God said something and I heard it but I honestly, honestly have no idea why it happened to me and not to you.

    I remember. I never hurt worse in my life. But I’m also deeply thankful for that time and for going through those questions, because I am infinitely more free now. I think some people on this thread might say you can only be liberated by leaving a belief in God behind, but it wasn’t so for me. There were a thousand thought-walls, a thousand things I was told to think and feel and I stayed obediently in my little box until I doubted, same as you all. I guess the difference is you all believe that faith in God and Jesus IS the box–but I don’t. Because I know how I feel, and I feel free.

  • 32. Brad  |  October 29, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    Swallowfeather,

    The amazing and ironic thing about the freedom you describe is that it is eerily used in the same way by Christians coming to the faith (myself included). Freedom is a wonderful way to explain it.

    I’m not making any kind of judgment over the quality of either direction in the journey, but the similarities are striking… hrmm… It is interesting though. Any ideas? What do you think?

  • 33. Paul S.  |  October 29, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    One of the greatest things about being a “neo-con” is the now gloriously easy-going Sunday mornings. Man, I wish I had those 20+ years of Sundays, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights back. What a waste.

  • 34. missfossey  |  October 29, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    LeoPardus:

    I do not pretend to understand the inner workings of these people’s lives. I responded only to what they wrote within the post, asking questions accordingly.

    Not all Christians are blind sheep led by the whims of pastors and leaders. Not all Christians are unintelligent or uninformed. For me, my faith is a joy, it is a blessing, it is sweet and satisfying. Someone above mentioned using Christianity to safeguard us from our fear of hell. I do not fear hell, I yearn for more of God.

    Faith ceases to be faith when we start demanding evidence for it. Then it becomes a research project. I keep my faith, regardless of the actions of men, regardless of whatever circumstance befalls me, because I trust in God.

    Rather than this string of comments being a mode of discussion, it has become tinged with snide comments. I can almost hear the snickers behind some of the words we have begun to say. I desire that all people find and keep their faith out of love, not because I have all the answers.

  • 35. mysteryofiniquity  |  October 29, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    missfossey,
    I love the naked honesty in your comment above! We all put our faith in something. Some put their faith in God. Some put their faith in their own intellect. Some put their faith in the sound of their own arguments. Some put their faith in a higher power but do not want to call it God. Some think they have everything all figured out and pass judgment on everyone else. I admire you, however, fo sticking to your joy and your faith. I wish I had that.

  • 36. HeIsSailing  |  October 29, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    It is as simple as this:

    I once believed in Jesus. So I was a Christian.
    I no longer believe in Jesus. So I am no longer a Christian.

    I now believe that actions are more important than beliefs.

  • 37. LeoPardus  |  October 30, 2007 at 10:32 am

    Faith ceases to be faith when we start demanding evidence for it.

    So all those millions who invest their time in apologetics, lack faith?

    Is is wrong to ask for evidence? Thomas did it, and was given evidence.

  • 38. Halloween Eve 2007 « blueollie  |  October 30, 2007 at 10:41 am

    [...] course, there are us unbelievers; many of us started life as being very devout. In my case, I found myself being shocked at how primitive and barbaric the Old Testament was (mass [...]

  • 39. Matt Blazer  |  October 30, 2007 at 10:56 am

    Karen, way above your comment made me laugh out loud. And, from the other post by MOI, I both appreciated and loved your comments.

    Lyndon, I am in seminary now, but have been in ministry just long enough (12 years) to feel that I begin to see how you could get to that place. I’m sorry, as one who has been wounded – though not as profoundly I think.

    missfossey/MOI: Ditto MOI, I appreciate so much the winsome, but incisive words.

    I think I’m de-converting from the faith I grew up on, and leaning towards Brian McLaren’s way of thinking, yet becoming a bit more orthodox in my approach to the Bible. I hope those three things don’t all meet in the middle and try to tear each other apart.

    I do know enough to hear such authentic questions and doubts and not refer to another book. Although, MOI – you references Susan Howatch – who I love (if she is a bit repetitive). Have you read her pre-Christian stuff? I loved “Sins of the Fathers”, but also Glittering Images and Glamorous Powers… So much great Psychology and such a parenthetical call to spiritual and emotional wholeness.

    I wonder how often what was preached and taught to us was just not given the full human weight it deserved? People need so much – rationality, time, to be listened to, healing from wounds, authenticity… And there is so much arrogance within and outside of the church. It just makes me wonder how many were swept into something without being heard first. More than being worried about it, I hope and pray that I would learn to listen better.

    Although I am not a de-con, I sense a connection with many of your posts and enjoy being part of the discussion.

  • 40. karen  |  October 30, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    One of the greatest things about being a “neo-con” is the now gloriously easy-going Sunday mornings. Man, I wish I had those 20+ years of Sundays, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights back. What a waste.

    I felt this way immediately after deconverting, and it was the source of much anger. How much time had I wasted on empty ideology over the years! How many decisions had I made based on disinformation!

    Perhaps the most lasting pleasure in life is the pleasure of not going to church. –William Inge

    Just wanted to share that great quote. :-)

    As I worked through my anger, I also came to see that I had gotten good things out of church, too. It certainly was a huge part of making me who I am today, for good or bad. I still LOVE my laid-back, comforting Sunday mornings, but now I’m not so dismissive of the years I spent in church. Though I definitely don’t miss the mad, stressful rush to get myself and the kids ready on time so we wouldn’t be late for worship service. :-)

    Although I am not a de-con, I sense a connection with many of your posts and enjoy being part of the discussion.

    That’s terrific. I like that we share some common ground with others who have had similar experiences but have not gone the path of deconverting (yet).

    nooga – great post! thanks for laying it all out on the line like that. You made a good summation of many things I can relate to also.

  • 41. missfossey  |  October 31, 2007 at 8:33 am

    LeoPardus:

    I wish you would stop stretching the context of my comments. I myself studied theology. It is the motive that I was referring to. Learning apologetics, studying doctrine so that you can learn more about your faith is commendable. Researching for the sake of finding any possible way to disprove the existence of God and therefore the need for faith is what I was referring to.

    The Lord also said to Thomas: Blessed are those who believe and did not see.

    I never posted here to have a battle of the questions. The battle between having faith versus not having faith is not going to be settled between two bloggers, nor was a battle anything near what I wanted.

  • 42. loopyloo350  |  October 31, 2007 at 9:04 am

    I wonder if your lives are so filled with structure that you have to place yourselves and everything around you in boxes. Must everything fit perfectly? In nature nothing is structured perfectly, there is always room for change, in fact, change is the norm.Are you so sure of yourselves that you can not allow for an unstructured existance. May your lives have a little light, and a little hope.

  • 43. KermitTheAgnostic  |  October 31, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    loopyloo – are you religious or not? I can not tell from your statement. I can read it coming from either a Christian or a De-con.

    That makes it a verys interesting statement though.

  • 44. Thinking Ape  |  October 31, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    Kermit, I think it could go either way.

    Loopy, I agree with you, but isn’t it just part of the human condition? I seek to make sense of things and so we must categorize them. Is language itself not a way of “boxing up” the realities we are faced with?

  • 45. Brad  |  October 31, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Hrmmm… TA… you have a good point. By categorizing, we are able to make sense of their relationships/interactions. I think that what looploo is getting at (and if not, where I would stand) is that it’s important not to let those categories define their contents instead of the contents defining categories. Or in other words, hold your labeling/categorization looser than you hold the “thing” itself.

    But I agree that we cannot help but do it. It can be very helpful.

  • 46. robd  |  October 31, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    missfossey,
    I think you misunderstand.
    Generally, ex-christian atheists have studied the bible a lot before losing their faith, few keep studying it for faults after.
    In fact, many like myself come to the conclusion that god is man-made through reading the bible.

  • 47. Lorena  |  October 31, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Missfossey wrote:
    Rather than this string of comments being a mode of discussion, it has become tinged with snide comments. I can almost hear the snickers behind some of the words we have begun to say. I desire that all people find and keep their faith out of love, not because I have all the answers.

    Lorena respond:
    The answers are actually pretty mild. I am surprised at the patience the de-converts on this blog have toward the ignorant, naive comments left by Christians. You guys are showing enormous patience.

  • 48. loopyloo350  |  November 1, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Curious? How do you define a Christian? If you define it as a belief in God and Christ, then I am Christian. If you base it on attending an organized Church, well, that is a different story. Do you think God really cares as long as you try your best to do as he asks? With the coming of Christ all people were made a part of Gods kingdom. “Wherefore three or more of you are gathered in my name, that is where my church is.” If you define it that way, here we are, three or more, in God’s name. Nowhere there does it say we all have to be believers. How does God answer questions? What profit to be given everything and earn nothing? loopyloo

  • 49. Thinking Ape  |  November 1, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Loopy, I think the majority of the de-converts here are past considering “Christianity” as something limited to the “organized” church – although what does it mean to be “organized”? Is three people not an organization? Is the Bible not an organization of certain texts? Is not the doctrines that make up the “belief in God and Christ” a result of organization?
    I’m not trying to pick, I know what you mean by organized religion. I just wonder how valid that statement really is.

  • [...] most of the people on this blog, as fits a blog about de-conversion, are de-converts, and so they may have other reasons for thinking about this. They may live in societies that demand [...]

  • 51. loopyloo350  |  November 2, 2007 at 10:58 am

    thinking ape: point well taken and I go back to something I said elsewhere, to take the bible as whole truth and whole history is to do a disservice not only to ourselves but to truth. Perhaps the simple fact is that most faith is based on hope and not knowledge. Perhaps the quest for knowledge is what gives us hope. Perhaps your idea of de-conversion is not from lack of faith so much as it is distrust. The hypocricsy that I have seen so many fall prey to has often made me wonder that anyone has faith.

  • 52. KermitTheAgnostic  |  November 2, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Trust nothing. Believe nothing. Be prepared to be wrong.

    Analyze what IS and accept, with doubt, only what is highly probable and demonstratable. There is no reason to just believe based on faith.

    Yes ThinkingApe! Putting things in boxes is exactly what the human brain is designed to do. We need to make sense of the world in order to deal with it. Language is a direct extension of this, as is religion.

    However we need to show restraint because it simply is not the case that just believing something makes it so. We get confused because we are taught things like, just believe it and it will happen. While this can be a powerful motivator, as when a football player wants to win a game – belief that he will helps, he knows that it is entirely possible that he won’t. But he does not give up the belief because that keeps him going. And he does not stop training because he knows inside that belief is not enough.

    For this reason it is important for us to realize that belief alone is not enough with religion either. Too many have used this mistake in thinking to support religion. We simply should only accept what is highly probable and demonstratable. Yes, we can say, “I hope there is a God” or, “I hope there is a heaven.” But to use faith alone to support a belief has no use at all. Because then any crazy idea or God can be believed in because of belief alone.

    – I wonder if I just wrote that.

  • 53. loopyloo350  |  November 3, 2007 at 10:15 am

    faith without works is dead, belief alone gets you nowhere. To believe in the unbelieveable is to dream. To dream is to hope, grow, learn and finally to trust is to have faith.

  • 54. sugarmonkey  |  December 1, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    I think that faith is a belief in a life force, whether that is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc., or the positive energies. Christ is a name for the positive life force, just like Buddha, etc. He is an
    incarnation, or forgive me, a METAPHOR for living positive and for the building up of life.
    I believe in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, which also can be Buddha, or anyone or anything else….because that is the spirit that creates hope and life. This Spirit exists.
    The faith of the churches that looks at sin, is correct – because the manner of sin is to do harm and destroy, whether through malicious thoughts, words or actions that disparage others and corrupt the disparager. Sin feeds on itself until it becomes all consuming.
    The only relief is to believe in some positive life force that is greater than oneself and presses you to do other positive things. The dusty beliefs of some dying churches that believe in the literal interpetation of the Bible, have missed the point, in my opinion. Faith is about life – and being uplifted.
    If they disparage others for not believing in the literal truth of the Bible, than they have a false faith because one cannot be judgemental.

