Existentialism: Death and Isolation

July 12, 2008 at 3:00 am 117 comments

Author’s Note: This is the third of a five-part series examining fundamentalism from an existentialist perspective. In what follows we begin to review the existentialist motifs that Irvin Yalom discusses in his Existential Psychotherapy. This post examines death and isolation.

Death - Yalom writes:

“It is one of life’s most self-evident truths that everything fades, that we fear the fading, and that we must live, nonetheless, in the face of the fading, in the face of fear.” (p. 30).

Existentialists often speak of this in terms of “finitude.” Finitude means an awareness that we are vulnerable creatures, with limited abilities and power to shape the world, and that we are subject to the passing of time and the loss that it brings – including, ultimately, death. Thus, it follows that grief is an intrinsic part of life – and the sweeter the living, the deeper the grief at its inevitable passing. The term “finitude” also includes death anxiety proper: a bedrock awareness that I, myself, and all those I care about, and all the things that matter to me, will not last forever. My life, all my cares, all my projects will eventually cease.

Yalom suggest we are all intrinsically aware of our finitude, though it is frightening and we often push it aside. Nevertheless, he says, there are “hints” of death that pervade our experience, if we allow ourselves to see them; they are encountered all throughout our lives. When a toddler first learns to feed herself with a spoon, and thus no longer needs to be fed, the toddler’s parent may feel a twinge of sadness at the inevitable passing of time: a phase of his child’s life has passed and will never come again. When that same parent realizes the there are some pains in life he can never shield his children from, despite his overwhelming love for them, he encounters his own limitation, his own finitude. Life itself, if we allow it, makes us aware of death. This means, conversely – and crucially for our purposes – that if one is frightened enough of death to try to keep that death-awareness from consciousness, one must, in a way, avoid life itself.

And this is exactly what fundamentalist Christianity does, I suggest. It teaches, quite explicitly, that we do not die. If we are Christians, we go to experience eternal bliss with God. The victory over death is deeply embedded in their theology. Here, then, are those “solutions” to this problem of death, mentioned in part II: fundamentalist Christians believe and tell themselves that they are Special (they are the elect, and they alone will live in Heaven) and will be Rescued from death through faith in Jesus. The most basic of human fears has thereby been fully conquered. There is not even any disguise or duplicity here; Christians are quite unabashed in teaching that their religion is the only one that has the “answer” to death. Indeed, they generally trumpet it as an unrivaled advantage of their system.

But if the existentialists are right, this is a Pyrrhic victory, because death is not a problem; it is the very key to truly living life. Awareness of our finitude, Yalom argues, is absolutely critical to our full appreciation of and immersion in life. An awareness of death actually saves us. How? Because knowing that we will one day die injects an intensity, and poignancy, a sweetness, and even an urgency into life that cannot be had any other way. It makes us realize that we must live now, that life cannot be indefinitely postponed. It makes us realize that life must be appreciated now, tasted in its fullness and drunk deeply of now, because it may not last. Awareness of death makes plain what is truly important in life, and what is not; in Yalom’s phrase, it “trivializes the trivial.” And it can embolden us by teaching us that we can face our worst fears and emerge strengthened.

Thus, by letting go of the fantasy that death can somehow be beaten, cheated, or deferred, then those fantasies can no longer siphon off our energies, and we can appreciate the here-and-now that we do have. In relinquishing an idealized future, we can immerse ourselves in a real present. Awareness of the reality of death saves us because it teaches us to appreciate life.

Isolation – We are ultimately alone, the existentialists taught. What does that mean? Yalom explains:

“To the extent that one is responsible for one’s life, one is alone. Responsibility implies authorship; to be aware of one’s authorship means to forsake the belief that there is another who creates and guards one.” (p. 357)

Thus, though we may have friends, though we may have deeply intimate relationships, even the most intimate of relationships can only be so close. There is an “unbridgeable gulf” between me and every other person. No one can, essentially, get inside my own skull, except me. In the end, we each die alone. No one can die with us or for us. That’s what it means to be alone.

This is a source of anxiety, writes Yalom, because it makes us feel lonely (of course) as well as helpless and frightened – overwhelmed at the responsibility of being one’s own parent, and of having no savior. To be truly aware that no one is out there to take care of me is a deeply frightening realization. But, Yalom insists, it must be done, it must be borne, to some degree at least, “resolutely.” Why? Because there is a steep cost involved in not doing so. If we do not have a savior and cannot tolerate the loneliness, we will very often look for one – someone to save us from our loneliness. We will often try to use those around us to assuage our fears, rather than enjoying intimacy with them for who they are. But that is a hopeless task, because it can’t be done – no one can, in fact, save us from our aloneness. Thus we miss out on what intimacy is possible in the desperate pursuit of an illusion, of what isn’t possible.

Yalom writes:

“If we fail to develop the inner strength, the sense of personal worth and firm identity that enables us to face existential isolation, to say ‘so be it,’ and to take anxiety into ourselves, then we will struggle in oblique ways to find safety.” (p. 373-374)

That “safety” can be found in many ways, which Yalom goes on to develop, but among them, for our purposes, is conformity to a group. It is the attempt to assuage one’s isolation anxiety by submerging the self in the larger identity of a Special group, a group destined to be Rescued: for our example, fundamentalist Christians.

This can have far reaching consequences. Fundamentalist Christians trade in their self for a solid group identity, and thereby try to avoid the terror of isolation. But as with everything, there is a price to be paid for this. Isolation, after all, is the result of individuation, of becoming yourself, of standing out. To trade this in for group identity is to lose yourself. If you doubt this, ask yourself: were you really able to be yourself, fully and unreservedly, when you were a fundamentalist? Did you not find that there were many aspects of yourself (perhaps you are still discovering them!) that were simply denied their right to be, by the group, and thus had to be shoved aside? Many deconverts report that we only truly found out who we were once we left the faith, and here’s why: our relationship with the group was characterized by need. We needed the comfort of conformity to avoid feeling alone, and we were willing to trade away part of ourselves to get it.

So here, again, we find the same theme: only by letting go of what isn’t and cannot be, are we free to appreciate what is. Facing the hard truths about life as a human subject is our salvation.

Next time, we will continue our examination of existentialist by looking at the concept of responsibility.

- Richard

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Yet Another Review of The God Delusion Atheistic attacks on Christianity

117 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Grant Dexter  |  July 12, 2008 at 3:11 am

    And this is exactly what fundamentalist Christianity does, I suggest. It teaches, quite explicitly, that we do not die. If we are Christians, we go to experience eternal bliss with God. The victory over death is deeply embedded in their theology. Here, then, are those “solutions” to this problem of death, mentioned in part II: fundamentalist Christians believe and tell themselves that they are Special (they are the elect, and they alone will live in Heaven) and will be Rescued from death through faith in Jesus. The most basic of human fears has thereby been fully conquered. There is not even any disguise or duplicity here; Christians are quite unabashed in teaching that their religion is the only one that has the “answer” to death. Indeed, they generally trumpet it as an unrivaled advantage of their system.

    What part of God’s word being plain and obvious and consistent means it is logical to reject it as true?

