A Curious Christian with A Few Questions for de-cons

June 17, 2008 at 12:01 am 151 comments

I am new to the whole blogging experience, and I really appreciate the opportunity to be a part of your discussions. I have seen so many great questions and valid points made here on the d-C Blog. This subject matter (former Christians who’ve decided to de-convert) is really interesting to me so if you have time to respond to a few questions, I would really appreciate your feedback.

Just as converting is a thoughtful, careful decision, de-converting seems to be the same type of process, and I am just trying to understand it.

  1. What usually starts the painful process of de-converting? How does one suddenly believe so strongly one way and then reject that belief the next? (Not to imply that it is a decision that one would ever take lightly or not struggle with for some time)
  2. Do de-cons often continue to attend a church? If so, why?
  3. Are de-cons open to returning to the faith or is that impossible?
  4. What is it that turns you off about Christianity the most? The Bible? Christians themselves? Jesus?
  5. What made you the most miserable as a Christian?
  6. What do you really currently think about Christians?

I think that’s at least a start for me to get the picture. I have read most of the blogs from the archives but I also wanted to hear from you. I don’t want to assume anything. I realize de-converting can’t really be understood fully unless you’ve de-converted, but I would like to try to understand. Thanks!

- rfogue (Rachel)

Entry filed under: Rachel. Tags: , , , , .

One Way to De-Bunk Christianity Why d-C? – Stand Back, I’m going to try SCIENCE!

151 Comments Add your own

  • 1. TheNerd  |  June 17, 2008 at 12:54 am

    1. Honestly, the thing that preserved my barely-lingering faith for as many years was the desire to believe, not a true sense of belief itself. It was only when I became honest with myself, that I knew in my heart that Christianity could not be what it claims to be, that I could break free. And it was not at all painful – on the contrary, it was as if a great burden had been lifted, and I could finally live my life to the fullest!
    2. I couldn’t attend my old church any longer. The last time I tried, the pastor gave a sermon on how it is immoral to not tell other’s how their differing beliefs are wrong. As a bisexual non-Christian science-minded freedom-loving woman, I felt like a snail in salt. Plus my husband and I decided that it would be child abuse to subject our son to such fundamentalism as he grows older. We do however attend a Unitarian Universalist church from time to time.
    3. It would be like returning to an abusive ex.
    4. Jesus I have no problems with. The people themselves are usually not that bad, especially the non-fundies. But for me, the Bible is it’s own worst enemy. If there’s a God out there who is looking over our shoulders, he would be quite upset with the few who give him credit for writing that thing.
    5. Bisexual. Need I say more?
    6. I think that they are mostly average people who have had the bad taste to remain in such an organization. But most of my family and friends are Christians, and I would never hold it against them or anyone else, as long as they aren’t harming anyone with their beliefs.

  • 2. Quester  |  June 17, 2008 at 1:24 am

    With the usual disclaimer that I can only speak for myself, not for any other de-convert:

    1) One of the main things that started my painful process was in-depth study of the Bible. When I simply read it as a Christian, or even as a Bible study leader, I found some wonderfully inspiring things. When I began to read it as a pastor, looking for God’s will for God’s people, trying to preach a consistent weekly message, and thinking about which verses might trouble a listener, and what I could learn about what those verses meant, I could no longer look past the contradictions, unkept promises, vague non-answers, and evil commands.

    2) I occasionally attend one church or another. I am a recent de-convert and am still seeking a reason to believe that I’m wrong. I also want to wrestle with ideas about the world and how we should live in it, which means I should listen to those I disagree with. Thirdly, my wife and my parents are all Christian, and I occasionally attend with family, to be with family.

    3) I try to remain open to returning to my old faith, but am seeing less and less possibility as time goes on and searches prove unfruitful.

    4) What turns me off about Christianity the most is the complete and utter lack of God. That also turns me off from all other religions.

    5) Trying to discern God’s will with the “help” of vague and contradictory scripture, certain and contradictory Christians and a silent, possibly non-existent deity is what made me most miserable as a Christian.

    6) I don’t think that Christians, as a whole, are particularly different from any other identifiable group of people. They’re human, with all the merits and flaws that make us the imperfect, frustrating, lovable joys that we (all us humans) are.

    I hope that helps you.

  • 3. writerdd  |  June 17, 2008 at 4:30 am

    Quick answers because that’s all I have time for:

    1. I don’t think there’s anything “usually.” Although there are some common themes, it is a very individual journey. Sometimes I think my de-conversion journey started even before I got saved because I was very interested in science as a child and although I suppressed that interest to some extent to allow myself to believe in the miracles of the Bible it was always under the surface just waiting for a chance to bubble back up and make me think.

    2. Some de-cons continue to attend church for family or social reasons. For me leaving church was the first part of allowing myself to think for myself again. I left the church before I left my faith behind.

    3. I’m open to learning new things and changing my mind. However, after studying and seeking for over 40 years, I really doubt that I will suddenly discover that God is real.

    4. Some things about fundamentalist Christianity turn me off — but these things turned me off when I was a Christian as well. I didn’t stop believing in God because I was turned off by Christianity. I stopped believing in God because I did not see any evidence of His existence after I started seeking more deeply and allowing myself to entertain the doubts that had been plaguing me on and off for many years.

    5. I was not miserable as a Christian. For the most part I was quite happy. I didn’t leave because I was miserable. As I said above, I left because I just didn’t think it was true any more.

    6. I think Christians are human beings. A few are hypocrites, mostly those in positions of power. Most are trying their best to find a way to live with love and peace in a world that is plagued by war and pain. I think Christians are wrong but I have no bad feelings about them as people.

  • 4. The Apostate  |  June 17, 2008 at 4:36 am

    Of course in agreement with Quester, my answers are simply that: mine.

    What usually starts the painful process of de-converting?

    Curiousity.
    For journey began exactly because I wanted to be an apologetic theologian. I was curious about the mysteries of the scripture, but I had naively thought that great theologians had made sense of the text at one point in time and we were simply wandering around because of our lack of Biblical knowledge and will to practice it.

    # Do de-cons often continue to attend a church? If so, why?

    Occasionally, but even then it is to a very different sort of church than I grew up in. The church I attend, when I am not being dragged to the local Mennonite church, falls along the liberal spectrum of the Emergent church (ironically they talk about science, psychology, and pop culture more than the Bible is ever brought up).

    Are de-cons open to returning to the faith or is that impossible?

    Sort of like asking Christians if they are open to new religions, is it not? Only in this case we are people who have at least admitted that we are capable of changing our minds on the subject. The problem is that this question implies that this was a conscious decision on our parts. For myself, and most here, it isn’t. If the evidence in support of whatever version of Christianity is strong enough, I am sure I would accept it – as a former apologeticist, I have only found that it fails in every historical and philosophical aspect known to myself.

    What is it that turns you off about Christianity the most?

    When I was still a Christian, I would have said the hypocrisy of Christians. Today, it is simply that falsity of it all.

    What made you the most miserable as a Christian?

    I wasn’t really miserable. I would have to agree with Quester with what made me the most frustrated: the vagueness of scripture. However, I thrived on the challenged, which is why I went to Bible college in the first place. I would say the calling myself a “Christian” among the hypocrites and “lukewarm” or nominal Christians did get under my skin.

    What do you really currently think about Christians?

    That is a very big group, so big and diverse, in fact, that I can’t really answer the question. Specifically the people who affect me the most, my family, I have a hard time with for obvious reasons. Their entire life revolves around their “intimate” relationship with God, including their careers. Having someone that even questions the errancy of the Bible among their kin is not something to take lightly, which is why I am still [mostly] in the closet with my agnosticism.

  • 5. blueollie  |  June 17, 2008 at 5:58 am

    1. What usually starts the painful process of de-converting?

    For me, it started with reading the Bible. But mostly it was a long process where I would ask myself: “do I really believe that?”

    2. Do de-cons often continue to attend a church? If so, why?

    On occasion I attend a Unitarian Church for social reasons.

    3. Are de-cons open to returning to the faith or is that impossible?

    Impossible. I could see myself attending a church for social reasons (e. g., a UU church or an ethical society)

    4. What is it that turns you off about Christianity the most? The Bible? Christians themselves? Jesus?

    I don’t believe in supernatural stuff. Many of the moral things (e. g., compassion for others) is good.

    5. What made you the most miserable as a Christian?

    Nothing; I just ceased to believe in deities, resurrected bodies, spirits, etc.

    6. What do you really currently think about Christians?

    I don’t see how anyone really believes that some of these things happened, though perhaps I can understand how a myth can be meaningful to a person.

  • 6. ozatheist  |  June 17, 2008 at 8:41 am

    1. Like quite a few other people, my de-conversion was gradual. Due to changes in circumstances, attending church and other religious practices became of less importance than other things in my life. After a while I just stopped being religious (though at this stage wouldn’t have called myself an atheist). Eventually I realised that all that stuff in the past was such a load of bunk, not being within a religious environment enabled me to view religion with open eyes (also I was educating myself more in various other fields, which enhanced my critical thinking skills). One other thing; before my circumstances had changed I was doing a fair bit of bible study, I can tell you, that’s a sure fire way to stop believing.
    2. I stopped attending church many years ago, except for the occasional birth/death/marriage, though these days even that makes me cringe.
    3. As a famous Angels song goes (or at least the way the fans sing it) No Way, get Fucked , Fuck off.
    4. All of the above. Also the duality of religious people, they say it’s all about peace but hate every minority or “other”.
    5. I can’t recall being overly miserable as a christian, I had some good friends, including my first ever love, as a christian. We went to parties and camps, sang, played sports, all sorts of fun things. I look back on those times now though and wonder how was I so deluded about the underlying ideas behind what we stood for.
    6. Really think? Well, in the most part christians are people just like everybody else, however, they are deluded. I have some great friends who are christians and get on well with some christians on the net, however in the back of my mind I think to myself “how can they believe that stuff?”

  • 7. Randy Hunt  |  June 17, 2008 at 9:27 am

    1. For me, de-conversion was not a “painful process”. It was actually rather easy. I just decided that I was too old to be playing make-believe and talking to imaginary friends, so I stopped. As for what started the process, well, I guess that would be the day I was praying, and I realized I was really just talking to myself. So I stopped.
    2. I don’t attend church. Can’t speak for anyone else.
    3. I’ve always been open to returning to the faith, just as soon as someone could produce ANY evidence whatsoever that it’s not just a big dog-and-pony show in the land of make believe. But let’s be honest… that’s never going to happen.
    4. It all turns me off, honestly. Okay, it’s not embarrassing enough that you’re talking to an imaginary friend, but you’re also afraid he’s going to punish you. (Some friend!) And worse, this punishment will happen AFTER you die. Therefore, you must worry about what you do when nobody is looking, because your imaginary friend hates sex most of all… sex with yourself and/or others. And, for some reason, he also hates democrats, even though they’re far more similar to his mythical, immortal son than the Republicans. Oh, and how about jealousy? For an all-powerful being, this god character is horribly insecure. And where are all those miracles? For the first 4000 (according to creationists) years, there were miracles everywhere… but now that mass media has made it easy for us all to be eye-witnesses instead of just repeating second-hand stories, suddenly there have been no more miracles. Come on!
    5. Hypocrisy. It’s full of rules that nobody follows.
    6. They’re bad for the environment. ;-)

  • 8. Steve  |  June 17, 2008 at 9:39 am

    1. What usually starts the painful process of de-converting?
    Usually? Don’t know. Me? I gradually developed the feeling that something wasn’t right. Everyone would claim the presence of the Holy Spirit in various circumstances, but I sensed no difference. Prayers were answered in line with probability. The final intellectual step was realizing that if I had been born in another country, I would have different beliefs, and I would hold them just as strongly, so I needed to at least back off and look at them all objectively.
    2. Do de-cons often continue to attend a church? If so, why?
    When I’m at school, I don’t go to church. I’m living at home just for this summer, and my parents aren’t aware of my atheism. I’m not ready for all the familial shenanigans I’ll cause when I come out of the atheist closet, so I still go to church and keep my mouth shut.
    3. Are de-cons open to returning to the faith or is that impossible?
    Can you provide reliable evidence, or even a sound logical argument that doesn’t just prove that a god “isn’t impossible?” Even then, is that god worthy of worship?
    4. What is it that turns you off about Christianity the most? The Bible? Christians themselves? Jesus?
    I try to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible. (Nod to Matt Dillahunty.) Also, the general idea that all “sinners” are equal, and that “forgiveness” can be obtained by sucking up without having to actually improve behavior, never mind the fact that good behavior is actually impossible.
    5. What made you the most miserable as a Christian?
    Other Christians who claimed to feel God and have prayers answered. I saw none of it myself. It’s almost as if God was conspiring to make me a nonbeliever.
    6. What do you really currently think about Christians?
    Most believe because they were raised that way. Beyond that, they’re just people who use their knowledge for good or bad.

  • 9. Clair  |  June 17, 2008 at 9:53 am

    1. I remember when I was about 5 or 6. It was a Sunday afternoon and we’d just gotten home from church. I remember thinking that all of this “church” thing didn’t make any sense. It felt wrong. Didn’t really question belief or going to church for at least another 10-12 years. During that time I had decided to become baptised (Southern Baptist) and thought I had felt the touch of Jesus. It wasn’t until I went to school and could step back and look at it from the outside. Then I started questioning much of what I had been taught. Questioned it hard.

    2. I go when I am home with my family. That’s it. My parents aren’t aware of my atheism. My mother has attempted to bring up the subject of religion with me, and I declined to talk about it because to me it wasn’t any of her business. She wasn’t happy with that answer, but hasn’t said anything since. She was most concerned whether I was an agnostic. To which I responded with “no”. I have heard the comments my family has said behind relatives’ backs who do say they’re atheists. The relatives have done nothing to my parents, but the comments were mean and hateful as if they’d insulted my parents with their lack of belief.

    3. I’m not planning to return to that particular faith or any similar.

    4. Ignorant. Static.

    5. At first, it didn’t feel right. Then it became so illogical. Then it became outrageous.

    6. Most are well-meaning, decent people, who try to apply the mainstream and mostly-good principles to their own lives. I hold nothing against them for their beliefs, despite thinking they are not correct. The rest are people who despise themselves and they make suffer everyone else, but that applies to people of all walks of life.

  • 10. LeoPardus  |  June 17, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Each de-con is a bit different, so any answers I give reflect only my own experience, though they may parallel others in places.

    1)a) What usually starts the painful process of de-converting?

    For some it’s an incident, for some a thought or series of thoughts, for some its education, for some its encountering the world outside of Christianity, for some it starts quickly, for some it starts slowly. And I could go on.

    For me there were some nagging doubts and a growing awareness of problems or inadequacies in the faith. An event that catalyzed the process was a person at my church becoming mentally ill. Folks didn’t know what to do with that, and prayer did nothing. It was then that I started to take stock of prayers through the years and realized that they had NO effect. You can get more about this on the forum that is “sister” to this blog.

    1)b) How does one suddenly believe so strongly one way and then reject that belief the next?

    Not sure ‘suddenly’ fits here. The whole process was probably years in the making, though the final stage took only about 4-5 months. For me it was an accumulating realization of inadequacies that finally built to critical mass.

    2) Do de-cons often continue to attend a church? If so, why?

    This varies widely. De-cons with family who still believe often continue to attend. Just as a casual observation on my part I’ve noticed that de-cons from liturgical backgrounds seem more likely to continue to attend than de-cons from non-liturgical, Protestant backgrounds. I can certainly understand why.
    For my part, my family believes and we go to an Eastern Orthodox Church. The Divine Liturgy is a beautiful and peace-inducing experience, so I don’t mind being in it. I could do without the homily though.

    3) Are de-cons open to returning to the faith or is that impossible?

    “With God all things are possible.” :) That’s not totally tongue-in-cheek. If there is a god, and if he can show me he’s real, I would love to believe again. I’d be back “in the fold” in a moment if God would really act as he often did in the Bible. (Healings, epiphanies, prophecies, etc) But as long as there is NO activity or other evidence of existence on God’s part, I cannot believe

    4) What is it that turns you off about Christianity the most? The Bible? Christians themselves? Jesus?

    “Christianity” is a broad term. Different things bother me about different groups. But trying to speak universally: self deception, pat answers, hypocrisy, shallowness, lack of substantive evidence for the claims of the faith.

    For the Bible it’s got some OK stuff in it, but it’s got horrible stuff too. Once I could look at the Bible without blinders or colored glasses, I saw it for what it was. A hodge-podge collection of tales from a primitive people.

    5) What made you the most miserable as a Christian?

    I wasn’t miserable as a Christian. The only really miserable stage was the de-conversion process itself. Happily that was not too long.

    6) What do you really currently think about Christians?

    They are a massively diverse group. Some are superb individuals, some are total assholes, many are in between. In short they appear much like any other division of humanity.

  • 11. orDover  |  June 17, 2008 at 11:16 am

    1. For me, it was cognitive dissonance. The second I started to actually question what I had been taught I realized that it made no sense. I had attended a Christian school all of my life, and by the time I was a senior they were teaching us how to “defend the faith” against unbelievers who would try to convince us god wasn’t real. We we told, “When you get into the ‘real world,’ an unbeliever will say _______ to you. You say _______ back to them.” I found that the comments of the unbeliever made more sense than the answers we memorized to give in response. Regardless, I continued to believe because I felt like I needed it. A few months later I decided to stop praying and see if I could make it through the day without communicating with god, and I found that praying or not praying made no difference. By this point I was a reluctant de-convert. I no longer believed, but I wouldn’t admit it to myself. When I went to college I took an English literature class and we read the autobiography of Darwin. I had been told at Christian school that Evolution was a joke (it was literally mocked) and that Darwin himself refuted it on his deathbed, but after reading his biography I realized that that could not possibly be true. I researched it more and found that indeed was a lie used by Christians to dismiss Evolution. This lead me to research Evolution and finally admit that I hadn’t been a Christian or even a theist for a while, and also brought to light several bold faced lies that I had been told in order to keep me in subjugation.

