The Double Standard of Christian Skepticism

March 25, 2008 at 1:36 pm 33 comments

doubtingthomas.jpgI applaud many Christians on something that self-proclaimed “freethinkers” often overlook about certain religionists: the quality of their skepticism. I laud the way that a Christian can systematically dismantle their religious rivals, yet at the same time I praise those same rivals in their endeavours to knock down the Christian religion. Christians, as well as other religious adherents, definitely have a healthy dose of skepticism, defined as someone “inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions” (OED).

Many Christians doubt not only evolutionary theory, but also the actual physical evidences for it (certainly a radical skepticism indeed!). Christians, by necessity, doubt not only Hinduism, but also its philosophically astute and more universal descendant, Buddhism. If they can doubt such a sophisticated and ancient religion such as Buddhism, then certainly New Religious Movements, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Latter Day Saints, that call themselves “Christian” are certainly no match for those of “sound theology”. Furthermore, scores of Christians doubt that morality apart from God is not only improbable, but completely impossible. And almost every Christian doubts that the universe can be explained without a divine presence. I celebrate such skepticism!

But why do Christians stop there? I understand the skeptical world-view, as I was deeply ingrained with a distrustful outlook of non-believers in my youth. Of course, those non-Christians were merely “lost,” whereas it was the true deceivers – the “cults” of Christianity and other religions – that were much more dangerous. Following my apologetic heroes of past and present, I utilized a combination of seething cynicism and Biblical prowess to combat such spiritual and intellectual duplicity. Many other Christians do the same. But why stop there? Why can we laugh at the Latter-Day Saint’s mention of the angel Moroni and the reforming teachings of Joseph Smith’s new scripture? Why do we immediately rebuke the Islamic prophet Mohammad’s revelation? Why is this possible, yet such vehement, mistrusting, pessimistic, suspicious skepticism not leveled at one’s own religion?

Faith has become a great many things, but it perpetually appears to be belief without doubt before anything else. Doubt has been and continues to be viewed as a poison to many. In my own family, doubt is held under great suspicion – such irony! Some individuals that have commented on our blog have even attributed doubt as Satan’s influence in our lives! I suppose a Christian’s doubt of everything non-Christian comes from their God: how very convenient for them. How this works for the de-convert I am unsure. I am certain someone will tell me that my own doubt crept in because of some spiritual shortcoming. How ye doubt my sincerity and former righteousness in the eyes of the Lord! How skeptical you are!

My own de-conversion came before I had ever even heard of Dawkins, Hitchens, or Dennett, or before I started taking Darwin or contemporary evolutionary theory seriously. It came before I read a word of Ehrman, Funk, Mack or any other so-called “liberal” scholar. I was not stabbed in the back by a church member or rubbed the wrong way by an uncomfortable sermon. I may have been disappointed with the hypocrisy of Christians, but that was my very impetus for attending a Bible College: to be on the forefront of a Biblical revival, one that was passionate about the Word and not based solely on the shallow emotional sensationalism I have witnessed. Although far from perfect, I lived a rather dull life and was not given many opportunities to commit any serious grievances against my Saviour – perhaps it was my self-righteous pride that led to my downfall? Yet, what I feel led to my de-conversion was the realization that my own hypocrisy was found on the double-edge sword of apologetics: what good was my faith if it could not stand up to the same rigorous criticism that I held others to?

Slowly but surely, my beliefs rotted away as I found that I had not only been deceiving myself, but I had deceived others. I too had given pre-packaged answers. In my younger years, Josh McDowell gave me fuel, later it was C.S. Lewis and William Craig. Still later, I found a deeper, more profound faith in the works of Tillich and Kierkegaard. Yet none seemed capable of explaining the obvious shortcomings I continually found in my skeptical inquiry of Christianity, whether in the historicism of the Bible or the philosophy of religion. The radical faith I found in the Christian existentialists could only last so long. Whether it was something as mundane as the choppy seams in the Gospel of John, or as major as the lack of Biblical or philosophical evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity, I found that the evidence which held my beliefs together was as shaky as the honest Mormon who tried to convince me that there really was a golden book that only Joseph Smith could read, or the Muslim who passionately argued that an angel really did appear to her founder, correcting the perversions of Judaism and Christianity.

