“You’re Just Angry at God!”

January 30, 2008 at 11:17 pm 27 comments

angry 1De-converts from fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity get used to hearing a lot of things from our former fellows, especially with regards to the reasons for our apostasy. One of the more common and familiar charges made is that we rejected (and continue to reject) Christianity because we are “angry at God”. I think there are some important issues involved in this discussion, so I would like to address them in more detail.

Unfortunately our answers to this charge, while of course as varied as the people writing them, are often unsatisfactory, I suggest. They usually seem to cluster around the theme that one cannot be angry at that in which one does not believe. The standard formulation is something like: “I’m angry at the Christian God in the same way that you are angry at Zeus.” As a reply this is entirely understandable, because what the Christian is charging is, in effect, that the nonbeliever has been irrational in his belief-decisions, letting his emotions guide him where he ought to have known better. Nonetheless, in the end I think this response from the de-convert is not a good one. Here, I want to tell you why, and what I think is a better one.

This “Zeus reply” implies, in a nutshell, that it is irrational, and therefore somehow impossible, to be angry at a non-existent being. The main problem with this reply, I suggest, is that it shares too many unspoken (but false) assumptions with the Christian. It seems to agree that emotions have no place at all in these matters, because (it is assumed) the presence of such an “irrational” emotion as anger would be iron-clad proof of irrational decision making. The de-convert thus responds by implicitly denying the mere possibility of an emotional response. But this is problematic because it offers a very constricted view of what it means to be an integrated and healthy human being. A moment’s reflection will I think show why.

To ever argue that it is irrational to feel anger is, it seems to me, rather peculiar – because anger is, obviously, an emotion. That would be kind of like accusing green of not being blue-colored, or charging that circles have no corners. In other words, emotions are by definition not the same thing as logic or reason. Every one of us gets angry, all the time, at things and events in which it is, strictly speaking, “irrational” to do so. We get angry at traffic, at the weather, at sporting events, at our computers, at missed airlines flights… the list is literally endless. And the point is obvious: the human brain’s limbic system (that which controls emotion) does not consult a syllogism before deciding whether or not to fire. We are emotional creatures, wired by evolution to be so, and feeling is a separate human experience (and separate brain function) from reasoning and deciding. Emotions operate by their own rules — rules which, though not formal logic, make their own kind of sense.

So Mr. Spock was right. It is – strictly speaking – always “illogical” to be angry, at anything. That’s what makes it anger, rather than deductive logic. Humanly speaking, though, it makes perfect sense – is perfectly “reasonable” – to say we might be angry at something that we don’t actually believe exists. We may personally be uncomfortable with that, because we like to think of ourselves as being rational through and through, but that is precisely the problem. We are not rational through and through, ever, and no one ever stopped having an emotion just because he or she decided it was irrational to feel it.

But even more, I think we should be especially wary of colluding with fundamentalist assumptions that some emotions are somehow “bad”, because that assumption can only lead to dishonesty about them. In the “Zeus reply”, the implied assumption that to be angry would be irrational (and thus a bad thing) leads to the dubious conclusion that to be angry would be impossible, in this situation. But it is not a bad thing to be angry, and it is not impossible either, and emotional health means recognizing that.

Now, let me be clear: I am not for a moment arguing that the Christian critic here is correct, and that it is indeed accurate to infer that de-converts are necessarily angry at the God. That is clearly and indisputably a question for that individual, and only that individual, to answer. The main problem with this charge of anger at God, rather, is its presumptuousness. It suggests that the Christian knows better than the nonbeliever himself what’s going on inside the nonbeliever’s own head. That is of course arrogant and false, and invites a sharp criticism of Christianity’s built-in psychology, but that is outside the scope of this discussion.

So the Christian who says you are angry at God may be wrong, or he may be right. The central point here is that even if it is true – so what? The fact that one has an emotional response to “God” , as one formerly experienced God psychologically, does not somehow give lie to, de-legitimize, or negate in any way all the many other reasons that we might have for leaving fundamentalism. Again, it smuggles in an unspoken assumption: that if you are angry at “God” then that must have been your only reason to reject Christianity. Clearly, this is a non sequitur.

