The Myth of God’s Unconditional Love

December 25, 2007 at 12:45 pm 110 comments

love heartToday is the day we set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Even though there are many questions as to whether this event actually ever took place, we cannot deny the impact this story, related a few decades later in the gospels, has had on the world. This “good news” did not bring the promised peace on earth but resulted in wars and fear. However, as LeoPardus recently pointed out, there are some good things that can be attributed to birth of the church.

As I meditate on the meaning Christmas used to hold for me, there is one particular point that I can no longer reconcile as rational. This event was supposed to be a demonstration of God’s unconditional love for man. That God, so loved the world, that he gave his only son, to die on a cross to redeem me from my sins and thus restoring me into a relationship with him.

Upon reading the scriptures, one cannot help but conclude that God’s love is anything but unconditional. The Old Testament is packed with what I will refer to as “if…then” statements. If you do a list of things, you will be blessed but if, on the other hand, you disobey you will be cursed. In many cases, the curses included genocide, violence, killings, diseases, sicknesses, fire and brimstone, floods, plagues, and a variety of other demonstration of God’s wrath and judgment. How can any of this be described as unconditional?

In the New Testament, this theme continues. If one does not accept Jesus as his/her personal lord and savior, they are doomed to spend an eternity in a fires of hell perpetually being tortured beyond comprehension. Of course, Christians believe that this is a deserved punishment because of a lack of faith on behalf of the unconverted.

Where in this story is there any measure of an unconditional love? Agape love is defined by Christians as “divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional, and thoughtful love.” However, there is no such love to be found in the Christian scriptures.

The reality is, unconditional love does not exist – whether its origin is divine or human. In fact, I would venture to say that I believe I, a mere human, am more capable of unconditional love than the God described in the Bible.

- The de-Convert

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The Good of the Church I weep for the children who are victimized by their spiritual leaders

110 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Julian Rodriguez  |  December 25, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    “its origin”, its, not “it’s”.
    merci, arigato, thanks, sayonara

  • 2. epiphanist  |  December 25, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    The apostate’s apostrophe – go Julian!

  • 3. TheNorEaster  |  December 25, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    That’s…Well, it’s actually pretty sad that you don’t believe in love.

    thenoreaster.wordpress.com

  • 4. JP Manzi  |  December 25, 2007 at 10:34 pm

    Great thoughts, through all the words,actions, rules, can and can nots littered throughout the bible, its quite hard to see this unconditional love that christians claim is there.

  • 5. dovelove  |  December 25, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    What I’ve never been able to get is how another individual’s death somehow makes ME a better person, suddenly worthy of “heaven,” — if I will just “believe” in him. It’s a total absurdity — not one bit of sense does it make. I can’t comprehend why someone would see this as truth.

    Now I have “beliefs” that others would likely say similar things about, lol, but at least I can make some points toward how it makes sense to me — and those are primarily personal experiences :) But that’s another topic.

    To me, you can make some sense of the stories in the old book if you see it along the lines of dream interpretation. In a dream class I took once, the teacher indicated that our dreams are filled with symbolism, things and people that ALL represent us :)

    What if “God” were us, Jesus too. What if his death was simply symbolic of “letting go” of the fear (which the Devil personifies, again symbolic), which is the same as having “faith.”

    We have faith, when we’re not fearing. And since both God and Jesus are actually symbols of us, we are being told to have faith in, and worship (self-love), ourselves, so as to avoid that wicked ole hell (suffering).

    “Be still and know that I am God.” Know that we each have that “godness” within us, that power to do “that which Jesus did and more.” Ya’ see, to me, you can pretty much do this all day long and make some sense of the old book. And it tends to eliminate the contradictions :) That in itself lends more credence to it. But people have been taught/brainwashed for so long that they are these pieces of sh*t, that it’s totally beyond their comprehension that they are truly “children of God.” That is, that there is a potent energy within them, that is them, that is sooo not the garbage that traditional religion teaches. But if a lion is raised/taught that he is a sheep, it’s gonna be difficult to convince him otherwise…

    It makes sense that we should love (worship) ourselves, have faith in our own power. If you were God, “father” of all, wouldn’t those be the kinda people you would want — strong, fearless, self-loving… As opposed to whiny, it’s-not-my-fault people, giving Jesus/God all their power to make it all better, and blaming their “bads” on the “Devil”? Of what value are those people?? But we aren’t really those people.

    It makes sense that when we let go of the fear (death represents transformation, change, rebirth into something new), we will be headed toward “heaven” (simply meaning peace) and will avoid “hell” (suffering). Indeed the Devil is the culprit, but it’s the “devil” within us. Because the devil simply represents fear. “Fear not.” Makes sense. We draw/create that which we fear. No? Ask a star athlete if fearing that he/she is going to lose the race is their secret to winning :)

    If you know symbolism, and apply it in this, it all makes sense. And for sure more sense than someone named Jesus dies, and that takes away all our accountability… just because we believe it. No sense there whatsoever. And no one truly believes that (because it makes no sense, lol), they just say that they do. And they know they don’t truly believe it, and consequently these people live and breathe fear (“hell’). The very thing they are being instructed to not do.

    Peace,
    Dove

  • 6. LeoPardus  |  December 26, 2007 at 1:56 am

    One moment while I look in my ‘apologists handbook’. Aha! His love is unconditional. He loves you no matter what. BUT blessings are conditional and acceptance into heaven is a blessing. And the blessings get bestowed ….. well, pretty randomly.

    Hmm.. unconditional love and capricious actions. Kind of reminds me of a kindly old senility victim.

  • 7. newcolors  |  December 26, 2007 at 11:17 am

    You raise a goo point. However…I believe that God’s love is indeed unconditional. It is unconditional because even you my friend, are welcome to accept the free gift of Salvation that can only be found in Yeshua of Nazereth. As well, you are free to reject this gift of unconditional love as you seem to be doing. It is your choice. I believe your problem of understanding rests in your ommission of a theme that is constant thruout all of Scripture….REPENT.

    God offers His unconditional love to all who would repent and accept His gift. To think that you can say a little prayer asking Jesus into your heart and then live how you want…is a myth espoused by post-modern Christianity. It is not Scriptural. So…perhaps you are right after all…there is a condition…a condition of humbling oneself to recognize that they have sinned and a willingness to change one’s actions….to walk in the footsteps of the Master.

    Thanks for letting me jump in…
    Newcolors

  • 8. Jack Ling  |  December 26, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    Wow, you sound like you know it all. How were you raised?

  • 9. The de-Convert  |  December 26, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    newcolors,

    Jump in anytime. Love cannot be unconditional if there’s a condition attached to it. It’s ok for love to be conditional (as it is in most cases). Why keep insisting otherwise? That was the point of my post.

    Jack,

    Were you addressing me or newcolors? If me, I was raised on the mission field. Lots of great memories there.

    Paul

  • 10. jasmincormier  |  December 26, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Very good article and good reflexion on religious hypocrisy.

  • 11. dovelove  |  December 26, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    “God offers His unconditional love to all who would repent and accept His gift.”

    Oh-muh-gawd, lol, that’s so funny! Oh-wait, that wasn’t supposed to be funny, was it, heh

    =================
    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)

    un·con·di·tion·al /ˌʌnkənˈdɪʃənl/

    adjective

    > not limited by conditions; absolute: an unconditional promise.

    ==================

    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)

    con·di·tion /kənˈdɪʃən/

    noun

    > something demanded as an essential part of an agreement; provision; stipulation: He accepted on one condition.

  • 12. jimmycracka  |  December 26, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Alright bro, first of all, militant secularists are gonna love hearing this come from a Christian. There are some things God is not capable of doing! Whoa! Yes…….God CANNOT LIE!!! If the bible says God’s love FOR HIS CHILDREN, (not saved=not a child of God), is unconditional than thatsThe Truth. The Old Testament is full of stories of ” if” and “when” yes. These time frames God used to teach us things through various illustrations. That time frame you had to “work”your way to God. The lesson was it turned out, you can’t! It was a totally different dispensation from the New Testament times and , now. The OT’s main purpose was to establish Law in order to teach us in post NT times, to self regulate. However, the NT teaches us that we are now no longer bound by Law we are bound by Grace. God knows we cannot abide by the law successfully so he gave us Jesus to take the punishment for …US…. breaking the Law. Point being, people want the easy way out. They want to live like pigs in the “gray area” of moral relativism with NO ACCOUNTABILITY. They want a god that loves them no matter who they hurt or how wretched of a life they live. Message to all: If thats how you want it, God gave you the right to believe whatever you want to. So go ahead and create a god out of your own imagination which nobody better than you knows how “righteous” your imagination is. But! You may be in for a disappointment when that god of yours aint the one sitting at The Judgment Seat. God through His unconditional love will let His kids go through some unpleasant things in life but it all works to good. Some of that you may never know till your in the presence of God Himself so He can point that out to you. The Lord’s salvation is easy and simple. Seek and ye shall find. I’m by far no perfect person and even more, a perfect Christian, but I can’t deny the facts of the bible……………………Jimmy

  • 13. Paul S.  |  December 26, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    jimmycracka said,

    The OT’s main purpose was to establish Law in order to teach us in post NT times, to self regulate. However, the NT teaches us that we are now no longer bound by Law we are bound by Grace.