    But if the existentialists are right, this is a Pyrrhic victory, because death is not a problem; it is the very key to truly living life. Awareness of our finitude, Yalom argues, is absolutely critical to our full appreciation of and immersion in life. An awareness of death actually saves us. How? Because knowing that we will one day die injects an intensity, and poignancy, a sweetness, and even an urgency into life that cannot be had any other way. It makes us realize that we must live now, that life cannot be indefinitely postponed. It makes us realize that life must be appreciated now, tasted in its fullness and drunk deeply of now, because it may not last. Awareness of death makes plain what is truly important in life, and what is not; in Yalom’s phrase, it “trivializes the trivial.” And it can embolden us by teaching us that we can face our worst fears and emerge strengthened.

    Could you please name a few things that I cannot do as a Christian that you can do as an existentialist. And then could you please point out how these things might make your life better than mine.

    Thanks :)

  • 2. RIchard  |  July 12, 2008 at 3:28 am

    >What part of God’s word being plain and obvious and consistent means it is logical to reject it as true?

    If it were all those things, then I suppose it would at be potentially to be logical to accept as true (though, notably, plainness and consistency and apparent obviousness are not usually considered sufficient criteria for truth). But I dont think it is in fact any of those things, so I am not going to pursue that question further here, because I think Biblical reliability it is tangential to the topic Im trying to pursue. We have many other posts on this site and others that address those issues.

    >Could you please name a few things that I cannot do as a Christian that you can do as an existentialist.

    Death awareness does not enable us to do different “tasks” , like making coffee. Its about the experience and quality of living. As I said, “…[b]ecause knowing that we will one day die injects an intensity, and poignancy, a sweetness, and even an urgency into life that cannot be had any other way. “

  • 3. Quester  |  July 12, 2008 at 3:30 am

    Thank-you, Richard, for outlining some of the benefits of embracing reality, even some of the less desirable portions of reality.

  • 4. Dean  |  July 12, 2008 at 8:19 am

    This is a great article!

  • 5. crimsonmai  |  July 12, 2008 at 9:06 am

    I find it almost eerie how accurate this article is. One of the hardest aspects I had with letting go of religion was the loneliness and facing death as described. It does add a sweetness to life when we realize just how precious it really is.

  • 6. Grant Dexter  |  July 12, 2008 at 10:17 am

    I think Biblical reliability it is tangential to the topic Im trying to pursue.

    It’s your article I suppose. But I do not see how you can speak to the ‘unconverted’ without showing reasoning for your stance.

    Death awareness does not enable us to do different “tasks” , like making coffee. Its about the experience and quality of living. As I said, “…[b]ecause knowing that we will one day die injects an intensity, and poignancy, a sweetness, and even an urgency into life that cannot be had any other way. “

    Then your opinion is simply an asserted faith in a different religion. We have nothing with which to determine your experience as more valid than mine except your word. It sounds very much like you have no audience except those who already agree with you.

  • 7. Grant Dexter  |  July 12, 2008 at 10:19 am

    I find it almost eerie how accurate this article is. One of the hardest aspects I had with letting go of religion was the loneliness and facing death as described. It does add a sweetness to life when we realize just how precious it really is.

    Was your deconversion based entirely on the way you felt?

  • 8. The Apostate  |  July 12, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Grant,

    Was your deconversion based entirely on the way you felt?

    You really needed to read into crimsonai’s comments to make that connection didn’t you?
    Let me ask you something – if you found out, over a period of time, that everything you believed, coming from people you trust, was a lie, how would that play with your emotions?

    “Mature” de-conversion is a result, usually, of logical inferences and deductions from historical and philosophical examination. What happens afterwards is devastatingly painful for many due to the emotional connection we have to our belief structures and the people we “leave behind” in them (i.e. family, friends, support groups, church body, etc.).

  • 9. Grant Dexter  |  July 12, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    You really needed to read into crimsonai’s comments to make that connection didn’t you?

    I only had to read the post to ask that question. How much shorter was my post and how much more have you ‘read into’ it than I might possibly have?

    Let me ask you something – if you found out, over a period of time, that everything you believed, coming from people you trust, was a lie, how would that play with your emotions?

    I’m sure I’d lose a lot of trust in those people, but then again I have been through something like the situation you’re trying to describe and I do not view their input as something that need destroy our relationships.

    Let me ask you a question. Do you really believe that all a Christian can speak or believe is lies or do you think it is possible that they may simply be just as human as you are?

    “Mature” de-conversion is a result, usually, of logical inferences and deductions from historical and philosophical examination.
    Try telling that to Crimsonmai…

    What happens afterwards is devastatingly painful for many due to the emotional connection we have to our belief structures and the people we “leave behind” in them (i.e. family, friends, support groups, church body, etc.).

    Is what you believe really worth all that pain and separation?

  • 10. Grant Dexter  |  July 12, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Wow. I really screwed up that formatting, didn’t I? :D

  • 11. ubi dubium  |  July 12, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Grant:

    Could you please name a few things that I cannot do as a Christian that you can do as an existentialist.

    Well, I can ask any question I want without worrying that I might be committing blasphemy.

    I can think about doing bad things all I want, without any guilt about sin. As long as I don’t actually do bad things, my thinking about them hurts no-one. My thoughts are my own – nobody is reading my mind and judging me by what I think.

    I can accept people as they are, with no thought that I must “save” them from going to hell.

    I can find my own purpose in life, instead of having one handed to me.

  • 12. LeoPardus  |  July 12, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Good article Richard. Some points of clarity that did strike me:

    And this is exactly what fundamentalist Christianity does, I suggest. It teaches, quite explicitly, that we do not die.

    I think it’s worth noting that Islam, non-fundamentalist Christianity, Buddhism, and many other religions do likewise.

    The most basic of human fears has thereby been fully conquered.

    Well, except that just about every person of any religion still fears death. Seems many of them don’t really believe what they claim.

    Christians are quite unabashed in teaching that their religion is the only one that has the “answer” to death.

    Some Christians don’t believe this. They are generally condemned as universalist heretics by fundy’s of course.

    But if the existentialists are right, this is a Pyrrhic victory, because death is not a problem; it is the very key to truly living life. Awareness of our finitude, Yalom argues, is absolutely critical to our full appreciation of and immersion in life.

    I’m not at all sure that Yalom has put his finger on it here. Lots of Christians are heavily involved in helping the downtrodden and underprivileged. Many of them imbibe deeply of the beauty of nature. Many enjoy exercise, art, family, friends, hobbies. I see a lot of Christians FULLY engaged in living life. So again, I don’t think Yalom quite got it on this one. (Of course I haven’t read him, so I don’t know what more he may have said.)

    Fundamentalist Christians trade in their self for a solid group identity, and thereby try to avoid the terror of isolation.

    I think this is a problem for humans of all stripes. Gangs exist for the same purpose. Likewise most societies, associations, and the like. Humans seem to like to form groups and be part of them. The “lone wolf” is quite exceptional.

    To me it seems that, while you have identified some problems with fundamentalist Christianity, the problems are not at all unique to them. Really I think you’re pointing out human problems. Which, I seem to recall from my much more limited reading in the area, is what existentialist philosophers are really looking at.

    What do you think? Are you (or Yalom) really identifying human problems and foibles?

  • 13. RIchard  |  July 12, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Leo – Thanks for your thoughts!
    I absolutely agree with you, and I think Yalom would too. As aI noted in the post just preceeding this one, Yalom is not at all targeting fundamentalism. He is talking about people of all stripes and in all situations. The use that I am putting his ideas to is my own idea (for better or worse.)