So why does this matter? Why am I making such a point of all this? There are four reasons, I suggest, why presenting ourselves as “dispassionate” and strictly rational in our decision-making is not a goal we should aspire to:

  1. It is not true.
    As I have argued, we are emotional animals. We may indeed be angry at “God”, or at Christianity, or at the theology (how “logical” is that?), or the church we were in, or any number of things from our experience. Indeed, given the totalizing nature of most people’s immersion in fundamentalism, it would be almost shocking if we did not have intense reactions to all these things, reactions that might include anger. It is easy to set up a dichotomy between reason and emotion, but it is a false one, and it is false for everyone, include those who say otherwise. Our experience as human beings is not and should not be either/or, it should be both/and.
  2. It is unhealthy.
    Part of the destructiveness of fundamentalism, I believe, inheres in its psychological teachings. It teaches, for example, that to feel certain things is sinful (e.g., Matthew 5:27-28). It teaches that whenever one feels intense shame or guilt, that is the truest and most accurate feeling you have about yourself – i.e., it shows you how bad you really are. These things combine to produce massive pressure on fundamentalists to deny those feelings altogether. Again, no on can stop feeling any emotion just by wishing to, no matter how painful it is or how negatively it is interpreted. So powerful defense mechanisms get brought into play in the fundamentalist psyche to repress all the anger, pain, sadness, lust, greed, selfishness, et cetera, that are an intrinsic part of being human. But we ex-Christians should know that emotional health means accepting these “ugly” parts of the self, making one’s peace with them, and learning to manage them effectively. In other words, if we are to model psychological health to believers, we need to show them that there is nothing especially bad or destructive or undermining about being angry. One can be angry, admit that honestly, have peace about it, and still make reasonable decisions. Fundamentalists implicitly believe that can’t happen. We should show them it can.
  3. It truncates our experience.
    As I have tried to show, being emotional is an intrinsic part of being human. It is a beautiful part of us, and many would say it is a large part of that which makes life worth living. Our emotional experience provides zest and spice to our lives in a way that nothing else can. But we cannot evacuate painful emotions and keep only the good ones. That was part of the fundamentalist illusion, and we know better now. We have to learn to live with those aspects of ourselves, not reject them. And I suggest that when we do so, we will find new directions and new depths opening up to us in our lives.
  4. It is counterproductive.
    When we present ourselves as champions of rationality over primitive, emotional superstition, we alienate those we might otherwise reach. No one willingly comes to see themselves as “just irrational”, and presenting our own belief-decision as purely a matter of what’s reasonable is not only false, as I have argued, it also will set up a similar stance in those fundamentalists with which we interact – an immediate need to justify and defend their faith as being rational, in order to defend their self esteem. (And make no mistake: we do this too, we people tell us that we are being irrational). In other words, telling someone he is irrational does not change his mind or even win an audience; it just engages his defenses.

Let me close with an example: Many people, believer and atheist alike, feel grateful in their lives for what they have. The American holiday of Thanksgiving often brings out these feelings. But if we are uncomfortable with the basic “irrationality” of our emotions, then we are going to have trouble here. To whom or what are we grateful? Believers have it easy – they think God did it all. For us, as non-fundamentalists, the question remains: how can we be thankful, in a larger sense, if we normally understand “thankfulness” in interpersonal terms?

What I suggest is that if we are comfortable with our emotional life, and allow it to follow its own logic, then we have no dilemma. We simply feel grateful. It does not have to make sense, or any sense other than it’s own. Indeed, liberal Christian theologian Don Cupitt has said that life is a Gift without a Giver. It is proper to be thankful for gifts we receive – even if there is no sender. And gratitude, an enhanced appreciation and awareness for what one has, has the power to make life even more beautiful than we already know it is.

So the next time a believer tells you you are angry at God – be honest. The answer may be yes, or it may be no, but either way it is still followed with a so what? Show him what it means to be human. It may, in the long run, even do him some good. In the meantime, rejoice in your humanity – all of it.

- Richard

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Part of the Problem (the way I see it, anyway) You Know What They Say About Assumptions…

27 Comments Add your own

  • 1. TheNorEaster  |  January 31, 2008 at 12:51 am

    Richard:

    That was a good post. Very thoughtful. But there are a few points I’d like to make about it.

