Reasons why I can no longer believe: 3 – Unchanged lives

November 11, 2007 at 8:29 pm 75 comments

[This is the last of the series. I have other reasons that wouldn't resonate with many folks, (e.g. issues with Duplicatethe EOC in particular) so I'll leave those lie.]

Changed lives are so often trotted out as testimonies or evidence of the truth of God/Christ/the Gospel. So shouldn’t unchanged lives constitute counter-proof?

Just look at what the Bible says about believers:

- If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away.
- Those who have put on Christ have put off the old (sinful) nature.
- How can you who are in Christ continue to sin?
- You are being made into the likeness of Christ.
- You have been given the mind of Christ.

And that’s the sort of stuff people love to talk about when they preach, give their testimony, counsel others, and so on. But where’s the reality of it to be seen?

Go take a look into any church. You’ll see that believers behave just as badly, and sometimes worse, than non-believers. There’s no God/Christ within them, making them perfect, or making them into His likeness.

I’m sure we could all supply a dozen examples of spirit-filled, born-again, Bible-reading, daily-praying adulterers, embezzlers, liars, bigots, and so on. What a community of the saints! Is this really the best that the ‘Holy Spirit’ can do when He dwells in people?

The people of the Church are supposed to be God’s ambassadors. Representing Him to the world. Living as His people in this world. Honestly now: Do they seem like they come from a country you’d like to live in?

I believe it was Karen who posted what I’m copying below. I’m quoting it because she put it so well and concisely. So if my drivel above wasn’t too cohesive, enjoy Karen’s better summary.

“The bible tells us that Christians who believe in Jesus and have received the Holy Spirit have access to God’s guidance, comfort and presence. If that’s true, it seems to me that there should be some way to detect that special influence in individual lives and in the corporate “life” of the church and history of Christianity. After all, people who have a member of the trinity living in their hearts should manifest that at least somewhat consistently – right?

And yet it seems like the history of the church, and the individual lives of believers, bears no distinctive stamp of that indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The atrocities, the horrors, the corruption, the wars fought in the name of Christ, the individual selfishness, suffering, immorality – where’s the divine spark that separates Christians from followers of other religions, or from non-believers?

I don’t see it. There are great churches doing good, and great individual believers living sacrificial lives. There are also great secular organizations doing much good, and great atheists living sacrificial lives. There’s not a pervasive difference that I can see, and it seems if the promises of the NT are true, there should be.”

- LeoPardus

Also see:

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Unless you are sinless, lay your stone down and walk away In Fear and Trembling – The Peace from Our Lord

75 Comments Add your own

  • 1. marie  |  November 11, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    so true! It always amazes me that people who supposedly have ALL their faith in an eternal bliss of life with God in Heaven after death, could work so hard to make bliss for themselves in this life…seemingly at the expense of committing themselves totally to the poor, sick and needy–let alone, unsaved.

  • 2. ESVA  |  November 11, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    I know believers don’t like non-believers to point to their imperfections as reason to question the validity of faith, but they can’t have it both ways. Either their religion and the indwelling presence of a Holy Spirit makes a difference in the way they live or it doesn’t. Whether believers like it or not, their lives are the most significant points in this world in which the work of God can be displayed. Those of us who question religion have a right to say, “Show me the money. Show me indisputably how God’s activity makes any difference in this world.” If he makes little or no difference in the lives of his followers, one has to question either his power or their faith. After all, if he can’t even significantly affect the lives of people who have surrendered completely to his will, what possible chance can he have against overt rebels like Satan or the impersonal forces of nature, which don’t yield to anything (except, perhaps, a stronger natural force)? If the problem is not his weakness, than it has to be flaw in their faith. Another option, of course, is to question whether there is any “there” there.

    I, for one, am not insisting that believers must bat 1.000 on issues of morality and lifestyle. It is not out of line, however, to expect that believers will be consistently above average when compared with non-believers who don’t have the advantage of perfect, supernatural guidance. Some believers are above average in integrity, etc. So are some non-believers. Some non-believers are below average in morality, etc., So are some believers. Overall, however, the lives of believers should be noticeably different than the lives of non-believers. Alas, that is not the case at all.

  • 3. LeoPardus  |  November 12, 2007 at 12:07 am

    ESVA:

    Well said. I like it better than what I put together.

    marie:

    Yes. Good point. They make their earthly lives blissful, while ignoring the very things they are commanded to do in the Bible.