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18).

    jimmycracka said,

    …but I can’t deny the facts of the bible

    Which “facts” are those?

  • 14. tobeme  |  December 26, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    From what I understand that according to most Christian beliefs, the reserection of Jesus changed God from a vengful God to a benevolent one.

  • 15. TheNorEaster  |  December 26, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    I am curious. Using the same line of “if…then..” reasoning, how would you explain The Book of Job? I’m asking because, according to the Bible, Job was “blameless and upright” in God’s eyes. If Job was doing what God wanted–according to the reasoning cited in “The Myth of Unconditional Love”–he should have had an easy, happy-go-lucky life. And yet Job suffered tremendously, losing his wealth, his family, and his health. Interestingly enough, after all of that, Job still chose to believe in God. I hope you respond because I am very interested in reading your response. No matter how hard I tried to fit the “if…then…” reasoning cited in your essay into the story of Job, I just couldn’t do it.

  • 16. bry0000000  |  December 26, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    I do invite you to read the site that jimmycracka linked to, especially if you aren’t familiar with militant fundamentalism.

  • 17. dovelove  |  December 26, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    “God offers His unconditional love to all who would repent and accept His gift.”

    So let’s play with this for a minute :) The only way this isn’t an absurd contradictiorn is to look at it this way. Unconditional love. It’s there, period. This “God” (“God is love”) is within us, it is us. We’ve already got it, NO MATTER WHAT (unconditional). But, it may as well not be there if we don’t recognize that’s it’s there. Like the lion believing it’s a sheep :) What good does it do him being a lion, if he lives as if he’s a sheep and takes no advantage of the power in being a lion? Hence, “the gift” in being aware that he/she is a lion :)

    “Repent” — make a change for the better, let go of all the fear (um, I dunno, maybe stop calling people pigs), embrace the good (and all the rest) that we each are, because, says “God,” you are me :) “God” Love yourself unconditionally, and you will have no problem doing this once you realize that you are me :) “God” And with this knowledge you will become as Jesus. “Believeth in ‘Him’…” We are each “him” :) That knowledge is “the gift.” That knowledge will lead you to “heaven” (peace and true power), and it will pull you out of the “fires of hell” — the suffering that we see everywhere we look in this world, a world of lions believing they’re sheep, enslaved by those who would keep them fearful, so as to control and use them… Religion being one of the most insidious taskmasters.

    Regardless, says God ;) you will always be in my heart (unconditional love), because you are all my “children” :) What loving parent would trash/burn a child that misbehaved? — especially after promising UNCONDITIONAL love.

    And, per Dove :) I’d take a sweetheart of an atheist in a hot New York minute over one who references others in a vile and judgmental way (eager to see them burn), thinking, funnily enough, that they are better, not because of their good ways (they admit to having few, if any), but simply because they spew ridiculous “beliefs.”

    Dove

  • 18. The de-Convert  |  December 26, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    TheNorEaster,

    The Book of Job is a sad story of a cosmic battle between God and Satan using Job as a pawn. In fact, the story depicts the only people in the Bible that Satan was responsible for killing (Job’s kids – with God’s permission) in comparison to the millions noted as killed by God with genocides, plagues, etc.

    You are right in your implication that Job DID NOT deserve what he received. It goes to show that you could even do everything right and still somehow end up facing God’s wrath.

    If the promises of God were true, you are again right in that Job should be living an “easy, happy go-lucky” life. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

    There’s no way to make sense of the Book of Job in light of what modern Christians believe. However, it makes perfect sense in light of the general theme of the Bible..

    Remember, the point of my post was to show that God’s love IS conditional. Therefore, he can use whatever condition he wants to do whatever he wants. In Job’s case, he wanted to prove a point to Satan (why do you think he needed to do that?). So really Job does fit my points.

    Remember that it’s futile to try to make sense of story of Job, the mass killings of men, women, children, animals, etc. in the Bible. It’ll only cause frustration.

    My advise is to not even worry about it and focus on the few verses in the New Testament that shows Jesus being kind and compassionate. Follow those and you’ll be ok.

    Paul

  • 19. dovelove  |  December 26, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    We encompass all — “God” emcompasses all. That includes “Satan.” I don’t know the story, I just know that it’s all us :) (We choose.) So it sounds like Job was having a battle with himself (Good/God vs. Bad/Satan). And if “God is love,” then he/she doesn’t have wicked wrath — that would be another reference to the Satan part :) Note that I’m using “God” in two different ways here, “God” that encompasses all and “God,” the “good” side of the all-encompassing “God” — the energy that is everything, including us.

    It couldn’t be further from the truth that once we embrace the knowledge that we are “God,” that suddenly our lives become all peachy :) No. Think about it. If one day you discover that you actually are “God,” that’s gonna rock your world, and all the people around you aren’t THERE. They’re gonna think you’re insane, quitting your job just because you now trust that your job sucks and you’re gonna have faith that the “God” within you is going to show you the way… Your world is going to be turned upside down, and highly chaotic as you endure this huge change (death of your former self/transformation). Plus you will question yourself all the while, because others are, and because you still have so much of the fear that was burned into you from this earthly place. “Fear not.” Remember? That’ll cause ya’ problems no matter how “good” you are.

    No, total peace is quite a ways down the road — even so, you wouldn’t wanna go back to your former life, where fear is all there is. And even on what can become a hellish (Frodo-like) journey, you are growing into your “godness” and a plethora of “heavenly” experieces, “miracles,” will consequently be sprinkled among the hellish-ness, and that makes it totaly worth it :) You will begin to see more and more each day, that you are in fact “God.” :) And THAT is why Job continued to believe :)

    He couldn’t not believe, he had already seen the truth of it. That the power, this “God,” was within him, and that “awareness” creates “miracles.” And I would imagine he saw that even the losing of wealth and all of it, actually made him stronger and more powerful in the long run. All the wealth and earthly things become quite mediocre once one truly becomes aware that they are “God.” :) After the pain/fear/suffering of the loss of those things to which we’ve become attached (including our “normal” way of living), one actually begins to feel real freedom :)

    Dove

  • 20. TheNorEaster  |  December 26, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Paul:

    Thanks for responding. I appreciate your point of view. But I have always taken the story of Job–independent from the reasoning cited in “The Myth of Unconditional Love”–from the point of view that, well…

    “If bad things didn’t happen to good people then people would only be good so that bad things didn’t happen to them, which actually means that people really wouldn’t be so good after all.”

    One could apply that to Christianity (through the story of Job) as well as atheism (I think) and pretty much just about any religion, I suppose.

    I just couldn’t see how the story of Job fit into the “If…Then…” reasoning.

    So, to me, the story of Job is pretty much about believing what you believe even when life is tough. And I think one could assign that point of view to just about any belief because every belief system will face its own drastic challenges sooner or later.

    thenoreaster.wordpress.com

  • 21. Paul S.  |  December 26, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    dovelove,

    please stop with all the smilies! it’s very distracting to someone reading your posts

  • 22. dovelove  |  December 27, 2007 at 12:00 am

    Well thanks, Paul, for letting me know. I never really thought about it being a problem for others reading my posts/comments. When I write, it’s invariably something I feel passionate about, so my happy heart just kinda comes through that way : ) But I’m glad you’ve pointed this out to me, I’ll keep it in mind when I’m commenting, or posting at my blog. When I just can’t resist, I’ll do this —> : ) lol ; -)

    Okay, so hopefully those won’t come out yellow-faced. *ugh, resisting the urge to put a happy face here* It’s an addiction, it’ll take some time, lol

    Dove

  • 23. confusedchristian  |  December 27, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Allow me to interject:

    1. God is a just God, and he doesn’t lie.

    2. Man screwed up, not God, God warned man not to eat from the Tree of knowledge

    3. God is just and said man has to die (spiritually)

    4. BECAUSE of God’s LOVE he has sent HIS ONLY SON to DIE for your sins and repair what happened earlier. Because God does not LIE, and is JUST, this is the only way!