I think this is a very hard thing for us to do. Not only is empathy, to walk around in another’s shoes, extremely difficult, but to actually critique and question your own views on virtually anything sometimes feels like pushing a camel through the eye of a needle. While we sometimes whine and complain about the country or city we live in, we will often defend it by bragging any exaggerated feature – this is easy for me as Vancouver has been repeatedly rated as the most livable city in the world by The Economist. Now imagine if we extend that to something much more controversial, such as our religion. Many not only live their entire lives based on these supernatural beliefs, but also stake our eternal being on such faiths.

Many of the articles on this site, including the recently reposted Easter special “Is He Live or Is He Memorex” by HeIsSailing, deal with what happens when some Christians start to question their literalistic, or even symbolic, faith. Certainly the resurrection, as written about in the that article, is key to the Christian faith, but what about the rest of the story? I have not only heard of, but also espoused many of the pre-packaged, shallow, non-skeptical answers to blatant contradictions through out the Jesus narratives. The historical and sometimes ideological anti-semitism of Christianity has led Christians to such a deviant understanding of the early Christian scripture that is horrendous by any rational standards. The Jewish authors of those text that we now include in the New Testament were so obviously meaning to interpret perceived spiritual events through their tradition that to see a historical document of any sorts is beyond reasonable comprehension. Now only if Christians would start treating their own beliefs as they treat everyone else’s.

-The Apostate (formerly known as “Thinking Ape”)

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Experiencing The Wonders Of Nature Post De-Conversion Convenient categories: Why Christians believe de-cons leave the faith

33 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brad  |  March 25, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    TA,

    Great article. It is a legalistic influence that leads many Christians to see all forms of doubt and skepticism as a foreshadowing of apostacy, flying in the face of scriptural occurrences where it is faithfully answered by God (Jacob and Thomas being the most obvious ones to me as I write this).

    I think it’s also important to recognize that skepticism has inherent presuppositions as well. For example, if one cannot “figure out” the cause/reason/purpose/etc. it is assumed incorrect. If we cannot adequately explain/prove how God exists, then He must not exist. Radical skepticism doesn’t seem to acknowledge that there are things we might not be able to understand or prove.

    Skepticism seems to imply a significant amount of faith in one’s cognitive ability (or that of others), but faith it is nonetheless.

    Again, I wholeheartedly agree that some degree of skepticism and questioning should be involved in our own faith, as long as it remains a means to an end and does not become an end in itself. Again, you definitely have a point about Christians not willing to submit their own faith to the same standards we expect of others.

  • 2. LeoPardus  |  March 25, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    “what good was my faith if it could not stand up to the same rigorous criticism that I held others to?”

    Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! This was definitely one of the thoughts that occurred to me early on in my journey out.

  • 3. shut up socialist.  |  March 25, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Proof for evolution? You must be the most gullible socialist out there, didn’t the other socialist send you the memo about there not being any proof for your religion?

    Guess not.

  • 4. The Apostate  |  March 25, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Brad, thanks for the comment.

    I think it’s also important to recognize that skepticism has inherent presuppositions as well. For example, if one cannot “figure out” the cause/reason/purpose/etc. it is assumed incorrect.

    Only if you add such presuppositions; there is nothing inherent about assuming something to be incorrect when being skeptical of anything. That is maybe an emotional attachment, and perhaps better described by being “cynical,” but that is hardly the skepticism I am speaking of. One of the reasons I added the blurb about my own personal life was to defeat this. I did not set out, as an evangelical Christian, assuming anything about Christianity was incorrect. I merely gave Christianity the same amount of grievance I gave other religions. Remember, skepticism is not a belief system, it is merely a derivative of a verb – to being skeptical.

    If we cannot adequately explain/prove how God exists, then He must not exist.