  • 4. HQ19:7  |  November 12, 2007 at 8:09 am

    I hear what you are saying and most of all because I myself have “been there”. It took me some time to realise I should not be going there for either of these two reasons: 1, for fellowship with imperfect people. If I continued to judge religion by those who proclaim to follow it’s tenets, I’d be following the wrong way. I believe it is in the Gospel of Mathew “not everyone who cries out Lord! Lord! will be saved”. It is in the fruits of the tree that a tree is known. 2. I should not seek out worship for my sake, but because it is due to my creator. These two personal revelations helped me and I hope it will benefit others too. It is in my own fruit, my actions, that I too will be saved. I think most Christians fail to accept that there may be many who will be saved, who lived by the way of Christ, yet they denied him all their lives. In effect, they followed Christ’s example, and so they will (I believe in a gracious, wise, merciful G-d). The scripture says that Jesus is the way. I read that as meaning that it is through living life his way, that we will reach heaven. I continue to pray for all bloggers, and especially those seeking light, starting with myself, that I may achieve humility, and then understanding of myself and others.

  • 5. HeIsSailing  |  November 12, 2007 at 10:50 am

    LeoPardus, this was one of the main catalysts that first got me to question my faith. My wife, a devout Catholic, told me that the folks in my Baptist church were good people, but their beliefs in a ‘personal relationship’ led to little outward Christian action. Soon after, I read a book about Martin Luther King, and realized how tepid my Christianity really was compared to what it should be if we were really indwelt by the Spirt of God Almighty.

  • 6. bipolar2  |  November 12, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Ready for a next step?

    Then consider taking a look at the book, Atheist Manifesto by Michel Onfray. Right now only in hardback. With paper coming out 16 Jan 08.

    But, if you’re near a big chain bookshop, you can always skim a copy for nada.

    See reviews on

    Certainly, not for everybody. Good luck on finding your way *out* of your labyrinth.

    bipolar2

  • 7. karen  |  November 12, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Yes, Leo, that was me. This is a big issue for me, and it’s one that I’ve never seen answered satisfactorily.

    Someone I brought this up with once said that having the holy spirit should produce some measurable change in the Christian population, even if it’s only slight. For instance, studies show that people with college educations have certain advantages across the board (higher salary, etc) over those who did not graduate from college.

    If the holy spirit truly changes lives, it seems to me that something like the “college effect” should be visible in Christians. So far as I can tell, it isn’t there.

    The standard explanations – free will, no/very few true Christians, the effect is there but it’s hidden – don’t ring true for me. The simpler, more obvious answer is that there’s no effect because there’s no holy spirit. Occam’s Razor seems to apply here.

  • 8. locomotivebreath1901  |  November 12, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    You state a frequent concession: Whether it is the church, in general, or individuals, in particular, the goal cannot be attained or sustained in the aggregate, so it is to be rejected altogether.

    You have abandoned the field to the enemy. Unless you concede there is no enemy, then this discussion comes to a screeching halt.

    You state, “…There are great churches doing good, and great individual believers living sacrificial lives. There are also great secular organizations doing much good, and great atheists living sacrificial lives. There’s not a pervasive difference that I can see, and it seems if the promises of the NT are true, there should be.”

    No one lives in a vacuum. Did it ever occur to you that the applied Christian philosophy, which turned the world on its head, has influenced or otherwise directed secular organizations & sacrificial atheists, directly or indirectly? And vice versa?

    No one lives in a vacuum. So how is the church to live? As conquering crusaders or oppressive inquisitors? God forbid! The wheat and tares shall grow together. Unfortunately, the tares often over takes the wheat – unless the gardener takes aggressive action. Time will tell……

  • 9. HeIsSailing  |  November 12, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    locobreath,
    I think the point is that the Christian is promised the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the ‘numina’, or the power of the almighty, to live a sanctified life. Jesus said in Matt 7 that people would know the fruits of those who were not his true disciples. Elsewhere in Galatians 5, Paul lays out the fruits of the spirit, in contradistinction to the unbeliever, being peace, love, joy, etc…

    Does this match what we see in real life? Does it really matter whether the good works of the Christian influences the atheist or vice versa given that the nonbeliever is to be marked by ‘their fruits’? In real life this does not bear out. You cannot tell a decent, moral law abiding Christian from a decent, moral, law abiding atheist when placed side-by-side.

    So, what is this indwelling power of the Holy Spirit supposed to be anyway?

  • 10. HQ19:7  |  November 13, 2007 at 2:58 am

    It looks like folks are still searching for religion that “does something for them”. Is this the effect of consumerism?

  • 11. HeIsSailing  |  November 13, 2007 at 7:08 am

    HQ19:7 says:

    It looks like folks are still searching for religion that “does something for them”. Is this the effect of consumerism?

    No, it is the effect of the characature image you appear to have of apostates. This article is about the lack of unchanged lives despite what we would expect to see if the Bible were actually true. It is not about Christians whining because God did not give them what they want.