    You see it makes perfect sense! Now convert!

  • 24. Paul S.  |  December 27, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    Allow me to interject:

    1. God is not a just God, and he does lie.

    2. God created man in His image. If man screwed up, it’s because God created our ability to screw up.

    3. God is not just. Where did God say man has to die spiritually?

    4. God = Jesus. Therefore, God sent Himself to die to repair the mistake He made when He made mankind?

    It doesn’t make any sense! Now deconvert!

  • 25. confusedchristian  |  December 27, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Paul,
    you’re wrong on so many levels. 1. How can God not be Just when the bible clearly says he is? Also, it doesnt say anywhere in the Bible that God screwed up, in fact, it says eve was tricked by a talking snake. Also, if you re-read your Bible, you’ll clearly see that there is a second death and it has to be talking about the death in Genesis cuz adam didnt die right away. I know the scriptures are hundreds of years apart but that’s why it makes so much sense. Now, God isn’t just Jesus, he’s also the Holy Spirit, but he’s not, but he is. You see he’s three beings, but he’s not.. because Jesus is Jesus but he’s also God, and the Holy Ghost is God too but he’s also just the Holy Ghost. And God the Father is Just the Father but he’s also Jesus, and he’s also the holy spriit. Ok, now that I’ve explained it to you, you have no excuse not to convert!

  • 26. Paul S.  |  December 27, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    OK, you’ve convinced me! Where do I sign up?

  • 27. Iris  |  December 27, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    smiley lovedove, were you saying that the Xian concept makes sense when you apply a sort of new-agey feel-good postmodernish metaphor thingy to it? If you were not being facetious, I’m confused.

  • 28. Iris  |  December 27, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    woah!!! jimmycracka!!!!!! like, if God is not capable of some things, he is not all-powerful!1!!! and, like, God did lie, in the OT!!!!!!!!!!1!!!

    Woah!!!

  • 29. notabarbie  |  December 28, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    I think newcolors made a “goo” point, don’t you?
    Hey and I checked out the link that jimmycracka suggested. That pretty much says it all….I’ll just quote Jimmy Buffet here: “religion’s in the hands of some crazy-ass people.”

  • 30. confusedchristian  |  December 28, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    Honestly I’m curious about this whole love thing. Where does the Bible say that God unconditionally loves people? Because it is clear that if you disobey his commandments (condition) you will be punished.

  • 31. cipher  |  December 29, 2007 at 11:36 am

    I just checked out that Jesus-is-Lord website as well. Absolutely psychotic – graphic descriptions of hell, virulent antisemitism and some of the dumbest statements about world faiths you’ll come across for a good long while. “Jimmycracka” is aptly named.

    I have a folder on my hard drive (with apologies to Bertrand Russell), “Why I am Not a Christian”, in which I keep articles and links to some of the more egregious Christian offenses, just in case I am ever tempted to see Christianity in a more positive light. This one went in right away.

    The great thing about the internet is that it’s egalitarian; it gives everyone a voice. Unfortunately,that’s also its greatest weakness – any moron who can type with two fingers gets to put in his or her two cents, which is about what most of their opinions are worth.

    Regarding imposing this psychosis upon children – I really am beginning to think that we should make the fundies’ paranoid fantasies a reality. We ought to begin legislating against the teaching of this utter crap.

  • 32. Michelle  |  December 29, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Unfortunately, wars and fear are part of the human condition. They were around long before the birth of Christ. And fear mongering is not unique to those who bastardize Christain Theology. It is prevailent in the bastardization of other religions as well.
    The message that I’ve recieved from studying the bible and other texts is that of tolerance.
    This might beg the question- “did I need religion to teach me that tolerance is important?
    Well, not necessarily- I could have picked it up other ways. Honestly, it feels like part of my personality but who can tell.
    Does one need need a physiacs course to undrestand the beauty of a shooting star? Does one need an mechanical engineering degree to learn how to drive a car?
    Either you have faith or you do not- neither option intrinsically makes you good/bad , smart/ignorant, backward/progressive.

  • 33. geoff  |  December 29, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    1 Corinthians 2 v 14,
    For the natural man recieves not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are fooolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

  • 34. cipher  |  December 29, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    Of course. Isn’t that convenient?

    Do you think that if you just keep quoting scripture, over and over again, that we’re suddenly going to “get it”?

    Or are you, as I suspect, just trying to reassure yourself that we can’t possibly be right?

  • 35. dovelove  |  December 30, 2007 at 1:46 am

    “natural man” = left side of the brain, intellect, masculine, “logical”

    “for they are foolishness unto him” = our society (ruled by men) has opressed actual women, as well as pushed down their own feminine side (emotions, spirituality) … they find these things quite foolish. And such an irony given that our “feminine” side is the most powerful part of us. The world is just a reflection of what is going on with us …

    Actual man has also oppressed “natural woman” (right-brain stuff) … “Fools” believing that “natural woman” (and actual woman) is of little value, believing only what they see and deem “logical” … behold the world we have created with this imbalance of energy, this injustice, this ignorance…born right from the symbolic fairy tales of an old book. Wars, slavery, perversion, inconceivable injustice and wickedness, inequality, soooo many putting themslves ABOVE others as if money, and material shit, AND religious crap, were of more value than human beings (aka, “children of God”). Imbalance.

    “spiritually discerned” = that “natural male” (left brain…) side of us is clearly different than the female side

    It is the “right-brain, the “natural female” : ) side of us that receives that which is called “Spirit” (spiritual energy, intuition, emotion, creativity, “God”), not the “foolish” left side, “natural male.” Actual male mirrors the energy of, manifested from, “natural male.”

    Dove

  • 36. The de-Convert  |  December 30, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Dove,

    I miss the smilies :)

    Paul

  • 37. oakenthief  |  December 30, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Dove, you are laying the weirdest New Age offel onto biblical nonsense…What is natural male or ‘natural’ female is a subject of social debate, patriarchal oppression, and biology. Men are not all logical (or even more logical) than women, and women are not necessarily more emotional, weak, creative or compassionate. We are all crushed into these hideous straight jackets of gender from birth for various socioeconmic functions, in which men have more political power than women. This isn’t the yin and yang, its a serious issue of human history. Patriarchy, what gender actually means–these discussions have to take place with emotional fables to change it. And all the wars and destruction? This isn’t just some imbalance of male and female energy, it’s economics!

    Gah!
    :) :) :) !!!1!1!!!

  • 38. oakenthief  |  December 30, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Oops, that second sentence needs to be adjusted. O/h, and “without emotional fables”. Sorry.

  • 39. oakenthief  |  December 30, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Michelle–yes you either have faith or you do not, based on what family you are born into overwhelmingly, and what they indoctrinate you into. When you get older, whether you decide to continue believing one subset of beliefs out of thousands in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is not true, I think the de-converted on this site demonstrate that this is a choice and it does imply things about one’s character–not necessarily bad, but this is true of any belief system or ethical system.

    If my ethics said it’s okay to borrow and never repay, you would draw conclusions about my character, because I choose to follow this practice.

    If I said I believe there is an invisible, all loving God because I read one version of many of a book filled with violence, genocide and scientific untruths, and I believe this all loving deity will damn me to hell forever for not accepting his son, and I believed this in the face of overwhelming evidence…this would say something about my willingness to believe in things with no evidence. That is what faith is, and with any other kind of faith besides religion, we look down upon it in society as potentially harmful.

  • 40. oakenthief  |  December 30, 2007 at 11:30 am

    And Dove, in case you think I am being harsh, I am a de-convert of feel-good sacred feminine Wiccan new-agey stuff. The kid gloves come off when we put religion under scrutiny, and the religious and atheist alike defend their thoughts. Vague poetic belief systems that are, like, all about balancing elements and reading the Tarot correctly, no matter how nice the practitioners are, are subject to scrutiny as well.

  • 41. oakenthief  |  December 30, 2007 at 11:34 am

    I also find it to be a pet peeve that many of these new agey practitioners, through my own experience, use these ‘cosmic’ systems (tarot, wicca, elements, horoscopes) to avoid directly dealing with politics. They tend to be compassionate people who are also liberal and instead of dealing with politics or economics directly, they read stars. Of course, I’ve known exceptions, some being professors.

  • 42. cipher  |  December 30, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Having been through the New Age subculture myself, I’ve long seen it as the ultimate “salad bar” approach to religion. When confronted with the menu of world faiths, they take what they like, leave what they don’t, and, what they do take, they rearrange to suit themselves, with no regard for or understanding of the contexts out of which those ideas were taken.