  • 55. kermittheagnostic  |  December 2, 2007 at 2:07 am

    Interesting points. I would agree with you on most except that extra step you take. That step to a higher power, which I would argue is unnecessary.

    I like this “life force” as you put it. And I do think we need to be positive in life and be good to each other. However I do not agree that the ONLY relief is to believe in a life force that is greater than oneself. True relief only comes from understanding that we rise above evil and love each other because it simply makes sense to. Attributing this to an unexplainable power only allows for us to excuse ourselves when we do evil because we did not give ourselves credit for being able to figure out right from wrong on our own. To believe that the only thing driving us to be moral is a higher power is to relieve ourselves of the responsibility of justifying our actions. We do have the capability on our own of being the wonderful creatures we say only God could create. Once we realize this the responsibility of being moral is inexcusably ours. In other words, doing good is much more apt to be consistently done when we understand that it makes sense to us to do so and not just because someone else told us so.

    If you feel there is a “life force” why call it Jesus or Buddha or God? Why not just say, “I feel a life force that is good.” The reason religious people get into problems is that they take this feeling and make it into something it is not. Suddenly they are saying there is a God and they know what happens after you die and when the world is gonna end and what is right and what is wrong and who you should vote for! This is taking the “life force” too far I think!

    -Kermit

  • [...] we shoot down their reasons, thus inconveniencing them with the need to come up with others. So we de-cons have compiled a list from which one can simply select. We hope this will save wear and tear (on the [...]

  • 57. Rolly DeVore  |  July 29, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    This is a great website, and just today I started to really explore it. I’m a former Born-Again Christian turned agnostic. From 1990 to 1995, I produced a Christian apologetics radio show called “The Bible Answer Man.” Have you heard of it?

    – Rolly

  • 58. Mudshark in your Mythology  |  July 29, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Rolly—

    Yes—-Walter Martin, author of “Kingdom of the Cults” used to be the host of that show until he passed away.

  • 59. Rover  |  July 29, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Rolly,

    What caused you to de convert? Hank?

  • 60. Michael  |  August 21, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    This is amazing. I was an evangelical Christian for 24 years. I went to a Christian College, went into full time pastoral ministry, taught Sunday School, developed church leaders, led homegroups, counseled… you name it, I did it. But, one day, I felt my faith begin to slip away. I have studied the Bible backwards and forwards. But the answers were just not there anymore. Maybe it was the betrayal of a former partner that got the ball rolling for me, or the fact that God did not hear my cries to save my marriage 5 years ago. At first, I kept up the illusion of faith and belief. Going through the motions. When I finally decided I had had enough, I felt like I was thrust into the loneliest depths. I felt afraid, and alone. To have all that you have believed for 24 years suddenly slip away was terrifying. What about hell? What about judgment? I felt the pain of losing friends. As time went on, it was like a veil lifted. I began to see the Bible as the flawed book it is, not a literal Word, but a flawed, imperfect rendering of various individuals thoughts and beliefs about God. A book full of inaccuracies and inconsistencies, that at one time, I argued could be reconciled. Now, in the light of reason, I see that that is not the case. Today, I am happy that I made the decision to leave.

    Anyway, that’s my story in a nutshell.

  • 61. nytsmasher76  |  August 27, 2008 at 4:13 am

    Hmmm,

    Great post of hopes and fears…I take part in de-converting Catholics to be Nichiren Buddhists…

    Nice gems here to be had…c”,

    I really have a question though…Is Atheism a life-philosophy or a religion in itself?

  • 62. Ubi Dubium  |  August 27, 2008 at 6:22 am

    nytsmasher76

    I really have a question though…Is Atheism a life-philosophy or a religion in itself?

    Thanks for the question. It’s not really either one. It’s just a lack of belief in the supernatural, which frees each of us to find our own life-philosophy. It’s not a religion, it’s the absence of religion. (A quote I like: “Atheism is a religion the way bald is a haircolor.” )

    So when someone asks us “What is the nature of God?” like the Zen Buddhists, we un-ask the question.

  • 63. exrelayman  |  September 21, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Missfossey,

    Doubt if you are still around, as this comment is very late. Still, for latecomers here I nonetheless choose to speak a few words on behalf of knowledge as compared to faith. Your last comment distinguished between Biblical investigation with intent to strengthen belief and Biblical investigation with intent to undermine belief. Naturally the former being meritorious in your view. How about considering this: investigation with sincere attempt to discern the truth?

    Why do any of us believe what we believe (thanks noogatiger)? This is epistemology, which I am sure I am eminently less qualified to expound upon than many better educated denizens of this site. I say a few words anyway, as others have not responded as much to this issue as I would like to have seen.

    By way of preliminary comment, I am confident that many here came into disbelief kicking and screaming against their wills, and in the process prayed vainly for the silent, inactive God to strengthen their faith. I would also assert that by virtue of the very fact of praying these prayers, that they have demonstrated greater faith than the average mustard seed. Christian scripture promises fulfilled prayer (not yes, no, or maybe – that’s not scriptural). Thus God’s failure to keep his scriptural promise constitutes one level of evidence against His existence. Before leaving this point, I just want to mention how unfair it was of you to characterize those who have come to disbelieve as having searched the Bible looking for reasons to disbelieve. Maybe some did. Maybe many tried hard to maintain faith, but were simply not able to do so because of the amount of evidence that piles up against faith. But it is presumptuous to assume that you know why they did what they did (specifically, looking for reasons to not believe). This happens a lot when Christians criticize non believers (some bad things happened to you in church, you desire to live sinfully, etc), because it is scary to contemplate that disbelief may be more tenable than belief (which of course you can see is my position, otherwise silence from here).

    I can see that I am getting a bit long winded here so I am going to refrain from making any comprehensive argument against your faith and simply point to 2 primary factors in my skeptical thinking:

    1) Knowledge of where and when Jewish and Christian doctrines came from. If you wish to maintain your faith, ignore the following. Specifically relating to this point are:

    New Testament narratives as Old Testament midrash by Robert Price online

    chapter 5 of Forgery in Christianity by Joseph Wheless online

    The Origins of Christianity and the Bible by Andrew Benson, which is sold by Amazon and is truly a fantastic and well documented effort

    2) Just basic logic and sensibility. Please follow these points.

    a) why believe in Jesus? to attain heaven/avoid hell

    b) why is there a hell? because God cannot abide sin, and the sinful must be separated from God

    c) why is there so much sin? God punishes the sin of Adam and Eve by making everyone sinful

    Do you follow? God hates sin so much He must isolate sinners away from Him in hell, but this same God saw no better action to take in the Garden of Eden than to make everyone sinful because of an error made by 2. Parenthetically to this, if we inherit sinful natures via original sin, how is this compatible with our having free will?

    Enough for now. May truth prevail.

  • 64. BigHouse  |  September 23, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Good post, exrelayman, and welcome. I’d love to see some response to your points as I struggle with those exact ones.

  • 65. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Christian scripture promises fulfilled prayer (not yes, no, or maybe – that’s not scriptural). Thus God’s failure to keep his scriptural promise constitutes one level of evidence against His existence.

    exrelayman—-

    Are you saying that God’s failure to keep his scriptural promises constitutes one level of evidence against his existence FOR YOU?

    What if I say that he did fulfill his scriptural promises TO ME? Will you then accept that as evidence FOR his existence?

    Both instances are completely subjective actually. If you are going to use unanswered prayer to yourself (or other de-cons who claim the same) as reason for non-existence, what of the millions who say that God DID answer their prayers? Just curious.

  • 66. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Before someone “pooh-poohs” this off-hand without consideration (as I know some are prone to do) please think about it a moment. There appears often to be a lot subjectiveness in deciding God does not exist—yet then argued back the other direction that only subjectiveness is being used to argue God’s existence.

  • 67. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    We prayed and even screamed and cried and pleaded in prayer.

    And heard silence, and felt the emptiness.

    LeoPardus—

    I know you get tired of hearing the same thing—and I really do appreciate what you wrote above—-I know this is an older article, but it is well written.

    I just have to ask—-what did you think though, when in the Psalms, David asks the same things you ask? In some of the Psalms he is overwhelmed in anguish at unanswered prayer–the silence deafening him. He says things like “I made my bed to swim in tears” and “I am brought so low I cannot stand” and things of that nature?

    I ask this because many go through the same experience. You hit a point where you feel your faith is failing, like you don’t even believe any more. Why doesn’t God answer? Doesn’t he care? Hasn’t he seen me down hear crying? I know I have been there—as you stated you definitely have above.

    Leo—Is it possible you just gave up? That you really do believe, but you became so overwhelmed that you basically threw in the towel? I don’t mean this in a demeaning way at all—really. I have to ask—are there times when you do pray or stop for a moment and look once again for the Lord?

    There are some on the blog here that seem to mock any concept of God existing. I see them jump on any of my posts in moments, discrediting anything I’ve said, or accusing of stupidity–and that’s OK—I understand.

    But there are others, reflected in your article above, that seem to be crying out to God in a sense—-even though they appear to be denying his existence–who sound like they would give anything for God to prove he is there. And I can appreciate that, and truly see where you have been and where you wish you were.

  • 68. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    And I can appreciate that, and truly see where you have been and where you wish you were.

    I put that wrong. What I mean is that I get a sense of where you were when you believed—-but also sense that you wish you could have continued believing—-and maybe really do want to still at heart.

  • 69. Rover  |  September 23, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    If God is answering prayer for “His children” then why isn’t the way He answers that prayer different from the way He answers the Mormons prayer or the JW’s prayer? All of our prayers seem to be nothing more then coincidence or chance. The same as everyone elses. From this blog I have gleaned that you are a conservative dispensationalist. Why doesn’t God answer your prayers more specifically and more incredibly then he answers the prayer of those who “pervert” the faith” How come mountains aren’t being moved by His true children? If you claim that they are then why are they being moved the same way for believers and non-believers? I hope this question makes sense.

  • 70. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Rover—

    I really can’t speak for JW’s or Mormons. I believe God will answer ANYONE’S prayer if they are seeking him. For instance, I don’t think God is going to ignore the cry of a Mormon for his sick child just because he is a Mormon.

    But how can one be so sure that a Mormon’s or JW’s prayers ARE being answered for other things? You state it as though you know it to be fact. I understand what you are saying—but wonder at how you would know what God is doing or not doing in regards to answered prayer. But good question though.

    I will say this though. A few times I have had prayers answered that I was completely unaware of, until I remembered that I had been praying fervently for it a year before. I mean this seriously. God has his own timing. When we give up, he doesn’t necessarily give up at all. He wants us to continue to pray, and have faith, but there are times where we seem to give up hope. Then we forget after time we had prayed. Then one day, we see what we have, look back, and realize that God DID answer our prayer—it just took a longer time, or a different form than we expected. God remembered the faith we DID have and honors it.

    In Daniel, if you recall, he prays for the Jewish people and their restoration. About a month later an angel appears to him and says “your prayers were heard the first day you made them–I am come for your prayers. But the prince of Persia resisted me”. There are things happening when we pray we have no idea about. In Daniel’s case his prayer had ALREADY been answered, but he who carried the answer was involved in great warfare. Do I understand this? No—but the Bible says “we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, with evil spirits in heavenly places”.

    So, as far as the answer to our prayers being coincidence or chance, I entirely disagree. I think we always need to remember what we prayed for, and keep an open eye for the answer—-sometimes it is right in front of us, other times the answer will come—we just need to patiently wait for it.