  • 12. HQ19:7  |  November 13, 2007 at 8:59 am

    The thing is, your assumptions are in error. You assume that what you are observing is the result of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps your error arises out of consumer believers who promote a false religion that says, once one is “saved”, all is well and one is instantly filled with some spirit force. This is pure fiction arising from a very narrow and simplistic reading of the Bible. My comment about consumerism was alluding to this weak proposition. One that I do not ascribe to at all.

  • 13. Jaime  |  November 13, 2007 at 9:25 am

    No-one denies that there are “good” atheists, or that an unbeliever’s moral ethic, on a case by case basis, cannot surpass a random Christian’s (at least, in deed; more debatable in thought). I think, however, that the burden of proof is still on the atheist to prove that an atheistic society would be better than a Christian one. Historically and theologically speaking, there is no reason why an atheist should live a good, moral life. Especially when what is “good” and “moral” is largely defined by the Christian ethic (doing good to others, living “sacrificially” as you said). Even the “should” is religious, as Neitzsche so famously pointed out.

    Today there is a post-religious atheism that is acceptable because it comes from a Judeo-Christian culture that has been secularized… keep the Christian ethic, but axe Christ. This is fine, but recognize that it is so. The option of having this post-religious atheism comes only from secularizing the largely Christian roots of Western society… even Franklin and Jefferson, who were secular, believed in biblical morality. I would argue that other secularized societies, not based on Christianity, turn quickly into societies you wouldn’t want to be a part of, whether secular Iraq, Russia, China, etc. Nor would you want to advocate the ethics you do in an essentially religious but non-Christian country like India or Iran.

    So please do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Am I grieved that more Christians do not live a moral life? Absolutely. Paul forbids that such a thing could occur, in the NT. He said it would lead to the kind of skepticism you have posted about. However, it is not up to the individual Christian who may have had a moral failure (or even a large cadre of them) to prove Christianity is an essentially loving, ethical, and liberty-releasing code. We can fake it if we want, by taking the code but rejecting belief in Christ as God. But intellectual honesty should encourage you to look to the source of where you got that code to begin with. It wasn’t Islam, hinduism, buddhism, or paganism. And it wasn’t communism, evolution, or agnosticism. It was Christianity with some unique additions or tweaking.

  • 14. びっくり  |  November 13, 2007 at 9:57 am

    If I enter a garage, I don’t become a car. Just because people enter a church, they don’t automatically become a Christian.

    I have had the joy of meeting numerous people whose lives had been changed in fantastic ways, but these are not the people who parade around drawing attention to themselves. They are the people who serve God whenever and wherever they are. I imagine you have encountered them as well, but have overlooked them. You won’t see them running around bragging about being blessed, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It just means you have to want to see them. The human mind is a powerful thing and is capable of ignoring all sorts of information.

    If you seek the truth with all your heart, you will surely find it. Keep investigating, keep questioning, keep an open mind: you’ll get it all figured out.

  • 15. LeoPardus  |  November 13, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Jaime:
    I think, however, that the burden of proof is still on the atheist to prove that an atheistic society would be better than a Christian one.

    ‘Tis not a provable thing. Since the world has never had a Christian society, there’s no comparison possible. Hmmm… that might put the burden on you to create a Christian society. But that’s failed every time it’s been tried.

    Historically and theologically speaking, there is no reason why an atheist should live a good, moral life.

    Not sure what you mean by ‘historically speaking’ but obviously there wouldn’t be a theological reason for an atheist to do anything. But there are reasons for atheists to live good, moral lives. If nothing else, self interest should do it. I want a peaceful, nice life. I won’t get it if I treat others like crap. So I’ll behave. It’s basically the Golden Rule. Which BTW predates Christ and even Judaism.

  • 16. LeoPardus  |  November 13, 2007 at 11:55 am

    びっくり :

    I’ve encountered the sort of Christians you mention and have not overlooked them. They are the exception, not the rule.

    Have you encountered non-Christians of sterling character? The sort who help willingly and give of themselves? I certainly have. And they are also the exception, not the rule.

    So there are relatively rare Christians and non-Christians who are wonderful people. And there are relatively rare monsters in both camps. And there is a great mass in the middle. Big deal.

    Go back and read the italicized part of the original post, and also read response 2 (by ESVA). Those are the questions you must address. And exceptions to the ugly rule don’t address it.

    the human mind is a powerful thing and is capable of ignoring all sorts of information.

    Like the ugly reality that Christians are in no way markedly different from non-Christians despite the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit”? Or the total inability to detect any effect of prayer? Or the utter disunity of the Church? Or …….

    If you seek the truth with all your heart, you will surely find it. Keep investigating, keep questioning, keep an open mind: you’ll get it all figured out.

