Why d-C? – Answer the damn question Mr. Priest!

May 25, 2008 at 11:59 pm 272 comments

Why do Christians de-convert? To answer these questions I’ve sat down and considered 94 of the 117 de-conversion stories I read on one of the largest archives of de-conversion stories on the internet.

There appeared to be several broad and recurring factors among these de-conversion stories. In this series, I will consider these broad reasons for de-conversion, how common they appeared to be amongst my sample, and what it might mean in terms of tactics for those wanting to support or even promote de-conversion.

Dissatisfaction with the answers to simple questions proffered by the religion was the most common reason cited for de-conversion amongst the sample (14.89%). Priests, prosletyers, Sunday school teachers, and religious parents are one of the most common triggers for de-conversion. When a figure representing the religion (in the mind of the person asking a question), offers an absurd answer to that question, the asker starts to doubt.

Children ask questions, and many de-convertees spoke of their first doubt’s arising when they were children asking simple questions, and getting stupid answers. They can be mind numbingly simple questions about everyday issues, as we see in this story:

“At 6 I was in church playgroup and I asked why they never shut the church door. The answer was a burglar would never steal for God because God will make him pay. I said but some one will steal I know this. They ignored me, so I asked and asked again. I realised they were telling lies and I simply thought this is all rubbish and never went back.”

Or they can be the sorts of questions that Dawkin’s himself would be proud of:

“Where the universe came from?”
The teacher responded: God.
I then stated: Where did God come from?
She responded. “We just have to accept that he was always here, and not question it.”
I am now 37 years old, but I can remember clearly my feelings about this comment. Utter disappointment. It seemed to me, even at only 9, to be a statement that violated logic. Why couldn’t she answer such a simple question?

Unsatisfactory answers in defence of a religious belief can be offered by practically anyone in order to raise doubts in the mind of people likely to reject religion in this way:

I was arguing with about eight to nine Christians in the library and I asked, “If God created the world in seven days, why are there dinosaur fossils?” They all had different answers; the worst was when one guy said that people made up fossils to discredit religion.

So what could this mean for supporting de-conversion? In every de-conversion story I encountered that cited the inability of a religion to answer a question satisfactorily, the question arose from that individuals involvement with the religion. They asked an innocent question of a preacher, or a parent, or a sunday school teacher, and recieved an incoherant or illogical answer.

The questions were not put to them by atheists. Access to resources from a skeptical, scientific or atheistic standpoint that addressed these sorts of questions aided in de-conversion. There does seem to be a role for supporting de-conversion in this instance, but the doubt that leads a person to seek out information that was not authorised by the religion arose from these young individuals own natural encounters with the religion. Only one of the de-conversion stories of this nature spoke of encountering an atheist who put questions about religion into their mind.

It’s not surprising really. Religions would cease to exist if they did not develop defence mechanisms when encountering people attempting to engender disbelief in the religion.

- Originally published by Kieran Bennett, reprinted with permission.

Entry filed under: KieranBennett. Tags: , , , .

Am I missing the god gene? Religion and the U.S. Mortgage Crisis

272 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rachel  |  May 26, 2008 at 12:39 am

    She responded. “We just have to accept that he was always here, and not question it.”

    Umm…don’t you have to accept this very same answer from science about the material universe?

  • 2. Karen  |  May 26, 2008 at 1:13 am

    The gist of the responses seems to be that individual BS meters just began to kick in at some point. I know (and am very fond of) many people who simply don’t have such well-calibrated BS meters regarding religious beliefs. Many of them have exceedingly well-calibrated BS meters attuned to other topics. We just don’t talk about religion.

    Rachel: scientists don’t know what occurred before the Big Bang. Did another universe (or universes) exist, with physical laws the same or similar to ours? Did something totally beyond our most creative imaginations exist? Or was it something in between? Or was it nothing? The world of theoretical physics is humid with hypotheses, but a relative desert of data. This does NOT keep people from data-hunting Even the driest desert has some biomass.

    Acknowledging a current lack of data is far, far different from accepting that something was “always here”. Or not. “I/we don’t know” in science ALWAYS has an implied “yet” appended to it. No guarantees, but no lack of seekers, either.

  • 3. Ted Goas  |  May 26, 2008 at 3:06 am

    For me, religion’s answers often revolved around the Bible. It was either a Bible verse (sometimes a vague one taken out of context), or an answer like ‘God did it.’

    Science was more appealing to me since it shows how, why, or why not. Science is also not inerrant, and goes back to correct itself when proven wrong. Religion isn’t as fun since it doesn’t evolve like this.

  • 4. jonnyprice  |  May 26, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Unfortunately many people de-convert becuase of the christians who represent Jesus and christianity at a whole. They themselves not knowing how to ‘solve the puzzle’ or given incorrect statements leads others offcourse and ultimately backslidding from the faith.

    If we read through scripture we will see the love David had for God causes him to follow the Lord no matter the cost, this was no chore for him. He lived his life according to his Love for God. As Jesus, daniel, eziekiel etc. etc.
    Ourselves today have fallen under many ‘works’ to give our love to God and completely bypass the relational dynamic offered through Jesus Christ.

    If we were all to abandon our own lives as Jesus states in Mathew and live for Him wholeheartally, no longer look at serving God as a chore but as an honor than our eyes will be opened to many more truths and our knowledge and love for God will increase beyond measure as His love does for us.

    “The reason some of us are such poor specimens
    of Christianity is because we have no Almighty Christ.
    We have Christian attributes and experiences, but
    there is no abandonment to Jesus Christ.”
    Oswald Chambers

  • 5. Obi  |  May 26, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    I myself was once a Christian, and I de-converted as a child. Well not exactly a “child”, but at the age of 12 or so I was doubting, and by 15/16 I was completely gone. Why? Because the faith in and of itself isn’t logical.

    You will often see people defending their beliefs with “appeals to emotion” or simply because the truth is a harsh reality, which are both logical fallacies. You will see them quoting from scriptures, as if their tales of mythology are any different from the others they so readily discard because it wasn’t indoctrinated in them since they were children.

    The logical argument against the God of the Abrahamic faiths (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism; the largest in the world today) is a simple one. The problem of evil. An omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and all-loving God would not let evil exist. Why? Because God cannot exist in the presence of evil, yet he exists everywhere. Since there is evil in this world, God must exist with it in his presence. Contradiction number one.

    Contradiction number two lies in why there is evil in the first place. If you knew for CERTAIN ahead of time that the plane you were about to board was going to crash because you saw a bomb ticking underneath it with a timer on it, would you board? Would you let anyone you loved board? Then why did an omniscient God even allow us to come into existence with evil? Why did he not just destroy Satan from the get-go after he rebelled?

    Some may say because God wants to permit free-will. If God is truly omniscient, free-will is an illusion, but I will humor them. Take the case of Sodom and Gomorrah. God clearly destroyed those people when they were doing evil and immoral things, which is in direct contradiction to him providing them with free will until after death where at the final judgment they must pay for their sins.

    The contradictions go on and on. Why did God place the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden? If he had not placed it there, there would have been no way for Adam and Eve to stray. Do you place a priceless glass vase in front of a baby, tell them not to touch it, and then punish them when they do? Why not just keep the vase completely out of reach? Was God testing them? If so, then he’s evil. A good God would not tempt or test his creations.

    I can continue writing, because the contradictions are many, but I’ll leave those. I just cannot see how any rational thinking person could believe in the Gods of human religion. This does not preclude the existence of a God, but it does eliminate the possibility of any of the jealous, self-centered, hypocritical and just plain evil Gods humans created in the past.

  • 6. LeoPardus  |  May 26, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Rachel:

    don’t you have to accept this very same answer from science about the material universe?

    No we don’t. There are some who think the universe always existed one way or another, and others who think it came into existence at some time. All are asking questions. That is the very antithesis of the “don’t question it” response.

  • 7. Ubi Dubium  |  May 26, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    @johnnyprice

    Unfortunately many people de-convert because of the christians who represent Jesus and christianity at a whole. They themselves not knowing how to ’solve the puzzle’ or given incorrect statements leads others offcourse and ultimately backslidding from the faith.

    After reading many posts from this website, I would have to disagree with this statement. Many of the people here found their doubts beginning with inadequate answers to simple questions. But their comments do not reflect that they simply “backslid”; instead they used their doubts as a starting-off point for a serious search for real and satisfactory answers. Only after long thought and study did deconversion turn out to be their final destination.

    The answer is not simply that some priest’s answer to a hard question was inadequate. The answer is that inadequate answers lead to a further search for adequate answers, and that christianity (and often religion as a whole) was unable to provide any. Please see the posts on this website on “convenient categories” and “inconvenient categories” before trying to tell deconverts why they left faith behind.

  • […] 27, 2008 In my first installment of the series “Why do Christians de-convert?”, Why d-C? (1) Answer the damn question Mr. Priest!,  I discused the fact that dissatisfaction with the answers to simple questions proffered by the […]

  • 9. jonnyprice  |  May 27, 2008 at 2:14 am

    @ Ubi

    My apolgies Ubi, I myself have just happened to stumble across this blog and have not read any previous posts by this member, just this specific one inparticular.

    To defend my action, I do not know your sites backround by any means but was stating a fact that I have come to find why most Christians, or rather previous Christians have backslidden from the faith of Chrisitianity.

    I will say this however in a rhetorical form, although there are certian ‘unanswerable questions’, do these questions we cannot seem to answer disprove the fact that we are alive on earth and that God is not real?

  • 10. omaroctavio  |  May 27, 2008 at 10:37 am

    The nature, evolutions and physics are a creations of god. Everything is a consecuency of god. Translate this page: http://www.omaroctavio.wordpress.com

  • 11. Ubi Dubium  |  May 27, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    @ jonnyprice

    “I will say this however in a rhetorical form, although there are certian ‘unanswerable questions’, do these questions we cannot seem to answer disprove the fact that we are alive on earth and that God is not real?”

    For me, our being alive on this earth has no bearing on the existence or non-existence of a god. I don’t need to prove that “god is not real” I simply find a serious lack of proof for “god is real”. I find it much more likely that “gods were invented by humans for their own reasons.”

    I hope you find the answer you are looking for here. The “inconvenient categories” post would be a good start for you. Check the Archives. It’s collected from the “backslidders” themselves, and contains many real and personal reasons why people have abandoned faith, not just vague generalities. I hope that on finding your answer, you also find new questions. This website is good for that. Stick around.

    Search on! Think for yourself!

  • 12. fluorophore  |  May 27, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Sorry – I feel a little like a voyeur here, I hope you will forgive my wandering in, but I’m fascinated by Obi’s statements about evil. I’m wondering how one logically believes in evil. I hope that doesn’t sound disrespectful of your beliefs – as far as I’m concerned anyone’s entitled to believe in whatever they choose. But I’m curious about the logic of basing an argument disproving God on the assumption that evil exists. Feel free to point me at your blog if this is likely to take us too far OT for this space.
    __________________________
    And perhaps I should chime in, to respond to the topic – I do think we are in danger of offering dumb answers to children (and adults) about many many subjects. As a scientist now, I can see (and recall) many instances where science is taught incredibly poorly in school. The way we ask students to memorize facts without walking them through the experiments that arrived at those facts is as inane, imo, as the recitation of any creed.

    And we have legions of children who claim to be math-phobic or are simply uninterested in science – probably as many or more de-Cs from science than we have from religion. I say this sadly – as a scientist, a parent, and a religious person.

    Most often in life I think the answers to even the simplest seeming questions are in fact really complex. I like Karen’s responses about science being a continually seeking process – we don’t know the answers – in fact, the more we learn, the more questions we have. But I’d say that holds true for faith as well :) It just explores in a different direction, so to speak.

  • 13. Obi  |  May 27, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    fluorosphere

    The “assumption” that evil exists…? I don’t mean to sound derisive, but most everyone on this planet, religious or not, believes that evil exists. Evil is the opposite of good. Good is everything pleasurable (that does not harm another). Evil is the exact opposite. One may take pleasure in doing evil, but that does not make it good, as it harms another, thus taking away their pleasure.

    Thus, when we consider that evil exists, the Christian/Islamic/Judaic God cannot exist. It’s quite a simple proof in my opinion, but therein lies it’s beauty.

    However, I would think that the concept of evil is rather clear cut? But anyway, I don’t have a blog, I’m simply a slightly bored 16-year-old who’s drifting through looking for some intelligent discussion. The parties are all on Fridays and Saturdays, you know?

  • 14. fluorophore  |  May 27, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    It’s ok, I don’t take you as derisive. I’d be interested in opening the question out to more people here at de-C though – is that true? Do most of us believe the contents of Obi’s first paragraph? I don’t, but then I’m a skeptic :) And comfortable being in the minority. I’m just curious to understand where you’re coming from.

    The only real conversation I’ve had with an atheist (on this topic, irl) was one where he adamantly described evil as a religious concept and one he rejected on that grounds. I tended to agree with him. We spent some time contemplating the impossibility of the evolution of “evilness.”

    We could also think hard on the evolution of “good” too. Or is “good” also a religious concept?

  • 15. Obi  |  May 27, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Why must everything not firmly rooted in the physical world and science be “religious”? We are humans, and with our evolution of the capacity for abstract and higher thought, we can all think of things such as this. That is the meaning of philosophy; and as I like to say, there is “No God necessary”.

    However, what exactly do you disagree with in my first post? You keep alluding to something yet you never quite fully state it…what exactly is it that you are questioning? Perhaps I can clear it up for you and explain how I reason.

    Also, why would I deny “evil”? When debating against the religious to disprove their mythologies, one must use the assumptions that they use so that they can follow your logical train to it’s destination and see where the contradictions in their beliefs lie.

    Speaking to an Italian in Hindi does little to further your search for the closest ice cream parlor.

  • 16. fluorophore  |  May 28, 2008 at 5:53 am

    Now I’ve gone from feeling like a voyeur to feeling like I’ve derailed the train. We are really OT now, and I apologize for disrupting the flow of the thread. Obi, I do have a blog and you are welcome to move this conversation over there, maybe we can come at a better understanding there and let this conversation return to its topic, which is a good one.

    Apparently the link to my blog doesn’t appear here, not sure why but I’m over at – http://fluorophore.wordpress.com/

  • 17. Andrea  |  May 28, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Why I de-converted? Simply put, I think God would be ashamed of being credited with writing the Bible, were he to look down and read it. I mean, his own Son didn’t even write any of it! (This is assuming Jesus was even literate, as the Bible indicates.)

    I’ve been in the fundamentalist circles my entire life. I’ve memorized more Scripture than I’d care to relate. But I am so tired of the internal hypocracy of the Bible, such as one verse saying “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee”, but another saying “If you are the Son of God throw yourself down. For it is written, ‘He will give His angels charge concerning you,’ and, ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”

    People use these verses to claim on one occasion that Scripture will lead people to the Truth, and on another occasion that Satan uses Scripture to lead people astray. Whis one is it? Or is it up to the individual to determine whether the Scripture quoted is being quoted by the Holy Spirit or by Satan? That sounds like an open invitation for people to manipulate the contradiction-ridden Bible to suit their own needs at the time. To summerize this paragraph: IF EVEN THE INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE CAN CHANGE FROM MOMENT TO MOMENT BASED ON WHO IS QUOTING IT, IT IS NOT THE MEDIUM FOR ABSOLUTE TRUTH.

    And that is simply one glaring example among many.

    I’m not going to argue today for or against the exsistance of Absolute Truth, but if it exists, it is not found in the Bible.

  • 18. edwinhere  |  May 29, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Rachel, It is far more probable for the chain of causes that caused the Big Bang to have been “just there always” than for a god to have been “just there always”. A God is infinitely more complex than the Big Bang. Hence a God is more improbable than the probability of a hurricane assembling a fighter jet.

  • 19. Jim J  |  May 29, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    It is far more probable for the chain of causes that caused the Big Bang to have been “just there always

    How is that?

    God alone explains existence because God is existence. Interesting how God replied to Moses’ question, “Who are you?” by giving his name as “I Am”. God is the necessary uncaused cause.

    You can imagine there were causes for the Big Bang that came from other causes and they came from causes but you still have to get the ball rolling. The ball couldn’t have “always” been rolling.

    Christian parents give stupid answers but what “answers” do athiests have? “We’ll find out…one day”? Gimme a break.

    Btw, if people were asking questions and not finding their own answers through bible studies and research, how could they have “de-converted”? What did they de-convert from? Uncertainty? Looks to me like they didn’t convert in the first place. I’ve read a few dozen “de-conversion” stories and I have yet to read one where they remembered to include their initial “conversion experience”.

    Kieran, can you point to ONE de-conversion story in which a conversion is described?

  • 20. Cthulhu  |  May 30, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Jim J,

    A short reply…

    God alone explains existence because God is existence.

    Uh…prove that without saying ‘because the bible says so’. This is classic a tautological argument.

    God is the necessary uncaused cause.

    The ‘Ex nihilo, nihil fit’ stuff won’t cut it – do you know anything at all about quantum mechanics?…super-string theory?…science at all? I doubt very seriously if you even know what cosmology means – much less understand any of it. And you could – if you tried.

    You can imagine there were causes for the Big Bang that came from other causes and they came from causes but you still have to get the ball rolling. The ball couldn’t have “always” been rolling.

    You just refuted your previous statement – and just because there is no current fully understood mechanism for the cause of the Big Bang doesn’t imply that is is forever unexplainable.

    Btw, if people were asking questions and not finding their own answers through bible studies and research, how could they have “de-converted”? What did they de-convert from? Uncertainty? Looks to me like they didn’t convert in the first place.

    Sigh…just another drive-by Christian without a clue – try reading http://de-conversion.com/2008/03/27/convenient-categories/ before making such ill-informed statements.

  • 21. Cthulhu  |  May 30, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Sorry for the missed html tag – got a little riled up!

  • 22. Obi  |  May 30, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    “Christian parents give stupid answers but what “answers” do athiests have? “We’ll find out…one day”? Gimme a break.”

    This struck a chord with me. THIS is one reason why sometimes I can’t hold myself back from having contempt for religious theists. Simply because we do not know means “Goddidit”? Is that what you’re saying? Goodness. Scientists LOVE saying “We don’t know”, because if they DID know, they’d be out of a job!

    But please, if you aren’t convinced, go back into history and look at the track record of the Goddidit “answer”. Volcanoes. The Aurora Borealis. Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Meteors. Tsunamis. Wind. The Sun. Comets. Supernovae. The Moon. The tides. All explained by “Goddidit”, until one or many curious scientist(s) came along, did a little snooping around, thinking, and came up with a theory that perfectly explained what had been previously unknown.

    Thus, the “God of the Gaps” of the dogmatic religious theists has been pushed back more and more by the steady advance of science over the years, until he has now been pushed into the position where all he “answers” is how the Universe got here. And if previous track record is anything to go by, he’ll be gone for good and out of an Almighty Job in a couple of years.

    Good day to you too, sir.

  • 23. Jim Jordan  |  May 30, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Hmm, two commenters and we’re 0-for-2.
    To paraphrase the title of this post, “Answer the damn question, Mr. Atheist!” and the question was…

    Can you point to ONE de-conversion story in which a conversion is described?

  • 24. Cthulhu  |  May 30, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Sorry Jim – you are delusional.

    Here is a good one since you don’t understand how to use Google…

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2007/12/summary-of-my-case-against-christianity.html

  • 25. Obi  |  May 30, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    “Hmm, two commenters and we’re 0-for-2.
    To paraphrase the title of this post, “Answer the damn question, Mr. Atheist!” and the question was…”

    Haha, please. Stop trying to run, little religious runt. Goodness I hate sounding so malevolent, but sometimes people on the internet bring out the worst in me :D

    To quote your original post where you asked your “main question” that we have apparently “tried to avoid”…

    Posted by Jim
    “Btw, if people were asking questions and not finding their own answers through bible studies and research, how could they have “de-converted”? What did they de-convert from? Uncertainty? Looks to me like they didn’t convert in the first place. I’ve read a few dozen “de-conversion” stories and I have yet to read one where they remembered to include their initial “conversion experience”.”

    Notice the “by the way”. Yes, that means that it was an afterthought to your original post, and not the main question as you would wish to make everyone believe. Don’t delude yourself, Jim. It isn’t healthy.

  • 26. Jim Jordan  |  May 30, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Don’t see the point at all, Obi. “By the way” is a lead-in and in this case it led to my question, which I jumped down and printed separately so as to emphasize it.

    And Cth, I’ve read that post already (they’re actually fairly respectful towards theists at DC by the way :-) It’s a list of disagreements. But I don’t see the conversion experience and ensuing walk in which the future de-convert realizes how deeply Jesus loves them.

    I just thought you might want to know that de-conversion can’t be proven unless you first prove the conversion.

  • 27. DagoodS  |  May 30, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Jim Jordan,

    I have informed you before of my conversion experience at age 5 with my father after a Sunday Evening service. I have posted a long (LONG) deconversion story.

    You deliberately chose to claim that was not a sufficient conversion.

    It is not that you haven’t heard—it is that you have decided the histories you have heard are not to your satisfaction because they do not conform to what you believe is a sufficient conversion.

    You will never hear a person give a history, no matter how accurate, that satisfies you they converted in the first place. You believe deconversion is a myth, remember? Can’t happen, remember? That there IS no such thing as deconversion, because by definition you sovereignly declare any such person was not converted in the first place.

    *shrug* Your choice. I cannot change your mind, nor do I care to. But for those of you discussing with Jim Jordan, be aware. It is a waste of time on this issue.

  • 28. Jim J  |  May 30, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    That dialog was what drew me to this post, dagoods. And, yes, your conversion at age 5 was not convincing. Conversion is also an ongoing process; growing in one’s faith. I didn’t see that in your copious history of your de-conversion. None of this likely matters here anyway as this looks more like an echo-chamber/dittohead site rather than a debate site.

  • 29. The Apostate  |  May 31, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Jim J,
    First of all, yes, we can all feel God’s love shining through you (another obnoxious Christian which other Christians are almost entirely ashamed).

    Conversion is also an ongoing process; growing in one’s faith.

    Conversion is not an ongoing process. Conversion is not equal to spiritual growth. Conversion, by its definition, requires a change from on form or function to another. You can’t simply chose your definitions to fit your rhetoric. You can call it many things, but it is not conversion. It is okay to say that spiritual growth certainly doesn’t end at conversion, but you can’t call your entire Christian life “conversion” without substantiation.

    I didn’t see that in your copious history of your de-conversion.

    I could include my “testimony” that I gave on countless occasions on missions trips and in front of many churches – a testimony that I felt was true to me (it was my life afterall). But what would this show? It would only show how fervently I believed and how much I was willing to sacrifice to further the kingdom. What do you want from our de-conversion stories? What would it prove? I don’t quite understand what you are looking for.

    Obviously there are people here that might have been fairly nominal Christians, but is that a judgment call you are trying to make? I can make the same judgment about yourself. Recall the first thing I said to you above. How did that feel? Offensive? Presumptuous? Maybe what you would expect from a bitter self-proclaimed “ex-Christian”? My point is that you are essentially making a similar blanket judgment about everyone here, when in fact, you wouldn’t care if Saint Paul himself de-converted, for he wouldn’t have ever been a “real Christian” to you.

    None of this likely matters here anyway as this looks more like an echo-chamber/dittohead site rather than a debate site.

    And what debate have you contributed? All you have said is that everyone here was never really a Christian. Several people gave you answers to your other concerns, which you quite apparently avoided by focusing on a nonsensical issue of which you are not privy to (unless of course you, Jim, are God).

  • 30. Jim J  |  May 31, 2008 at 11:16 am

    You’re not convinced God exists and I’m not convinced of your conversions. Do you ever read these de-conversion stories from a skeptical point of view? Or is skepticism reserved solely for theism?

    About why I didn’t continue the other debate: I’ve been in countless “God exists/No He doesn’t” debates to know that they will always end in a draw (of course each side claiming victory but still objectively a draw). Science can only point to the probability of God, it can’t prove the existence of God any more than it can prove the non-existence of God. Blaise Pascal realized that truth back in 1660.

    The atheist isn’t convinced and he or she stops there. But Pascal didn’t stop wrestling with the question. When asked what preceded the Big Bang, a prominent scientist and atheist replied that it’s irrelevant, like asking “What is north of the North pole?” Of course there is something above the North Pole, north but on another plain.

    I am not God, by the way.

  • 31. Zoe  |  May 31, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Jim,

    I too read what DagoodS shared with you and the rest of us who read his blog. I remember how you literally tossed aside his sincere and genuine event with his dad. If you read my conversion story, you’d toss it aside as well.

    How is it that any of us can meet your standards? You know we can’t, so why do you engage us in conversation?

    I grew up believing. I simply didn’t know anything else.

    Yet, at age 13 at an evangelical church camp, I did make a decision to accept Christ as my Saviour. Officially I guess, this would be termed my moment of “conversion.” As life progressed, I didn’t think of my conversion as an ongoing process. I thought of it in terms of ongoing “sanctification.” Of growing in the Lord and continually building a relationship with Him, with every ounce of sincerity I could muster.

    You can toss our conversion/deconversion stories aside, saying that we aren’t convinced. There’s nothing we can do about that. What you don’t understand, and apparently refuse to understand is that most of us (presuming to speak for many of us) were at one time convinced beyond measure. You can deny it all you want. We’d appreciate it if you took us at our word, however, I suspect our word is nothing to you.

    As well, anyone’s current state of atheism and such has nothing to do with our past state of convinced belief. Many of us were convinced then, we aren’t convinced now. There are reasons for that and this blog is full of those stories.

    When you come here and say, we were never converted, you actually mock the God you believe in and the one we believed in at one time. Many of us were committed Christians who served and ministered full-time, part-time and in lay ministry. Many of us attended Bible College/University. Speaking personally, I was in a ministry that saw many come to Christ.

    Those people are still committed Christians, serving and ministering as they believe God leads them. I had a hand in bringing the “Word” to them. If you spoke to any of them, or those I ministered to on their death beds, comforting them in the name of Jesus Christ or sharing the gospel with them, witnessing their turning to the Lord in their last days…all of them would tell you that you are wrong to say I was never converted or was never convinced.

    When you come here and question our conversions, or past lives and faith, you are calling us liars. You may not say it outright, but that’s what you are doing. We can’t win with you because you see us as liars, not only in the sense that you doubt our words, but I suspect you personally believe that we are the devils children, thus, our words can never be taken as truth.

    Although you may not believe this, in real life, if I knew you, I’d minister to you in the same way I would have as a Christian. You quite simply would never know or detect that I was not a Christian. If I was with someone even today, and they were dying and they asked me about God and need comfort and assurance, I would share with them what I know and (though this makes no sense to my strong atheists friends) I would comfort them in their dying and turning to the Lord, if that was their will.

    Perhaps this was a waste of bandwidth for me to respond and as DagoodS suggested, I’ve wasted my time and breath. I don’t know. I have no delusions that I make one bit of difference in sharing any of this.

  • 32. DagoodS  |  May 31, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Zoe,

    You make a difference to me. *hugs*

    (I know, I know. You were talking about making a difference to Mr. Jordan. But more than one person reads the internet. So I’ve heard.)

  • 33. Zoe  |  May 31, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Thanks DagoodS.

  • 34. Jim J  |  May 31, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Zoe. You said “I grew up believing. I simply didn’t know anything else.” Well, I teach my daughter and my students what atheists’ think, so there will be no surprises. I highlighted that on a post last year.

    Does this not “knowing anything else” disqualify your conversio? It might well do so. Without a choice of what to believe in, what import to we give in what you believed in?

    What’s interesting is that you assume that you can define everything and you are offended when I redefine what you think I am obligated to accept about your claims. You say you were a true believer but now you say what you believed in does not exist. Whether you like it or not, it begs the question, “What did you believe in if it could not exist?”

  • 35. karen  |  May 31, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Yet, at age 13 at an evangelical church camp, I did make a decision to accept Christ as my Saviour. Officially I guess, this would be termed my moment of “conversion.” As life progressed, I didn’t think of my conversion as an ongoing process. I thought of it in terms of ongoing “sanctification.” Of growing in the Lord and continually building a relationship with Him, with every ounce of sincerity I could muster.

    I posted my deconversion story (responding to a request) over at the eBay Atheist site last week. In it, I describe accepting Jesus into my heart at age 9 in Sunday school class. In the comments following, I describe how I recommitted my life several times as a teenager and young adult. I spent 30 years actively involved in Christian worship, education and ministry, prayer, bible study and “waiting on the lord.”