    2. I no longer attend church, but that is largely because I moved away from my family. I would still attend occasionally if for no other reason than to not arouse their suspicions. (I’m very much in the closet.)

    3. I could never return to the faith the way things are now, but if there was to be some sort of extraordinary evidence that made doubting the existence of god require more faith and denial of more facts than belief in god does now, then sure, I would believe again.

    4. I’m not turned off by Christianity specifically, but rather the entire concept of god, and especially a god like one described in the Bible, Torah, or Koran.

    5. I was not miserable at all as a Christian. I was happy. My entire life revolved around religion. All of my friends were Christians, all of my family were Christians. It was very hard to break from that community.

    6. I think that Christians are good people who are living with a delusion, stuck in Plato’s cave, refusing to look at reality for fear that it won’t conform to their desires and satisfied with lies in leu of answers. (But this goes for all religious people, not just Christians.)

  • 12. Sandy  |  June 17, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Speaking only for myself:

    1. For me it was finding out that there were other religions…and not all those religions were “Satanism”. I was raised in the South and down there you are either Christian or you are a Satanist. The only people “allowed” to be other religions were people out of country, and those people were to be pitied and and converted, or you just stayed away from them. Many people, like myself, don’t really believe strongly in one or the other, it is the way we were raised…just like parents teach you how to eat and dress yourself, they teach you what you believe as well….and many of those people don’t have much of a choice. However, it was painful to find out that there were alternatives…as the Christian Church was not as fulfilling for me as others claim it is for them. I struggled for many years thinking I just needed enough faith…it was actually a relief to find that it wasn’t the only one.

    2. I had stopped attending Church many years prior to be de-conversion only because of the hypocrisy’s of the Church. How could someone preach against adultery, pre-marital sex, etc. to me, but engage in those same behaviors. I have seen many many preachers/deacons/Church elders lie about things to get their own way…but that is another story for another day. I don’t buy into the “we are all flawed humans” thing, if you are a Church leader, you should be spotless to set an example and at the very least take responsibility for your own actions.

    3. No. Why? Because after researching and learning many other religions, I have found that 99% of them are all the same with the same basic principles. It doesn’t matter which one you belong to, that is like having 6 different colored t-shirts of the same kind…doesn’t matter, there are only minor differences.

    4. The Bible and many Christians. The Bible was written by men for men well after Jesus, divinely inspired or not. You can be inspired by God and still not know what you are talking about. The Bible was also compiled not from ALL writings of the time, but the books were picked over and debated quite a few times to see what would be the “official” word of God and what wasn’t. If it IS the word of God…then ALL of the books should have made it in there…not just what certain leaders of the time wanted in there. Christians…I have many Christian friends and they are great and very open to my beliefs…we choose to disagree. However, there are many out there that also choose to remain ignorant and spread lies about those of different beliefs to perpetuate their own “Godliness”. Every time I read or hear someone say that so and so is a Satanist/devil worshiper/eats babies ONLY BECAUSE of their beliefs…it makes me want to throttle that person for the simple fact they choose to remain ignorant and not listen to facts. Many can’t believe you can be a decent, moral, law abiding, upstanding person and NOT be Christian.

    5. Praying and not feeling like it did a lick of good…even if all I did was pray for strength or comfort…

    6. Depends on the Christian. As I have said…I have many Christian friends…one is even a Deacon in the Lutheran Church…but I have also known some real jack*sses too. Just like anything else, depends on the person. If you are willing to accept me for who I am, beliefs and all, then that is wonderful…but if you want to convert me…get the h*ll out of my face.

  • 13. SarahC  |  June 17, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    1. What usually starts the painful process of de-converting? How does one suddenly believe so strongly one way and then reject that belief the next? (Not to imply that it is a decision that one would ever take lightly or not struggle with for some time)

    I think its interesting to describe it as a painful process. For my particular journey (Catholic to Fundamentalist to hard core Catholic to Deist to Atheist) it was the first transition that was painful. The move to leave the church was not easy, but was not painful. In college, I was encouraged to be “born again” and tried to follow that path, but found that it made me increasingly miserable and depressed, as well as terrified of my so called friends. I then tried to find solace in the traditions of the Catholic church, but found I was frustrated with their misogyny and closedmindedness. I too think that it was a careful reading of the bible that lead to my final de-conversion – specifically the accounts of the fall of man. I just realized that I couldnt hold with a belief system that punishes mankind for seeking knowledge. It took me a while to admit that I was truly an atheist – a hold over of my fear of punishment.
    2. Do de-cons often continue to attend a church? If so, why?
    We do not attend a church. I tried attending a UU church, for social reasons, but even the UU church here is too “churchy” for us. I think those of us who do attend are seeking the social rewards of church attendance. It would be wonderful to find a similar setting that isnt “church.”
    3. Are de-cons open to returning to the faith or is that impossible?
    Not going to happen. At least not the Christian faith. I never say never in terms of what I may believe down the road, but Christianity has pretty much killed any desire I would have to go back.
    4. What is it that turns you off about Christianity the most? The Bible? Christians themselves? Jesus?
    Wow, thats like asking what I like most about someone. Its the whole package I guess. Religious people, Christians particularly, have an amazingly flawed logic when it comes to belief. They claim to know the truth because a book said so – and the book says its the truth. Nevermind that other religions claim the same thing, or that other leaders have claimed the same thing. I also think that slavish religiosity encourages anti-intellectualism and ignorance.
    5. What made you the most miserable as a Christian?
    I’d like to play the lesbian card, but that really isnt it. Its that I never felt like I could be myself – bitchy, brilliant, snarky, sexual, funny, etc. I always felt like I was hiding.
    6. What do you really currently think about Christians?
    I think they are misguided. I get it, I do. I understand that when my fundie friends try to convert me it is because they are concerned for my soul. But I wish they would afford me the same respect. Don’t make me say grace with you when we go to dinner. Dont assume I will go to church with you when we visit. Don’t talk loudly about god to your kids in my house. And, honestly, I think religion is on its way out. As the world gets wealthier, healthier and more intelligent, the need for a deity decreases. And I think, while it wont happen in my lifetime or even my grandkids, someday we will think about this the way we do the Olympic gods or those of ancient Egypt.

  • 14. Stephen P  |  June 17, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Speaking (like other commenters) solely for myself:

    1a. The start was that I couldn’t understand why, if there was an omnipotent god communicating with believers, it was so difficult for different religions and different denominations to agree with one another what he wanted. Plus the fact that this god didn’t seem interested in saying anything to me.
    1b. There was nothing sudden about it. It took me years (which I now feel embarrassed about, looking back).

    2. Weddings and funerals only.

    3. I can’t currently imagine anything that would make me return to Christianity, or any other religion.

    4. Turn-offs: (a) worshipping an imaginary god; (b) the ignorance which the majority of Christians have about their holy book (excluding a couple of hundred of frequently-read verses) and about the history of their own religion.

    5. Made me miserable: nothing really.

    6. What I currently think of Christians: not something I can answer briefly.

  • 15. Bob  |  June 17, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    1. For me, it was a gradual transmission. When my belief in Creationism failed, I adopted a Christian worldview that had a place for evolution. When my belief in inerrancy failed, I developed a Christian worldview that didn’t require plenary inspiration. At some point, I had to admit to myself that I had liberalized my Christianity to the point that there was no substance to it – that I was relying on blind faith alone. The final straw was asking myself why Christianity was more deserving of belief than any other faith-only beliefs system.

    2. I do, for social reasons. The church is still a powerful tool for positive social change – if you can keep Christians away from doctrine.

    3. I would return in a moment, given my extensive involvement in the church. However, I can’t do so until I see a reason to believe in it over any other religious system.

    4. In the theology, the lack of truth. In the church, the lack of knowledge. Most Christians have little to no familiarity with their own religion, save what they’ve been fed by pastors and Christian literature.

    5. The lack of knowledge is discouraging, as well as the hypocrisy.

    6. I think they’re ignorant, in the kindest use of the term. Christians believe because they don’t know what their Bible says, how their religion developed or what other people of faith believe and how they came to those conclusions.

  • 16. Yurka  |  June 17, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    I have seen so many great questions and valid points made here on the d-C Blog.

    You must be talking about some other blog. :p Trust me, you haven’t. It’s the same old same old. They’ve expected God to conform to their expectations. They expected a cosmic bell-hop, and were disappointed when things didn’t turn out as they expected. They valued their worldly lives over the things of God and slowly fell away, etc.

    I hope you will not automatically accept the reasons presented here as valid without digging beneath them to see what they’re founded on.

  • 17. rfogue  |  June 17, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Any question about God is a valid question. :) By ignoring heartfelt, searching questions and by not attempting to give reasonable, believable answers (I know for some there is no way this is possible) or even kindly admitting we don’t know the answer we have ruined our reputation and our witness as Christians. Instead we give trite, quick answers that anyone can see through. I don’t know all the answers but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ask the hard questions. For Christians, that is where faith comes in. It doesn’t mean anyone shouldn’t ask hard questions. If you don’t own your faith, what good is it? I do think the questions posed are valid simply because they are asked with the motivation to find the truth. And it is the sincerity with which they are asked that I admire.

  • 18. Bobbi Jo  |  June 17, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Question 6 is interesting to me, because I think a lot of people are making assumptions that “christian” is the same as “religious”. Just because someone attends a church, does not automatically make them a christian. I’ve heard a lot of “I was born and raised in a christian home…” No. You were born and raised in a religious home. You may have become a christian at a later date because of you upbringing.

    what is also interesting is that even though most of you deconverted, most of you were happy while you were a christian. Yet, most of you now think us christians are silly for Still being content and happy with living the christian life.

    I like Sarah’s answer to #5. it’s very honest. I think even though I still claim myself a christian, I feel like I can’t truely be me. I mean, I’m still me, just the “best” me when I’m around others, and the only time I can be the worst me, is when I’m alone or only around my imediate (hubby/kids) family. Luckily, I don’t see this as bad. If God sees it all anyway, I’m not worried about how I act in front of him. I’m only worried about what other “christians/religious people” think of me. How upsidedown is that?! Is it because my relationship with God is that imediate, like that with my husband, that I can be the real me? or is it because I am setting myself up to a standard that other humans have set? And why do I care what this mortal world thinks of me anyway?

    Just my thoughts….

  • 19. Yurka  |  June 17, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    I do think the questions posed are valid simply because they are asked with the motivation to find the truth. And it is the sincerity with which they are asked that I admire.

    By all means ask the difficult questions… but please, please do not rely alone on what you perceive to be the ‘tone’ in which the question is asked. You don’t really know 100% of what motivates them, or the sincerity of the concerns. You must evaluate their propositions in light of what you know. If a marketer says “product x is healthy”, naturally you can’t stop there, no matter how winning his manners are.

    You might find it interesting to take this stroll through the wolf pen, but remember – you don’t know these people. This is just another case of artificial cyber interaction. They care nothing about you. If anything bothers you, go first to your family, pastor, friends, etc. Study the bible, commentaries, etc. to show yourself to be approved – a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.

  • 20. Bobbi Jo  |  June 17, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    I agree with rfogue. I like asking questions here because I get honest answers. At a lot of religious places, if I had asked the questions I asked (see above 18), then I would have gotten some quick, pat answer, or been judged for thinking that way at all. Luckily, I attend a church that lets me ask hard questions or reflect on things. They show me verses that might give me a direction of where to start looking, but they don’t give pat answers. I’m thankful for finding a church like that. I’m also thankful for finding this blog, which I think has creative/inteligent thinkers who are not afraid to discuss their questions or concerns out loud.

  • 21. Ubi Dubium  |  June 17, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Yurka:

    “They’ve expected God to conform to their expectations. They expected a cosmic bell-hop, and were disappointed when things didn’t turn out as they expected.

    I don’t think you’re really paying attention here. Many of the people here simply expected god to behave in the way their religion said he would. Most Christian denominations say all sorts of things about what god is and what god will do. Then he isn’t and he doesn’t. From there, it’s natural to question whether your religion is correct after all, and natural to expand the question into whether any religion is correct. Unless you think “not asking questions” is a virtue. Churches will tell you it is – they call it “being strong in your faith”. Outside the god-box we call it “willful ignorance”.

    They valued their worldly lives over the things of God and slowly fell away, etc.

    I call “pigeonholing” on you for that one. Please go read the “convenient categories” post on this website. We’ve tackled that one already.

    Bobbi Jo:

    Yet, most of you now think us christians are silly for Still being content and happy with living the christian life.

    No, I don’t think you are silly for being happy. Any more than I think a child who believes in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy is being silly if they are happy believing. Even if they have suspicions, many will push their doubts to the back of their minds because it’s more fun to believe. When they are ready to grow out of it, they will figure out the truth. Religion fills a similar need for comfort and magical thinking for adults. It makes many people happy, otherwise it would not be so pervasive. For my part, I have just outgrown it.

  • 22. Nick  |  June 17, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    1. I questioned some of the beliefs of the Catholic church from a very young age, maybe around 7. I did not believe that bread and wine was transformed to body and blood. I was reluctantly confirmed as a Catholic although I did not fully believe in prayer as a way to change outcomes for other people. I think it is good as a self-affirmation, but that happen without beliefs in unproven myths. In college I liked everything my philosophy teacher said about faith and then actively stopped attending church, and that was 15 years ago. In the past 6 years I have had the opportunity with the net to read more writings about atheism which has solidified my non-belief.
    2. I attend church on some holidays but only to please my parents. I try not to say the apostles creed but sometimes I slip into the habit without noticing. I do not attend communion.
    3. At this point I cannot see myself re-believing. I would need evidence, and at this point I do not see any forthcoming.
    4. I am turned off by the embodiment of morality into a mythical figure and all of the baggage he comes with. It is possible to have morals and not believe in myths that are thousands of years old.
    5. The burden of guilt and obligation. I am now free to think how I want and it feels so much better.
    6. I hope one day that they will notice that in certain parts of their lives they believe rationally, and in other parts they do not, and what a paradox this is.

  • 23. Joe Sperling  |  June 17, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Jesus said:

    “Never give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before pigs. Otherwise, they will trample them with their feet and then turn around and attack you.”(Matt. 7:6)

    Interestingly, Peter uses the same two animals as examples when referring to apostates and how they have turned their back on the faith:

    “What is expressed in the true proverb has happened to them, ‘The dog returns to its own vomit,’ and ‘A bathed pig returns to wallowing in the mire.’ (2 Peter 2:19)

    I have been sharing here, but Yurka expresses it very weill above. The problem isn’t one of God failing to show himself, it is one of not being willing to submit to his will. If we are demanding for God to show himself before we believe, we are going to be waiting a long time. Thomas was just an example—-the Lord is not going to appear to you in a room and show you his hands and his feet. Thomas asked for proof before he received the Holy Spirit. The apostles were afraid and up in a room before they received the Spirit—then after they received Him they were bolder than they had ever been before.

    Hebrews 12 says “See that you refuse not Him that speaks”–also in Hebrews it says “But we are not of them who draw back onto perdition, but of them who BELIEVE to the saving of the soul”. This is not an opinion—it is Scripture itself saying this.

  • 24. rfogue  |  June 17, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    I am not one to argue with Scripture because I consider it as having authority over my life. However, how can you use scripture to convince someone of something when they do not claim that same authority? It is meaningless to them unless there is a change of heart. It seems to me that it would be much more advantageous to find other more creative ways to share your faith ; I do not think that doing so limits the importance or authority of scripture if it leads people to eventually embrace it as such. God uses a multitude of ways and means to make Himself known. You are right when you say that God will not show Himself when we demand for a sign. The Pharisees demanded signs too, they were not given to them and were condemned for it. However, they also saw the miracles that Jesus did and still would not believe. I understand what you are trying to point to with the Matt. 7:6 ref. but don’t forget the context as well as what comes after. We are responsible not only for what we say but for how we say it.

  • 25. Ubi Dubium  |  June 17, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Joe Sperling:

    The problem isn’t one of God failing to show himself, it is one of not being willing to submit to his will.

    No, the problem is not being willing to submit to the will of an imaginary being. If I suggested you submit your will to that of the Invisible Pink Unicorn, you would scoff and say I was talking nonsense. What would it take for you to bow down to the IPU?

    This is not an opinion—it is Scripture itself saying this.

    It’s still an opinion. Part of the opinion is that your book is infallible, and should receive the honor of calling it “scripture”. I don’t share that opinion.

    (Sorry for going off topic)

  • 26. orDover  |  June 17, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Bobbi Jo-
    what is also interesting is that even though most of you deconverted, most of you were happy while you were a christian. Yet, most of you now think us christians are silly for Still being content and happy with living the christian life.

    Ever heard the saying, “Ignorance is bliss?”

    I don’t mean to sound harsh, but that’s really how it was for me. I was happy within my Christian bubble, but once the needle of my curiosity popped it, I’m even happier. Only this happiness is more akin to satisfaction and self-fulfillment. I no longer have the sort of happiness that comes from “knowing” I will go to heaven when I die, but I have the happiness (read: satisfaction) that comes with critical and scientific inquiry, with finding out the answers based on empirical evidence, and even with acknowledging that some questions are unanswerable, like “where will I go when I die?” Sometimes it can be so liberating to say “I don’t know” instead of “the Bible says…”

    The bubble of Christianity provides comforting answers to difficult and thus gives happiness to those within it. That’s why they don’t want to leave.

  • 27. orDover  |  June 17, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    rfogue gets it!!

  • 28. Ubi Dubium  |  June 17, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Back on topic.

