Changing the way you think (renewing the mind)

January 22, 2008 at 11:36 pm 22 comments

Renewing The MindOne of my favorite verses in the Bible is Romans 12:2 -

Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by renewing the mind…

One of the major patterns of thinking humanity has created and cultivated is religion. This, in most cases, includes a deity who is to be feared unless a long list of unattainable demands are met. Failure typically means spending eternity being relentlessly tortured.

Judaism follows this pattern. An ancient nomadic Middle Eastern tribe created a god who demanded blood and a long list of rituals in order that they would be forgiven of their transgressions. The description of the ritualistic slaughter of innocent animals and the amount of blood which flowed in the temple as a result of these sacrifices would make any modern day bloody thriller seem like a children’s movie. This god also gave divine direction to their conquests as he demanded the extermination of entire nations of people including babies, children, and animals. A Christian will tell you that this was required in order to somehow bring to an end to evil pagan practices such as sacrificing babies to idols. I think it’s a bit ironic that babies are killed in order to stop the killing of babies. How does that make sense?

Christianity continues to build on this pattern as God ended up having to sacrifice himself to himself as the ultimate penalty for man’s sin. Of course, one would think that this act ended all the rituals, rules, and regulations of the previous religious system. However, this is not the case. As with all human solutions, the old rules and regulations were quickly replaced with a newer more modern version with a new list of rules that have to be adhered to in order to ensure one’s salvation.

Today, there are countless versions of Christianity and other religions all attempting to bring a human solution to the perceived problem of humanity’s inability to have morals and ethics without a divine code and our need for some sort of redemption from our mistakes. The reality is, this is where we need to change the way we think. This is where our minds need to be truly renewed. Let’s not conform to all these religions created by our ancestors who believed in myths and unseen spiritual forces. Let’s view life through the lens of knowledge, science, and what we have learned from history.

It is time to truly change the way we think (renew our minds) and view life with a positive world view without the negativity of ancient religions myths and practices.

- The de-Convert

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

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22 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Quester  |  January 23, 2008 at 12:24 am

    Well written, de-Convert. For myself, I think that for a positive viewpoint, it helps to focus not just on what is, but what can be. Human potential can be awe-inspiring.

  • 2. Asymptosis  |  January 23, 2008 at 2:13 am

    I think it is ironic to talk about a positive world view in terms of “without the negativity.” I mean, “without” is a negative ;P Shouldn’t a positive world view focus on the positives?

    A good way to change people’s thinking is through showing an example that they would want to emulate. In comparison to this, here we see only more tiresome religion-bashing.

    Religious issues should be criticised on a case-by-case basis. Otherwise, you throw out the baby with the bath water, and seem like a mindless zealot.

  • 3. artisticmisfit  |  January 23, 2008 at 2:36 am

    You know what? I had morals and ethics long before I had Christianity. Why the blanket statements, judgments, presumption, and assumptions? Or, is this too another wrong community for me? Am I a misfit here too?

  • 4. Thinking Ape  |  January 23, 2008 at 3:10 am

    artisticmisfit, could you explain the direction of your comment? At what point do you feel de-Convert was insinuating you didn’t have morals and ethics or delivered presumptions, et al?

    The de-Convert,
    Your second paragraph on the history of Judaism is somewhat problematic, no? No doubt there was an ancient Yahwism, worshiped by a nomadic tribe, but that wa hardly Judaism. Rabbinical Judaism is an amalgamation of that old Yahwist religion with Imperial Judaic and Babylonian flavour. I would venture, along with many scholars, that the majority of the stories that we say are Hebrew are in fact mythologies created or exaggerated by one or more authors in the post-Solomonic era. The long list of rules you speak of probably had nothing to do with that Yahwist tribe, but with a much later priestly authority.

    Forgive me for nitpicking, as history was not the point of your post. But I agree with your sentiments and negative remarks concerning the negative atheology included in your post seems a little absurdist for my tastes. Perhaps to ease the minds of your criticizers, another (I know you have written on this topic before) follow-up to this post extrapolating your conclusion might be helpful.