    I have a tendency to ramble—and I did it again. I hope something in what I posted makes sense. :)

  • 71. Rover  |  September 23, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Cooper,

    thanks for your response. I think the De-cons have a good case against prayer. If Jesus promises that we can “move mountains” if we have even a little faith it seems as though our prayer life should be extremely powerful. It should certainly be more powerful then those who we would consider unbelievers shouldn’t it? God may hear all prayers, but he promises those with faith a unique power. The power to figuratively move mountains. If I have to track my prayers in order to convince myself that something more then coincidence is occurring then maybe I’m not moving many mountains. Just a thought.

  • 72. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Rover—

    Here is the scripture reference. Note the angel says that Daniel’s prayer was immediately answered, but it took 21 days for the angel to bring the answer as he was resisted by the Prince of Persia. Truly—it was warfare in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6 seems to imply that we face the same thing when we pray by “wrestling” with principalities and powers.

    And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.

    Dan 10:12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.

    Dan 10:13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

  • 73. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 23, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    That sure seems to contradict God’s alleged omnipotence.

  • 74. Big Dan  |  September 24, 2008 at 2:18 am

    Cooper,

    Both instances are completely subjective actually. If you are going to use unanswered prayer to yourself (or other de-cons who claim the same) as reason for non-existence, what of the millions who say that God DID answer their prayers? Just curious.

    My opinion is that those millions are probably attributing to God the normal occurrences (including coincidences) of everyday life. I think it was you who told the story of the $20 bill on another post. Plenty of people here were skeptical that that was an answer to prayer.

    Do you keep a record of prayers that aren’t answered? I had a spectacular one recently. Just over 4 weeks ago, my wife gave birth to our third child. After two weeks, I was due to return to work, leaving my wife to look after a newborn baby and two boisterous young children. (I was getting the easier deal.) On the Thursday before, about 5 faithful christians (plus me) prayed that in the following week she would receive peace and strength to deal with the children on her own. On the Sunday, she went into hospital, suffering from a pulmonary embolism. She stayed in for 6 days, and thankfully now seems OK. What am I to make of that prayer response?

    OK, you may say “I can’t comment on individual cases” – and of course you don’t know the details. And you could argue that, as she was in hospital being cared for, she was spared the stress of looking after the other two. You can argue that we didn’t pray for good health, so falling ill was still an option. Or you can argue that God’s response was “no, I won’t grant your request this time”.

    Does this kind of thing happen to you? How do you interpret such things?

  • 75. Big Dan  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:05 am

    I think I might have set myself up in the previous post. I can see answers coming along the lines of “Did she receive peace and strength after the illness?” (Answer: maybe, she’s doing pretty well.) So one could just conclude that the illness was coming anyway, and God fulfilled the prayer in his own time, not ours. I’m thinking this was a bad example.

    But in a way, it’s also a good example. To me, if those of us close to her keep praying for her, without any expectation of a result, then our minds will be focused on her wellbeing and we will subconciously be moved to care for her.

    To quote the (fictionalised) CS Lewis in “Shadowlands”: “Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes me.”

  • 76. Ubi Dubium  |  September 24, 2008 at 7:09 am

    Big Dan

    To quote the (fictionalised) CS Lewis in “Shadowlands”: “Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes me.”

    But to continue that thought, if prayer is a form of self-improvement, that does not seem to require that there actually be anyone listening to those prayers. Someone could pray to anything and get that effect. Praying to Yahweh, Thor, the FSM or a jug of milk could all produce that same result. My opinion is that meditation is good for you – sort of a reboot for the brain – and this effect does not require any specific belief in the supernatural.

  • 77. Big Dan  |  September 24, 2008 at 7:17 am

    Ubi Dubium – I agree 100%.

  • 78. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 8:59 am

    My opinion is that meditation is good for you – sort of a reboot for the brain – and this effect does not require any specific belief in the supernatural.(Ubi Dubium)

    Maybe prayer is part of our makeup or design that helps us be more balanced individually first, which then leads to the betterment of the whole of humans. Maybe its purpose is not to receive external stuff, but internal stuff. I dont think you have to say theres no possibility of a creator just because it doesnt take an active role in our lives. Religion, which usually has an entity that interacts with us is not the only way to view a creator/designer.

  • 79. BigHouse  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Does anyone have any links to studies I’ve heard referenced on the ‘effectiveness’ of prayer?

    Thanks.

  • 80. Ubi Dubium  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:32 am

    john t.

    I dont think you have to say theres no possibility of a creator just because it doesnt take an active role in our lives.

    Ah, but my point here is that the fact the believers can get a sense of well-being from prayer is not evidence in favor of a creator. A christian might claim “I know in my heart god is real because praying makes me feel better.” But if any kind of meditation can produce that effect, then their claim does nothing to establish an increased probability of the existence of their god.

  • 81. Ubi Dubium  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:44 am

    BigHouse
    Here’s a link to a specific study:

    http://www.ahjonline.com/article/PIIS0002870305006496/abstract

    Hope that’s helpful.

  • 82. BigHouse  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Thanks, Ubi.

  • 83. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Ah, but my point here is that the fact the believers can get a sense of well-being from prayer is not evidence in favor of a creator.(Ubi)

    I agree that it is not evidence, but it does make me wonder why the majority of Humans seem to be hard wired to do it. When I look at it from a rational viewpoint I question what would design us with that propensity and for what purpose. Even if I take into account Evolution, I still have the same question as, why are we evolving with these kinds of inate traits?

  • 84. Ubi Dubium  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:01 am

    john t.

    Even if I take into account Evolution, I still have the same question as, why are we evolving with these kinds of inate traits?

    That is a question that I have been wrestling with. A LOT. Why have we evolved the trait of behaving like sheep? Here’s the best answer I have so far:

    1. Throughout most of our history humans have competed for limited resources through inter-tribal warfare.
    2. There is a huge reproductive advantage to being on the winning side in such wars. Even if you are yourself killed, if your side wins your children and/or the children of your close kin are more likely to live and reproduce than if your side loses.
    3. A tribal fighting force is more effective when the soldiers (and also the rest of the tribe members,) do what they’re told, without question.
    4. A strong religious belief in a warlike god thus makes a tribe better fighters. The right sort of religion makes a king more powerful. You just have a more efficient force if your soldiers are thinking “this battle is the will of god, and I will be rewarded for my bravery in the afterlife, so I must obey”, rather than “the king decided to expand his borders and it’s probably a good idea, so I think I’ll go along with it for now.” If I were an ancient king, I know I’d rather that my soldiers were a bunch of unthinking relgious zealots, than, say, a bunch of philosophers and agnostics.
    5. So, over history the hordes of mindless sheep have tended to be good at wiping out believers in less violent religions, and also freethinkers (and anybody else in their way). So that “sheep” trait has become very predominant. It was useful.

    Now, that trait is backfiring on us. With modern technology and population densities, the sheep-like behavior that allowed ancient city-states to compete now makes it possible for nations to unleash horrible destruction with the quiet complicity of their citizens. Can we, as a species, realize this and decide that in order to survive we must stop acting like sheep? I don’t know, and this depresses me. But I know that I cannot ever be a sheep again.

  • 85. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Big Dan—

    Sorry to hear about your wife, but glad to hear she is doing better. Sure—I have had times when my prayers did not get answered. I have been “sure” God was opening a door for me to go through, praying joyfully, then have the door close on me.

    I will be completely honest—I have no idea why your wife would suffer an embolism after you asked that she have peace with the children. But then on the other hand I heard a story on ABC News of a woman entering the hosptial suffering numerous strokes and the doctor’s thought she would not live through the night. Many people prayed, and she wound up walking out of the hospital a week later and the doctor’s were absolutely dumb-founded. They had no explanation, and had never seen anyone recover like that before. Charles Gibson reported it under a story about the effectiveness or usefulness of prayer. I think I mentioned this on another thread on this blog.

    I don’t think God “ignored” your prayer. I have no idea why God answers some prayers gloriously, and others he seems not to answer—-or answers in a completely different way. But I do know this—-and this is a response to Rover above also—-we as human beings are filled with unbelief naturally. Rover asked why we would need to “keep our eyes open for answers from God” as I had stated. The reason is that we easily fall into unbelief—-or forgetfulness. We can pray for something, and have the prayer answered later–in a different way than we anticipated, and completely forget we asked. I have had this happen on numerous occasions.

    It is because we want God to answer the way WE anticipate it–they way WE want it to be answered. When an answer doesn’t come immediately we figure it is an unanswered prayer. I have had prayers answered a year later—–having to have my memory jogged—-then falling to my knees in gratefulness to God. Because God has his own timing, and his own way of doing things. Your own children can “ask” you for things they are not ready for yet—you see far better than they do what is best for them. A 4 year old may ask for a bicycle, and receive it when they turn 5—they may have forgotten they even asked for it—-but you didn’t—-you just waited until it was best to give it to them.

  • 86. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Is there even one story in the Bible where a person prayed to God for healing and it wasn’t answered in a clear way?

    Especially the NT stories regarding miracles, they’re just about all instantaneous answers to prayer or faith. I can’t think of any cases where someone prayed for healing and God answered the prayer in some obscure way “in his own timing.”

  • 87. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Snuggly—

    Yes–you’re correct—when Jesus healed it was normally instantaneous. Although there were cases where he used “steps” to attain the healing. Example: rubbing mud into a man’s eyes first and asking him what he saw, then completing the healing, and also telling the disciples after he healed a demoniac child, “this kind comes out only by prayer and fasting”.

    As I mentioned above the healing of the woman in Cleveland was pretty close to instantaneous–after prayer—with amazing results.

    What I was mainly referring to though when I mentioned prayers being answered even a year later a few times with me were not prayers for healing—they were prayers for help, or open doors, etc. But God is sovereign—he heals sometimes right away. But there are many born-again christians who are paralyzed, or in wheel-chairs too. God does not heal everyone just because they ask him too–this is obvious. Again, he is sovereign.

  • 88. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Kind of off subject here, but I saw this this morning. There was a discussion on the blog once where people were insisting it was a “proven fact” that there is no soul. I made the mistake of arguing the point. :) But here is a study some scientists are doing to determine what happens in “out of the body” experiences. Some doctors have been shocked, when patients who were supposed to be dead (the physical brain is supposed to cease function 10 seconds after the heart stops) literally described what the doctor was doing while they were “dead”. Read the article from the news—it is very interesting. I guess these scientists don’t feel the non-existence of the soul has been proved yet.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20080923/hl_time/whathappenswhenwedie

  • 89. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Can we, as a species, realize this and decide that in order to survive we must stop acting like sheep? I don’t know, and this depresses me. But I know that I cannot ever be a sheep again.(Ubi)

    Just getting rid of Religion per se wont make us any less Violent. We all have dual natures. I think the only thing religion does is get certain groups to harmonize their beliefs so they all act together. There are other ideas that do the same. Just look at the drug cartels. I understand your concern over being a “sheep”, but just because someone believes in a driving force/creator to help explain aspects of this Universe doenst make them a sheep. There is one aspect of all religions that I do appreciate. They all seem to at some point have great ideas from great thinkers, the key is how do we integrate these ideas without the rest of it becoming the “absolute” truth. Now thats a challenge.

  • 90. Ubi Dubium  |  September 24, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    john t.
    I agree that as individuals we are agressive. Humans had to be, or we would not have survived this long. But organized religion has the ability to turn individual agressiveness into mass violence. (Greed can motivate mass violence too. I don’t claim that organized religion is the only cause for organized violence.)