    1. The process of deconversion was, for me, not particularly fast, nor especially painful. I spent high school immersed in youth groups and choirs. By the time I finished college I had pretty much left it all behind. Just a matter of learning about the world and asking questions and really thinking things through. I realized that it was friendships and music that had been holding me there, not any devotion to the faith.
    2. I got married in church, right after college. It was cheap, since I was a member, and it was what my family was expecting. Haven’t been attending since.(If anybody tries to get me to go, my response usually starts with “Wild horses couldn’t…”) I’ll attend church weddings and funerals, but only to support family and friends. I don’t participate in any of the prayers or other religious rituals. I’ve attended a few ethical society platforms lately – that’s as close to church as I care to get. Oh, and I’ll sing music that has a religious text, as long as it’s in the context of an artistic performance and not a worship service.
    3. Short of the Rapture actually occurring, I don’t see myself ever returning. (But I could be mistaken!)
    4. What turns me off the most – The total inability of true believers to admit the possibility that they might be mistaken. And the way that the more open-minded among believers, who will accept those of other faiths, or even other sexual orientations, will still cringe in horror at someone who says they are an “atheist”.
    5. Miserable? I wasn’t miserable. I was young and happy and clueless. But I would be miserable if I tried to go back. I think too much now.
    6. What do I think of christians? I think they are people. I think most prefer to do what is easy, which is to follow the religion their family teaches them. Just the same as most Muslims and Hindus and whatever. Most people find comfort in their religion, and few really ever take the time to think things through. As long as they don’t try to push their religion on me personally, or into the public schools, or into the government, or use it to justify atrocities, I have no problem with any of it.
    I also hope that each of them will at some time take the journey most of us did, and take a hard look at their own religion without the “god-goggles”. Even if they don’t become a de-convert, I think the world would be a kinder, more tolerant place if more people tried it.

  • 29. TheNerd  |  June 18, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Yurka, I sense much hate in you.

    Trust me, you haven’t… I hope you will not automatically accept the reasons presented here as valid without digging beneath them to see what they’re founded on.

    So what is to stop her from digging beneath your comment, to find the source of your hostility and fear of what we have to say?

    You might find it interesting to take this stroll through the wolf pen, but remember – you don’t know these people. This is just another case of artificial cyber interaction. They care nothing about you.

    Um… you don’t know “these people” either. So how can you say if we care about Rachel? She has given us compassion in an attempt at understanding, and that has earned my respect for her.

    orDover – I have to say that this is very true in my own life, for as long as I can remember: Sometimes it can be so liberating to say “I don’t know” instead of “the Bible says…”

    Rachel Fogue, your compassion and insight make you a shining example of how Christians ought to present themselves to the world. I can only hope that others find your attitude contagious.

  • 30. edwinhere  |  June 18, 2008 at 2:44 am

    1. Before I became an atheist I was a fundamentalist catholic. I remember kneeling on salt crystals and beating myself as a penance for my masturbation. I was really a fanatic and afraid of punishment from God if I start questioning. Initiation Rite into Atheism: It was Christmas of 2004 and I was returning very tired and depressed after work at a very busy 7 Eleven in a city abroad far away from my family in the real world. I was starting to have the Cluster headaches I usually have. And then I started to think about human suffering which eventually led me to become an passionate atheist.

    How & When did I really start rejecting it? To be frank, only recently did I gather the courage to realize that the cracker given at church is not Christ’s body, although I knew God did not exist. The process of rejection of belief is very slow and filled with fear. What kept me going was that I could see through the hypocrisy of Christians, and my brain washers. I was able to identify myself as more moral when I learnt about the sinful plight of pastors and priests on whose teachings I had based my entire life. There were times when I accepted atheists and their arguments just because they were more moral and nice unlike the foul mouthed ones I see on the internet.

    2. I kept attending church until 2 years back because a. I was unsure and I needed a backup plan to go back in case I am wrong. b. I had never learned to lie to my parents at my home country about this. So kept going just to tell them the truth that I am still going to church.

    3. It is very very unlikely that I will return to belief. I am as sure as Richard Dawkins about this. However it is possible to use brainwashing techniques like or other immoral and covert methods to take me back to where I was. But that won’t last long, I will still crawl back on feet with the crutches of reason and morality. (One of the evangelical leaders of the catholic “cult” my mom’s part of, tried to threaten me of using his political powers to get me identified as medically insane and tried other immoral ways to get me back into faith, but I crawled back into atheism within a month.)

    4. These are the stuff I dislike about Believers: Hypocrisy, Pretension, Self-Righteousnesss and Ignorance among believers. Selfishness & Apathy towards human suffering in a subtle way e.g. Why should we worry about 1000s of children dying with malaria every year, God has a plan. Arguments from Incomplete Destruction e.g. A plane crashed killing 143 passengers and crew. But one child survived with only third-degree burns. Therefore, God exists. Argument from Apathy: I dint miss my flight because God postponed it for ME. I dont care about the other people who had to suffer because of this postponing.

    These are the things I dislike about the Bible: Old Testament morality exemplified by God himself. Pick & Choose observance & interpretation depending on the level of fanaticism in the audience. Apologetic defenses & interpretation for New Testament which are not what real Christians believe.

    These are the things I dislike about Jesus: Nothing. Because I don’t know him. All I have is hearsay from hearsay.

    5. Guilty feeling. Fear of punishment. Lack of friends because of my fanaticism. Times when I had to embarrass myself by sticking to my beliefs.

    6. They are human like me.

  • 31. SnugglyBuffalo  |  June 18, 2008 at 2:44 am

    1. What usually starts the painful process of de-converting?
    I finally asked myself why I believe, instead of simply believing because I was supposed to. I stopped believing (but still held back from consciously accepting my unbelief) when I realized that all my past “experiences” with God were just feelings that I can induce without God’s influence, and that prayer seems to be as effective as random chance.
    2. Do de-cons often continue to attend a church? If so, why?
    I’m still going to church, almost exclusively because my family attends and I haven’t told them about my choice to leave the faith yet. Once I tell them, I’ll probably stop going to church almost entirely, except maybe for the Christmas service just to spend time with my family.
    3. Are de-cons open to returning to the faith or is that impossible?
    I’m definitely open to returning. But I need a reason to return. “Feelings” and mundane miracles aren’t God. I can’t believe in a God that only chooses to reveal himself in ways that non-believers experience with the same frequency.
    Given that after 23 years of belief I can find no evidence of a real God, I don’t really expect to find it now.
    4. What is it that turns you off about Christianity the most?
    Right now, the fact that Christianity teaches one to be loving, yet I’m terrified to tell my parents of my shift in beliefs because of how they’ll react.
    5. What made you the most miserable as a Christian?
    Nothing, really. I was quite happy as a Christian. I’d say I’m just as happy now, though I’m a little out of sorts right now dealing with my de-conversion.
    6. What do you really currently think about Christians?
    Some of my absolutely closest friends are Christians, and I don’t think of them any differently. They are wonderful, loving people, just like the atheists in that circle.

  • 32. SnugglyBuffalo  |  June 18, 2008 at 3:03 am

    To clarify, I’m not demanding that God give me a sign, only that he be real.

    My mom is battling cancer for the second time. She has a great deal of faith, far more than a mustard seed’s worth. But her faith in and prayers to God do not heal her. He did not prevent her from getting 2 different cancers in as many years. He has not helped my parents with their medical bills and the debt that’s accumulating because of it.

    I should also point out that my parents’ situation was nearly completely unrelated to my de-conversion. Everything above is the result of speculation after my de-conversion; when I believed, the above didn’t even cross my mind.

    Anyway, worst of all, I prayed that God would help me with my unbelief, and I soon found myself not believing at all.

  • 33. fianllyhappy  |  June 18, 2008 at 7:04 am

    Thanks for asking. It seems your sincerity is rare.

    1. For me, although the circumstances that brought me to the point of questioning my beliefs were painful, the actual process of deconversion was one of the most amazing things I’d ever experienced.

    2. Leaving the church proceeded my deconversion, so I only go for weddings, funerals and the occasional Christmas play. (to keep the family satisfied)

    3. I spent several years looking for even the slightest reason to stay and my ultimate goal was to find the truth. If I find that I have reached this decision in error…of course I would return.

    4. The immediate turn off is the hypocricy. Being a PK and having served on staff myself for 9 years, it is almost more than I can stomach. I also think many Christians lash out at those who don’t agree with their beliefs because they are ultimately scared of finding out that those beliefs aren’t as rock solid as they’d like to think. I used to be like that, so I know it possible–come to find out I think I was right!

    5. I think what made me the most miserable–although I was told it was spiritual immaturity on my part–was the constant need to defend God’s “not so successful” track record. I wasn’t expecting a Great Genie in the Sky, waiting to grant my every wish, but it seems if God desired a personal relationship like I’d been taught, he would WANT to make himself clear to someone who was trying so hard to see him.

    6. I have no time for church leaders who live off the hard work of others. As for christians in general, I think a lot of my friends who are still in church are in the same spot I was in several years ago. They want very much to believe and they spend a great deal of time convincing themselves that their doubts and questions are unfounded. They spend a great deal of time in a cycle of doubting, feeling guilty about the doubts, asking God for forgiveness, praying against unbelief…..and then back to square one. I sora feel bad for them.

  • 34. Joe Sperling  |  June 18, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    rfogue—

    I am not one to argue with Scripture because I consider it as having authority over my life. However, how can you use scripture to convince someone of something when they do not claim that same authority? It is meaningless to them unless there is a change of heart.

    rfogue— I understand your point, however, you don’t see the prophets in the Bible using “other means” to warn or prophesy to a people who did not yield the the authority of the Word—neither do you see Paul, or any of the other apostles saying “Oh, they don’t believe in Jesus..better just argue with them a bit philosophically until they get it…then I’ll bring in the Word of God”.

    The only way there WILL BE a change of heart is through the Word of God. By the way, I am not saying in any way I am a prophet, or an apostle (LOL)–I am just a simple believer, but the Word of God is “sharp as a two-edged sword, dividing the soul and the spirit”. We do not lay our sword down just because we are in a Blog with a group of people who don’t accept it. Doing that would be foolish, and we would be doing what Paul warned about—getting involved in circular reasoning that leads nowhere, and is actually detrimental, rather than fruitful.

    I do have to admit something very personal. I only came to the blog a week or so back, because I had been reading “JUDE”, a commentary by Thomas Manton, which deals with apostasy. I became interested in what caused “deconversion”
    and so began to post on the board. I found myself going home very sad, and praying to the Lord for the people here, because I literally feel they are “drawing back unto perdition” as the Bible says in Hebrews. To me, of course, this is very real—to them it appears as hogwash.

    As you read Hebrews, you see a successive stage of warnings. They are to “believers” (or those who “think they believe”–see Hebrews 6:9 for an example of that). The warnings are against one thing: unbelief. And as you go through the book, the warnings become exceedingly stronger and threatening as you move on. This is very real.

    You begin to notice that when the word “unbelief” is mentioned in Hebrews, it is linked with another word: “disobedience”. When it mentions the Jews in the wilderness (see also 1 Corinthians 10) it links unbelief with disobedience. Unbelief is not considered a discussion, or an argument, when mentioned—it is a disobedient act.

    The people on this blog are different than most unbelievers or atheists rfogue, they said they “used to believe”—they actually walked the Christian walk, and are fully aware of what the Scriptures say. They are willingly turning away from the teaching of the Bible. Again, I repeat, “willingly” turning away. They are at different stages—some are totally fallen away and express absolutely no desire to ever return to the faith. Some say the don’t believe, but would be willing to return if God proved himself to them. But one thing is certain–they have all passed through a process of unbelief–this came in steps, until they slowly but surely (some more than others) have arrived at a state of perpetual unbelief. And whether they like it or not, the Bible says they have hit this place through “disobedience”. Through a continual turning away, they have arrived at a very dangerous place, and they need to be warned–whether they believe the words or not—just as the prophets shouted to a “stiff-necked” people, so must these be warned in the same way. If they continue to turn away and scoff, so be it. But there is a chance some may turn back, which can only be accomplished in reality by the Word of God, and the Lord himself.

    “See that you do not reject the one who speaks. For if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much more in our case if we turn away from the one who warns from heaven. (Heb 12)

    This Scripture may be “meaningless to them unless they have a change of heart”—but I argue, the only way it will become meaningful to them is to hear it’s warnings, it’s pleadings, to return to the fold from where they have turned away.

    I normally post on another website, and most likely will return there to post much more (I can hear the posters here saying “Thank God! LOL). I will continue to pray for the people here—–but it really is sad to hear the immediate jump to unbelief so many of them have. You offer a glimmer of hope–a God who hears prayer and wants to save eternally—and immediately they choose to “debunk” it and continue in their journey of “drawing back”, and away from the only one who can save them, Jesus Christ. But there is always hope that they might come back to the faith— and “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”—–faith will never come from a circular argument, or debate.

  • 35. Frederick Polgardy  |  June 18, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    “I will continue to pray for the people here—–but it really is sad to hear the immediate jump to unbelief so many of them have.”

    Immediate?! It took me almost 15 years, and I’m probably one of the young ones. But here’s the thing. I actually didn’t de-convert (Joe) because of Christians like you who insist that our “unbelief” is a willful act of disobedience, or (Yurka) because of wanting God to be my “cosmic bell hop” and fix all my problems, and heal all my relatives, and make everything turn out OK. I was a Christian for many years after I grew out of the Tooth Fairy stage of belief. (To be perfectly honest, I still challenge the “de-converts” who cite these kinds of reasons for leaving Christianity. OK, so your Sunday school teacher was a hypocrite, so what? What does that have to do with you?) I didn’t de-convert because of Bible thumpers and hypocrites, but because my beliefs changed.

  • 36. Joe Sperling  |  June 18, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Frederick—

    When I say “immediate” I am referring to an “immediate” response of unbelief to any statement made, not to the process that led to deconversion–which I did say was a process that took “steps” to accomplish. Sorry if I misphrased that.

    Thanks, Joe;

  • 37. Cereal Man  |  June 18, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I’ll try to make this short….

    I’ve actually been in the professional ministry for most of my adult life serving as a missionary with a well known evangelical mission organization in East Asia.

    What really started me down the d-C path, believe it or not, is when I started a graduate program with a Christian university. My profs really rocked my Christian worldview with all sorts of new insights (i.e. when one prof introduced the thought to me that maybe Adam and Eve weren’t literal people… please don’t laugh anyone). I just had to keep looking more. I began reading more and more of authors outside of Christianity on all sorts of matters – especially on Biblical criticism. The began to see that the evidence is so strong that the Bible was not inspired by God but written by human authors (not to mention the questionable circumstances in which the Canon was chosen). The Bible is really so full of problems, but as long as you are walking/living in a Christian social context, you’ll maintain your bias.

    When we came home from the “mission field,” I left that social context, which contributed even more rapidly to my d-C – especially since we moved to a new city and didn’t have a church that we belonged to. We visited every church in town and I could just no longer stomach what I heard coming from Pastor’s mouths each Sunday. I continued to read…. and my deconversion slowly continued.

    I could in theory continue to attend church if it wasn’t based on singing silly songs and listening to the talking head up-front. But the sermon is the basis for almost every church service. I really value discussion, service, and commitment to relationships, but most Christians don’t want to commit to you unless you theologically agree with them (although they won’t admit this), unless you are one of their “ministry projects.”

    It has been a very difficult process for sure… I’ve been a committed Christian and very passionate for Jesus my whole life. I’ve never known any other way. I now consider myself a “Christian Deist.” And I’m still reading and learning.

  • 38. Ubi Dubium  |  June 18, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Joe Sperling

    Yes, I turned away from your bible. But it was not a “willful act of disobedience”. It was the realization that the bible is a work of mythology, and not an authority that should be obeyed. When a person stops believing that there is, or ever was, a god, then there is no disobedience, because there is nobody there to disobey. (Do you disobey Santa? How about the Great Pumpkin?) If there is no god, then your book is not sacred, it’s just another book.

    You keep saying that the bible can bring the deconverts back. Well, we’ve read it, analysed it, studied it, and pored over it. Many of the de-cons here spent years immersed in it, and yet still walked away. Your coming here to thump it a little more isn’t going to overcome that.

    rfogue gets it:

    However, how can you use scripture to convince someone of something when they do not claim that same authority?

    Joe, if I quoted the Koran at you, and told you that you were willfully disobeying it by not proclaiming that “Muhammed is the prophet of Allah”, I think you would laugh and tell me that the Koran is not the “Word of God”. Just as if I had accused you of disobeying the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Please try to step outside of your god-box, at least for a moment, and try to envision what your religion looks like from out here.

    The author of this post has a better approach. She is honestly trying to understand what leads people to leave their faith. Without an understanding of that, how could you hope to talk anybody out of leaving?

    I wonder if we just scare you. As you are now, so once were we. As we are now, so you might one day become. I’m sure your church would prefer you be terrified of that prospect. It’s not terrifying, though, it’s liberating.

    And you can pray for us if you like. It’s an easy way for you to think you are helping without actually doing anything. Won’t make any difference to me.

  • 39. Ubi Dubium  |  June 18, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Bravo, Cereal Man!

    Never stop reading and learning!

    If you are still interested in a church environment, (for discussion, service and commitment to relationships) might I suggest a Unitarian Universalist congregation, where all faiths are welcomed? Or perhaps an Ethical Society, where belief in a supreme being is optional, and not really the point of their gatherings?

  • 40. Joe Sperling  |  June 18, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Ubi—

    Of course I would laugh at you– because I am a Christian. The people on this site USED TO BE CHRISTIANS not Muslims. If I said anything about Mohammed to the ex-christains on this board it wouldn’t mean anything to them either—your logic is flawed. The fact is, the people on the board USED TO submit to Jesus Christ, and do not any more. It’s that simple. You’re case that he doesn’t exist doesn’t mean a thing—if he does exist, you are disobeying him. I believe He exists, so I cannot state otherwise.

    No one here ever claimed to be an “ex-follower” of Santa Claus, The Great Pumpkin or the flying Cookie Monster. The fact is they once held the Christian faith to be true and real. Now they don’t believe. They know the Bible, not the Koran, so please don’t use that argument. They once “obeyed” the Bible, and now have turned away and said it is “fantasy”–to them it is—but if the Christian God exists (which I know he does) then they are being disobedient. As Paul said “I was not disobedient to the Heavenly Vision”.

    There are plenty of people called “criminals” who pretend that laws don’t exist too–at least for them—-that doesn’t make the law invalid simply because they state it is. You are stating the Bible is false, and you are not disobeying it. Why? Simply because YOU state that is the case. Are you an authority for the world? “Ubi says there isn’t a God, so He must not exist”. I think I’ll hang with the Bible if you don’t mind.