    I feel confident, as I’m sure many others are here, in saying, “If I wasn’t a Christian, nobody is.” That’s the long and short of it.

    You can toss our conversion/deconversion stories aside, saying that we aren’t convinced. There’s nothing we can do about that. What you don’t understand, and apparently refuse to understand is that most of us (presuming to speak for many of us) were at one time convinced beyond measure. You can deny it all you want. We’d appreciate it if you took us at our word, however, I suspect our word is nothing to you.

    The blatant disrespect of so many Christians who deny that deconverts were ever truly converted is a major reason why it is difficult to let go of the contempt and anger once deconversion has taken place. I’ve learned to laugh it off, after several years, but boy, being told I wasn’t ever a “true” Christian really smarted the first few (dozen) times I heard it.

    The conclusion I’ve reached: It’s deeply, deeply threatening to many Christians (not all) to imagine that the person sitting next to them in worship service, or the person hosting the bible study, or they themselves could ever deconvert. That’s why they have this compulsion about denying that deconverts were really believers – it scares them to death.

    When you come here and say, we were never converted, you actually mock the God you believe in and the one we believed in at one time.

    That’s a very good point.

  • 36. Obi  |  May 31, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    She believed in the same mythology that you do. Simply because one holds a belief and then realizes that it cannot possibly be true does not mean that they didn’t truly see the belief as correct in the first place.

  • 37. Jim J  |  May 31, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    When you come here and say, we were never converted, you actually mock the God you believe in and the one we believed in at one time.

    That’s a very good point.

    How can this be a good point? How could we have believed in the same God if you now say he “cannot possibly be true”???? If he couldn’t possibly be true, how did you believe in him at all and why do most people still believe in God?

    Karen writes—The blatant disrespect of so many Christians who deny that deconverts were ever truly converted is a major reason why it is difficult to let go of the contempt and anger once deconversion has taken place.

    If you were genuinely fooled for many years (you said 30) that’s reason enough for contempt and anger. Why should it matter if we think you’re full of baloney? [And you obvously don’t respect our sensibilities, so why should I care about yours?]

    If there was any chance that there be a God, would we not seek him out? The truth is that you guys threw in the towel, you gave up – quit – and tossed away your skepticism and traded it in for the ugly orthodoxy characterized by this blog.

    As for Mr. Dagoods, I concluded coectly that he never really believed, he just agreed, and James wrote that even the demons agreed. That’s no big deal. That’s why all your “de-conversions” are a laundry list of disagreements. None of them are what real de-conversions would be BY DEFINITION: proofs that God does not exist, because there are no proofs that God does not exist.

    Yet you settle for saying that God cannot posibly exist but when it comes down to it, you are talking out of your anus. You have no proof, only disagreements with a God you say cannot exist.

    Last, someone said the usual remark that they didn’t feel the love of God shining through in me. I am troubling the waters here. They need to be troubled. You need to think through your conclusions. If you are wrong, then the best thing for me to do is to challenge you.

  • 38. Obi  |  June 1, 2008 at 12:06 am

    People like Jim can never open their eyes or question their beliefs and come to reasonable conclusions because they’ve been to indoctrinated and are too dependent on their beliefs. Jim, I can only hope that some of the things said on this blog will cause you to question your faith and perhaps come to the right conclusion.

    As an atheist, I don’t seek to prove that God doesn’t exist. I seek to prove that the hypocritical Gods created by humans to give them comfort and something to look up to do not exist. Plain and simple, your God does not exist because all of his actions and characteristics contradict themselves.

    I wish you the best of luck on your quest for the truth in life, Jim. The best of luck.

  • 39. The Apostate  |  June 1, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Jim J,

    You’re not convinced God exists and I’m not convinced of your conversions.

    You are right, I don’t believe the existence of God is self-evident nor convincing, and, as you see in my previous comment, I was merely stating the obvious conclusion that you have no reason to believe any ex-Christian was ever a Christian in the first place. I was not even saying you should.

    Do you ever read these de-conversion stories from a skeptical point of view?

    I hold my skepticism for when it is needed. I don’t need to be skeptical or cynical of a person’s life story, be it their autobiography, their testimony, or their de-conversion story. It isn’t for me to say whether that person is truthful, nor does the accuracy really concern me. I prefer to give that person the benefit of the doubt. I say “prefer” because this is often an extremely hard thing to do. For myself, as a once conservative, but educated, Christian, I had, and still have, a hard time considering people such as Benny Hinn, Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, Joel Osteen, and Joyce Meyer “Christians” – not because of their morality, but because of their horrendous theology. But I must continue to remind myself that this is not my place to judge, for I didn’t and don’t need to concern myself with whether they are Christians or not.

    Or is skepticism reserved solely for theism?

    If I had not been a skeptic as a theist, I would not be an agnostic today. Furthermore, who said that skepticism should be reserved for theism? I am skeptical not only of fantasies of all sorts, but of the many secular myths that pervade our society.

    About why I didn’t continue the other debate: I’ve been in countless “God exists/No He doesn’t” debates to know that they will always end in a draw (of course each side claiming victory but still objectively a draw).

    Jim, you confound me. You come here with the gloves off, then accuse of not participating in your debate, but once challenged, you state that you prefer to keep out of the debate (that you started) because it doesn’t have a happy, conclusive ending! I find little integrity in this. And who claims victory? I admit that no one changes their mind, but if the debate was remotely constructive (of which we have had many with many fellow seminarians of various Christian denominations) then we should have learned something from each other. Of course, if you quit after the first punch then all you’ve done retreated and then claimed victory.

    Science can only point to the probability of God, it can’t prove the existence of God any more than it can prove the non-existence of God. Blaise Pascal realized that truth back in 1660.

    I don’t know exactly what science can do, I am not a scientist. For myself, science can simply explain the natural world, with or without the existence of gods. My academic and person background is in theology and philosophy, of which we have a little more success with the discussion of the divine. The fact is, you are right, we can do no more to prove God doesn’t exist than we can that he does exist. But the same goes for orbiting teapots, unicorns, and the flying spaghetti monster. My own interest does not so much lie in whether a god or gods exist, but what this hypothetical Being’s function is in our universe.

    I find the question of God’s existence rather moot for many different reasons, but more importantly it never tells us what this God actually does, or what this Being “is.” We may not be able to prove that God does not exist, but it doesn’t take a great philosopher or literary critic to see the incoherence of the so-called “Judeo-Christian” tri-theistic entity.

    The atheist isn’t convinced and he or she stops there.

    This is somewhat hollow coming from a proponent of theism. Couldn’t I simply say “the theist is convinced and he or she stops there?” or “I found the Truth, now I stop looking for it!”
    I can’t speak for atheists, and I don’t know whether one atheist, since their definition is via an absence of something, can speak for another (apart from the fact that they disbelieve in gods). I can only speak for myself as someone constantly consumed with theological debates and the historicism of various religions: if I simply became content with my agnosticism, I would not be on this site, I would not be a student of Religious Studies, I would never pick up a Bible again, and I certainly would not be responding to you.

    When asked what preceded the Big Bang, a prominent scientist and atheist replied that it’s irrelevant, like asking “What is north of the North pole?” Of course there is something above the North Pole, north but on another plain.

    I didn’t realize science had a Pope. Again, personally, I am not a scientist and I could definitely go for a Big Bang event that was initiated by a divine entity. The problem then is what happen to that god?
    The difference between you and me is that I can accept a lack of knowledge – it is called, well, agnosticism. You, on the other hand, cannot accept this lack of knowledge, albeit you admit your lack of divinity. If you happen to be a YEC, you might believe something like your god creating an old-looking earth and universe instantaneously several thousand years ago. I admit that I believed the same thing. I did so because this is what my parents taught me was the most accurate reading of scripture. Which scenario, however, if you could see both sides, is sillier? On one hand you have a natural creation (as things continue to happen today), on the other you have a supernatural creation, which forces the Creator to appear as a deceiver of men.

    I am not God, by the way.

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • 40. The Apostate  |  June 1, 2008 at 12:15 am

    Jim,

    Does this not “knowing anything else” disqualify your conversio? It might well do so. Without a choice of what to believe in, what import to we give in what you believed in?

    You are an elitist snob who quite manufactures theology as you go along so it makes you feel comfortable about who gets “in” and who doesn’t. You obviously have no empathy for anyone but your “daughter and students.” I can quite as easily say to you that you are one of those who cry out “Lord, Lord” yet your voice will fall on deaf ears come judgment day just as you do to us. You have not backed up anything you say with scripture nor with one iota of coherent theology or philosophy.

  • 41. The Apostate  |  June 1, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Once again, Jim,

    Last, someone said the usual remark that they didn’t feel the love of God shining through in me. I am troubling the waters here. They need to be troubled. You need to think through your conclusions. If you are wrong, then the best thing for me to do is to challenge you.

    Yes, this was me.
    Yes, this is because I’ve actually read more than just a handful of Bible verses and tried to remember more than just the condemning, apocalyptic parts of the New Testament. You do not trouble any waters here. You are betting on a corrupt, immoral polytheistic godhead with a primitive mythology and spotty historical record. The only good in all of Christianity has been the call to a humanistic community, its radical pronouncements to love one’s own enemy, and to follow the moral commandments of the Jewish law. You seem to forget that almost every single condemnation found within the New Testament is towards fellow believers – not those outside of the brethren of Christ. Jim, it is people like you who force people to question their beliefs of a supposed loving community, since the only “Truth” that is left is found in the primitive church (since you just sucked out all of the joy, love, and grace of the church). The trouble is, they may find out that that Jesus may not have been the guy you thought he is, and his disciples, who passed along the myths we now know, were of the lying, deceitful, and ignorant sort.

    So trouble the waters all you want. But please, do so with at least an ounce of substance.

  • […] date, we’ve discussed Why d-C? (1) Answer the damn question Mr. Priest! and Why d-C? (2) Logical Problems with the […]

  • 43. Helen  |  June 1, 2008 at 7:23 am

    There’s a reason why de-conversion stories won’t necessarily have a conversion described in a way that satisfies (some) Christians.

    It’s because de-converted people no longer believe in conversion so they don’t describe it as Christians would.

    Anyway here’s my conversion story:

    When I was twenty years old I was living in student accommodation in which two of the other students were very active involved Christians. I was curious and one day asked one of them about being a Christian. What she told me perpetuated my curiosity. I got a Bible out of the library and read some of the gospels. I went to the Chaplaincy/Christian Union building and got a tract because I didn’t know ‘how to become a Christian’ and I wanted to know.

    Looking back on this time as a Christian it seemed like I must have been under the conviction of the Holy Spirit because I wanted a relationship with God but was nervous about the outward life changes involved – I’d have to go to church! I struggled with that for about a week and at the weekend in my mind I was thinking “I’m going to make a decision about this by the end of the weekend”. At 10:15 Sunday night I went to my room and prayed to Jesus, saying “If you’re real…I admit I’m a sinner, please forgive me and come into my life; I give my life to you”.

    At that time I felt a strong presence that looking back as a Christian I felt was the Holy Spirit/God confirming he WAS real. That was very exciting and convincing.

    I had known about the outward changes but not the inside ones I was to experience. I couldn’t get enough of the Bible – I read it and was moved and encouraged and convicted by it. It seemed like I found strength I never had before to forgive people and resist temptation – which improved my relationships. I did go to church and I loved being there where everyone was excited about Jesus and I could worship God with them.

    I listened to a series of Bible tapes available without charge to students, which taught me basic Bible doctrine (about the Trinity, salvation by grace alone through faith alone, etc) I didn’t even know about the Bible being the Word of God until I listened to those tapes – it was a huge shock to hear that. I just thought it was a book people thought was reliable about Jesus. It was a shock but I soon accepted it on the basis of “Why couldn’t God make a book inerrant if he wanted to? He can do anything!”

    So my conversion was accompanied by a lot of inward and outward change that at the time convinced me God was real and at work in me.

    That’s my conversion story which won’t necessarily satisfy Jim J but I thought I’d give it a go :)

    My attempts to articulate my de-conversion are here

  • 44. OneSmallStep  |  June 1, 2008 at 10:43 am

    **Does this not “knowing anything else” disqualify your conversio? It might well do so. Without a choice of what to believe in, what import to we give in what you believed in?**

    There are no doubt thousands of Christians today who are passionate believers who have also never known anything else — they have simply always believed (such as those who gave their life to Jesus at the age of 7 or 8). Does that disqualify their faith as well, because they apparently never had a choice? I actually have evangelical friends who have believed since that age. Is their faith invalid?

    **I am troubling the waters here. They need to be troubled. You need to think through your conclusions. If you are wrong, then the best thing for me to do is to challenge you.**

    If you come here and start telling them what they really were while a Christian, or the truth of what really happened — such as them trading in their skepticism, no one is going to listen to you. You’ll only come across as any other Christian who has told them that they were never a believer in the first place. You’ll come across as someone claiming to know them better than they knew themselves. From the stories I’ve read, those who de-converted researched heavily, questioned everything and pleaded with God to provide a sign that Christianity was real, and that God was real.

  • 45. DagoodS  |  June 1, 2008 at 11:00 am

    An illustration for any lurker on this topic…

    Imagine two people discussing their belief in the ability of parachutes to work.

    Person A: “I have tested the material in the laboratory and wind tunnel and it is sufficient to sustain the force of a person falling. I have tested the strength of the ropes and harness with numerous weights and experiments; I have tested the design with measurements. I am completely proficient in the history of parachuting, the various types, the persons who provide tales of their parachuting. I have taken graduate studies in the field, and written numerous articles and books on the topic.”

    Person B: “I believe parachutes work.” Straps on a parachute, hops on a plane, and jumps from 3000 feet.

    Who has the more convincing belief that parachutes work?

    See, Person B was us. We jumped from planes. We jumped from helicopters. We jumped from buildings, bridges and cliffs. We jumped into caves. We jumped in groups; we jumped alone. Sometimes it took every effort we had to jump; other times we jumped with ease. We taught others to jump. We learned from others how to jump better.

    We jumped and jumped and jumped.

    One day (the reasons vary per person) it was pointed out there was a hole in our parachute. We laughed it off. Whether there was or was not—that parachute had kept us alive in jump after jump after jump. Even if the hole was there (we doubted it was), it certainly was not affecting the ability of the parachute to work.

    Over time, the nagging question kept coming back—what about that hole? And so we entered the dangerous journey to discover there WAS a hole. And not just a pinprick—a gaping, huge, all-parachute encompassing hole.

    How was it we were able to live, with such a hole? It was then we look back and realize the plane and helicopter were only 2 feet off the ground. The buildings and bridges were only 5 feet tall. It was not that the parachute was working—we didn’t need a parachute. We were doing it on our own.

    We went back to our parachute club. We tried to explain how they didn’t need parachutes either. That we were only jumping from 5-foot cliffs, and we can survive on our own. They didn’t believe us, of course. Why should they? They had been jumping for years and living fine. They (like us) had been warned of the terrible consequences of unstrapping the parachute. To keep jumping with the parachute was safety. To take it off was death.

    But the one thing our parachute club NEVER does: Question the depth of our belief in the parachute. They are more puzzled, really. Hadn’t they jumped with us from 3000 feet? They knew we believed in the parachute; they had been with us the time the ropes became entangled on their parachute and we both thought they would die, but we swooped and buddy-jumped down on our parachute. They were with us when we parachuted into that cave, our ‘shutes brushing the walls only inches from certain collapse.

    They had jumped with us from what they believe was a bridge spanning a gorge 2 miles deep. They knew we believed; we jumped together way too many times for way too many decades to wonder over that. We were Person B. We strapped on a parachute, hopped on a plane, and jumped to certain death without a belief in a parachute.

    And then we interact with people from other parachute clubs. People who only know us by words on a computer screen. People from clubs who never jumped with us.

    And those people tell us we never believed in a parachute. It is our turn to be puzzled. We attempt to describe our studies in parachuting. We describe our jumps–what cliffs we jumped from, what heights we obtained. To no avail. It is never sufficient.

    We are told we never believed in the parachute in the first place.

    While, as a deconvert, I agree I never needed a parachute to live to this point in my life—that is not the question presented. I truly thought I was jumping from a 50-story building. I truly thought I was jumping to certain death without my parachute. The fact the building turned out to be only 5 feet is not the point. The point is what we believed the height of the building was.

    Unless you jumped with me, lived with me, believed with me–your words about my lack of belief in a parachute are empty, self-serving wind.

  • 46. Jim J  |  June 1, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Dagoods,
    So you jumped with a parachute…many times, only it really wasn’t there to begin with……and you survived. You seem to be making my point better than perhaps I have so far.

  • 47. Helen  |  June 1, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Jim, aren’t you going to tell me I wasn’t a real Christian either?

  • […] an interesting discussion taking place on one of our threads relating to whether or not “de-converts” were ever really ever converted in the first […]

  • 49. Badger3k  |  June 1, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Interesting comments, haven’t read them all, but one thing stood out to me. If “Conversion” is an ongoing process that seems to be more properly understood (as stated) as “Spiritual Growth”, then that would mean that there is never any conversion. At what point does growth stop? Isn’t that complete understanding, or is that the point where the “convert” decides he understands enough and that no further exploration is needed? When is a “convert” a “convert”?

    Furthermore, why does there have to be a “conversion” anyway? Most people are believers in the religion that they grew up in. How can you convert to something that you already are (except by making some arbitrary point in your life a conversion point). I was Roman Catholic, wanted to be a priest, but ended up becoming a skeptic deist-type, but had to admit finally that I am an atheist. No evidence and all that. I never had any conversion moment that I am aware of, just always believed what the priests and nuns had told.

    That’s an interesting point. Can someone who did not convert to Christianity (or another religion) then become an atheist actually be a “de-convert”? Are we just Apostates? I always figured that the “deconversion” label was used since it reflects the opposite of “conversion” stories. The idea that someone had to be a convert or had a conversion-moment seems to be based on a flawed understanding of the term as used by us. Unless I am mistaken in my understanding of the usage.

  • 50. Stephen P  |  June 1, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    I always figured that the “deconversion” label was used since it reflects the opposite of “conversion” stories. The idea that someone had to be a convert or had a conversion-moment seems to be based on a flawed understanding of the term as used by us.

    Precisely. It never ceases to bewilder me how fundamentalist Christians (and even some not-so-fundamentalist ones) can take an extraordinarily limited keyhole view of text in order to avoid understanding what is going on. They pull a single sentence of Gould or Eldridge or Dawkins out of context to supposedly demonstrate that the author thinks that evolution has not happened. They quote a verse of Isaiah as a prediction of Jesus, and ignore the rest of the chapter which shows that Isaiah was actually talking about the Assyrians. They quote half a verse of Hosea to the same effect, while ignoring the rest of the chapter which shows he was actually talking about the Exodus. And here Jim focuses on one single word in order to dodge the real issue: that many people were once Christians, and are no longer Christians, and have very good reasons for having changed their minds.

  • 51. TheNerd  |  June 1, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    None of them are what real de-conversions would be BY DEFINITION: proofs that God does not exist, because there are no proofs that God does not exist.

    Jim J…

    Wow.

    How can there be another definition of the phrase “de-convert” than “one who is no longer converted”?

    Convert is defined thusly on dictionary.com: n. (kŏn’vûrt’) One who has been converted, especially from one religion or belief to another.

    So if, for example, I was born without a religion, then I was lead by my parents to convert to Christianity in my childhood, then was lead by reading the Bible itself to leave Christianity, wouldn’t that make me a “de-convert”?

    If not, I’d ask you to kindly share a better definition of “de-convert” than the one I’ve given above.

  • 52. The Apostate  |  June 1, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Jim J continues:

    Dagoods,
    So you jumped with a parachute…many times, only it really wasn’t there to begin with……and you survived. You seem to be making my point better than perhaps I have so far.

    You know what Jim, maybe you are right. Maybe there was no parachute. Maybe we simply believed there was a parachute when there really wasn’t. That would make us, at one time, more or less, delusional (and I suppose we continue to be delusional about the history of our parachute jumping). But what comfort does this offer self-proclaimed Christians, such as yourself, that they have their parachute? Because apparently their are millions of ex-parachuters who never had parachutes in the first place, and are still really, according to you, confused about the matter. How do you know that you are not being tricked by your senses (or the devil) about your parachute?

  • 53. TheNerd  |  June 1, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Haha! That winky face was random! I wonder what other combinations of characters are converted to smilies?
    :) :P :( <3

    Ok, I’ll stop wasting the readers’ time with this little experiment now.

  • 54. karen  |  June 1, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Jim:

    How can this be a good point? How could we have believed in the same God if you now say he “cannot possibly be true”???? If he couldn’t possibly be true, how did you believe in him at all and why do most people still believe in God?

    First off, I never said god couldn’t possibly be true. In fact, I just posted an essay last week explaining that I don’t know if there’s a supernatural deity in the world, and I’m okay with not knowing.

    Second, you ask how could I believed in him at all? Very simple: I believed something in the past but I now think I was in error in that belief. It’s not very difficult to understand, unless you’ve never admitted you were wrong about something. Is that the problem here? Deconverts can admit they believed something erroneously and you can’t seem to wrap your mind around that because you’ve never been wrong about anything in your life?

    Karen writes—The blatant disrespect of so many Christians who deny that deconverts were ever truly converted is a major reason why it is difficult to let go of the contempt and anger once deconversion has taken place.

    If you were genuinely fooled for many years (you said 30) that’s reason enough for contempt and anger. Why should it matter if we think you’re full of baloney?

    I was genuinely fooled for 30 years and worse, I made many important life decisions based on that foolishness. So yes, I did have a lot of anger for several years. Fortunately, I’ve worked through that (with the help of therapy and some terrific friends both online and off) and I’m mostly content with my life now and can accept my personal history for what it is.

    Why should it matter if you think we’re full of baloney? It doesn’t, frankly. You’re going to hold to your opinion and it doesn’t really affect me, other than it gives me a lower opinion of your behavior and attitude. Fortunately, I’ve learned through interacting with lots of people online not to hold one person’s attitudes against other people who have the same basic beliefs.

    [And you obvously don’t respect our sensibilities, so why should I care about yours?]

    As a humanist, I believe people should respect others’ sensibilities simply as a matter of principle. If your ethical values, or religious morals, don’t include respecting other people, then I think you’re the poorer for that lack of respect. Though I can’t say I’m surprised, given the aggressively nasty disrespect you’re displaying in this thread.

    As a visitor to our online community, it would get you a much better response if you showed some civility and politeness.

    and tossed away your skepticism and traded it in for the ugly orthodoxy characterized by this blog.

    LOL – we tossed away our skepticism for the Big Ugly Orthodoxy of the de-conversion blog? Yes, because there is such pressure exerted on our personal lives from our sanctified hierarchy of Ordained Posters and our infallible leader, His Holiness The de-Convert (blessed be his name for ever and ever … ) ;-)

    None of them are what real de-conversions would be BY DEFINITION: proofs that God does not exist, because there are no proofs that God does not exist.

    You’re taking a word with a common understanding and twisting it to fit a completely different definition that you seem to have made up to suit your own purposes.

    Deconverts are people who once believed sincerely in some (typically religious) proposition and now no longer believe.

    Simple, right? It has nothing to do with “proving” god does or doesn’t exist. As an agnostic atheist, I don’t claim to prove god doesn’t exist. But I have concluded that there isn’t enough proof for me to believe, while acknowledging that other people may find proof sufficient to pass the bar of their own belief system.

  • 55. karen  |  June 1, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Dagoods:

    While, as a deconvert, I agree I never needed a parachute to live to this point in my life—that is not the question presented. I truly thought I was jumping from a 50-story building. I truly thought I was jumping to certain death without my parachute. The fact the building turned out to be only 5 feet is not the point. The point is what we believed the height of the building was.

    Unless you jumped with me, lived with me, believed with me–your words about my lack of belief in a parachute are empty, self-serving wind.

    What a great analogy, Dagoods! Thanks.

    Yes, those people who prayed with me, came to my home every week for bible study, went on retreats with me, laid hands on me and ministered alongside me have no doubt about my sincerity during those 30 years.

    In fact, some of them still think I’m “one of the fold” and – for various reasons – I’ve yet to disabuse them of that notion. Interestingly enough, not one of them has asked why I no longer radiate the holy spirit in my life, despite the fact that I don’t attend church, don’t pray before meals and don’t speak “Christian-ese” anymore (i.e., throwing all those “lord willings” and “praise god!” exclamations into my speech).

  • 56. Robert  |  June 1, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    The No True Scotsman fallacy; we deconverts are quite familiar with it. I wonder if our extimonies give any Christians cause for worry. See, if a person can be sincere in their faith but later deconvert then how can any Christian now be sure they won’t at some point deconvert? Do Christians believe deconverts were “faking it”?

    How do you know YOU won’t deconvert, Jim? How can you be sure YOU are “saved”? (Any answer you give can be countered by pointing out that many deconverts once gave the same reasons.)

  • 57. wordsseldomsaid  |  June 1, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    i agree with jim jordon..good stuff …all i have heard from the othewr side is names and slanders(delussional ect ect), remarks about how others must be ignorant while they wish to believe in their own minds that they are know it all, and …nothing more really…NO

    people who deconvert were never converted…they are not leaving faith because they had none to start with…

  • 58. wordsseldomsaid  |  June 1, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    robert said,
    “How can you be sure YOU are “saved”? (Any answer you give can be countered by pointing out that many deconverts once gave the same reasons.)”

    completely irrelevent case you failing to make sir…completely void of reason and makes no matter on the issue either way….to point out others played church once and it did not work does not counter anything to do with jim’s walk of faith or anyone elses…

    it is nothing more than an attempt to make others fit your designed wishes…silly…

  • 59. Zoe  |  June 1, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    During my 20 years in Baptist Churches, we were told the Pentecostals weren’t real Christians. Catholics were virtually anti-Christs, Mormons were a cult, completely deluded and woulld never ever be Christians, Presbyterians were carnal Christians and not true believers, heck even inside the Baptist Churches, people argued about whether the other was a Christianor not. :-)

    It’s nothing new.

  • 60. Obi  |  June 1, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Petty religious foolishness is what it is. Grow out of the delusion guys, it will do you worlds of good.

  • 61. Zoe  |  June 1, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    On the other hand, I can’t remember any Christian telling me I’m talking out of my anus. That’s a new one. :mrgreen:

  • 62. Jonathan Blake  |  June 1, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    I was going to mention the No True Scotsman fallacy, but Robert beat me to it. In short, here’s what the fallacy is from the Wikipedia summary:

    Argument: “No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
    Reply: “But my uncle Angus, who is a Scotsman, likes sugar with his porridge.”
    Rebuttal: “Aye, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”

    It’s pointless to get suckered into arguing this point because the other person can always claim that you weren’t a true X.

    It’s also pointless to base your beliefs on this basis. Since you’re the example du jour, Jim, you’ll never know how converted someone was because you can’t judge a person’s heart. Unless you define conversion as committing to a religion and then never permanently changing your mind (an overly strict, argumentative definition that isn’t how it’s used in everyday speech), then it would be more honest to yourself to accept that perhaps people who are truly converted can be de-converted.

  • 63. Jim J  |  June 1, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    The No True Scotsman analogy is cute – like the nonexistent parachute analogy – but it doesn’t fit your argument either. Were it to fit, it would say that a Scotsman came to believe that Scotland didn’t exist. I would then say that is not a true Scotsman…and I’d be right! :-)

    Another thing, Mr. Dagoods wants us to trust that he is correct is saying that he was once deluded…and now he sees clearly. Before he believed in a transcendant moral law, and he now says that was a delusion. In his current state he claims there is no transcendant moral law because there can be no transcendant moral lawgiver. That leaves two gaping holes.
    1) How can we know that Dagoods is not deluded this time.
    2) If he truly believes there is no transcendant moral law than what’s the difference? Why is he and for that matter all of you “de-converts” proclaiming your truth if your conclusion is that there is no truth? Sounds like a faux gospel to me.

    Last, we have a mind and a brain. The brain will be eaten by worms or cremated, but your mind, that thing that you change even though you can’t change your brain, either stops working like an old watch or it moves on. The reason I said earlier that the evidence points to God while it can’t prove him was that the order and creativity in the universe we see is mind. It is not brain. The human genome is a product of mind, not chance. If you really could prove the non-existence of God, it would be to prove that there is no mind. Good luck.