    1. I think that “angry at God” aspect would have been more effective if you had mentioned some examples. Not general examples like “someone died,” but specific personal examples. Because that would give us a chance to see how your ideas in the post apply. Although you’d obviously have to explain how your ideas would apply to a specific circumstance. (I certainly wouldn’t want to do it for you!)

    2. You mentioned that “no on can stop feeling any emotion just by wishing to.” Hopefully, I can tread carefully when I say that I disagree with you on that. First, I think your choice of words is poor. “Wishing” almost always implies no effort. “Wanting” or “trying” does.

    Now, I don’t mean that we can forever divorce ourselves from, say, anger. But if people are truly in tune with their humanity then they will know when they are on the verge of becoming, for example, impatient in traffic. And because they recognize that they can change their thoughts, their attitudes, and their emotions to a much more patient emotional state and frame of mind. I do it all the time. And if I couldn’t stop feeling impatient in traffic or when the weather is bad, then wouldn’t I be utterly and completely incapable of change? Or, maybe more to the point, incapable of growing up? Of maturing?

    Thoughts…?

  • 2. Mike  |  January 31, 2008 at 1:50 am

    Richard,

    Good post. I dont think I have had the pleasure of dialoguing with you yet, so hello!

    “It suggests that the Christian knows better than the nonbeliever himself what’s going on inside the nonbeliever’s own head.”

    While this situation certainly smacks of arrogance, I guess my optimism hopes that it would be a different situation. I know that in my own life, others can be better judges about what I am feeling than I am, and it is their care for me that causes them to speak up about it. I guess I would just hope that any Christian who said that to a non-Christian would at least be saying that because they cared for the non-Christian.

    “So the Christian who says you are angry at God may be wrong, or he may be right. The central point here is that even if it is true – so what?”

    This is where I disagree with you, or at the very least misunderstand you. Anger at God may lead to apostasy, but it is certainly no justification for it. Let’s say that I am pissed at America. My anger doesnt excuse me from breaking any laws, does it? It doesnt will America out of existence. My point is that if a person sincerely believed in a Christian God that would be the ultimate judge one day, why would legitimate anger against that God be an okay validation for their sudden rejection of belief in Him?

  • 3. James  |  January 31, 2008 at 6:20 am

    Personally I’m not angry at their God (since I don’ believe he exists), I’m rather angry at their intolerant behavior …

  • 4. OneSmallStep  |  January 31, 2008 at 6:34 am

    I guess I would just hope that any Christian who said that to a non-Christian would at least be saying that because they cared for the non-Christian.

    I think the reason why this upsets many non-Christians is because a non-Christian could still have an involvement with their sense of the divine, and have encounters that they can only attribute to God. They can also think they’re okay with God, and yet the Christian would then say that the non-Christian needs to be like the Christian. Perhaps the person might even say the non-Christian doesn’t have any sort of connection yet.

    That’s where the arrogance comes in, because it’s making a judgement call on something you can’t really determine, since the encounters are internal. The only method of judging one has is by behavior or attitude, and if both are reflecting a huge amount of love, or fruits of the Spirit.

    Yes, this was in example to a Christian saying that someone is angry at God. And if someone ranted/raved at God all the time, or threw things at the sound of “God,” then I can see where that’s coming from. But a lot of times if someone says they used to be a Christian and now aren’t, and simply describe their rationale in a calm manner, the response can be “You’re angry at God.” Yet nothing in the explanation for the lack of belief warranted that response.

    My point is that if a person sincerely believed in a Christian God that would be the ultimate judge one day, why would legitimate anger against that God be an okay validation for their sudden rejection of belief in Him?

    Isn’t this making a few assumptions, though? To use your example, let’s say someone is angry at America because America has suddenly starting killing everyone who litters, even if it were accidental. And the law requires that you also kill anyone who litters. A person could have legitimate anger against that law, and thus not only break it but fight against the law. In this case, breaking the law is good, because the penalty is way too harsh.

    Or we could go with the slavery example — those who helped runaway slaves were in essence breaking the law. Today, we would say they did the right thing.

    So this really comes down to assumptions, and whether the laws being broken are just or not. It’s also assuming that God, if the judge of the universe, is a moral and just God.