    Cereal Man— I would like to know what you find in the Bible that shows you strongly that it was not authored by God. There are many things that show it was authored by God. This is no “proof”, but I find this very interesting (maybe you have heard this before). Isaiah was written a few thousand years ago. It comprises 66 chapters. The first 39 chapters are filled with judgment, and chapter 39 ends with Hezekiah being told about Israel being carried away into Babylon.

    Chapter 40 starts with “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people saith your God. And from chapter 40-66 you have an extreme message of Grace, especially chapter 53 which tells of Jesus’ suffering on the cross. So, you have 39 chapters of judgment, and 27 chapters of pure Grace.

    Now, the Bible itself has 66 BOOKS—-39 in the Old Testament, and 27 in the New Testament. The Old Testament is mainly judgements, due to the law, the New Testament is Grace.

    Now, let me ask you–is this pure coincidence? Did Isaiah say “Hey, you know what? I’m going to write a book with 66 chapters, 39 of them judgment, and 27 grace, because a few thousand years from now there will be a New Testament with 27 books filled with grace? Or did the New Testament writers say “Oh, lets write a total of 27 books to fit with the 27 chapters in Isaiah?”

    Of course, the “critical thinkers” here will automatically say it is all coincidence–or that the 39 and 27 chapters are not really split up that way, etc. etc.—unbelievers simply will not acknowledge anything that may point to divine authorship.

  • 41. Joe Sperling  |  June 18, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    To clarify—

    Isaiah—-66 chapters—39 Law, 27 Grace
    Bible—–66 Books——39 Old Testament, 27 New Testament.

  • 42. Yurka  |  June 18, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Unitarian Universalist congregation, where all faiths are welcomed?

    They are a ridiculous parody of Christianity. They are shriveling to nothingness faster than the Episcopal Church. They demonstrate the vacuity and emptiness of ‘religion’ without the risen Christ.

    An Ethical Society? Yeah, I’ll bet the hymns are truly awe inspiring there. You can sing about carbon emissions and recycling, or you can just sleep in Sunday. What to do, eh?

    How can anyone not be repelled by something as phony as UU? “All the form, none of substance”.

    And Cereal Man, did you just give into your liberal profs without reading the other side? Liberals have done so much damage, but did you just fall for it all? What about Warfield, Bahnsen, etc. These men are scholars. Did you at least give the inerrantists a fair hearing?

  • 43. DagoodS  |  June 18, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Joe Sperling: Or did the New Testament writers say “Oh, lets write a total of 27 books to fit with the 27 chapters in Isaiah?”

    Err….you DO know the Chapter divisions were added long after the New Testament books were written, right? Are you aware as to how the Jews in First Century Judea would have divided up Isaiah?

  • 44. Bobbi Jo  |  June 18, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Joe, I think I appriciate where you are comming from, I too, have prayed on how to best interact with the people on this blog. However, I found that once I started chatting with them, I became friends (or at least I consider them my friends). I don’t quote scripture very often cuz I have a terrible memory and can’t remember where I found it. But I do know that I would like to be like Jesus and the best way for me to do that is to befriend others, no matter what their preferences in life are, no matter that I don’t agree with everything they say. I want to understand and get to know them as a person and not just lump them in some group that needs to be prayed for. I wonder if anyone here has ever seen the movie “Saved”? Please go rent it! There is a part where Mandy Moore’s character litterally throws her bible at another character and screams “I am full of love!”. It’s a really funny movie on how NOT to be a christian, yet I find most christians act exactly like the movie potrays. Whatever happened to showing someone real love and acceptence no matter the circumstances. I’m pretty sure this is what Jesus was best at doing. And just to clarify, acceptence doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything, it just means that I love them as a person. I hope I am doing that here every time I write, although, sometimes my words may come across wrong.

  • 45. Yurka  |  June 18, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    ‘Saved’ is just gay propaganda. If you want that, why not just go to an episcopal church and get it for free?
    Bobbi, you really ought to be more discerning… think of Edmund and the turkish delight.

  • 46. Joe Sperling  |  June 18, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    DaGoods—

    The chapter are divided up by main thoughts which are fairly easy to ascertain. There are a couple of places where the divisions weren’t done exactly—that is why the chapter divisions themselves are not considered inspired. However, the fact there are 66 books, and 66 main patterns of thought, 39 of them consisting of wrath, and 27 of them consisting of grace is really food for thought. I gave this as just one example that there is more going on in the Bible than immediately meets the eye, not as “proof” the Bible is inspired.
    I still think it is a very amazing “conicidence” myself.

  • 47. Joe Sperling  |  June 18, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Bobbi Jo—-

    When Jesus overturned the money-changers table, and made a whip out of small cords and beat them with it, and drove them out of the Temple and then called the Pharisees “You generation of vipers!” many in the crowd were heard to say “THAT’S NOT VERY CHRIST-LIKE OF YOU JESUS!!”

    I appreciate your sentiment about “making friends” and being a loving Christian, but there are some that the Lord himself said to warn seriously. If someone is walking dangerously close to the edge of a cliff, is it more christian to befriend them with nice chit-chat, or to scream “Get back!!”–which really in the long run would show more love?

    I understand where you are coming from, but I must repeat—-most of these people are not “ignorant” about what they are doing, as an unsaved person is, who has never heard the Gospel, or is ignorant to what the Gospel really says—these are people who KNOW the Gospel, can recite Scripture, and are turning back. Is it more loving to refrain from using the Word of God to warn them, and chit-chat about how they came to be unbelievers, or is it more loving to warn while we can? I am just asking—-I’m sure they would prefer the chit-chat. :>)

  • 48. writerdd  |  June 18, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Yurka: “‘Saved’ is just gay propaganda. If you want that, why not just go to an episcopal church and get it for free?”

    Okay Yurka, you have just convinced me that nothing you say is worth listening to. Thank you for saving me the time of reading any more of your posts. Really.

  • 49. writerdd  |  June 18, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Joe Sperling, I guess you don’t comprehend that you are talking to people who used to believe what you do. That means we’ve already heard all the preachy stuff you are putting out here and we’ve decided it’s bunk. If you are really concerned about us, it would behoove you to talk to use like normal people and in your own words, instead of trying to push regurgitated sermons or Bible versus down our throats. Been there done that. We’ve heard it all before. Just because you’re posting it here does not make it new or fresh. I know it’s hard to believe that some people actually reject what you love and believe, but it’s true.

  • 50. HeIsSailing  |  June 18, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Joe Sperling says:
    “However, the fact there are 66 books, and 66 main patterns of thought, 39 of them consisting of wrath, and 27 of them consisting of grace is really food for thought…I still think it is a very amazing “conicidence” myself ”

    Hogwash. To be blunt, this is the kind of crappy apologetic argument that did nothing but damage to my once strong Christian faith. There is nothing amazing or miraculous or even coincidental in this. This barely even counts as a coincidence. This is almost wholly contrived.

    The parts of Isaiah that you are considering as “27 chapters of pure Grace” are almost completely contained in 4 “Servant Songs” (Isaiah 42:1-4, 49:1-6, 50:4-11, 52:13 – 53:12). The exact deliniations of where the Servant Songs begin and end is debated, and some argue for a fifth Servant Song (Isaiah 51:4-6), but most of the gracious passages are found in these parts. In between, Isaiah 40-66 contains plenty of judgement. I confess, it is a radically different style than Is 1-39, but it is hardly the “pure Grace” that you think it is.

    And if the chapter deliniations are as obvious as you think they are, why does the most famous Servant Song stradle between two chapters?

    I once heard a Church Pastor claim that The Lord stamped his authority on the Bible because he is literally the Center of it. The Center words of the Central verse of the Bible, Psalm 118:8 is “The LORD”, surrounded on either side by the longest and shortest chapters of the whole Bible (Psalm 117,119) just to set it apart. Hogwash. Numerical contrivances like this, the one you gave, and many, many, many, more examples are absolutely worthless.

  • 51. HeIsSailing  |  June 18, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Yurka boldly exclaims:
    “They’ve expected God to conform to their expectations. They expected a cosmic bell-hop, and were disappointed when things didn’t turn out as they expected. ”

    Yes, after 44 years of expecting God to be my personal Rochester in the sky, I jumped the Christian ship when God did not declare “Yessuh Massah” to my every beck and call.

    Yurka, who do you think you are kidding? I have never, ever, ever met a single Christian who expected this of God. I certainly doubt any of the contributors here expected this from God any more than the countless number of Christians I have known over the years. This ex-Christian who left Christianity because they wanted a “cosmic bellhop” exists only as a strawman in your mind. Have fun knocking that characature down. None of us are fooled.

  • 52. Joe Sperling  |  June 18, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    it is a radically different style than Is 1-39, but it is hardly the “pure Grace” that you think it is.

    HelsSailing—

    Thanks for allowing for the “radically different” style. Yes–the Old Testament has plenty of grace in it, and the New Testament carries areas of warning and Judgment. I still think the fact that the 1-39 vs 40-66, with the evidence of the radically different style of writing, compared with the fact that there are 66 books in the Bible is very thought-provoking. Isaiah in a sense is a microcosm of the Bible, filled with Judgment and wrath, but then filled with some of the sweetest and comforting scripture there is.

    Perhaps it means nothing to you—that’s fine. I am not offering this as “proof” the Bible is inspired—I just find it very strange and unusual. I love it—-and find it to be very inspiring.

  • 53. Yurka  |  June 18, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    HIS, it’s not a strawman – what about the Osteen/WordFaith gang?
    I’m sure many of them end up as burnt out deconverts. Also, what I was saying would apply to people who deconvert from disappointments that they personally thought God should not have put them through.

  • 54. cereal man  |  June 18, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Joe said: “Cereal Man, I would like to know what you find in the Bible that shows you strongly that it was not authored by God.”

    Joe, I’m not going to spend time trying to convince you. I’ve been in your shoes for much of my life. I know that no argument is going to change your mind. You must go and seek the truth by your own efforts (coupled with a change in your social context).

    And Yurka, my profs were committed orthodox evangelicals – not liberals. I said that they “introduced the thought.” Maybe you don’t know that many evangelicals do not accept a literal creation story? They stay in the closet because of the rejection they would receive at their churches. I would bet that many pastors are in the same situation.

    Yurka, consider this: You cannot find the name Adam for any ancient Jewish man. The Hebrew word “adam” is a noun meaning “earth.” When the ancient Jews heard the story of creation and “Adam,” they probably did not think it was a literal person (called by a symbolic word). It was their creation story – every society has one. You don’t learn this in Sunday School. Of course when you read the Bible you read the English name “Adam” and filter that through your modern worldview (literal name), which you then automatically impose on the ancients when you interpret scripture (through your worldview). Do your research on “Eve” too – same thing.

  • 55. Joe Sperling  |  June 18, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    If you are really concerned about us, it would behoove you to talk to use like normal people and in your own words, instead of trying to push regurgitated sermons or Bible versus down our throats. Been there done that. We’ve heard it all before. Just because you’re posting it here does not make it new or fresh. I know it’s hard to believe that some people actually reject what you love and believe, but it’s true.

    writerdd—

    And just who are “normal people”? I’ve heard all the atheistic stuff before too. And just because you are posting it here does not make it new or fresh. I know it’s hard to believe that some people love the Bible enough to use it in their own discussions, but it’s true. I am always amazed that people can go on and on in circular reasoning, boring the hell out of everyone, then someone posts a Bible verse, and suddenly The Bible is being “pushed down our throats”.

    “Normal People” are prone to quote what they love. A Free-thinker may say often “As Thomas Paine said…” or an agnostic might say “As Robert Ingersoll said in one of his many lectures..” But if I say “Jesus once said..” it’s shoving it down your throats. :>) LOL

  • 56. HeIsSailing  |  June 18, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Yurka:
    “HIS, it’s not a strawman – what about the Osteen/WordFaith gang?”

    haha – point taken. You can probably figure that I never hung out with the Oral Roberts crowd. But to paint such a broad brush with all us who left Christianity is not cool. Do you really think every one of us left because God would not give us the presents that we wanted? That is very shallow, very presumptuous and very insulting.

  • 57. LorMarie  |  June 18, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    And just who are “normal people”? I’ve heard all the atheistic stuff before too. And just because you are posting it here does not make it new or fresh. I know it’s hard to believe that some people love the Bible enough to use it in their own discussions, but it’s true. I am always amazed that people can go on and on in circular reasoning, boring the hell out of everyone, then someone posts a Bible verse, and suddenly The Bible is being “pushed down our throats”.

    “Normal People” are prone to quote what they love. A Free-thinker may say often “As Thomas Paine said…” or an agnostic might say “As Robert Ingersoll said in one of his many lectures..” But if I say “Jesus once said..” it’s shoving it down your throats. :>–Joe Sperling

    Although I fully understand that the decons here were exactly where Sperling is now, he does have a point here. What’s abmormal to a deconvert is normal to the convert. We really should respect that.

  • 58. LorMarie  |  June 18, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Pardon my horrible spelling.

  • 59. HeIsSailing  |  June 18, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Joe Sperling, you also realize that the number of books in the Bible is also a total contrivance to fit your argument. Ezra/Nehemiah are considered one book to the people who wrote them. So were 1,2 Samuel. So were 1,2 Kings. Do away with those and your contrivance of Isaiah disappears. Unless you are willing to admit that God somehow inspired the editor of of the canon into breaking these books into smaller chunks.

    Not to mention that what you once called, “Pure Grace” in a previous comment now gets reduced to having admitendly “areas of judgement”. Isaiah is a strange mix of grace and judgement – just like the rest of the old testament… just like the rest of the Bible, actually.

    This supposed evidence of Divine origin is neither unusual or coincidental. It is 100% grade A fabrication – as are most fradulent numerical ‘coincidences’ of the Bible. I am not saying you made this up – I know you did not. I have heard this argument and plenty others like it many times before.

  • 60. Clair  |  June 19, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Wow, there sure are a lot of True Scotsmen here.

  • 61. Joe Sperling  |  June 19, 2008 at 11:05 am

    HelsSailing—

    I will not argue with Higher Criticism of the Bible, and which books should be where, and that there were 4 writers of Isaiah, etc. etc. Those type of criticisms can go on forever. Yet, many Biblical Scholars will totally deny that that is the case at all. I find the Bible to be amazing—I know that is because I am a believer. 40 men, over thousands of years wrote these books—and yet they are somehow all linked together, with the same finger of prophecy pointing to the same man, with the same wonderful and amazing story. No Higher Critic will ever be able to remove the amazement I find when reading God’s Word—not remove the effect this book has had on my life, and so radically changing it. I am forever grateful to God for this book—-let the critics attempt to tear it up—-it has lasted for thousands of years, and will continue until the Lord returns and after.

  • 62. Joe Sperling  |  June 19, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Clair—

    True Scotsman annoy the hell out of me. Therefore I choose to believe True Scotsman don’t exist. Oops—-there’s the metaphor again. :>)

  • 63. Joe Sperling  |  June 19, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Well—

    I’ve visited for a couple of weeks, and heard the same arguments over and over again. Though, I agree, I am making the same arguments over and over again also. And I have been going home feeling such sadness. I will tell you why and then leave the board for a while—I want to go back to posting on the Christian sites I normally post on—-I feel such joy there:

    I feel great sadness, because I know (through Wycliffe Bible Translators and others) that there are still many peoples that do not have the Bible in their heart languages (I say “heart language” because there are a few that use translations “close” to their language, but not in their very own dialect, which is so important to them). Many of these people, when they finally receive the Gospel of Luke or some other portion of Scripture, weep with joy that they can finally hear the message in their own language. The Word of God is so precious to them!! It is like precious diamonds or jewels to them!!

    And then, I visit here, on a board with visitors I would suspect that are mainly from the USA, a country completely saturated with Bibles and the Gospel. The greatest and most amazing message in the world, is being offered to everyone due to such saturation—-we have all been blessed with access to salvation on a scale not seen almost anywhere else in the world.

    And the message is an eternal one—-vastly important, and deciding where a soul will spend eternity. God himself became a man to rescue us all, and paid the ultimate price, so that we may “freely” receive a gift more precious than any other gift that could possibly be given.

    I visit the board and hear people who once actually received this message with joy, and due to “personal reasons” are now rejecting it. It reminds me of Jesus when he said that the guests were invited to the wedding and they all began to “make excuse” as to why they couldn’t go. To have such a mesage of salvation offered to you, and then to ultimately reject it is something I cannot comprehend.

    You are not rejecting a “religion”, you are rejecting God himself in the person of Jesus Christ. And He sacrificed all for you, so that you could be with him. “In my Father’s house are many mansions..I go to prepare a place for you…so that where I am, you may be also”. The sadness that I feel is so great, because I think of that day—-that ultimate day right before eternity. I don’t want to threaten Hell, but I think of the person, who KNEW the way–they were actually on the path—they had been enlightened—they had seen the work of God, and read the very Word that so many in the world yearn for in their own language.

    And then they rejected it and turned back. I will be blunt here—but to hear the cries on that day–cries of regret for the awful choice that was made—to reject their OWN SALVATION–“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” To see those who COULD HAVE entered the eternal city, turned away, as they turned away from the one who offered them entrance, will be the greatest sadness one could behold.

    I guess I could go on and on. But to mockers and scoffers these words mean nothing. And that is the other great sadness—to see hearts that are so turned towards unbelief that any offer of hope, any offer of Grace, any offer of salvation is quickly laughed off, or explained away.

    It really has been impressed on me that it is best that I share on the other boards. I really appeciate your allowing me to “preach at you” :>) I do want to say something—-I have made my lame arguments—not very successfully or philosophically—– but it really came from a sense of deep urgency, and a deep hope that those who have turned away would turn back. Perhaps this is not possible for most. I will continue to pray though.

    “For we must all stand before the Judgment seat of Christ”. We can either look at that as a great and joyful day!!! Or, as a day of dread. I know to the scoffer, in his mind he has decided that day does not exist. But you can’t make a day that God proclaims “ill happen”disappear simply because you decide it won’t happen.