    Not all people who have “faith” in something supernatural are “sheep”. But extreme devotion to a religious institution leaves people vulnerable to manipulation. john, if some religious leader tried to tell you that it was “god’s will” that you obey him and commit an act of violence, I’d expect that you would tell him to @#$%# off. Although you believe there is a higher power out there somewhere, I have seen nothing from your comments to indicate that you would let someone else run your life because of that fact.
    That’s what I mean by being “not a sheep”. Working it out for yourself, instead of just believing what you are told to. But most people are happy to “follow the herd” and that’s the mentality I have a problem with.

    I think Monty Python did a masterful job of making this point in “Life of Brian”:

    BRIAN: Look. You’ve got it all wrong. You don’t need to follow me. You don’t need to follow anybody! You’ve got to think for yourselves. You’re all individuals!
    FOLLOWERS: Yes, we’re all individuals!
    BRIAN: You’re all different!
    FOLLOWERS: Yes, we are all different!
    DENNIS: I’m not.
    ARTHUR: Shhhh.
    FOLLOWERS: Shh. Shhhh. Shhh.
    BRIAN: You’ve all got to work it out for yourselves!
    FOLLOWERS: Yes! We’ve got to work it out for ourselves!
    BRIAN: Exactly!
    FOLLOWERS: Tell us more!
    BRIAN: No! That’s the point! Don’t let anyone tell you what to do!

  • 91. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    ;) Ah the life of Brian

    Good illustration

  • 92. Milly  |  September 26, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    I just found this website, and I am wondering if anyone can suggest some non-biased books about Christianity. I have been gradually losing my beliefs in the Bible, and I don’t have anyone I can talk to who won’t try to sway me one way or the other. I just need some facts.

  • 93. DeeVee  |  September 26, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Yes, go to http://www.evilbible.com/murder.htm…read all the bible verses that the christians conveniently leave out which will curl your hair. These bible verses about murder and slavery will come back into fashion once the christians obtain a political majority. I am happy for you in that you are losing your “beliefs” (which means to state something is true without proof)…and moving toward the light of logic and reason…Hugs, DeeVee

  • 94. writerdd  |  September 26, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Milly, check out books by Karen Armstrong. I like these 2:

    A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam

    The Battle for God

    There are tons of books with info on Christianity. Do you want history? Contemporary (late 20th century) info? Philosophy? Scripture critique? What angle are you looking for?

  • 95. LeoPardus  |  September 26, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Milly:

    Non-biased books are very hard to come by. I can suggest perhaps “The Oxford History of Christianity”. Nothing else is springing right to mind. Maybe some of our religious studies, seminary grad types can help more.

  • 96. Cooper  |  September 26, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Milly asks:

    I have been gradually losing my beliefs in the Bible, and I don’t have anyone I can talk to who won’t try to sway me one way or the other. I just need some facts.

    And DeeVee responds:

    Yes, go to http://www.evilbible.com/murder.htm…read all the bible verses that the christians conveniently leave out which will curl your hair. These bible verses about murder and slavery will come back into fashion once the christians obtain a political majority

    Thanks DeeVee for sharing with Milly a site not meant to “sway her one way or another as she asks”. :) :) :) :) :) :)

  • 97. Cooper  |  September 26, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Milly asks:

    just found this website, and I am wondering if anyone can suggest some non-biased books about Christianity. I have been gradually losing my beliefs in the Bible, and I don’t have anyone I can talk to who won’t try to sway me one way or the other. I just need some facts.

    And LeoPardus responds:

    Non-biased books are very hard to come by. I can suggest perhaps “The Oxford History of Christianity”. Nothing else is springing right to mind. Maybe some of our religious studies, seminary grad types can help more.

    Now that’s a non-biased answer. Thanks Leo.

    I won’t suggest a thing because I don’t know how to be non-biased. :)

  • 98. Cooper  |  September 26, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    I think the word I should be using is unbiased.

  • 99. Paparocks  |  October 1, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    IM really sorry to hear that man. Ill never be the sharpest Christian, I am stuck in Matt 5-6. I pray that you are given reasons and worth. We are all equal

  • 100. Josh  |  October 30, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    I have to confess that this 100% completely summarizes the experience of losing my faith. I do not think I could say it better.

  • 101. Josh  |  October 30, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    “I just found this website, and I am wondering if anyone can suggest some non-biased books about Christianity. I have been gradually losing my beliefs in the Bible, and I don’t have anyone I can talk to who won’t try to sway me one way or the other. I just need some facts.”

    I don’t know of any “non-biased” books, to be honest. Everyone has an agenda to push, so to speak. If someone did not have a bias, I would be concerned that they were not interested in the truth at all :)

    There is an adage about “evidence against interest”. A good way to see if a person is “unbiased” is when their change in view was actually detrimental to their interests. This is a good sign that a person desired honesty more than keeping their bias. C.S.Lewis is a good example of an atheist who became a Christian (although he was not scientifically trained), and Dan Barker and Bart Ehrmann are good examples of men who gave their life to the faith and ended up atheists / agnostics. All three of these men write excellent books.

  • 102. Michael  |  October 30, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Hi Josh,

    I think it’s hard to find anyone with a totally unbiased opinions/views on Christianity. After all it has had a major influence in our Western world view. I have heard Bart Ehrmann speak, and would recommend him. After spending years in ministry of one form or another in the Evangelical church, I would have to say that I greatly appreciate him. On the flip side, an Evangelical writer/sociologist I have come to appreciate of Tony Campolo. He has a view that tends to rile the typical Evangelical.

    Strangely enough, one book that had a really major impact on me was a book titled, “The Spiritual Journey of U2″, by Steve Stockman. (Good especially if you like the music of U2, and eben if not, it gives some good insight as to how the Evangelical church treated and rejected these gifted musicians, and their struggle to come to terms with their faith and what it means.)

    I’m not sure I was much help, but it is a difficult journey.

  • 103. Josh  |  October 30, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Michael, understood. I listened to massive amounts of Ehrmann and I must confess that he is extremely unbiased when it comes to the Bible – despite trying desperately to harmonize it with the notion that it is God’s Word. Highly recommended.

    Of course, most of the Christians I know will argue that Bart is extremely “biased”, because he is an agnostic and has been “fighting” the church for over 30 years.

    [This brings up an interesting side point that many Christians tend to leap to the conclusion that anyone who is not a Christian and writes about the church is part of a cosmological spiritual conspiracy to deceive mankind. Come to think of it, Christians often argue that someone is wrong because their presuppositions are wrong (thanks Van Til!), without having to give any good reason as to why their presuppositions are better. But I diverge!]

  • 104. Michael  |  October 31, 2008 at 1:17 am

    Hey, Josh, you bring up a good point! Christians will view anyone with an opposing point of view as biased. I found Ehrmann’s talks very balanced. I think his view would be, concerning the existence of God, “I don’t know, and neither do you!” Strangely enough, I find that moore comforting than those who proclaimm, “My way or the highway!” LOL

  • 105. Richard  |  October 31, 2008 at 1:22 am

    Josh-

    Christians often argue that someone is wrong because their presuppositions are wrong (thanks Van Til!), without having to give any good reason as to why their presuppositions are better.

    Well, of course they’re better — unless *you* can prove that *yours* are better, then clearly you must accept everything they say!

    (Sorry Im jumping in uninvited and off-topic, but I cant resist someone who is as annoyed with presuppositionism as I am…)

  • 106. LeoPardus  |  October 31, 2008 at 11:34 am

    I cant resist someone who is as annoyed with presuppositionism as I am

    Hey, what’s NOT to hate about presuppositionalism?

  • 107. Josh  |  October 31, 2008 at 11:56 am

    “Hey, what’s NOT to hate about presuppositionalism?”

    Touche.

    I remember when I first encountered presuppositionalism as a Christian my reaction was one of disgust. It seemed like the ultimate last ditch effort full-on cop-out effort to explain how Christianity can still be true not matter how wrong or bad the evidence is for it. Ultimately my problem with it was that it cannot be used to demonstrate that something is true or false – it can only be used to reassure the believer of any faith (Mormonism, Islam, Christianity) that they are justified in holding their beliefs because every else is wrong. If a person defines everyone else as “wrong” because they hold the “wrong presuppositions” and then defines their own presuppositions as “right”, they have defined themselves into an epistemological rut. At this point, questioning the believers presuppositions is somehow wrong (because these presuppositions are the only ones that are true, of course), but teh believer is somehow allowed to question everyone else’s presuppositions. Ultimately presuppositionalism is a double-standard, and therefore does not follow the golden rule, and is therefore not biblical nor is it ethical.

  • 108. Josh  |  October 31, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Haha, presuppositionalism is like playing a game of chess where your opponent insists that the only right way to play is where he gets two queens and you only gets pawns. Its cheating and a tacit admission that the believer has a handicap in their faith.

    “Well of course the evidence isn’t in favor of Christianity, because you are not looking at it with the right presuppositions!”

    Its like a form of hypnosis, where the unbeliever has to surrender his will to think to the believer for a while so that everything “makes sense”.

    Sorry, I could go on for hours – this is quite a tangent!

  • 109. LeoPardus  |  October 31, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Sorry, I could go on for hours

    So could a lot of us. And so could any presuppositionalist, as many of us well know. Really, really bad logic provides fertile ground for no end of blather. Just look at how much time people waste studying in seminaries to become pastors/priests, only to then blather for years to other sheep. Or look at the shelves in any religious bookstore.

    Yep I could go on for hours/days/weeks. I prefer to shorten it all with, “If you know what circular logic is and why it’s wrong, then you know why presuppositionalism is dead wrong. If you don’t know the former, then you’re crippled from being able to think anyway.”

  • 110. Richard  |  October 31, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Moreoever, presuppers never quite tell us exactly how their presuppositions explain all the things they think it explains (e.g., logic, morality) in the first place.

    For instance, they say God is the “ground” of logic, so therefore thats how we know the universe is logical — or indeed know anything at all. But what does that mean, exactly? If you cant explain in some detail just what God is doing when he “grounds” logic then you havent really explained — oops “accounted for”, as they say — logic, now have you? Youve just given a name for your ignorance.

    Moreoever, from the fact that my (or anyone’s) episitemology is flawed and can be challenged at points, it does not follow that the whole thing collapses into unsolvable contradiction. Its okay to stick with a theory that works pretty well while you work out the kinks.

    And even if it *did* collapse, its a bit, well, unsatisfying to be told “okay, now you must accept my theory, because it works perfectly as an epistemology. See here, I just assume that it does and that it irons out all the problems! See how neat and tidy that is? Now, about your conversion…”

    Ooooooooo- dont get me started!….

  • 111. LeoPardus  |  October 31, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Ooooooooo- dont get me started!….

    I’m afraid we already did. :)

    they say God is the “ground” of logic,

    Why? Because it’s logical.
    If God wasn’t the ground of logic, then what? There would be no loigc.
    How would you know if there wasn’t any? Uhm… well there is.
    How do you know there is? Because God is the ground of it.

    And arooouuund we go. I know why you can’t talk with a presupper long. The same reason you can’t spin around long. Eventually the dizziness makes you stop or get sick.

  • 112. Josh  |  November 1, 2008 at 2:34 am

    “And arooouuund we go.”

    Wheeeeeee! Presuppositionalism is fun! Just watch those athiests squirm! They don’t know how to answer us, so we’ll just sit here and calmly smile at them, full of the Holy Spirit and love and peace. When the atheist starts to get frustrated it is just because the Holy Spirit is at work in their hearts!