    My contention is not that these sorts of defenses and dynamics are in any way *unique* to fundamentalism, but rather that, in fundamentalism, they receive a kind of systematic institutionalization and elaboration. For the sake of managable length I didnt have time to develop this argument as fully as I might have liked, but I think that the theology and the apologetics work to amplify this innate fear of death (by adding, e.g., hell, or by teaching that only “true” Christians can *really* have lasting joy/tranquility/meaning ["No Jesus, No peace, KNow Jesus, KNow Peace"]) — so, of course, they can sell you their solution.

    But what gets obscured in that transaction is the salutary and, as I have said, “savlific” effects of fully squaring oneself up to death. I dont think this sort of systematic dynamic exists to nearly the same degree outside of conservative/fundamentalist Christianity — such as, for example, liberal religion — though, of course, as Yalom argues extensively, many individuals have their own idiosyncratic defenses.

    As to whether this all works, as you mentioned, to really “conquer” death — well, I think sometimes it *does* work, at least conciously. Whether it works unconsciously is an open question.

  • 14. RIchard  |  July 12, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Grant-

    The question of Biblical veracity has received far more attention by others more qualified to address it in many other places, sites, and venues. I cant argue for everything in one article! So no, Im not trying to convert you or anyone else and yes, I am unabashedly talking to those who have shared some of my experiences.

    The purpose of articles like this one is to help others clarify their thinking and stimulate thought. It can help people “take the next step” in working though their own existential issues but is not aimed (at all) at moving someone like yourself into our “camp.” (Presuming I write this article well and succeed in my goal, of course!) If you want to debate the Bible, again, their are plenty of places to do this.

    Christians, of course, do the same thing on their own websites, and you know this well, I imagine — they encourage each other and try to “deepen their walk” or whatever the current buzzword is. There is a time and place for everything, so I am not going to worry overmuch that you find this unpersuasive. As one in the grip of your faith, I would expect as much.

    You do raise an interesting philosophical point about the status of experiences that cant be shared (or argued) and what we are to do with those. Unfortunately I dont have time to address it right this minute so Ill have to give you a rain check and come back to it soon.

    I will part with a note that I think calling what Im talking about here “religion” is needlessly confusing. It may be irreducibly subjective, but its silly to equate that with “faith” in religion, unless all you mean by your “faith” is the warm fuzzies you get on sunday morning. Im sure you think your “faith” is much more than that, and my own way of life, of which this stuff is only a part, is also much more than this.

    AS always, thanks for your feedback!

  • 15. LeoPardus  |  July 12, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Richard:

    Thanks for your response. I see what you’re saying and largely agree, save for one point.

    I dont think this sort of systematic dynamic exists to nearly the same degree outside of conservative/fundamentalist Christianity

    I think fundy Islam would match fundy Christianity. Soka gakkai might be close too. And some others. Unquestionably though fundy Christianity represents the biggest group of such sort in the western world.

  • 16. The Apostate  |  July 12, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Grant,

    I only had to read the post to ask that question. How much shorter was my post and how much more have you ‘read into’ it than I might possibly have?

    Crimson did not write the post. S/he was obviously expressing his/her relation to what the author wrote. To then assume that her deconversion was based on emotionalism is, well, a brutal misstep in judgment.

    I’m sure I’d lose a lot of trust in those people, but then again I have been through something like the situation you’re trying to describe and I do not view their input as something that need destroy our relationships.

    I am sure you have – we are human and we lead emotional lives. Who said anything about destroyed relationships? Pain and anxiety does not destroy relationships, in fact, such pain often strengthens them.

    Let me ask you a question. Do you really believe that all a Christian can speak or believe is lies or do you think it is possible that they may simply be just as human as you are?

    Do I “really” believe? You say that as if I have stood here on a pedestal next to you and declared that Christians are liars. Could you please refer to a post or comment in which I have ever made such a declaration of stupidity? Even if I had called you a liar, which I don’t believe you are (although you certainly jump to conclusions), this still wouldn’t be a statement towards all Christians or even most Christians. It would only mean that you are a liar.
    The fact is we all lie, so yes, all Christians are liars. But this isn’t even what you said to me. You asked me, in a confrontational tone, whether I believe Christians can only speak lies and are hence incapable of speaking any truth. My friend, take off your blinders and stop assuming the world is out to get you. It isn’t. My family, intimate and extended, are all evangelical Christians. My friends, both close and distant, are mostly evangelical or liberal Christians. I have wonderful relationships with them all. I do not live nor befriend people incapable of telling the truth, nor do I accuse my own family of such a state. Could you then, please, tell me why you make such an inference? Talk to me like you would a human being and not a faceless heretic separated by the shallow pond of the internet.

    Try telling that to Crimsonmai…

    Teller Crimson what? Something s/he already knows? Nothing was stated in his/her comment that suggests otherwise.

    Is what you believe really worth all that pain and separation?

    You tell me, you don’t sound very forgiving of apostates.
    Again, what “separation” do you speak of? Like I said, I still have great family ties. I still have amazing Christian friends. It isn’t easy, nor is it fake and for a time is literally made me sick. So yes, what I believed forced such a reaction. My faith was everything. God first, family second (though the one should flow from the other). It meant everything to me, it was my livelihood. Was deconversion a conscience decision? No. It was growth, for good and bad. The fact is, the pain came first from within myself, as I fought it tooth and nail – I wanted to believe so bad (and if the evidence was at all there, I would certainly jump on the train again!). It only came secondly from others and I had to pay lip service to things like prayer and church-going for some time. I still continue to deal with the looks that I receive from my own family, the same looks I gave others who had “fallen away”. Do I wish I didn’t cause such disdain in their eyes? Of course. Is it my choice? No it isn’t. I cannot chose to believe something I don’t believe. If I told you to believe that the blue ball is orange, would you believe? No. But we can continue to discuss, with civility, whether the ball is actually blue, or if it is orange.

  • 17. crimsonmai  |  July 13, 2008 at 12:47 am

    Was your deconversion based entirely on the way you felt?

    I think Grant’s question is fair, and the answer is: No. My de-conversion was based on the lack of any substantial evidence for the existence of God. Feeling is what made me cling to religion, rationality is what allowed me to let go. If I simply followed my feelings I’d probably still be a Christian to this day.

    I’m curious though, what led you to ask this question?

  • 18. RIchard  |  July 13, 2008 at 2:03 am

    Leo – You make an interesting point and, since you mention it, Ive always wondered — does something analagous to apologetics exist in non-Christian religions? E.g., especially, Islam? I realize that I assumed in my article that it did not, but I dont really know that.

    I am, of course, most familiar with the Christian example and I think the whole apologetic enterprise is one of the more fascinating aspects of it. I am somewhat familiar with Judaism and can conclude with some confidence that apologetics, as Christian use the terms, is quite rare and very much a minor, almost negligible, strand of that tradition. Jews maintain Jewish identity mainly by being a “people” and a culture as much (or more) than a religion. Insularity is sometimes a part of it (e.g., the Hasidim), less so the further left you go. But by and large there is no (certainly no systemic) Jewish apologetics.

    This area — the psychological and sociological aspects of apologetics — interests me because I see it being quite a struggle for many of us de-cons. Its hard enough to alienate ourselves from our families, but we also have to slog our way through the likes of CS Lewis and Craig who try to tell us we’re not just being sinful, but irrational to boot.