    Maybe I’ll come back and visit again some time.
    God bless you—-if you will receive it.

  • 64. Joe Sperling  |  June 19, 2008 at 11:58 am

    I meant to say “will happen” not “ill happen” at the end of my post.

    I was only here a short time—but thanks for your graciousness—-I understand you could have “jumped all over me” for presenting the Bible verses I did.

    One last thing—–if you can—-try to remember the day you came to Christ. I know, when I remember, I recall a day of great sweetness and joy. As with all relationships, they can sour. You can forget the joy, the sweetness, and the love you once experienced with a person. You can grow so dead towards them that you forget who they really are, and what they truly meant to you. In Revelation Jesus says to the Church at Ephesus: “you have forgotten your first love:” (paraphrase)–they had gotten so involved in “church works” and the drudgery of “trying” to be a Christian, that they had forgotten that first day of love—that first day when Christ embraced them.

    This is all Jesus wants from any of us. To come to him and “do the first works”. And what were those “first works”? They weren’t works at all—-it was a simple belief and trust in a wonderful Good Shepherd and friend. There is still time to turn around and return—there really is. Try to remember if you can.

  • 65. Ubi Dubium  |  June 19, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Yurka:

    An Ethical Society? Yeah, I’ll bet the hymns are truly awe inspiring there. You can sing about carbon emissions and recycling, or you can just sleep in Sunday. What to do, eh?

    Hymns? I’ve been to several meetings. No hymns. Plenty of music though. And it’s all about things like the worth and dignity of the individual, the need to take care of one another, and the values of thinking, tolerance, and kindness, stuff like that. Much better than singing about groveling and unworthiness.

    And UU’s are on the rise, not declining. My mom’s a member. She says her church is full of all kinds of people who, like her, grew dissatisfied with the dogma and intolerance of other faiths they found in their old churches. Some of their members are still christians, some are jews, some are of other faiths, some of no particular faith. Nobody gets told that they have to stop believing in their personal version of god. They celebrate many different holidays, not just the christian ones. And they rejoice in what they have in common, instead of spending all their energy proclaiming what makes one particular sect superior to another. They are truly moving beyond the “us vs. them” mentality and have realized that humanity must become one big “us”.

    And now, Yurka, since the words open-mindedness and tolerance do not seem to be in your vocabulary, I am done reading your posts. You have been spewing a lot of the same dogma and hate that started many of us on the path to de-converting. You can go yurk at somebody else.

  • 66. Bobbi Jo  |  June 19, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    “is it more christian to befriend them with nice chit-chat, or to scream “Get back!!”–which really in the long run would show more love?”

    Joe, sometimes when you scream, it causes the other person to be startled and fall anyway. I’d prefer to just take them by the hand and lead the way…. :)

    I am wondering where the christian sites that you normally post on are? I have not found a truely great site that has good discussion. That’s why I like it here. I don’t agree with some things said, but at least here, people are thinking and discussiing and it’s real conversation. If you have a great site, please let me know. Most sites that claim to be “christian” are rather lame.

    I do agree that we should respect Joe for quoting scripture. If someone in here quoted the koran or whatever, I might not agree with it, but i’d respect them for knowing what it says.

    just my two cents….

  • 67. Yurka  |  June 19, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    UD, I stand by what I say. They try to look “churchy” while denying all the tenets of an actual church. As you note, it’s a social gathering, and a significant portion of their membership is atheistic (as well as wiccan, buddhist, etc.) It’s like a bait and switch.

    What do the terms Unitarian, or Universalist ever refer to any more, in the UU context? Don’t you first need to believe in a personal God and a real heaven first in order to believe in Unitarianism (modalism) or universalism? I just want to shake you awake – the atmosphere is a sham. You can’t get the comforts of religion without the substance. I’d rather have a tumor cut out than to be injected full of painkillers and left to die.
    Going to the ale house with some friends is a better way to spend your time than this organization pretending to be a house of God.

  • 68. Ubi Dubium  |  June 19, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Sigh. One more at Yurka:

    Going to the ale house with some friends is a better way to spend your time than this organization pretending to be a house of God.

    Change “this organization” to “any organization” and I’d agree.

    Yurka, you would not find a UU congregation satisfying because they don’t push your dogma. The UU’s find it very satisfying for exactly the same reason.

    And, for some fun – Yurka said an Ethical society would just sing about recycling and carbon emissions. That might not be so bad, thanks to this song from Tim Minchin.

  • 69. TheNerd  |  June 19, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    HeIsSailing – I agree. I took a college-level Christian apologetics class to strengthen my faith, and it ended up doing much damage to it instead.

    Yurka – I sense much hate/fear in you.

  • 70. Yurka  |  June 19, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    TheNerd, if religions were only a matter similar to a personal preference, like a favorite color or food, you’d be right to think I’m unreasonable. What if it does refer to something outside you? What if there were real consequences to spreading misinformation about Christianity? If you caught your kid doing drugs and scolded and punished him, it’s not because of ‘hatred and fear’.

  • 71. Once Quiet Observer  |  June 19, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Yurka:

    I’ve read a lot of the posts on this website and you seem to find the time to comment on most of time. I read the comments that I come across but no more than that. I disagree with your thought processes but I never comment.

    What struck me was that earlier in this thread, you warned Rachel of “them” and of the danger of asking them questions. You quickly discounted everyone that posts here because the internet does not allow you to “know” anyone.

    So, my question to you is why are you always here? And why do you cause such a fuss? Your ad hominem attacks do nothing but kill this valuable discussion and polarize anyone reading. What is your purpose here?

    Your repeat barbs at Episcopalians, liberals, gays — in this thread alone — tells a lot more about you than any espoused belief you leave here. So, again, why are you here?

  • 72. Walking Away  |  June 19, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    1. I think my answer is different than many of the others before me. I hope to read them all, these are great questions.
    My process didn’t start with science or lack of integrity of the Bible, but both those things influenced me later. For me it was a sense that God was not there. For my entire adult life I was a “faithful believer” and had moments of closeness that I now realize were just emotional experiences. I listened to other people talking about their close, intimate and personal relationship for God. I longed for that with all my heart. I waited patiently (for years) to hear from him. I never did. Why did he reveal himself in such a powerful way to them but not me? I finally came to the conclusion that they either a) were caught up in an emotional experience and truly believed it was God but it was really their own thoughts and feelings or b) God was ignoring me. Thus, I gave up on Him, which to this day still hurts.

    2. No. Have been treated very poorly by the church.

    3. If I am honest, I still hold on to a single thread of my faith now. But I hope to cut that thread soon because its based solely in fear.

    4. Fundamentalist Christians bother me a lot. The Bible scares me. Jesus was a great example of how to love unconditionally.

    5. Crying out to God for comfort or some sort of indication that he was there and never getting an answer.

    6. I work for a ministry so am with them 40 hours a week. I get infuriated by their narrow-mindedness and lack of compassion for people that are “different” (gays, Democrats…). So they bug me but for me to choose to judge them for their faults would make me like them. I am embarrassed to be associated with this ministry, but it feeds my family – I need the job.

  • 73. Bobbi Jo  |  June 19, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    ” I am embarrassed to be associated with this ministry, but it feeds my family – I need the job.”

    I understand the need to put food on the table and pay the bills, but to live a lie everyday? I don’t know what you do for them or how big the town you live in is, but isn’t there something else that you could be doing? Or maybe go back to school and work there until you’re done with school. I don’t know your situation, but I don’t think I could handle the pressure of being “two-faced” at work all day. Sometimes I’ll have questions and I’m down about it, and one of my christian friends will ask me what’s wrong and I “i can’t talk about it yet, I’m still gathering my thoughts”. It lets them know I’m not hiding my emotions, but I’m not ready to talk yet. Although, in your case, I suppose they would bug you until you opened up to them? That must be hard and I feel for your situation. I hope there is a better solution than working in a job you don’t like anymore.

  • 74. samanthamj  |  June 19, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    very interesting… and nice to have a Christian who wants to actually hear what deconverts think…

    I need to go – so don’t have time at the moment to answer the questions individually and specifically. Maybe later. But, My reasons echo many of the ones posted here in some ways… but, of course all of us are unique and I’m sure my story isn’t exactly like anyone else’s and is a bit complicated. If you’re interested – I have it posted for the world to see here: http://savemenot.wordpress.com/

    ~smj

  • 76. HeIsSailing  |  June 19, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Joe Sperling says:

    “I will not argue with Higher Criticism of the Bible, and which books should be where, and that there were 4 writers of Isaiah,…”

    Joe, I never brought Higher Criticism into my comments. Here is the extent of my my ‘Higher Criticism':

    Ezra/Nehemiah are considered one book to the people who wrote them. So were 1,2 Samuel. So were 1,2 Kings.

    Egads Joe, that is hardly Biblical Criticism. You can find this in any copy of the NIV Student’s Bible or a Thompson Chain Reference.

  • 77. HeIsSailing  |  June 19, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Joe Sperling says:
    “you are rejecting God himself in the person of Jesus Christ. And He sacrificed all for you, so that you could be with him. …”

    Joe, you must understand something. We are not willfully rejecting anything. We do not believe the offer of Salvation solely through Jesus Christ exists. Period. We are no more rejecting God in the Person of Jesus Christ than you are rejecting salvation through Allah by making the Haj to Mecca.

    Rachel, I will answer the questions in this article soon… I promise. I just have little spare time.

  • 78. rfogue  |  June 19, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    HelsSailing-

    No rush. I’m just grateful that you would take the time to answer them. I look forward to hearing from you soon! :)

  • 79. TheNerd  |  June 19, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Yurka, If I caught my kid doing drugs, I’d give him a real questioning: Do you know ratio between the minimum effective dose and the lethal dose? How do you know that it hasn’t been cut with something impure? Do you know what is and isn’t within your capabilities to perform while under the influence of that particular drug? Do you have the expendable income to support your interests?

    He’d better have some well-educated answers, or it’s off to the library with him! But punish him I would not.

  • 80. Walking Away  |  June 19, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Bobby Jo,

    You are right – I feel ill some days because I can’t speak my mind and be honest. But I’ve been there a loooooooong time (17 years) and I am a single mom with a 17 year old child. The people I work with have known me all these years and I was one of them for a long time. I’ve been looking for something else but have had no luck at all. In the meantime, I just do what I have to do. (Oh, and I work in the IT Dept., I am not directly involved in ministry)

  • 81. Once Quiet Observer  |  June 19, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Good luck with your crusade then, Yurka. You’re so valiant and doing quite a lot of good.

  • 82. HeIsSailing  |  June 20, 2008 at 12:23 am

    The Nerd says:
    I took a college-level Christian apologetics class to strengthen my faith, and it ended up doing much damage to it instead.

    You should write an article about it on your site. I would love to read about it. I have never taken a class like that – but I have done much reading on the subject, and of course more than a few speakers at church also helped. I think the most damaging book that I read was Herbert Lockyer’s All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible. Who needs Richard Dawkins when there are apologetics like that?

  • 83. rfogue  |  June 20, 2008 at 12:34 am

    HelsSailing-
    What exactly about Lockyer’s book made you start questioning? I only scanned the first chapter but I will look at it in further detail. It looks actually like a hard read. (the kind where you have to read things three times to get it because of the sentence structure). The edition I skimmed through is by Zondervan. Are there other editions?

  • 84. HeIsSailing  |  June 20, 2008 at 1:25 am

    What usually starts the painful process of de-converting?

    A long time ago, I wrote an article here about the book that really made me start doubting my faith. Dawkins? Harris? No. It had the unlikely title of Let the Trumpet Sound – A Life of Martin Luther King Jr, by Stephen Oates. Triggers can come from the most unlikely of places. I think that book started the process of active investigation of my beliefs that ultimately culminated in my non-belief about 1 1/2 years later. But in hindsight, I think the seeds of my de-conversion started years ago. Simple things like meeting people with diverse faiths and beliefs from all over the world. My mother de-converting some 20 years ago. Being turned off by the faulty logic of apologetic books. Earning an MS in astrophysics and working in the physics community. Marrying a woman of catholic beliefs and asking God for the wisdom to be a good husband. All these things had a small part in my ultimate de-conversion.

    How does one suddenly believe so strongly one way and then reject that belief the next?

    To be honest, I am not sure I understand this question. As I said earlier, I struggled for 1 1/2 years – and believe me it was not easy on me or my wife. But I don’t think that is what you are asking. All I can say is that it is not easy to completely unravel a religious paradigm that I have been ingrained with since birth. To think back on all the pious prayers, bible studies, street evangelism, witnessing to neighbors, family and workmates, empying my pockets of tithes and offerings – sometimes at terrible financial burden, my stubborn insistance on ‘hating sin’ – and to admit to myself that I had been taken for a ride through that entire process – through every last bit of that – that is not easy to do. To change paradigms like that is extremetly difficult, not the least of which I had to drag a very confused wife along for the ride. But I had to do it for my own well-being. I had to stand up to my convictions and declare that NO I am NOT a Christian, because to continue living as a Christian when I do not believe any of it is true is to lie to myself and lie to others. I hate two-faced behavior in others, and for the sake of my own dignity and sanity, I have to declare myself as an apostate ex-Christian. That is the only decision that I made. I did not decide to stop believing. Nobody can just willfully decide what they do or do not believe. I think belief is a conclusion reached after a period of either faithful will, cultural immersion, or investigation. That is where I stand right not. Sorry if that did not answer your question.

    Do de-cons often continue to attend a church? If so, why?

    I still attend a local Catholic church with my wife, but I find that we skip more and more Sundays as time goes on. My wife does not care if I go with her, but I still go. I enjoy the music, the ritual and the regalia. My wife has a beautiful voice. We sometimes meet with freinds afterwards for a breakfast of menudo. I am actively involved in a ministry which ministers to the poor across the border in Juarez – because frankly I think it is the right thing to do.

    Are de-cons open to returning to the faith or is that impossible?

    No, it is not impossible – but it is very highly unlikely. I have read – and still read – plenty of apologetic books. But I have also read plenty of other books that show how these Christian apologetics really cheat with facts and logic – I don’t know if it willful or not, but … and I hate to sound condescending, but I can see right through most of it. I do not engage online much anymore, but I am asking more and more questions of my old Christian friends. I have asked God countless times to give me a reason to hang on to belief. I figure if God wants me to believe, he knows how to do it. Maybe someday he will!! But until that day comes, I cannot build my faith based on the personal experience of others.

    What is it that turns you off about Christianity the most? The Bible? Christians themselves? Jesus?

    I don’t know that anything turns me off about Christianity per se. I simply don’t think there is any basis for buildings one’s hope in an eternal afterlife on it. Rachel, what turns you off about Buddhism? Confucianism? What do you find distastful about Lao Tsu? Muhammed? Malakas and Maganda? Dionysus?

    Ask yourself why you do not believe the exploits of Zeus ever happened. Haven’t you ever read Homer? When you answer that question, you will know why we do not believe the exploits described in the Bible. It is not necessarily that we find it distastful, and I for one awknowledge that Christianity has done (and still does) its share of good in this world. It is just that we do not believe it to be true as a basis of faith. Period.

    Christians? Eh… I will answer that below.

    Jesus? I recently read the Bible again. The whole thing – first word to last – including 18 Apocryphal books. I took careful notes on Jesus…. if taken literally, the Gospels present Jesus with real a real bizarre sense of morality. He says some great stuff that is a moral ideal… some stuff that he says and does is really questionable. Once you are not afraid to admit that every word and action of Jesus is not necessarilypure sinless perfection, and that it is not evil to look at him with a little scrutiny, it becomes pretty apparant. Some of the things that he taught are not even followed by most Christians – and for good reason.

    The person of Jesus remains a puzzle to me – I don’t think his true identity and character will ever be known. Last year, I read The Life of Jesus Critically Examined by David Friedrich Strauss (available in its entirety on Google Books), and I have to tell you – after reading that hyper-scrutiny of the accounts of Jesus written all the way back in 1835, I can never take the Gospels at face value ever again. It was a devastating book, and I simply could not counter most (not all) of the arguments Strauss made about the character of Jesus.

    What made you the most miserable as a Christian?

    Being convinced that my apostate mother was going to Hell. The thought of my own mother burning in Hell because she ‘rejected the truth’ of Jesus, despite my endless witnessing to her, was just too painful for me to bear. Mostly though, I was a pretty happy and content Christian for most of my life.

    What do you really currently think about Christians?

    Most everyone I know is a Christian of one flavor or another. Some are great people and some are jerks. It just comes with the territory. I think Christians on the whole are woefully ignorant of their own religion, and treat their beliefs a little like a magic trick. When you see a magician, you are in awe of their trickery – but you don’t investigate too close. After all, that would spoil the trick. Same with Christianity. Jesus and his miracles and the Salvific grace of God and the Bible, etc, are just wonderful, and reasons to believe abound in apologetic books and speakers… but most Christians dare not look at their beliefs too closely. It would spoil the magic.

  • 85. HeIsSailing  |  June 20, 2008 at 2:52 am

    Rachel asks:
    HelsSailing-
    What exactly about Lockyer’s book made you start questioning? I only scanned the first chapter but I will look at it in further detail. It looks actually like a hard read. (the kind where you have to read things three times to get it because of the sentence structure). The edition I skimmed through is by Zondervan. Are there other editions?

    Rachel, thanks for asking. I went to my shelf and dusted off my copy. The front cover proclaims, “A compendium of all the prophecies in scripture concerning the promised Messiah”. Mine is a 1973 edition, published by Zondervan. The writing style is fine – I did not find the sentence structure to be confusing. If anything, it is a little overly pious for my taste – even as a Christian. Nearly every description of devine prophecy was followed by Lockyer’s exclamations of how wonderous our glorious Lord is, usually followed with an exclamation point. Nothing wrong with that I guess – it just presents the whole work as a little less than objective.