    Ditto to you. Except that you won’t get it all figured out. In fact the more you open up and let yourself see, the more you’ll realize that you don’t have it all figured out.

  • 17. Steelman  |  November 13, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    Jaime said, about the roots of atheistic ethics: “But intellectual honesty should encourage you to look to the source of where you got that code to begin with. It wasn’t Islam, hinduism, buddhism, or paganism. And it wasn’t communism, evolution, or agnosticism. It was Christianity with some unique additions or tweaking.”

    It seems to me that Jesus was more or less quoting Rabbi Hillel with his, “Do unto others…” Although, I’m not sure if Confucius was quoting anyone, certainly neither Jesus nor Hillel since he lived centuries before them, when he said, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” Apparently, pithy ethical statements can be worked out entirely without Christ.

    Of course, you’re right about Judaism and Christianity having a great influence on Western ethics (and culture, and art, and literature, as well.). However, you cited Franklin and Jefferson. I would think those two were also under other great Western influences, such as those provided by ancient Greek pagan philosophers. Surely they, like most educated men of that age, had read Plutarch’s Lives, and gleaned much from the words of Socrates, Solon, Marcus Aurelius, and others?

    Whenever I read the apologist trope about intellectually dishonest atheists’ ethics coming solely from the residual social currency of Christianity, I’m almost certain to find that only half the story of cultural influence has been told. If we’re going to give credit where it’s due, then we need to include all of the ethical influences rediscovered, and synthesized, during the Enlightenment, as well as the varieties of Eastern thought that are now becoming part of U.S. moral culture (Karma, anyone?). While we’re giving credit to the past, shouldn’t we also include the good, bad, and ugly of Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism which were enfolded into Christianity?

    Personally, I have yet to find any single ethical system universally satisfactory. I’m basically a humanist consequentialist who finds the need to mix in a bit of Kant and Confucius, among others, to cover most situations. I honestly couldn’t be entirely ethical using just one book. Your mileage may vary…

  • 18. You Shall Be My Witnesses « An Apostate’s Chapel  |  December 8, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    [...] recently completed a series at De-Conversion.com entitled, Reasons I Can No Longer Believe. The final installment of that series was subtitled: Unchanged Lives. Throughout this post, the [...]

  • 19. From Fundy to Orthodox to Apostate « de-conversion  |  July 18, 2008 at 12:30 am

    [...] also started to look at the lives of Christians compared to the rest of the world. Very few differences could be found between any group of Christians and any group of [...]

  • 20. Psyrkus  |  August 6, 2008 at 6:17 am

    Adulterers that claim that they are people of God and live with the holy spirit… Dont have the holy spirit in them. These are all views of the world… And I agreee, alot of these points are factual and true, but ask yourself THIS: Have any of you REALLY ever experience the true presense of God?

    We are all human in nature… but once you are truly and I MEAN TRUTHFULLY spiritually fulfilled… then you can’t go wrong.

    It’s time for a wake up call.

  • 21. Obi  |  August 6, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Hoho…

    Welcome, Psyrkus. If I may point you over to our lovely sidebar containing hekpful reading for people such as yourself, denoted by the bright red exclamation mark.

    Thanks, and enjoy your stay here at de-conversion.

  • 22. LeoPardus  |  August 6, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Psyrkus:

    Thanks for making no sense whatsoever.

  • 23. びっくり  |  August 6, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Leo – do you think your sarcasm makes people feel that this is a welcoming environment of open conversation? Or perhaps it makes people feel like you just want to find anyway to put people down. Whether you think Psyrkus added to the conversation or not, the sarcastic cut adds nothing to the conversation. This is why people think that DC is not about intellectual discourse, but rather is a forum for back-patters. Just some food for thought, in case that isn’t the environment you are hoping to generate.

  • 24. LeoPardus  |  August 6, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Psyrkus’ comment makes no sense. No sarcasm needed. He’s welcome to try another post to explain what he/she was trying to say.

    I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t think we’re trying to create a place that welcomes nonsense. There are already plenty of places on the web for that.

  • 25. Larry T  |  August 6, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Have you encountered non-Christians of sterling character? The sort who help willingly and give of themselves? I certainly have. And they are also the exception, not the rule.

    “Many are called but few are chosen”.

  • 26. Larry T  |  August 6, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    I’ve encountered the sort of Christians you mention and have not overlooked them. They are the exception, not the rule.

    Meant to paste this sentence with reference to scripture actually.

  • 27. Obi  |  August 6, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Larry T –

    So you’re basically saying that it’s extremely rare to find people of other creeds and religions who are of “sterling character”? Such outright bias…at least you could try to cover it up and coat it in something sweet so that it wouldn’t be so easy to see and taste.

