Why d-C? – Logical Problems with the Dogma

May 27, 2008 at 12:08 am 15 comments

In my first installment of the series “Why do Christians de-convert?”, Why d-C? - Answer the damn question Mr. Priest!, I discused the fact that dissatisfaction with the answers to simple questions proffered by the religion was the most common reason cited for de-conversion amongst the sample of the 117 de-conversion stories I read.

But it’s not just questions about dinosaurs, or the world outside the religious paradigm that can provoke doubt. Many de-converted Christians spoke about realising the contradictions within the dogma itself. De-conversion stories that spoke of a realisation that the religious dogma was internally incoherent amounts to 12.76% of the sample. The most common cause of these doubts appeared to be when the religious dogma contradicted “religious” values (the reason for using scare quotes here will become apparent later).

This example shows conflict between a child’s own belief they have done nothing wrong (sin requires wrongful action), and the idea of original sin:

“When a boy 10 years old in Catholic school Priest pointed at the Cross and said “You put him there. He died for your sins,” I did not accept that statement. I was not old enough to have sinned!”

Here a de-convertee notes how as a young person she noticed the contradiction between a god who required constant praise, with the idea of an all powerful, all seeing, all caring god:

Around the age of 12, though, I had seriously starting doubting the existence of an entity such as God, who had such a big ego to be praised with zillions of chants — in spite of being omnipotent — and whose only desire was to get all to pray and accept his dominion, to be hapless before him. You needed to pray to deserve a happy life. Far from strength, I started seeing a marked weakness added to the contradictions in the mythology.

God was petty, and petty was not perfect. The doubt in the mind of this individual was sown.

Another person highlights the conflict between original sin and personal values concerning innocence:

We had religious instruction for two hours every day. At one point we were covering Purgatory. The nun explained that babies who were not baptised could not enter heaven, they carried the eternal sin and had to stay in Purgatory. I found that so very unjust that it started me questioning everything. I quit going to church.

Another example:

I couldn’t accept that homosexuality was inherently evil. I was not prepared to believe that a two-day-old foetus was somehow sentient and thus had a soul. I did not really accept any longer that people who dabble in the occult are possessed by demons and so on.

Religionists may contend that we get our values from the bible, or from their dogma. But what these de-conversion stories demonstrate is that values and morals are socially derived. These individuals encountered their first doubts about religion when the moral consequences of the religious dogma clashed with their socially derived values. There is the child who held that babies could not be guilty of anything clashed with the notion of original sin, and the adult who’s gut instinct was that all people were worthy of respect, even if they were gay. These individuals faced the choice of either modify their values to suit the church, or reject the church.

What does this mean for supporting de-conversion? Again, these individuals encountered these conflicts within the Church. The absurdity of the church’s beliefs was not pointed out to them by some atheist proselytiser, but inadvertently by the church itself.

- Originally published by Kieran Bennett, reprinted with permission.

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

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15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Obi  |  May 27, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Your last comment about morality struck a chord with me. It seems that whenever I tell anyone that I’m an atheist, and go through the logical steps to me arriving at this most reasonable of conclusions (excuse me for my modesty…), if they are religious, they immediately question “But where do you get your morals from?” This always makes me chuckle inside.

    What so many don’t realize is that, as you say, the “word of God” isn’t necessary for morals. Many animals have morals, to an extent. Do you know what animals these are? The social ones. The other great apes and cetaceans are the main ones, especially since they’re believed to be closest to us in intelligence. There was even a documented occurrence where a human child fell into a gorilla enclosure, and the mother gorilla picked the child up and returned it to it’s handler.

    Religious people make it seem as if they have a monopoly on morality because it’s “God revealed”. They miss the fact that most morals are socially derived, and so many are relative to what culture and time period you have found yourself in. Some, such as “do not kill” are most likely evolutionarily derived, as they improve the success of the species and are found in all societies. This is all completely ignoring the fact that no religion has “God’s Word” so they’re all derived from the words of people, but I’m sure all of you knew that already… :D

  • 2. Cthulhu  |  May 28, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Obi,

    they immediately question “But where do you get your morals from?” This always makes me chuckle inside.

    I can no longer keep my laughter inside (much to the dismay of my spouse) – I now answer this question with another. I ask back ‘Which morals do you cherry pick from the bible/torah/qu’uran?’ and show them the uncomfortable verses that they really do not want to think about. This usually produces ringing silence, pretzel twisted logic to explain it away or the famous ‘I am sure there is an answer, but I don’t know it’ argument. In only one case did someone actually ask intelligent questions after this – but I have hopes!

  • 3. Andrea  |  May 28, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    [I totally placed this comment under the wrong post. Here it is, reproduced for you in it's entirety.]

    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 of illogic 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.