    Mind you, I read this book as a Christian, and continued to be a Christian long after I read it. But I have to confess it damaged my faith. I recently had a comment exchange with Joe Sperling. Maybe you read it. Joe claimed that the Bible shows internal evidence of design by using the 66 chapter divisions of the Book of Isaiah to be a microcosm for the 66 books of the Protestant Bible. I heard stuff like this all the time from the pulpit, and Lockyer’s book is full of what I, as a Christian, took to be real strained contrivances. Lockyer covers all the usual suspects of Messianic Prophecy (Isaiah 53, etc.. ) but he goes much, much further. Lockyer fills over 500 pages – mostly by taking random aspects of Jesus’ life, character, mission, message, ministry, or anything else associated with Jesus, and fits them into Old Testament narrative. Thus, any Old Testament reference to hunger or thirst becomes prophetic for the dual nature of Jesus Christ, any reference to holiness or righteousness of YHWH becomes default prophecy for the sinless nature of Jesus. The worst is saved for the Chapter “Prophetic Gleams from Religious Ritual”, in which the Levitical sacrifices, feasts and Tabernacle are dissected and somehow fit to Jesus with the most outragious of contrivances.

    Consider these as a few examples: The tabernacle was covered in badger skins. Prophetic of Jesus having no comliness. The curtains rested on silver sockets. Prophetic of Jesus blood since silver always refers to blood. The pins of the outer court are prophetic for the stability of the Christian walk. The way to the outer court is composed of four pillars, prophetic of the four infallible Gospels. The Four pillars actually create three avenues into the outer court, prophetic of Jesus declaration that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and more, it is prophetic of the three-fold title of our Savior – Lord Jesus Christ. And on and on and on it goes – *hundreds* of pages of this.

    Yikes. You see what is happening here? Lockyer, like so many later apologists who seek to fit the Old Testament into the New, just mix and match events, stories and rituals from each Testament, see what fits, and declare it a prophecy. This is simply random, contrived pseudo-foretelling. There is nothing predictive in any of this – it is simply seeing what event matches with what event long after the fact. It is really no better than Michael Drosnin’s Bible Code foolishness. Drosnin and Lockyer both see an event, and read the Bible in a wierd way to make it fit that event. Drosnin and Lockyer have different aims and processes, but both are working based on the same fallacy – and that is their processes have no rules. They are simply making this up as they go along, and if a square peg fits into a square hole it is miraculous prophecy.

    Now how did this harm my faith? As I read this book, I saw how contrived all these ‘prophecies’ were. Then I thought of how The Gospels (and countless apologists) claimed that Jesus fulfilled numerous Old Testament prophecies (yes, they are all recounted in Lockyer’s book too). As I am sure you know Rachel, there is really nothing in the Old Testament that says “The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem”, “The Messiah will die on a cross for your sins”, or anything of the sort. Rather, it is taught, the Holy Spirit guided the Gospel writers (and the modern Christian) into understanding these as prophetic utterances after the fact. But the more I thought about the bogus method that Lockyer used to cook up ‘Messianic Prophecy’, I had to face the fact that I could logically see no difference from the method used by Lockyer, and that used by Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Isn’t Matthew fitting a flight into Egypt by the infant Jesus to fit an out of context passage in Hosea? Or dosen’t he have Jesus ride an ass and a colt to fit something he found in Zechariah? Or…

    You get the idea. Logically, the process used by Lockyer, and that used by the Gospel writers could be exactly the same. At least it seemed that way to me. Mind you, I was a Christian, and by Faith I believed in the inspiration of the Gospel writers. But I had to admit on a logical level at least, that it was conceivable the two processes were indistinguishible. And in the end, it was damaging to my faith. It just seemed rather poor evidence for my faith, and considering many apologists make this kind of stuff their bread and butter, I figured the other Christian ‘evidences for Faith’ did not get much better than that.

    There you go. Hope that helps.

  • 86. The Apostate  |  June 20, 2008 at 3:07 am

    HIS,

    ? Lockyer, like so many later apologists who seek to fit the Old Testament into the New, just mix and match events, stories and rituals from each Testament, see what fits, and declare it a prophecy.

    Although I agree that this is true for the most part, do you believe that there is also a strong midrashic element to the New Testament that makes some of this stuff possible?

  • 87. HeIsSailing  |  June 20, 2008 at 3:14 am

    The Apostate asks:

    Although I agree that this is true for the most part, do you believe that there is also a strong midrashic element to the New Testament that makes some of this stuff possible?

    Yes. But I described my initial reaction to reading Lockyer – and as a typical Evangelical Chrisitan, I did not even know what ‘midrash’ was. After subsequent investigation though, I believe you are correct. But my comment was becoming as long as Lockyer’s book, so I intentionally simplified it.

  • 88. Yurka  |  June 20, 2008 at 11:12 am

    HIS, Rachel, I have not read this particular work, but it sounds like this man overstated his case and used some silly argumentation. You won’t find freedom from this by going to atheism – what about atheists who say “Jesus cursed the fig tree, therefore he is a sadistic meanie”, or “Elijah was a hairy man, so he must have been a Sun God since the filaments of hair were rays of the sun.. so he couldn’t have been an historical figure, yeah yeah that’s the ticket.”

    You can find bozotic arguments on both sides of the fence, you can’t escape them. It would be foolishness to base any important decision on them.

  • 89. SnugglyBuffalo  |  June 20, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    ..what about atheists who say…

    What the hell kind of atheists are you talking to? I doubt very much you’ll find an intelligent atheist arguing something utterly ridiculous to seriously attack Christianity. Christianity uses enough ridiculous arguments from intelligent Christians to seriously defend itself that there’s really no need.

    And I always did feel sorry for that fig tree.

  • 90. SnugglyBuffalo  |  June 20, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Actually, I should take back that last comment, as thinking about it I realize that it’s common enough for intelligent people to say pretty stupid things…

    Still, I don’t think anyone is arguing that over-the-top arguments in favor of Christianity should lead one to atheism. They are suggesting that over-the-top arguments led them to more closely examine the less overt ones, and found them lacking as well.

  • 91. HeIsSailing  |  June 20, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Yurka says:

    You won’t find freedom from this by going to atheism

    I am glad that The Apostate asked the question that he did (#86). I should have made clear that I described only my initial reaction to Lockyer’s book. After much reading and research, I now understand that what the Gospel writers were doing in fitting Old Testament allusions was far more sophisticated than what Lockyer did. Yurka, the book did not ruin my faith – after all, there are plenty of Christian books out there that I am sure you think are complete bunk – but you rightly cannot use them as rationale to debunk your own faith. That is not why the book damaged my faith. Rather, the book just showed me how ignorant I was of my own religious beliefs – I started questioning myself – “Just why is it that I believe what I believe”. I read that book perhaps 10 years ago, so I was a Christian long after I read it. But like I told Rachel earlier in this chain of comments – the seeds of my de-conversion began sprinkling about in my life many years ago.

    One other thing. I am not an atheist.

  • 92. TheNerd  |  June 20, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    HeIsSailing – I should write about how apologetics do as much harm as good! I just don’t know where to being right now. I’ll keep that on the back burner.

    I do have to say, though, that it was like looking at Christianity through a magnifying glass: suddenly I could see all the hairline cracks in very clear view! I no longer had to go searching for what it was that caused the “bad vibe”, the nagging feeling inside that something was wrong with Christianity. Instead, apologetics brought it before me in very concise, bullet-point format. By unfolding the layered complexities of their faith, apologists revealed what once had been shrouded in darkness to the peircing lights of reason and the observable universe.

  • 93. rfogue  |  June 20, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    HelsSailing:
    Rachel, what turns you off about Buddhism? Confucianism? What do you find distastful about Lao Tsu? Muhammed? Malakas and Maganda? Dionysus?

    Honestly, I don’t know. I am commanded to love as Christ loved and to demonstrate that love to all I come in contact with. People are all valuable and worthy of knowing and having relationships with. I think that they too struggle with many of the same things I do. In the church I attend we have two missions. One is Cambodian, one is Ethiopian. Both pastors are truly amazing people. The one from Cambodia was training to be a Buddhist monk and instead is now a Christian pastor. He also survived the Killing Fields. In his congregation there are some who are still Buddhists but trying to be Christian too. He struggles to help his congregation see what he believes is the truth. He is very good at understanding the differences between the faiths and he at one time considered himself to be enlightened in Buddhism. He’s just one example of someone who was raised one way and became something else. I think that those who follow other religions probably have the same outlook most Christians have; they probably have hypocrisy, what is seen as narrow-mindedness, etc. and they too believe that they have it just as right as Christians do. I just believe that they are not the truth. I know, I know….it sounds really arrogant to say that I think someone is wrong. I don’t really have a good answer. It is never my intent to sound like I know everything because I really don’t know much at all.

    Ask yourself why you do not believe the exploits of Zeus ever happened. Haven’t you ever read Homer? When you answer that question, you will know why we do not believe the exploits described in the Bible.

    As far as reading Homer, I have only read what was assigned in the various English classes from school. But yes, they are fantastic, totally made up stories. I will admit that there are some crazy things in the Bible. The book of Judges alone is scary. I have studied much of it, questioned much of it, and much of it I don’t get either. So why believe in it? I don’t know how to answer that other than that I have experienced God in my life. I’ve written more about that in a blog I will post at one point but I think I will wait on that one a little while. Not an in depth answer but I promise to explore it more later.

    How does one suddenly believe so strongly one way and then reject that belief the next?
    To be honest, I am not sure I understand this question.

    As far as what I meant by the second part of question one I am looking at it from this perspective:
    At some time in your life to have faith you had to as strongly believe in what you now are rejecting. At some point, God was real and you felt or knew that you wanted to know Him. (this is how I’m looking at it at least) So the process of de-converting from what I have been reading is as varied as how one comes to God in the first place. I am trying to understand what doubts or what problems lead you to not believe anymore.

    Thanks for giving me details about Lockyer’s book. I intend to read it. It is a pet peeve of mine when pastors or other leaders bring an idea to the Bible and then try to proof-text instead of reading what’s there. I am not a Biblical scholar by any means; I did have an overview course on the Bible in college that covered the Old and New Testament in two semesters so it was very general. I imagine you’ve heard every argument possible for the Bible. If I could recommend one book that made sense to me; I imagine you have more than likely already read it. I think that Lee Strobel has done much research on this matter and his books I have enjoyed reading, in particular the Case for Christ. But I’m fairly certain you’ve already read that one.
    Thanks for filling me in on Lockyer’s book though. :) I will read it.

  • 94. TheNerd  |  June 20, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Rfogue (your name reads like “rogue” to me, which is so cool) – I have read “The Case for Christ” both before and after my de-Conversion. Before d-C, I though it was bland. After d-C, I found it to be obviously written FCBC (For Christians, By Christians).

    I am not going to write a chaper-by-chapter analysis of that book, but someone on teh internetz already did:

    http://www.bidstrup.com/apologetics.htm

    There are some points on which my view and his differ (mostly opinion – I agree with all the science/history-based points), but it is still a very intelligent page, and I encourage you to look it over.

  • 95. rfogue  |  June 20, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    TheNerd:

    I knew some of you would be familiar with it! I’m going to wait to read the link (I read the preface) until I have some real in depth time to look at along with the copy of the book I have at home. But I’ll take the time to look at it. FCBC, huh? I think I’ll use that. For those who have not seen or read the book, It is important to note that Strobel is a journalist and so it is written in that style. He interviews Christian scholars on all things Christian and I suppose he doesn’t present the other side although he does use a lot of the questions that are traditionally asked and debated. (science, suffereing, historical records,etc.) He basically retraces his journey to becoming a Christian from an atheist.
    Thanks for sharing the link with me. :)

    By the way, I”d be interested to see that blog on apologetics when you decide to write it. :)

  • 96. HeIsSailing  |  June 20, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Rachel, I have heard a lot of arguments, but I sometimes come across new ones. I recently read Richard Baukhams, “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”, and that book contained some really interesting and thought provoking things I had never considered before. I enjoyed that book.

    As far as Strobel’s “The Case for Christ”, yes I did read it. Here is the review I posted for it on my Shelfari page – sorry, I know you enjoyed it, but I really panned it here:

    ‘The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus’, by Lee Strobel. Finished reading 15 May 2008. 1/5 stars.

    It is my firm belief that any book which asks the reader in its preface to put away all subjectivity and view both sides of a debate topic equally will immediately plunge headlong into logical fallacies and spin-doctering. Such is the case with Strobel’s ‘The Case for Christ’. Not that I mind it presenting only one side of an argumement – he is after all making a ‘case’. But to pretend this has any objectivity at all makes Strobel’s intentions suspect from page 1.

    Strobel, acting as a journalist, interviews a dozen or so leading Evangelical scholars for their evidences for their belief in Jesus Christ. The questions he asks are fine, but in general he never asks the follow-up questions that are just screaming to be asked. One assertion after another is left unchallenged. Bruce Metzger claims there are ] 5000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, so the reader is left with the impression that each manuscript is evidence of the reliability of Scripture. But Strobel fails to asks how many of those 5000 are actually useful for determining the actual text. Strobel fails to ask how many centuries have passed between the time of Jesus and the time the vast majority of those manuscripts were written.

    Donald Carson claims that Jesus fit the profile of God revealed in the Old Testament. Strobel should have asked Carson about Marcion, the early church heretic who found no similarity between YHVH and Jesus, and in fact claimed they were two entirely different dieties.

    Craig Blomberg claims that the the disciples of Jesus all died martyrs deaths (John excepted), thus giving their witness to the Resurrection of Jesus added weight. This assertion by Blomberg was left unchallenged by Strobel. Why didn’t Strobel ask how we know how any of the disciples died and evidences that we have for their deaths? The reason is that the accounts of their deaths are from legendary sources, some written centuries after the fact.

    Strobel fails to counter any Evangelical claim. I am not asking for counter-arguments by skeptics. Again, I understand that Strobel is making a ‘case’ and I am fine with only one side presented. I am interested in his opinions. But if Christ has a case to be made, that case should stand up against the stongest argument Strobel can build. Yet Strobel is content with the weakest of arguments, leaving any obvious follow-up challenge unasked. And like any good objective book, the fact that it includes instructions on how to ‘receive Jesus into your heart’, as sort of an alter-call appendix, leaves Strobel hawking Christianity like a bad Amway product. He is desperate to have me buy his wares for any reason, no matter how flimsy.

    I gave Rob VandeWeghe’s dreadful apologetic book ‘Prepared to Answer’ zero stars, but I am giving Strobel one star because the book was well written and extremely easy to read. Then again, that could also be its curse. This is dumbed down religious propaganda – the only question I now have is who the intended audience for such books is? Does Strobel really think he can win the unbeliever over with this spin like some Evangelical used car salesman? Or is he aiming this toward the Christian who took the religion on faith and wishes for some excuse, any excuse to ‘objectively’ believe? That is one question I wish I had the answer to.

  • 97. Cthulhu  |  June 20, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    HIS,

    Wow – that review was well written and spot on! Strobel’s ‘case’ is lame – and apparently he forgot what he was (in theory) taught in J school. That made my day :-)

  • 98. Yurka  |  June 20, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Rachel, remember the fact that the unpleasantness in Judges says more about human depravity than inspiration. The bible deals with all aspects of the human condition – including the worst depravity. This is one of the marks of its inspiration.

    As for sounding “arrogant” – don’t let the PC crowd beat you over the head with that… they’d be hypocrites to do so. They do not accept that criterion as valid in ANY other aspect of their lives that deals with what they value. They don’t criticize the surgeon general for being a narrow minded bigot when he says cigarettes are hazardous to your health.

  • 99. Yurka  |  June 20, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    As for apologetics websites: I’d recommend-

    http://www.tektonics.org

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com

    Sterling stuff – comprehensive and detailed – it can be difficult in spots, but NEVER think the cavils of the posters here haven’t be addressed and thoroughly refuted.

    Both sites tend to be a little snippy as to tone, but if you can ignore that and concentrate on the substance you should be ok.

  • 100. rfogue  |  June 20, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    HeIsSailing :

    ouch! It is deserved panning though. Of course it would make sense to me; I’m biased. :) I’ll check out the other one. My reading list is getting long! I have to confess that as far as apologetics, I am not very well read.

    I’m sorry that we Christians spend so much time trying to sell ourselves and our faith and so little time actually caring about people. In some camps of Christian sub-culture its an us against them mentality. Some Christians feel like they must defend God and His word at all costs regardless of how they represent God. (He can probably defend Himself.)

    I’m also sorry we as Christians present our faith in such a gimmicky, flimsy way as if we are insulting your intelligence. I’d like to be different. So…thank you for your kind response to a Christian who needs to make sure she looks at things a little more objectively. I’m going to go start reading.

  • 101. rfogue  |  June 20, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks Yurka. I know the book of Judges hangs on the very last
    sentence: In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit…that’s why there are such crazy stories in that book.

    As for the arrogance issue, no one likes to be told they are wrong about anything regardless of what it relates to. But I’ll watch out.

    I will look at the websites you recommend. :)

  • 102. Cthulhu  |  June 20, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    rfogue,

    I’m sorry that we Christians spend so much time trying to sell ourselves and our faith and so little time actually caring about people. In some camps of Christian sub-culture its an us against them mentality. Some Christians feel like they must defend God and His word at all costs regardless of how they represent God. (He can probably defend Himself.)

    That was well said – I would like to thank you (and a FEW others! – you know who you are) for being civil in your discourse here. Many Christians who fly by would do well to note your example. I may not agree with you, but you are polite and seem genuinely interested in learning. And, if I may, I will disagree on one point – god hasn’t defended himself in any way I can observe – he/she/it has been remarkably silent

    Cheers…

  • 103. Joe Sperling  |  June 20, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    I’m sorry that we Christians spend so much time trying to sell ourselves and our faith and so little time actually caring about people. In some camps of Christian sub-culture its an us against them mentality. Some Christians feel like they must defend God and His word at all costs regardless of how they represent God. (He can probably defend Himself.)

    I’m also sorry we as Christians present our faith in such a gimmicky, flimsy way as if we are insulting your intelligence. I’d like to be different. So…thank you for your kind response to a Christian who needs to make sure she looks at things a little more objectively. I’m going to go start reading.