  • 5. amy  |  January 31, 2008 at 8:56 am

    I don’t think it’s irrational to be angry at God because anger is irrational — as you say, it’s part of the human emotional spectrum. I think it’s irrational to be angry at a non-existent being. I think being angry at a giant orange rabbit is irrational. It isn’t the anger that’s the problem; it’s the irrational belief that something exists for which there is no proof that is the problem.

  • 6. cipher  |  January 31, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    I think this may be the most insightful article posted since I’ve been reading here.

  • 7. JustCan't  |  January 31, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Richard:

    Thank you for the post. This topic is very real to me, as i am accused of it all the time. You are right when you say this accusation is trying to assume that this anger could be the only reason the non-believer chooses to not believe.

    This is obviously false. As are the stances by Christians that say it is their good hearts that compel them to make such statements — to help. I haven’t asked for this “help”, and have asked for the attempts to stop. They just can’t help themselves, it seems. These attempts at converting me, or confronting me are actually having the reverse effect — instead of helping, they are destroying our family.

    In short, you’ve given me much more to think about when it comes to how I react to this tactic. I thank you. This will help immensely. Of course, I disagree with the apologetics that were posted as comments to your post. To me, its just more of the same, another circle around the real problem. These posts often strike me as someone trying to convince themselves they are right, despite all else.

    I do not believe in God. I have put much thought into it. I have put more thought and study into it than the people who criticize me every day. I have many, many reasons. Too many to mention, in fact. I do not appreciate my decision being reduced to something so small and insulting, and summed up with, “You are just angry at God.”

    The anger, as it turns out, stems from the harsh interpretations of the bible and how they go against everything we should be responsibly doing as a family. And it stems from the harsh language and conversion attempts. And the mean confrontations, trying to break me down so I’ll drop to my knees, repent, and accept Jesus into my heart. Perhaps one can suppress an emotion like anger in a particular situation, to better work through it. But it seems mean and counterproductive to try to make someone else angry, on purpose, to break them, while claiming it is all to “help”. They can keep their help, and for now I’ll keep my anger for their tactics, not for their God.

  • 8. karen  |  January 31, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Excellent post, Richard. Thanks so much for your thoughtful advice. I think you are right on, especially when you talk about emotions and logic.

    It is perhaps true (not sure!) that those of us who leave god belief behind are operating more on logic and less on emotion. After all, it’s much easier emotionally to stay with the religion one is raised in and continue accepting its sense of comfort, community and spiritual fulfillment. I know several people who have rejected god belief as irrational, but who stay in the pew because of the emotional and social benefits.

    However, we can’t divorce emotion from ourselves and come across as healthy and intact persons. In that you are so right. We tend to emphasize logic in our discussions with believers, and the vast majority of them (and all people, actually) are operating largely on emotion. Therein largely lies the disconnect, I think.

    Mike:
    While this situation certainly smacks of arrogance, I guess my optimism hopes that it would be a different situation. I know that in my own life, others can be better judges about what I am feeling than I am, and it is their care for me that causes them to speak up about it. I guess I would just hope that any Christian who said that to a non-Christian would at least be saying that because they cared for the non-Christian.

    Mike, I appreciate your optimism (I’m an optimist myself) but I’ve been told many, many times why I don’t believe in god any longer and it sure doesn’t come across as “caring.”

    First of all, if someone who is really a part of your daily life tells you something they think you need to hear, that’s one thing. It may still be false or feel arrogant, but at least they are in a place of knowing you personally and having some standing in your world.

    Most deconverts get the “you must be angry at god” from strangers online who wouldn’t know them from a hole in the ground! Where in the world do they get the chutzpah to make judgments about what we’re thinking or feeling!? It’s beyond arrogant, it’s cruel and dismissive.

    It also smacks of a defensive response because we as deconverts are automatically threatening to many believers. First they conclude that we couldn’t have been ‘real Christians’ – we get that all the time. If we then take the time to detail our Christian credentials (which is terribly tiresome after about the 15th time) and they realize that we were believers, then they have to come up with some other rationalization that fits their paradigm about the saved versus the unsaved.

    To admit to themselves that we came to a different conclusion after sincere thought, prayer, study and conversation – and that it was very difficult but honest for us in the long run – that means they have to admit that they, too, could be deconverted at some point in the future. And that admission is deeply, deeply threatening and confusing to many believers.