    That last one is the one that scared the living poop out of me when I first noticed myself unintentionally deconverting. I knew that I would have Christians who would unintentionally try to make me angry and then when I would get angry this would become more evidence that I was angry at God and was uncomfortable in my sin. Not only this but if I got truly angry this would be a good reinforcement of the fundamentalist notion that they were being persecuted for their faith (like a red badge of courage). This reinforcement would just make the believer more sure of his position, more smug in his attitude, etc. etc. which would tempt me to be more angry and therefore confirm even more that I was resisting the Holy Spirit, etc. etc.

    I was always curious what the bottomless pit was in Scripture. Truth is this is probably metaphorical for spending an eternity in a room full of presuppositionalists.

    Aaaaaaaaaaghhhh…!

  • 113. Richard  |  November 1, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Josh-I am so glad you mentioned that. That is *exactly* the sort of psychological dynamic Im trying to bring out in my posts.

    IN the case you mentioned, your interlocutor was being what we could call “smug”. “Smugness” is an interesting concept. It implies an air of untouchability. It suggests the individual believes himself entirely unthreatened by the poor little worms who squirm beneath him; they are a source of a mixed bemusment and pity. Such an individual treats you, the atheist, as though you are barely worth taking seriously because you are being so silly and so obviously wrong. He condescends to you.

    Formaly, this is a narcissistic defense, of course, and of course, *no one* likes being treated this way. This is actually we dexcribed in the psychotherapeutic literature. It tends to make others feel (or fear they are being) stupid and childish and, hence, makes them very angry.

    And it — quite naturally — makes the recipient want nothing more than to wipe the self-satisfied smirk off their face. In this case, since this is a verbal interaction, by trouncing all over that person arguments.

    Trouble is, like you said — (1) an angry atheist just proves their view that all atheists are angry (even though it is their behavior, not the atheists alleged bite of conscience, that has provoked this), (2) it makes them feel, as you say, that atheists want to destroy their *faith* (not what it actually is, which is be treated with respect), and finally, of course, (3) an angry atheist is likely not to be a well reasoning atheist. He will not be at his best and may very well not put forth his best arguments, let alone be civil.

    I have an upcoming article in a few weeks about this exact dynamic, which I have seen time and time again. I think its a real, and unrecognized, problem. Kudos to you for seeing through it!

    (and PS does nothing if not invite smugness it is adherents; mainly, I think, b/c the arguments it uses are so opaque and dizzyingly circular its hard for anyone else to really master them)

  • 114. LeoPardus  |  November 1, 2008 at 10:58 am

    I like you’re idea of hell: eternity in a room full of presuppositionalists. Yikes! Enough to frighten anyone. And for sure, they could use all eternity with their arguments.

    I know about that smug, “get ‘em mad and then smile condescendingly at them” tack. But you can have some fun with it. How? Short circuit it. When they are trying to run a lap around their track, cut in, trip them. Here are some “how to’s” for that.
    – Question their presup’s
    – When they ask their pseudo-rhetorical or leading questions, give the “wrong” answer.
    – Hammer on the incompleteness of their thoughts/statements. (Remember to hammer a lot, ’cause that’s the tack they are using. ….. What’s sauce for the goose….)
    – Make bold/bald assertions (presup’s) of your own. (e.g. there is no God!)
    – Set up and run your own circular course then drag them around it.
    – When they point out the illogic, incompleteness, absurdity of your circular logic, just insist on your underlying presup’s (e.g. “But there is no god. You have to see that.”
    – If you quote scripture at them (like to show them how hypocritical they are), be prepared for them to say, “Satan can misuse scripture for his own purposes.” It’s hard to respond to this, but something like, “Indeed? You mean like putting in your mouth to defend your arrogance and hypocrisy?”
    – When/If you do succeed in getting them angry, be prepared for them to defend it with the “righteous anger of the Lord” tack. This one’s not easy to respond to either. One possible is, “Oh! I’m sorry! I didn’t recognize you Lord.” (Be prepared to them not to “get” this response.)

    Anyway the big thing is to remember that they are working in circles. You have to cut into their circle and force them into your own circles.

  • 115. Josh  |  November 1, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Wow, thanks you two! Your encouragment is deeply felt. For quite some time I thought I was the only one who saw through this form of circular psychological self-reinforcement. Thanks so much.

    As a side note, I have been thinking lately about my moral obligations as an atheist, and they are – quite simply – to not act like the majority of believers when it comes to intellectual conversation. Often the faith-based arguments are specifically designed to sucker the unbeliever into admitting an un-falsifiable proposition (God exists, hell might be coming, the gospel accounts disagree with each other but this is actually good evidence they can be trusted etc.) Once this point is reached, the believer has a “hold” on the unbeliever – something to work with. The “hold” is all the believer wants. It is a common ground on something completely faith based. This is where faith-based religions begin their work. This is probably why believers rarely admit that atheists do not have faith. By admitting that someone can live without faith, the believer has basically shown his hand of cards for what they are – unfalsifiable propositions about an entirely invisible metaphysic.

    Anyway, I have probably accidently hijacked this post enough for one week! Thanks for all your comments and I would love to contribute to this blog in the future. Richard, let me know if there are any topics you would like me address :) I’m only 23, but I have an extremely unique grasp of some of the more difficult Biblical concepts like resurrection, the book of Hebrews, hell, salvation, conceptual discrepencies in Scripture, prophecy, etc. After all, I went to Moody Bible Institute, “where Bible is our middle name!”

  • 116. Ubi Dubium  |  November 1, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    After all, I went to Moody Bible Institute, “where Bible is our middle name!”

    Gee, “Moody” is my Grandmother’s middle name! Better middle name than “bible”! :)

  • 117. Jeffrey  |  November 1, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    >If you quote scripture at them (like to show them how hypocritical they are), be prepared for them to say, “Satan can misuse scripture for his own purposes.”

    You can reply “so That’s where Calvinism comes from!”

    A good circle to run on is “Satan is lord, whether you like it or not.” Define “evil” as what Satan wants. Maintain a belief in both heaven and hell, and make sure you spend time on “the problem of happiness” and how it is still part of Satan’s evil plan. E.g., the purpose of heaven is to help the accused appreciate just how screwed they are. Instead of God’s dual nature of love and justice, talk of Satan’s dual nature of injustice and hate.

    Or you can defend Al Qaeda using the same arguments: “Who are you to judge what Allah has called righteous?”

  • 118. LeoPardus  |  November 1, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    “Satan can misuse scripture for his own purposes.”
    You can reply “so That’s where Calvinism comes from!”

    Now that really did make me laugh out loud. :D

  • 119. elyseston  |  December 7, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Exactly it.

    “You should read about the fear and anguish most of us felt when we saw the Faith that defined us slipping away.
    We fought it.
    We asked others for help and answers, and got the same answers that didn’t work.
    We read more, and found nothing more.
    We prayed and even screamed and cried and pleaded in prayer.
    And heard silence, and felt the emptiness.”

  • 120. campistheword  |  January 2, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    I think you either do good or you don’t. If you do, you’re doing God’s work, like it or not. If you don’t, you’re doing Satan’s work, like it or not.

  • 121. Quester  |  January 3, 2009 at 3:52 am

    Campistheword,

    You didn’t even make it two words into that comment without erring.

  • 122. campistheword  |  January 3, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Explain, please. You mean because I said “I think”?

  • 123. Ubi Dubium  |  January 3, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    I think he meant that “do good” was ungrammatical.

  • 124. campistheword  |  January 3, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Quester, is that your issue? If so, sorry for the grammatical error. If not, again, please explain. I am confused that my first words “I think” are in error. I have no beef with de-cons, I sit in church with some and am related to many. Should I neither think or believe? What a bleak existence that would be. I am neither naive or foolish to have faith in something greater than myself but I understand why de-cons blame their family, church, environment for their loss of faith. My de-con atheist friends blame those things for what happened and then hold God responsible for it. Isn’t the last thing God would do is remove your faith in Him? My non-decon atheist friends (the ones who have never been Christian) say that it just doesn’t matter, there is no blaming going on. On another front, my steadfastly atheist brother went to the Persian Gulf to clean up bodies after the Gulf war and came back deeply struck by the evidence of evil and the need to find evidence of good.

  • 125. Ubi Dubium  |  January 3, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    My de-con atheist friends blame those things for what happened and then hold God responsible for it.

    I find this statement puzzling. I’m not sure you understod them correctly. Why would someone who does not think there is a god then turn around and blame god for anything? I can see blaming god as a step towards deconversion. I can see it as a question for a theist, as in “how can you believe there exists an omnipotent benevolent god, when so much evil would then be god’s fault?” But I’ve never heard an atheist, someone who has really decided that god is imaginary, blame “god” for anything. The anger is towards all those people who persuaded us to waste so much time, money and energy on an imaginary friend.

  • 126. LeoPardus  |  January 3, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    campistheword:

    I think you either do good or you don’t.

    Within this I take it you’re including the fact that most folks do a mix of both.

    If you do, you’re doing God’s work, like it or not. If you don’t, you’re doing Satan’s work, like it or not.

    From your theistic viewpoint, which includes a good God, this makes sense. But what do you do with it, when God is the one doing evil?

    My de-con atheist friends blame those things for what happened and then hold God responsible for it.

    As Ubi said, this can’t be correct. Either you misunderstand them, or they are not atheists.You wouldn’t blame Santa if you didn’t get the present you wanted.

    my steadfastly atheist brother went to the Persian Gulf to clean up bodies after the Gulf war and came back deeply struck by the evidence of evil and the need to find evidence of good.

    He should look in the mirror. A guy who goes over there to clean up some of the mess is evidencing some real good, I think.

  • 127. rusman  |  January 14, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Matthew 7:21-23
    21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

    1 John 2:19
    19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

  • 128. orDover  |  January 14, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I wonder what rusman things he or she is achieving by posting those particular verses. We are not claiming to be Christians. We don’t think we are “one of them.” We’ve “went out” all according to our own wills. We’re not prophesying in God’s name.

    Maybe he or she is attempting to troll that old line that we were never really Christian to begin with? Maybe he or she thinks that we will read the verses and tremble in fear?

    Oh, to understand the mind of a theist!

  • 129. chris  |  January 23, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    listen, when trying to convince people there is a god, quoting god or the bible is not an effective way of doing it. for example, i believe in Musha. Musha said, through his prophet Karl, that you will encounter people who mock you for following Musha, and you should feel sorry for them. For Musha also said that “Through me you will come to live for ever…..I am your mother, your creator, and I give and countinue to give you life….” To you non Musha believers, did this convince you?

  • 130. Dave  |  January 24, 2009 at 2:04 am

    I’ve been looking for people like you! I was a pastor for 10 years and left the faith about 3 years ago (though the process of losing it was longer). It has been agonizing. I think I’m finally coming out on the other side, and my wife has been on this journey of de-conversion with me. Our families still don’t know (though I think they suspect) and we still don’t know how to approach the subject with our 7 year old who remembers going to church, praying all the time, reading Bible stories, etc. Good to know I’m not the only one out here. It’s funny – when you’re a Christian you’re taught to feel oppressed and as if you’re in the minority. Now that I’m an atheist with a strong Christian background, I really understand what it means to feel alone and outnumbered…

  • 131. Quester  |  January 24, 2009 at 3:46 am

    Welcome, Dave! I’m another deconverted pastor. I hope you find the support you need, here. Be sure to check out our forum (scroll up and follow the Community site link at the top left).

  • 132. exrelayman  |  January 30, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Cooper,

    (from back in September, sorry to be so inattentive to my comment)

    No, not just to MY prayer, or YOUR prayer, but to all prayer by the faithful. One instance that comes to mind is the combined prayer of the entire congregation for a beloved and good lady to be healed of cancer. She promptly died.

    A symmetrical question that often gets bandied about in these discussions is “What would it take for you to believe (or doubt)? Many believers are proud to say nothing would cause them to doubt. This means that they are completely closed to any new evidence or reason having any ability to affect their thinking. In consequence, there is no point at all in any discussion with them.