    Athiest: Wow, this rfogue is SO different than “other” Christians. rfogue is so agreeable, and doesn’t use scriptures at all. rfogue even sides with us in our opinion about most Christians—rfogue apologizes for Christians, for not being so open and knowledgable and wonderful as everyone on the board is. I really like rfogue a lot. In fact, she’s doing such
    a great job of infiltrating us, without actually being one of us that I’m thinking of becoming a Christian again. It wasn’t the scriptures that did it, or Jesus, it was because rfogue is just so darn nice I can’t stand it.

    Sorry—I wasn’t going to write here again for a while but couldn’t help one last sarcastic post. :>) I remember when I took rfogues tack—“If I’m just really nice, and show “the Love of God” to them, maybe they’ll see the light.” But when reads the Bible and hears Paul say “I became all things to all men” he wasn’t saying that he stopped preaching the Gospel, or using the Bible as his proof text. He didn’t try to win people over with his “niceness”, or downgrade the love of God to some “lovey-dovey” agreement with those who are actually opposed to God and the Bible. Sorry, but that kind of sugary bull$%$# just doesn’t make sense to me. OK–maybe I’m done now. LOL :>)

  • 104. Joe Sperling  |  June 20, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    I spelled Athiest wrong above—should be Atheist—sorry about that. :>)

  • 105. Yurka  |  June 20, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    #102, that logic is applicable to you as well. If you serve Azathoth, why bother defending anything?

  • 106. HeIsSailing  |  June 20, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Rachel:

    Some Christians feel like they must defend God and His word at all costs regardless of how they represent God. (He can probably defend Himself.)

    Oh, I definitely agree. Please do not confuse my panning of Strobel’s book with a panning of Christianity. As I stated in my review, I am interested in any and all sides of these issues. There are many Christian books that I enjoy – Strobel is definitely bottom rung stuff though, and it is saddening to me that it is his simplistic apologetics that becomes the most popular amongst Christians.

    I wrote about my thoughts about Christian apologetics, and the rationale of defending Christianity in a short article here on this site back when I was a regular contributor.. . I think it is called ‘Rejecting the Obvious Truth of Jesus’ or something like that. Check it out.

  • 107. HeIsSailing  |  June 20, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Joe Sperling knows Rachel’s true intentions:

    Sorry, but that kind of sugary bull$%$# just doesn’t make sense to me. OK–maybe I’m done now. LOL

    Or maybe.. just maybe.. she says what she says in the title of this article – curious. Could it be? Or must everything in the Christian life be a ploy or strategy to win converts?

  • 108. HeIsSailing  |  June 20, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Sorry – she IS what she says… grrrr..

  • 109. Cthulhu  |  June 20, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Yurka,

    I am not quite sure what you mean by ‘serve Azathoth’ – but I will clarify my position…i do not believe any ANY supernatural beings, much less server one. :-). I am assuming that you believe I serve ‘Satan’, ‘Shaitan’, the ‘Devil’ or your supernatural evil entity of choice. Heh…

    And I too have been rather disagreeable here with some – my apologies, I am human and I do lose patience sometimes.

  • 110. DagoodS  |  June 20, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Yurka: Sterling stuff – comprehensive and detailed – it can be difficult in spots, but NEVER think the cavils of the posters here haven’t be addressed and thoroughly refuted.

    Then do so….

    If you have read them, and indicate they are well-versed (kinda pun), then you should have no trouble addressing some of the points raised by HeIsSailing. Say, for example, the disciples all dying martyr deaths with the opportunity to recant? I wrote a lengthy essay while a contributor to Debunking Christianity and don’t recall a Triablogue response. *shrug* perhaps I missed it.

    Or the claim in “Case for Christ” that “microscopic letters” on coins proves a dual governorship for Quirinius. (Hint: Google “Vardaman”)

    I would agree there is good information within those sites, after picking through some of the venom; there is also a bit of one-sidedness as well. Please—go read them. Enjoy ‘em. Question ‘em and compare ‘em.

  • 111. Cthulhu  |  June 20, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Joe Sperling,

    That rant was…incredible. And not in a good way either. If this is your last post here for a while – I am glad.

  • 112. Yurka  |  June 20, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    #109, thought you were a mythos geek, sorry. Azathoth is Lovecraft’s symbolic description of the atheist ‘god’ – the blind idiot god who sits surrounded by creatures who droningly play their flutes to him.

  • 113. Cthulhu  |  June 20, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Yurka,

    You are quite correct!!! But I am at work and a recalcitrant server is heaping chaos on my day. Good one!

  • 114. Cthulhu  |  June 20, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Yurka,

    In the spirit of dear old departed HP…

    “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

  • 115. Joe Sperling  |  June 20, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    HelsSailing/Cthulhu—

    Or maybe.. just maybe.. she says what she says in the title of this article – curious. Could it be? Or must everything in the Christian life be a ploy or strategy to win converts?

    Part of my post was in total jest, thus the smileys. I was being what is called “sarcastic”–I believe HelsSailing understands the word sarcasm, at least I hope so—not sure about Cthulhu.

    But seriously, I came here because I was curious also. But you only need to read a few posts, and if you are a Christian, you will immediately understand that the people here no longer believe. ANYONE who is really committed to a cause cannot help but start to trumpet their belief–whether it is a communist in a Free Market blog, A Pro-lifer in a Pro-Choice blog, a Republican in a Democratic blog, etc. , etc. If they didn’t, you would begin to wonder if they really are who they say they are. If you atheists never trumpeted up about your atheism for fear you might “offend” the Christians in the blog, I would doubt you were sincerely atheists. Sure, a Republican can “listen” for a while–but I GUARANTEE an issue will come up, where they feel the need to “take a stand” for it—and you will know they are a downright Republican–if they are truly committed to that, then it has to come out.

    I don’t mean that anyone has to be “mean” just because they disagree, but being “real” is very important. The whole Christian life concerns winning converts—that’s part of the life—-if you are a committed Christian you will “defend the faith once and for all delivered to the saints”—it is something that Christians do.

    When I hear someone, who says they are a Christian saying: “Please forgive us Christians…you know, all of you here are so right….I’m going to start reading what you’re reading, etc. etc. ad nauseum, I sincerely question where they are coming from. They are on the blog for a reason. But why would a Christian stay on a blog, posting, when they KNOW everyone does not believe the very faith they “supposedly” hold dear?

    I, in the past, have done the same thing rfogue “appears” to be doing. She even made the statement that if someone was near the edge of a cliff she would not shout a warning to them (as I had suggested would show true love to the person is you really cared about them), but would “gently lead them by the hand away from the edge”.

    By being overly nice, and condescending, she feels she can show the love of God to everyone, and perhaps change their way of thinking. “You see everyone, I am not like other Christians..etc.” It is like a Christian rock band putting on the guise of dark heavy metal to try to win converts—it actually appears “silly” to other Christians, who know you don’t become like the world to win the world–that just isn’t Christianity.

    I’m sorry, but if frogue truly is a Christian, then she is staying here with the hope she can turn others back to the faith—unless she is in the process of deconversion herself, and is looking for more information on how to give up her faith and become an atheist. I will willingly admit that fact—I came curiously, but within a day saw the need to warn, or call, or argue the case for Christianity (though I fully admit I cannot do that very well in philolosophical manner, or by using circular reasoning).

    So, I was being totally sarcastic in a “tongue in cheek” manner when I said things such as “I think I’ll become a Christian again because Rfogue is just so darn nice”—in fact, I thought even atheists would get a laugh out of it. Guess not. The two other sites I visit appreciate sarcasm greatly, especially when reading a post as a “whole”, not lifting one section, and then accusing the person of being mean or uncaring. I’ve run into that a lot here, but I also find it to be very funny at times.

    The first day I came here, I posted, and about 4 or 5 posts later I was told I was an “opinionated, self-centered ass”—and I hadn’t really said anything yet. LOL!!! I thought that was absolutely hirlarious. Unfortunately, it appears to many here have a chip on their shoulder concerning anything which appears to attack deconversion, or question the motives for having done it. Maybe that’s why rfogue thinks she needs to proceed so gingerly, and carefully—-doesn’t want to “rock the boat”. I personally like it when the boat gets rocked a bit—many of you have come back with some really good counters to some things I have said–and I think that’s great. But I will not sit on the fence, and say I didn’t come here and stay for a while without the specific intention of trying to warn, preach, and draw someone back to the faith. Because I would be lying if I said differently.

    I do apologize for lying about not posting any more—I really was going to leave the blog, and go only post on the other sites. But I have to say I still find this place rather intriguing. You have atheists, deconverts, Christians, Christians pretending to be atheists, atheist sympathizers, Anti-Biblical Scholars, Agnostics who quote tom paine (I don’t capitalize his name, just as you don’t capitilze god), and various others. So it is a very interesting place. But I really will try to just come back and read for a while rather than making massive posts such as this.

    A Die-hard Christian fanatic who loves Jesus Christ

  • 116. Joe Sperling  |  June 20, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Oops!! forgot the smiley :>) after the words :”A Die-hard Christain fanatic”–it’s needful to do that here, or you are immediately taken way to seriously.

    My son Georgie: “Whatcha doin’ Daddy?”
    Me: “Oh, posting on this deconversion site.
    My son: Is dat da one where you say evewy one has a stick up der butt?
    Me: Yes, that’s the place son. In fact, they’ll probably take our little exchange here too seriously too.
    My son Georgie: I thought you wasn’t goin ta leave messages there no more.
    Me: People with sticks up there butts are a too fun to mess around with Georgie. Maybe just one more post.

  • 117. Cthulhu  |  June 20, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Joe Sperling,

    Use of sarcasm to mount an ad hominem attack on someone you don’t even know makes it no better. I do understand sarcasm – but that was beyond the pale Joe. And you said one very accurate thing about yourself – you are a fanatic.

  • 118. Joe Sperling  |  June 20, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Cthulhu—

    My Dad says to ligthen up a bit. Sit in a softer chair so da stick don’t make you so unfomftable. I’m not sure what “beyond da pale” means, but I seen far worse stuff in herwe. My Dad told ya someone called him an “opiniated, self-centerwed ass” da first day he was herwe. Dat wasn’t nice at all but my Dad was able to laugh it all off. But I guess when you gots a stick up da butt like you does, it’s hard to laugh. Your Proctologist must be gettin’ rich.

    Best regarwds, Georgie

    By da way, if you take dis seriouswy, set anutter appointment with da proctologist for next week.

  • 119. LeoPardus  |  June 20, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Joe is calling to my mind my favorite Time magazine cover headline. It was right after Bill Clinton left office but was still constantly speaking out in public. The headline was, “How can we miss you if you won’t go away?”

  • 120. Joe Sperling  |  June 20, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Man In Uniform: Yes, Hello, I am here from the chicken farm.
    Moderator: Do you know how to clean up eggshells?
    Man In Uniform: Yeah, sure. What do you need cleaned?
    Moderator: Oh, this blog. There’s so many eggshells lying around, people come in and have to be careful they don’t step on them, ’cause it really annoys the visitors.
    Man In Uniform: Let me go get my broom.

  • 121. Joe Sperling  |  June 20, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Leo—-

    And as Groucho might say “I would not join any club that would have someone like me for a member”. And a lot of you are a lot more like me than you’d like to admit. LOL See ya!

  • 122. Black Sheep  |  June 20, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Joe,

    Please do go away. You are not displaying any of the fruit of the Spirit. I’m recognizing the Spirit in Rachel, but not in you.

    Your arrogant condescension isn’t helping anyone, least of all your Lord. If He is the author and finisher of our faith, He doesn’t need you as a ghost writer.

    So much of what Christians do is just fleshly activity, even in the name of “witnessing.” How dare you judge Rachel or her motives? What do you know? What gives you that right?

    In your arrogance it seems that you can’t even see that you are just giving all of us a peak at why the grass is greener outside of your pen. Please, please be quiet.

    If the Spirit of God does all that He promises, He doesn’t need you to make up odd jobs on his behalf. Did He tell you to come here and make an ugly mess, or did you just do it on your own?

    Since so much of Christianity is a cycle of proving, performing, and self congratulating, I’m sure you have opportunity to run back and brag somewhere about the conversations you’ve engaged in here. Maybe you’re actually just meeting your own psychological needs and feeding your pride. If you’re looking forward to sharing these internet adventures with your righteous buddies, you better take a long look into your own heart.

    If you are so concerned for people here, why don’t you shut up and pray, and let God take care of the rest? How humbling for you that He really does not need your help here. You are deluding yourself.

    Nice picture you’ve painted, Joe. Christians paint distorted pictures of God all the time. You’re just doing what you do so well. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”
    Your last few posts have shown us all your heart. Thanks for the glimpse of who you really are.

    Black Sheep

  • 123. TheNerd  |  June 20, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    I find it odd that a convert to Christianity could visit a site called “de-conversion.com”, make various arguments against de-conversion, and then think that re-conversion would somehow be a natural response to reading said arguments. I myself have visited various web pages where beliefs other than my own were presented, and I either respectfully point out the occasional straw man fallacy, or I keep my thoughts to myself. If I really feel put out by an outlandish statement, rather than lash out, I simply post it on FSTDT.com (which you simply must visit), and share a few laughs with everyone.

    The fact is, this is a site by de-converts for de-converts. There will always be de-converts in the world, as long as there are converts. This site isn’t going down for lack of members any time soon. Also, people who are considering de-conversion aren’t going to visit this site and think “well they seem to think it’s okay, so I guess I’ll do it!”, without first consulting other established religious authorities too, be it text or person. Just as it takes a great combination of witnessing and searching scriptures to join Christianity, it takes a great journey to leave it. The main thing this site will do for them is show them that they aren’t the first to de-convert, and they won’t be the last. I fail to see how that knowledge is dangerous.

    In fact, I fail to see how knowing about the existence of any peaceful people group whatsoever could be dangerous! This leads me to believe that a person who is offended by our peaceful people group must be afraid of something they have assumed about us, not concerned about a reality that we ourselves have presented to the world. There is nothing wrong with fear itself, when well moderated, but fear can fuel a person to commit acts of decreased wisdom and rationality.

    My advice to a person who is offended by our presence: ask questions. Get to know the real us, not the people you were expecting to find. Rachel decided to do that, and we were more than welcome to give her our honest, peaceful responses. I can only hope that others would do the same.

  • 124. Quester  |  June 21, 2008 at 12:18 am

    Rfogue, in response your comments in #93, I don’t think it’s arrogant to say that someone is wrong, if you have listened to what they have to say and are willing to tell them just what is wrong about what they said. Of course, it may be more humble to say, “I think you are wrong, and this is why; please correct me if I have misunderstood you”, or at least such phrasing sometimes helps lower the heights from which my pride occasionally leads me to fall from.

    On that note, I am interested in what you have learned from our responses to your questions, and what you hear us to be saying.

    In #93, you also clarified part of your first question in the article above. In turn, I would like to add to my response:

    You mention that you believe because you experience God in your life. The same was true for me, though it took me years to realize it. Since I was young, I would regard God as a friend, a teacher, and a shepherd. I knew that God was also a King and a judge, and in those roles I would approach fearful and broken, but most of my daily interactions with God were to walk with Him, talk with Him, ask questions and occasionally dance with Him. I put my trust in God and loved Him.

    As I grew older, I was faced with more questions, but also an increased sense of God’s presence in my life. When I was struggling with a question, I would go for a walk and lift it up to God in prayer. Sometimes I would receive a vision, sometimes a few words, and often I would slowly find a response through meditation on the question and what I was really trying to learn, but I would always receive an answer. The answer wasn’t always a great revelation of anything other than myself and my own walk with God. I remember once having heard loud and long debates as to whether or not Mary remained a virgin after Jesus was born. I decided to ask God and went for a walk. The answer I received was, “What do you care?” and I realized I did not care. It was not a matter of salvation; it was a side issue and one I could ignore with ease once I realized that I really did not care.

    But beyond the relationship, I also thought that I had reason on my side. Friends and acquaintances would try to challenge me with questions, but the questions were rather poor in quality.

    How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Each and every one.

    Does the story of Noah’s Ark prove that God supports Capital Punishment? No, it shows that those who sentence another to death are setting themselves up as God.

    Et cetera, et cetera. Nothing earth shattering there. I witnessed a debate held on the university campus about whether or not God existed and silently counted up the logical fallacies committed by each side (it was, if I remember right, roughly a tie). I heard the arguments for evolution, the arguments against evolution, the refutations of the arguments against evolution, and the arguments as to why evolution was a non-issue for Christians. I found websites claiming to prove God did not exist. They were filled with horrible fallacies and some outright lies. I joined debate forums on religion and would calmly correct misunderstandings about Christianity, or at least show other ways to look at different issues. I had spent a lot of time with Christians of many different denominations and could usually respond to an atheist’s query with several possibilities held by Christians and supported by the Bible. It did not bother me that I did not always have “the answer” or that most conversations ended with both sides agreeing that there are some things we do not know. I was spending my life growing closer in my relationship to Truth, and sharing what I learned, fully accepting that I would always have more to learn as I lived.

    Nothing really shook my faith. Yes, I was sometimes surprised, or confused, or shocked or upset, but I always trusted there was an answer, and that God had it (or was it).

    Then, about ten years ago, I stopped feeling God’s presence and hearing God’s voice.

    I may have told this story here before. I’m losing track. I apologize if I’m getting repetitive.

    A number of things were happening ten years ago. One major event was my first interview with the larger church as to whether or not God was calling me to ordained ministry (I was told to wait a few years and try again. They wanted me to have more life experience). Another was my moving out of the city I had grown up in, and catching up on my sleep.

    You see, In high school and university, I was in many different extra-curricular activities and liked to keep my grades decently high. I also enjoyed spending time with friends and occasionally dated. All in all, I was chronically short on sleep. In my last year at university, though, I had taken a psychology class and learned the dangers of sleep deprivation. When I moved to a small town for my first job out of university, I had no friends in town and joined few activities. Outside of work, I spent much of my time catching up on sleep. In fact, I found myself often sleeping very soundly for twelve or more hours a night for months. Finally, I began to feel rested for the first time in years. Frighteningly, the past several years began to take on a different slant in my memory.