    Again, this is your presupposition, not mine. Perhaps this is why I call myself an agnostic rather than an atheist. The problem, I believe, that atheists see is not that you cannot explain or prove God’s existence, it is because even if you could theoretically give substantial philosophical proofs for God’s existence, you must then apply to God a reason for being or attribute something to that Being. Why do you think that Deism did not last so long? It is because a deistic god was in all practicalities useless. The problem with the theistic gods are apparent – they are all too human. The problem with worshiping a God found in human scriptures is even more problematic, especially when that is your only source of revelation.

    Radical skepticism doesn’t seem to acknowledge that there are things we might not be able to understand or prove.

    Sure it does. To be skeptical isn’t to be a computer, where life is all 1’s and 0’s. I have a fairly radical skepticism at times, yet I am the first to admit there are things we will probably never understand. For example, I don’t understand how someone can reconcile blatantly contradictory accounts and still call it logical. Joking. Kind of. In all seriousness, the very definition of an agnostic is admitting that I cannot know. Or at least that I do not know. This doesn’t mean I am going to start believing in everything I cannot understand – the magician did not really cut that lady in half.

    Skepticism seems to imply a significant amount of faith in one’s cognitive ability (or that of others), but faith it is nonetheless.

    As I have shown above, it doesn’t. It only implies that you are willing to be fair and deliberate without haste, that you will actually think through a belief system claiming to be coherent. One should be careful with that faith word, for it is rapidly becoming to mean nothing since it is applied to everything.

    Again, I wholeheartedly agree that some degree of skepticism and questioning should be involved in our own faith, as long as it remains a means to an end and does not become an end in itself.

    A person cannot live their life wholly in doubt, for it is a fearful way of living if put to the extremes. Skepticism is a means to an end, and it cannot be an end in itself. To say it can be an end in itself if like saying perceiving is an end in itself. It is a mode of deliberation, and by definition a means. And like I said throughout my blog, I only expect Christians to be as skeptical towards Christianity as they are towards everything else, nothing more, nothing less.

  • 5. The Apostate  |  March 25, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    shut up socialist. articulates,

    Proof for evolution? You must be the most gullible socialist out there, didn’t the other socialist send you the memo about there not being any proof for your religion?

    Guess not.

    Did this make any sense to anyone?

  • 6. Quester  |  March 25, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Did this make any sense to anyone?

    Nope. And if you check the Most Recent Discussions column, you’ll see this isn’t the only off-topic nonsense Shut Up Socialist posted on this blog. Ignore it, and maybe it will go away.

  • 7. karen  |  March 25, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Why is this possible, yet such vehement, mistrusting, pessimistic, suspicious skepticism not leveled at one’s own religion?

    I think this is the ultimate example of the logical blind spot. Not only is no such skepticism employed, it is systematically discouraged, denied and warned against in dire tones. “Doubt” was a dirty word in my Christian experience.

    “what good was my faith if it could not stand up to the same rigorous criticism that I held others to?”

    Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! This was definitely one of the thoughts that occurred to me early on in my journey out.

    Ditto. In my case, it was the realization that if I were willing to take my own personal spiritual experiences as good “evidence” of the validity of the Christian god, then I needed to examine the personal spiritual experiences of Hindus, and Muslims, and Jews and every other religious group to determine whether they were valid as well.

    I simply couldn’t dismiss others’ experiences if I expected them to take mine at face value. Either they were all potentially true, or none of them were true. I could no longer deny that.

  • 8. Brad  |  March 25, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    TA,

    As an agnostic, my response was probably somewhat misdirected. Normally when the word “skepticism” comes up in arenas like this it is from an atheistic-scientific perspective. I find your position somewhat less problematic because of your agnostic stance.

    That said, there is still a “culture” of skepticism that commonly includes some degree of presupposition that I mention. It may not be as black and white as I used it hear, but it’s definitely still there.

    For example, I believe that I have applied a fair and equal level of skepticism towards my own faith as well as other world religions and still find it the best and most likely explanation of truth. Yet you have done the same and have arrived at different conclusions. Let’s say I find a contradiction or a differing account that does not reconcile nicely. I encounter this problem, and not being able to figure it out would reason that there is a cause I have not come across that explains it. You could likely encounter the problem (I realize I’m assuming a lot here) and, because you cannot solve the puzzle, apply that “unknowability” to other areas as well.