    I, on the other hand, can specify one item that would secure my belief in the face of all contradictions, errors, and barbarities contained in the Bible. As a sign, the Bible promises that the prayers of the righteous will heal the sick. Not some of the time. Not the answer is yes, no, or silence. If this sign, which is scripturally promised, were even now to take effect so that all the prayers of one particular church were effective in healing the sick, people would flock to that church and hospitals would go out of business. The one true way would be confirmed by the promised sign. I would believe.

    I am not holding my breath. All the de-cons already know the defenses you can construct to derive a meaning other than what the Bible plainly states.

  • 133. Geewilligers  |  January 30, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    exrelayman—-

    Cooper was asked not to post any more per requests by the very open-minded members of the blog. He just visits and reads now.

  • 134. Edward T. Babinski  |  March 18, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Prometheus Books is interested a book of testimonies of college students who have left the fold, including the testimonies of founding members of the various freethought campus groups that have sprung up across the country in the last decade or so. There will also be room for testimonies by “leavers” from Christian colleges, even ex-seminarians. Though most of the contributors ought to still be fairly young. I am seeking intelligent, articulate and moving testimonies by young people who left the fold in college. I expect some may wish to remain anonymous which is fine; their name and the names of their church and family can be edited either before their submission or afterwards so that anonymity is maintained.

    I hope to publish the most intelligent, articulate and/or moving testimonies in full length format along with a photo of the contributor (unless they wish anonymity), and also include quotations from the testimonies of the remaining submitters.

    I am also seeking to speak with past founders and presidents of campus freethought groups for an introductory chapter on the HISTORY of the rise of campus freethought groups during the last two decades (or if not a complete history at least some of the most entertaining or moving anecdotes concerning the founding of such groiups).

    Edward T. Babinski (editor of Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists, Prometheus Books, 2003) email: leonardo3@msn.com

  • 135. Anonymous  |  April 26, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    You were so close… you were all so close…

  • 136. Anonymous  |  April 26, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    I’m actually really glad that I found this website. I know a little more now about what will hopefully happen to me at one point in my faith life. There is a point to all of this. You have fallen from your faiths, not by your own choice perhaps, but through various terrible circumstances. However, for some reason you did not come back, nothing saved you, no one gave you the answers you wanted (and I stress the word “WANTed”), and so you slipped away from the ethereal.
    But now I won’t. Thank you all for being who you needed to be. I’m so sorry for all of the pain you have been put through but such is the life of a servant of God and anyone who lives life on this plane of existence. I know a little more of what will happen to me now. I can only pray that such a powerful test may never come my way, but at the same time I now almost would welcome it. However, I suppose I should not ask for such a thing–to do so would be out of my place. Regardless, thanks to you all, I can be a little more ready for myself and, more importantly, for others in case anything so important and trying as this should happen in one’s faith life.
    Perhaps if it does happen to me… I may just not recover. It might NOT get better for me. I could only imagine. My whole world collasping around me… but that’s just it… my whole WORLD collasping around me. There’s nothing in there about my faith falling to pieces with it. So be it: thanks to you all, if my life ever falls into such dire straits, I will be a lone candle warding off the darkness that will be my life that has fallen around me.

    However, I can always assume that that was never the life for me. There are other paths–paths that I like to think are forged by a mix of pre-destination and human choice. They happen eventually, but it’s based on choices made by those here today. Imagine if Frodo from the Lord of the Rings decided in the first book/movie to simply keep the ring for himself and hole himself up in his hut. Then 200 years later when Sauron has taken control of half the world another champion comes across Frodo and claims the ring for his own by fate and proceeds to take it to Mt. Doom and the story goes from there. It’s all written, it just comes to fruition in ways that we cannot always forsee.

    Thanks again and just remember, God is always ready to take you back. This world is fleeting, the pain and suffering here is not eternal; only part of this world. It is not of God and nor are we.

    You guys can put this in the Hate Mail part of venganza.com if you want. It would probably fit best there and I would like more people to see it. I may not be the most articulate person, but maybe it might light a spark of hope in there or something… or not. Either way, to have this in your Hate Mail would kinda be a little flattering.

  • 137. Ubi Dubium  |  April 27, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Nah, can’t put this in the hate-mail at venganza.org. It’s correctly spelled and grammatical, does not contain much gratuitous usage of all caps, and makes no mention of The Flying Spaghetti Monster (pesto be upon him). And you don’t seem full of anger and venom. Wouldn’t be a good fit.

    But I think you are missing the point. If you ever do come to that crisis of faith where you realize that religion is all one big fiction, you will not be a “lone candle”. There is a growing community of former believers ready to help you make sense of a world without gods. We are here, and at many other websites, and many real-life organizations too. And we have found that even when faith comes crashing down, the world does not. Life goes on, and often gets better, once you free youself from the guilt, fear and contradictions that often come with religion.

  • 138. LeoPardus  |  April 27, 2009 at 10:08 am

    But now I won’t.

    This and more of its ilk provided me with a little amusement this morning. Nothing like arrogance in a theist to generate a snort.

  • 139. Anonymous  |  April 27, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I wasn’t trying to be ignorant… just thankful. And perhaps, “But now I have a stronger faith,” would probably have been a better choice of words.
    I should probably get a screen name or something… all of this anonymous stuff is getting kinda old…

  • 140. Anonymous  |  April 27, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    … Ignorant… I meant “arrogant.” … Meh.

  • 141. LeoPardus  |  April 27, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    I don’t think you were trying to be arrogant. It just came out that way. You see, all of us here would have said, back when we were believers, that we were in it for life; that we would never “fall”. I can’t even imagine anyone trying to convince me that I would one day be an atheist. I would have simply dismissed such a person.

    If one has a real, driving desire to ferret out what is true – no matter what the truth turns out to be – then such a person is “in danger” of de-converting. Eventually you will face the mountainous hordes of evidence that there is no such deity as Christianity, or Judaism, or Islam, or some others set forth; and you face the horrendous paucity of evidence in support of such a deity. And when you face that, if you’re dedicated to honesty, you’re out.

  • 142. paleale  |  April 28, 2009 at 10:49 am

    ‘Paucity’

    You made me smile, Leo. Love it.

    Your wealth of language is not unappreciated, my friend!

  • 143. RLWemm  |  May 11, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Imagine if Frodo from the Lord of the Rings decided in the first book/movie to simply keep the ring for himself and hole himself up in his hut. Then 200 years later when Sauron has taken control of half the world another champion comes across Frodo and claims the ring for his own by fate and proceeds to take it to Mt. Doom and the story goes from there. It’s all written, it just comes to fruition in ways that we cannot always forsee.

    = = = = = = = = = = = = =
    Dear Anonymous the Nth,

    Imagine if the people you trusted and looked up to believed that the Lord of the Rings was a work of fact and imagine that you had lived your early life as if this were true. Then imagine the turmoil you would feel as you gradually discovered that the stories just did not gell with reality without an unacceptable degree of “special pleading”. Imagine your consternation and discomfit upon recognising that Gandalf’s self-sacrifice made no logical sense given the other properties which he was supposed to have, that Soren is an unrealistically one-dimensional character (all bad), that the archelogist who discovered the site of Rivendell was likely to been mistaken and that Frodo may not have actually existed.

    Then imagine that your community has deified Bilbo as the Real Son of Gandalf and Frodo as the Real Son of Frodo. Imagine that Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf and Soren have been imbued with a whole lot of magical and personal characteristics which are are variance with the descriptions of these characters provided in many sections of the Holy Book of the Rings. Imagine that your community tells you that it the Evil Mind of Soren which makes you aware of these inconsistencies and that dwelling on them is a sin which will result in eternal torture for you in the furnace of Mt Doom along with the Unholy Ring.

    Now imagine your community insists that the reasons why you no longer believe in the truth of these stories are one or all of the following.

    You are
    • angry at the Lord Gandalf and His Real Sons (the LG+HRS, May They Be Forever Praised) for what you wrongly perceive to be a failure on their part
    • angry at the sins of False Followers or those who have slipped and fallen while temporarily failing to keep their eyes on the LG+HRS (MTBFP)

    You have
    • rejected the Lord Gandalf and His Real Sons (the LG+HRS, May They Be Forever Praised),
    • wilfully turned your back on the LG+HRS (MTBFP) so that you could sinfully do whatever you pleased with your life,
    • decided to hate the LG+HRS (MTBFP)
    • never been a Real Follower of the LG+HRS (MTBFP)
    • rejected the truth because it is too difficult to follow
    • had your heart hardened by the LG+HRS (MTBFP)
    • failed to read the right books,
    • insisted on reading the wrong books,
    • prefered to have faith in logic and reason
    • failed to prayerfully suppress your evil doubts,
    • questioned the stories told in the Holy Ring as interpreted by those who had been filled with the Spirit of Gandalf
    • failed to read the Lord of the Rings – at all, properly, frequently or prayerfully
    • failed to ask for help from those properly grounded in the Ring of Faith.
    • deluded by False Prophets and people who are not Real Followers
    • ignorant of the True Faith and the Real Followers
    PLUS
    • mirrors of every other claim which continuing Christains make about those who have abandoned their beliefs because they found them to be logically untenable.

    Now change the story to the ones you were told about Santa Klaus and see how it reads. Then try Tinkerbell, the Tooth Fairy, Trolls, Goblins, Ghosts, Witches, Lepracauns and any other childhood beliefs which you once held and have now been abandoned, thanks to the fact that they are not socially sanctioned in your community.

    Finally, re-read what you have written about ex-Cians and see if you can feel the sense of shame which many of us experience over doing this kind of thing to others when we were in the grip of the Believe-It-Or-Else imperative. While I doubt if this will deconvert you (because that invariably takes a long time), it may help you develop some understanding which is more closely allied with reality. Hopefully, it will lessen the liklihood of you insulting de-cons because of your reliance on the kind of ignorance and distortion which is promoted by religious communities under threat. I assume that your intentions are good and that you do not actually intend to insult people whose lack of belief threatens your own position.

  • 144. LeoPardus  |  May 11, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    RL:

    I like your analogy. It ought to be an article in it’s own right. Do you mind if I copy/paste it and put it up as an article?

  • 145. RLWemm  |  May 11, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Sure, Leo.

    Will you edit if first? There are a few obvious grammatical errors.

  • 146. LeoPardus  |  May 12, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Yep. Will edit. And will credit to you.

  • 147. LeoPardus  |  May 12, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    RL:

    Reading through your post I realize that I can’t quite figure out what you mean by “LG+HRS” Please let me know.

  • 148. ubi dubium  |  May 12, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    I got it – LG+HRS is the “Lord Gandalf” and “His Real Sons”!

    RL, love the post! Leo, please be sure you correct the spelling of “Sauron”, though. I’m sure I’m not the only Lord of the Rings geek here.

  • 149. paleale  |  May 12, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Correctly asserted, Ubi. Although I was going to let the spelling error slide. ;-)

  • 150. RLWemm  |  May 12, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    @Ubi : Bright Boy/Girl. :-)

    @Paleale: My rotting brain misses far too much these days. I try to blame my incompetent keyboard, but people seem reluctant to believe me.

    I could edit the thing myself but I don’t know how to share private email addresses on this forum and I don’t want to repost the essay here. Any ideas? If anyone belongs to Atheist Nexus you can find me there.

  • 151. Aisosa  |  May 26, 2009 at 3:14 am

    http://aisosa.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/reasons-why-i-3-being-a-christian/

    these ARE THE REASONS I LOVE BEING A CHRISTIAN..WERE U SURE OF ANYONE OF THEM BEFORE U BECAME APOSTATE?
    ARE U SURE YOU WEREN’T JUST IN CHRISTIANITY AS A RELIGION..AND NOT AS A RELATIONSHIP BTW U AND GOD???