  • 28. Quester  |  August 6, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    This is why people think that DC is not about intellectual discourse, but rather is a forum for back-patters.

    Really? I see this as a forum for providing support and resources for skeptical and deconverting theists (usually Christian). I can see how that would be considered back-patting, so I’m glad we’re succeeding in that.

    I also see the intellectual discourse that takes place on this site. It’s usually in the comment threads where nonsense like Psyrkus’ isn’t interjected by people who speak first, think later, and never seem to get around to reading a little and finding oout who we are and how we have already responded to their misguided “wake-up calls”.

    I can see why you might have a hard time sifting out the intelligent discourse; someone comes by and says almost exactly what Psyrkus did in response to almost every article.

    There are some conversations not worth having, let alone dozens of times in a row. There are also people not worth conversing with. Leo’s usually pretty good at figuring out who they are and responding both appropriately and quickly.

    Normally, I don’t respond to anonymous criticism, like that of ?????’s. This time, I chose to take this opportunity to support Leo and the service he provides on this site.

    I don’t think we’re trying to create a place that welcomes nonsense. There are already plenty of places on the web for that.

    Hear, hear.

  • 29. LeoPardus  |  August 6, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    I’d miss this bit sort of… This is why people think that DC is not about intellectual discourse, but rather is a forum for back-patters.

    Right. Try seeing what happens when almost any sexual topic comes up around here. I wind up more on the side of conservative Christians then. I don’t get a lot of back pats then. [Not complaining. Just pointing out that we aren't quite all marching lock-step down De-con Blvd.]

  • 30. Larry T  |  August 6, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    So you’re basically saying that it’s extremely rare to find people of other creeds and religions who are of “sterling character”? Such outright bias…at least you could try to cover it up and coat it in something sweet so that it wouldn’t be so easy to see and taste.

    Obi—

    The post below the one you are mentioning corrects with the right sentence I was commenting on. (#26)
    Leo was saying that he has not found many Christians of sterling character. I was simply saying that many “say” they are Christians (many are called), whereas very few actually show the fruits you would associate with a true Christian (but few are chosen). This does not negate the fact though that those “few” do show that the Holy Spirit definitely is at work.

  • 31. Larry T  |  August 6, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Obi—

    To be more precise—I wasn’t referring to people of other creeds, but to Christians themselves. Reread #26

    Thanks.

  • 32. Obi  |  August 6, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Larry T. –

    Haha. Of course, I assume that you’re a “true” Christian, and that you’ve been “called”, eh? If that is indeed the case, tell me…do you ever slip up or have any bad habits? Or are you completely perfect, therefore earning your rightful title as a “true Christian”?

    Also, since you seem to be perfect as well as an expert on this subject, could you tell me how to distinguish these “fruits of a true Christian” from the acts of the millions of people in other belief systems who are just as “sterling” or even better than the vast majority of Christians, even the “true” ones?

    While you’re contemplating my questions, please further familiarize yourself with a logical fallacy that you seem to already be acquainted with…

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

  • 33. Larry T  |  August 6, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Obi—

    I think you are misunderstanding the whole context of what I was replying to. Please read LeoPardus’s post #16.

    Somehow you are taking my post and making it something I am referring to myself about. This is not the case. I pasted something that Leo said, and then made the comment (using a scripture) that there are many people who call themselves Christians, but show no fruit. While there are a small minority of others who do show that fruit. I wasn’t referring to myself at all—I try to be a good christian, but I’ll let God be the judge of that. :) Read #16 to get a better context of why I pasted Leo’s post.

  • 34. LeoPardus  |  August 6, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Larry T:

    Thanks for post #33. Until that, I was not grasping what you were saying. Now that I have at least partially grasped it…

    From post #25
    Have you encountered non-Christians of sterling character? The sort who help willingly and give of themselves? I certainly have. And they are also the exception, not the rule.

    From post#30 [brackets mine]
    This does not negate the fact though that those “few” [Christians] do show that the Holy Spirit definitely is at work.

    So does this mean that the few non-Christians and the few Christians of sterling character both show that the Holy Spirit is definitely at work??

  • 35. Larry T  |  August 6, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    So does this mean that the few non-Christians and the few Christians of sterling character both show that the Holy Spirit is definitely at work??
    :) Good one. I can only answer that there is the view man takes on things—how we judge others as “of sterling character”–there are indeed good and sincere unbelievers–but no, they are not being motivated by the Holy Spirit, and whatever good they are doing is being motivated by self. Whether for praise of men, or a feeling of goodness inside, or a feeling they will be remembered for their deeds when they are gone, etc.—it is “self” at work. They may be truly sincere–but they are sincerely wrong.