    And Scotland exists, by the way. Cheers.

  • 64. Jonathan Blake  |  June 2, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Jim,

    Since you seem determined to misunderstand :) let me provide a translation:

    Argument: “No Christian would doubt the existence of God.”
    Reply: “But my uncle Angus, who was a Christian, now doubts that God exists.”
    Rebuttal: “Aye, but no truly converted Christian would ever doubt God.”

    That is the substance of what you’ve been saying.

    And just so you don’t feel singled out, here’s a group of Mormons (my personal flavor of former religion) saying pretty much the same things you’re saying here.

    Regarding delusion, I accept that I may be deluded. It’s an inescapable reality that we can’t know for certain about most of our beliefs. In general, however, human fallibility is an argument toward agnosticism, not theism.

  • 65. Maxine  |  June 2, 2008 at 12:53 am

    According to our Bible–God created the world (with Jesus help) . God gave the Old Covenant to MOses, but also had Moses express Tods words as saying, that later there would be another prophet , “like unto Moses” that would bring another Covenant” and “Hear ye Him”. This prophet would be of their own people (Hebrew). God sent his own Son , Jesus, to bring us the New Covenant. Jesus was a Hebrew and a prophet like unto MOses. Either Jesus was a liar or the great Prophet–Because Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. Jesus claimed to be bringing the message directly from his Father, God–to the people of earth. Among the New Testament teachings, it relates that Jesus was this later prophet that had been prophesiied several times in the Old Testament Scriptures. Galations 1:6-9 tells us that , “If anyone brings another Gospel, than that which has been taught, let him be accursed. As I said before,even if an angel from heaven brings any other Gospel than what has been taught, let him be accursed” This clearly says that there would be no more Covenants. The New Testament _which Jesus told the Apostles and the other inspired writers, to written from what God , himself, told Jesus to tell us. Since Jesus was willing, and did , die onthe cross to bring us this message–As God directed–then we should believe as our Father, God has directed us, vie His Son , Jesus. Many religions, claim to follow the Bible, New Testament included, yet add lots of other stuff–after the Apostles assured us–If anyone teaches another Gospel, Let him be accursed==. The people that lived in the days of Jesus, That heard and saw his miracles–After Jesus raised from the dead (so they knew he was the Son of God ) The nail prints in his hands etc. AFter his ressurection, the Apostles took courage, and believed because Jesus sent the comforter, (The Holy Spjirit) on the Day of Penticost) ss he had promised. Now, some days, there was 3,000 persons baptixed in one day.
    I had a person send me 4 or 5 pages , single spaced, of so-called contradictions in the Bible. Within a few days, I had shown where many , many of them were no contradiction at all. I am not a Bible Scholar, I am a 75 yrear old widow. There is a $5,000 reward offered to anyone that can prove just one contradiction in the Bible. No-one has collected it yet, and it has been out there for many years. Catholics can find where their Bible contradicts some of the teachings of their Church–but not the Bible. . No other person has ever lived that has changed the world as much as the life and death of Jesus. Our calenday, and dating system, AD and BC. No more sacrificings, More books about Jesus, and His words as in the Bible. No other book in the world is as popular or has been read by as many people. We now recognize the great love of Jesus. The Mystery spoken of in the Old Testament has been clearly laid out in the New Testament. The Mystery is the Gospel, and the life and teachings of Jesus. We are blessed to have lived during this age. Look for a Church that teaches nothing but the Bible, including the Old and New Testaments (Covenants). Yes, there are some. Read each letter in the New Testament as you would read any other letter (from front to back) then go back and study itens if ubterest, We believe, readily enough that George Washington was our first president, without nit picking everything written about it. Yet how many people take verses of the Bible out of context, Grab a statement here and half a sentance somewhere else to probve anything they wish to prove. That isn’t being fair with the Bible. “My Word will never pass away.Says God. Only foolish people would try to get away with changing the Words of God. He created us and holds the keys to our future.

  • 66. Jim J  |  June 2, 2008 at 1:03 am

    I’m not misunderstanding anything, Jonathan. Do you really think that a personal preference to putting sugar over porridge is analagous to the existence of God? This is not an issue of taste but of a life-altering commitment. The true convert has eexperienced the reality of God. They have felt his spirit more and more times as tme goes on. God is their nationailty as in “citizenship in Heaven”.

    In fact, my analogy that the Scotsmen now doesn’t believe Scotland exists is spot on. He now says Scotland is merely a cultural construct within the concept of Great Britain. That is not a Scotsman and the de-convert was never a convert.

    I am not only skeptical of your conversions, I am impugning them categorically.

  • 67. Maxine  |  June 2, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Answer to Johnathan. There are many reasons why a Christian can fall from Grace–doubt God,or whatever you wish to call it.
    I figure I was a sincere Christian. Loved Studying the Bible, Praying, teaching Bible Clases, working in Bible Campms, You name it. I was positive, there was a God. BUT–I hd a devastating few years of problems, including a husband that I learned was unfaithful. I would not ever have believee it if I had not found out myself – so it was conclusive. I left him with our two children–for some time. It really tore me up. I continued to take my children to Church although, I got nothing out of the sermons, or Bible Studies. My prayers seemed empty. I was doubting God. No, not blaming Him for my problems. But I was so consumed with greif and hurts. It can happen. In time the kies and I went back to my husband, but it would never be the same again.

  • 68. Maxine  |  June 2, 2008 at 1:46 am

    Answer to Johnathan. There are many reasons why a Christian can fall from Grace–doubt God,or whatever you wish to call it.
    I figure I was a sincere Christian. Loved Studying the Bible, Praying, teaching Bible Clases, working in Bible Campms, You name it. I was positive, there was a God. BUT–I hd a devastating few years of problems, including a husband that I learned was unfaithful. I would not ever have believee it if I had not found out myself – so it was conclusive. I left him with our children–for some time. It really tore me up. I continued to take my children to Church although, I got nothing out of the sermons, or Bible Studies. My prayers seemed empty. I was doubting God. No, not blaming Him for my problems. But I was so consumed with greif and hurts. It can happen. In time the kies and I went back to my husband, but it would never be the same again.
    I have several family members of the Herbert Armstrong Seven Day Church of God—that when their leader died–and later persons that took over that Church–changing several articles of Faith—caused many of the members to break off, and in my own family, Many oar doubting Goe and or doubting that the Bible is God’s Word, or just plain disillusioned and disinterested. Incidents like this can take the starch out of many persons, that have tried to take some path to sensible beliefs–and find what they have been taught, is not what they find in the Bible. Many religious persons start studying their Bibles, and learn that what they are being taught by their leaders, do not reflect what the New Testament (New Covenant) is teaching for this dispensation. They start looking for the Truth, and give up to soon. They become disallusioned. Many have been a part of a Church that does not encourage them to study the Bible for themselves. Some Churches are still having secret beliefs. God gave his Word FREE to everyone. No secrets. The Apostles were chozen from the common everyday people like most of us–so their writings would be easily understood. We just need to study it. Jesus said, his simple methods of teaching–would confound the wise.
    Some Churches try to teach the New Testament translated into Hebrew. They claim the Apostles were Hebrews. Yes, that is true, but a study of history of that period of time will show that the Greeks had taken over that country for the past 300 years or so before Christ came. They changed their culture and many other things. They did most of the writing, were doctors etc. So most of the New Testament is written in Greek. When they translate it to Hebrew, often it is to make us think they are so wise. I have a workbook that was used by a Hebrew class. It relates how many, many persons that study Hebrew and Greek–do it to look wise beyond their real intelligence. They use Greek or Hebrew to make people believe they know what they are talking about – so most people automatically believe what they say and do not question it. Often, theat is the very reason why they use it. Next time you have someone that tries to make the words of the Bible look like something other than the simple wording—be suspect. Usually the translation can have several meanings–much like our language. If you do not know the idions of that language, it is not possible to translate it.
    Yes, there are many readons why some people lose their faith. But that doesn’t nullify the Bible–just because some fall from faith. Those persons still have an advocate with the Father–and God continues to reach down to pull them up—all they have to do is reach out to Him. God is always there.
    but God does not force anyone to be saved. If you are not happy being with God’s people on earth–you would probably not be happy being with them in Heaven. We are people with a free will. Some religions will kill anyone that does not believe like they do. They will even kill their own people if they learn they change faiths. What kind of God would want His people to do that. Even some of the predominant Catholic nations—make life miserable for the Christians that try to teach some thing besides CAthoilicism in that country. Even to killing them, at times. They make a claim to Christianity.

  • 69. Robert  |  June 2, 2008 at 1:51 am

    “completely irrelevent case you failing to make sir…completely void of reason and makes no matter on the issue either way….to point out others played church once and it did not work does not counter anything to do with jim’s walk of faith or anyone elses…

    it is nothing more than an attempt to make others fit your designed wishes…silly…”

    Looks like it went right over your head.

  • 70. Robert  |  June 2, 2008 at 1:57 am

    “Last, we have a mind and a brain. The brain will be eaten by worms or cremated, but your mind, that thing that you change even though you can’t change your brain, either stops working like an old watch or it moves on. The reason I said earlier that the evidence points to God while it can’t prove him was that the order and creativity in the universe we see is mind. It is not brain. The human genome is a product of mind, not chance. If you really could prove the non-existence of God, it would be to prove that there is no mind. Good luck.”

    Wow, and this person said my post was silly.

    Prove the non-existence of God? You should know better than that. The burden of proof is on *you*. As for the order and creativity in the universe, does that include the wonderful Ebola virus? Or polio? How about devastating earthquakes or tornadoes? Genetic abnormalities? Spitting cobras? Mosquitoes? Are all those things evidence of intelligent design?

    Praise Him!

  • 71. darek  |  June 2, 2008 at 2:15 am

    Jim,

    Given all the arguments about who or what was a “truly converted” christian, how would you define one? How would you know a true christian?

    Sorry if this is a repeat question and you’ve already answered…this is a long thread. It just doesn’t seem so difficult a stretch to assume that if people can change their minds (or commitments) once, they can change it again. Or 5 times. People do it with other things – marriages, jobs, organizations, etc.

    Also, I know many christians who do not believe “once saved, always saved” and will point to verses in the bible to prove their point.

    For example: Hebrews 6:4

    Darek

  • 72. Helen  |  June 2, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Darek, Jim said this:

    The true convert has experienced the reality of God. They have felt his spirit more and more times as tme goes on. God is their nationailty as in “citizenship in Heaven”.

    I expect that described everyone here for a while, hence, as we have been saying, we all were converts at one time.

    Christians set an unrealistic standard for conversion stories, which is that deconverts describe their Christian conversion and experience just like Christians would.

    Of course they aren’t going to do that because if they did they’d still be Christian.

    Looking at Jim’s quote above, no deconvert is going to say “I felt the reality of God” without a disclaimer.

    It’s obvious but evidently it trips up lots of Christians who use the failure to explain Christian experience exactly as they would as an excuse to say “You were never a Real Christian!”

    I don’t expect those Christians are going to change because a) if they believe “once saved always saved” it threatens their theology if people are deconverting from True Christianity – and that can’t be allowed b) if they don’t believe “once saved always saved” then it’s scary to see that people can deconvert (and then be hell bound) – it means it could happen to them. That’s not something they want to know.

    So they will continue to make excuses to protect their emotional security and their belief system.

    It’s annoying but I try not to let it get to me. If they want to be wrong I guess that’s their choice. It’s an odd one for people who claim they are committed to the Truth – if they are why deny what we’re telling them that’s true? But I already gave reasons why.

    I’m glad I can take other people at their word.

  • 73. LeoPardus  |  June 2, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Wondered if any of you followed the link to Jim J’s website.

    Quite a hodge-podge of end-times silliness that he apparently genuinely believes. I’m sure most of us recall our own period of end-times obsession. Jim’s in a very immature stage of the faith. Eventually most grow out of it, but the process can take years.

    Meanwhile, is it even possible to have a sane conversation with someone who believes that idiocy? No, it isn’t.

    Y’all go have a look at his page.

  • 74. Zoe  |  June 2, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Jim said: “[…] that thing that you change even though you can’t change your brain, […] ”

    Now this is an interesting comment. I wonder Jim if you might elaborate on just what you mean here? Are you saying, the mind can’t be changed? Are you saying that, though we say we’ve changed, we can’t because it’s impossible to do, because the “mind” is unchangeable?

    And this part here, “[…] either stops working like an old watch or it moves on” […], how does this part relate to the previous part of your statement? At first, it appears you are saying the brain is unchangeable, unless of course, it stops (dies) or moves on (not sure where it moves to, do you mean it’s eternal destination?)

  • 75. Zoe  |  June 2, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Leo, I’m aware. :-) But since he dropped in, I couldn’t resist.

  • 76. Jim J  |  June 2, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Robert said, “You should know better than that. The burden of proof is on *you*.”

    Nonsense. The burden of proof is on anyone who wants to convince the other. The burden of proof is on the head of each person.

    Helen wrote, “Looking at Jim’s quote above, no deconvert is going to say “I felt the reality of God” without a disclaimer.”

    That’s exactly my point, thank you. Perhaps it wasn’t as clear then but there was something amiss in their hearts that has become clearer now. For exhibit A I reprint Robert’s little rant as evidence:

    “How about devastating earthquakes or tornadoes? Genetic abnormalities? Spitting cobras? Mosquitoes? Are all those things evidence of intelligent design?

    Praise Him!”

    Yeah, that was a true believer at one time! Sounds more like he was a Matthew 7:20-22 Christian. I also presume you can make a better cobra or mosquito.

    Helen wrote, “I’m glad I can take other people at their word.”

    Unless of course they disagree with you. If I gave you my testimony you would no doubt say I was delusional. You would not take me at my word.

    Darek,
    I’m not advocating a “once saved, always saved” point of view. I’m employing logic, not theology here. A real conversion is a commitment to walk with God in all circumstances. And He is there, giving answers and often pushing back, correcting us for wrong thinking.

    Someone who later claims that those warm feelings of good will and visions were the result of some physical anomaly, something between religious excitement and indigestion, is not being honest with themselves in my opinion. And the writer of Hebrews 6 agrees btw, Darek. Regards.

  • 77. Jim J  |  June 2, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Just saw this by LeoPardus, “Quite a hodge-podge of end-times silliness that he apparently genuinely believes.”

    That doesn’t sound like my webpage. I never obsess over end-times. I’m too busy. :-)

  • 78. Jonathan Blake  |  June 2, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Do you really think that a personal preference to putting sugar over porridge is analagous to the existence of God?

    I think you’re getting hung up on the porridge thing. The No True Scotsman fallacy is a flawed form of argument, not an analogy to disbelief in God or whatever. The porridge thing is just an illustration of the form of the argument.

    Here’s the original illustration:

    Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the “Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again.” Hamish is shocked and declares that “No Scotsman would do such a thing.” The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again and this time finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, “No true Scotsman would do such a thing.”
    —Antony Flew, Thinking about Thinking, 1975

  • 79. Andrea  |  June 2, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Jim J

    The No True Scotsman analogy is cute – like the nonexistent parachute analogy – but it doesn’t fit your argument either. Were it to fit, it would say that a Scotsman came to believe that Scotland didn’t exist. I would then say that is not a true Scotsman…and I’d be right!

    I never said I don’t believe in Scotland, only that I don’t agree with the requirements for citizanship. I most definitely was a Scotsman at one point, but I disagreed with how Parliament was interpreting the constitution, and as things never changed I left the country. That doesn’t mean I was never a “true Scotsman” to being with!

    I never said I don’t believe in God, I’ve only ever said God did not write (or inspire others to write) the Bible. I don’t belive in the validity of CHRISTIANITY (and I most definitely once did), but I believe there may very well be a god, and there is most definitely a powerful Christian movement. Therefore, the “No True Scotsman” is PERFECT analogy for how you are trying to refute my deconversion.

    Besides, “man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart”. Please leave the heart-appraisels to God and God alone. It is not for any mere mortal to tell another that one is or is not a “true” Christian at any point in one’s life.

  • 80. Helen  |  June 2, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Jim J wrote: [You take people at their word] Unless of course they disagree with you. If I gave you my testimony you would no doubt say I was delusional. You would not take me at my word.

    Actually I wouldn’t. I just wouldn’t share your certainty that God is real, talking to you and changing your life. Since I don’t have that certainty. I wouldn’t say you’re delusional.

    I do think you’re being unreasonable to dismiss Christian experience described by people who aren’t Christians that you’d accept if a Christian told you about it.

    Someone who later claims that those warm feelings of good will and visions were the result of some physical anomaly, something between religious excitement and indigestion, is not being honest with themselves in my opinion.

    What you just described could be (from a Christian point of view) a Christian in denial. Yet you are declaring such a person never was a Christian.

    I’m employing logic, not theology here.

    I disagree. I would say you absolutely are absolutely employing theology – your theology, which says no-one who is a Real Christian would ever change their mind.

    That’s simply a belief and it’s a belief not borne out by the evidence here. Yet you hold onto it tenaciously.

  • 81. The Apostate  |  June 2, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Maxine
    Where can I collect the $5000?
    I suppose I would have to define the word “contradiction” for even the most simplest of creatures before making my case.
    The problem is not so much finding the contradictions – they are a plenty (of all sorts). The problem is holding a coherent perspective of the Bible, without addition or subtraction (as I am sure that the explanations of the contradictions always do – I know, because I use to do it myself). The doctrine of the Trinity, a non-biblical entity, was manufactured in this way, since it needed to explain how Jesus could be a divine “lesser” at one time, while still being “one” with God (John 10:30, 14:28), among other issues. Of course, I stay away from such arguments with believers because they will simply give the “my God is a Big God, who disobeys the logic of man” argument. Fair enough. A God who could not transcend logic would hardly be a god at all! But then again, what use is the word “contradiction” – which employs our earthly logic – to criticize a god that is beyond it?

    So Maxine, can you tell me who’s son was Joseph, the father of Jesus? Was it Heli (as in Luke 3:23, whose flawed history of the early church also contains numerous inaccuracies about Paul) or was it Jacob (as in Matthew 1:16)? Or was Joseph the result of “Two Daddies”, which would make a great case for progressive Christianity’s acceptance of homosexuals.

    Could you also explain to me whether James, an apparently well-versed Jewish writer who had no love for the result of Paul’s heresies concerning morality, contradicted the the proposed “J” writer of Genesis when stating that God is not the author of temptation (cp. Gen. 22:1 and James 1:13).

    How many witnesses was there to Christ’s resurrection and ascension?
    1 Corinthians 15:5 says 12. Mathew 27:3-5 says 12 minus 1. Acts 1:9-26 says that Mathias was not elected until after the resurrection. Matthew 28:16 says 11.

    Do I bother with the many conflicts between Kings and Chronicles and other histories within the Jewish scriptures? Must I write an essay summarizing what has already been elucidated in many journals and books about the radical divergences in theology within the New Testament itself, even after Christians have long disposed of any remnant of their hijacked Jewish heritage?

    The reason that $5000 will never be received is because the person holding the cheque cannot, and will not, come to see the most basic or the complex contradictions in the scriptures. It is something that can only discovered once one wants to hold the same standard or criticism they hold over nonbelievers, Jews, Muslims, “cults,” Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc. to their own beliefs. The fact is, you have a double standard of skepticism. Treat Christianity as you treat every other religion and philosophy, and you will find it for yourself.

  • 82. Kim  |  June 2, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Jim,

    It is obvious from the above thread that no decoversion story submitted will ever be acceptable to you. You dismiss them out of hand. You are not doing yourself or your religion any favors coming on here antagonizing people. Indirectly telling people here they are liars does not help either!! Maybe it gives you a thrill to come here to get all those pansy atheists all riled up? It probably helps you and many others like you to sleep at night knowing that those who left Christianity were not in fact “Real” Christians.

    Christianity has a built in denial mechanism (1 John 2:19) that allows those on the inside to not have to deal with the uncomfortable reality that people have found its basic tenants to be false. With this denial mechanism the Christian can claim “See, those apostates were never Christian, they were never one of us and as could not have truly experienced God like I have!!”. This belief helps the Christian maintain their belief that their religion and god are perfect….after all a person who truly believes will never deconvert.

    Jim, I know you love to battle the atheists on this forum and many others, its fun! You know are our arguments and you have tacked them many times. You know your apologetics very well, congratulations!!!. I get the sense from reading your many posts that from your point of view you feel you have experienced “God”. The bottom line is that on a fundamental level Christianity works for YOU in your life! But that does not make it true! Since Christianity works for you you will not accept anything that will undermine your belief system. I am sure you will deny this and give us some platitudes about your personal experience with god. I can find people like you in any religion and the power of their belief has absolutely convinced them….don’t make it true though.

    Jim, this is where we fundamentally disagree. Your religion did not work for us. Many here have poured their life and soul into Christianity, but in the end we have found your religion and imaginary god to not work on so many levels that we believe it to be utterly false.

  • 83. Frederick Polgardy  |  June 2, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    I’m entering the discussion kind of late. While I consider myself an ex-Christian, I do believe that Jim J has one valid point – most of the reasons I hear people giving for leaving Christianity are based on either 1) bad experiences they’ve had with particular people or churches, or 2) bad information they received when they were Christians, which they have since grown to disbelieve. (By “bad information” I mean answers to theological questions that are actually incorrect, or at least naive and immature, from a Christian perspective.) If your Sunday School teacher said that the sun is yellow because angels painted it that way, then that teacher was full of shit, and that answer isn’t a particularly good reason to leave Christianity. Leave Christianity because you no longer believe what Christianity actually teaches.

    But c’mon Jim, let’s not quibble over words here. We know that, by your definition, a converted person can’t technically de-convert. Hell, even as someone who lived the first 25 years of my life as a passionate Bible believer, praying earnestly for God to take hold of my life and make me more like Jesus every day, I can accept your technical definition for the sake of argument. Alright then, so I was never technically a Christian by whatever theological criteria you want to set forth. What we’re calling de-conversion doesn’t have to be that technical. It’s enough for us to say that we had a Christian belief system, a Christian prayer and devotional life, a Christian moral lifestyle, etc., etc., for a large part of our lives, and then we left it because we no longer could accept its ways of looking at the world. That’s all we mean and you know it, so stop the theological nitpicking that most of us really don’t want to do anymore.

    Sincerely,
    -Fred

  • 84. Jonathan Blake  |  June 2, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Jim,

    I must admit that I sympathize. When I hear about a person who once accepted the theory of evolution and later comes to believe in young earth creationism (just an example, I don’t want to open a can of worms here), I am severely tempted to doubt that they ever truly understood evolution.

    I think it rankles me because I find evolution to be almost self-evident once you hear the evidence (I was once a young earth creationist). To have someone who understands evolution and yet rejects it casts doubt on how undeniable it truly is. It doesn’t allow me to blissfully assume that anyone who rejects the theory of evolution is just uninformed.

    It’s hard for me to accept that people can see the same evidence, have the same experiences, and yet come to opposite conclusions. I wish I could say “If you had the same experiences that I have, then you wouldn’t believe the way you do” to someone who believes differently. People aren’t that simple.

  • 85. Cthulhu  |  June 2, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Helen,

    I’m employing logic, not theology here.

    I disagree. I would say you absolutely are absolutely employing theology – your theology, which says no-one who is a Real Christian would ever change their mind.

    Well said…Jim doesn’t understand physics/cosmology…

    You can imagine there were causes for the Big Bang that came from other causes and they came from causes but you still have to get the ball rolling. The ball couldn’t have “always” been rolling.

    or the rules of logic…

    God is the necessary uncaused cause.

    or his own religious texts…

    Conversion is also an ongoing process; growing in one’s faith.

    I think Jim feels threatened – both by de-conversion and science…

    ___________________________________________________

    Maxine,

    There is a $5,000 reward offered to anyone that can prove just one contradiction in the Bible.

    Who is offering this and how do I apply – if truly doubt an honest offer exists or Bart Ehrman would have collected long ago. But tell me who and where and I will collect the %5000 or prove the offer dishonest.

  • 86. Cthulhu  |  June 2, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    #81 The Apostate,

    darn – you beat me to the ‘Submit’ button :-)

  • 87. Helen  |  June 2, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Thanks Cthulhu.

  • 88. Stephen P  |  June 2, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I hereby offer a $50 reward to anyone who can prove that there is a $5000 reward available to anyone proving a contradiction in the bible.

  • 89. DagoodS  |  June 2, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    The Apostate: Where can I collect the $5000?

    You can’t.

    I can find no such offer listed anywhere. I was curious as to the set of criteria that would be used.

    Actually, I could set up such an offer and easily never hand out a shekel. All I would need is set the barrier so low for a resolution to contradictions (lower than any other standard for any other document) as well as introduce the ever-possible escape route of “copyist error.” (To get rid of the niggling number problems.) I think it would look like this:

    “I will pay $5,000 to any person who demonstrates a contradiction, either internal or external, within the 66 books of the Protestant Bible, as written in the original autographs. By ‘contradiction’ I mean there is no logical possibility to rectify the statement with another statement in another book. The writing must be considered in the original authors’ intent. Poetry for poetry. Proverb for Proverb. Legend for Legend.”

    See, by allowing any logical possibility, one can resolve every possible contradiction. It is “logically possible” the genealogy of Luke was that of Mary—thus no contradiction. It is “logically possible” God’s testing of Abraham was a test; not a temptation. It is “logically possible” Jesus appeared to his disciples on 1,217 occasions, of which only a few were recorded separately by different authors. It is “logically possible” the words “the Twelve” was a designation, not a specific count. (Actually, I believe that last one.)

    And if, by some measure you ever were able to find some situation I could not possibly come up with a logical explanation, I could always claim you have to show it was in the original autographs. What–Don’t have ‘em? No money for you!

    My personal favorite is the attempted resolution of whether Jesus died on Passover which claims, under the guise of “logical possibility” that the Judeans measured their days by sundown to sundown (true), the Romans measured their days by midnight to midnight (true) and the Galileans measured their days by sunup to sunup (absolutely, positively no proof of this whatsoever EXCEPT completely made up by those trying to generate a resolution. They even admit there is no proof!)

    Then, when reading John, if we insert Roman Time in certain verses, Judean time in other certain verses, and Galilean time in even other verses—then we have a logical possibility of a resolution. (Even though the author uses Roman Time everywhere else.)

    Bizarre, huh?

  • 90. Cthulhu  |  June 2, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    DagoodS,

    Bizarre, huh?

    You bet! The ability of Christians to suspend disbelief is amazing to me (I am amazed now that I could do it for so long). Once I actually read the bible (along with the apologetic arguments trying to rectify the numerous blunders in it) with a skeptical eye, I was unable to suspend mine any longer.

  • 91. Frederick Polgardy  |  June 2, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    DagoodS-

    I’m totally with you on the impossibility of resolving all the arcane details of the gospels. But – unless you happen to be a verbal inerrancy fundamentalist – most Christians don’t consider that kind of journalistic accuracy to be the point of the story. (And it isn’t.)

    A person of faith can continue to believe the basic framework of the gospels without needing to worry about which day this or that event occurred in which gospel account, and how to harmonize it all. The early Christians already knew the gospels couldn’t be harmonized in the second century, and resisted attempts to do so precisely because they wanted to allow each story to speak on its own and have its own internal consistency. They knew silly details were silly details, a fact which we seem to have forgotten.

    My point isn’t to hold up the gospel narratives in some kind of idealistic way, but to focus the importance on why we’re here. Did you really de-convert because you couldn’t harmonize Roman Time, Judean Time, and Galilean Time in the Gospel of John? What a nitpick to base your faith or lack of faith upon.

    I didn’t de-convert because I could no longer harmonize narrative “conflicts” – but because I no longer considered the basic framework of the gospels to be true. I didn’t de-convert because Jesus has a different lineage in Matthew and Luke – but because I no longer consider the story of Jesus to be even basically true. I consider it true in a symbolic sense, a mytho-poetic sense, a number of metaphorical senses, and probably other ways – but not in the one basic way that the Christian religion asserts is the basic one. And so I am not a Christian.

    -Fred

  • 92. Jim Jordan  |  June 2, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Jonathan wrote, “I must admit that I sympathize. When I hear about a person who once accepted the theory of evolution and later comes to believe in young earth creationism (just an example, I don’t want to open a can of worms here), I am severely tempted to doubt that they ever truly understood evolution.