    So instead of listening to us and trying to learn what we’ve been through, they come up with a pat answer that lets them hang onto their comfortable religious paradigm but is totally dishonest and disrespectful of our actual journey. Do you see why that’s difficult for us to take?

  • 9. cipher  |  January 31, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    To admit to themselves that we came to a different conclusion after sincere thought, prayer, study and conversation – and that it was very difficult but honest for us in the long run – that means they have to admit that they, too, could be deconverted at some point in the future. And that admission is deeply, deeply threatening and confusing to many believers.

    So instead of listening to us and trying to learn what we’ve been through, they come up with a pat answer that lets them hang onto their comfortable religious paradigm but is totally dishonest and disrespectful of our actual journey.

    Karen, you’ve hit the nail precisely on the head. It isn’t you they’re trying to convince; it’s themselves. One of the early 20th century British authors (I can never remember which one) said, “The missionary impulse is the outward manifestation of an insecure faith.’ The proselytizer feels that if he can convince you, then he must be right, and he can stave off for a while longer the ever-present doubt that threatens to overtake him.

    Of course, now I’ll be accused of ascribing motive or making the same sort of generalization.

  • 10. boxofbirds  |  January 31, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Very thoughtful post. Though I do have to disagree with your interpretation of the “angry at Zeus” rebuttal. To state this doesn’t simply imply that it is irrational to be angry at something in which you don’t believe, rather it seems to me to be a ironic counter-example. I.E. “You don’t believe in Zeus (and countless other gods) without necessarily being angry with him (or them), therefore, the fact that I don’t believe in the Christian God doesn’t necessarily require that I am angry at Him.” Though both the Christian argument and the “angry at Zeus” rebuttal imply that it is irrational to disbelieve in God or other gods based on solely on anger. The “angry at Zeus” rebuttal successfully the implication of the Christian argument that in order to disbelieve in God, one must be angry with Him.

  • 11. boxofbirds  |  January 31, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Whoa, sorry for the typos in my comment. Where’s a good copy editor when you need one?

    “To state this doesn’t simply imply…” should read “This doesn’t simply imply…”

    “The “angry at Zeus” rebuttal successfully the implication of the Christian argument…” should read “The “angry at Zeus” rebuttal successfully refutes the implication of the Christian argument…”

  • 12. Notabarbie  |  January 31, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Richard,

    Great post…those of us who have deconverted know just what you mean.

    Karen,
    To your quote, “To admit to themselves that we came to a different conclusion after sincere thought, prayer, study and conversation – and that it was very difficult but honest for us in the long run – that means they have to admit that they, too, could be deconverted at some point in the future. And that admission is deeply, deeply threatening and confusing to many believers;” all I can say us amen sister!

  • 13. Anonymous  |  January 31, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    I don’t think it’s irrational to be angry at God because anger is irrational — as you say, it’s part of the human emotional spectrum. I think it’s irrational to be angry at a non-existent being. I think being angry at a giant orange rabbit is irrational. It isn’t the anger that’s the problem; it’s the irrational belief that something exists for which there is no proof that is the problem.

    Excellent! Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • 14. Mike  |  January 31, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    Cipher,

    “Of course, now I’ll be accused of ascribing motive or making the same sort of generalization.”

    I am curious then why you would even say this, knowing that it isnt true.

  • 15. cipher  |  January 31, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    That what isn’t true?

  • 16. Mike  |  January 31, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    That Christians who share their faith with others are afraid they themselves will lose it.

  • 17. samanthamj  |  February 1, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Nice post. Definitely much to think about.

    I do get the “you’re angry at God”, or “church”, or “your mother” thing all the time too. I supose in the past, all 3 of those comments might have been accurate with me. However, you’re right, and anger is irrational – especially when I relate it to being angry with any of those 3 things. And, I don’t think I am angry with any of them anymore. Anger can start the ball rolling that leads you away from church/religion/god… but, I don’t think it’s the main reason most people stay away. I don’t think it’s the main reason I do, anyway.
    ~smj

  • 18. cipher  |  February 1, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    I don’t think (necessarily) that Christians who share their faith are afraid they’ll lose it. I do think that of Christians who are aggressive about it, who go out of their way to convince others, and who rationalize others’ non-belief.