    And, it’s been my repeated experience that New Agers are as rigidly married to their beliefs as are the conservative Christians. Anyone who offers contradictory evidence has to be pushed aside, so that they can continue to believe. I always find it ironic that they dislike one another so much, as they are really two sides of the same coin. Each is a form of fundamentalism.

  • 43. dovelove  |  December 30, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Well, make up your mind, oh-Paul-o-mine, lol ;)

    Ya’ got some angry peoplez here, all expressing it in different ways, and varying degrees :) … a reflection of my own angry energy, been workin’ through some “stuff” :) … and those are invariably the times I wander into such hornet’s nests :) I’m feelin’ much better now though, so I’m gonna go now, lol, and leave you in, um, peace :)

    Adieu and have a simply mah-vu-lous New Year, heh ;)

  • 44. jimmycracka  |  December 30, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Wel well well. I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned that The Bible is a lie, because some people with “education” said so and if it wern’t for blogs, I never would have known. I learned Paul doesn’t like smilies. I learned that, a liberated, patchoulie scented woman, while burning incense, chomping on a good bowl of granloa with one hand, hugging a tree with another all well reading Karl Marx with her foot, blaring “Age of Aqaurius”, and while miraculously balancing all this, never through her Chi out of harmony with the magnetic fields of the earth and her oneness with “mother nature” and ………….Jerry Garcia, being the one for the first time in 2000 years to disprove Jesus through a blog, simultaneously winning the affection of all of NOW and every other segment of baby scraping femi-nazi-ism, named dovelove………………………………….WAS GOD!!!!!!! Whoa, I’m out, see ya.

  • 45. Michelle  |  December 30, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Since the topic was brought up, I simply must tell Oakentheif that I was raised by a single mother wiccan with very little exposure to any church. Most of my mainstream religious experience was with a Catholic aunt (who lived 3 hours away) and two neighborhood friends one Unitarian and one Christian. I don’t feel compelled to defend my faith to you or anyone else. I have faith- that’s it, there you go. Sometimes I feel it’s necessary to defend Christianity. However, I choose not to do that with vague references to scripture that may or may not make sense. I believe that not enough can be said about the differences between covenant of the “old testament” (as Christians call it) and the covenant of the “New Testament” in which, when asked ‘what is the most important commandment?’
    Christ states “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

  • 46. The de-Convert  |  December 30, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    Dove,

    There are 2 Pauls on this thread:

    Paul S. – Hates smilies
    The de-Convert (Paul) – Loves smilies.

    Paul

  • 47. Asymptosis  |  December 30, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    I’ve learned that The Bible is a lie, because some people with “education” said so

    That “education” stuff is pretty bad, eh? Like, how an educated person will sometimes actually back up their claims with clear arguments. It is just dreadful.

  • 48. dovelove  |  December 30, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    @The de-Convert: Oh. (lol)

    @cracka: Damn, you make me sound good, LOL… And it’s so funny, so many here are calling you, well, kind of a moron, and I just request that you not call people pigs, and yet I’m the one you zero in on, LOL You’re scary — but apparenlty I scare you too.

    @asymptosis: ROFL!

    Peace and au revoir (again) … and for select ones, a special “peace on you” ;)

  • 49. Mary Windsor  |  January 4, 2008 at 5:32 am

    wow! love dove sounds just like me! I’m so glad I’m not alone! Lovedove, I presume your ideas extend beyond the old thinking of god, by the way you write. Do you encompass the idea of tomorrows god? this is one I am playing with at the moment and am on the point of dismissing. It all sounds good, but it seems to depend on a belief in a being outside of our selves, or have I got that wrong and am just misinterpreting the meaning of the idea? as far as I’m concerened We ARE tomorrows god, and it is the awakening of that “unconditional” love within ourselves that may just save the world from going down the tubes. Whereas theories I’ve heard seem to be once again encouraging us to give our power away to some fairy story, fictional god. We are god, no mater how egotistical it sounds, so it is within us to bring about world change, just don’t ask me how it will happen!

  • 50. Anonymous  |  April 16, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    God is real

  • 51. Anonymous  |  April 16, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Okay, let me be serious. I believe that the bible has many flaws within it. Does it mean that God is not real? No. To make things clear, I am not trying to get anyone to convert to a religion. I jst want to say that if you really want to follow what the Bible says, you will have to find an unbiased, uncorrupted version. Since that is not probable, you will have to go off of the passages that are life enhancing, not life destroying. In this case, get rid of the anti-gay, violent, and intolerant passages in the Bible. In doing so, you will realize that many problems in the world spawn from these passages.

  • 52. Anonymous  |  April 16, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Mary Windsor, you are right. But if you are going to say such things, you are going to have to explain how some bible passages, as well as the Gospel of Mary, do not say the same thing as you, that you are God, or that God is within you. That might be a bit tough. I don’t know, it might not be tough for the free thinking(non-conditioned Christians) here.

  • 53. James Hennessey  |  July 21, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    If Jesus and Christianity are such a farce, why so scared? Why dedicate entire blogs, sites, organizations, governments and armies against Him. No, you don’t scare me. The thought of you at the judgment seat scares me!

  • 54. Joe  |  July 21, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    In the New Testament, this theme continues. If one does not accept Jesus as his/her personal lord and savior, they are doomed to spend an eternity in a fires of hell perpetually being tortured beyond comprehension. Of course, Christians believe that this is a deserved punishment because of a lack of faith on behalf of the unconverted.

    Where in this story is there any measure of an unconditional love?

    The de-Convert—

    I am a buit surprised by your logic. Let me ask you—have you heard the Gospel? I think you have The de-Convert. In fact, I think you accepted it, and then rejected it. You are talking about a hell you do not have to go to—or anyone else if they accept Christ. His Unconditional love opened a doorway for you—he died for you while you were yet a sinner—an enemy of his—-yet he died anyway. You are using as your argument for not believing a place you don’t even need to go—neither does anyone else because salvation is a free gift.

    On a much smaller scale consider this:
    That type of logic just blows me away. It’s like a bank saying “penalty for early withdrawal” yet “waiving” it for you if you only give them a call. Then you refuse to go to the bank because “others may suffer a penalty for early withdrawal if THEY bank there”. You are rejecting the bank for what “might” happen to others—–and rejecting what is freely given to YOU due to what might happen to them. Then you are accusing the bank of being “unfair”.

    You are doing the same thing by accusing God of not having unconditional love. The very offer of eternal life was given to you already—-God’s love was freely given to you. You are rejecting it because “others might go to hell unfairly”–something you can’t even be sure about. Yet you are going to freely give up salvation, and God’s love towards you due to accusations you have that you really do not even understand.
    That boggles my mind.

  • 55. Obi  |  July 21, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Joe —

    So basically you’re stating that as long as we’ve secured ourselves in something, that we shouldn’t give a damn if others are (literally) sent to blazes? What kind of madness is that? Some of the things you post here, especially when attempting to justify the doctrine of hell/salvation, are utterly insane. What type of a world would this be if people didn’t fight for the underrepresented, or those who couldn’t stand for themselves? Among the myriad of reasons that Christianity is an obviously false religion is for exactly the reason The de-Convert pointed out — a supposedly “just” and “unconditionally loving” God will completely ignore everything that you’ve done in life, save for your belief in his son.

    If you were somehow unable to gain information about his son due to geographical separation, language barriers, or because you were born in a different cultural situation and rejected the religion due to favouring the one you grew up with or due to a lack of evidence for adopting such a belief (among the many, many other reasons), you will be cast into hell with no reprieve for all eternity, no matter how much you scream, cry, repent, and beg for forgiveness. A finite being who committed finite sins in a finite amount of time obviously deserves infinite punishment from a completely loving being, correct?

    The reason I, The de-Convert and others reject this type of “salvation” is because it is plainly and utterly unfair. I thought selflessness was a virtue in Christianity, because your “save yourself and don’t give a damn about others” mentality sure doesn’t resemble anything of the sort. Keep yourself on the thumb of your imaginary dictator of a God, mate. It is your life, after all.

  • 56. OneSmallStep  |  July 21, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    You are talking about a hell you do not have to go to—or anyone else if they accept Christ. His Unconditional love opened a doorway for you

    But if receiving this love hinges upon a person’s acceptance, then it’s not unconditional. Unconditional means that no qualifications are attached, or no strings are attached. Yet there’s a huge string right there — God’s love is only bestowed upon a person after acceptance.

    *Especially* if the only way God could love people freely is through the death of his son. That’s another huge condition right there.

    You are rejecting the bank for what “might” happen to others—–and rejecting what is freely given to YOU due to what might happen to them. Then you are accusing the bank of being “unfair”.