    I apologize if this isn’t necessarily… that coherent. I’m typing this in class and my brain is a little fried by the end of the day. Bottom line, I agree that Christians need to be willing to apply the same standards to their own faith and also give a little more respect and appreciation to the searching of others (other religions).

  • 9. Brad  |  March 25, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Edit on last comment:

    “BECAUSE YOU ARE an agnostic…”

    There, that makes a little more sense…

  • 10. Quester  |  March 25, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    I simply couldn’t dismiss others’ experiences if I expected them to take mine at face value. Either they were all potentially true, or none of them were true. I could no longer deny that.

    I took the other tack. Knowing that my “evidence” for God came from personal experience and old stories of similar experiences, I was willing to believe that magic, fairies, psychic powers, unicorns, yeti, sea serpents, et cetera, also exist (or once did). After all, the Bible supports most of that list. I did not think other religions worshipped non-existent gods, but either nephilim or evil spirits who claimed to be gods. Magic and fairies existed for me, but were not to be trusted.

    When I realized that I was making up the God I wanted to believe in instead of believing in God in accordance to His self-revelation, then next realized that I saw no coherence in what I’d thought was His self-revelation, I did not just lose God, but a world full of magic and magical beings.

  • 11. Gary  |  March 25, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    I wonder if it is appropriate to consider the attitude of Christians towards other religions as doubt or skepticism? I would think that it is more like certainty – they are certain that other religions are false while their own is true. Or, they are atheistic towards other religions (it’s funny to consider that early Christians were considered atheists by Rome). Doubt and skepticism seem to imply uncertainty and critical inquiry, which is far from what the average Christian demonstrates. There is either belief in Jesus, or there is hell. It’s pretty black and white. It’s probably true that as many of us have found, were they to become skeptical, they’d destroy this assurance.

  • 12. Jersey  |  March 25, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    LOL. Now I can say something good for my church for once. Now only are they skeptics of all things non-Christian, but they are very skeptical to anyone not considered a part of their denomination thw “Church of Christ”. They are skeptical all the time when our preacher gives his lesson, even the guest one who has a 30-year background as a minister and missionary, and he is the smartest one in our congregation about Christianity, Christian history, apologetics, and all that hoopla.

    They are even skeptical of other CoCs as well, especially this one in my current city of residence because they have music to their hymns. (We sing a cappella and go to a different town.)

  • 13. The Apostate  |  March 25, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Brad,

    That said, there is still a “culture” of skepticism that commonly includes some degree of presupposition that I mention. It may not be as black and white as I used it hear, but it’s definitely still there.

    I can’ say yay or nay to this. Perhaps there is, but such a broad stroke could be either simply what you perceive around you, or it could be true – either way…

    Let’s say I find a contradiction or a differing account that does not reconcile nicely. I encounter this problem, and not being able to figure it out would reason that there is a cause I have not come across that explains it. You could likely encounter the problem (I realize I’m assuming a lot here) and, because you cannot solve the puzzle, apply that “unknowability” to other areas as well.

    I am assuming somewhat that we come from similar faith background – that is, you have a strong tendency towards apologetics rather than something akin to the Word of Faith movements. I only say this because I feel I can relate a bit to your paradigm.
    … I was going to write a response to the rest of what I blockquoted, but I am thinking that maybe we need something a little more specific to play around with rather than talking in variables. I’m not suggesting to pigeonhole you anywhere, but maybe if we take something of “apparent” irreconcilability, we can see how we approach things differently – an investigation rather than a challenge.

    I apologize if this isn’t necessarily… that coherent. I’m typing this in class and my brain is a little fried by the end of the day. Bottom line, I agree that Christians need to be willing to apply the same standards to their own faith and also give a little more respect and appreciation to the searching of others (other religions)

    I understand – get back to class!
    Again, I always appreciate the input, but as you know, you, along with a few other Christian regulars, are a minority among your kind. I only wished I had been able to hold my beliefs long enough to make a difference.