    So, Im just musing aloud here, but you seem to know your way around the religious landscape. Do you have any insights here?

  • 19. Grant Dexter  |  July 13, 2008 at 3:53 am

    ubi dubium:

    I don’t think you understand what a Christian is capable of. They are very capable of doing all those things and need not suffer as you suggest. I don’t agree with some of your conclusions so let me rephrase and then ask you to finish answering my question.

    I can ask any question I want without worrying that I might be committing blasphemy. I can think about doing bad things all I want, without any guilt about sin. Thinking about bad things does have consequences though. My thoughts are my own – nobody is reading my mind and judging me by what I think. I can accept or reject people as they are, with no thought that I must “save” them from going to hell. I can find my own purpose in life, instead of having one handed to me.

    See how easy that is?

    And now could you respond to the rest of the question I posed. Please point out to me how these things might make your life better than mine.

    Thanks ;)

  • 20. Grant Dexter  |  July 13, 2008 at 4:14 am

    The Apostate

    Crimson did not write the post. S/he was obviously expressing his/her relation to what the author wrote. To then assume that her deconversion was based on emotionalism is, well, a brutal misstep in judgment.
    I didn’t assume anything. I asked a question…

    I am sure you have – we are human and we lead emotional lives. Who said anything about destroyed relationships? Pain and anxiety does not destroy relationships, in fact, such pain often strengthens them.
    Golly. What planet do you live on?

    Do I “really” believe? You say that as if I have stood here on a pedestal next to you and declared that Christians are liars.
    You stood on a pedestal right after my post and said (with only a simple question as evidence):

    Let me ask you something – if you found out, over a period of time, that everything you believed, coming from people you trust, was a lie, how would that play with your emotions?

    I ask you in return if you really believe that this situation ever occurs? Or were you just being melodramatic?

    Could you please refer to a post or comment in which I have ever made such a declaration of stupidity?
    I could show you where you asked me a question based on the notion that such a stupid declaration might be possible …

    Is that enough?

    Even if I had called you a liar, which I don’t believe you are (although you certainly jump to conclusions), this still wouldn’t be a statement towards all Christians or even most Christians. It would only mean that you are a liar.
    Sure. But then again you weren’t referring to me…

    And it is you that is jumping to conclusions…

    The fact is we all lie, so yes, all Christians are liars.
    Let’s see. You admit you are a liar and I haven’t lied … who should we trust here… :think:

    But this isn’t even what you said to me. You asked me, in a confrontational tone
    Sorry. I should learn to hit the keyboard less angrily when I type. ;)

    whether I believe Christians can only speak lies and are hence incapable of speaking any truth. My friend, take off your blinders and stop assuming the world is out to get you. It isn’t. My family, intimate and extended, are all evangelical Christians. My friends, both close and distant, are mostly evangelical or liberal Christians. I have wonderful relationships with them all. I do not live nor befriend people incapable of telling the truth, nor do I accuse my own family of such a state. Could you then, please, tell me why you make such an inference? Talk to me like you would a human being and not a faceless heretic separated by the shallow pond of the internet.
    Talk straight then? You jumped to a conclusion based on a harmless question which I see answered simply and clearly below.

    Work for you?

    You tell me, you don’t sound very forgiving of apostates.
    Why would I need to forgive people who do not believe in God?

    Again, what “separation” do you speak of? Like I said, I still have great family ties. I still have amazing Christian friends. It isn’t easy, nor is it fake and for a time is literally made me sick. So yes, what I believed forced such a reaction. My faith was everything. God first, family second (though the one should flow from the other). It meant everything to me, it was my livelihood. Was deconversion a conscience decision? No. It was growth, for good and bad. The fact is, the pain came first from within myself, as I fought it tooth and nail – I wanted to believe so bad (and if the evidence was at all there, I would certainly jump on the train again!). It only came secondly from others and I had to pay lip service to things like prayer and church-going for some time. I still continue to deal with the looks that I receive from my own family, the same looks I gave others who had “fallen away”. Do I wish I didn’t cause such disdain in their eyes? Of course. Is it my choice? No it isn’t. I cannot chose to believe something I don’t believe. If I told you to believe that the blue ball is orange, would you believe? No. But we can continue to discuss, with civility, whether the ball is actually blue, or if it is orange.
    Sounds like you are open to the truth then. Would you like some simple answers to the simple questions you raised in here? I promise you, I’m not colourblind. I also promise you that my majik powers do not extend to being able to tell you what you believe :)

  • 21. Grant Dexter  |  July 13, 2008 at 4:20 am

    Crimsonmai:

    I’m curious though, what led you to ask this question?
    I believe I read into your final comment (sweet life when embracing death) a lot of emotion.

    I guess I just don’t understand why someone would sever relationships over something like philosophy or science. Let me ask you a follow-up. What is the best physical evidence or logical inference you have that Christ’s word and work is not authentic?

  • 22. Grant Dexter  |  July 13, 2008 at 4:29 am

    So no, Im not trying to convert you or anyone else and yes, I am unabashedly talking to those who have shared some of my experiences.

    Oh. OK. :D

    Christians, of course, do the same thing on their own websites, and you know this well, I imagine — they encourage each other and try to “deepen their walk” or whatever the current buzzword is. There is a time and place for everything, so I am not going to worry overmuch that you find this unpersuasive. As one in the grip of your faith, I would expect as much.

    So you have no problem with only being relevant to those already in the grip of existentialist thought?

    You do raise an interesting philosophical point about the status of experiences that cant be shared (or argued) and what we are to do with those. Unfortunately I dont have time to address it right this minute so Ill have to give you a rain check and come back to it soon.

    Did I say that?

    I will part with a note that I think calling what Im talking about here “religion” is needlessly confusing. It may be irreducibly subjective, but its silly to equate that with “faith” in religion, unless all you mean by your “faith” is the warm fuzzies you get on sunday morning. Im sure you think your “faith” is much more than that, and my own way of life, of which this stuff is only a part, is also much more than this.

    I think how we respond when asked about God is the most important thing about us. When people say religion or faith I usually just filter it through that question.

    By the way .. I don’t generally attend a church this morning we went to a new Chinese film called “Red Cliff”. Long and cheesy and only the first part .. :O

    AS always, thanks for your feedback!

    Thanks for the hospitality. :)

  • 23. John Morales  |  July 13, 2008 at 4:44 am

    Grant, I know you weren’t addressing me when you asked

    Could you please name a few things that I cannot do as a Christian that you can do as an existentialist.

    but, if I read that right, you contend that there is no action forbidden or mandated to Christians that is not also forbidden/mandated to non-Christians.

    When I was a Catholic, I had many restrictions. For example, as a child I could not eat food for 24 hours prior to Communion, as a teen I could not do so for an hour. For example, there were holy days of obligation when I could not avoid Mass. And many other examples.

    What sort of Christian are you?

  • 24. Grant Dexter  |  July 13, 2008 at 7:00 am

    No worries, John. Let me try to explain where I come from.

    A Christian is a person who confesses Christ as saviour. As I understand it that means quite a lot of people can rationally refer to themselves as Christians. With lots of different people one always gets segregation and labels which is simply the way the world works. But if a Christian is to follow the words of Christ then the labels attached to Christianity are meaningless and the only thing that matters is the freedom gained in accepting salvation.