    The Christian truly being led of the Spirit is motivated by the Spirit, and will ask and live for things that bring glory to God. And this would be God’s view on the two groups of people we are mentioning. The one group, not believing, is motivated by self, the other group led by the Spirit is motivated by God. So to answer your question—yes, the Holy Spirit is at work with both groups—He lives within the Christian, and convinces and motivates to good in the world, even in those who don’t believe.

  • 36. Larry T  |  August 6, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    To be more clear—-He is definitely at work in a sincere believer—and he is convicting and convincing the unbeliever to live a moral life—-though they are motivated solely by self in all that they do.

  • 37. LeoPardus  |  August 6, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Larry T:

    At this point you should realize that you are 111% over-totally into an over-the-top ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy. I, nor others hereabouts, can see no difference between what you’re saying and someone simply saying, “I’m going to believe what I believe, no matter what.” That pretty much shuts down rational discourse.

    Not really looking to slam you here. I just don’t see anywhere to go with this.

  • 38. Larry T  |  August 6, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    LeoPardus—

    Understood. You’re right. :)

  • 39. notcalvin  |  August 6, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    What is the nature of man? Is he sinful/bad from birth?

  • 40. Larry T  |  August 6, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    notcalvin—

    If you’re notcalvin are you hobbes? :)

    The Bible teaches man is born in original sin due to Adam’s fall. I will not go into any more detail as everyone here is aware of that teaching I’m sure. I have literally heard people who study serial killers say that there may really be a “bad seed” as some of these killers seem to have that motivation almost from birth. It is a good question. Of course, most people believe man is born good and can be led into evil through his environment—the never-ending question actually.

  • 41. silentj  |  August 6, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    notcalvin,

    I’m basically answering with no real psychological background other than the little that I’ve read. So, if you take things with a grain of salt, do even more so with this.

    One possibility is that we cognitively develop through stages that start with a person focused on him/herself until they reach the cognitive stage to understand they are not the center of the world. At that point, they learn social behavior from what they see. Some characteristics of this– hugging, sharing, etc.– can be observed at a very young age. Of course, biting and hitting can also be seen!

    I think most psychologists have some take on this type of development with some arguing that humans go through stages connected to physical (cognitive) development (Freud, Piaget) while others argue social construction (Vygotsky). There are others, like Bronfenbrenner, that focus more on the environment a person is in.

    From simply my personal experiences, I see evidence of a lot of these people, which makes me think that a more universal approach may be on the horizon. All of these big names have significant research behind them that supports their theories, with most of them having easily observed examples in daily life. I think the two psychologists that have the most clout today are Piaget and Vygotsky.

    As far as the second you are born, I don’t think you’re either, unless you have some kind of neurological disorder or chemical imbalance. I think the people who come out of the womb looking to rumble are few and far between.

    By the way, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet had an interesting little element to their fictional book Good Omens. The premise of the book is that God and Satan are moving towards Armageddon, with the anti-Christ child about to be born. Satan’s human minions are all waiting at the hospital for the birth of child. However, the babies get switched. The minions raise a perfectly ordinary child and the anti-Christ grows up in a suburban neighborhood. He’s a fairly good kid, with only his charisma setting him apart from other kids.

    The book is pretty darn funny, well worth the read if you don’t mind some of the irreverent plot.

  • 42. silentj  |  August 6, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    BTW… this sad story tell us a little about the nature of man:

    http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/article750838.ece

    Obviously, environment and parenting have a HUGE effect on how we develop. Genetics plays into it through the comparison of IQs. Although, I’m not sure you can get a take on the morality of a person from this story.

  • 43. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 7, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Larry T., are you seriously saying that any good deed a non-Christian does is selfishly motivated? That I give to charity because it makes me feel good? Sure, I don’t do it to glorify God, but I don’t do it for myself, either. I try to do the right thing because it’s the Right Thing to Do.

    Frankly, I find your attitude insulting.

  • 44. Psyrkus  |  August 26, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    If there were no such thing as God then there would be no such thing as theological debates.

    Leo and Obi,
    Just because you ‘think’ you can reason unreasonably whilst subliminally getting you mind’s inner psycore abused by non-existent yet possibly existing fairy-tale factual demons, doesn’t make you as clever as you think you are. If this doesn’t make sense to you, then my point is proven. visit psyrkus.co.za for more.

    -Does that make sense?

    You have a lot to say and so do I.

    No God = No atheist.

    It makes perfect sense.

  • 45. Cooper  |  August 26, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    http://www.ex-atheist.com/from-skepticism-to-worship.html

  • 46. orDover  |  August 26, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    If there were no such thing as God then there would be no such thing as theological debates.