  • 14. The Apostate  |  March 25, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Gary,

    I wonder if it is appropriate to consider the attitude of Christians towards other religions as doubt or skepticism? I would think that it is more like certainty – they are certain that other religions are false while their own is true… Doubt and skepticism seem to imply uncertainty and critical inquiry, which is far from what the average Christian demonstrates. There is either belief in Jesus, or there is hell. It’s pretty black and white. It’s probably true that as many of us have found, were they to become skeptical, they’d destroy this assurance.

    I’m trying not to paint every Christian with one broad stroke. There are many critical-thinking Christians, but yes, there are many black-and-white ignoramuses. But even these narrow-minded people are capable to shrewd skepticism. This is why I included a definition of skepticism in my post. There are entire programs at many seminaries and Bible colleges in “Comparative Religion,” where they do nothing but break down the perceived problems in other religions, thus eliminating the supernatural competition (believe it or not, this is how many of the Religious Studies programs in today’s universities actually started – two hundred years ago).

    But remember, simply because you think there is an implication in a word doesn’t mean it is really there. You can certainly doubt something with complete (or almost complete) certainty. Critical thinking, on the other hand, is in the eye of beholder – or the mind of the perceiver.

  • 15. karen  |  March 25, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    They are even skeptical of other CoCs as well, especially this one in my current city of residence because they have music to their hymns. (We sing a cappella and go to a different town.)

    Music in their hymns? Shocking, I say! ;-)

    Gee, narrow-minded and holier than thou. And they probably wonder why they don’t have greater attendance, when they are such an appealing bunch (snark over).

    I took the other tack. Knowing that my “evidence” for God came from personal experience and old stories of similar experiences, I was willing to believe that magic, fairies, psychic powers, unicorns, yeti, sea serpents, et cetera, also exist (or once did). After all, the Bible supports most of that list. I did not think other religions worshipped non-existent gods, but either nephilim or evil spirits who claimed to be gods. Magic and fairies existed for me, but were not to be trusted.

    Interesting. That seems to be the other tack all right. I know people like this who became “credophiles” – believing in everything. I could never have done that – I’m way too skeptical.

    My dad was a natural skeptic and I think I am one also. Perhaps it’s genetic, or he taught me to question and reserve belief about everything except Christianity, which my mother indoctrinated me into very early in my life.

  • 16. wingtip  |  March 26, 2008 at 5:01 am

    Faith can refer to a religion, or to belief in one or more deities. It has two general implications which can be implied either exclusively or mutually:

    To commit oneself to act based on self experience to warrant belief, but without absolute proof. Mere belief on the basis of evidence is not faith. To have faith involves an act of will. For example, many people saw Blondin walk across the gorge below Niagara Falls on a tightrope, and believed (on the basis of the evidence of their own eyes) that he was capable of carrying a man on his back safely across. But only his manager Harry Colcord had enough faith to allow himself to be carried……do you have enough faith to live a christian life?

  • 17. Quester  |  March 26, 2008 at 5:21 am

    Wingtip asked,

    do you have enough faith to live a christian life?

    Nope. Not anymore. I see nothing to put my faith in, had I any to invest.

  • 18. HeIsSailing  |  March 26, 2008 at 8:00 am

    wingtip,
    My Calvary Chapel pastor once used that very example of Blondin carting his manager across the Niagra Falls on a tightrope!! That was at least 20 years ago (my pastor not Blondin). What memories.

    If I may, I think a better analogy to me attempting to follow the Christian life is Karl Wallenda. I did my best for many years, but one day, I just got on the rope and tumbled off. Can I use that one instead?

  • 19. Brad  |  March 26, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    TA,

    “…maybe if we take something of “apparent” irreconcilability, we can see how we approach things differently – an investigation rather than a challenge.”

    I love it. Very tangible. Have one in mind? Maybe an experimental thesis-response post across both our blogs? That could be really cool…

    “Again, I always appreciate the input, but as you know, you, along with a few other Christian regulars, are a minority among your kind. I only wished I had been able to hold my beliefs long enough to make a difference.”

    Yeah… I’m all too aware sometimes. However, I’ve got tons to learn, and by no means have “the” perspective… While vocally, we may be a minority, we are a surprisingly growing majority.