    That’s much closer to what I’m talking about. YEC is not supported by the evidence and not demanded by the text that supposedly affirms it. There is much more evidence for what we call evolution, which is change over a much greater period of time.

    Turning that to this debate, I am saying that the de-converts didn’t have a complete understanding of what Christianity is saying. YEC is little better than believing that there is no transcendent intelligence in the universe in my opinion.

    Fred writes…”That’s all we mean and you know it, so stop the theological nitpicking that most of us really don’t want to do anymore.”

    I was wondering what you believe now. After a few years of nitpicking the same scriptures for holes, what then?

    Going all the way back to the original post by Kieran, I recall that the most common reason for leaving the faith was a lack of intelligent answers from their parents and teachers. I gather though that at this point no answer would be good enough. Sounds familiar.

    I’ve enjoyed this challenge and I hope y’all have too. I’ve got to get back to work. Cheers.

  • 93. Jim Jordan  |  June 2, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    One more thing, Leopardus wrote…”Wondered if any of you followed the link to Jim J’s website.

    Quite a hodge-podge of end-times silliness that he apparently genuinely believes.”

    That could not possibly have been my web site. There’s a warning about being obsessed with the end-times, something about “no one knows the day or the hour”. Check again.

  • 94. Frederick Polgardy  |  June 2, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Fred writes…”That’s all we mean and you know it, so stop the theological nitpicking that most of us really don’t want to do anymore.”

    I was wondering what you believe now. After a few years of nitpicking the same scriptures for holes, what then?

    I think I answered your question at a high level in my last comment. :-)

    Anyway, I don’t disrespect anyone for having Christian beliefs. I think you can be a mature Christian, a mature atheist, or an immature variety of either one. Would certainly rather conduct a conversation with someone who has really put their beliefs to the test and come to their own conclusions about how the universe works, than a parrot on either side.

  • 95. DagoodS  |  June 2, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    FYI,

    Jim Jordan’s site is “moralscienceclub.blogspot.com.” I noticed a coupla links to his name go to “moralscienceclub.blogpot.com” (no ‘s’ in the “blogspot.”) May cause some confusion.

  • 96. Jim Jordan  |  June 2, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    I went back and read your comment, Frederick. Thanks for the perspective. I Iiked how you explained it. I don’t sense any emotional baggage there.

    Would certainly rather conduct a conversation with someone who has really put their beliefs to the test and come to their own conclusions about how the universe works, than a parrot on either side.

    Agreed.

  • 97. Jim Jordan  |  June 2, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Dagoods said – May cause some confusion.

    Oy ve, lots of confusion. I picked Moral Science Club primarily because I didn’t want to be confused with that kind of apocalyptic mumbo jumbo. In 3 1/2 years of constant blogging I never knew that site existed. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • 98. notabarbie  |  June 2, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    What a great discussion and everybody’s here…awesome! As I began to read Jim J’s comments, like a lot of you, I wanted to defend myself and other de-converts. I wanted to share my conversion/de-conversion story to prove him wrong, but I quickly remembered that nothing I could say would convince him. I used to hang out with guys like him. At one time, I sounded a lot like him. I’m sure he doesn’t realize just how “typical” he is. I’m sure he thinks that he is coming to us and “challenging” us with new an innovative thought, which we have never really considered before, being completely unaware that we have heard it a gazillion times before. I found myself getting kind of pissed off, but when he wrote, “Yeah, that was a true believer at one time! Sounds more like he was a Matthew 7:20-22 Christian. I also presume you can make a better cobra or mosquito,” I started giggling and haven’t been able to stop…thanks Jim J. I needed that.

  • 99. Darek  |  June 2, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Jim,

    Can you explain how the author of hebrews agrees with you? It seems from that passage and the surrounding text that he is saying:

    a) people can indeed follow away from true christianity
    b) when they do, they can’t ever, ever come back because it would be like crucifying christ again.

    Also, I think what you’re saying is pretty simple–its that if you were a true christian, and there is truly a god as you believe there is, then god would not allow you to fall away. He would keep guiding you to avoid pitfalls in the context of that relationship. Is this what you’re saying?

    Thanks,
    Darek

    PS:

    Also, as someone who has only recently joined in this debate, I’m very disheartened to see the usual name calling, sarcasm and general disrespect for the person on the other side. I’m not just picking on you Jim–other christians and other skeptics are as just as bad. I know this is a highly emotional topic, but i don’t understand why we can’t leave the venom out it, whether talking in person or discussing online. Just my two cents.

  • 100. Helen  |  June 2, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Jim one of my main reasons for leaving was realizing Christians didn’t seem supernaturally better than other people, which caused me to wonder whether the Holy Spirit was real.

    I understand that according to Christian theology, Christians are still tempted and still sin but it seemed like I should have seen a pattern of better behavior and I didn’t.

    I also had intellectual issues.

    I also realized how easily people are manipulated and how vague and subject to various interpretations spiritual experience such as “God impressed upon me…” is.

    I also realized I was demonstrably wrong about some things I’d been convinced of (I’m not talking about theology but things which are provable – things I thought God told me/impressed on me which turned out to be wrong)

    My faith came under assault from a number of different directions all at the same time.

  • 101. Jim J  |  June 2, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Hi Darek,
    Hebrews 6:4-6 gives a list of what a true conversion would be like: “once enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, (it’s impossible) to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”

    That’s a very high bar to reach and then decide that it was nothing after all. That last point, Helen just said she never felt the power of God.

    My goal here was to show you why I’m not convinced, why I am skeptical of your arguments. In regards to Darek’s thought that I believe God didn’t convert these people because He wouldn’t have let them de-convert. I can’t speak for God but I can say that I have often seen in people who have lost faith that there was something or things that they were holding on to that later became toxic.

    Helen, I disagree that Christians are “no different” than anyone else. For one, my faith has gotten me through some terrible trials and through my friend’s experience with Lou Gehrig’s disease, I’ve seen many Christians taking care of their spouses regardless of the hopelessness of the situation. They credit their in God as their strength to follow through with such a commitment.

    Your second point, that they sin just as much requires a walk through a Christian private school and a walk through a public school. Being a parent who’s checked out extensively all the local schools, secular and Christian, I feel much safer sending my child to a Christian school.

    I didn’t place my faith on the little arguments, and as Dagoods has pointed out, all supposed contradictions can be logically explained. The point is whether God and his son Jesus fit the profile of the divinity we see in moral laws and nature. Based on the evidence of the resurrection and the prophecies, the wisdom, and later my personal experience I am completely convinced.

    I could never be convinced that the early Christians were even capable of nefariously conjuring up a perfect man who fulfilled hundreds of prophecies and doing it so well that the world has been changed so dramatically by following a fraudulent example. While I’m skeptical of a lot of Christians myself, there’s a lot of snake-oil salesmen out there, I will always be a convert of Jesus Christ.

  • 102. Drew  |  June 2, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    When Jim J. de-converts in a few years (which he will as we gain more insight into reality), I wonder if he will conclude that he was NEVER “converted”. Something to think about.

    Drew

  • 103. karen  |  June 2, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    I can’t speak for God but I can say that I have often seen in people who have lost faith that there was something or things that they were holding on to that later became toxic.

    I’m sure someone already pointed you to the list of “real” reasons why deconverts left religion – you’re not telling us anything we haven’t heard before and found misguided or absurd, truly.

    Helen, I disagree that Christians are “no different” than anyone else. For one, my faith has gotten me through some terrible trials and through my friend’s experience with Lou Gehrig’s disease, I’ve seen many Christians taking care of their spouses regardless of the hopelessness of the situation. They credit their in God as their strength to follow through with such a commitment.

    But you’re pointing to anecdotal experiences of specific people with good outcomes as if that is indicative of some larger reality of statistical significance. That’s just not a valid way of making a conclusion. Do you honestly not understand that, or are you just being obtuse? I really can’t tell.

    The fact is, I have known both religious people and non-religious people to handle tragedy particularly well. The religious people credit god, and the non-religious credit their friends, family, psychiatrist, culture, or whatever. I’ve also known plenty of Christians who’ve fallen apart personally as the result of tragedy or even small misfortunes in their lives.

    There’s no good, larger trend data that shows Christians coping with life better, or acting more morally, than non-Christians. In fact, there are studies that show the populations in the most religious states and nations are more/just as prone to crime, divorce, unwed pregnancy etc. than those in less-religious populations.

    Your second point, that they sin just as much requires a walk through a Christian private school and a walk through a public school. Being a parent who’s checked out extensively all the local schools, secular and Christian, I feel much safer sending my child to a Christian school.

    Again, you’re self-selecting criteria that isn’t a good comparison. Ever think that maybe the kids in private schools (religious and non) have parents who enjoy greater income levels, have higher social standing, are more highly educated and more invested in their kids behaving and succeeding? And maybe – just maybe – that’s the reason you see a better outcome at the private school?

    C’mon, you have to be aware of this kind of stuff, Jim. Unless you’re really unused to thinking objectively?

    Here’s another point: Kids in Christian schools are often doing all the bad stuff kids in public schools are doing – drugs, sex, etc. – but they are highly motivated to hide it and act like little angels around the authority figures. Public school kids, who get far less attention, may let all the negatives hang out because there aren’t very many adults who care, or they’re honestly crying out for attention.

  • 104. Darek  |  June 2, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Jim,

    Thanks for the response.

    So you’re saying that Hebrews 6:4-6 sets the bar so high, that it would actually be impossible for someone to de-convert at that point? Wouldn’t that negate their free will?

    I did a search on this page, and this is something that noone seems to have brought up. If one “cant” deconvert, because either god prevents it as i suggested, or if just the experience of conversion and maturity in faith makes it impossible to fall away, doesn’t that mean that the person no longer has free will to accept or reject God/Christ?

    Respectfully,
    Darek

  • 105. Helen  |  June 2, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    Jim wrote: Helen just said she never felt the power of God.

    Jim, I didn’t actually say that – but I can’t win, can I? I can’t look back and say I felt the power of God because I am no longer sure I did.

    For 15 years I believed I had but that’s probably not good enough for you.

    I’ve seen people who aren’t Christians get through trials and show great commitment to others. It’s not just Christians who do those things.

    I know families who have taken their children out of Christian schools and sent them to public school instead because the children at the public school treated them better. So my experience there doesn’t line up with yours.

  • 106. Cthulhu  |  June 2, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Jim J – I will apologize for getting testy with you – that is conter productive. However, please consider the following points…

    1. Just because the bible says something doesn’t mean it is true. You accept that it is an unimpeachable source because you have been indoctrinated in that idea ever since you have been involved in Christianity. You are arguing with intelligent people here including former pastors and theologians. You cannot think of any argument for your position that hasn’t been heard of by someone here.

    2. Anecdotal evidence Based on the evidence of the resurrection and the prophecies, the wisdom, and later my personal experience I am completely convinced. is not proof of an idea. If it is, then you must believe that alien abductions are happening all around us and we are the victims of a vast government conspiracy.

    3. Your quote:

    Helen, I disagree that Christians are “no different” than anyone else. For one, my faith has gotten me through some terrible trials and through my friend’s experience with Lou Gehrig’s disease, I’ve seen many Christians taking care of their spouses regardless of the hopelessness of the situation. They credit their in God as their strength to follow through with such a commitment.

    I have nursed myself – a father who succumbed to a massive cerebral hemorrhage, my mother is is now in her 6th year of Alzheimer’s disease and dying before my eyes and my spouse who has an inoperable pituitary gland tumor (brain). I do this willingly because I love them – not because of ANY god. My strength comes from that love – not from some hidden god(s).

    I could never be convinced that the early Christians were even capable of nefariously conjuring up a perfect man who fulfilled hundreds of prophecies

    Why? I could never imagine the Inquisition either, but it is historical fact. Humans are all capable of deceit – what makes the twelve immune to that particular failing? The more one is vested in idea (Jesus is bringing the ‘kingdom’ – but oh no, he was dead and we have wasted years of our lives) the harder it is to let go of that investment. For a more modern reference, do a little research on a gentleman from the Soviet Union named Lysenko. He single handedly set Soviet genetic science decades behind the rest of the world because so much was invested in his pseudo science that the Central Committee wouldn’t denounce his ideas until their country was on the verge of starvation.

    Being a parent who’s checked out extensively all the local schools, secular and Christian, I feel much safer sending my child to a Christian school.

    If I may, I would like to know the basis of that decision. Was it strictly curriculum based – or was it because of teaching of science and evolution in particular? Why do you feel it is ‘safer’?

    Hebrews 6:4-6 gives a list of what a true conversion would be like: “once enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, (it’s impossible) to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”

    I I am understanding you, you are stating that it is possible to fall from grace. Please then explain the following verses if you would:

    John 10:28
    And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

    Romans 8:38-39
    For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13
    Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    These verses are in direct contradiction of the Hebrews passage.

    I could never be convinced[.]

    Jim – I believe that this is the most telling statement you have made so far…no evidence that doesn’t fit your comfortable world view is to be accepted regardless of the evidence. You are so certain that you (and possible your denomination) have exclusive access to the truth. One point I made earlier (and I apologize for being snarky about it) is still true…no matter how sound the arguments and evidence that undermine your position, you are unwilling to acknowledge them. Most of your arguments (despite your lip service to ‘logic’) violate the most basic rules of formal logic. Please see http://www.theskepticsguide.org/logicalfallacies.asp – and if you are honest with yourself, you have not made a single statement that isn’t covered by these fallacies.

    Here are a few facts for your consideration:

    There is NO empirical evidence for the existence of a supernatural agent (god if you will). Nor is there any empirical evidence that one does NOT exist. Therefore I am agnostic on this existence. However, the probability of such a being existing is exceedingly low (see Schrödinger equation @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger_equation). Therefore I believe that no such being exists.

    I didn’t place my faith on the little arguments, and as Dagoods has pointed out, all supposed contradictions can be logically explained.

    I don’t believe that was DagoodS point – it takes the most improbable, twisted, unorthodox and contrived ‘logic’ to try and explain these things. 2 words here – Occam’s Razor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occams_razor). I am not sure that qualifies as logic at all.

    While I’m skeptical of a lot of Christians myself, there’s a lot of snake-oil salesmen out there

    Here is the one point you and I are in complete agreement on. And at it’s heart, religion is about money, power and control

  • 107. Cthulhu  |  June 3, 2008 at 12:00 am

    My last post got eaten by WordPress…or have I been banned :-)

    [Spam Filter caught it but it’s been restored – Paul]

  • 108. Cthulhu  |  June 3, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Once last comment for the night and then I will shut up for a while (I promise!). Were Christians to turn their skepticism of Islam/Hinduism/(insert the religion of your choice here) upon their own faith, they might be shocked by the results. And I believe that most Christians do not do this out of fear of the results. Great discussion everyone – it has forced to ruminate on MY beliefs and that is always a good thing. One of the main tenets of skepticism is the willingness to change your mind in the face of new evidence. Unfortunately, Jim J has not presented any empirical evidence at all. But still, he has forced me to think more deeply in defense of my own world view and I can only benefit from that. Goodnight for now :-)

  • 109. Cthulhu  |  June 3, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Paul – thanks for the post rescue :-)

  • 110. Jim J  |  June 3, 2008 at 1:11 am

    Hi Darek, you wrote…”Wouldn’t that negate their free will?”

    That’s a great question. If you look at the text of Heb 6:6, it sure looks like they can’t come back to Christ, i.e. they lose their free will. Then there is the statement, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” Is he not forgiving Judas Iscariot? I think that Judas turned Jesus in to force him to kick Roman butts. That wasn’t the plan, and Judas revealed how deluded he was thinking that Jesus came to free them from the Romans. It’s a good argument to say that Judas I. wasn’t converted, one of the 12 had a false interpetation of the role of Jesus. But neither did the others know until afterwards. That part of Hebrews 6 does present a challenge to interpretation.

    Helen, I have seen some studies on the subject of Christian vs. secular that I’ll look up to back up what I said. However, there is a very irreligious aspect of Christianity. In Matthew 25:34-40 Jesus gives his ‘Sheep and Goats” parable in which he says that if you feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner etc. than you have done this for him….And you are saved. Note he doesn’t ask if they’re Christians or Muslims or atheists. I think that’s what God would say. To Hell with what you belonged to, show me how you served Me – that’s what he’d say in my opinion.

    Cthulhu, Lots of good questions, but I’m falling asleep. I’ll give you a reasoned and awake answer tomorrow.

  • 111. Zoe  |  June 3, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Jim: “Note he doesn’t ask if they’re Christians or Muslims or atheists. I think that’s what God would say. To Hell with what you belonged to, show me how you served Me – that’s what he’d say in my opinion. ”

    Zoe: So come of us aren’t Christians because we never were, but we are saved, because we did serve Him at one time and though no longer convinced of Him, we still now serve, therefore we are saved?

  • 112. Zoe  |  June 3, 2008 at 8:07 am

    correction: should read *some*

  • 113. finallyhappy  |  June 3, 2008 at 8:32 am

    I’m still new to this site and to my own de-conversion, so I’m sometimes a bit hesitant to post. This thread (and this whole site) has been amazing!

    I remember sitting in one of our Monday morning staff meetings several years ago (before my decon) listening to our Teaching Pastor give a “praise report” of a wonderful debate he’d been in online with a group of nonbelieving atheists. He was so very thankful that God had led him to the chatroom, given him the words to say, and brought to his memory all the right verses he needed to combat their attacks on the faith.

    All those types of champion christian moments never set real well with me. (probably why I didn’t make it in the christian faith) It has been a unique experience indeed to see a very similar situation from a very, very different point of view.

    Thanks for posting our thoughts and experiences.

  • 114. DagoodS  |  June 3, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Cthulhu: I don’t believe that was DagoodS point – it takes the most improbable, twisted, unorthodox and contrived ‘logic’ to try and explain these things.

    You are quite correct. That was not my point. Jim Jordan and I have a long history of discussing theistic topics. We have almost as long of a history of an….inability to communicate (shall we say to be diplomatic?)…so it is with little surprise my point was missed.

    I find it humorous the inerrantist holds to such a low, low standard when it comes to the only writing supposedly infused with direct divine intervention. Their god can do no better than a teenage boy. I always imagine a conversation similar to this:

    Inerrantist: Why are you bringing my daughter home two hours late from your date?
    Teenage Boy: Because we had a flat tire.

    Inerrantist: [inspecting] There is no changed tire on the car, the spare is still in the trunk, and there is no dirt upon you.
    Teenage Boy: Well, sir. As it happened, we had an extra tire already on the rim with the exact same size and wear as the other three tires, and instead of using the spare—we used that tire.

    Inerrantist: Then where is the flat tire?
    Teenage Boy: Coincidentally, as soon as we had changed out the tire, we were attacked by a roving band of Albanian marauders who insisted we give them our flat tire, and nothing else.

    Inerrantist: And the lack of dirt?
    Teenage Boy: The same Albanian marauders were kind enough to provide some Handi-wipes to clean ourselves off, but then took the wipes away to leave no evidence or traces of their crime.

    Inerrantist: Well…it all is logically possible. And if the best my God can do is put together a tale which is only logically possible, who am I to think this teenage boy should have to do any better than a God can do?

    Inerrantist: I cannot fault your story, son. I accept such a method in the Bible—the only God-breathed writing in all of creation, I certain will accept it from you. What time will you be picking up my daughter next Friday?

    It is our…inability to communicate…which is why I find talking to Jim Jordan to be unproductive. But please, you are free to do so. Perhaps you will have better luck.

    I admit my curiosity about one thing I have never been able to quite nail down. Maybe you will have more success?

    At one time, Jim Jordan said, “Legitimate ‘deconversions’ are rare, but even the Bible has them.”

    I attempted to figure out, if Jim Jordan holds there is no such thing as deconversion, how a non-existent thing could be legitimate. How a non-existent thing could be rare. How a non-existent thing could be recorded in the Bible. (Is that last one a trick statement?) In point of fact, I indicate out how Jim Jordan called me a “former Christian.” If I was never a Christian in the first place, how could I be a “former” Christian?

    Further, Jim Jordan insists we cannot determine who is saved or not saved, but then declares we (deconverts) are not saved.

    Any clarity you could obtain (you may communicate more favorably) would be of interest to me.

  • 115. finallyhappy  |  June 3, 2008 at 8:43 am

    sorry…Thanks for posting YOUR thoughts and experiences…

  • 116. DagoodS  |  June 3, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Arggg! My post was eaten by spam filter, too. (Or since I referred to Cthulhu—a curse, perhaps?)

    [Restored above – Paul]

  • 117. Helen  |  June 3, 2008 at 8:47 am

    finallyhappy, I’m guessing that the Teaching Pastor’s story ended with how wonderfully he’d responded. Not with how they responded to his posts to them.

    Either that or perhaps he mentioned their responses as examples of him being persecuted for Jesus’ sake.

    That’s generally how it goes. No awareness of how much damage they might be doing to the image of Christians with their triumphant verse-slinging behavior. Because of a belief, I suppose, that the power of the Word of God will outweigh any obnoxiousness about their behavior. Which is very pagan and magic actually – not Christian – it’s treating the Word of God like a magic incantation.

  • 118. Helen  |  June 3, 2008 at 8:50 am

    Jim in your reference to the Sheep and Goats did you say beliefs don’t matter, only behavior towards other human beings? So atheists can be on their way to heaven as long as they are treating others well?

    That makes sense to me (if heaven indeed exists, which I’m not convinced about) but I wouldn’t have thought you’d believe that.

  • 119. Cthulhu  |  June 3, 2008 at 9:40 am

    DagoodsS,

    Chtulhu would never curse you!!!! “He is now semi-retired from Elder gods Inc. and likes baseball and hacking into government computer systems ;-)

  • 120. Cthulhu  |  June 3, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Paul,

    Glad to see that spam filter as the siite was getting hammered for a while. Also glad to see you admins on top of the situation. I think one of the reasons the spam filter is catching some of our posts seems to be directly related to post-length.
    (“just a suggestion from a computer nerd)!

  • 121. Jim J  |  June 3, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Hi Helen,
    Jim in your reference to the Sheep and Goats did you say beliefs don’t matter, only behavior towards other human beings? So atheists can be on their way to heaven as long as they are treating others well?

    That makes sense to me (if heaven indeed exists, which I’m not convinced about) but I wouldn’t have thought you’d believe that.

    It’s in my Bible, clear as day. Jesus gives life lessons, not a laundry list of religious duties. He speaks as if he is, you know, the real deal. :-)

    If you sincerely care for others, never letting anyone walk away empty-handed from your sight, you have already conformed to the providing spirit of God, and you would likely find no problem thinking of yourself as a sister of Christ.

    Your website is very well done and thought-provoking by the way.

  • 122. Jim J  |  June 3, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Jim J – I will apologize for getting testy with you

    No need. I think I said something about an anus..

    1. Just because the bible says something doesn’t mean it is true. You accept that it is an unimpeachable source because you have been indoctrinated in that idea ever since you have been involved in Christianity. You are arguing with intelligent people here including former pastors and theologians. You cannot think of any argument for your position that hasn’t been heard of by someone here.

    Actually, I was never indoctrinated. I became a Christian in my 30s in the years after my daughter was born. I thought at one time that most of the Bible was wrong in fact. I had a typical Yogi Berra Apologist pastor (ya gotta believe!) as a kid, and I said “Nope, I don’t.” Aside from my mother singing in the choir, my birth family didn’t have much use for church.

    2. Anecdotal evidence Based on the evidence of the resurrection and the prophecies, the wisdom, and later my personal experience I am completely convinced. is not proof of an idea. If it is, then you must believe that alien abductions are happening all around us and we are the victims of a vast government conspiracy.

    I think my first comment stated that we won’t find a silver bullet in nature or in logic that will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that God exists, or does not (Pascal’s principle). The best we can do is winnow out shaky ideas from our arguments.

    3. Your quote:

    Helen, I disagree that Christians are “no different” than anyone else. For one, my faith has gotten me through some terrible trials and through my friend’s experience with Lou Gehrig’s disease, I’ve seen many Christians taking care of their spouses regardless of the hopelessness of the situation. They credit their in God as their strength to follow through with such a commitment.

    I have nursed myself – a father who succumbed to a massive cerebral hemorrhage, my mother is is now in her 6th year of Alzheimer’s disease and dying before my eyes and my spouse who has an inoperable pituitary gland tumor (brain). I do this willingly because I love them – not because of ANY god. My strength comes from that love – not from some hidden god(s).

    My response is that that love comes from God and read the Sheep and Goats parable.

    I could never be convinced that the early Christians were even capable of nefariously conjuring up a perfect man who fulfilled hundreds of prophecies

    Why? I could never imagine the Inquisition either, but it is historical fact. Humans are all capable of deceit – what makes the twelve immune to that particular failing?

    Deceipt always has negative results, not positive ones. As the prophecy read, “there was no deceipt in his mouth” regarding Jesus. Christians who hurt others are demonstrating deceipt, not Christ.

    The more one is vested in idea (Jesus is bringing the ‘kingdom’ – but oh no, he was dead and we have wasted years of our lives) the harder it is to let go of that investment.

    Hmmm, maybe that’s why Jesus’ ministry was cut so short, after only three years? Again the mind can imagine all sorts of thngs but the idea that a rotting Jesus is an egregious investment is hard to reconcile with the faith of his followers. Dagoods and I debated the “Wouldn’t die for a lie” statement at length but he couldn’t disqualify the martyrdom of James, Jesus’ brother, and James, the brother of John, nor the suffering the other disciples endured. In my opinion it ended in a draw with a slight advantage going to the apostles’ testimonies.

    For a more modern reference, do a little research on a gentleman from the Soviet Union named Lysenko. He single handedly set Soviet genetic science decades behind the rest of the world because so much was invested in his pseudo science that the Central Committee wouldn’t denounce his ideas until their country was on the verge of starvation.

    Not sure where this fits into the discussion. Christians have led the way in feeding people.

    Being a parent who’s checked out extensively all the local schools, secular and Christian, I feel much safer sending my child to a Christian school.

    If I may, I would like to know the basis of that decision. Was it strictly curriculum based – or was it because of teaching of science and evolution in particular? Why do you feel it is ’safer’?

    Well, Ft. Lauderdale High School has 2 full-time police officers stationed there and over 100 incidents a year. Pinecrest, a private secular school costing $15K a year and up, gave us an eyeful of bullying on display on our first visit. I was not impressed. I’m sure there are exceptions, but the general statement, Christian schools are safer, I’ll stand by that.

    Hebrews 6:4-6 gives a list of what a true conversion would be like: “once enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, (it’s impossible) to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”

    I I am understanding you, you are stating that it is possible to fall from grace. Please then explain the following verses if you would:
    John 10:28
    And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

    Romans 8:38-39
    For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13
    Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    These verses are in direct contradiction of the Hebrews passage.

    Not so. Anyone who would say there is no hand of God brings into question whether they were in that hand to bein with. I admit it’s a graintwister, but I think it’s important to get to the bottom of what a scripture is saying rather than assuming it is flat-out mistaken. The explanation is most likely a simple question of semantics.

    I could never be convinced[.]

    Jim – I believe that this is the most telling statement you have made so far…no evidence that doesn’t fit your comfortable world view is to be accepted regardless of the evidence.

    Not so. I am talking from my personal experience not my comfortable worldview, something that doesn’t mean anything to you unless you’ve had a similar experience.

    You are so certain that you (and possible your denomination) have exclusive access to the truth.

    No one has exclusive access to the truth. I’ll check out your Guide for Skeptics when I get time.

    Here are a few facts for your consideration:

    There is NO empirical evidence for the existence of a supernatural agent (god if you will). Nor is there any empirical evidence that one does NOT exist. Therefore I am agnostic on this existence. However, the probability of such a being existing is exceedingly low (see Schrödinger equation @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger_equation). Therefore I believe that no such being exists.

    I didn’t place my faith on the little arguments, and as Dagoods has pointed out, all supposed contradictions can be logically explained.

    I don’t believe that was DagoodS point – it takes the most improbable, twisted, unorthodox and contrived ‘logic’ to try and explain these things. 2 words here – Occam’s Razor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occams_razor). I am not sure that qualifies as logic at all.

    This is a step backward in discussing the existence of God. Wittgenstein said that using Occam’s Razor would lead us to the simplest explanation, that we do not exist. To say that God is unnecessary in the world we see therefore he can’t exist is a category error. You might not need God to plant a row of ficus bushes but the concept of the bush and of growing and all that is involved is of God. Existence itself is of God. He’s not an extra ingredient that is invisible and thus does not exist. God is in all ingredients and everything around them. One of the convincing passages in the Bible is when God introduces himself to Moses, “I Am that I am” i.e. “I am existence”.