    Yes, because The de-Convert is thinking beyond himself. He’s saying that if this can happen to other people, then it’s not a just system, and he won’t follow it.

  • 57. kan  |  December 21, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    to those telling people to convert and have faith, etc… you will be the ones in hell. The self made hell that you have made up in your mind’s. That is until you learn that there is no heaven or hell and that god is not as you thought god would be. You are GOD/God/god!

  • 58. kan  |  December 21, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    To those of you who call yourselve’s spiritual, wicca, etc… Stop calling yourselves a new age religion! To those of you who believe in the bible, god and jesus, Stop calling the spiritualist, wiccas, etc…. a new age religion! They, and many other simular religions, have been around for thousand of years! They were killed or tortured back in the middle ages because they wouldn’t convert. Some ran away, others converted, many were killed, but they were there then and they are still here now. Nothing new about it!

  • 59. Mari Winsor  |  January 27, 2010 at 8:04 am

    How to Lose Belly Fat in Just Minutes

    If you are like me then you do not like spending money on a gym membership that costs a bundle but is hardly used. If you look to lose belly fat in just minutes then you have come to the right place. It is quite intense but very brief and includes a very aggressive cardio workout.

  • 60. DSimon  |  January 27, 2010 at 11:27 am

    The myth of God’s unconditional love has now officially been disproven by the existence of spammers.

  • 61. Joe  |  January 27, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    DSimon–

    Actually Buddha might be interested in post #59. His statues always bring to mind the idea that he could lose some belly fat. :) Just kidding of course.

  • 62. CheezChoc  |  January 27, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Assuming that there is a Hell where people are tormented forever, just think for a minute about what that means. You, your friends or neighbors or family members or colleagues, anybody who ends up there would suffer not just for a year, or a century, or millenia, but for many millenia.

    How is that just?

  • 63. Joe  |  January 27, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    CheezChoc—-

    I hear you—and I really don’t understand the concept very well.

    But flip the coin and think:

    Assuming there is a Heaven where people are in bliss forever, just think for a minute about what that means. You, your friends or neighbors or family members or colleagues, anybody who ends up there would experience unspeakable joy not just for ayear, or a century, or millenia, but for many millenia.

    And it is a free gift. How incredible is that?

  • 64. Joe  |  January 27, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Cheez–

    By the way, I do understand what you are saying. It’s just that when you flip that reality the other direction a competely different picture emerges, and it is quite an incredible one.

  • 65. DSimon  |  January 28, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Joe, creating a zone of eternal bliss doesn’t really morally cancel out creating a zone of eternal suffering. It’s like doing volunteer work at a veterinary hospital after deliberately stepping on puppies; nothing wrong at all with the first action, but it’s not like it absolves responsibility for the second.

    Anyways, heaven as it is usually presented is a horrifying concept for its own reasons.

  • 66. BigHouse  |  January 28, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Excellent link on heaven, DSimon.

    And I think the original post by the deCovert does a good job of debunking the idea that “salvation” is a “free gift”.

    As much of an incredible story that Heaven and eternal life can be painted to be, it IS a story. It isn’t reality. And it isn’t without it’s warts and logical and moral shortcomings.

  • 67. CheezChoc  |  January 28, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Good point made in the last two posts.

    Also, consider this: if people who don’t have the right beliefs go to hell, and evildoers also go to hell, then doesn’t it follow that, say, Gandhi and Anne Frank and Hitler and Pol Pot are all in hell together?

  • 68. Joe  |  January 28, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    DSimon (#65)

    I understand what you are saying. And I do admit I do not fully understand the concept of hell. I have no idea what hell is. But I am not going to reject a whole message of hope because I cannot understand hell. That would be like drowning in the sea and turning down the offer of a lifesaver from someone because I remember something about that particular person I don’t like.

    It’s a poor example, but the point I am making is do I reject a whole message because one part of it is hard to understand and repugnant to me? Hell may be a part of the message, but the greater part of the message is that there is salvation and no one really goes to “the other place” unless they put themselves there.

    I am just postulating here, not preaching. I realize many do not hold that the message is true at all. Just giving the other side of the coin as an example.

    I like the puppies at the clinic analogy though—good.

  • 69. DSimon  |  January 28, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Joe, the suggestion is not that belief in hell is incorrect because hell is hard to understand, but that belief in hell is totally incompatible with a belief in an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God. There’s no possible justification for a such a God to create a system of eternal torment.

    Furthermore, I don’t understand how you continue to justify saying that nobody goes to Hell except entirely through their own will. The typical doctrine is that Hell is where you end up unless you strictly follow a list of arbitrary rules. It’s the kind of “choice” offered by a criminal pointing a gun at your head and letting you choose between giving them your wallet or getting shot.

  • 70. Joe  |  January 28, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    DSimon (#69)—

    I would disagree that hell is where “you wind up if you don’t strictly follow a lost of arbitrary rules”. The Bible says Hell was created “for the devil and his angels” —it doesn’t say it was created for man.

    I won’t quote scripture, but if you read Ephesians chapter 2 you will cleary see that salvation is “a gift of God”—-not something gained by following rules. I realize that this is an issue of theological debate, but I really believe that scripture clearly teaches salvation is a gift, and cannot be earned.

    I also think your criminal analogy is cleaver, but way off the mark. Many “accept” Christ, not for fear of hell, but because of the great hope and joy in the message of salvation. This was the case with me—I did not accept Christ due to some “threat”, but because I read John 10 and wanted to be one of the sheep who belong to the shepherd. So no one put a gun to my head. :)

    But again, I hear where you are coming from, and admit Hell is a very difficult doctrine to grasp. I really do not understand it, and have to accept the fact that there are things my finite mind just can’t comprehend. I do appreciate your thoughts though.

  • 71. Joe  |  January 28, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    I meant “clever”, not “cleaver” in post above. :)

  • 72. 4riozs  |  January 29, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    How is “salvation” a free gift? Jesus made things 10 times worse- “be holy and my father is holy”, if you get a divorce and re-marry you’re an adulterer and adulterers don’t enter the kingdom of God. Salvation is not free in anyway.

  • 73. Joe  |  January 29, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    4riozs—

    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”. (Eph. 2:8,9)

    I normally don’t post scripture verses if I can avoid it now, but just wanted to show you one that definitely states salvation is a gift.

    As we read these verses we see the following:

    1. Salvation is a “gift”, not something that is “rewarded”.

    2. Salvation is not of works lest ANYONE SHOULD BOAST that they earned it themselves.

    3. We have been saved UNTO GOOD WORKS, not BY OUR WORKS.

    This verse, and others, teach clearly salvation is a gift we CAN KNOW WE POSSESS NOW:

    “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”, (Titus 3:5)

    Note: “He SAVED us” (past tense) and how? Not by OUR WORKS, but due to his mercy.

  • 74. Joe  |  January 29, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    My apologies. I meant to just post the Ephesians verse and one comment. I cut and pasted that verse from another post I made on another site and picked up too much. I didn’t mean to post the 3 points, etc. sorry about that.

  • 75. DSimon  |  January 29, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    The Bible says Hell was created “for the devil and his angels” —it doesn’t say it was created for man.

    Do you therefore claim that humans do not go to Hell? If not, I don’t see what difference it makes if Hell was originally created only for supernatural entities and only later adapted for humans; God is still the one setting up a system that sends people to Hell.

    I also think your criminal analogy is clever, but way off the mark. Many “accept” Christ, not for fear of hell, but because of the great hope and joy in the message of salvation.

    That’s a good point, so let me alter the analogy a bit: suppose the criminal has an odd sense of humor, and instead of saying “Give me your wallet or I shoot”, they say “Take my wallet filled with cash, or I shoot”. Now, depending on your personality, you might do one of three things:

    1. You can take the money because you really need it for some reason. Maybe you want to donate it to charity, or put it in your kid’s college fund, or you just want a high-def television. In any case, you’re happy to have it.

    2. You can take the money because, if you don’t, the criminal will shoot you; what you use the money for doesn’t enter into the choice.

    3. You can refuse to take the money. Maybe you do this because you refuse to support anybody who goes around threatening people with guns, or because you’re just freaked out by the gun and can’t think straight, or because you’re hard of hearing and can’t understand what you’re being asked. Regardless, you refuse the money, and get shot.

    My point is this: even if you happen to fall into category #1, what the criminal did is still clearly immoral. The fact that the alternate choice to getting shot is something that benefits you doesn’t make the situation any less coercive; although you do have a “choice” in determining what the criminal will do, they’re still the one with the gun making the ultimatums, and they still have ultimate responsibility for whether or not they pull the trigger.