  • 19. Richard  |  February 1, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful replies. Way too much for me to address everything individually, so Ill just have to hit the highlights.

    Mike – You said : “Anger at God may lead to apostasy, but it is certainly no justification for it.”

    True, maybe, in the fundamentalist belief system, but we are talking about people already outside of that system. If I still believe in the fundamentalist God, and am angry at him and reject him, then by the rules of that system, yes, that’s a bad thing. But the de-convert is more or less by definition no longer in that system, and no longer accepts those “rules” as valid. So perhaps we have incommensurable perspectives here. And I still reject the implication that emotion is that determinative of belief. If the IRS audits you and harasses you, makes you mad, do you or could you stop believing they exist? My larger point is that emotion accompanies everything we think or do, and we should make our peace with that.

    JustCant & Karen – I agree entirely that the “anger” accusation rarely comes across as especially caring. More likely, as karen mentioned, it has to do with explaining away apostasy, which I agree is indeed very frightening, or at least incomprehensible, to believers. Most systems of thought tend to find a way to explain disagreement with the system – usually in terms of the system (which is obviously question-begging) and Christianity is no different.

    Im actually writing a post on this very issue, but in brief, I think it runs roughly like this: fundamentalists feel very certain of their beliefs, which I submit is a reflection of the powerful way that belief system assuages basic human fears. For a fundamentalist to take the view of a non-believer seriously, to admit that a non-believer has good reasons for their position, is to admit doubt as to that certainty. If its reasonable to disagree, how can I be sure Im right? So it must be unreasonable. Liberal Christians tend to have no problem with nonbelievers, and are open to understanding their experience, in my view. Why? They dont hang their hats on being certain.

    Boxofbirds – Good point. So we would need to get our hypothetical Christian interlocutor, in this situation, to clarify his implication.

    My overarching point is to encourage and exhort former believers to make their peace with their emotional selves. God was a psychological reality for you, and he let you down by not answering your anguished prayers, not giving you the victory you were promised, for threatening you with Hell for minor transgressions, for not giving you a sense of his presence, for being punitive and distant…. and, in the end, by not existing. In much the same way that it is very, very common for widows and widowers to go through a period wherein they are angry at their late spouse for dying – “He left me!” – so too would it be normal if de-converts were angry at their former God. Not that anyone is necessarily angry, nor that that anger (if present) determined their belief. Only that it may have been present and would not be surprising if it were. Just be honest with yourself. No one is a paragon of rationality. Thats okay.

    Emotions are ubiquitous, color all aspects of our experience, and always make sense if you understand what the issue or object in question means to the person.

    Richard

  • 20. Ardegas  |  February 1, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    This the point: being irrational at Zeus or Santa is irrational. Atheist’s anger prove they care more about God than about fictional characters. So angry atheism is irrational?

    I think so.

  • 21. Richard  |  February 1, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Ardegas — Thats very silly. God was experienced as a psychological reality to former believers, while they were believers. The unconscious and the human limbic system do not distinguish between objective and subjective reality, *thats* the whole point. No one is angry at Zeus because Zeus doesnt mean very much to anyone. The Christian God, did.

    I can assure you that *you* get angry for reasons that are “irrational”, and if you think you dont, youre kidding yourself. Which many, perhaps most, fundamentalists do. Which is half the reason I left it. Its psychologically dishonest.

    The predicates “rational” and “irrational” apply poorly to emotions. Thats also the point.

  • 22. Mike  |  February 1, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Richard,

    “So perhaps we have incommensurable perspectives here.”

    That very well may be the case, however (and I am more or less verbally processing here) I want to run one more thing past you.

    “If I still believe in the fundamentalist God, and am angry at him and reject him, then by the rules of that system, yes, that’s a bad thing. But the de-convert is more or less by definition no longer in that system, and no longer accepts those “rules” as valid.”

    Here is the rub. The “fundamentalist” belief system trusts in a God who lives, acts, and redeems independent of the believer. So if they now honestly believe that their rejection of the rules of that system could place them outside the purview of the living God, then did they really believe in that system to begin with?