    Let’s view life through the lens of knowledge, science, and what we have learned from history.

    Tell us, in your view, what does this life look like? I know my closest attempt was back in this post, perhaps you could enlighten our readers of your positive perspective?

  • 5. artisticmisfit  |  January 23, 2008 at 3:20 am

    Thinking Ape, it wasn’t me personally he was insinuating that did not have ethics and morals before Christianity. His whole tone is presumptuous. He takes, or seems to take for granted, that is easy for a skeptical Christian to be a Christian. It is not. It is hard. I am a very skeptical Christian, and I feel like his post is dishonoring that. If we are going to welcome skeptical Christians here, we are going to have to try a little harder not to offend them. Its hard enough for us with trusting, faithful Christians. We don’t need trouble from our own.

  • 6. Thinking Ape  |  January 23, 2008 at 3:36 am

    artisticmisfit, I appreciate the response and now better understand your position; being a skeptical Christian was certainly the hardest part of my life. I am not too sure where the discussion on moral and ethics comes is disputable. It is the rare sophisticated Christian I have met, usually seminary students, that do not hold a divinely imposed moral superiority over the head of the unbeliever (at least in North America). Christianity certainly has a rich history of developing a sound moral code, but America has robbed Christianity of this history through its obsession with finding the original church (via Mormonism, Southern Baptists, and Pentecostalism, among others).

    For myself, being a skeptical Christian meant picking the best from among the ashes of great Christian thinkers – something rarely done in the church today. What I think de-Convert was trying to get across was that whether you are an atheist, agnostic, or questioning Christian, we should be living our lives using the faculties of humanity the best we can. Now whether you feel The de-Convert was being presumptuous I cannot say, since that is a matter of perspective. I do my best not to be easily offended or to worry too much about not offending others with words – [perceived] truth sometimes hurts and if it is too much for some, they will carry on their way in this blogosphere.

  • 7. John  |  January 23, 2008 at 6:33 am

    Great Post de-Convert!

  • 8. The de-Convert  |  January 23, 2008 at 8:35 am

    Asymptosis,

    Religious issues should be criticised on a case-by-case basis. Otherwise, you throw out the baby with the bath water, and seem like a mindless zealot.

    I do agree with you. The goal of my post wasn’t really to criticise but to show that RELIGION is really a human creation hence a “pattern of this world.”

    Paul

  • 9. The de-Convert  |  January 23, 2008 at 8:39 am

    ArtisticMisfit,

    Today, there are countless versions of Christianity and other religions all attempting to bring a human solution to the perceived problem of humanity’s inability to have morals and ethics without a divine code

    In the above quote, my intent was to state that many people of faith believe that one cannot have morals and ethics without religion. I used the word “perceived” to voice my disagreement with this concept. Hence, I think we’re on the same page here (unless I misunderstood what you are saying).

    As I stated several times over, we’re all on different points on our journey through or out of Christianity. Hence, you’ll never agree with a single point of view. If you stick around a few weeks, my point of view will change :)

    Paul

  • 10. The de-Convert  |  January 23, 2008 at 8:46 am

    ThinkingApe,

    You are right to the point of Judaism. I should have used the word “evolved.” It’s really a Christian view of the Old Testament vs. Judaism itself.

    Tell us, in your view, what does this life look like?

    Actually, this post was a transition post of mine to quit focusing on the problems of religion and to focus on living life from a “positive” perspective (haven’t quite figured out what that looks like yet). It’s really hard to leave this step (as evident by my post :) ) as so much of the nonsense becomes clearer. However, I think it’s becoming counter productive for me personally. This is not me being critical of those who are there as I value my time in that place and it has tremendously helped me.

    In general, d-C will continue to focus on critical thought on religion. Those who are there will enjoy it and those who are not will tend to be intolerant and say “why are you all continually rehashing the same thing?” However, we do gain new readers each day and need to be caught in that cycle.