    While I’m skeptical of a lot of Christians myself, there’s a lot of snake-oil salesmen out there

    Here is the one point you and I are in complete agreement on. And at it’s heart, religion is about money, power and control

    Unfortunately you’re right there. It is embarassing that 4 of 5 preachers on TV (on a good day) are mutilating the message in the Scriptures. The Internet is giving an outlet to the more authentic up-and-coming pastors….finally.

    There I said I’d respond. Have a good day.

  • 123. Jim J  |  June 3, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    That last comment was to cthulhu. Comment #106.

    Dagoods, I know you’re a lawyer but cross-examination is not the only tactic you have in debate, is it? You go back over 3 1/2 years of my blogging ( true, he has) to find where I might have said something different. I don’t see how that really fits into a debate format. It’s a debate not a deposition. Regards.

  • 124. Helen  |  June 3, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Jim thanks for your response and your comment about my site. I wish you the best in applying Jesus’ life lessons.

  • 125. DagoodS  |  June 3, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Jim Jordan,

    Oh, my no! Cross-examination is not the only tactic I use. However, it is the most simple and straight to the point when a person contradicts themselves. You point out where they said one thing a few months ago, and now are saying the exact opposite and ask them why the difference.

    I have found only…certain people…complain about people researching what they have said in the recent past.

    Are you saying “debate” means you can say whatever you want today and in another debate tomorrow you can say something completely contradictory and it is impolite to point that out?

    Rather than whine about my tactics, you could answer the question. How can deconversions not exist, yet be legitimate? How can deconversions not exist, yet be rare? How can deconversions not exist, yet be in the Bible?

  • 126. Richard  |  June 3, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    I know I am a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to this discussion, but I think (hope?) I can offer some insight.

    The real issue here is that there are two different senses or meanings of the word “Christian” being used here. I.e., there are two different definitions being adopted.

    From Jim’s perspective (at the risk of speaking for him), “Christian” refers to a theological category. It means someone who is, in some sense, metaphysically different by having been transformed, spiritually (which is to say, supernaturally), by the conversion experience. A “new creation” and all that. A Christian, for Jim, is literally different in some basic way.

    Thus, from his view, to say that one once was a Christian, but now is not (and, therefore, no longer believes in the existence of such transformation in the first place), is just nonsensical. Its like saying “I was once an extraterrestrial before I settled on Earth and became and Earthling — and now I no longer believe that extraterrestrials exist.” Its blatantly contradictory. How can you believe you ever were a Christian if you no longer believe in the (literal, supernatural) transformation that makes you a Christian?

    From the usual de-converts perspective, what has happened is that part-and-parcel of no longer self-identifying as a Christian (and thus no longer affirming all the metaphysical beliefs that go along with being one) is a changed implicit definition the word “Christian” itself. For them (and me), “Christian” comes to mean simply one who self-identifies as “Christian.” It no longer means or refers to anything supernatural, because we no longer believe in the supernatural. We can accept that we used to believe in this kind of supernatural alchemy, but now we think we were mistaken about that, and there is not (and never was) any “transformation” beyond identifying oneself as a member of this group.

    But we de-converts think that that itself “counts” as having “really” been a Christian. Thus, we believe that we were mistaken about all of the beliefs that being a Christian meant having, as well as what the word “Christian” means in the first place.

    So who’s definition is correct? Neither. Or both. There is no right answer, because there is no way to settle that dispute. From Jim’s preferred definition, he is correct. From ours, we are. There is no larger answer.

    I wrote a post on this a few months ago, in which I argue this in more detail:

    http://de-conversion.com/2007/12/31/on-who-is-a-christian/

    Richard

  • 127. Jim J  |  June 3, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Richard wrote…”So who’s definition is correct? Neither. Or both. There is no right answer, because there is no way to settle that dispute. From Jim’s preferred definition, he is correct. From ours, we are. There is no larger answer. ”

    I agree.

    Dagoods,
    I have answered all your questions. I see the bar for conversion as higher than you do, something experiential and ongoing as Hebrews 6 describes it. The question is a question of definitions and degree.

    Your cross-examinations have also taken most if not all of what I’d said out of context. It’s not just a matter of searching my blog for the word “deconvert” and reprinting a snippet of it, it’s reading the article and judging whether I was discussing the same point of conversion. I will still call some people deconverts because that’s what they call themselves. And sometimes I might even forget to put “quotation marks” around it. Oh my!

    Helen wrote…” I wish you the best in applying Jesus’ life lessons.”

    Always an uphill battle, but thanks. The way things are going here in Florida economically I might be one of those hungry people soon……

  • 128. Zoe  |  June 3, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Jim said: “What’s interesting is that you assume that you can define everything and you are offended when I redefine what you think I am obligated to accept about your claims. You say you were a true believer but now you say what you believed in does not exist. Whether you like it or not, it begs the question, “What did you believe in if it could not exist?”

    Zoe: Jim, you are way off base here. No where do I come off as assuming anything nor do I demonstrate being offended by you. No where do I insist that you believe me.

    No where did I say, God doesn’t exist.

    As for qualiifying any of my sacred moments further with you, you can forget it.

  • 129. Renee  |  June 4, 2008 at 10:03 am

    I feel schools should be more attentive to the needs of the students as far as religions are concerned, there is nothing non academic in allowing discussion and pluralism in the classtrooms

  • 130. Cthulhu  |  June 4, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Jim J,

    Actually, I was never indoctrinated.

    Than how did you come to your beliefs? (serious question)

    My response is that that love comes from God and read the Sheep and Goats parable.

    Then please how I attained my convictions, being as I do not believe in ANY gods. Where does my morality dome from?

    Deceipt always has negative results, not positive ones. As the prophecy read, “there was no deceipt in his mouth” regarding Jesus. Christians who hurt others are demonstrating deceipt, not Christ.

    This explains nothing and avoids my question. And there are people who chose death instead of evaluating their belief system (i.e. The Peoples Temple, Heaven’s Gate and Aum Shinrikyo to name a few).

    Not sure where this fits into the discussion. Christians have led the way in feeding people.

    You are missing the point – the pseudo science of Lysenko flew in the face of established scientific fact. Refusal to face the facts resulted in grave harm to the Soviet people. However, the Central Committee placed more importance in the refusal to admit they were wrong than the feeding of their people. This is the power of self-deception despite all facts pointing to the correct answer.

    Well, Ft. Lauderdale High School has 2 full-time police officers stationed there and over 100 incidents a year. Pinecrest, a private secular school costing $15K a year and up, gave us an eyeful of bullying on display on our first visit. I was not impressed. I’m sure there are exceptions, but the general statement, Christian schools are safer, I’ll stand by that.

    The availability and use of drugs and bullying are just as high or higher in private schools as public schools (Shelby County School Board Drug Task Force 2006). I do agree that the rates of gun crime are less than public schools. However, this includes private schools that are secular.

    <Not so. Anyone who would say there is no hand of God brings into question whether they were in that hand to bein with.

    I am sorry – the statement ‘not so’ proves nothing other than YOUR opinion. The verses are not taken out of context and easy to understand. And if you argue that it is a matter of semantics or that it is mis-translated, then you can argue that the entire bible is mis-translated.

    The same goes when Christians argue that some parts of the bible are allegorical. If this is so, how do you decide what is allegorical and what is straight forward fact. This is a nonsensical way to interprit the bible. It is either the word of god or it is not. And if it is, god has made his word inconsistent, impossible to intepret correctly and quite frankly – utter nonsense. Hardly the work of an all knowing god.

    Existence itself is of God.

    Tautology at it’s finest. This explains nothing whatsoever. Existence is a fact and just because we do exist doesn’t irrevocably point to a supernatural creator.

    Why is the Christian god any different that the countless gods who came before that claim the creation of the world? The short answer is there is NO difference, nor can any difference be empirically proven.

    All of your arguments in this thread start with 2 assumptions:that ‘God’ exists and the ‘Bible’ is inspired by him/her/it. – both circular arguments with no validity.

    Regards,

    Cthulhu

  • 131. Darek  |  June 4, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Jim,

    Continuing our discussion of Hebrews…

    I agree thats a challenging (difficult) part of the bible, along the same lines as the “unforgivable sin”. To me saying a person can’t de-convert is like saying that god has “turned off” their free will. Hebrews saying that they can’t come back to the fold, would be saying the same thing. Its a part of the bible that never made sense to me and I think most christians ignore it. Its these parts of the Bible that seem contradictory that make me feel that it is man-made and fallible, even if there is a God.

    I was reading your interpretation to others about the “sheep and the goats” and that seems like a very liberal theology, although I think your interpretation makes more sense. It is what I was taught growing up Catholic. But many christians feel that if you don’t believe, you’re not saved period. He who does not believe is already condemned and that sort of thing.

    Incidentally, I DON’T believe anymore, I’m agnostic now, but i feel like there’s a lot that still attracts me to (certain forms of) Christianity and religion in general.

    Darek

  • 132. Jim Jordan  |  June 4, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks cthulhu for responding.

    You asked — Then how did you come to your beliefs?

    Solely by choice, conviction through testing the scriptures, and personal experience.

    You don’t have to believe in God to do his will. Remember, the scriptures say you were made in his image. That’s where all morality comes from.

    Regarding pseudo-sciences, the very idea of pseudo-science is not Christian. If God is the source of science then Christians or any monotheistic faith should not contradict that. Here’s a useful link to that principle from a Christians physics professor.

    I wrote…”Existence itself is of God.”

    You replied, “Tautology at it’s finest. This explains nothing whatsoever. Existence is a fact and just because we do exist doesn’t irrevocably point to a supernatural creator.”

    You are refusing to draw any conclusions of what the source of all things might look like. By saying, “We’ll find out how the universe came about, and it won’t be by any god,” is a worse tautology if it were possible that one tautalogy could be worse than another. Our existence does irrevocably point to something.

    You also wrote, “The same goes when Christians argue that some parts of the bible are allegorical. If this is so, how do you decide what is allegorical and what is straight forward fact.”

    You are kidding? The bible is a manual for every aspect of life on earth and preparation for heaven. What were you expecting, a Sears catalog? Infinite Intelligence for Dummies? We study the bible every day. We meet with other believers to discuss it at least once a week. It accompanies and compliments our walk.

    Then you wrote, “Why is the Christian god any different that the countless gods who came before that claim the creation of the world? ”

    Again, you must be kidding. Zeus? Wodin? Those were people writ large, mere projections, which is why no one believes them anymore.

    In fact the Bible is unique in that it was claimed to be inspired by God and guided a people who claimed to be chosen by God. But the Bible does not affirm the Jewish nation but relentlessly rebukes them for their sin. It does not stoop to being a projection of man in any way.

    You finished with, “All of your arguments in this thread start with 2 assumptions:that ‘God’ exists and the ‘Bible’ is inspired by him/her/it. – both circular arguments with no validity.”

    Those are two conclusions. I can write a book on why I believe them, but you wouldn’t want to hear it.

    And this: “both circular arguments with no validity”

    That is the attitude I was describing when I wrote, “What’s interesting is that you assume that you can define everything and you are offended when I redefine what you think I am obligated to accept about your claims.”

    It’s the same old draw again. I say we need to climb a little higher and look at the bigger picture of why people know right from wrong instinctively and why there is something rather than nothing. If there is a God, wouldn’t that God be the God of everyone and everything? Regards.

  • 133. Jim Jordan  |  June 4, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Hi Darek,
    It’s almost like a bait-and-switch game. God is God over all, but he’s ours. That is in one sense very true but if that is true then we are his. (Lev. 26:12. And if we don’t act at all like we are his, then he isn’t ours. Rev. 20:12 in the Amplified Bible reads, “I [also] saw the dead, great and small; they stood before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is [the Book] of Life. And the dead were judged (sentenced) by what they had done [their whole way of feeling and acting, their aims and endeavors] in accordance with what was recorded in the books.”

    I wouldn’t call it liberal theology, just not conservative. Of course the only sure-fire way to salvation is to believe in Christ and mean it. But in lieu of that, it’s based on who we are in our whole being.

    We try to reduce it down so it’s only for people like us. That’s why in a mixed demographic, many churches are still all white or all black.

    Last, you wrote…”Incidentally, I DON’T believe anymore, I’m agnostic now, but i feel like there’s a lot that still attracts me to (certain forms of) Christianity and religion in general.”

    William James did an excellent study of religious behavior in “Varieties of Religious Experience” and, if you’ve read it, you’ll know that he started by discarding the religous types whose behavior didn’t reflect any change and instead focused on the alcoholics who never drank again and the folks who became missionaries and the like.
    Take care,
    Jim

  • 134. Cthulhu  |  June 5, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Jim,

    It’s the same old draw again. I say we need to climb a little higher and look at the bigger picture of why people know right from wrong instinctively and why there is something rather than nothing.

    The fact is that people DO NOT know right from wrong instinctively. A baby has no morality until it is instructed by it’s parents.

    Those are two conclusions. I can write a book on why I believe them, but you wouldn’t want to hear it.

    That doesn’t change the fact that there is no proof that the bible is ‘inspired’ or that ‘god’ exists. These are personal beliefs and not facts. Any hypothesis that cannot be falsified is mere speculation, regardsless of how anyone ‘feels’ about it.

    In fact the Bible is unique in that it was claimed to be inspired by God and guided a people who claimed to be chosen by God. But the Bible does not affirm the Jewish nation but relentlessly rebukes them for their sin. It does not stoop to being a projection of man in any way.

    In fact, it is a projection of man. It is no different than any other religious text – they all claim to come from god without any proof. I can make up any religious claims at all and claim they were inspired by god and you cannot prove or disprove them at all and the bible is no different.

    The bible is a manual for every aspect of life on earth and preparation for heaven

    So is the Q’uran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Mahayana sutras and the Torah. And you cannot prove or disprove any of these texts either.

    Then you wrote, “Why is the Christian god any different that the countless gods who came before that claim the creation of the world? ”

    Again, you must be kidding. Zeus? Wodin? Those were people writ large, mere projections, which is why no one believes them anymore.

    And this is different from god and the bible how?

    I wrote…”Existence itself is of God.”

    You replied, “Tautology at it’s finest. This explains nothing whatsoever. Existence is a fact and just because we do exist doesn’t irrevocably point to a supernatural creator.”

    I would suggest you familiarize yourself with the anthropic principle.

    Jim – while it has been somewhat intellectually stimulating conversing with you, this is my last response. You have repeatedly demonstrated that you are completely immune to logic and reason. I wish you the best and hope that one day you will turn the critical eye you use on people you disagree with you on your own beliefs and dogma. You may find it enlightening.

    Regards,

    Cthulhu

  • 135. Joe Sperling  |  June 5, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    I have read many deconversion stories and still remain totally amazed by them. I am a Christian, and cannot see how one could once “believe” and then turn away from the truth. I believe the “deconversion” is due to one thing alone:

    But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.(Heb 3:13).

    This “sin” it is speaking of is not some horrible lust, or falling into drunkeness, etc., etc.—but it is allowing oneself to be “deceived” into unbelief–clear and simple. And once a person is “hardened” that far, and their conscience no longer responds to God, they have deceived themselves away from the road of truth.

    So, I believe the “deconversion” stories, but read them with extreme sadness. I have had my doubts, and fears, and reservations about the Christian faith–but always, I remember that what has happened to me is very real—-and we walk by faith, not by feelings, or by outward circumstances.

    I do not understand all of it, but believe these stories are very real, though from my perspective, extremely sad. To think that someone would leave heaven, come to earth and die on a cross, offer that salvation, after all of that suffering, have someone “taste” of it, and then reject it is a most solemn thing indeed.

  • 136. Joe Sperling  |  June 5, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    To add to my post above just a bit—I believe “deconversion” stories, but “interpret” them a bit differently. Let me put it this way– a person picks up a bottle of coke, takes a swig, does not like the taste, and spits it out. Later, when asked, “have you ever had coke before?” They reply “Why yes, I have had coca-cola before”. In their mind they have “had” coke before, and know all about it. This true to a certain extent, but only someone who has tasted and swallowed the coke, and continues to drink it, really “knows” what coca-cola is. A person could even “taste” the coke, and hand the bottle to someone else who REALLY drinks it, and becomes a coke enthusiast. Though they themselves are not really coke drinkers, they could lead someone else to become one!! :>)

    I believe this may be the case with those who “deconvert”–even after many years—they “tasted” Christianity, and may have even led others to it, but they themselves never TRULY drank of it, or committed themselves to “drink” of it–they really only “tasted” of it. They have constantly allowed their doubts and unbelief to have an upper hand, even when they “professed” the truth—and this is because they really never drank fully of salvation–they only “tasted” of it.

    One thing I never read in deconversion stories is the person saying that they asked God to “keep them from falling”–they appear to have a struggle with their own consciences, but it always sounds as though they REALLY want to YIELD to the doubts, rather than FORTIFY the faith. I say this because if someone REALLY believes (drinking rather than tasting), they would be fearful to turn away, KNOWING that the scriptures are true. The fact that they CAN turn away for good shows that they never REALLY believed what they were reading to begin with.

    This is just an opinion I know. I do not know your hearts–so of course, it is all conjecture. –Joe

  • 137. karen  |  June 5, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    This is just an opinion I know. I do not know your hearts–so of course, it is all conjecture.

    Joe, instead of making up your own stories and conjecture about why people left Christianity, why don’t you ask and listen? You’re at a blog full off people whom you are speculating about from your own internal ignorance.

    How about learning something from us instead of telling us what you think that we think and feel. If you’re someone who knows nothing about us, how valid will you speculation be?

    Not very.

    By the way, we have compiled a (sarcastic) list of reasons that Christians typically use to “explain” why we deconverted.

    You hit several of the highlights.

  • 138. LeoPardus  |  June 5, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks Karen for linking the article. Just what the doctor order.

    Joe:

    You’re “taste” analogy is quite off the mark. If you’d met most of us in our Christian days, you’d have known us as the “on fire for the Lord” types. We KNEW we were saved. We KNEW Jesus, eternal life, and all the rest. There’s a post in the archives entitled, “By the way, who are the de-cons?” that will give you some idea who we were/are. We weren’t “tasters”.

    but always, I remember that what has happened to me is very real

    Well now you see Joe, that’s just the rub. What we all came to realize was that it is not real at all. It’s all in the imagination. There are a bunch of articles in this blog site describing the many and convincing evidences that we all finally came to see clearly.

    and we walk by faith, not by feelings, or by outward circumstances.

    You believe what you want; complete with feelings and circumstances.

    One thing I never read in deconversion stories is the person saying that they asked God to “keep them from falling”–they appear to have a struggle with their own consciences, but it always sounds as though they REALLY want to YIELD to the doubts,

    Well then maybe you should take your blinders off and REALLY read those stories. I’ve seen more than once decons telling of tears, screams, stress, fear, anguish. I experienced them all. I did NOT want to yield. I wanted God to show up, to assure me that what I was thinking and seeing was not true. That He was true. Sadly, in the darkest, most frightening time of my life, God did NOT show up.

    I say this because if someone REALLY believes (drinking rather than tasting), they would be fearful to turn away, KNOWING that the scriptures are true.

    See what I just said above. You don’t leave behind 25 years of belief, of “the most important thing in all the world”, lightly.

    The fact that they CAN turn away for good shows that they never REALLY believed what they were reading to begin with.

    Oh get your head out of your rectal cavity. …….. Though I suppose I must cut you some slack. There was a time when I was just as blind and just as cock sure of my own all-knowingness.

  • 139. Joe Sperling  |  June 5, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Karen—–

    I appreciate where you are coming from. I have, in the past though, spoken with quite a few people who say they “used to be Christians” and are not any more. So I have heard, and read many of these stories. When I say I don’t know your hearts, that is very true, but one can learn an awful lot just by reading all of the posts from the “deconverted”.

    But since you said what you did, could you give a short summary of how you came to be deconverted? You say that Christians have many reasons and ideas (which you say you have made a sarcastic list of) why people deconvert. My question is why these people are still Christians and you are not—just a real question that I have a hard time understanding—that’s all.

    I feel my example holds validity though–just as someone can call themself a surfer, and wear surf clothing, shoes, buy surfing mags, own a surfboard, but never really go to the beach and surf at all, I believe it is very possible for someone to look and “act” the “part” of a Christian, without ever really being a Christian at all. This has to be possible, or Jesus would not have said that there are many who will say “Lord, Lord” on that day whom he will say he “never knew”.

    This to me is a very valid explanation, but I am willing to listen to your story if you want to share it. I don’t mean to sound antagonistic—-when one posts you cannot see there face or hear the inflection of their voice—so what you “hear” in the post might not be the actual place the person is coming from. I really do want to understand—-but I am a person, so I want to express my “opinions”—forgive me if that is not allowed on the board—if it isn’t please let me know.

    Thanks, Joe

  • 140. jonnyprice  |  June 5, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    “but I am a person, so I want to express my “opinions”—forgive me if that is not allowed on the board—if it isn’t please let me know.

    Thanks, Joe”

    I would believe this site is very much based on giving people oppertunity to discuss their veiws and opinions, no worries there bro. And no need to say it in such a form that puts people down.

    ____

    A little backround so you may know me better, I am a follower of Christ, have been my whole life. But it wasn’t until a year ago that I refocused my life and started a true daily relationship with God. Since then I have not stopped but continue my search for Truth to lifes questions, just as many of you did back in your time of Christianity. I have found my truth in God and I believe in Him with the whole of me.

    Athiest or agnostics on this site deserve an apoligy IMO. I have read some of your blogs and am quite impressed by the openness, sincerity, kindness (when not mistreated), acceptance, etc. displayed by many of you agnostic or athiest bloggers. It seems at some points many of you are more accepting and believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion more so than the Christians who have shared their veiws.
    The biggest thing I see is the first off the bat misunderstanding and pre-judgements. I would like to Apoligise on behalf of Christians for this.

    I do understand however why they continue to try to convert you or downplay your decisions, because quite frankly I’ll be honest, I too would like to talk with you about the Lord, yet I must reason with myself that you have based your conclusions off years in a deep process of questions yourself, what could I bring to the table that has not yet already been offered?

    I do believe everyone is intitled to their own opinion. I also suggest that we must use reasoning and intellect to come to our conclusions rather than taking word of mouth as truth.

    This desire to ‘re-convert’ you agnostic or atheist believers does however come from a pure heart and motive. This passion for you to come, see and know what may happen in our lives and what we see drives us towards you. Some do it self-righteously others compassionately and also some down right “YOUR GOING TO HELL” types (For those I apoligise as well).

    However one decides to live his life is up to him in the end.

    My two cents.

  • 141. Jonathan Blake  |  June 5, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    I believe it is very possible for someone to look and “act” the “part” of a Christian, without ever really being a Christian at all.

    We just can’t escape the No True Scotsman thing. :(

    I am a Christian, and cannot see how one could once “believe” and then turn away from the truth.

    Joe, have you ever imagined that a Muslim might express the exact same incredulity when a fellow Muslim converts to Christianity? She also might wonder if that Muslim was a sinner or a Muslim in name only.

    The same reasons you reject Islam (and Muslims reject Christianity) can be turned against Christianity, if you’ll apply them.

    One thing I never read in deconversion stories is the person saying that they asked God to “keep them from falling”–they appear to have a struggle with their own consciences, but it always sounds as though they REALLY want to YIELD to the doubts, rather than FORTIFY the faith.

    Count me among those who pled with God to preserve my faith. If he is omniscient, he must have known that I would lose my faith forever during those dark days. For whatever reason, that didn’t motivate him sufficiently to give me a reason to keep believing. Perhaps that means he predestined me for damnation. (Any Calvinists in the house?)

  • 142. Jonathan Blake  |  June 5, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    This desire to ‘re-convert’ you agnostic or atheist believers does however come from a pure heart and motive.

    Thank you for your efforts to understand. I would like to add one more motive for trying to reconvert: because some believers are secretly afraid that the non-believers might be right. Thinking about a universe without God can be frightening. Some believers want to prove to themselves that God exists.

  • 143. Joe Sperling  |  June 5, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Well now you see Joe, that’s just the rub. What we all came to realize was that it is not real at all. It’s all in the imagination.

    Sadly, in the darkest, most frightening time of my life, God did NOT show up.

    Leo–

    To both of these statements you made I have to ask “How do you know that to be true?” What is “all in your imagination” is something I have found to be very true—through experience, and real answers to prayer, and happenings in my life. When you say God did NOT show up, how do you know? Because you suffered in your emotions, and went through turmoil and God did not give you a sign He was really there? I can’t PROVE God did show up in my life–I realize that—but you can’t PROVE that God didn’t show up in your life either.

    In Isaiah 50 he says:
    Who among you fears the LORD, heeds his servant’s voice, And walks in darkness without any light, Trusting in the name of the LORD and relying on his God?

    There are times when you are in total darkness, have no light whatsoever—God appears to be completely missing. It is a test of our faith—it’s called “desertion”—it is sent to see if you will continue or not. Will you fold, and give up, or will you trust despite what you feel, or what your inner experience is?

    It is a very tough test. But ALL Christians go through it. Jesus mentioned it when he spoke of the sower and the seed. Some receive the word with joy, but only “endure for a time, but in time of testing, they die, having no root in themselves”. Others receive the Word, hit the same trial, yet endure the doubts, feelings of terror and rejection, and become the people whom the seed falls on who “produce 50 or 100 fold”—Jesus calls them “good ground hearers”.

    There is only one thing that really tells them both apart—-and that is time. Perserverence shows the true Christian—apostasy shows the false Christian at heart—-this is a plain teaching of Scripture. “Know ye not that the Spirit of Christ dwells within you, unless you be reprobates?” Reprobate means “failed the test”—they “appeared” to be real, but they really weren’t. I have to be blunt with that teaching, because it is standard doctrine.

    Hebrews says “whose house are we , IF YOU CONITINUE, steadfast in the faith..” The “if you continue” is not there to bring doubt, but as a statement of fact—-“if ye continue” you will show you really are a believer. There is a difference though between a backslider, who may fail, and then come back, showing he had true faith, and an apostate, who knowingly and willfully “chooses” not to believe the truth.

  • 144. lenbitme  |  June 5, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    I think the problem with Jim here, everyone, is that he thinks he is able to think skeptically on the same plane that we do, but coming from a different direction, when the very definition of skeptical thinking involves thinking outside the box, which he obviously cannot do. Not only this, but Jim likes to repeat his thoughts in different words and use one opinion constantly to defend his point.

  • 145. Jonathan Blake  |  June 5, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    There are times when you are in total darkness, have no light whatsoever—God appears to be completely missing. It is a test of our faith—it’s called “desertion”—it is sent to see if you will continue or not. Will you fold, and give up, or will you trust despite what you feel, or what your inner experience is?

    Joe,

    There are times when you are in total darkness, have no light whatsoever—Puff the Magic Dragon appears to be completely missing. It is a test of our faith.… Will you fold, and give up, or will you trust despite what you feel, or what your inner experience is?

    No matter how little evidence you find for Puff the Magic Dragon, no matter how long you are in darkness, just keep on trusting. You will receive your reward when you die faithful and are received into the loving bosom of Puff… the Magic Dragon.

    I hope you see the point: if a lack of evidence isn’t enough to cause you to stop believing, then you can believe in any crazy thing you like.

  • 146. The Apostate  |  June 5, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    Joe Sperling to Karen:

    But since you said what you did, could you give a short summary of how you came to be deconverted?

    I will let Karen answer her own, but I found my arena of de-conversion at a conservative Mennonite-run Bible College while studying to become a pastor. It is true that I saw, before de-converting, much trouble and hypocrisy in the Body of Christ, but this only increased my passion for serving as a pastor or teacher of some sort.
    The beginning of my actual de-conversion came, in hindsight, through a study of the Sermon on the Mount, of all places. It made me re-evaluate the way I viewed people and politics. This, in combination with a newfound interest in the discipline of philosophy, persuaded me to swing, over a period of several years, from a card-carrying conservative to a liberal (first politically, then theologically). I found a home among the liberal side of the Emerging church, yet still kept much of my Mennonite/Anabaptist values.
    The problem, however, was that I had begun to add philosophy, albeit an introductory understanding, to my approach of apologetics. When I added the methods of philosophical reasoning and logic, I quickly saw the holes in the apologetics I had been studying (notably in the works of Chesterton, Strobel, Schaeffer, Lewis, Craig, Sire, Kreeft, Sproul, as well as the traditional masters Aquinas, Augustine, Anselm, Abu-Qurrah, etc.). My new goal was not yet to expand these holes, but instead to show that Christianity could still meet the standards of the most critical philosopher. As I have stated many times – why should Christianity hold a double standard of criticism? Why should Christians be so critical of non-belief and all of the other religions and various “cults” when they don’t hold their own beliefs to the same standard? This to me, as a Christian, lacked integrity.
    I failed in my endeavour to apologize for Christianity.