    A God that creates a zone of eternal torment and sends people there for any reason is still clearly behaving immorally, and cannot be omnibenevolent.

  • 76. Outsider  |  January 29, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Saved by grace or faith still doesn’t explain this “free gift.” I can’t for the life of me understand the bible or believe that it is the word of god, whether it be emotional or intellectual reasons (combined or mutually exclusive). For god to send someone to hell because that person can’t possibly believe in something is not just. The doctrines just don’t make much sense to me. To claim that “salvation” as a “gift” should not require any conditions or this confusing thing called “free will”. Someone can’t accept a “gift” that cannot be substantiated or understood. If god’s plan were perfect, there would not be a need to create hell for the sole purpose of eternal torment. On the other hand satan and demons still have the capability to escape this hell and torment earthlings??? I can’t keep track.

    If god knows each and everyone of us, and he wanted us to understand right/wrong/hell/heaven, he should show up and show us this phenomena that we have no experience with so that can can truly see (not have to imagine it). How can you speak as if you know what god is thinking? That’s your interpretion (albeit maybe from a verse of a book whose origin is so sparse and varied). If god is so omnificent, why wouldn’t he flip a switch so that we could all “see”/understand. If god wanted us to make the “right” decisions, why doesn’t he physically participate and voice them to all human generations himself rather than rely on humans to interpret what he wants us to do? He appears once to suffer, explains things in parables, disappears, and assumes the next generations are clear on the message that didn’t reach the whole world even when he was on earth the first time??? This is not very good planning. All these doctrines are so not intuitive and so contradicting.

  • 77. Joe  |  January 29, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    DSimon (#75)

    DSimon—-

    I appreciate the post and your logic. But you appear to be coming from a premise that God in a sense is a criminal with a gun giving us choices to make. Another way to see it is that God is that person offering a life-preserver to you because you are close to drowning.

    You may complain that it “isn’t fair” that you should drown if you don’t take the life-preserver, but the wise thing to do is to take it isn’t it? Take the life preserver, and then AFTER you’ve been pulled onto the boat you can talk about “unfairness”, and possibly have everything explained to you.

    My point is—-none of us understands the concept of hell. It was created for “the devil and his angels” but it appears men will go there too—to the Lake of Fire. But it also says the reason they go there is because “they loved not the truth” and put themselves there as a result—because every means necessary from keeping from going there had been OFFERED TO THEM and they refused it—not because WANTS them there.

    If you want to see God as a criminal holding a gun and “forcing” people to make a choice that’s your prerogative—
    but I believe there is far more to the story that I do not understand. Rather than trying to “figure it all out” before
    I accept help, I just choose to take the life preserver being handed to me, and trust that the one giving it to me is
    doing so for a very loving reason. If he wanted me to suffer he’d simply ignore me—but he calls out to come to
    him and be saved.

    What can I say? That is the message of Christianity. I happen to believe it. But I am grateful DSimon that we can discuss this on a friendly basis, even though we may be miles apart in what we believe. All the best.

  • 78. Joe  |  January 29, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Outsider (76)–

    Many of us as children questioned totally what our parents decisions were for us. SOME of them turned out to be very good though we didn’t understand them at the time. We would ask WHY WHY WHY?

    An infinite God would know far more than we are even capable of knowing. We ask WHY? We cannot see clearly. One day we will. I know that may seem like a rather vague and empty answer, but sometimes I have to resort to it–I just don’t know.

  • 79. DSimon  |  January 29, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Another way to see it is that God is that person offering a life-preserver to you because you are close to drowning.

    Joe, to use your life-preserver analogy as a metaphor for God sending people to Heaven or to Hell, I think you’d have to include a part about the person throwing you the life preserver also being responsible for the fact that you’re in the ocean in the first place, and even for the fact that the ocean is capable of drowning you.

    But I am grateful DSimon that we can discuss this on a friendly basis, even though we may be miles apart in what we believe. All the best.

    To you as well. I may sometimes sound like I’m cranky on the Internet :-), but I generally enjoy these sorts of discussions, and this one was no exception. Take care.

  • 80. 4riozs  |  January 30, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    “Another way to see it is that God is that person offering a life-preserver to you because you are close to drowning. ”

    But “God” would be the one throwing you in that ocean- I agree with the criminal analogy

    The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

    This is the only reference to free gift found on Bible Gateway. It’s kind of funny. Either drown or drink!!!!

  • 81. Outsider  |  January 31, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    “Rather than trying to “figure it all out” before I accept help, I just choose to take the life preserver being handed to me, and trust that the one giving it to me is doing so for a very loving reason. If he wanted me to suffer he’d simply ignore me—but he calls out to come to him and be saved. ”

    Joe-
    I can’t accept/trust what I don’t see/understand? How is god calling out? You can’t see or hear him, so how do you decipher between what your thoughts are and what god is actually doing? He doesn’t confirm anything.

    “Many of us as children questioned totally what our parents decisions were for us. SOME of them turned out to be very good though we didn’t understand them at the time. We would ask WHY WHY WHY?

    An infinite God would know far more than we are even capable of knowing. We ask WHY? We cannot see clearly. One day we will. I know that may seem like a rather vague and empty answer, but sometimes I have to resort to it–I just don’t know.”

    As children we couldn’t completely understand our parents, but as adults our experiences have helped us learn the reasons why our parents might have taken certain actions…and that not ALL their actions were the right decisions. This is because people help shape our lives. We learn through our emotions and surroundings what works and how we want to be treated. We have conversations and relationships with people.

    This concept of god knowing more than we do…well, that doesn’t help, unless he makes himself known without a questionable doubt. Otherwise it wouldn’t be anything more than just a group of church people telling you what to think, just a book written by men in attempt to explain a god they’ve never met, or just playing imaginary mind games with yourself.

    If we will never truly understand this god, what is the point? When will we all get to meet him? The 2nd coming? When we die? When we are awarded/punished in heaven/hell? All this emphasis for humans to take a leap of faith and just believe…yet, it doesn’t seem that god is in much of a rush to make himself known and convince us. How do you even know he is trying? How do you can you speak the mind of god? How can you even attempt to explain “life after death” if you haven’t even experienced it? There are a ton of thing we humans do not know, but it isn’t a good enough reason to rush into conclusions. Nobody approaches life with innate trust/faith in anything. Faith/trust has to be earned (or in some cases indoctrinated). Why is this concept of god an exception and left off the hook?

  • 82. Joe  |  February 1, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    DSimon—- (#79)

    The point I was trying to make is we really don’t know the WHOLE STORY as to why we are in the ocean. Yes—the one giving us the life preserver may appear to be the one who got us in the ocean in the first place. But do we reject the life preserver and drown when there is a way out——despite our frustration at not understanding why we are in the ocean in the first place?

    Again I say—-no, we take the life preserver. It is the logical thing to do. If we reject it we drown. It makes absolutely no sense to us—in fact, we may even abhor the reasoning for having to take the life preserver—-but if we are wise, we take it and live. It is logical.

    I propose that one day we will understand all of it. We can accuse God of damning people to hell, of holding a gun to our heads to make choices, etc. etc.— but one day I truly believe we will say “OH—-I see now. I understand why there was evil, why you allowed a devil to exist, why there was a hell, why good people have bad things happen to them”. All of our questions will be answered.

    Again, I would just ask do you reject a life-preserver being handed to you because you do not fully understand the person handing it to you—even if you think they pushed you in in the first place? Do you drown, or do you accept it? That is really the question I am asking.

  • 83. Outsider  |  February 1, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Joe –

    “Again, I would just ask do you reject a life-preserver being handed to you because you do not fully understand the person handing it to you—even if you think they pushed you in in the first place? Do you drown, or do you accept it? That is really the question I am asking.”

    It’s more of a matter of disbelief than rejection. I reject the idea of believing in such a god without substantial proof of its efficacy, purpose, and first and foremost it’s existence! Generations have been waiting for centuries for that one day you are mentioning. I find no reason to hold my breath. This metaphor of god handing you a life-preserver is all just imagination.

  • 84. BigHouse  |  February 1, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Notice how Joe can’t get outside of the Christian box he resides in and refuses to address the many repeated points asked of him. He’s hyper-focused on his life preserver analogy because in it’s narrow view, it has a right answer he can cling to.

    EVERYBODY would accept the life preserver with the conditions as laid out in the little “game”. They would be foolish not to. I would, however, get as FAR AWAY from the individual who threw me into the ocean as possible, lest I end up there again!