    And TA, we Christians have much to learn from non-believers like yourself. Believe it or not, you can still (and do) make a difference.

  • 20. LeoPardus  |  March 26, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Quester:

    When I realized that I was making up the God I wanted to believe in instead of believing in God in accordance to His self-revelation, then next realized that I saw no coherence in what I’d thought was His self-revelation,

    Yep. When I realized that everyone was just making it up as they went along, that was a big nail in the coffin.

    I did not just lose God, but a world full of magic and magical beings.

    Sigh! True. I’d like a world with Hogwarts, or Jedis, but alas it just ain’t so.

  • 21. LeoPardus  |  March 26, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Jersey:

    other CoCs as well, especially this one in my current city of residence because they have music to their hymns.

    And they DARE to call themselves CofC?! The HERETICS!

    Yeah, I went to a CofC for a while. :) :(

  • 22. Anonymous  |  March 26, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    seems you dont have a great self esteem ! a supernatural self esteem even ! , you could have !! but i wonder if you`ve got the balls ?? …yeah balls for it ??!! not just a potion to drink but a truly and endevoured effort on your own behalf and also others too, could you sustain it ? be annoyed with it , or just go back to playing games and ambivalance , etc , laughing is great , its god given , a known , acepted ,i dont see laughter being a large percentage of our day now how often do you actually laugh each day i mean i hour ? probaly not ten mins and thats not bad for a daily average , jesus teaches much more than laughing the laughter comes after the lesson is learnt , kindness , humility , compassion , try getting a starving human to laugh , not likely , but the person will laugh after got all the other serious probs sorted , jesus is the father of laughter , coz we are built in his image and he must be having a laugh that being true man and true god that he allowed us to kill him and hang him from a cross, and he didnt stop all !! that is everything we know , i would say we barely understand humor , a real belly laugh !!? , as im sure your aware we can laugh at sick humor ? we`ve got a lot to learn you and i , bye for now .

  • 23. Quester  |  March 26, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    There’s something mildly amusing in the irony of someone posting as Anonymous asking us if we “have the balls” for something. I’m glad for that, because I couldn’t get anything else out of reply #22.

  • 24. Michelle  |  March 26, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Good post, TA (can I still call you Thinking Ape -The Apostate is so…)

    You said:
    “Faith has become a great many things, but it perpetually appears to be belief without doubt before anything else. Doubt has been and continues to be viewed as a poison to many.”

    I sure hope not – I doubt many things – I have even doubted God. Life is too hard and He is sometimes too quiet for my liking. Going through the ‘dark night of the soul’ is deceptively real – but I don’t want to lose faith in God – I keep praying, Lord, I believe, help my unbelief…

  • 25. The Apostate  |  March 26, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Brad exclaims,

    I love it. Very tangible. Have one in mind? Maybe an experimental thesis-response post across both our blogs? That could be really cool…

    I’ll see what I can dig up for a perfect example. For now I have offered a dialogue to Randy (from the “Is He Live…” discussion) so I will concentrate on that first, but trust me, I’ll get around to it and get in touch when I find something.

  • 26. LeoPardus  |  March 26, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    I’m piggybacking on part of post #13 above by TA. There he mentioned that he appreciates Brad’s input here on the blog.

    I want to compliment Brad, Justin, Mike, DeeZone (and pardon me for not recalling others who belong in the list just now).

    Many Christians have come in here and railed, condemned, judged, spewed, and generally been total jerks. Thankfully such don’t last long.

    Conversely though, a small group have come in here and consistently shown respect, decorum, humility, and a willingness to listen. And they’ve stuck around.

    While we de-converts may never return to the faith, I think I can speak for many of us in saying that those I’ve mentioned above (and others I missed) have conducted themselves “as Christians ought” and have at least earned respect and appreciation.

    Kudos to each of you.

  • 27. Brad  |  March 27, 2008 at 7:40 am

    TA,

    “but trust me, I’ll get around to it and get in touch when I find something.”

    Not a problem. Take your time! I’m looking forward to it…

  • 28. karen  |  March 27, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Many Christians have come in here and railed, condemned, judged, spewed, and generally been total jerks. Thankfully such don’t last long.