  • 152. RLWemm  |  May 26, 2009 at 4:40 am

    Ah, fragging fragites! I posted this in the wrong section. Leo, please remove it for me.

    Try not to mutter too loudly about having to clean up constantly after incompetent aging females with at least pseudo dementia. :-)

  • 153. LeoPardus  |  May 26, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Removed it. No muttering. :)

  • 154. RLWemm  |  May 26, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks. I am deeply impressed with your reticence.

  • 155. Solo  |  July 9, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Was “in church” for over 30 years.

    Met my spouse of 23 years there, we’ve know each other since we were kids.

    Started “ministering” (aka preaching) in 1986

    Established an independent church 10 years ago.

    My 18 year old plays keyboards for said church.

    Got tired, discouraged, burnt-out, and honest about not being able to live up to all the stuff I was taught, raised in and preached. Realized I wasn’t meant to be a pastor’s wife and live in a goldfish bowl existence as church life can be.

    So I quit.

    Just about everybody in my world is disappointed in me because I got tired and burned out, so I’m basically going through all this stuff ALONE.

    Currently facing a painful separation from said spouse, and totally confused about all the “God stuff.”

  • 156. paleale  |  July 9, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    to Solo:

    http://www.atheistnexus.org/

    This is a great place to make friends (at least, the online variety). Any type of community helps during the process. I have been at it alone as well, in a Jesus-saturated environment, trying to keep my head from exploding. Sites like Atheist Nexus and De-Con have helped me immensely by giving me a sense of community outside of where I live. This is truly a great group of people here. I’m very grateful for people like Paul and Leo :-)

  • 157. LeoPardus  |  July 9, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Wow Solo. Your story is so familiar. Definitely hang around here, at our .org site (see top, right of page), and at atheistnexus.

    You may even be lucky enough to find someone in your town. But at any rate, this site exists for people just like you. We’ve been through this, or are going through it, and we are here to help.

  • 158. Solo  |  July 9, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    @paleale and LeoPardus…thank you so much for your kindness! I haven’t even had “church folk” reach out to me and be so responsive and willing to help as you all have done here. I think I’ll take you both up on the offer and stick around a while. *grinning*

  • 159. Quester  |  July 9, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Solo,

    Welcome to the club! There’s a lot of room for confusion in amidst all the “God-stuff”, and a lot of pain and stress involved in making a brave decision like yours. A little more than a year ago, I was a licensed and ordained pastor. This site was really helpful for me while I struggled with where I was and what I believed. The first two articles I wrote here, I wrote when II was still a questioning Christian. I ended up becoming atheist, though that’s hardly inevitable. I still look into ideas like pantheism and deism from time to time. There’s no rush.

    Besides the community sites LP and Paleale invited you to visit, do, please, read some of the articles in the archives on this site. You may find some (or even several) that speak to issues you’re facing right now.

    Take care.

  • 160. Xtine  |  July 9, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Solo: I often wonder about believers who shy away from the black sheep and backslidden. Not sure if it is scriptural or just plain old fear of association.

  • 161. RLWemm  |  July 9, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Hi Solo.

    Welcome to the club.

    Yes, check out the sites mentioned.

    Another good one is the weekly radio/podcast shows hosted by the Austin (Texas) Athiests. Search for the Atheist Experience web page and then sample some of the archived programs which you can download or stream to your computer. There are a number of regular hosts/hostesses, all with different personalities, and there are often guest speakers. The interesting stuff IMHO is the phone calls from believers (mostly Christian of various flavours). Matt Delahuntly (an ex-theolog) is a superb de-apologist but, in character with his armed forces background, tends to be rather abrupt and impatient with some callers.

  • 162. Paul  |  October 23, 2009 at 11:00 am

    I should start by saying that I am probably the antithesis of most of your members. I am a born again Christian, a re-convert if you like.

    I spent almost half a century searching for something to explain Life The Universe and Everything, I became a Scientist, and engineer, a Manager, an Author and a Reviewer. I practised Magic, Divination, Prohecy 9I Ching, Tarot and Runic lore) and I was very good at it.

    I believed in the individual as the centre of the universe, I believed that we all make our own destiny, I ridiculed conventioanl religious groups and pitied those weird Christians.

    Then I was challenged to ‘look properly’ examine the evidence, contemporary, historical, rhetorical, circumstanial and hypothetical as well as tangible and real.

    To cut a long story short, I realised, gardually, that I believed in a creator God, and the whole Judeo/Christian story. I followed Christ, and became baptised and confirmed.

    I still challenge very very much and as much from my engineering/scientific background as anything else I demand evidence (note I didn’t say proof).

    The point is that I don’t pity your group, believe that you are misguided or challenged or any thing.

    I have my faith which is strong, I challeneg the established church (both historically and modern) I challenge mine and my friends beliefs I seek for answers continually and yes I believe one of my missions is to bring those same thoughts to others.

    I am about to generate (in months not days) a web-site where I hope to explore for bottom shelf theologists, all the questions and issues that challenged me for almost 50 years, and help others to explore and debate as well.

    I obviously hope, unlike your mebers I guess, that I will encourage people who are undecided to become believers, and I shall be challenging some of the atheistic evidnce, for example virtually all of Ricahrd dawkins claims, and much of what darwin said. I shall not be doing this from my knowledge but will be drawing upon much cleverer and analytical minds than mine. I read avidly, both pro and anti Christian literature, of the popular and academic kind, and my personal challenge is to summarise, analyse and present provocative hooks for discussion.

    My p[oint (at long last I hera you cry) is that you, as a body, have already done all of this, and while you seem to cleectively have reached a conclusion that is at odds with mine, i would very much like to explore your analysis and thoughts.

    The question is can you point me at any ‘succint’ sources that would encapsulate the essence (or a summary) of what arguments led you to your current beliefs ?

    I realise that’s a bit liek trying to describe the history of the world in three words or less, but I also think that if this documented debate doesn’t already exist, then perhaps it needs to be generated, and although we come form differing views I guess we are both seeking the same thing.

    Regards

    Paul

  • 163. DSimon  |  October 23, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Paul, I can’t speak for anyone else here, but I’d recommend Greta Christina’s The Top Ten Reasons I Don’t Believe In God as a good summary of why I personally am an atheist.

    I and probably others are interested in what you have to say, especially since you are being so polite and reasonable. However, it’s important for the tone of the de-conversion that “re-conversion” conversations not dominate. So, if you’re asked to take the thread elsewhere by people on this site, please don’t take it personally.

  • 164. LeoPardus  |  October 23, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Paul:

    You can look at any of my article in the archives that are titled “Reasons why I can no longer believe:”

  • 165. HeIsSailing  |  October 23, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Paul says:
    ” for example virtually all of Ricahrd dawkins claims, and much of what darwin said. …”

    Can you cite some examples? As a scientist yourself, what scientific (not theistic/atheistic) ideas do you wish to challenge as, what you call ‘some of the atheistic evidnce’?

    I am not familar with too many scientists who also claim to practice ‘Magic, Divination, Prohecy 9I Ching, Tarot and Runic lore”. What type of scientist are you? What and where did you study?

    To answer your question, there are many, many reasons why we each no longer believe, and none of us thinks exactly the same on these matters. There is no ideology, no orthodoxy in atheism.

    But for me, personally, one of the main reasons why I no longer believe can be summed up
    here,

    and here,

    and here, and

    and here. (I hope I did that right).

    I cannot pretend that these horrors are not grotesque. They show to me, that if there is a god, that creature is utterly impotent, uncaring, and apparantly too transcendent and preoccupied with its own righteousness to be worthy of our belief.

  • 166. orDover  |  October 23, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    It seems incredibly obvious to me that “searching for something to explain Life The Universe and Everything” is a gross error that only leads to false answers, overly simplified to appeal to human minds.

  • 167. Joe  |  October 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    orDover (#166)—

    But isn’t “searching for something to explain Life, the Universe and Everything” the very nature of science itself? How can that be a “gross error”? Or am I misunderstanding you?

  • 168. orDover  |  October 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Science isn’t trying to explain in the existential “why are we here” “what’s the meaning of everything?” sort of way. Asking “what is the explanation for everything” at once suggests, without any proof of cause, that the universe exists for some sort of reason. If you’re looking for “something,” like a force or one single answer to attempted to “explain everything,” then yeah, you’re going to come to the conclusion that there must be a God, or some sort of equally powerful creative entity. What other answer could you possibly come to? But you’re asking the wrong questions. Before you ask yourself “what is the explanation of everything?” you should first prove that “everything” necessitates an explanation.

  • 169. orDover  |  October 23, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    …necessitates an explanation, or, I should add, even has one to being with.

  • 170. Joe  |  October 23, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    OK— I see where you are coming from now. Thanks for the explanation.

  • 171. Quester  |  October 23, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Paul,

    I’ll have to drop by your site. I look forward to reading your arguments. I’m afraid that I don’t have any arguments that led me to stop believing in the existence of a god– I just realized that I had insufficient evidence to let me say anything with confidence about any possible god’s attributes, will or existence.

    To save you time and effort, though, please avoid:
    – Pascal’s Wager.
    – Aquinas’ Uncaused Cause.
    – Lewis’ trilemma.
    – Lewis’ argument from unrealized perfection.
    – the Ontological argument.
    – the argument from Ignorance.
    – the argument from Consequences.
    – the argument from Popularity.
    – the argument from Longevity.
    – Unverifiable personal experience.

    If two minutes thought is insufficient to show why those arguments don’t work, try five minutes on Google.

    On the other hand, I would be quite happy if you could include:
    – reasons why evidence for any possible god should be automatically considered evidence for a Christian understanding of God.
    – an explanation that specifically addresses the inclusion of tornadoes, hurricanes, natural poisons, predators, parasites, famines and excruciatingly painful debilitating illnesses in a world created by an omipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God who loves humans. If this explanation refers to Adam and Eve, please also include why the consequences of their actions are still in evidence after the resurrection of Christ.
    – evidence for a particular understanding of an afterlife (not just an afterlife in general, but a particular understanding of it) that includes reasons for why it takes place after this life, rather than instead of it.

    Thanks!

  • 172. Zoe  |  October 24, 2009 at 10:29 am

    HIS,

    Thank you for those video links. Painful to watch but they say it all as far as I’m concerned.

  • 173. bjm  |  October 24, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Have you ever read St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila’s works. They speak of the dark nights of purification.

    The Church has always anticipated spiritually dark periods in the spiritual life. (The “dark night” of the 18th century mystic; St. Paul of the Cross;) We imitate Christ crucifed. We go through a purification process. It is indeed true that our faith is not perfectly rooted in a proper understanding of God and therefore needs to be purged. Love will purge us of any lies which would prevent us from knowing love. Does God only love us in the times where we see and understand and are not struggling and suffering? God is not afraid of teh darkness that we experince. He himself entered into the darkness of suffering and death. Indeed, the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross in the 16th century coined the term the “dark night” of the soul to describe a characteristic stage in the growth of some spiritual masters. Mother Teresa’s, in our recent age, speaks of this darkness that she went through.