    No. If there were no such thing as RELIGIOUS BELIEVERS, then there would be so such thing as theological debates.

    The weakness of the “atheists prove the existence of God” argument boggles my mind. How can anyone thing that is logical? How can anyone be convince by that?

  • 47. Obi  |  August 26, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Psyrkus –

    I lol’d.

  • 48. Obi  |  August 26, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Cooper –

    After reading through the article on the site that you posted, I must say that I’m decidedly unimpressed. The author describes himself as one who valued science, logic and reason, which led me to expect that his conversion experience would involve some type of wonderful proof or discovery of hidden evidence. Instead, he presents an account of converting simply because of emotion and “feeling” the message of the Bible, as well as detailing how he rejected the “coldness” of scientific information regarding how our bodies and the Universe work.

    …what? If that is indeed how one goes about finding the “truth” of religion, how can he declare that Christianity is correct and Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Shintoism (et cetera) are wrong or incorrect when they have many, if not all of the same basic lessons and values (in fact, Christianity grew out of Zoroastrianism), and their followers validate their belief by describing emotional experiences and connections identical to his? How can one verify and validate belief in one or the other if total subjectivity is the order of the day?

    The simple answer is that you can’t, to be honest, which leaves us at a place (and him back where he started) where science must take over, as it attempts to provide the highest level of objectivity possible to humans with regards to gaining knowledge about how our world works, what really goes on, and what really exists.

    Again, I’m thoroughly unimpressed.

  • 49. Cooper  |  August 26, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Obi—

    Go back if you get a chance and read the article at the same site on “Learning to think Spiritually”. If you are unimpressed, that’s fine. It’s not my website, and I’ve never been an atheist. I find his conversion to be very interesting though—and his thoughts about duality(see the drawings) interesting also. As in a picture where an image can be seen two different ways, so sprituality may be very much the same. Check it out. But again, I didn’t put the link to “impress” anyone—just because I found it to be very interesting.

  • 50. orDover  |  August 26, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    I was too. I’ve read a few atheist->Christian conversions, and I keep hoping to find something different. Something remarkable. Something…other than the same old same old conversion stories. But they all involve the same thing, whether is it converting from atheism or converting from Buddhism or converting from scratch: the emotional feeling that the Bible is true.

    I love how in that particular story the author still saw the silliness of the Bible, but chose to overlook it because, basically, God told him to. Actually, it seems that, in the author’s second attempt to read the Bible, he went at it assuming the existence of God a priori. For example (s)he wrote, “What was I doing when I condemned this god for commanding Moses to kill? Was I arrogantly making my morality superior to that of the being who allegedly authored all of morality?” It seems that what they were really doing was operating under the assumption that God is real, and then retrofitting the arguments. There is nothing logical about that kind of reasoning.

  • 51. rover  |  August 26, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    orDover,

    Was this a common desire among decons who had been believers for a long time? Is it common to just want to ignore the “inconsistencies” with the Bible and just believe anyway? Is it a stage? That is where I find myself.

  • 52. Obi  |  August 26, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Cooper –

    An interesting story (to you), but an ultimately meaningless one. You’re distancing yourself from the site now, but you obviously linked to it for a reason, perhaps because you thought that it was at least somewhat convincing and well-thought out. Otherwise, why post it?

    As for his article on “Thinking Spiritually”, I find it all laughable. For example, his usage of optical illusions to show that people who aren’t “tuned” to the spiritual will miss it is weak because he is proposing that one must “open” themselves, or become highly suggestible, to something to actually perceive it (one would think that universal truths would be more evident). Obviously, this leads into coercing people into seeing something that isn’t really there. Furthermore, he forgets people who have been completely open but who have never seen, such as myself.

    In the end, the article says nothing at all. Also, the fact that he gave the ability to interpret poetry as evidence for the “spiritual” is…well, I won’t even go there.

  • 53. orDover  |  August 26, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Was this a common desire among decons who had been believers for a long time? Is it common to just want to ignore the “inconsistencies” with the Bible and just believe anyway? Is it a stage? That is where I find myself.

    I can’t say that I was ever in that position, but others could have been. When I was a Christian I didn’t think about the inconsistencies. I just wrote them off, I dismissed them as irrelevant without looking into them or understanding them. When I began to actually consider them is when I began not to believe. By that point, because of other circumstances, I was too far gone to try to reconcile the inconsistencies with my belief.

  • 54. Psyrkus  |  August 27, 2008 at 9:12 am

    oh dear… de-conversion.

    lol I thought I originally read ‘de-conversation’.

  • 55. LeoPardus  |  August 27, 2008 at 10:55 am

    rover:

    Is it common to just want to ignore the “inconsistencies” with the Bible and just believe anyway? Is it a stage?