  • 147. LeoPardus  |  June 6, 2008 at 8:20 am

    jonnyprice:

    Thanks. While you can’r really apologize for the rest of Christianity, your intent is clear enough. If Christians were all attempting to be understanding as you are, instead of being “Hammerhead Bobs” like most who come in here, I think a lot of de-conversions would never happen.

    Since you’re on this site, I’m gonna address one claim in your intro. I refocused my life and started a true daily relationship with God. Look in the archives and read the article entitled, “A Personal Relationship with Jesus” if you like.

  • 148. LeoPardus  |  June 6, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Joe Sperling:

    You didn’t take me up on the invite to find out who we are. [I.e. go read the article, “By the way, who are the de-cons?”) If you had, you just might be enabled to realize that your ultra-basic, fundy, Sunday school, scripture exegesis wouldn’t carry any weight. Most of us can do that with great agility. Most of us did that in fact. Some years ago, I would have spouted what you said almost exactly to an apostate.

    What is hard to grasp for you (as it was for me and many others) is that spouting off your arrogance, ignorance, and opinions does no good, and a fair measure of harm. St Francis of Asissi was credited with saying, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” A more contemporary quip is, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” You’ve got both of those precepts arse-backwards. You blast in here and begin telling us “the truth”, and it’s obvious that you’re just out to carve a notch in the handle of your ‘quick draw, gospel six-gun’.

    There are a few Christians that hang at this blog and get along well. They aren’t concerned with re-converting. They are concerned with living in a caring, loving, understanding way that they believe reflects God’s love. And they don’t carry ‘gospel six-guns’. They listen, they try to understand, they sympathize, and only after that do they occasionally, and humbly suggest possible answers to some things we bring up. You could learn a lot from such mature believers.

  • 149. LeoPardus  |  June 6, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Joe Sperling:

    Now to address some of your particular statements.

    just as someone can call themself a surfer, and wear surf clothing, shoes, buy surfing mags, own a surfboard, but never really go to the beach and surf at all, …
    This to me is a very valid explanation

    Actually it’s just a nice, comfy category that you can shoehorn us into so that you can then say, “Whew! Got them pigeon-holed, and I know I won’t ever go in that hole.” It never occurs to you that we might have been right down there in the water, surfing every wave we could catch. Nope. That doesn’t fit with your comfy, preconceived notions that wall the world into nice, tidy categories for you.

    Well Joe, I got news for you. We were there. We were preaching from the pulpit, teaching in Sunday school, running home Bible studies, witnessing on the street, reading libraries full of books on Christian living and theology and apologetics, and then we were trying to live out all this. We were praying daily, tithing, agonizing over unsaved friends and relatives, and over any apostates we knew of, and we were seeking every chance to bring the lost to (or back to) Jesus. We were involved in ministries. We were the dedicated ones. And anyone would ever have pointed to us as the ones least likely to “fall away.” I could go on, but I’d like to think that you could get the point.

    Fact is that honest, devout believers leave the faith. I know that doesn’t fit with your tightly held and comforting presuppositions. So entertain the great likelihood that you’re wrong for once. (Yep, I can already hear the response, “Oh, I’m wrong a lot.” and the follow-on about why you’re so sure you’re right.)

    When you say God did NOT show up, how do you know?

    You’re now launching into playing a lovely game. It’s called “Where’s Goddo?” It’s like “Where’s Waldo?” except that at least you can be sure that Waldo is somewhere in the picture.

    I know it because my criteria were clear and pretty open ended. God needed (and still need) only provide a clear manifestation of some sort. Anything would do just so long as it was clear. Seemed a pretty easy task for an all-knowing, all-powerful being to come up with something clear enough that I would get it. [Here is where you insert the apologetic that “maybe God did show up and you missed it/refused to see it/explained it away/etc. I must say that you’ve got a damn pathetic, all-knowing, all-powerful God if he can’t even manage to be convincing to one, limited mortal. If this is the God you want to propose, no thank you. In the words of JB Philips, “Your God is too small.”]

    I can’t PROVE God did show up in my life–I realize that—but you can’t PROVE that God didn’t show up in your life either.

    The usual cheap cop out of using the term “PROVE”, followed by shifting the meaning of the term into meaninglessness. It’s true that some deity might have snuck around me undetectably. But I can’t really get into some powerful deity uses his great power to remain “hidden” and then demands that I believe in him. Oh and this deity also ghost writes a book about how he ‘revealed’ himself, and sends forth armies of evangelists to preach about the ‘revealed’ God, and also sends forth armies of apologists to explain how he must remain ‘hidden’. [This is getting bloody silly.]

    Jesus calls them “good ground hearers”.

    Huh? You must have some new version of the Bible that I haven’t read.

    I have to be blunt with that teaching, because it is standard doctrine.

    In the particular subsect of Christianity that you belong to yes. And of course I’m sure that you would simply dismiss any subsect that doesn’t agree with you on that as “not true Scotsmen” (Oops! Uhm.. that is “not true Christians”)

    There is a difference though between a backslider, who may fail, and then come back, showing he had true faith, and an apostate, who knowingly and willfully “chooses” not to believe the truth.

    Wow! You actually went right into one of my favorite bits of circular illogic without any prompting. Lovely.

  • 150. Joe Sperling  |  June 6, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Johnathan—-

    I have often heard the argument “I used to believe in Santa Claus too, and he never really showed up., etc.” In this case you are using Puff the Magic Dragon. By the way, LOL for that!!

    Agreed, some people do believe in God as they would Puff, or Santa Claus. You get all excited a couple of weeks before he is supposed to show up with the presents, you become very honest and good so you don’t blow your cover, and hope for the best! :>)

    As we all know, we “grow out of that” as it is a mental belief—Santa Claus is not someone we “put our trust in with our lives”, he is a childhood belief—it is a totally DIFFERENT type of believing. One is mental assertion, the other is trust through faith. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. We could most likely argue this point, but to me there is a HUGE difference between a belief in God and a belief in Puff the Magic Dragon :>)

    Leo—- You are right the term “Good ground hearers” was my “paraphrase” of what Jesus said. He said that some seed falls by the wayside, some falls on hard ground, immediately springs up and then dies, some falls on ground and springs up, but the world chokes it’s growth, and lastly, some falls on good ground and yields good crops. He then interprets this as you know. The apostate is the person who “receives the word with joy, but then afterwards, when persecution or trouble arises, they are “offended” and “fall away”. (the Greek word for “fall away” means apostasize, or completely falling away from the faith).

    I realize that most likely you have “heard it all” from Christians—and I will be totally honest about something. And I hope you can understand this. If you can for a moment be in my shoes, as a devoted Christian, who loves Jesus. A few of you have treated my dearest friend with great and horrible comtempt. He left Heaven, and became a man due to his great love for mankind. You all know John 3:16. He left great glory and comfort, and lived on the earth as a menial “man”. He faced scoffing and ridicule. Then he faced whipping and beating, and was finally crucified horribly on a cross. And he did this for YOU and for ME.

    You “received” Him (though this is where the doubt is of course), walked with him for a while, but have finally and totally rejected Him. You have in affect closed the only door to salvation open to you. And (pardon my bluntness but I sincerely believe this) this is a enormous and horrible insult right in the face of God. In a much smaller way it is like kicking a lifeguard attempting to save you from drowning in the face, after he has displayed such courage and concern for you.

    I do not say this of all agnostics and atheists—-many of them have never “received” Christ–they simply do not believe in God. I disagree with them, but have nothing but the deepest compassion for them in my heart. They may scoff at my “preaching”, etc., but they have never really known the way of truth. But the one who “accepted Christ” and then rejected him to become an atheist is a whole different kind of person. And this is the “amazement” I speak of when thinking of someone who “deconverts”. I pray with my whole heart that there is room for repentance for such a person—but it is much harder to regard such a one as ignorantly refusing the call of the Gospel—-but they are not doing it ignorantly, but knowingly.

    I have to speak bluntly about this—I really cannot try to “understand your reasons” for deconverting. It’s like a soldier saying “please let me try to explain why I deserted my unit”–the reasons are not really going to matter—the guy deserted–it’s that simple. I can only hope that any thinking to deconvert would consider in an extremely serious way what they are doing. If you TRULY believe the Bible, and have doubts—do not yield to unbelief—there are eternal consequences for doing so. To the person who has apostasized this is now “ridiculous”, and they have become the “scoffers of the last days” the Bible warns of. They have no desire to repent or return, and sadly, this is the sign of one that “most likely” is beyond hope of recovery. I pray that is not the case.

    I will not waste more blog space here—I am so sorry to hear of your deconversion, because Christ had so much he wanted to give you—he offered it to you freely, but you are turning it down. That is your choice. I just wish I could understand it–it boggles my mind.

  • 151. Zoe  |  June 6, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Joe: “I can only hope that any thinking to deconvert would consider in an extremely serious way what they are doing. If you TRULY believe the Bible, and have doubts—do not yield to unbelief—there are eternal consequences for doing so. To the person who has apostasized this is now “ridiculous”, and they have become the “scoffers of the last days” the Bible warns of. They have no desire to repent or return, and sadly, this is the sign of one that “most likely” is beyond hope of recovery. I pray that is not the case.”

    Zoe: And Joe, this is why you come to us and I think most of us “understand” that.

    You are trying to rescue the perishing, and care for that one lurking reader that might fall into the trap of listening in on conversations from people who no longer believed as they once did.

    You are here to lovingly warn them and anyone else who will care to listen.

    You are here to remind everyone of those “eternal consequences.”

    You are here to plant the “last days” seed doctrine.

    You are here to remind us that you in your faithfulness, pray for us.

    You are here as many have come before you and we’ve heard it all before. We understand. We’ve probably thought it or said it all to someone ourselves. I know I have.

  • 152. The Apostate  |  June 6, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Joe Sperling,

    A few of you have treated my dearest friend with great and horrible comtempt…

    No, it is the “Christians” that “follow” the teachings of Paul and other mythmakers that treat Jesus, the Jewish teacher, with exponentially antisemitic contempt, disregarding all that he stood for and all he believed in. Jesus was not a Christian and I personally believed he would be appalled at the most “devout” Christians because of what they call “faith” when they really don’t even know the meaning of the word.

  • 153. Yurka  |  June 6, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    I know it because my criteria were clear and pretty open ended. God needed (and still need) only provide a clear manifestation of some sort.
    #149 LeoPardus – why did you feel you had the right to demand this? All believers go through such times. Why do you think you have any more right that Job or the Psalmist in Psalm 22 to feel the comfort and assurance of God’s presence whenever you demand it? You are the creature, and a sinful one at that (as are we all).

    And I believe that “good ground hearers” is a reference to the parable of the soils found in all 3 synoptics.

  • 154. LeoPardus  |  June 6, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Yurka:

    If you would read your Bible without the blinders on, you’d see that it contains a number of examples of individuals who wanted proof from God of His existence or intentions. Rather than point you to them, I’m going to be really nasty and demand that you actually read the book for yourself and find the examples.

    “good ground hearers” is not a phrase in the Bible. It sounds like the sort of cutesy phrase that southern, fundy preachers would be inclined to come up with. But of course I am entirely familiar with the parables. I’m just not keen on cutesy phrases created to support cutesy theologies.

  • 155. LeoPardus  |  June 6, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Joe Sperling:

    I will not waste more blog space here

    This sounds like, “They didn’t collapse and convert under my withering scripture quoting and apologetics. I’m not getting any notches in my gospel gun here, so I’ll go Bible bash some other forum.”

    I’d like to hope that isn’t it, but sadly you, and a host of other “Christians” have proven that you’re just here to bash, and you don’t give a flying sh:t about anyone who doesn’t agree with you.

    Christ had so much he wanted to give you

    Dude, he’s been dead for a long time. He left some good teachings and I have those. But he’s not alive and hanging with me and looking to give me a blessed life or a new car. That’s only the fantasy world you are in.

    I just wish I could understand it–it boggles my mind

    Only a couple years ago I would have had just as much trouble understanding it too. The de-conversion process, when it did happen, was relatively fast. And once it happened I could hardly believe how clearly I was able to see. It really was as if “I was blind but now I see”.

  • 156. Joe Sperling  |  June 6, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Leo–

    What I meant about “wasting blog space” is that we will just go back and forth. I don’t expect you to “collapse and convert”. I believe the Bible, and you don’t. So it is fruitless for me to try to use it to convince of anything. I wasn’t “bashing” anyone–I was stating my own feelings, and amazement. I’m sure you have often stated your own feelings and amazement towards Christians– you actually do above anyway.

    Zoe’s got it right–that was the path I was taking. I am worried about those “thinking” of deconverting far more than those who already have. Sometimes someone needs encouragement, but other times someone needs a good “shaking” to wake up and not make a supremely bad decision. But I need to let go and let them worry about their own destinies. I’ll just visit and read the blogs for a while and shut up. :>)

  • 157. Jonathan Blake  |  June 6, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    We could most likely argue this point, but to me there is a HUGE difference between a belief in God and a belief in Puff the Magic Dragon

    I’m sure there are many differences, but that’s beside my point. If you can believe in God even when you can see no evidence of his existence because of the inertia of your prior convictions, then you can believe in any fictional character: Puff, Zeus, Vishnu, etc.

    In other words, if the lack of evidence for God is not enough to make you stop believing, then you’ve put yourself in a hermetically sealed bubble of unreason where the only valid conclusion is “God lives”. There’s no possibility of concluding otherwise. This may sound great to you, but someone like that should never claim to be seeking the truth.

  • 158. LeoPardus  |  June 6, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Joe Sperling:

    A few of you have treated my dearest friend with great and horrible comtempt.

    Dude we are trying to get you to look without presuppositional blinders on. He is not your best friend except in your imagination. He is not real. I know how much you think He is. I used to do so too. I again invite you to look in the archives for the article “A Personal Relationship with Jesus”. Read it. You do NOT have a personal relationship with any deity.

    He left Heaven, and became a man due to his great love for mankind. .. He faced scoffing and ridicule. Then he faced whipping and beating, and was finally crucified horribly on a cross. And he did this for YOU and for ME.

    You just cannot grasp the possibility that your belief isn’t true. But no matter how you wish to insist on it, it’s still not true. But hey, I know how much comfort, assurance, and purpose faith gives to many. I can’t really blame anyone for not wanting to give that up.

    You have in affect closed the only door to salvation open to you. And this is a enormous and horrible insult right in the face of God.

    Haven’t closed the door at all. All the all-powerful, all-knowing one needs to do is come up with an event that shows me he’s not just a figment of imagination. An old, obscure book that has led people to all manner of mutually exclusive beliefs does not comprise sufficient evidence. As to insults, I take it as an insult that I am expected to believe in an invisible, intangible, undetectable deity in the face of a substantial lack of evidence for his existence. Especially when, upon reading the Bible, I see scads of visions, dreams, epiphanies, miracles, and so on giving people evidence of God.

    Hey! The apostle Thomas said this, “Unless I see the nail prints in his hands and place my hand in the wound in his side, I WILL NOT believe.” That was from a guy who had been with Jesus for a few years, seen him do miracles, and heard his teachings personally. 2000 years later, I’m asking for no more proof that a guy who actually lived with Jesus wanted.

    I have to speak bluntly about this

    Actually no you don’t. You could listen.

    I really cannot try to “understand your reasons” for deconverting. It’s like a soldier saying “please let me try to explain why I deserted my unit”–the reasons are not really going to matter—the guy deserted–it’s that simple.

    And just how the hell would you know that without hearing his reasons you opinionated, self-centered ass? Maybe he saw that the enemy lines contained members of his own family and he just could not stay and shoot them. Maybe he became violently ill. Maybe he went stark raving mad.

    But NO you don’t have to listen or understand. You KNOW and so “it’s just that simple”.

  • 159. Joe Sperling  |  June 6, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    And just how the hell would you know that without hearing his reasons you opinionated, self-centered ass?

    LOL Leo—

    Why not make this thing personal :>) I would think you would follow the logic I was saying—the Military does not care what your “reasons were for deserting” are—if you deserted your unit, and others got killed or jeopardized by your actions, your “excuses” are not going to matter—you are a deserter. Yes, you will come before a tribunal, etc.–but the fact is you deserted the unit, while the rest of the men held true. I thought this would be clearly understood. At least us opiniated, self-centered asses understand it. :>)

  • 160. LeoPardus  |  June 6, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Joe:

    First off, you were talking about you trying to understand. Now you bring the military and tribunals into the mix. Perhaps you are a military tribunal?

    Second, soldiers who have deserted on the battlefield have been acquitted on the basis of such things as insanity, or illness. Excuses can and do matter. If they didn’t, there wouldn’t even be a need for the tribunal.

    Anyway, if you have any ability within your boxed in world to even try to understand someone who isn’t marching lock-step with your personal interpretations of the Bible and the world, I invite you to peruse the archives of this blog. Mind you, I wouldn’t really blame you for not doing so. Most of the folks hereabouts were just as gung-ho, and cock-sure in the faith as you are. Looking into that which could pull such believers out of the faith, is not an appetizing prospect from where you are now.

  • 161. Joe Sperling  |  June 6, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Leo—

    I tried to find the article or post “A personal relationship with Jesus” but can’t find it. What month and year is it under? I did read an interesting article “Christians cannot accept Deconversion” thouhg. Let me know where it is and I’ll give it a read.

    My mother, God rest her soul, said that when I was born, the doctor held me up to the light and said “This child is destined to be an opinionated, self-centered ass”. “Takes after his father” she said. :>)

  • 162. Joe Sperling  |  June 6, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Can I share one last thing? It might be good for a discussion. This is real, and want to hear your opinion about this:

    Recently I have been having to “cut it close” financially. My son came to live with me when he was 16 years old (his mother and I are divorced) and is now 23. He has never had to pay me rent, or money for bills. About 8 months ago or so he did give me a little money to send for some car insurance I had purchased for him at that time.

    But 8 months have passed. About two nights ago, while praying, I asked “Lord, could you touch Mike’s heart? He makes almost as much money as I do, and I would rather he gave money to me out of the goodness of his heart, rather than me having to beg him for it. Last night, when I got home, Mike was not there, but there was $160.00 on the table. When he got home I asked him if he had mistakenly left money there and he said no, that it was for me. “It’s not much, but I want to help around here a bit more”.

    Did he put the money there possibly because he overheard me complaining to myself a bit about bills? But, it’s been 8 months and I’ve complained a lot about bills! :>)

    So, let me ask: Did God answer my prayer? Or was it just coincidence? This is tricky—think about it. If you WANT it to be an answer, then you believe it was. But if you are in unbelief, it HAS to be coincidence. And if it’s always “coincidence” then you would be one to say “God never answers prayer”—even though it might have been answered right under your nose–you just don’t want to see it.

    But, I understand the other side of the coin—-it could have been pure coincidence, and I attribute to God, because I WANT Him to have answered my prayer. The only thing that comes into question is that the fact remains: 2 days ago I asked God to touch my sons heart, and then two days later he left money on the table for me.

    I’m just curious what your take on this is. Maybe it’s a bit of a stupid question—but just curious. And honestly, this really did just happen, I’m not making this up. How would you have interpreted it when you were a Christian? And how about now that you have deconverted? I know I said I wouldn’t post for a while—-but I forgot I wanted to ask this. After this I’ll try not to post for a while, and let others share. Thanks, Joe

  • 163. Joe Sperling  |  June 6, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    P.S. Before you say “He’s 23 years old for Pete’s sake, just MAKE him pay rent! :>) I uderstand what you are saying—just haven’t had the heart to make him do that. He’s really into music and invests his money into his own recordings, and hopes to “hit it big”, so I figured he could slide for a while—who knows? If he becomes famous maybe he’ll just buy me a house! :>)

    But I truly have had many little things like the above happen, that seem far more than coincidence. I have also had major things happen, that once I thought about, I realized I had asked for in prayer years before. And these were not things I could have accomplished on my own—they literally happened to me, but I really had to stop and recall I had prayed because it took “so long” to get an answer. Perhaps one could chalk it up to “conicidence”, but I have not been able to–it has been to convincing to me. Oh well, I’ll leave it at that.

  • 164. DagoodS  |  June 6, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Joe Sperling,

    It is selective reinforcement of positive results. If one only remembers the expected, reaffirming evidence and disregards all others, one tends to think it was positively proven, when in fact it was merely only looking at certain data—the data proving the point one wants to make.

    Have you ever watched a psychic on a talk-show? It is much the same thing. They send out various missiles to the studio audience, who remember the “hits” and forget the “misses.” Something like this.

    “I see someone whose father has cancer. Does anyone’s father have cancer? Anyone? Or some other sickness…maybe not cancer…a problem with their chest or heart.”

    Some woman puts up her hand.

    “You?”
    “Yes, my father has had a heart attack.”

    “O.K. Does his name start with ‘B’?”
    “No.”

    “Or is there a relative whose name starts with ‘B’—first or last name.”
    “He has a cousin named Bob!”

    “Right, and this cousin work for the government? Or in some sort of social setting?”
    “No…”

    “I see government associated with Bob. Receive a pension? In the Military?”
    “Bob does receive Social Security Disability! Wow!”

    You know what happens? The woman goes out and tells the world how this amazing psychic knew her father had a heart attack, knew he had a cousin named “Bob” who was on social security. She only remembered the hits. She forgot the psychic missed by first asking for cancer, or her Dad’s name, or where her cousin worked. (By the way, I got this from a study in which a very similar thing happened, and people were later stunned, in watching the tape, as to how many hits vs. misses they did not realize were happening.)

    Prayer is much the same thing. I am sure, as a fervent Christian, you pray often. For quite a bit. You keep sending out missiles. You pray for this person to get well, for this person to get a job, for that person to do this or that or another. And quite a few of those are “misses.” Misses you have forgotten.

    Finally, in all the shots taken, you get a “hit.” Coincidence? Not really (Coincidence would have been you asking for your son to pay $160, in the form of one (1) one hundred dollar bill and three (3) twenties, and this is how it was paid) as much as asking for so much it is with little surprise one in a billion strikes.

  • 165. Jonathan Blake  |  June 6, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    A Personal Relationship with Jesus

    Why not make this thing personal

    I suggest it’s not reasonable to call basically everyone here slackers, losers, and deserters and expect them to not take that personally.

  • 166. Joe Sperling  |  June 6, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Dagoods—-

    I appreciate what you are saying, and have seen people like that in action. But what I am talking about is a specific request coming to fruition. It may take time, but it comes about, and is far more than coincidence. I’ll give one example. Several years ago I was involved with a very legalistic church. Two “brothers” abused me spirituality, and left me in a horrible state of grief for years. They had both been “house leaders” where I lived. I lived with a third brother who was extremely different, and whom I lost contact with after that.

    All three of them moved to other locales, and I really had no way of getting in contact with them (or maybe really I just did not want to at the time). But I prayed specifically that one day the Lord could show the two brothers how wrong they had been, and bring them to say they were sorry. I know this was selfish of me, but I desired that they see what they did was wrong.

    I prayed for several years. Then one day, out of the blue, I went onto the Internet to see if that “church” was mentioned. I saw a blurb about the leader and went to the site. It was called “Rick Ross” and mentioned this group called the “assembly” I had been associated with. One ex-member said he was going to start a bulletin board. Now, there had been hundreds and hundreds of members over the years–it is important to remember that. All the pain came rushing back to me, and the experiences I had gone through.

    Within days the new site was up and within days these (3) “brothers” from the past were all on the board at the same time! And there were maybe like 10 total visiting! Now, I ask, what are the odds that out of hundreds of former members, these (3), the (3) I had been praying to get back in touch with, should all be on the board at once??? You can call it coincidence, or selective thinking, or whatever you want—I call it a miracle.

    I was able in a short amount of time to speak with each of them—-to thank the one for his goodness and faithfulness during that rough time, and to confront the other two. The other two, over the years, had realized how wrong they were, and readily asked for forgiveness for the past. I was literlally able to heal old wounds within a few days that I had prayed about for years.

    You may ask, “Why, if there is a God, would he wait SO long to answer your prayers if you were so sincere?” My answer is— I don’t know. The Lord has his timing. Not only was I healed, but they were too—-it was the exact right timing for all of us. When I looked back and remembered my prayers, I knew this was far more than coincidence, or synchronicity, or “hits and misses” as you put it.

    God answers prayers in his own timing—and often answers them in such a different way, and at such a different time, that it often goes right by us—-we don’t realize he has answered them. But I will attest of a surety that he does answer prayers!

    So, I appreciate the “hit and miss” you speak of, and do recognize it—just as a person looking for the good in things will most likely only remember the good, while the person looking for bad in everything will only remember the bad—that is a very true fact also—our minds just work that way. But there are times where the thing that happens is far from being any coincidence, or chance.

    I realize though that my personal experiences probably don’t mean diddly squat to you. That’s OK–boy I can ramble on can’t I? :>)

  • 167. Joe Sperling  |  June 6, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    I suggest it’s not reasonable to call basically everyone here slackers, losers, and deserters and expect them to not take that personally.

    I don’t remember calling anyone a slacker or a loser—-a deserter yes. But I think maybe a few are taking it far more personally than they need to. I mean to call someone an “opinionated, self-centered ass” after a couple of posts is a bit of a stretch, don’t you think? :>) That’s OK—I’ve been called a lot worse. LOL

  • 168. Jonathan Blake  |  June 6, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    I appreciate what you are saying, and have seen people like that in action. But what I am talking about is a specific request coming to fruition. It may take time, but it comes about, and is far more than coincidence.

    This statement shows that you haven’t yet understood his point.

    I don’t remember calling anyone a slacker or a loser

    Not in those words. You said worse things. You have said that those who deconvert haven’t given Christianity enough effort (i.e. they’re slackers) and are going to Hell (i.e. losers).

  • 169. karen  |  June 6, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Joe, if you’re still interested, I recently posted my deconversion story over at another blog.

    You say you can’t understand how we could deconvert, and I sympathize with you. As Leo (or someone) said, we would not have been able to understand a few years ago, either.

    That’s because it is a long (typically), long process of thinking, reading, discussion, more reading, research and more thinking. That’s typically followed by the prayer, tears, worry, begging god for a response, etc. that have already been described here.

    Please understand that deconverting is not a light process that is taken over night, especially not by those of us who spent decades utterly devoted to Jesus Christ and living our lives centered around him, his teachings and the church and Christian community.

    Unless you’ve been in our shoes, please do not judge us. As I mentioned, it’s disrespectful, hurtful and annoying. It certainly doesn’t win you any points here – either with deconverts or with the “lurkers” on the fence who’ve probably heard your entire schtick for years (I know I did).

  • 170. Joe Sperling  |  June 6, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Karen/Johnathan—-

    Understood. I will read your deconversion story.

    I guess where I have the problem is that I went through a horrific experience with a legalistic church. I was under guilt and condemnation for years. I literally wanted to “throw in the towel” and began reading Ingersoll, Joseph Lewis, and an amazing book called “Superstition in all ages” by a Catholic Pries namedt Messier, whose memoirs were found after his death. Voltaire absolutely loved the fact that this priest had written the book. It is a very good book, and he makes good points. He wrote this back in the 1700’s. If you can find a copy it’s an interesting read. Ingersoll is fun to read also.

    BUT, after this supreme struggle, sweat and tears, and crying to God with all of my heart, I came through it into some of the brightest and clearest knowledge of God I have ever known. It was impressed upon my heart, soul and mind that God did indeed exist despite all of my doubts and struggling. I realized (though you will most likely call this “bunk”) that I had been severely tempted to turn back–tested if you will–and I ALMOST did!!