    To put it another way, if I subscribe to a belief system that says Antarctica exists independent of my believing in it or not, but then reject that system of belief because I no longer believe Antarctica exists, then could I have ever really believed Antarctica existed outside myself?

    Understand that I am making no claim whatsoever to anyone I have interacted with here, I am just asking your honest opinion if you think there is a potential problem here with this line of thinking.

    Mike

  • 23. Richard  |  February 2, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Mike-

    I appreciate your thoughtfulness. As I see it, there is no conflict here so long as one accepts, explicitly or implicitly, a kind of fallibilism — i.e., a recognition that one’s opinion can be wrong.

    You said: “So if they now honestly believe that their rejection of the rules of that system could place them outside the purview of the living God, then did they really believe in that system to begin with?”

    But a deconvert is not just rejecting the rules. He is changing his or her mind about the very existence of the basis or ground of those rules. What he rejects is the rules **because he rejects the basis for those rules** —- he rejects the entire system, whole cloth. Of course, he may be wrong, and may still be subject to those rules no matter what his opinion. But the, so too can the believer be wrong. The point is, all we have is our own opinions about what the truth is.

    In other words, all the deconvert has done is change his mind. Again, he may be wrong, but that was also true before. So yes, he truly, honestly did believe, just as he truly, honestly now does not.

    A somewhat stupid analogy, but one that I think makes the point, is if all your life you never squashed a spider because your beleive the spider-god will get you if you do. Then, you deconvert from this “faith.” So its not that you just want to squash spiders now and just dont care about the rules. Its that you now think those rules are entirely man-made and thus never had any authority in the first place, even though you used to.

  • 24. Yurka  |  February 3, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Doesn’t it TELL you something that you are angry at God? How could this possibly evolve? Is it more plausible that this perception a) is an ‘emotion’ that evolved, or that b) it corresponds to something real? Why don’t you just feel Stephen Crane’s feeling: “A man said to the universe: ‘Sir, I exist.’ ‘I know’, replied the universe, ‘but that fact has not created in me any sense of obligation'”. If there were really no God, isn’t that what you’d feel?

    Read Romans 1. Isn’t it odd Paul was able to explain and predict exactly what you feel?

  • 25. Richard  |  February 3, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Yurka-

    Fine, Ill read Romans (again, as Ive read it many times). In exchange, Ill ask you to go back and read the original essay again, including and especially #21. Therein I explain and predict your experience and mine, including being angry at things that dont exist.

    Take care,

    Richard

  • 26. Sinaver  |  November 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Do you know why it feels impossible to live out the trhuts God has shown you? Cause it IS impossible ..impossible for YOU, but not for HIM to live it out through you. It is not your job to control your sin nature, it is Gods! You don’t need God’s strength to fight the battle, you need to let Him fight it and rest in His strength to get you through each moment of every day. You are striving for victory over sin and victory in the Christian life. Most Christians are. We accept the gift of salvation strictly on God’s grace knowing there is nothing we can do to deserve that .. it is His gift to us, we just have to receive it. Does God require something different now that you have become a Christian? Do you now have to get strong and start “being” good enough and do it all right?The core of the Christian life doesn’t revolvee around “doing,” but is grounded in ” being.” Our focus is the Person, not the performance our focus is Christ.Galatians 3:2-3Let me as you this one question: Did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing it’s works, or was it by hearing [the message of the gospel] and believing [it]? [Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith?] Are you so foolish and so senseless and so silly? Having begun [your new life spiritually] with the [Holy] Spirit, are you now reaching perfection [by dependence] on the flesh? { Amplified} The exchanged life means we depend on His resources, now our own. Flesh life means depending on what we can do. God has no desire to help us live the Christian life or do the work .He wants to do it Himself-through us! (Taken from Grace Walk Experience)So what can you do then?? Surrender!!!!!! Funny how hard that is to do, we are so wired to do, do, do and try, try, try .give it up and rest in Him, letting His life flow through you and then watch and see the victory you begin to experience!! You are an amazing women of God and encourage me in ways you will never know. Don’t let Satan’s lies tell you anything different. I love you!!

  • 27. cag  |  November 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Sinaver #26.
    You are living proof that Stockholm Syndrome affects many more people than was previously assumed. Peddle your lies somewhere else.

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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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