    It’s very common, but not a stage. Believers in any religion that has a divinely inspired holy book, must ignore silliness and inconsistencies, and inaccuracies, and contradictions, etc and “just believe anyway”.

    A stage of de-conversion for some is the point where you stop ignoring all those things and start thinking, “Could these really be what they appear to be?” At that stage you must choose to pursue the thought to it’s conclusion or run back to the comfort of ignoring it and just believing anyway.

  • 56. LeoPardus  |  August 27, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Like most of the rest of the de-cons I found the story linked by Cooper to be …. well frankly, stupid. Really, “One day I’m reading the book and ‘POOF’; I just knew it had to be true.” Sheesh!

    I know what the real problem is though. The person in the story was ….. never a “real” atheist. :D

  • 57. orDover  |  August 27, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    HURR HURR

  • 58. orDover  |  August 27, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    (I thought I’d get one in before Obi ;) )

  • 59. Cooper  |  August 27, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Obi/orDover/Leo—

    Forgive me—-I didn’t realize that I was on a blog peopled by persons with such superior intellect. Next time I will link to a far more highly intellectual site—but I’ll ask you first to make sure it “qualifies”. Please forgive my gaff. :) Geez!!!

  • 60. Cooper  |  August 27, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    http://allaboutfrogs.org/

    Hope this link is better.

  • 61. Cooper  |  August 27, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Take the “what kind of frog am I?” challenge. It is very stimulating.

  • 62. LeoPardus  |  August 27, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Cooper:

    I didn’t realize that I was on a blog peopled by persons with such superior intellect.

    That’s OK. We understand that you, like Yurka, could not have perceived that.

  • 63. orDover  |  August 27, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Cooper-

    You have the right to post whatever you like, and we have a right to read it critically.

  • 64. Cooper  |  August 27, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    That’s OK. We understand that you, like Yurka, could not have perceived that.
    :) I like that Leo!

  • 65. Obi  |  August 27, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Cooper –
    ;)

    Don’t take my criticisms personally, they were directed at your article. As was said before: you post it, and others may critique it.

  • 66. Cooper  |  August 27, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Obi—

    Understood. Thanks! :)

  • 67. Stoneshrink  |  August 27, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    I’ve skimmed the above comments and perhaps what helped me might help you.
    “Don’t judge God by the people He’s trying to save.”
    It is indisputable that there are bad Christians – in fact, there are more days when I’m chief among sinners then days when I am a good example. As God is the Judge; it’s sacrilege to judge God by the people he’s trying to save. You need look no further then any Biblical character (beside Jesus) to see flawed people.
    My advice look for what the Christians are doing right, rather then what they are doing wrong. To me, that is the mark of a true Christian. Someone who fails, but looks at the successes of others and tries to emulate them.
    And for those many days where the devil celebrates because of my actions: I am sorry. That advice to apologize for our faults from Blue Like Jazz is the best advice I have ever heard.

  • 68. Obi  |  August 27, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Stoneshrink said, “…To me, that is the mark of a true Christian…”

    -__-

  • 69. Obi  |  August 27, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Oh, and if the emoticon doesn’t fully illustrate my reaction and ensuing facial expression…

    http://kscakes.com/LolCats/Uploads/Saved/loungecat-is-not-pleased.jpg

  • 70. Ubi Dubium  |  August 27, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    Stoneshrink:

    As God is the Judge; it’s sacrilege to judge God by the people he’s trying to save.

    Sorry, I don’t think anyone who has decided that God isn’t real is going to be worried about “sacrilege”. If God is fictional, then sacrilege is an invented offense. No person is harmed when someone commits “sacrilege” – it’s just something churches use to scare people into obedience. Try a different argument.

  • 72. melitta nichols  |  September 28, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    God didnt choose the qualified He chose the unqualified! Every person in the bible was flawed. the difference is faithfulness, love, and fruitfulness. If you cant find anyone walking out true christianity, then God must have called you to be an example by following Him the Christ-like way, to show other people. Now pick up your cross! And work out your own salvation so that others may know that God is real.

    Amen, Amen and Amen

  • 73. LeoPardus  |  September 29, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Re post #72:

    Great! You can spew platitudes you’ve heard from the pulpit. If you have anything of actual substance to contribute, please do. Otherwise please shuffle on to your next hit and run.

  • [...] Reasons why I can no longer believe: 3 – Unchanged lives [...]

  • 75. DanPrin  |  March 16, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    This should be a great challenge for Christians to actually live what they believe instead of wishing into existence God’s blood being ever-sufficient for every sin they could ever commit. This, I would contend, is not even Biblical.

    Thank you for sharing your words.

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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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