    Paul

  • 11. artisticmisfit  |  January 23, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Thinking Ape, I am a sophisticated Christian, not a seminary student, and I have a friend who is a Southern Baptist pastor, so I can’t dismiss Southern Baptists. I know his whole congregation, and frankly, he has been more available, encouraging and generous to me than my own pastor. I can give you his link in private message in the Forum in personal confidence, if you like. Who do you think are the great Christian thinkers?

    de-Convert, we are on the same page. I am sticking around if you think this is the right blog for me.

  • 12. Asymptosis  |  January 23, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Hi Paul (de-Convert),

    I was afraid my response would offend you. Thanks for taking the criticism in good spirit. :)

    Even though I will never believe in God, I have come to accept Christianity since realising that many Christians have the same goals as I do, such as a better world. They just use different language. It is like dealing with people of a different culture – you can either keep your distance and look down on them, or you can engage them to make life better for everyone.

  • 13. johnnyt  |  January 23, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    question for you – does this work?

  • 14. The de-Convert  |  January 23, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Asymptosis,

    It’s hard to offend me :)

    I have the same goals I have today as I did as a Christian – which is to help others and somehow make a positive impact on the world. De-converting did not make me a better person. In fact, I still hold to many of my foundational Christian principles. However, fundamentalism (all faiths) can be dangerous. A better world for some means the eradication of homosexuality, for example, with no regard for an entire sect of society.

    That’s where the challenges come in on how we view religion.

    Paul

  • 15. Thinking Ape  |  January 23, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    The de-Convert,
    I know what you mean about the transition. In my day to day life this transition was fairly tumultuous for about five years, yet today I have an amazing amount of peace about it all. However, I still am drawn to debate and dialogue which is why I love this community. My peace in my day to day life comes with the compromise of getting involved in very few discussions, which in turn leads to little growth and maturity. It isn’t until meeting the confrontations I do on the university campus or on forums such as these that adversary leads to future strengths.

    ArtisticMisfit,

    Thinking Ape, I am a sophisticated Christian, not a seminary student, and I have a friend who is a Southern Baptist pastor, so I can’t dismiss Southern Baptists. I know his whole congregation, and frankly, he has been more available, encouraging and generous to me than my own pastor. I can give you his link in private message in the Forum in personal confidence, if you like. Who do you think are the great Christian thinkers?

    I was hardly dismissing Southern Baptists, at least not any less than they dismiss themselves. The fact is that Baptists have not reconciled their contradicting founding theologies (the dual primacies of the so-called “soul competency” and the scriptures) because they haven’t needed to, it is an experiential church rather than a doctrinal one. I would never say that an experiential Christian can not be “encouraging and generous” – I am simply saying that such denominations that make up the majority of those in the United States are closer to classical gnosticism and orphism than historical or even “original” Christianity. That is hardly an insult from my perspective, I just simply do not hold any form of “knowing Jesus” in the way over 60% of Americans say they do.

    As for great Christian thinkers – certainly Thomas Aquinas and Soren Kierkegaard would rate high on my list, but I would also include Arius, Origen, John of the Cross, any of the Cappadocian fathers, Anselm of Canterbury, John Duns Scotus, Giodarno Bruno, Karl Barth, Edmund Whittaker, Paul Tillich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Gabriel Marcel, and contemporary scientists Owen Gingerich and Kenneth Miller. Although C.S. Lewis was a great literary genius, I find his apologetics fairly weak and so I have a hard time with the theological admiration many contemporary Christians hold.

  • 16. artisticmisfit  |  January 23, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Thinking Ape, I have no idea what orphism is. And I personally don’t admire C.S. Lewis that much, although like you, I know others do. I can’t get into his theology myself, but I respect his reputation. I guess I was speaking to the love and support that Southern Baptists offer which is far more than I have found in my own branch lately.

  • 17. Asymptosis  |  January 23, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    A better world for some means the eradication of homosexuality, for example, with no regard for an entire sect of society.