    Ah yes, the “drive-by preaching” technique: Inflict as many nasty accusations and way-off assumptions as possible, finish up with a devastating taste of Pascal’s Wager and sign off with a flourish: “I’ll be PRAYING FOR YOU!”

    What good they think this does, I’ll never know. Except that “the holy spirit never goes out void” – the old teaching about how no matter how badly you present the gospel it will supernaturally hit its the mark where god intends it to (rolling my eyes).

    Conversely though, a small group have come in here and consistently shown respect, decorum, humility, and a willingness to listen. And they’ve stuck around.

    I agree, their respectfulness and willingness to listen is admirable and I add my thanks as well.

  • 29. Joann  |  August 5, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    I agree with this Blog, although as much as I often wish I could leave my Christian faith, I was conditioned into believing that I will end up in Hell if I do. I actually have been questioning my faith lately. I’m noticing a lot of double standards in the Christian faith, too. Here are just a few:

    1. It’s okay for a married couple to have sex for pleasure, but it isn’t okay for a teenager or single adult to masturbate.
    2. Masturbation is preached against despite the acknowledgment by Christians that it isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Bible, but these same Christians won’t admit that they are taking the Bible out of context.
    3. Christian parents don’t want to confuse their children by filling their heads with stories about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, but they turn around and make them believe that masturbation is wrong without offering any real evidence backing up their claim, despite evidence proving that their claims are false.
    4. Christian parents punish their children for lying, then turn around and lie to them.
    5. The Christian church preaches against lying, deceiving, and taking the Bible out of context, then turns around and mentions certain things that aren’t true.
    6. It is okay for a conservative Christian to talk bad about a liberal Democrat, but it isn’t okay for anyone to talk bad about a conservative Republican.
    7. It is okay for a Christian to be skeptical about world viewpoints, but it isn’t okay for this same Christian to question his or her own faith.
    8. It is okay for us Christians to deny a homosexual their basic human rights just because of the sinful nature of their lifestyle, but we tend to cry foul when we are stripped of our basic human right to practice our faith in public.
    9. Abortion is murder (which I agree), and so is euthanasia and surgical sterilization (both of which I support), but it’s okay to own guns and kill Death Row inmates.
    10. Divorce is wrong, and so is adultery, but the divorce rate among Christian couples is high, and some Christian pastors commit adultery or engage themselves in homosexuality and pornography. And some spouses file for divorce so that they can marry someone else.

    This list can go on, and any one of you are more than welcome to add to it if you like, but you probably get the picture. The bottom line is this, though: Practice what you preach, don’t lie or make us believe things that have never been proven to be true, and don’t preach against taking the Bible out of context unless you really mean it, or more of us Christians are going to leave our faith, and more of the so-called “lost souls” will continue to reject our faith.

  • 30. john t.  |  August 5, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Joann

    Heres something to put a smile on your face

    What is the definition of rejection? You go to masturbate and your hand falls asleep. ;)

  • 31. Bill  |  August 5, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Weren’t the apostles master baiters?

  • 32. Quester  |  August 5, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Joann,

    In some ways, the problem is that the Bible contradicts itself so much that hypocritical actions become easy to justify. You just need to choose carefully which verses you are following under which circumstances.

    The problem is not always taking verses outside of their original context, but realizing that the verses- in context- can disagree with each other completely.

  • 33. ubi dubium  |  August 5, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Joann,

    Glad you are here. I hope your time at this blog can help you work things out. I hope you will feel free to continue question everything, and that you will finally arrive at a worldview you are comfortable with.

    …although as much as I often wish I could leave my Christian faith, I was conditioned into believing that I will end up in Hell if I do.

    Yes, this can be a hard one to get past. Where I started is that I could not reconcile a god that is totally benevolent with a god that would send any of his creations to eternal torment. One or the other of those ideas had to give. (For me, both of them did. Once I decided that hell was something invented by christianity to scare people into obedience, it was easy to stop being afraid of it.)

    I very much like your list of double standards. If you read some of the other posts on this blog, you will probably find quite a few more to add to it.

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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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