    Accepting this freedom, therefore, is the only issue that counts when it comes to trying to define who is and isn’t Christian. Anyone who says that some action, observance or sacrament is also necessary is adding to the simple truth of the gospel and, while they may still be a Christian, are perverting the word of God.

    Does that explain things clearly?

    So when people ask what brand of Christian I am I could be somewhat informative by describing the churches I have attended (uh .. all of them :D ) or the study I have done (just a years training .. nothing fancy) or the theological labels I might accept (open theist), but the only thing that truly matters is my freedom brought by Christ.

    That freedom means exactly what it says. I am not bound by law, sin, guilt and condemnation. Just as any other person might be willing to claim for themselves (as has been inferred already in this thread). The existentialist might claim freedom just as I do. My challenge is what could possibly be the advantage given the rational claims of a saviour offering freedom from death as well.

    But then the article is not aimed at converting, but rather entrenching the already converted.

    So when I ask what might you do that makes you more free or better people you should understand that nothing you might say I am prohibited from doing. But I must also clearly disclaim that I will therefore choose to do that which is not right.

  • 25. John Morales  |  July 13, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Thanks for the response, Grant.

    I will grant that if the only impediment to your actions is your conscience, then I am no qualitatively no freer than you.

    Quantitatively, it would depend on whether your belief places heavier restrictions on your conscience than my own lack of belief.

    I suppose I could add that I have the additional burden of being developing (and ever refining) my own ethical system, whereas you are free to accept Revelation as your basis. So, in one sense at least, you are freer than I :)

    Regarding freedom from death, I have that too, according to Christianity. Eternal punishment, remember?

  • 26. John Morales  |  July 13, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Stupid editing box :)

  • 27. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Richard, thanks for this series of articles. In all my years of university work, I have never taken a single philosophy class, so after reading so far – I really doubt I would call myself existentialist.

    I can relate somewhat to Yalom’s treatment of death. I am 44 years old, and am at that age where mortality is staring me in the face. Most all of my favoritie television stars are either very old or have already died, and for some reason that strikes me every time I watch old re-runs on television. I just found out yesterday that Harvey Korman (worked with Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett) died recently – … oh man.. .. one by one all these icons of my youth are all leaving this world… someday soon I must follow them.

    So after leaving Christianity, I can no longer tell my wife that we will be together for all eternity. It is a sweet thought, but no more than that. I don’t know that I live life with any more intensity than I would have otherwise though. I do think more about visiting my family more often. About my nephews who are growing up so fast, of my 90 year old grandmother who gave me some of my best memories of my childhood, and who’s time is surely very near.

    I think a lot about how dramatically this world has changed in just the last 40 years. I see old movies from the 1930s and realize that I am looking at a world that is gone forever. Soon, this world of 2007 will also be gone – a nostalgic museum piece for our posterity.

    I don’t think I live more intensely or immediately now than I was as a Christian, although I can see how it could happen to some. Death is just the great equalizer. The Bible is correct when God told Adam that we are from dust, and we shall ultimately return to dust. The Kingly and the lowly both share the same fate – we are born naked and we die naked.

    All of us are brought to the same level eventually – I actually find some comfort and cold humor in that.

    But not everyone can accept this, and I understand that. LeoPardus responds with this:

    Well, except that just about every person of any religion still fears death. Seems many of them don’t really believe what they claim.

    I think there are some Christians who do not fear death because of their faith – and use it to their benefit. I am thinking of my brother, a police officer and a veteran of special forces. He has faced death more times than I can count, and he keeps himself in top physical condition in preparation of some of the tangles he has to get into. He once confided in me that he was not afraid of death, because he knew where he was going. His Christian faith, his conviction that he is going to eternal paradise is what allows him to be fearless here on Earth. I can only imagine how many young soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan also use their faith to give them strength when confronting death. Could I, an apostate from Christianity, have the same fearless attitude knowing that death means death? I really really doubt it…

    I do like this quite from the article though:

    if one is frightened enough of death to try to keep that death-awareness from consciousness, one must, in a way, avoid life itself.

    Nicely said.

  • 28. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2008 at 9:04 am

    Yalom:

    To the extent that one is responsible for one’s life, one is alone.

    I could not at all relate to what Yalom says about isolation. Of course we are responsible for ourselves and our actions, and nobody can pay for our ‘sins’. But of course, we all seek a group to be in, and be a part of. Does this necessarily mean that we give up part of ourselves to be a part of this group?

    In an earlier comment, ubi dubium said that upon leaving Christianity s/he could “ask any question I want without worrying that I might be committing blasphemy”. Well, I don’t agree with this – not entirely. As a Christian, I could ask any question I wanted. When I was doubting my Christian faith, I was encouraged to “ask the tough questions”. The problems began when I got the wrong answers to those questions. When Christians are encouraged to ask questions about their faith, the BIble, and that God will meet those challenges, it is implied that while questions are okay, they had better get the right answers to those questions. Now, if you do get the wrong answers, for instance, the conviction that the Bible is not divinely inspired, and you continue to tow the line with the group, you are definitely selling yourself out. I do think that many Christians do this – to be part of the group, to save face, whatever. I am personally convinced that the church pews are full of apostates and non-believers who just keep their big traps shut. I am willing to bet most church pastors know this too.

  • 29. Zoe  |  July 13, 2008 at 9:25 am

    HIS wrote: “I am personally convinced that the church pews are full of apostates and non-believers who just keep their big traps shut. I am willing to bet most church pastors know this too.”

    I agree. I suspect there are pastors in the same boat as well.

  • 30. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2008 at 9:34 am

    I said..

    Soon, this world of 2007 will also be gone…

    Did I just type this? Good grief I cannot even get straight what year I live in.

  • 31. John T.  |  July 13, 2008 at 9:47 am

    HeIsSailing

    “So after leaving Christianity, I can no longer tell my wife that we will be together for all eternity. It is a sweet thought, but no more than that”

    I find your comment here fascinating. You sound like the Fundamentalist Christian, who is sure that there is an afterlife. The difference is you are sure there isnt. Flip side of the same coin, dont ya think? You dont have to believe in any religion to believe there is a continuation of life beyond this physical manifestation. I dont need proof for that, I just trust my inate sense that tells me its true. Oh by the way, eternity isnt some time and place we go to, its happening right now.

  • 32. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2008 at 9:52 am

    John T, I was once a Christian who believed in the exclusivity of Jesus as the only way to get to heaven during the afterlife. I believed in nothing else. I am no longer a Christian. No faith in the supernatural has replaced that gap, including a belief that there is an afterlife after this physical death.

  • 33. ubi dubium  |  July 13, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Grant:

    And now could you respond to the rest of the question I posed. Please point out to me how these things might make your life better than mine.

    I don’t claim that those things make my life better than yours. You are a Theist, and you are happy with that, I am a Non-Theist, and I am happy with that. I would not presume to judge whose life is “better”.

    What I can judge is that my life is better than my life was before. I am freer than I was. I feel as if I had climbed out of a box, and finally seen the universe for the incredibly wondrous place it is. But Non-theism is not for everybody.

    Richard, this is a wonderful series, and I am eagerly awaiting your next installment. You are inspiring me to go read some of the existentialist philosopers myself.