    In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, Mother Teresa spoke of the “dryness,” “darkness,” “loneliness” and “torture” she was undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. Just as Christ entered into a world of sin and darkness, so too are all Christians called to bring love into the darkness of suffering, sin, and death. It is precisly the thought that love does not exists as we desire it to exist that causes so much suffering. Just because we suffer does not mean that love does not exist. I would say that a soul that is willing to endure suffering for the sake of love, all the more proves the existence of selfless love. Christ did not come to love us for his own sake, but it was for us that he came. He lived love and he died loving. Love is stronger than death. Christ rose from the lies which tried to put love to death. If love exists come down from the cross. Where is love now when you are suffering and dying? Where is your God? God did not created the human being to suffer and die. The human being is created for perfect love. Yet, we have a free will.

    http://www.karmel.at/ics/john/dn.html

  • 174. HeIsSailing  |  October 24, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    bjm asks:
    Have you ever read St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila’s works. They speak of the dark nights of purification.

    I have read Teresa of Avila’s ‘The Interior Castle’, and Bernard McGinn’s anthology ‘The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism’, which contains much from John of the Cross.

    You realize that much of their suffering, or ‘dark nights of purification’ was self-inflicted? The purgation of their souls and mortification of their flesh was considered essential for purification. The museum of art here in El Paso has a huge portrait collection of Saints – it is some of the darkest, dreariest, most morbidly obscene art I have ever seen. These were the people who at least admitted that the God they worshipped actively engaged in torturing humanity, because only through suffering could they see God.

    I cannot believe in such a god. I have to call a spade a spade – a god who tortures, if such a god exists, is a morally repugnant monster. I can find no comfort in imagining a god actively engaged in who suffers and who does not.

    Why do we suffer? It is not so that we can see the face of God in our suffering. We suffer – because shit happens.

  • 175. Rosita  |  October 24, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    @bjm

    That is a truly disgusting god and I pity anyone who worships it. If it came to bring “love” it has done an epically bad job of it.

    The real reason why mystics get high on suffering is that pain and the neglect of normal bodily needs is one way of inducing the brain chemicals which cause mystical hallucinations which can be interpreted as seeing “god”.

  • 176. HeIsSailing  |  October 24, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Zoe says:
    Thank you for those video links. Painful to watch but they say it all as far as I’m concerned.

    Me too. I cannot ignore this kind of suffering. The Indonesian tsunami, especially, was a Faith Killer for me. I could take any ‘Intelligent Design’ idea seriously after that. We are at the whim of natural forces, and survive despite those forces being, occassionally, incredibly hostile toward us.

    I had a long chat with my wife about this a few weeks ago. Her family lives in Metro Manila, which was recently struck by Typhoon Ondoy. It did not have strong very strong winds, but it dumped more rain on Manila than at any time since record-keeping started there. Many lives were lost, and many went homeless. Thankfully, her family is ok, but they did lose much. After listening to countless people from Manila say “Thank God he survived… Thank God she is ok…”, I could not take it any more and had to speak up.

    For about an hour, I basically told my wife, ‘How can you find comfort in a god who is behind this? People so readily find God in the beauty of the world, but to be consistant, they have to find God in the ugly as well. ‘How can you see one and not the other?’

    There are many reasons not to believe in God, but needless suffering is the faith killer for me.

  • 177. HeIsSailing  |  October 24, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Sorry, I could *not* take any Intelligent Design idea seriously…

  • 178. Quester  |  October 24, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Re: 173- Oh, goody. The Roman Catholic excuses for a god who doesn’t do anything. It’s been almost two years since I last ran into those. I even preached a sermon on Mother Teresa’s doubts, where I carefully avoided talking about the suffering she caused and encouraged. My faith was dying, even then, but I was still trying to put up a good front while I hoped to believe again.

  • 179. HeIsSailing  |  October 24, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Quester rants:
    The Roman Catholic excuses for a god who doesn’t do anything. It’s been almost two years since I last ran into those.

    Indeed. For those out there who are not familar with the type of self-loathing Christianity that bjm is espousing (comment 173), let me quote from one of the heroes of the Faith that bjm is citing – the 16th century Spanish mystic, John of the Cross. I take this from William James classic ‘The Varieties of Religious Experience’ (which is essential reading, by the way):

    “First of all, carefully excite in yourself an habitual affectionate will in all things to imitate Jesus Christ. If anything agreeable offers itself to your senses, yet does not at the same time tend purely to the honor and glory of God, renounce it and separate yourself from it for the love of Christ, who all his life long had no other taste or wish than to do the will of his Father whom he called his meat and nourishment. For example, you take satisfaction in hearing of things in which the glory of God bears no part. Deny yourself this satisfaction, mortify your wish to listen. You take pleasure in seeing objects which do not raise your mind to God: refuse yourself this pleasure, and turn away your eyes. The same with conversations and all other things. Act similarly, so far as you are able, with all the operations of the senses, striving to make yourself free from their yokes.

    “The radical remedy lies in the mortification of the four great natural passions, joy, hope, fear, and grief. You must seek to deprive these of every satisfaction and leave them as it were in darkness and the void. Let your soul therefore turn always:

    “Not to what is most easy, but to what is hardest;

    “Not to what tastes best, but to what is most distasteful;

    “Not to what most pleases, but to what disgusts;

    “Not to matter of consolation, but to matter for desolation rather;

    “Not to rest, but to labor;

    “Not to desire the more, but the less;

    “Not to aspire to what is highest and most precious, but to what is lowest and most contemptible;

    “Not to will anything, but to will nothing;

    “Not to seek the best in everything, but to seek the worst, so that you may enter for the love of Christ into a complete destitution, a perfect poverty of spirit, and an absolute renunciation of everything in this world.

    “Embrace these practices with all the energy of your soul and you will find in a short time great delights and unspeakable consolations.

    “Despise yourself, and wish that others should despise you.

    “Speak to your own disadvantage, and desire others to do the same;

    “Conceive a low opinion of yourself, and find it good when others hold the same;

    “To enjoy the taste of all things, have no taste for anything.

    “To know all things, learn to know nothing.

    “To possess all things, resolve to possess nothing.

    “To be all things, be willing to be nothing.

    “To get to where you have no taste for anything, go through whatever experiences you have no taste for.

    “To learn to know nothing, go whither you are ignorant.

    “To reach what you possess not, go whithersoever you own nothing.

    “To be what you are not, experience what you are not.”

    This is the type of suffering that I assume Mother Teresa caused and encouraged, a suffering that is innate in her own Catholic tradition. I believe that to teach people that they must suffer in this life to be acceptable for their god is a terrible sin against humanity.

  • 180. LeoPardus  |  October 24, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Your biggest problem bjm, is that the being you are talking about simply does not exist. You made him up. Others make him up. He is whatever you want him to be, except for one thing. He is not effective in any way. See my article “Your almighty deity cannot.”

  • 181. Kimberly  |  November 7, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    I just want to say, “Thanks!!!” I’m so relieved to know that there are others out there thinking, wondering and searching just as I am. Sometimes I feel like an alien from another planet because of the questions I have but if I dare to ask them to my friends and neighbors my children would no longer have playmates. However, I’m getting to the point where I must be honest to myself and my children and that I am doing them more good to sometimes say that “I just don’t know the answer to everything but I do know that I love you and that is one thing in life that I am absolutely SURE of.”

  • 182. Quester  |  November 7, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Thanks for posting, Kimberly! Let us know if we can be of any help with your searching.

  • 183. LeoPardus  |  November 8, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Kimberly:

    You are just what this site exists for. Hang around, ask what you like. Check out the community site too. (Link at upper right of page.)
    Best of luck in your journey.

  • 184. Tony Ferreira  |  December 12, 2009 at 12:24 am

    I enjoyed reading about the emptyness in religion. I have experienced it too. I do not belong to a church. I do not like all the mumbo jumbo in religion. I cannot call God Father. But for now, I call God, The Great God Of The Universe, as I would be amazed in nature.

  • 185. Rosita  |  December 12, 2009 at 12:40 am

    @Tony Ferreira

    Then why not just remove the divine pretensions and simply call the phenomena “Nature”? De-personifying it makes it no less amazing or wonderful.

  • [...] weren’t true Christians, etc. For that, I am simply going to point you here. (Why say something that has already been said better than I could say it? [...]

  • 187. Josh  |  January 30, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Wow! I can only say this is a great summary of my life.

  • 188. BigHouse  |  January 30, 2010 at 11:29 am

    How’d the move go, Josh?

  • 189. What Do You Really Know About Atheism? | Restless Wanderings  |  January 30, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    [...] weren’t true Christians, etc. For that, I am simply going to point you here. (Why say something that has already been said better than I could say [...]

  • 190. 4riozs  |  January 31, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    “We were the 20% that did 80% of what needed to be done. And we did it all because we genuinely believed, were thrilled about the Faith and our God.”

    I like this phrase. I don’t mean to come across as arrogant. But I think this was is big factor in realizing what Christianity really is, and not what we originally thought.

  • 191. 4riozs  |  January 31, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    “We prayed and even screamed and cried and pleaded in prayer.

    And heard silence, and felt the emptiness.”

    That sound much like my last experience of the faith. When I realized that no one heard me, I felt better, I stopped feeling ignored and went on with my life.

  • 192. Michelle O'Mealy  |  March 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I’m a serial blog stalker and blogger. I usually skip past the religous themed blogs, boring, milky, sweet tooth pictures of nancy from the midwest posing with her Gap dressed doe eyed kids, hugging daddy with the family pet near their feet. I LIKE THIS BLOG! Religion should have more room for questions and opposing opinions, there should be more dialogue. I think that’s why we are here on earth, to connect, to agree to disagree, simply respect others, love others, make lives easier and more bearable for those around us. I grew up in a hardcore Catholic family and was made to go to mass. As i grew older and thought for myself I left the church and stayed far away for almost 10 years. I’ve been back 10 plus years again and try to open my ears and heart to get something out of it. Some days I do, other days I don’t. My husband is anti religion (organized religion)and he’s seen me through this carnival ride. He doesn’t go to mass and I don’t expect him to. It’s not his thing. We’ve been together more than 20 yrs and make it work. My kids are even baptized. Not sure where I was headed with this comment but I’m not afraid of other’s views and enjoy the dialogue that ensues. i think your de conversion waver sums it up.

  • 193. What Do You Really Know About Atheism? | NW Ohio Skeptics  |  May 21, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    [...] weren’t true Christians, etc. For that, I am simply going to point you here. (Why say something that has already been said better than I could say [...]

  • 194. JohnFrost  |  June 22, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Just found this blog via the RedheadedSkeptic, and, wow. This is sooo true. I get so tired of the “weren’t a True Christian” line of attack. And the even more inaccurate “you didn’t want to believe” line.
    Your last paragraph highlights exactly what so many of us felt. I spent two excruciatingly painful years deconverting, and I fought like mad against it.
    Of course, if Christians allowed themselves to believe that, what would that say about their God? I think it’d be easier to convince an evangelical of evolution than that we actually fought to keep our faith.

  • 195. Quester  |  June 22, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Glad you’ve found the site, John. Welcome.

  • 196. CheezChoc  |  June 22, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    JohnFrost, you might find the Self-deprecation discussion interesting.

  • 197. Koopa  |  February 3, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Wow this hits home. My faith has been slipping for years. I finally accepted that I no longer believe. I am scared of what will happen when my wife finds out. But I hopefull of a future free of myths!

  • 198. Sarah  |  June 2, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Thank you, for this website. I have been feeling empty for the past couple of years after 20+ years of a healthy, immovable faith. I needed to hear that I am not alone. I needed to hear that while “God” seems to have abandoned me, I might be able to find community elsewhere.

  • 199. LeoPardus  |  June 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Sarah,
    Just so you know; this site is much declined from its heyday and doesn’t get so much traffic these days. Please do read around and ask questions. You’ll get some response. Also feel free to address questions to me or others.
    There are other, more active, deconvert sites around the web too. If you are interested, we can tell you where to look.

  • 200. Green Coffee Bean Extract  |  August 6, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Good day very nice site!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Superb ..

    I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds also?
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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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