    In some ways my prayers were like a persistent writer, sending off his manuscript over and over again to publishers and being turned down. Does the writer give up, or keep trying and sending it once again? Finally the writer gets an acceptance letter in the mail. Does God do that with some of us? It’s possible. The writer learns through the persistence that he/she believes in themeself enough to keep trying, and they deserve to be a writer! Do Christians face the same test? Does God see if they truly are going to give up on their faith, or will they continue to believe despite everything that seems to fly into the face of it? I think it is very possible.

    I’ve communicated with Dan Barker in the past, and read many books by atheists as I mentioned above. I have also studied cults extensively, and am now studying deconversion, as it intrigues me to no end. Forgive me if this appears to be “bashing”, but I really do believe the Bible literally, and am only repeating what it says. Perhaps you may be able to understand just a bit more why I am posting—I am trying to learn, and also experiencing the reaction of those who have left the faith to one still espousing it.

    All the best. –Joe

  • 171. Joe Sperling  |  June 6, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Karen—

    I clicked on the link above and saw “Ebay atheist” and the first thing I thought was “Man—what do you do, order stuff and then they tell you it doesn’t really exist?” I know, bad humor.

    I went to Greg Laurie’s church for a time out in Riverside–“Harvest”. I was converted later than you were—I was 17–but much of what you stated I have experienced also. Really. Deadness, “where is the comfort I’m supposed to experience from God”, doubting God could be so cruel (some OT stuff is pretty hard to swallow), why are Christians such hypocrits, I wish I could escape all of this, etc. etc. (I gave a small bit of it above). I was in an extremely legalistic church for 6 years and completely lost my desire to be a Christian.

    But I came through it (it took years) with a completely different outcome. I must say, I learned a lot about philosophy, atheism, cults and religions due to that experience, but I came out of it with an even greater faith than I had before. And I mean that seriously.

    But I appreciate your story—thanks for sharing it–I just wish I could understand more why you didn’t hang in there–you may have bailed right before something incredibly wonderful was about to happen!

  • 172. CheezChoc  |  June 6, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    What is a legalistic church?

  • 173. Jim J  |  June 6, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Kieran, the gentleman who allegedly wrote the original post stated:

    Dissatisfaction with the answers to simple questions proffered by the religion was the most common reason cited for de-conversion amongst the sample (14.89%). …. When a figure representing the religion (in the mind of the person asking a question), offers an absurd answer to that question, the asker starts to doubt.

    #1 – Can someone prove that “Kieran” exists? :-)
    #2 – God isn’t going to disappear because we doubt. Doubt is a part of life as a Christian just as it should be for anyone. Wittgenstein wrote that “doubt presupposes belief” and indeed doubt is there to test our belief.

    What happened is that your doubts changed your belief, and my doubts changed mine. Your belief was changed to atheism while my belief was strengthened.

    How can that be? Well, the best example of my doubt is why, as I have dedicated more and more of my time to serving God, my business has faltered in inverse proportion to my increase in service (i.e. doi more for God, get deeper in debt). I could throw up my hands and say, “What’s up with this? Is God impotent or omnipotent?” That’s the same question that you all face, isn’t it? If the former, then you’d still believe. If the latter, you “de-convert”.

    The thought had even crossed my mind to post a “Hezekiah Letter” on my blog (you folks know your Bible- you’ll know what I’m talking about). I prayed on that point long and hard one night, but no answer came to mind why everything was going wrong with my business and God was silent, letting me twist in the wind.

    The next day I was driving through my neighborhood and the agitation surfaced again, only this time an answer came. I suddenly realized how I had been running my business since the beginning – borderline nefariously to be honest – and I was no different now than I was then, if not worse. I couldn’t defend myself. It was like a momentary glimpse into what God really thought of how I did business, his view of it – nothing hidden, no BS, and it was ugly. My business dealings were an abomination to the God I claimed to love with all my heart, soul, mind and strength!

    I was the problem and I was “pitifully unaware of it”, as Carl Jung would say. And “I” suggest that de-converts stopped doubting God, stopped engaging him, and began to believe without doubting that he did not exist. You have become skeptics of religion but of what else? You are united here by your aversion to Christianity rather than your de-conversion from it.

    Last, I ask you if you think you could not doubt God before you de-converted? Often, he makes me very mad, and I do wrestle with him, but if I say he’s not there then I can’t wrestle him. You can’t engage someone who you believe does not exist.

    And this skeptic won’t believe “Kieran” exists unless I can stick my fingers in his blog and make him come out and say Hi! :-)

  • 174. Jim J  |  June 7, 2008 at 12:20 am

    Is God impotent or omnipotent?” That’s the same question that you all face, isn’t it? If the former, then you’d still believe. If the latter, you “de-convert”.

    Uh-oh, reverse “former” and “latter” and it makes sense….

  • 175. Jonathan Blake  |  June 7, 2008 at 9:23 am

    What happened is that your doubts changed your belief, and my doubts changed mine. Your belief was changed to atheism while my belief was strengthened.

    Better luck next time. ;)

    Just because your experiences with doubt ended up strengthening your prior beliefs doesn’t logically imply that your beliefs are true. Nor does it imply that others who deal with doubt differently should have dealt with it like you.

    Your story could run just about the same if we inserted Mr. Rogers for God. Why doesn’t Mr. Rogers help my business in response to my letters? Could he be dead? Oh no, he doesn’t like the unethical way I run my business. He’s not dead.

    And “I” suggest that de-converts stopped doubting God, stopped engaging him, and began to believe without doubting that he did not exist.

    I still have doubts about atheism, but they’re eensy weensy little doubts. :)

    But seriously, you should give up trying to make up general rules about de-converts. You’re only wasting your time trying to find a one-size-fits-all explanation. You’ll only end up deceiving yourself.

  • 176. The Apostate  |  June 7, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Jim,

    And this skeptic won’t believe “Kieran” exists unless I can stick my fingers in his blog and make him come out and say Hi!

    I can’t prove that Kieran exists, but I am sure that, unless we are all greatly deceived by some unexplainable power, someone did write the words “Kieran.” It may have been a trollbot – but that would appear to be unlikely for various reasons. The fact remains – we know how the “blogoverse” works and that text does not appear “ex nihilo.” Whether Kieran exists or not does not matter – we simply call the author of the text “Kieran” so our brains do not explode with radical skepticism.
    God, on the other hand, has not shown his text. We may call the workings of the natural world, without the need of the “supernatural,” “God” – as Einstein did – but this is not the so-called “Judeo-Christian” ruler of the universe and intimate friend residing in my heart.

    This isn’t a game Jim. Let us not be unreasonable. How radical one’s skepticism should be has been debated vigorously since Descartes and Hume, but we here would only like some evidence. Mathematical proofs of existence are unnecessary (although I’ll take them if they are available). Nay, I would be satisfied if the historical record, which is always flawed and incomplete on both literary and philosophical grounds, pointed towards one of the magnificent supernatural beings that we humans claim exist. Personally, an atheistic version of Buddhist philosophy offers much more psychological, ethical, and philosophical truth than any version of Christianity ever offered me – but maybe that is just for me.

  • 177. Jim J  |  June 7, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Apostate,
    Of course I believe in Kieran, that he exists. It’s reasonable to think so. I said that jokingly because it is odd that he hasn’t appeared here in the comments. It’s interesting how he got the ball rolling then seems to have disappeared. Yet we do not doubt that he could come in at any time and comment. That would be unreasonable, wouldn’t it? Hmmmm.

    You wrote..The fact remains – we know how the “blogoverse” works and that text does not appear “ex nihilo.”

    I think the same way about DNA. And yes, I am very skeptical when someone tells me some text that is that complicated appeared “ex nihilo”. Just a thought. Take care.

  • 178. LeoPardus  |  June 7, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Joe Sperling:

    Re your “birth story”… Cute. I got a grin out of that. I figure you gotta admire a guy who can take some hits and make a self-effacing joke as a follow up.

    I think that around here I’m sort of one of the attack dogs (well attack cat actually). When some Christian comes around with all the answers, or a “let me set you straight” approach, I unsheathe the claws, snarl, and leap for the throat. Most of the time the “Christians” fold up like a cheap suitcase and run off with a pout.

    I do all this in part to chase off arseholes, because I can’t stand the smell of their crap. I do it in part because oversimplification, presumption, and stupidity piss me off. I do it in part because I’d actually like to see some of these people get their heads out of there rectums and become decent human beings. I do it in part because I figure that any “real” Christian ought to be able to take a good deal more than some dude on the internet being mean to them. (Can you imagine Paul or Peter pouting and leaving the Acropolis with a whine?)

    Call it a test; call it an attack; call it a mean streak. Whatever you call it, you seem to have pulled up, taken a look at yourself, and decided to calm down and listen a bit. And you’re offering comments and queries in more of a “how’s this?” attitude now, rather than a “here’s how it is” attitude.

    I think there’s a measure of humility in that. (A Christian trait to be sure, eh?)

    So I for one am glad you stuck it out and I hope you’ll stick around a little while. I also hope you gain some understanding of us, since you say it intrigues you. And I’ll be entirely content to see you keep to the faith. De-converting anyone isn’t my big goal in life. I’m just looking for honesty and truth in so far as I can find it.

    I’d like to respond to your inquiries about ‘answers to prayer’. Right now though, I’ve got a swim lesson to conduct. So I’ll get at it later.

    Oh, and just so you know (if you didn’t guess already), I do tend to address things very “head on”. So while I do think you’ve earned real respect, I’ll still be pretty confrontory. Just wanted you to be braced. :)

  • […] immune from realising it’s faults, and that religions would have all the answers to the really simple questions down pat. I mean, surely children have been asking the church “what about dinosaurs” since […]

  • 180. Joshua  |  June 8, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    All these de-conversions (though they were never saved in the first place) could have been solved if the hypocrites would just say, “I don’t have all the answers.” Falsely religious people can’t admit that.

  • 181. Joshua  |  June 8, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    I looked at the site of this Jim J. guy you’re “arguing” with and it appears he’s as steeped in unbelief as you all are. He just can’t admit it.

  • 182. jonnyprice  |  June 8, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    Leo –

    “Since you’re on this site, I’m gonna address one claim in your intro. I refocused my life and started a true daily relationship with God. Look in the archives and read the article entitled, “A Personal Relationship with Jesus” if you like.”

    I appreciate your responce and I did in fact read your blog. Thank you for an honest answer. I can respect and understand where you’re coming from, however, I do disagree. I do not wish to push my belief upon you, but I will say that my life has been transformed over this last year dramatically, for the better, and it is through Christ that this has happened for me.
    I do not need ‘scientific proof’ there is a God, I simply believe. To me the Bible, talking with God, living my life for Him, it slakes my thirst for truth. I will always have questions, simple human fact. And that’s ok, what would happen if we did not question things? We would not perfect them.

  • 183. jonnyprice  |  June 9, 2008 at 12:13 am

    “I do not need ’scientific proof’ there is a God, I simply believe. To me the Bible, talking with God, living my life for Him, it slakes my thirst for truth. I will always have questions, simple human fact. And that’s ok, what would happen if we did not question things? We would not perfect them.”

    I must re-phrase this for the sake of being misunderstood.
    When doing these (among many others) my thirst for truth is being quenched, I will always have questions and I will always search for truth. But here is where I find it.

    Wheather we are here simply to find out who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’ well, we will all find out when we die what the ‘True’ answer is, I think we all can agree on this. This is where I find my truth, In God and Jesus Christ.
    (Please don’t assume in this statement I’m claiming your wrong, I’m simply saying we will see when death overcomes us, Although I will state I do believe I am right, it is evident because I would not live my life in this manner if I did not and the same yours)

    I wish to talk in a peaceful manner between you all. I have been reading this blog since the start and have learned much from your postings, I think I have learned a better understanding for where you come from and I thank you for your open honesty. I am here to learn and also discuss (if prompted), but in a manner of respect for both our belief and as decent human beings. I do believe you guys would agree with this.

  • 184. The Apostate  |  June 9, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Jim J on “The Author”:

    …Yet we do not doubt that he could come in at any time and comment. That would be unreasonable, wouldn’t it? Hmmmm.

    No of course it would not be unreasonable. This author, whoever it may be, has shown that he or she has the ability to write a coherent article (and does so elsewhere, as I believe this is a republished post). No one doubts this because the author’s signature is at the bottom; although it certainly could be an easy forgery, there is little reason to doubt the moderator’s integrity because their is little gain by putting the name “Keiran” at the bottom. Signing a book “God” or “An Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ” or the like would, however, demand some scrutiny. Of course, I wouldn’t want to blame God for some of the stuff found in the collection that Christians call “The Holy Bible.”

    Jim J on “Ex nihilo”:

    I think the same way about DNA. And yes, I am very skeptical when someone tells me some text that is that complicated appeared “ex nihilo”. Just a thought. Take care.

    Do you believe that scientists say DNA came to be ex nihilo? As far as I am concerned, this doesn’t seem to be the case – if anything, it is the origin of the universe that is much more problematic for many people (which should only create a thirst to learn more about – something that sadly does not happen as people jump to their god of the gaps).

  • 185. LeoPardus  |  June 9, 2008 at 12:54 am

    jonnyprice:

    Thanks for taking the time to read. I don’t mind that you don’t agree. You read it, and you thought about it. That’s quite enough.

    my life has been transformed over this last year dramatically, for the better

    I’m glad. One of the good things about the faith that I do acknowledge is that it can and does help people at times. We’ve all heard of people coming out of messed up lives because they “got religion”. For those people I’m happy that they found a way to get it together.

    Thanks for reading and responding.

  • 186. jonnyprice  |  June 9, 2008 at 1:08 am

    Thanks Leo, I appreciate your attitude.

    Now just a bit of humer, as ‘Dane Cook’ states it. When a Christian sneezes, the responce from someone is “God bless you” when an athiest sneezes, what do you say? “When you die nothing happens!”

    Now, on a serious note. I am 99% sure of it but just for claritys sake (since I have never actually conversed with an athiest before), you as athiest do believe nothing happens when you die, correct? Just simply the end of life completely?

  • 187. jonnyprice  |  June 9, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Misspelling…meant to say *humor*…wish there was a no ‘edit’ button…

  • 188. Jim J  |  June 9, 2008 at 1:30 am

    Joshua #181 – Could you explain your statement? It appears nonsensical.

    Apostate – There are no gaps in God.

  • 189. Jim J  |  June 9, 2008 at 1:44 am

    Joshua,
    I just looked over your website and you seem to be one of those young, mental fundamentalists who think every other Christian is an apostate. You’re actually protesting the work of Greg Laurie? Follow him and shine his shoes a few times, then criticize him…..

  • 190. Joshua  |  June 9, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Greg Laurie’s god has as much power as a cloud. Laurie’s a lying whore who tells people what they want to hear, and so are you. Read the Bible.

  • 191. Joshua  |  June 9, 2008 at 9:14 am

    Does Greg Laurie keep Bible verses on his shoes?

    I will not “shine his shoes” as you wickedly tell me to do. That would be casting what is holy before the dogs (Matthew 7:6).

    And yes, most other “Christians” are apostate (Matthew 7:13). That is a basic Biblical teaching. I separate myself as God tells me to (Hebrews 13:13). You do not believe these things because you are an atheist.

  • 192. Jim J  |  June 9, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Joshua,
    You apparently like to make assertions and, yes, the Bible is full of similar assertions. But what do you mean?

    And what is your purpose on an atheist website attacking a theist who is one of three theists versus 20 atheists with your obscure “Bible numbers man” jabberwocky? It would make a good Monty Python skit but I don’t think it goes over so well here.

  • 193. LeoPardus  |  June 9, 2008 at 10:34 am

    jonnyprice:

    when an athiest sneezes, what do you say?

    I’ve always used, “Gesundheit” :)

    since I have never actually conversed with an athiest before

    Glad you’re taking the time and trouble to do so now. I think it will help you understand your own beliefs better if you try to understand others.

    you as athiest do believe nothing happens when you die, correct? Just simply the end of life completely?

    Of course I can’t be sure what happens after death, but I tend to go with the position you just described. As someone hereabouts put it recently, when you die it will be like before you were born; you just won’t exist.

  • 194. Ubi Dubium  |  June 9, 2008 at 11:34 am

    jonnyprice:

    Well, in my house, we also say “Gesundheit”. But more often, when one of my kids sneezes (it’s allergy season), we say “oh, yuck, get a tissue!”

    “you as athiest do believe nothing happens when you die, correct? Just simply the end of life completely?”

    Well, that’s part of it. When I die, I’ll be gone, but the effect I will have had on other people will not. My concern is not “getting to heaven”, it’s “leaving the world, and the people in it, better off for my having been here”. It’s part of finding your own purpose in life, rather than having one assigned to you by your religion. Hope that’s helpful.

  • 195. Joshua  |  June 9, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    You apparently like to make assertions and, yes, the Bible is full of similar assertions. But what do you mean?

    And what is your purpose on an atheist website attacking a theist who is one of three theists versus 20 atheists with your obscure “Bible numbers man” jabberwocky? It would make a good Monty Python skit but I don’t think it goes over so well here.

    I am trying to save you, not the atheists here, who do nothing but argue over words (note post #19 here), for I “go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6).

    The point is that if you are still a part of conventional Christianity, and all these de-conversion stories came out of conventional (i.e. false) Christianity, you are not saved (Jeremiah 15:17; Hebrews 13:13). Of course they quickly lost faith in their god. The god they were worshiping doesn’t exist.

  • 196. Joe Sperling  |  June 9, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Cheez Choc—-

    A “legalistic” church is kind of a vague reference I guess. What I mean is that it was out of the “mainstream”—all the women wore head-coverings, we lived in “brothers houses” under a “house leader”, followed many rules and fines, we did not celebrate Christmas or watch television, or even play cards. They taught that if you didn’t watch out, and were too rebeliious, God would shut you out of the “Inheritance”, just as he shut the Israelites out of the Promised Land. It was a terrifying, binding place—I went through a couple of things there, that when I describe it, call it “spritual rape”. Those things led me to leave, turn my back on God, and not read my Bible, or associate with Christians for years.

    I still suffer guilt feelings due to the deep fear associated with such teachings. However, I have not lost faith in God because I know these were MEN’s teachings, not God’s. Why would God “allow” me to go through those things? I really don’t know—He allows quite a few things that I question—-but I still believe, and will always believe in Him.

    This will sound funny, but in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, a type of born-again Christianity exists. Each of the people is given an “impression” they just can’t shake—it has been placed in them to “draw them” to Devil’s Postpile. Every time I see that movie, I remember that I too was impressed upon greatly one day a long time ago that there was a HEAVENLY JERUSALEM I was destined for, and a loving God who was “drawing” me there. When I am tempted to disbelieve (which I admit can happen often) I remember the first experience I had—-how REAL it was, and then I remember that the Word of God confirms it, along with the Holy Spirit which he has given me.

    Leo—thanks for the post. I appreciate your being a watch dog–even a vicious one (LOL)—I can imagine all the people who come out of the woodwork to post here. I think this guy Joshua is being sarcastic actually—as I read his posts it sounds like a character someone has invented. :>)

    –Joe

  • 197. The Apostate  |  June 9, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Jim J,

    Apostate – There are no gaps in God.

    I recognize now for the third time that you don’t care to carry on any sort of debate, but only make unsupported claims and then dismiss the rest of a comment by ignoring it completely.

    What does “There are no gaps in God” even mean? Do you mean that there are no gaps in your god because you can make your god whatever you want it to be (hence the evolution from the anthropomorphic Yahweh to the omniscient, omnipotent deity with three personages). Do you mean that God has no gaps because he is perfect in every way (except for when he comes down as his “Son” and has limited knowledge of humankind’s destiny)?
    Either way, this is not what I was speaking of and you very well know that. The god of the gaps I speak of, of course, is the god that is created by the ignorance of man: whenever there is something that a person who revels in primitivism does not understand, he or she attributes it to an equally mysterious, but much more human-like power. This is the god of the gaps. It is the god that fills in the misunderstandings of finite conscious beings and is worshiped because of it. The problem is, however, that this god continues to diminish because it is a self-inflicted straw man that has theists so trapped into a corner of a valueless god.

  • 198. LeoPardus  |  June 9, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    as I read his posts it sounds like a character someone has invented

    Agreed. We get a lot of “charicatures” in here.

  • 199. Jim Jordan  |  June 9, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Apostate,
    “Do you believe that scientists say DNA came to be ex nihilo? As far as I am concerned, this doesn’t seem to be the case – if anything, it is the origin of the universe that is much more problematic for many people (which should only create a thirst to learn more about – something that sadly does not happen as people jump to their god of the gaps).”

    I wrote, “There are no gaps in God.”

    You might find someone in Appalachia in a shack who personifies your imagined strawman, “people jump to their god of the gaps” instead of wanting to learn more. Biblically, nature and the universe are God’s handi-work and we are called to investigate it. That’s why we are here; to witness to the beauty of the creation (Psalms 19 and 66 for starters). I’m right beside you in wanting to learn more about DNA. However, we know DNA to be an amazingly complex storage and dispensing system of massive amounts of information. It’s exponentially more complicated than this blog. I think that’s a reasonable hypothesis to make. You think you’re hypothesis (that it somehow came about by small, unguided yet successful steps) is more reasonable. I do not agree.

    Like Kieran, I believe the Author exists. And we’re not going to stop investigations into the origins of DNA because we believe that. It’s an incentive, not a distraction.

  • 200. Anonymous  |  June 10, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Finally, there is someone who knows what I’ve been talking about! Jim hit it right on the mark. The god of many theists and evangelists is false. it is a fake, and has no meaning. I see that there is no one to answer Jim. Is it that Atheism is a religion too, meaning that it has its own forms of defense mechanisms as well? All I know is, there is more to God and the universe that what all of us have been told. I’ve said before that science and religion(or at least spirituality) must never be separated, and I have a question to support that. There is a lost text called the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and in one of the passages it says that all came from God and so that is where all must return. The question is what makes this passage different from the Big Bang/Big Crunch theories, especially when some people use God and the Universe interchangably?

  • 201. societyvs  |  June 10, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    How can there not be de-converts if this is their claim? The process of conversion cannot be reversed? If so, who says this?

    Conversion is a process by which we accept a faith and then begin the participation in it. I personally think conversion happens as we go along personally – but that does not mean one cannot de-convert from a previous belief/stance – due to new evidence and reasoning. As easily as it is to convert – it’s just as easy to de-convert from that process also.

    Now the de-convert cannot say they did not learn what they know they full well learned – granted – but they can refute the ideas they previously learned and change their path in a sense.

    Christians do this all the time concerning their beliefs. Jim, your a smart person – do you still hold to a 6000 year old earth? Even if you do, no matter what it started with the creation story and grew from there (the 6000 year theory is not in the bible). Then you learn of new adjustments to the creation theory and make some small adjustments to your beliefs (maybe even thanks to Hugh Ross). But nonetheless, you made changes over the years didn’t you? What started out as a very simple idea has become more complex – because you studied it…that is in essence – the process of conversion of ‘thing A’ to ‘thing B’.

    I don’t understand how someone cannot de-convert in the same process of learning? All de-convert is a convert moving away from his/her conversion experiences – into what I would call more conversion experiences (what they call de-conversion experiences).

  • 202. Anonymous  |  June 10, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    De-conversion can be a rough process, though. I de-converted from Chistianity, sort of. I left the mainstream religion in order to find out what it really means to believe in the true God. Hopefully I will know what it means. If I were only to believe what the Bible says, I would only end up worship a book of many errancies. I don’t really believe that there is no God, but becoming an athiest is a step closer to the truth when it concerns the “Holy Scriptures”.

  • 203. Jim Jordan  |  June 10, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    society—Jim, your a smart person – do you still hold to a 6000 year old earth?

    Never did. The scriptures don’t require it (Job 38 specifically warns us against this error) and a whole mountain of evidence supports a 4.5 billion year old earth and a 13.7 billion year old universe. I’m fine with that.

    There is a fallacy amongst some misinformed Christians – a lot less than atheists would have us believe – who think the evidence must be twisted and pressed into the literal interpretation of Genesis. Their kids go off to college and come back atheists. Kind of serves them right. We are supposed to love the Lord with all our mind, too, you know.

    Real science is nothing less than general revelation; we’re looking into God’s toolbox. So if there appears to be some contradiction between scripture and nature then on a particular point, instead of de-authorizing one or the other, we first need to recognize that the problem is due to a flawed interpretation.

    Science has authority and scripture has authority. They do not contradict each other. Science does not exist to tell us how to live. Scripture does not tell us how to do science.

    Society, the question of conversion is more than just an agreement. We are to love God with all our mind, heart, soul, and strength. The fact that someone now believes that it is impossible that God exists betrays the fact that they did not reach that point at which Jesus defines conversion. That’s my opinion. They don’t agree me anyway, but, it’s odd how much it offends them. It should make no difference at all!

  • 204. Anonymous  |  June 10, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    I’ve had that problem myself. I talk about God in the most polite way I can and yet it got under a lot of people’s skin(especially on this site). It’s like they saw me as some threat or something, and yet they laugh at and ridicule the Evangelists. Whenever I speak no one wants to talk, but when a misformed Christian finds his/her way here, they bomb the mess out of the person. I don’t get it.

  • 205. societyvs  |  June 11, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    “We are to love God with all our mind, heart, soul, and strength. The fact that someone now believes that it is impossible that God exists betrays the fact that they did not reach that point at which Jesus defines conversion” (Jim)

    Well, here’s the problem Jim – loving God is not Jesus definition of conversion – but part of the fulfillment of the commandments. Nowhere in that single passage does it mention conversion.

    Even so, loving God with all of our being is a choice we make to honor God and serve others I would add (both commandments together sum up the commandments – not just one of them). But if it is by choice one chooses to serve God – then why can’t it be reasonable that they choose not to – again by choice? Makes all the sense in the world to me.

    Bascially conversion would have to not be by choice – which makes no lick of sense – since we are to love God with our ‘mind’ also.

  • 206. Jim J  |  June 12, 2008 at 2:07 am

    But if it is by choice one chooses to serve God – then why can’t it be reasonable that they choose not to – again by choice? Makes all the sense in the world to me.

    That’s called disagreement, society, not de-conversion. No wonder atheists think Christians are stupid! They leave the conversation because the Christians start bickering amongst themselves about a bunch of hair-splitting BS.

    Take a course in apologetics and maybe you can understand what I’m saying instead of baning me with your inchoate interpretations. With Christians like you, who needs atheists?

    I’m leaving this thread as it is apparent the atheists have nothing more to say and the Christians have lost their minds….

  • 207. DagoodS  |  June 12, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Just so’s you know:

    1) I have had many conversations with SocietyVs. While we disagree at the very core (the whole atheist/theist thing), I have found him to be studied, honest, forthright and open. I respect his position (while not being convinced by it) and have learned from him. To claim he needs to “take a course in apologetics” is rude, unnecessary and (in my opinion) incorrect.

    2) In all my discussions with SocietyVs, he has never had to resort to telling me I am “talking out of my ass” or that what I said is “bullshit.” SocietyVs has (again in my opinion) a firm grip on the concept of “love God; love your neighbor” in this regard.

    3) I find it vastly amusing how some Christians avoid the exact lettering of words. As if their god (deliberate small “g”) is so petty to differentiate between certain letters and this fine-line keeps them from crossing over into sin. “Mr. Deity” must do an episode on this. (and if you don’t know who “Mr. Deity” is—shame on you!)

    Mr. Deity: That’s it! I can put a mark against Jim J! He used the word ‘ass’—I distinctly heard him.

    Larry: Well, sir. Technically he used the word ‘anus’—so…no….no, you can’t put a mark against him.

    Mr. Deity: Are you sure?

    Larry: Pretty sure, sir. We discussed this before. Remember there are certain words which, if a person uses, we can put a black mark against their name. ‘Ass, asshole, asswipe, …’ the list is pretty complete all the way to ‘weapons of mass destruction.’

    Mr. Deity: But he said, ‘Talking out of your anus.’ We all know that the phrase is ‘talking out of your ass’ and how an anus is an ass—isn’t this close enough?

    Larry: But it is not the actual word. Remember the whole discussion over ‘H-E-Double Hockey Sticks’ and how we decided that did not quite qualify as saying ‘Hell’?

    Mr. Deity: Right, right…

    Larry: Well, this is much the same thing. The letters a-n-u-s are not the same as a-s-s, even though everyone knows exactly what it means.

    Mr. Deity: What about ‘a-hole’—surely THAT has to be wrong.

    Larry: Well…no, sir. See, those two missing letters of ‘s’ and ‘s’ technically make it O.K.