  • 34. Grant Dexter  |  July 13, 2008 at 9:57 am

    John:

    Regarding freedom from death, I have that too, according to Christianity. Eternal punishment, remember?

    True. If you think death means the end of your existence.

    Choose well :)

  • 35. Grant Dexter  |  July 13, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Now, if you do get the wrong answers, for instance, the conviction that the Bible is not divinely inspired, and you continue to tow the line with the group, you are definitely selling yourself out. I do think that many Christians do this – to be part of the group, to save face, whatever. I am personally convinced that the church pews are full of apostates and non-believers who just keep their big traps shut. I am willing to bet most church pastors know this too.

    This guy knows what he’s talking about! This is undoubtedly the case!

  • 36. John T.  |  July 13, 2008 at 10:15 am

    HeIsSailing

    “No faith in the supernatural has replaced that gap, including a belief that there is an afterlife after this physical death.”

    I would assume you have faith that something, be it scientific or otherwise started the universe? Now seeing as we have yet to prove what did it, wouldnt that idea be, in its essence, “supernatural”

  • 37. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2008 at 10:34 am

    JohnT, I have no idea what ‘started’ the universe, if ‘start’ is indeed the correct term for it. I cannot, however, extrapolate out from that and conclude that there is a supernatural realm beyond our senses, and more, that I will inhabit that realm for eternity after I physically die.

  • 38. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2008 at 10:37 am

    John T says:

    You sound like the Fundamentalist Christian, who is sure that there is an afterlife.

    Difference being, of course, that the Fundamentalist Christian believes they have been charged by God to spread the Gospel and convert as many people into the fold as they can. Me? I don’t give a rip what you believe.

  • 39. John T.  |  July 13, 2008 at 10:40 am

    HeIsSailing

    ” I don’t give a rip what you believe”

    Ditto..Im just making conversation, hope I didnt shit in your coffee. ;)

  • 40. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2008 at 10:43 am

    …hope I didnt shit in your coffee

    heh.. not at all. That was just my way of shrugging my shoulders – “whatever will be will be”

  • 41. John T.  |  July 13, 2008 at 10:45 am

    ke sera sera………..lmao

  • 42. Grant Dexter  |  July 13, 2008 at 11:16 am

    I don’t give a rip what you believe.
    This is patently untrue unless you believe that what others believe has no effect on what they will do.

  • 43. Anonymous  |  July 13, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Grant.

    That’s a falso dichotomy. People can act in the same way coming from different believes. The belief act is meaningless as far as other people are considered. It’s the action itself, irrespective of it’s origin, that crosses a line.

  • 44. Grant Dexter  |  July 13, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    That’s a falso dichotomy. People can act in the same way coming from different believes. The belief act is meaningless as far as other people are considered. It’s the action itself, irrespective of it’s origin, that crosses a line.
    It’s not a false dichotomy at all! If you believe that what people believe has no effect on how they act (as you seem to believe) then you might be justified in dismissing as irrelevant those beliefs.

    Notice the “if” statement? That makes my claim conditional on what you accept as true. I think you need to read up on what a false dichotomy is.

  • 45. Anonymous  |  July 13, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Grant, you misinterpret me.

    If a man kills another man becuase he doesn’t like the color of his skin or because he doesn’t like his religion those are 2 different beliefs but the same action. I condemn both men because of the ACTION.

    If the 2 men above believe they can kill for those 2 reasons but don’t actually kill, they’re ok in my book. Freedom of thought and speech and all that.

  • 46. The Apostate  |  July 13, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Grant,

    Golly. What planet do you live on?

    This was a reference to pain and anxiety not destroying relationships, but strengthening them.
    I live on earth, and I believe in working through disagreements and hard times. I do not believe in wallowing in a delusion or self-pity nor blaming others for my mistakes. If I have caused someone else pain and/or anxiety, I hope to rectify it. In doing so, we may come closer together. Grant, this is called maturity.

    You stood on a pedestal right after my post and said (with only a simple question as evidence):

    Let me ask you something – if you found out, over a period of time, that everything you believed, coming from people you trust, was a lie, how would that play with your emotions?

    I ask you in return if you really believe that this situation ever occurs? Or were you just being melodramatic?

    The question was, for one, hypothetical, and two, it is what my perceived reality was for some time. My faith was everything to me. Obviously this was a hyperbole, but everything I did I did for the past/present/future kingdom of Heaven. Whether I was at a mundane job or hanging out with my friend or working in the missionary field, it all was to glorify God. Is that melodramatic? Perhaps. But for myself, it was a about what I could do for the church and body of Christ, not what the church could do for me. To then find out that the historical and spiritual truths I had once believed in were not true (and hence a lie), it caused me incredible grief. Do Christians purposely lie? No. Did I insinuate this? No. I believe that they lie to themselves and believe what amounts to be lies – most of which are not malicious (the central tenets of Christianity are first and foremost quite the opposite, and in fact attribute great ethical “truths” that I continue to agree with – unfortunately, very few North American Christians actually read their Bibles and understand the teachings of the one’s they call Christ).

    I could show you where you asked me a question based on the notion that such a stupid declaration might be possible …

    Is that enough?

    No it isn’t, because once again you have proven you want to read into people’s judgments whether that is the truth or not. Show me where I have ever made such a declaration, not where “it might be possible” to make the assumption.

    Sure. But then again you weren’t referring to me…

    And it is you that is jumping to conclusions…

    How? If you are going to make a statement, back it up.

    Apostate: The fact is we all lie, so yes, all Christians are liars.
    Grant: Let’s see. You admit you are a liar and I haven’t lied … who should we trust here… :think:

    You haven ever lied in your life? Wow.

    Sorry. I should learn to hit the keyboard less angrily when I type.

    Sorry, I assume tone and style is still taught in grade school.

    Talk straight then? You jumped to a conclusion based on a harmless question which I see answered simply and clearly below.

    Work for you?

    Where did I jump to conclusions. When you ask a silly question, you get a silly answer. You asked, assuming that I believe all Christians are incapable of telling the truth, whether I actually believed this when I had, in fact, never even entertained the idea. This amounted to a straw man argument which never went anywhere, yet you continue to pick at the straw man that you built.

    Why would I need to forgive people who do not believe in God?

    I must assume now, based on this question, that you are one of those many Christians that believe the Bible is inspired, perhaps inerrant, yet you don’t actually bother to read it. This is not an assumption. One of the core ideas of Christianity, in the Bible, is forgiveness (unless, of course, you happen to attend a Pentecostal church where such sections of the Bible are purposely and irresponsibly dismissed).
    Should we, for arguments sake, dismiss the Bible, forgiveness has a deep psychological benefit for the forgiving party. It frees one from the torment of being wronged in many cases. It helps one empathize with the person that has wronged you, hence realizing that you too have wronged others and are in need of such forgiveness. Now attaching a Biblical basis to this, what good are you? How are you seen in the eyes of your Lord? Your deeds are but dirty rags, are they not? You are no better the worst of sinners: are these not the words of Paul of Tarsus? Only through perfect, divine forgiveness are you exalted, are you not? Should you not, then, care to “be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect”?

    I have my reasons for forgiving those who have wronged me. Now you must explain why you believe that you have no duty, in your belief system, to forgive a non-believer. Because I can tell you right now, as an ex-apologeticist and former fervent theology student, that you verge on heresy in every major Christian tradition.