    Stepping outside the box, he thesis of the argument is that Christians claim God is benevolent and our savior and get the backup for these asseritions from the Bible. But THAT SAME Bible shows God is NOT benevolent and outlines a history where humans were created specifically for his pleasure and gratification. Then when the first ones didn’t meet his stamp of approval, he damned not only them, but every last one of the 2000 year innocent linneage of humans to eternal torture. But God offers the gift of saving from this hell, but it isn’t really a gift. It comes with a contingency that we believe in his son, who is really all father also, came to earth and died for us. A son which miraculously didn’t have an earthly father but was immacuately conceived.

    This book also has tales of talking donkeys, demi-gods roaming the earth, dead people rising, people being punished for building a tower to heaven thus creating different languages, and fruit-tempting snakes. I am honestly embarassed that it took me so long to regard the Bible for what it is…MYTHOLOGY. Any other book that contains outrageous stories like these is rightfully claimed as fiction by Christians without batting an eyelash.

    Don’t underestimate the power of emotion and indoctrination!

  • 85. Joe  |  February 1, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Outsider (#83)–

    Fair enough. I was trying to clarify my point—-but you are correct–it is a matter of disbelief vs. rejection. Often I have to remind myself that the majority here really do not believe these things and are not “rejecting” it as much as simply not believing it at all. Thanks for the reminder.

  • 86. Outsider  |  February 1, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Joe-

    You agree that we do not have the WHOLE STORY. On the other hand, how do you know that the pieces of the story you hold to are even true? How do you know that ANY of the pieces are true? Is there no inkling in you that thinks any parts of the bible are just stories (legends, fairy tales, false interpretations, etc)?

  • 87. Outsider  |  February 1, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    BigHouse-

    I agree with you about stepping outside the box and the power of emotion and indoctrination. It can be difficult to do when you are actively involved in a church community where groupthink frequently occurs. People have to question and be willing to look for answers, even if that means finding cracks in a system they’ve been used to.

  • 88. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 1, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    To work within the analogy: of course I wouldn’t reject a life-preserver to keep from drowning. But if someone walks up to me a mountain peek and throws me a life-preserver, I’m going to think he’s crazy.

    All the analogies I’ve heard regarding Christianity saving us make it seem obvious there’s something to be saved from. But the only way to actually verify that there’s something to be saved from is to die, and then it’s too late. Don’t drive off that cliff, even though there is absolutely no way to prove there’s a cliff there until you drive off it. Take that life-preserver so you don’t drown, even though there’s no evidence that you’re drowning until you are already dead.

  • 89. Joe  |  February 1, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Snuggly–

    Very good point. I like the analogy.

    Outsider—-

    Agreed—there really is no way of knowing that any of the things are true. And with some of the “legends” I have revised my thinking. For instance, I realize it is IMPOSSIBLE for Noah’s Ark to have held 2 of every kind of animal on earth. In fact, that’s even laughable.

    But I do subscribe to a localized flood. Much of the time in the Bible when it mentions “the world” it is speaking of the known world at the time. Researchers believe there was a huge flood near the Baltic Sea, and into Turkey and surrounding areas.

    It’s not if God COULD have flooded the whole world—I believe he could have—–but what he NEEDED to do—-and in this case I believe it was a local flood, and the “animals” were from the immediate area. Almost every legend IS BASED on some form of reality—-so I believe the flood was REAL, but has been exaggerated.

    I give that as an example. But I do have to mention—I have read many, many books written by atheists—my favorite being written by a French Priest who was a secret atheist for years. Voltaire wrote about him—his name was Jean Messier.

    I have read Ingersoll also, and many others. I like their arguments–and think many of them are very well thought out indeed. I recently bought, and have been reading “The God Delusion” also. But, you see, something happened to me when I was 17 years old that I CANNOT DENY. So, as much as I read the arguments, I remember a day so clearly in my mind—a day that changed everything.

    And I KNOW that day was not based on some emotional experience I dreamed up, or brought about by others—as I was all alone. Sure—it was a “subjective experience” but no one told me it was going to happen. And since that day when I was 17 I have been a different person. It was life-changing and very, very REAL.

    So, I can read and read—-but I always go back to that day and ask “Does what they are saying negate that day?” And you know what? None of it can. God is real—I cannot deny it. I know you don’t believe, and that’s cool—it really is. And you can present scientific and logical arguments—-and they are all very interesting—I appreciate the analogies and very intelligently thought out anecdotes and reasoning. But I cannot deny what I know to be real. It’s really as simple as that.

    But I truly enjoy the intelligent conversation here. It is great to see the different perspectives from level-headed people for the most part. A few take things a bit too personally it seems, but that’s cool too—-we’re all human.

  • 90. Outsider  |  February 2, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo-
    That is a very good point.

    Joe-
    No one can ever deny you of a personal experience. I just wonder how you connect the dots between your personal experience and the god of the bible. You may see something as being extraordinary or “supernatural’…but how can you so specifically point it to this ancient book which is so inconsistent? You can say you “believe” in something, but to say that you “know” that something so extraordinary is real demands extraordinary evidence. The way you cherry-pick the words in the bible is different from how someone else cherry-picks it. How can anyone claim that this book is “inerrant”? It’s more early human-inspired, rather than god-inspired.

    People have the right to take things personally. It’s the personal experience that got each individual into their beliefs/unbeliefs. We unbelievers/athiests/agnostics have sought and have been disappointed when we found nothing (or things of the contrary). We asked this mystical god for refuge and weren’t given any response. That’s a good indication this god doesn’t exist (or at the very least isn’t the one described in the bible).

    The reason why some of us may be a bit confused/bothered by someone who toots “Good point” or “good reasoning”, but then continues to express ideas that are incongruent with that “good point”, makes one think, are you really listening?

  • 91. Outsider  |  February 2, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Joe-

    It’s difficult to decipher tone when users comment. My last comment wasn’t reprimanding, just clarifying.

  • 92. Joe  |  February 2, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    “The reason why some of us may be a bit confused/bothered by someone who toots “Good point” or “good reasoning”, but then continues to express ideas that are incongruent with that “good point”, makes one think, are you really listening?” (From #90)

    Sure—I’m listening. When you watch a good debate you may totally disagree with the people making their point, but you can still say “very good argument” because they have presented their case in a very intelligent way. In effect, that is what I am doing.

    I enjoy reading arguments against the existence of God which are put forth intelligently, even though ultimately I will never “accept” them as valid.

    I do not pretend to understand the Bible completely—-some of it is admittedly very confusing. But I do believe it to be very real. The “day” I mentioned earlier was a result of reading one portion of the Bible (Gospel of John).

    I have shared it before–but I was literally handed a copy of it. No one said “you are going to experience this” or “this will happen to you”. I simply read it. The most incredible thing happened, and I have never felt so cleansed and full of joy in my entire life since. It was like a 360 degree turn and it has stayed with me ever since. It was literally a miracle that I cannot deny to this day. A I can hear all the “logical” arguments in the world—-but I cannot deny what happened to me. When I weigh that day against a well placed argument the day weighs out—and always has. It was just too REAL.

  • 93. Outsider  |  February 2, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Hmm. That “day” for you must have been an emotional one.

    What makes you come to a site like this, knowing that most of us are in the process of moving away from or simply do not accept those beliefs you hold?

  • 94. Joe  |  February 2, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Outsider—

    Very good question. I’ll explain one reason— apostasy has fascinated me for years. I think not understanding Hebrews 6:4-6 and trying to get a grip on it has led me on a journey of investigation. You see, those verses describe “apostates” —yet in Hebrews 6:9 it says “But we are persuaded better things of you brethren and things which accompany salvation”.

    So, I have been intrigued for some time as to what apostasy really is, and what leads to it. How could someone REALLY walk away from what they believed in? It seems impossible to me—–but I have discovered it is very real.

    I came to this site due to searching and wondering about what apostasy is. I used to believe that the people here believed, but were in denial. Then I realized that the majority really do not believe any more. That was a real eye-opener.

    I guess I hang out here because I enjoy the arguments put forth—they are normally very intelligent–and to be entirely honest, I am still trying to accept that someone can believe then come to a place of totally not believing. It is still a concept hard for me to fathom. But I like the people here for the most part–a few can’t stand my presence here—-and that’s OK—as Lincoln said “You can’t please all of the people all of the time” :>) But I am still on a journey of discovery here.

    To be quite honest I jump from an extremely Christian site to a deconvert site during the day and compare. It is really quite enlightening.

  • 95. Ubi Dubium  |  February 2, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Joe,
    Do you have any observations about the comparison between the xian site you spend time at and this one? Since (cause I’m pretty sure they’d consider me a troll) I don’t hang around xian sites, I’d be interested in the comparison. I would expect that “think for yourself and work it out on your own” is not big over there, for a start.