    Mr. Deity: There has to be something on that list.

    Larry: He DID say ‘BS.’

    Mr. Deity: What?! ‘Bachelor of Science’ is a forbidden term?

    Larry: No—

    Mr. Deity: Boy Scouts?…Backspace?…Bible Study…Bus Stop…work with me here,

    Larry: Bull shit…sir. ‘BS’ is short for ‘bull shit.’

    Mr. Deity: Oh. And that is on the list?

    Larry: Yes.

    Mr. Deity: Great! I knew we could mark him down for something…

  • 208. Zoe  |  June 12, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Jim J,

    Christians insult one another far more then they insult atheists.

    That’s why they often sit back and watch the action.

    They don’t have to argue or debate, the Christians do it for them.

    What is left for us to say, as we sit back and read a “Christian” come into the discussion and accuse another “Christian” of basically being an atheist too, like the rest of the d-Cons?

    Then Society enters in, in a far more “jesusl-like” fashion then many other “Chrisians” I’ve encountered and then you a “Christian” come along and insult him as though you are “God’s” gift to the world in understanding and apologetics of all things “God.”

    Good heavens Jim J. It’s you that we can’t take seriously. Look how you treat your fellow human beings.

  • 209. finallyhappy  |  June 12, 2008 at 10:12 am

    #208…my thoughts exactly.

  • 210. LeoPardus  |  June 12, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Dagood:

    I now have the Mr Deity scene completely ingrained in my head. You should send the script to them.

  • 211. Yurka  |  June 12, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Soda Dog? Dodo Gas? I see he’s left his position as a triablogue punching bag for easier pickings here.

  • 212. Jim J  |  June 12, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Btw, BS stands for Bothersome Silliness. :-) I know that I might think I’m a teflon Christian but I’m sure the Deity will dedicate a moment or two to kicking my anus when my time comes.

    My comment seems to have brought everyone out of the woodwork. You were reading after all! So no one wants to refute my point that the God of the Gaps is a strawman argument?

    Oh, and society/Jason, you have my apologies. We can disagree on that point as Christians.;-)

  • 213. DagoodS  |  June 12, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    LeoPardus,

    Good to know someone else appreciates Mr. Deity. And if you don’t, here is another tidbit from an actual Mr. Deity episode where God is talking to Luci(fer) about what men will be like:

    Lucifer: Will men be able to clean anything?

    Mr. Diety: Oh sure. They can clean lots of things…like cars…and…and…gee, I know there must be something else…

    Lucifer: Clothes? Dishes? Bathrooms?

    Mr. Deity: No…no…no….hmmm…

    Lucifer: Well at least they can clean themselves, right?

    Mr. Deity: Huh. Guess it IS just cars.

  • 214. Zoe  |  June 12, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    My favourite episode DagoodS. :mrgreen:

  • 215. LeoPardus  |  June 12, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    My favorite Mr Deity episode is the one where he has all the prayers on his voice mail. Just great stuff.

  • 216. societyvs  |  June 12, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    “Oh, and society/Jason, you have my apologies. We can disagree on that point as Christians” (Jim J)

    Apology accepted – as long as you can accept that I am also well versed in what I am trying to incorporate into the conversation.

    That being said, my point is the exact point of the de-convert – they made a choice and decided what they wanted to do. I think we have to take them at their word as to what they are saying – since we would also want that benefit of the doubt when we approach a subject that comes from a personal place in us.

    Point being, how can I know if I am even a Christian then – if a de-convert cannot make a call on their own conversion (or de-conversion)? I make the claim I am a Christian – but that would not be quite good enough then – since I am making a claim I cannot back up with anything but a personal story. Same would go for any Christian in my opinon – what’s the basis of their proof for conversion? I have said it is ‘choice’ – but if it is not – then by what measure is this convo being weighed?

    If Dagoods (thanks by the way for the nice words – and Zoe also) says he has ‘deconverted’ from faith – I have to hear him out and take his testimony as part of his definition of who he is. I really don’t have much more to stand on in this arena when dealing with someone else’s personal stories – than their words.

    I also expect others to take my personal story about conversion at it’s word – not saying they can’t question it – but they cannot question it’s definition and say ‘oh that’s not conversion that’s something else’. How would they know for certain first off? And even if a personal story is a weak point to argue from – in the conversion debate – it is truly all we have.

  • 217. Ubi Dubium  |  June 13, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    societyvs:

    Point being, how can I know if I am even a Christian then – if a de-convert cannot make a call on their own conversion (or de-conversion)? I make the claim I am a Christian – but that would not be quite good enough then – since I am making a claim I cannot back up with anything but a personal story.

    Well, from my Atheist point of view, your claim to be a christian is quite good enough to make you one. Since I don’t think there is a real god to have a relationship with, I don’t have any reason to question anybody’s assertions about how deep and sincere their relationship is. If you self-identify as as christian, and say that you believe in that religion, that suffices for me. I require no “proof” of your conversion, (or eventual de-conversion, should that happen). I think we are on the same wavelength about taking each person at their word regarding the sincerity of their own experiences and beliefs.

    JimJ, I’ll respond to your “god-of-the-gaps” strawman argument. I have encountered many fundamentalist christian activists who use a “god-of-the-gaps” type argument when they are trying to push their mythology into the public schools. They will put forth some scientific question for which science does not yet have a definitive answer (such as “how did life begin?”) and then claim that, since it cannot currently be explained, the answer must be “goddidit”. Or, when I ask them what their basis is for believing in a god, they reply that the existence of a creation implies that there must be a creator. They are filling in a gap in their knowledge by assuming a god. We are not knocking down a strawman if we are refuting arguments that christians have actually made to us.

    To argue that all christians have a “god-of-the-gaps” mentality I would concede would be a strawman argument. But I have a brother-in-law who is a charter member of the Creation Museum. His answer to any question about the history of life is that it can all be found in the bible. So, in his case, “god-of-the-gaps” is not a strawman argument at all.

  • 218. Jim Jordan  |  June 13, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    But I have a brother-in-law who is a charter member of the Creation Museum.

    O nooooo! The Fred Flintstone interpretation. I sympathize with you and, in that case, you are correct that it isn’t a strawman argument for your b-i-l. It’s my understanding that that is a minority view just the same.

    I like your knickname btw. It’s kind of like the saying in latin “Where there is doubt (there is freedom)” meets Roy Orbison :-). Cheers.

  • […] 18, 2008 Earlier I stated that dissatisfaction with the answers to simple questions proffered by the religion was the most common reason cited for de-conversion amongst the sample I […]

  • 220. Ubi Dubium  |  June 18, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Jim Jordan:

    Thanks. The first time I saw the phrase “Ubi Dubium, Ibi Libertas” I knew I had found my online handle. Although I think of it as more Sinatra-like. Not that I can sing like Sinatra (unless it’s Nancy Sinatra).

    The creationist brother-in-law can be scary at times. He’s not the only religious one in the family, but he’s the only one who’s pushy about it. That’s been my experience with a lot of the “god-of-the-gaps” arguments. It may not be the case that most believers think like that, but many of the noisy pushy ones do. There is a recent post on Pharyngula that contains a good example of this.

  • 221. 7 Reasons why Christians de-convert « de-conversion  |  June 29, 2008 at 11:30 am

    […] Why d-C? (1) Answer the damn question Mr. Priest! […]

  • 222. Joe  |  July 3, 2008 at 11:42 am

    I finally found an article I read a few years ago in a time-Life book and wanted to share it along with a comment at the end that I make as a joke (though I believe it holds some validity):

    from the Book “Galaxies”, Time-Life Books

    A WEBWORK OF SUPERCLUSTERS PG. 119

    “Regions where many clusters are found to have near neighbors are considered to be possible Superclusters. To ensure that the patterns detected by the computer
    are not just coincidental groupings in an otherwise disorderly cosmos, researchers use the same program to analyze a simulated sector of sky with randomly scattered
    clusters. It appears that there is less than one chance in a million that the structures are the result of chance. Vast Superclusters almost certainly reflect an underlying
    structure in the Universe”.

    I seriously have to ask how one interprets the above article? If rocks were found apparently “organized” and someone says “there is only a one in a million chance that these were organized by chance” what is one’s immediate conclusion? That someone organized them. Unless you want to go with the one, and bet on it, over the million odds.

    I have to ask—-if not by chance, then how did they become “structured”? Remember in the movie “Dumb and Dumber” where Jim Carrey asks the woman “what are the chances you and me could become an item?” She says “One in a million”. Carrey says “So I still have a chance!!” Trying to claim that the one out of the million above concerning superclusters could still happen by chance is about as illogical as Carrey’s statement in the movie. LOL

  • 223. Joe  |  July 3, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Correction: Above, when speaking of the organized rocks I should say “the odds are a million to one this happened by chance”–my wording was put together poorly above.

  • 224. HeIsSailing  |  July 3, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Joe says:

    If rocks were found apparently “organized” and someone says “there is only a one in a million chance that these were organized by chance” what is one’s immediate conclusion? That someone organized them. Unless you want to go with the one, and bet on it, over the million odds.

    Joe, the way you are asking the question already assumes the answer.

    The best example I can give is of a snowflake. Look at the underlying structure of an individual snowflake. Yet, each one is unique – they all look different in some way. How do we explain such structure, such organization in the snowflake? When we pick one up, we know there is a 1 in a squillion chance of it being that way – how do we explain such odds?

    Do we invoke the Supernatural at that point when explaining the structure of the snowflake? NO! We know enough about water chemistry, the forces between polar molecules and the physics behind crystalline structure that we can fully explain the amazing structure of each unique snowflake! Pick up a snowflake and explain how it only has a 1 in a squillion chance of having the structure that it does!! The answer is that every possible combination has the same odds attached to it – no combination that follows the physical laws of water chemistry is necessarily the ONLY combination possible. The Supernatural is not needed in this case.

    As far as galactic superclusters? It is precisely the same logic, except different physical laws apply. See, there is this thing called gravity…

  • 225. Joe  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    HelsSailing—–

    The article above states that their are one in a million odds that the superclusters are the result of chance. If there is no creator–then everything has to be by chance—how could it not? Is it pure chance that each smowflake is uniquely different? Pure chance that everyone on the planet has different fingerprints? The article is saying that “almost certainly” there is structure to the Universe. Without an intelligence, how could it be so structured? I know that you have a way around this—you always do LOL —but to me it truly does not make sense to deny the obvious. I know—here we go again—circular argument. Hey, at least I’m giving it a shot eh? LOL

    I’m sorry, but with Spock I would have to say “That is highly illogical”

  • 226. John T.  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Joe

    I believe youre right about it being created and as such a creator behind it. I just think its “highly illogical” that it is a Christian creator. ;)

  • 227. HeIsSailing  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Without an intelligence, how could it be so structured?

    *gag*
    re-read my above comment – you are phrasing the question in such a way that it already assumes the answer. I told you how snowflakes are structured. Pick up a physics or chemistry book and learn about the physical laws that govern this structure. Then pick up an astronomy book and learn a little bit about how gravity works, and how gravity helps build the structure we observe in the universe.

    Structure does not automatically imply intelligence, despite the way you phrase the question.

  • 228. John T.  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    HeIsSailing

    “Structure does not automatically imply intelligence”

    So let me ask, when do you decide whether there is intelligence behind the creation of something?

  • 229. HeIsSailing  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    John, I have to leave the computer in a moment.

    Answer this: do you think that the underlying structure of a snowflake is unexplainable without the existance of a Transcendent Designer?

  • 230. John T.  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    HeIs Sailing

    I think when I try to get to the origin of anything in this universe, its ultimately(at this present moment) unexplainable.

  • 231. HeIsSailing  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    John T:

    I think when I try to get to the origin of anything in this universe, its ultimately(at this present moment) unexplainable.

    That is not the question I asked. Let me repeat:

    do you think that the underlying structure of a snowflake is unexplainable without the existance of a Transcendent Designer?

  • 232. BigHouse  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    I agree with HeIsSailing. It all has to do with how you phrase the question.

    What are the odds that this rock structure 1s formed in this specific way?

    vs.

    Of all the rock structures in the world, what are the odds that there would be one just like this.

    It’s called ‘begging the question’…

  • 233. Joe  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    HelsSailing—

    Sorry—but I cannot grasp your concept. When someone says to me “the odds are one in a million that this happened by chance” I would immediately think they mean there is at least a “force” behind it—chance is removed, and when you remove chance, you are admitting that something or someone has organized whatever the subject is.

    Again, if I’m hiking with a scientist and we come upon a group of rocks that are ordered into a circle, and the scientist says “The odds are one in a million that those rocks formed into that circle by chance” what option is left? SOMEONE or SOMETHING (maybe an animal) pushed them into position. If chance is out, then what is left? I need a better explanation from you, because you are truly avoiding this question.

  • 234. HeIsSailing  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Joe says:

    I know that you have a way around this—you always do LOL

    Joe, the last time I challenged you on something, it was on your claim that the original apostles of Jesus were all martyred and died horrible deaths for their witness to the resurrection. When you could not back up this statement with any source or historical material, you conceded to – “I just have faith that it happened”

    I don’t see how asking for sources to your bogus claims is “finding a way out” of an argument. In contrast, your retreating to “I just have Faith” is a showstopper. Pulling the ‘Faith’ card is just getting beat up with no recourse, running to your corner, asking the ref for a time out until you can fight another day.

  • 235. John T.  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Do I believe there to be intelligence behind the design of a snowflake and its entire system of molecules and such. Yep. I just dont know how to describe it. Maybe you could help me, by answering my question, which I posed first by the way ;)

  • 236. HeIsSailing  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    I need a better explanation from you, because you are truly avoiding this question.

    How am I avoiding it?

    Here is the answer – GRAVITY is the underlying force in galactic superclusters.

    How can I be any clearer?

  • 237. HeIsSailing  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    John:

    Maybe you could help me, by answering my question, which I posed first by the way

    Read a chemistry book. Or a wikepedia article for crying out loud. Bottom line – educate yourself in how natural science works.

    Seriously.

  • 238. Joe  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    HelsSailing–

    And the Galaxy book is talking about the clusters in the way I am describing coming upon the rocks. There is artwork next to the article showing the Superclusters in four conical type formations. They aren’t saying “out of all the superclusters around what are the odds this group would form like this”—they are saying “this is the group we can observe–it is a massive grouping—the odds are one in a million that they formed like this by chance.” It is truly obvious and easy to be understood. I don’t understand trying to change the statement or the example being made.

  • 239. BigHouse  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Why would a creator design each and every snowflake? To what end? For what purpose? This is the god you want to worship?

    And even if you stipulate there IS a designer, why does it have to be the one YOU believe in? Why can’t it be Vishnu? Or Zeus? or a 1-time prome mover who retired to a condo in heavenly florida and has no hand in the world today?

    I always find that belivers can conveniently jump from arguments that there must be A creator and MY creator is the one that exists.

  • 240. John T.  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    HeIsSailing

    I have a degree in Science, I work in the Health Field. Im actually relatively aware. Im just asking when “You” decide whether there is Intelligence behind the creation of something? Not a difficult question.

  • 241. HeIsSailing  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Joe:

    if I’m hiking with a scientist and we come upon a group of rocks that are ordered into a circle, and the scientist says “The odds are one in a million that those rocks formed into that circle by chance” what option is left?

    Your choice of analogy is wrong because you already know what pushes rocks into a circle. Suppose we instead look at circlular tree rings. We know how those are formed, yet there are a squllion to 1 odds that the rings were placed in that pattern. What do you then conclude? Do we learn about the annual cycles of tree growth or instead just say “God Did It”?

  • 242. John T.  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Bighouse

    Could a Creator just create a system that designs?

  • 243. BigHouse  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Of course, John, he ‘could’. I’m more interested in whether he DID. And WHO he is?

  • 244. Joe  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    helsSailing–

    When I say “you always have a way around this, you always do LOL” I am referring to atheists in general—not you specifically–I was using “you” in the plural sense. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  • 245. John T.  |  July 3, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    BigHouse

    Because I have limited words to describe something I havnt seen physically I use words such as His, Her, It and sometimes what the fuck lol. I define it more as energy and the way my brain is wired, I see design in this world and for me that constitutes a designer, I dont mind if you think im nuts, I personally think people who dont believe in a designer are nuts. You know the funny thing is neither of us can prove the other wrong. But it is fun trying, isnt it?

  • 246. BigHouse  |  July 3, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Fair enough, John. I take most umbrage with the fact that the argument “there must be a designer”, seems to be enough to follow a VERY SPECIFIC god, which ti me, requires about 1000+ more steps to justify.

    I too, remain agnostic, as I think A desginer is possible. I just don’t think he’s described adequately by any specific religion..

  • 247. John T.  |  July 3, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Bighouse

    I agree, also though I think with the possibility of a Designer is the possibility of truth within all belief systems. And none of them corner the market on truth. :)

    I have said this before on other blogs, and to come to think of it maybe here too lol.

    “There was a time when religion thought it would explain the Universe, then came Science, they both come up short.”

  • 248. Joe  |  July 3, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    BigHouse—-

    I don’t care if you accept that the God who created everything is the Christian God—-just an acknowledgement that there is a creator is good enough for me.

    The very fact that all snowflakes are different points towards a creator in my opionion rather than away from him. “The earth declares the glory of God, and the heavens show his handiwork”—uniqueness is his signature. No people the same, no fingerprints the same, no snowflakes the same—each uniquely has it’s purpose and place.

    Voyager 2 just got to the outer reaches of our Solar system—it took from 1977 to 2008 with it traveling at a huge velocity of speed to reach that area (31 years)–when one observes the vastness of space, and how little we know, I am always astounded to hear someone say that there absolutely is no God. They ask for proof. Man, all I have to do is grab a telescope and look into space and that is proof enough for me.

  • 249. Obi  |  July 3, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Joe —

    Your “you always have a way around this” seems like a disparaging remark towards people who seek to explain how things work for you, but you seem to dislike that because you’d rather remain ignorant about how such things happen so as to leave more room for your “god of the gaps” to move about within. The answer as to why superclusters are condensed like that is because of gravity as has been said multiple times before.

    However, your “this is a one in a million chance, therefore there is a designer who did this” argument and then conclusion is a foolish one for multiple reasons. For example, take the configuration of the air molecules in the room you are in right now. Of all the molecules and atoms in the entire Universe, the odds that the specific ones in your room would would be where they are (in your room) and in the spatial configuration that they are in right now is quadrillions upon quadrillions upon quadrillions to one. However, that’s how they are. Why? Because even though the odds are small, they’re still there. Are you going to attribute their configuration to the design of your mythological deity of choice?

  • 250. John T.  |  July 3, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Obi

    Maybe Joe likes his rendition of a creator. So be it. Im curious though what designed Gravity?

  • 251. Joe  |  July 3, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Obi—

    Why didn’t the Time-Life Writers mention “Gravity”? Why did they mention the odds of 1 in a million that it could not have taken place by chance if ait was all that simple?. Why didn’t they just say—-“These huge superclusters are easily explained because of gravity”?

    When I say “you always have a way around it”—look at your post–“Oh–it’s all explained by gravity”—you do not address the odds, the article, the reason they made the statement—-to you gravity explains it all—but who “structured” the gravity to perform in such a way that a 1 in a million chance would occur for four conical groupings of superclusters would form to totally blow away the scientists? You just “go around” anything that just might be answered by there being a Creator.

    It’s like this book I was reading by an atheist. He (because he was from the 18th century) said that the Universe does not prove a creator. But then he goes on to say that “the Universe has always been” (he was not aware the Universe did have a beginning 14 billion years ago). But my point is—-he was totally unwilling to accept that their is a being “who has always been”, but fully willing to accept a Universe that has “always been”. To me that is the height of absurdity.

  • 252. Obi  |  July 3, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    John T. —

    I’m curious, why does gravity have to be designed?

    Joe —

    Ah Joe, indeed. You’re completely right, Time-Life writers are at the bleeding edge of astrophysics and astronomy. Who am I to question their authority? Of course they’ve filled their writing staff with the likes of Steven Hawking, Alan Guth, and even Edwin Hubble. Please.

    Regardless, I have no problem with you marvelling at nature, but attributing everything you see and don’t fully understand to the work of some mystical and transcendant creator is foolish, especially when it overcomplicates explanations and begs the question of who designed the creator who supposedly created the Universe.

  • 253. John T.  |  July 3, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Obi

    Ok how where does gravity come from? what is its initial source?

  • 254. Ubi Dubium  |  July 3, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Joe:

    It’s like this book I was reading by an atheist. He (because he was from the 18th century) said that the Universe does not prove a creator. But then he goes on to say that “the Universe has always been” (he was not aware the Universe did have a beginning 14 billion years ago). But my point is—-he was totally unwilling to accept that their is a being “who has always been”, but fully willing to accept a Universe that has “always been”. To me that is the height of absurdity.

    As you just pointed out, he was living in the 18th century. He was working with the best information he had at the time. Evidence for our expanding universe did not come until much later, in the early 20th century.

    That’s what scientists DO. They figure out how the world works from the evidence they have, and then refine it as new evidence is found. Your 18th century atheist already had evidence for the idea that the cosmos is immensely old, but did not yet have any evidence for a particular start time, so he was not assuming one. Reasonable for the 18th century.

  • 255. Ubi Dubium  |  July 3, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    John T.

    Ok how where does gravity come from? what is its initial source?

    Gravity comes from mass. It’s one of the four basic forces in the universe. Please take a physics course or two before you start arguing about physics.

  • 256. John T.  |  July 3, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Ubi

    Whos arguing. Im asking. So tell me where the four basic forces originate from?

  • 257. Joe  |  July 3, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Obi—

    Ah Joe, indeed. You’re completely right, Time-Life writers are at the bleeding edge of astrophysics and astronomy.

    What a cop-out. Instead of answering the question—-“why didn’t they not just conclude the superclusters are there due to gravity?”–as you state is the simple explanation for it, now you attack the Time-Life writers instead. If scientists are making a statement that there are one in a million odds that these superclusters appeared by chance, there must be a reason for doing so. If gravity could explain it all away, then the scientists would have said so. I am really surprised at that type of response—I expected a logical, very good reason why they didn’t resort to your easy explanation for the Superclusters forming such as they do. Maybe you should write them and say “Listen you dimwits, don’t you understand? The answer is simple: gravity”. Then they can shake their heads and say “Why didn’t we think of that? This Obi is one smart cookie.”

  • 258. Joe  |  July 3, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Ubi—

    I didn’t say he was a scientist—I said he was an atheist—he was an atheist priest to be exact.

    My point is what he was willing to ACCEPT, not what was the scientific knowledge of the day.

    He was willing to accept a Universe with no beginning or end, BUT was totally unwilling to acknowledge that their might be a being with the same attributes. That is complete foolishness.

  • 259. Obi  |  July 3, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Joe —

    The writers could have been (1) Uneducated on the subject, or simply have had a cursory knowledge from articles given to them prior to writing or (2) They made a mistake or omission in their article. I’d rather resort to actual astrophysicists to tell me why those superclusters are like that, instead of taking all of my scientific knowledge from a magazine meant for the understanding of the masses.

    Regardless, you never even presented us with the article you’re referring to, the name of the writer, when it was published, which scientists it was referencing, et cetera. You simply state that “a Time-Life writer says that a scientist said…et cetera, and this is evidence for a creator”. What are we supposed to take from that? You give us nothing but a few words and then expect us to conjure wordy explanations and then get upset when we don’t do so.

  • 260. Joe  |  July 3, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Obi—

    From my post above:

    from the Book “Galaxies”, Time-Life Books

    A WEBWORK OF SUPERCLUSTERS PG. 119

    I can find the date–and look under contributors if you’d like—-but it is a set of books printed over and over again. You can most likely find a copy in the Library. Normally Time-life has contributors who know what they are talking about—scientists, astronomers, medical professionals—they didn’t just print these books without doing a ton of research—-they
    are not “golden books” or some kids stuff——-they are well researched books.

    –Joe

  • 261. Joe  |  July 3, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Regardless, you never even presented us with the article you’re referring to, the name of the writer, when it was published, which scientists it was referencing, et cetera. You simply state that “a Time-Life writer says that a scientist said…et cetera, and this is evidence for a creator”. What are we supposed to take from that? You give us nothing but a few words and then expect us to conjure wordy explanations and then get upset when we don’t do so.

    Obi—
    I’m beginning to think that what is happening is that you are posting before even finishing reading the post presented to you. I was very clear in my posts as to the position I was taking. It was more than a “few words”—it is several paragraphs from the book, and clearly states a position that these things did not happen by “chance”. I asked you why if the simple answer is “gravity” they did not simply state it. That apparently pissed you off, and instead of answering the question, you attacked the actual book itself and it’s writers.

    “Conjure wordy explanations”? LOL. All I was asking is if gravity is the simple answer why wouldn’t they have just put that? This type of discussion is really amazing. I’m the guy with faith, you’re supposed to be the guy with reason, right? I know I’m being sarcastic, but come on.

  • 262. Obi  |  July 3, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Joe —

    This website provides an excellent explanation to aid you in your seeming confusion about order in general, and it includes a section regarding gravity and its role in the formation of superclusters. http://everythingforever.com/st_order3.htm

  • 263. Joe  |  July 3, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Obi—

    OK—thanks. Didn’t mean to get so sarcastic. I have a habit of getting like that when I feel I am in a circular type argument. sorry.

  • 264. Obi  |  July 3, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Joe —

    No, it’s fine mate. I learned a bit from that site myself just now while looking it up for you, it’s a wonderful read.

  • 265. Joe  |  July 8, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    paleale–

    Maybe my words are being limited. So–no I don’t think it’s right to make fun of Mohammed, Jesus or any other revered person. One can make fun of the followers—–many Christians are wackos lol—but making fun of Jesus (in an insulting manner to clarify) is wrong—-so would it be for Mohammed.

  • 266. Joe  |  July 8, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Imagine if Xtine’s site portrayed Martin Luther King Jr. in the same light——I think you would see a massive outcry—at least from those who visited her site. That is because he is a revered person. So is Jesus to millions. And too, Mohammed. What makes it OK to portray Jesus in a sexual manner, when you know there would be no way one would do the same to Martin Luther King or other revered persons???

  • 267. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 9, 2009 at 8:27 am

    *whispers to Joe* I think you posted this in the wrong thread…

    But to respond, I think you’re being overly sensitive. I don’t mind satirical depictions of the figures I revere. I rather embrace such humor, usually. But then, revered or not, I hold nothing as sacred.

    Would know one do the same for Martin Luther King Jr.? Frankly, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you could find similar imagery for him if you dug deep enough. And I would have no problem with that. I honestly think that this idea that some persons are above satire and mockery to be a little dangerous.

  • 268. Joe  |  July 9, 2009 at 11:20 am

    You’re right—-I did post in the wrong thread. LOL

    Thanks for the comments–I guess everyone has their own level of tolerance for mocking of what they would consider sacred.

  • 269. paleale  |  July 9, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    I’m glad to see that at least you are consistent, Joe. There’s hope for you yet! ;-)

  • 270. Joe  |  July 9, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    I remember when Phil Hartman portrayed Jesus on SNL. It was satirical, but never demeaning or insulting. I remember the episode where Sally Field portrayed a Christian woman in the kitchen praying to Jesus she wouldn’t burn the rice. Jesus appears (Phil Hartman) and tells her she doesn’t need to pray about the rice. LOL. But Sally Field goes on about how she “has” to pray about everything, and starts to cry. Jesus says “OK, OK, pray for the rice all you want”. It was very funny, but actually kind of touching too—-like Jesus didn’t want to hurt Sally Field’s feelings. I like that kind of satirization.

    Another time Jesus (Phil Hartman) visits an entertainment agency, and David Spade is the receptionist with phone headset. Jesus (in sandles, robe, long hair and beard) asks to speak with one of the big wigs right away. Spade says “And you are…?” “I’m Jesus” he says. Spade replies “Is he expecting you?” Jesus says “Well no, but..”
    Spade says “Then have a seat please.”

    Very funny (guess you had to see it)—but it was satirization without insult, or demeaning Christ’s character—-I see nothing wrong with that—–what I do not appeciate is a “mocking” manner when satirizing—-I really think that crosses the line.

  • 271. Xtine  |  July 9, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    why did this conversation get pushed over to this thread?

  • 272. Joe  |  July 10, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Xtine—

    Sorry about that. I posted on this thread by mistake and a conversation kind of started up here too. LOL

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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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