    I like to tell stories, and the subject I know best is myself, so I often tell stories about myself (as you have no doubt figured out for yourself by now). Wide awake and fully rested, I began to look at some of these stories differently. Things I had thought were funny, were dangerous or arrogant. Decisions I thought were intelligent were remarkably short-sighted and based on reasoning with more holes than facts. I began to realize that part of my inability to hold onto details and my occasional tendency to confuse dreams with memories was due to lack of sleep.

    I was warned by many that as I came closer to accepting God’s call for my life, Satan’s influences would grow in my life as he redoubled his efforts to drive me from God. I worried, though, that the period of spiritual dryness I was going through was more due to being fully awake for the first time in years- years during which I had felt closest to God and heard God most clearly.

    I fought, prayed and studied, trying to grow closer to the God who suddenly seemed so far away. I cried for God to break through any walls I had built between us. I tried to discern and follow God’s will for my life and trust that God was there, even though I could not sense His presence or hear His voice. After all, common wisdom held forth that “if you find yourself distant from God, it isn’t God that moved”. I read books on spiritual dryness and the “wilderness experience” or “dark night”. I spoke with Christian counsellors and spiritual directors. I pored through scripture. I went through seminary, sharing my struggles with my professors and church leaders. They congratulated me on the spiritual maturity my struggles revealed and prayed for me. I graduated, was ordained, and became a pastor of a parish.

    This was the lead up to the Bible study I described in #2, 1) above, during which I realized that my previous experience of a relationship with God was truly the only reason I had to believe that God existed at all.

  • 125. Bad  |  June 21, 2008 at 10:22 am

    1. You can imply that it can be taken lightly, because it can. In my case, it wasn’t painful at all. I literally just sort of forgot to keep believing, without even really realizing it. There was no “ah ha” moment that I remember, just a realization that I had used to be a committed believer once, but hadn’t been for some time. Shrug.

    2. I attended with my family on and off a little. Mostly because it functioned as a community regardless of what it was based around.

    3. I don’t know how to answer this one. If I had good reasons to, of course. But I don’t, so I don’t see any reason to. It’s possible, but not unless there’s a reason to.

    4. My blog covers several of the things I think are negative about Christianity. I think theodicy is often terrifyingly confused, morally. I think making people hate and fear their own thoughts is harmful. Of course, a lot of these things apply or don’t depending on precisely what you mean by “Christianity.”

    5. Nothing really. I was perfectly happy as a Christian.

    6. Nothing in particular. I don’t believe what they all believe (though really, many believe some very different things from each other any way). I’ll certainly argue strongly against arguments and claims, but I have no particular prejudice against Christians as people, aside from just the occasional fear of them making things awkward if they find out I’m not one of them.

  • 126. Dennis Downs  |  June 22, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    72 walking away

    I just could not let this go without a comment.

    “4. Fundamentalist Christians bother me a lot. The Bible scares me. Jesus was a great example of how to love unconditionally.”

    Jesus has more conditions than carter has liver pills!
    If you do not do exactly as he says he sends you to eternal torment!
    That is as far away from unconditional love as I can imagine.

  • 127. TheNerd  |  June 22, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    I think what a lot of people like about Jesus, as opposed to the Bible as a whole, is that there was a lot more empathy in his example. For example, he chose not to participate in stonings, and he was not above being seen in company of ill repute.

    I personally like how he went against the letter of the law, preferring to follow the spirit of the law instead. When he did that, the religious leaders of the day wanted him dead. If we were to do such things today (such as saying that homosexual love is as good as heterosexual love), the religious leaders of the day would want us silenced as well.

    Jesus may still fall short of our current idea of perfection, but he was far more empathetic than many of the religious leader we have today.

  • 128. HeIsSailing  |  June 22, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    TheNerd (Andrea)
    I wanted to comment on your site, but it requires a Xanga account – and I do not wish to create one. You wanted to know who created that cartoon you placed on your site – the one showing the scientific vs the creationist methods: That was drawn by John Trevor, political cartoonist for the Albuquerque Journal. It was published oh, I would say late 1990’s, maybe early 2000s.

    Somebody should write this guy an email and let him know he has one of the most popular cartoons populating humanist/freethinking websites. … then maybe he *will* sue. ;-)

    http://www.abqjournal.com/opinion/

  • 129. TheNerd  |  June 23, 2008 at 10:32 am

    I hate the pressure they put on people to subscribe, but I have had non-Xanga comments before, so I know there is a way to do it. I just couldn’t tell you how. :(

    Thanks for the reference, and my he have mercy upon a lowly blogger such as I.

  • 130. Joe Sperling  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Black Sheep and others—-

    You’re right. On my way home Friday I thought about what I had posted, and what had gotten into me. I sincerely apologize for the post I made concerning rfogue. It was completely unfair–and also for “joking around” about people having “sticks up their butts” and also for calling rfogues comments “sugary bull$%$%#”.

    This is all completely unchristian, and surely, not of the Spirit of God. Most of my other posts were in a completely different mode—yes—in a mode of “defending the Gospel”, but not in an “attack mode”. I really do apologize, as what I said was in a spirit of deep sarcasm, but with a spirit of meanness.

    I still don’t believe turning away from the Gospel is the right thing to do of course, but I respect what you all have to say, and once again, I apologize for my comments on Friday—they were uncalled for.

    –Joe

  • 131. Cthulhu  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Joe Sperling,

    Thank you – a sincere apology sincerely accepted (at least by me). I hope rfogue reads it….

  • 132. Joe Sperling  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Rachel/Cthulhu—

    I wanted to add personal apologies to the both of you. I normally do not make posts that would attack anyone in a personal manner. I love to use sarcasm when it is appropriate—but the type I used what not appropriate, nor Christian, as some have rightly pointed out.

    I will not make excuses—-I screwed up. Sorry about that.

    –Joe

  • 133. Joe Sperling  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Cthulhu—

    I guess I was posting right when you were and hadn’t seen your post yet. Thanks for accepting the apology.

    –Joe

  • 134. rfogue  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Joe-

    Thank you-apology accepted. I hope you will continue to comment and make us think! :)

  • 135. Cthulhu  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Joe,

    It takes a lot to admit mistakes (believe me – I have made plenty) and I appreciate the effort you made to make amends. Thanks…

  • 136. TheNerd  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Joe – Thanks for the apology. It’s never easy to admit mistakes.

    I for one am glad to have anyone here who is truly trying to reach us on common ground.

  • 137. A treatise on re-conversion « de-conversion  |  June 23, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    [...] week a ‘curious Christian’ asked the question, what would it take to reconvert. I think this is an interesting one, The [...]

  • 138. Quester  |  June 23, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Joe Sperling

    I understand your point, however, you don’t see the prophets in the Bible using “other means” to warn or prophesy to a people who did not yield the the authority of the Word—neither do you see Paul, or any of the other apostles saying “Oh, they don’t believe in Jesus..better just argue with them a bit philosophically until they get it…then I’ll bring in the Word of God”. (#34)

    Since it seems you are sticking around, and have returned to speaking reasonably as opposed to flinging insults, I’d like to ask you about the above quoted statement. Can you give me an example from the Bible where any prophet or apostle quoted scripture as an authority when speaking to an individual or group that did not already consider that scripture to be an authority? As far as I remember, they delivered direct, personal revelation, cited personal experience (occasionally second or third hand), performed miracles, or some combination of the above. I admit, my memory may be failing me, but can you cite some examples?

  • 139. Quester  |  June 23, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Apparently, I forgot to close the bold tag at the end of Joe’s name. Sorry, everyone!

  • 140. Joe Sperling  |  June 23, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Quester—-

    I’m not sure if I am understanding you correctly, but if I am–yes, Paul spoke to the philosophers in the Book of Acts (it says that these people had nothing better to do than sit around and discusst he laterst fads, or ideas LOL) who were near an idol underneath which said “The Unknown God”. He didn’t use philosophy on them—he preached the word to them—-and some of them started to follow him. When Paul was in front of Felix the Governor he used the Bible. Then in front of Festus (Festus may have been aware of the Bible but he didn’t believe it)—he said to Paul “You ALMOST persuade me to be a Christian” or others say he said “Do you expect me to become a Christian after so short a time? (it depends how one interprets it—but the fact is Paul preached to him from the Word—he didn’t try to convince him by other means).

    This was the point I was making. If I am not answering what you are asking, sorry, but that is how I am understanding you.

    Thanks, Joe

  • 141. Joe Sperling  |  June 23, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Quester—

    To clarify—-Paul preached the Gospel of Jesus dying on the cross and raising from the dead, as did the other Apostles. They quoted from the Old Testament Prophets to large crowds. Since the New Testament did not exist yet, they simply preached the Good News about the death and resurrection of Jesus.

    But they did not resort to philosophy, or vain arguments, or scientific explanations, etc.—-they just preached the Gospel.
    That’s what my point was. Hope that is clearer.

  • 142. Quester  |  June 23, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    I suppose my point is that they did not use scripture. They spoke of what they witnessed, and what happened in their lives, or the lives of people who were still around to be asked. As far as I remember, they only used what they saw as scripture when speaking to other Jews. Re-reading Acts 25, all Paul is saying before Festus, Felix and Agrippa relates to his own experience. In Acts 15, Paul does not quote scripture to the Greeks in Athens, but a piece of their own poetry and the inscription on one of their statues. He built on those elements, but he started with what they had and went from there, rather than reciting scripture as if the inherent authority of scripture was either apparent or agreed upon.

  • 143. HeIsSailing  |  June 23, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Quester,
    In Acts 3.. I believe it is 3, Peter quotes extensively from the Septuigent.

  • 144. SavageBeginner  |  June 23, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    1. I saw a TV show discussing the religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians. Although I don’t recall most of the details now, I found their beliefs interesting at the time, because they were so radically different from what I believed. Then, I was a Baptist Christian. The one question that I could not shake, after that program, was “What if the ancient Egyptians were right?”. I didn’t really think they were. Their beliefs seemed to absurd to take seriously, but then I believed in a virgin birth and a man rising from the dead. The question was “How can I know that Christianity is right, and all other religions are wrong?”. The only answer I could find is I can’t know. All other religions are just as likely to be correct, but they all make incompatible claims. So, they can’t all be right, but they can all be wrong. Why was I a Christian instead of a Muslim or a Hindu or a Buddhist? I didn’t have an answer except that’s what my parents told be to be. That wasn’t a good enough reason to believe for me. So, one night while lying awake in bed I realized that I didn’t believe anymore. I was terrified.
    2. I did not attend church regularly after I de-converted. I have attended occasionally with friends and family.
    3. That depends on what you mean by “faith.” If you mean a belief in the Christian God, then yes, I am open to that, if given sufficient evidence. If you mean “faith” as a method of thinking, then no. Faith is a broken way of thinking. This can be easily demonstrated.
    4. The lack of evidence supporting it.
    5. The belief of hell is kind of nasty. I was always afraid that I didn’t have enough faith and would not be taken in the rapture.
    6. Most are kind people. I hope they will eventually realize their error of belief and invest their effort into things that really matter.

  • 145. Quester  |  June 23, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    HIS,

    That’s true, but he is speaking to his fellow Jews at the time, quoting scripture they hold as authoritative. Sorry; I’d tried to make it clear in #138 that I was speaking of citing scripture to non-believers, but I left that idea out entirely in #142. I’m trying (poorly, it seems) to say that none of the apostles or prophets in the Bible used scripture as an authority when speaking to people who did not already share their faith. At least, as far as I remember, this is true. I”m willing to be shown an example proving me wrong.

  • 146. dancingmoogle  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Hmm… My Decoversion was painful and eventually very easy. I am from the South and everybody went to church, it was a given. At one point I did believe in God, but the more I went to Church, the more I realized that the Christian version of God, didn’t fit my version of the creative force of the universe, even when I read the KJV cover to cover. I would also seem to get the WRONG moral out of the bible stories, such as Job, where the message seemed clear to me that God would use you as a poker chip in a bet with Satan, therefore God deems you worthy of little respect and more like an expendable chess piece, of course this was the wrong moral to get from the story. Being told you are wrong in your interpretation of the Bible at such a young age makes you believe that you are pretty much stupid, which I believed I was. But then I took a college class on Philosophy, and lo and behold I read some passages from the Tao Te Ching. Finally I found something that made sense to me. Duality, Balance, Yin, Yang, Creation and Destruction all balancing together to make everything and nothing at the same time. That is when I began… well deconverting I guess is what it’s called here. I tend to more think of it as enlightenment, so more about going forward than going back.

    I don’t continue to attend church.

    It is impossible for me to return to mainstream Christianity. There would be a possibility for some of the more esoteric paths. Of course those are not considered Christian by most, so not sure it would still be possible. But then again, I am not technically an Atheist either since I do believe in a creative force, that we are all a part of.

    I have nothing against Jesus, and find that he was a great teacher of peace, brotherly love, and forgiveness. In fact I have alot of friends who are “Followers of Christ’s Teachings” who do not claim to be Christians and try to disassociate themselves with being called such, that I also have no problem with. As far as Christianity itself, I have no major beef with. Alot of little things, such as the subjugation of certain peoples or gender. For the Bible, I also don’t like the mistranslation of most of the KJV especially the old testament. I still say that going to a book store and getting direct translation from the Talmud and the Torah into English would be a good investment, since it is interesting the mistakes both unintentional and intentional are, between the two texts. Most of the things that were added were used to control thoughts, gain power for the few, and of course to persecute those deemed heretics. My last problem is the pick and choose method of what went into the bible. If you get a chance to read up on the debate to add the Revelations type story as told by the apostle Peter, to not be added to the bible, because at the end we find out everyone is saved, since all that is needed is for one good man to ask for the forgiveness of all, it is an interesting read. So the only reason for man to decide what he wants in the bible and what he doesn’t is for personal gain of some sort.

    Christians themselves are a mixed bag for me. Some of my best friends are Christian, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for them, and the way they practice Jesus’ teachings. The others, just make me walk away from them, and not want to be associated with any Evangelical or Fundamentalist Christians. I don’t like the warmongering attitude, the belief in violence as a means to solve problems, and that if you are not a Christian, you have a right to your beliefs if they don’t interfere with Christian values, that some of the more Evangelical Christians have. Then there is Fred Phelps which I wish would just stay at home, and not grace us with his protests ever again, but this is just my feelings, even Fred Phelps has the right to believe that we are all Gay if we don’t believe like he does.

    I was miserable because I was always wrong, wrong in my interpretations of the bible, wrong in my interpretations of the Christian God. I was a sinner because I believed that book banning was wrong and that people had the freedom to read, watch, and belong to another church or religion. I was also miserable because if I didn’t believe just like everybody else in my church, then I was told I was going to be cast in fire, and burn for all eternity, because I was wicked. That is why I could not only not belong to another religion, but I couldn’t even change my brand of Christianity, because the other Christians had it wrong too. In the end I just decided that if there was a hell, (which Jews do not believe in eternal damnation, and since Jesus held to his Jewish beliefs until the end of his life, he probably also didn’t believe in eternal damnation as well.) that if I was going to get sent to hell anyway, then I was going to do it on my own terms, and if there is no hell…(which seems more likely to me) well then, guess I won’t be going to it after all.

    I guess what I think about Christians most often is I am overly cautious until I get to know one individually. I do like most Christians I meet. As a whole, I have pretty much a live and let live attitude, and as long as they don’t bother me, why should I bother them. When they come knocking on my door I wish they would just go away, because I am finally happy, just being.

  • 147. Cthulhu  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    dancingmoogle,

    Thanks for sharing your story here…very moving. I am also from the south and know the uncomfortable feeling you can get around Christians you do not know. It is all I can to sometimes to remain civil with all the people who want to save my (non-existent) soul. I am so much happier and at peace with myself now – I can live, love my family and immerse myself in the beauty and privilege of life here free from constant guilt that religion fosters. Am I less moral than before? No – I am far more tolerant and forgiving than before. Am I perfect? Nope – long way from that too. But I am happy and fulfilled – more than ever before.

  • 148. Experience God….Really? « de-conversion  |  June 26, 2008 at 12:56 am

    [...] 2008 Well, I must say that I did not quite expect to get as many responses to the questions on my last blog as I did. Wow. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. After some careful study of your answers [...]

  • 149. Are de-converts open to re-converting? « de-conversion  |  July 6, 2008 at 12:59 am

    [...] 5, 2008 Recently, Rachel posed this question on her post “A Curious Christian with A Few Questions for de-cons“: Are de-cons open to returning to the faith or is that [...]

  • [...] July 6, 2008 (from comment #96 on A Curious Christian with a Few Questions for de-converts) [...]

  • 151. Blue  |  September 3, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    1. What usually starts the painful process of de-converting? How does one suddenly believe so strongly one way and then reject that belief the next? (Not to imply that it is a decision that one would ever take lightly or not struggle with for some time)

    For me it was trying to reconcile a loving, just God, with what I read in the Bible. I couldn’t when I saw how many other billions weren’t Christians and would be damned. It didn’t make sense. That just started the questioning process.

    2. Do de-cons often continue to attend a church? If so, why?

    I go every once in a great while. Part of it is to observe, part of it is because it reminds me of my childhood. Also I like to sing.

    3. Are de-cons open to returning to the faith or is that impossible?

    The Christian faith? No. Read to much Bible. If it was true and I knew it, I’d have to join the opposition on principle. Other types of faith I could see myself being a part of. I enjoy the beauty of a lot of the neopagan movement, though I consider it just as false as any monotheistic belief.

    4. What is it that turns you off about Christianity the most? The Bible? Christians themselves? Jesus?

    Its willingness to enslave oneself. The Bible is a mass of contradictions and horrendous acts. Christians themselves tend to only turn me off when they close their eyes completely to the world. Jesus the character I have no issue with.

    5. What made you the most miserable as a Christian?

    Not seeing anything real, just wishing it was real.

    6. What do you really currently think about Christians?

    Mistaken, misguided and tragic.

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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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