  • 96. Joe  |  February 2, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Ubi (#95)—-

    Actually you’d be very surprised. The site I visit actually has quite a bit of debate. Yes—they are “believers” but they are thinking on their own for sure about many issues.

    I too believe in God—but believe he is more like the Father who gives you the push on the bicycle. He expects youi to do the peddling, choose the path, and enjoy the ride! Of course, he is always running right behind you to help you up again when you fall.

    I do not subscribe to some fatalistic approach– “Lord, shall I use Crest or Colgate today?” :>)

    It’s a lot of fun. There are some very unintelligent people too I must say—-but they are balanced by the “thinkers” who are willing to believe, but also question. Nothing wrong with that. Paul even mentions the “Nobel Bereans” who did not just accept what he said, but checked it our for themselves.

  • 97. Joe  |  February 2, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    In many ways it is like this board but in reverse. The “drive-bys” are things such as “Your God is a lie!” etc, with the person appearing out of nowhere, posting, and then disappearing again.

    There are a few agnostics though who give their point of view—of course they are attacked—-just as some christians are here too. LOL

    But it all kind of balances out. I like it.

  • 98. Ubi Dubium  |  February 3, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Interesting that your other board also gets the “drive-by’s Most Atheists I interact with on the internet really try to avoid that, since it’s rude and pointless, but there are always a few outliers in any group. Either that, or they are just people who enjoy being trolls, and are more interested in infuriating people than in supporting any particular position. But, since they just hit and run, you really can’t find out their motivation. :)

    Good that your other board gets real discussion. I’m all for people thinking things out for themselves instead of just believing what they’re told.

  • 99. Outsider  |  February 3, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Joe-
    I agree that It is a very important question to ask why those who have believed have come to disbelieve. For me the “born-again” experience was highly emotional at a difficult time in my life. I took a leap of faith and thought everything is going to be wonderful as I sought refuge in god. I thought I’d give it my sincere effort and believe/trust in the bible and my “relationship” with god as much as I could…I felt high for a while, but gradually as I learned more, I realized that at that pivotal moment where I was supposely “born-again”, I hadn’t questioned everything I should have. I shouldn’t have jumped into such a strong system of beliefs that was deemed “inerrant” without the proper investigation. I felt guilty for doubting, for not trusting god, for letting down people/friends at church…it was unbearable. I was just trying so hard to hold on…but I couldn’t. The more I looked at the church and bible from the outside, the more I felt that everything was a lie. I realized all the answers I was ever given about god were incomplete and most people at church only said certain things to calm me down. I began to realize that apologetics was more of an art rather than based on truth. The christian answers never really satisfied my questions/concerns. It was debilitating. I wanted to believe that god would redeem me from my doubts, but he never came. I gradually began to realize I had been alone throughout my journey, and I had to rely on myself to move on. When I read the athiest/agnostic explanations in books and posts on sites like these, they really help explain things in a logical and practical way. The christian answers no longer satisfies me. They are illogical and many seem socially irresponsible to me. So yes, people can change their stance on what they believe based on new experiences and information. That is what a lifelong learning expereince is about. It’s like the scientific theory. How can you claim something is true, without fully observing, testing, seeing, and proving it? It doesn’t make sense for me to jump the gun (which I had mistakenly done), and say something is true/exists before I can even prove it (especially when you are told it is a set of specific instructions to follow for a lifetime). It’s kind of like how a child finds the glich and finally realizes that Santa is not real, after many many years of Christmas Eves waiting up for ol’ St. Nick.

    Maybe the challenge for you is trying to understand why our experiences are so different, why god seems to “speak” to you and not everyone else. For most christians it’s the presuppositional kind of thinking that gets them sort of stuck. The skeptic questions before he trusts; He doesn’t stand in the stance of trust/belief first (This may cause him to come up with questions based on what he trusts already). Not sure if I am making any sense. Just a thought.

    Many people on this site have gone far and beyond what I had on their journeys. Their deconversion stories are inspirational. I consider my experience a stint in comparison. There are a myriad of people far more articulate, intelligent and knowledgeable than I am on this site. That’s why I visit.

    I think it is good that you are asking questions.

  • 100. BigHouse  |  February 4, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Outsider, thanks for for story and I hope you find a solace here.

    I think for those Christians that had the “big moment” type conversion, it is very hard to break away using logic and reason. That’s because their conversion was an EMOTIONAL one. It’s not defensible or solid on reason, so chipping away at the logic is not affecting the emotional base they stand on.

    At the end of the day, Christianity is true to them because they WANT it to be true, not because they can defend the truth of it. These people need to WANT to “know” the truth, reagrdless of their desires, before they can start reconciling their beliefs with reality and move forward.

  • 101. Outsider  |  February 4, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Thanks, BigHouse.

    In my case, leaving the faith was more emotional than getting into it. It was excruiatingly painful, but I could not be in denial anymore. Things are definitely much more clear. I am more aware of what I should rely on and am the more healthier because of that. It beats being in a delusional state of mind.

    I look forward in reading more posts here. Thanks to you all for keeping it up!

  • 102. BigHouse  |  February 4, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Agreed, Outsider. It can be painfully emotional to leave/have left. Just because something can be logically rejected doesn’t mean the emotional aspects of that connection disappear. I definitely fight off emotions regarding leaving.

    The key is to remember that YOU built those bonds and emotional connections. They can be rebuilt and or repurposed in your new life. And I agree, that having destroyed the logical underpinnings of my old faith, hanging onto it just for emotional reasons was just something I couldn’t nor shouldn’t do. It hurts..but it gets better over time. Fill your life with the good things and take up your remaining days with a spirit of adventure and new beginnings.

  • 103. Joe  |  February 8, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Outsider (#99)

    Thanks for the post. One thing you’ll notice as you continue to post and read here is the sharp contrast between intelligence and wisdom in the different poster’s on the board. It is a real eye-opener.

  • 104. Joe  |  February 8, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    What I mean to say is that the posts are varied here. Some exhibit a lot of intelligence with very little wisdom, some show great wisdom with little intelligence, and some display both at the same time.

  • 105. Outsider  |  February 9, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Hi Joe,

    I don’t come here to judge how “wise” or “intelligent” someone is. I take away with me any ideas that benefit my psyche and way of thinking. I listen to the arguments and try not to any make assumptions about anyone here.

  • 106. Joe  |  February 9, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Outsider–

    i don’t come here for that reason either. What I was stating is that you will be surprised at the varied opionions and concepts that many of the people who visit here hold dear. One cannot help but see one post very intelligent concepts, but in the next breath express some unwise decision they have just made—or the opposite. It is hard for one to miss that.

    I am not stating one should come here to judge everyone—–I am just saying it is fun to hear the varied use of the brain and the heart in this place. As I said, it is an eye-opener. Of course, you can define my statements any way you would like to. :>)

  • 107. Outsider  |  February 9, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Joe-

    That is why I wouldn’t try to post subjective comments about people on this blog. I think it is better to concentrate on the arguments. Don’t worry; I won’t jump to conclusions about people, especially in an online environment.

  • 108. Joe  |  February 9, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    OK—thanks for the input.

  • 109. Joseph Kuzara  |  February 28, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    if God was not unconditional in His love He would not have allowed a spiritually depraved humanity to continue but would allowed us to be utterly destroyed upon the first sin. But out of Gods unconditional love, showed Mercy and Compassion to allow Adam and Eve to continue on earth and try and restore a spiritual relationship with His creation made in His Image. if God was conditional none would be spared.All of you are here and breathing because God has compassion and common grace on all of Humanity but will only have Mercy on those who Believe in His Sons finished work on the Cross because it by the unfaithfulness that led to our sinful bondage so God wants us to live by faith in Him alone and obey. because we cannot merit salvation nor of our own will can we be saved but only of God as this is His free gift to give and nothing to earn, if God was conditional none of us would be promised salvation because we could never be made perfect to dwell in the presence of God through the works of the Law but only in Faith that God’s Son Performed the deeds required for us to be acceptable in the presence of God for eternity. This is Eternal Love that cannot be expressed with words but only willful submission and obedience to those who believe in the Testimony of Jesus.

  • 110. cag  |  February 28, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Joseph Kuzara #109, your plot outline fails to develop any suspension of disbelief, so you get a F for fail. You should work on your believability and grammar. The random capitalization makes your fiction difficult to read and lends an air of pretentiousness. The characters in your screed do not generate sympathy or empathy, only contempt. Your god character appears to be a bit of a jerk with an inferiority complex big enough to cover the universe. Zero stars.

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Attention Christian Readers

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

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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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