    Sounds like you are open to the truth then. Would you like some simple answers to the simple questions you raised in here? I promise you, I’m not colourblind. I also promise you that my majik powers do not extend to being able to tell you what you believe

    My life has been devoted to learning the truth about all things spiritual and material, supernatural and natural. I am not a scientist so I cannot comprehend much of their context. I am an ex-theologian and a student of the humanities and philosophy. This is my context. The truth philosopher is a lover of wisdom – without truth, wisdom is impossible. I dedicated my former Christian life to defending my faith from the most potent attacks with integrity and on fair grounds until such evidence presented itself that my defenses were now incapable of holding my prior belief structure.

    Should you have some grasp on the “truth” which you seem to claim to be so obvious and simple, please, go ahead. But there is a fine line between being simple and being a simpleton. A God I wanted to believe in is immune from the harshest of skepticism, who does not shy away from philosophical inquiry, not because of unprovable hypothesis, but because it is the actual truth.

  • 47. LeoPardus  |  July 13, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Richard:

    does something analagous to apologetics exist in non-Christian religions? E.g., especially, Islam? I realize that I assumed in my article that it did not, but I dont really know that.

    Yes, there are certainly Muslim apologists. I met and talked with a number of them in my college days as we had a fairly large Muslim contingent at the old alma mater. I also talked with atheists, Mormon, Hindu, and Wiccan apologists. Those last two were a bit odd.

    I am somewhat familiar with Judaism and can conclude with some confidence that apologetics, as Christian use the terms, is quite rare and very much a minor, almost negligible, strand of that tradition.

    You may be right there. I have met a couple Jewish apologists. Oh and I saw a Jewish apologetics book once. Didn’t read it.

    you seem to know your way around the religious landscape.

    Well, really that’s TA’s ground. A bunch of years slogging around the university just exposed me to a lot.

  • 48. LeoPardus  |  July 13, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    HIS:

    I am 44 years old, and am at that age where mortality is staring me in the face.

    Hesh, child. I’m a couple years ahead of ya. Ya might scare the old man.

    Most all of my favoritie television stars are either very old or have already died, and for some reason that strikes me every time I watch old re-runs on television.

    Harvey Korman, James Doohan, DeForest Kelley, Bob Denver, Bo Diddley, Larry Linville, just to name a few who’ve died in recent years. Yep. It gets to me every time I hear of another great one gone.

    I see old movies from the 1930s and realize that I am looking at a world that is gone forever.

    I do that too. Makes me think what funny thing time is.

    Soon, this world of 2007 will also be gone

    Like you noted, it already is. I still have trouble with the fact that years don’t start with 19__.

    BTW I agree about Christians whose faith does help them not to fear death. I was lamenting the sad ones I see all too often who get hysterical just because the doctor says, “I want to check out a lump in your liver.”

  • 49. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    I said:

    I don’t give a rip what you believe.

    Grant Dexter reads my mind:

    This is patently untrue unless you believe that what others believe has no effect on what they will do.

    Gads, you got me there. I am undone. Grant, you are absolutely correct – It is my secret desire for everyone to believe and act exactly as I do.

  • 50. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    LeoPardus:

    I was lamenting the sad ones I see all too often who get hysterical just because the doctor says, “I want to check out a lump in your liver.”

    Huh – interesting. I confess, I got a bit hysterical when the doctor mentioned the lump in my throat a few years back. Yeah, I was a faithful Christian at the time, but I sure was afraid there for a bit. But then again, one may feel more noble about dying for something one deems meaningful, than for dying for a stupid glandular lump.

  • 51. test  |  July 14, 2008 at 1:24 am

    [quote]Is this thing on?[/quote]

  • 52. Grant Dexter  |  July 14, 2008 at 1:26 am

    Anon:

    If a man kills another man becuase he doesn’t like the color of his skin or because he doesn’t like his religion those are 2 different beliefs but the same action. I condemn both men because of the ACTION. If the 2 men above believe they can kill for those 2 reasons but don’t actually kill, they’re ok in my book. Freedom of thought and speech and all that.

    Of course. But I did not mention condemnation and neither did Hels. When he said, “I don’t give a rip what you believe” I simply pointed out that he must not believe that belief inspires action.

    I would have a problem with anyone who believed it was OK to murder. I wouldn’t be able to determine that belief or act against it without some expression or action so I see no way that apathy about belief can be divorced from apathy over action without assuming that belief has nothing to do with action.

    Anyway .. I thought it was a simple point. If you don’t agree then I’ll just leave it.

  • 53. Grant Dexter  |  July 14, 2008 at 1:38 am

    … forgiveness has a deep psychological benefit for the forgiving party. It frees one from the torment of being wronged in many cases. It helps one empathize with the person that has wronged you, hence realizing that you too have wronged others and are in need of such forgiveness

    You studied the bible for how long and you don’t understand forgiveness? Forgiveness may have some of the attributes you describe, but forgiveness is about forgiving people for the wrong they did against you. It is not a requirement in order to receive forgiveness from God. And it is very important not to destroy the power forgiveness has by cheapening it, handing it out to anyone and everyone. Jesus taught quite clearly that we are to forgive those who do wrong unto us and who subsequently repent. I have no right to forgive someone for their transgressions against someone else. I am also responsible for holding people accountable to their actions and requiring their repentance before I will forgive them. Just as Jesus did.

    So me saying that I cannot forgive people who reject God is perfectly biblical.

    Should you have some grasp on the “truth” which you seem to claim to be so obvious and simple, please, go ahead. But there is a fine line between being simple and being a simpleton. A God I wanted to believe in is immune from the harshest of skepticism, who does not shy away from philosophical inquiry, not because of unprovable hypothesis, but because it is the actual truth.

    That reads like a, “Yes”. Fire away :)

  • 54. Richard  |  July 14, 2008 at 1:49 am

    Grant-
    >So you have no problem with only being relevant to those already in the grip of existentialist thought?
    > My challenge is what could possibly be the advantage given the rational claims of a saviour offering freedom from death as well. But then the article is not aimed at converting, but rather entrenching the already converted.

    Egads, man, what’s up with this? You have been doggin’ me this entire thread for talking to other de-cons rather than engaging you with debates about Christian truth-claims.

    This is an article written by a de-con for other de-cons. You seem to be very critical of that, but here’s the bottom line as I see it: unless you are prepared to tell me that you have never in your life had a conversation with another Christian that was *anything other* than just a continual rehashing of the most basic arguments about why you believe Christianity in the first place – i.e., that you have never even once engaged in a conversation with the aim of deepening or broadening your understanding of Christian teaching – then, well, it seems there are three possibilities:

    1. “entrenching the entrenched” has a legitimate role in a belief system, at least from the perspective of those within that system; you believe this and practice it openly
    2. You deny it has any role but do it anyway; i.e., you are hypocritical in this area
    3. You shamelessly employ a double standard. Its OK for Christians to do this but no one else.

    That seems to me to exhaust the possibilities of logical space. Which is it?

    Look, my friend, I welcome any and all serious feedback to what I write, but it seems a little misplaced to criticize me (and us) for not having the conversation you want to have. If you want to debate the basics, again, there are many other threads here for that purpose, and there is a fine site called “debunking Christianity” where you will find your gauntlet eagerly taken up.