  • 4. LeoPardus  |  May 28, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Andrea:

    You got it right about conflicting interpretation, conflicting scriptures, and so forth. One of my reasons for deconverting was, as I put it, “Everyone is making it up as they go along.” ['It' being 'the faith', 'the truth', 'theology', 'interpretation'....]

  • 5. Obi  |  May 28, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    I wonder if a “loving God” could truly fault any one of us for seeing the foolishness and contradictions in the Bible and other books, and thus turning away from them?

    Oh, and another one of my favorite logical problems. Does everyone remember the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Remember how God punished Adam and Eve for eating from the Tree? Why did he punish them? Because they did evil. Yet, they gained the knowledge of Evil from…you guessed it, the Tree. They had no way of knowing that what they were doing was evil without eating from the Tree, and thus the most fundamental story in the Bible, the “fall of man”, is illogical right off the bat.

    Parents, make sure that next time you tell your toddler not to do something and he/she does it, condemn them and their children for the rest of their lives and as long as you live to pain, suffering, and hellfire (a hot stove, perhaps?). Model yourselves after God!

    Speaking of that, there’s the little thing about how God’s “anger does not last forever” and how he will not “punish the children for the sins of the fathers”, yet what is Original Sin?

    Even with all this, people take me as arrogant when I dismiss the Bible and tell them it’s not the truth. If someone would just question the Bible, they’d come to the same conclusion all of us “de-converts” have. It just doesn’t make any sense.

  • 6. LeoPardus  |  May 28, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Andrea and Obi have inspired me to contemplate a new article. I think I’ll call it, “Really whacked Bible contradictions”.

    Y’all contribute right here in this thread and I’ll put ‘em together.

    Of course which ones I finally pick and post will be determined by my own, infallible judgment. :)

  • 7. Yurka  |  May 28, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Cavils… cavils. Andrea, Obi, why don’t you refer to a Bible commentary (such as Gills: http://freegrace.net/gill ) rather than following the pied pardus?

  • 8. Obi  |  May 28, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Haha, I think not. In fact, “I think not” means I can think for myself (which is key here), so I don’t need a “Bible commentary” to tell me what I should think about the Bible. It’s all written plainly in the Bible for everyone to see already, and if you truly open your mind and question it, you’ll come to the same conclusion that all of us de-converts have.

  • 9. TheNerd  |  May 28, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Wait… Yurka… you’re directing me to a Bible Commentary?

    “and he sat in the tent door, in the heat of the day;” partly to cool and refresh himself, and partly to observe if any passengers passed by, to invite them in; this being a time of day when such needed refreshment, and it was proper for them to lie by a while, and not proceed on their journey until it was cooler: or rather to or “near” the tent door, as Noldius {g}, or before it, without or under the shade of the tree, after mentioned.

    Forget using your own mind – just read this book, and you will know what God REALLY meant to say in the Bible!

    If you are seriously referring me to a commentary to tell me that the literal meaning of the Bible is wrong, then you are not helping your cause, Yurka. You are just fueling the argument against the Bible being God’s word. If he was serious about making his will known, he wouldn’t have written it in code, waiting for that one perfect moment when 2000 years later someone would finally come along and tell everyone what he REALLY meant.

    Please, next time you disagree that the Bible is way too open to personal interpretation and subject to the prejudices of the listener, don’t direct us to one man’s personal interpretation of the Bible, as your defending evidence for it’s universal authority.

    -Andrea [for some reason I am signed in under different names on different computers, but if you look to the face on the right, it's still me :) ]

  • 10. Cthulhu  |  May 29, 2008 at 9:54 am

    LeoPardus,

    Great idea for an article! One of my personal favorites…

    How about – When did Jesus actually ascend into heaven???

    Luke Chap. 24, Mark Chap. 16 – day of resurrection.

    John Chap. 20 – 8 days after resurrection.

    Acts Chap. 13 – ‘many’ days after resurrection.

    Acts Chap. 1 – 40 days after resurrection.

    Source: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/ascend.html

  • 11. Cthulhu  |  May 29, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Another favorite contradiction…

    How did Judas die?

    Matthew 27:5 – And he [Judas] cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

    Acts 1:18 – Now this man [Judas] purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

    Source: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/judas.html

  • 12. Why d-C? (3) The Bible Killed My Faith « de-conversion  |  June 1, 2008 at 11:17 am

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

  • [...] who read the bible did so through the lens of the preachers words and were thus immune from realising it’s faults, and that religions would have all the answers to the really simple questions down pat. I mean, [...]

  • 14. 7 Reasons why Christians de-convert « de-conversion  |  June 29, 2008 at 11:32 am

    [...] Why d-C? (2) Logical Problems with the Dogma [...]

  • 15. Annougs  |  October 7, 2008 at 5:53 am

    Подскажите шооблончег под WordPress 2.6.2, чтобы был похож на ваш de-conversion.com.

    Заранее благодарю)

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Attention Christian Readers

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

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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