    Well, yeah. And I am all for criticising religion(s). I just think the criticism works better if it is directed against specific policies (eg homophobia), and even then only against the particular denominations or individuals that endorse or support those policies.

    Blanket condemnations are good for waging war, not making peace. :)

  • 18. Mike  |  January 24, 2008 at 2:06 am

    Thinking Ape, thanks for the shout out:) The de-Convert, another solid post, but I had a question to bring us back to the body of your post, and it is something that Thinking Ape keyed in on.

    “Let’s not conform to all these religions created by our ancestors who believed in myths and unseen spiritual forces. Let’s view life through the lens of knowledge, science, and what we have learned from history.”

    Many people would consider the realms of science and history to be religions of unseen forces and myth (respectively).

    For instance, many people “knew” that Newtonian physics explained motion. However, that system didnt adequately explain the speed of light as it pertained to different frames of reference. So Einstein comes along and then we “knew” that the speed of light is constant in all frames of reference. Except that we now “know” that Einstein’s Relativity will break down once we discover the Grand Unified Theory. And these are all things happening in a realm that we dont even experience. So basically those are unseen physical forces, yet they receive as much faith from people (even though we know they will change) as God does.

    As far as history, how do we know anything happened the way anybody says it did? No retelling of any event is without bias, so how do we account it as anything but myth? And yet history tells us so much about the reason the world is currently the way it is, so we assume it is correct.

    I guess my question is, if we were to be honest with ourselves and realize that even our most basic committments require faith of some sort, what makes history and science more positive choices (I realize you are still processing through these thoughts, but I am curious what you may have come up with thus far)?

  • 19. Melanie  |  November 29, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Most of you have come up with some good reasons on why you should doubt the Bible. You forgot one. There is one arguement that nails the door shut on this one. That’s Sacrifice:
    The description of the ritualistic slaughter of innocent animals and the amount of blood which flowed in the temple as a result of these sacrifices would make any modern day bloody thriller seem like a children’s movie.

    Human sacrifice, Animal sacrifice, are all Pagan practices. When the Romans put the NT together they incorporated their ideas into the Bible. Now I never thought of this before, like you, until someone pointed it out to me. The Church will tell you that Jesus died for you. That is Human Sacrifice. Now it wasn’t just the Romans that practiced Human Sacrifice, everybody did it. Pagans believed that by making a sacrifice to a God they would gain some reward. In Christianity it is believed that you will be forgiven of your Sins and therefore you can now enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus died for your sins.

    Now a lot of Christians ask “Why did Jesus have to die for us?”. They have trouble with the concept, but have never been able to nail it on the head.

    What does this mean? It means that the Roman Catholic Church is really a newly revised Pagan Religion. That also makes the Pope a Pagan. Now even though Pope Benedict XVI is a Pagan, God is still very fond of this Pope. He still goes to Heaven even though he is a Pagan.

    God does not pick on anyone one Church or Religion. They are all Pagan.

    Note not all Pope’s go to Heaven. Also the crest on the door of the Vatican is a Dragon. The dragon has decieved millions. Now I googled ‘crest on the Vatican’, and there it was. Don’t believe me, You can see it for yourself. Maybe the whole point of this is to show you how easy it is to be deceived.

    This however does not prove that God does not exist. It just proves that the Roman Catholic Church is a False church.

    Pagans go to Heaven too. Melanie

  • 20. Loretta  |  December 28, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    The real question is not what do you believe or not believe, but does God exist? You won’t answer that out of your own thinking processes.

  • 21. vamanan  |  December 29, 2011 at 4:16 am

    Ancient traditions of spirituality, some of them subsumed under the modern appellation ‘Hinduism’ are based on finding one’s own reality..they recognise that all codes are man-made and that the important thing is to grow in love and compassion – not because any book says so, but because one’s true nature is love.

  • 22. mathew  |  May 19, 2013 at 1:41 am

    Good

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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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