    So, then, the answer to your challenge is that I do not think those claims are rational, true, supported by the evidence. My article assumes this and goes from there. Okay, you don’t agree with that. I get it. But I’m writing for those who do and if you’re not one then I guess it *doesn’t* have much relevance for you, any more than your average Sunday sermon has any relevance for me.

  • 55. Richard  |  July 14, 2008 at 2:03 am

    >”To the extent that one is responsible for one’s life, one is alone.

    >I could not at all relate to what Yalom says about isolation. Of >course we are responsible for ourselves and our actions, and >nobody can pay for our ’sins’. But of course, we all seek a group >to be in, and be a part of. Does this necessarily mean that we >give up part of ourselves to be a part of this group?

    HIS- I think Yalom is not really talking about our tendency, as social primates, to cluster in groups for various purposes. I think what hes talking about has more of a connection with responsibility. And to that end, he would criticize our tendency to outsource responsibility for our lives to some other agency — a group, an ideology, even a belief in some sort of neurochemical determinism would be seen by such existentialists as an excuse.

    Sometimes these guys got pretty radical in this view, by my lights, and I dont always follow them here, when they write as though we can choose utterly in a vacuum, with no determinisms at all. But what I think of when I ponder this idea is more mundane: the realization many people have when they reach their late teens or early twenties, and they suddenly see their parents as just, well, people. I.e., no longer the larger-than-life figures they seemed in childhood and early adolescence. Suddenly, you realize that there is no one “out there”, bigger and smarter than you, who is going to look after you. From this, you realize (1) I have to do it, I have to take ownership of my life and (2) I am alone in doing so.

    At least, thats my interpretation of this experience. For some the realization that “no one can die for me” is what points out the alone-ness they are trying to describe. That idea never did it for me, or at least not yet.

    For my part, I do very much find I live and feel more intensely since deconversion, but I may have had an especially toxic interpretation of Christianity. But I appreciate the feedback about your experience.

  • 56. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2008 at 2:17 am

    Richard, I have just a general question for you: do you study philosophy to find some school of thought that you can relate to – that is, something to help you understand your convictions, or do you study to find answers that are meaningful to you, that you can adapt to, and hopefully better your life?

    Another way of asking this is – is studying philosophy an active or passive activity? I am asking because I know next to nothing about philosophy from an academic standpoint – and am just curious to know. I welcome any other opinions here.

  • 57. Richard  |  July 14, 2008 at 2:45 am

    HIS-
    Both, actually. One of the early harbingers of the eventual downfall of fundamentalism, for me (in hindsight) was a fairly innate intellectual bent and, thus, a craving to understand *why* things worked. I wasnt satisfied with being told *what* to do. Thats what got me reading CS Lewis — he told me the *whys* of Christian theology.

    As I left the fold, I found that existentialism (which I had encountered in my western civ class in college) seemed to address what I was feeling. In particular, Nietzsche seemed to struggle with some of the same things I did. As one (other) existentialist put it, Nietzsche’s atheism was not the atheism of, say, a Bertrand Russell, for whom “God” seemed to be a logical theorum to be affirmed or denied. Nietzsche, by contrast, understood why the “death of God” hurt. His atheism was a cry of anguish, at least at first, and dedicated his life to finding another way.

    Thats what I needed, at that time in my life. Really, just his passion and courage. He did not shrink from the painful loss of God and did not accept that therefore all possibility of meaning was lost, which was what I feared. The whole meaning of my life was in being a Christian, and I had lost that. Nietzsche, I felt, taught a passionate affirmation of life in all its grey, often ugly messiness. That spoke to me!

    So, its true to say I find, in philosophy, some concepts that speak to me. Knowing that its there, I have since tried to plumb it for more, and with what Ive found, have been able to help shape my thinking further. Pragmatism, for example, is also illuminating for me, thought less in-your-gut as existentialism is.

    I hope that answers your question. I really actually have no formal training in philosophy, just an amateurs interest. The best intro book on existentialism I have ever read is Irrational Man, by William Barrett. if youre interested. Of course, Yaloms is also good but hes got an angle (writing re: psychotherapy).

  • 58. The Apostate  |  July 14, 2008 at 2:56 am

    Grant,

    And it is very important not to destroy the power forgiveness has by cheapening it, handing it out to anyone and everyone…So me saying that I cannot forgive people who reject God is perfectly biblical.

    I’m sorry you feel this way, but it is still far from “Biblical.”
    But you know what, I’ll let you talk to your spiritual mentor, whoever that may be, about that. It is really none of my concern.

    I suppose I will take the dismissal of the rest of my comment (including the plea to give me some simple, but I suppose elegant, truths) as the end of our conversation. Should you wish to continue, you know where to find me.

  • 59. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2008 at 3:13 am

    Richard, thanks for your answer. I am about two years gone since leaving Christianity, and while I no longer struggle with Faith, I do occassionally feel an internal pain at the loss of my Faith, or as you put it – the death of God. I know no other apostates, so it is hard to relay and express my thoughts to anyone. While my wife listens and is patient with me, she remains a faithful Christian, and does not fully understand me when I express to her what it means to leave Christianity.

    I tried reading Bertrand Russell, but just could not get into it. I may pick up one of your other suggestions – Nietzsche or Barrett. Maybe something there will help me better able to deal with my loss of Faith.

  • 60. Richard  |  July 14, 2008 at 3:33 am

    HIS – Nietzsche is tricky to read by himself, with no preparation. His style is very aphoristic and disjointed — wonderful for quote-mining, bad for getting an overall view.

    I agree- Russell left me cold. It was way too abstract, and didnt get at the actual experience of “losing God.”

    Start with Barrett. Or Yalom (his book looks and costs like a textbook, but is very accessible). Remember that existentialism does not offer any balms! It (to personify) would say that these things are *supposed* to be painful. Embrace life, pain and all, and love life anyway.

    My next installment, in a few days, will be about meaning. That may touch on some of what you’re dealing with. Good luck!

  • [...] on Convenient categories: The “real reasons” de-cons leave the faithRichard on Existentialism: Death and IsolationSnugglyBuffalo on Existentialism: Freedom and ResponsibilityHeIsSailing on Convenient [...]

  • 62. John T.  |  July 14, 2008 at 6:54 am

    “Thus, by letting go of the fantasy that death can somehow be beaten, cheated, or deferred, then those fantasies can no longer siphon off our energies, and we can appreciate the here-and-now that we do have. In relinquishing an idealized future, we can immerse ourselves in a real present. Awareness of the reality of death saves us because it teaches us to appreciate life.”

    Now I know this site is primarily for De cons of Christianity, but what do you think of people who have know direct link to Christianity or any other religion but still feel that life continues after the death of their body. I have had an internal sense of a spirit that will continue in some form or another after my body perishes. Just curious where your heads are at with that?

  • 63. Grant Dexter  |  July 14, 2008 at 8:20 am

    I’m sorry you feel this way, but it is still far from “Biblical.”
    Why should we accept your opinion of the bible when you reject it? In fact, why do you even refer to the bible at all. Let’s deal with this as an atheist might. Do you (assuming you’re an atheist) think that if my friend beats you up that I should be able to forgive my friend for what he did to you? Do you think that might heal the relationship between you and my friend?

    Do you (I’m assuming you’re an atheist again) think that if someone continues to repeat the same offence against you and never asks for forgiveness that you should forgive him and reset the relationship each and every time?

    You accuse me of ignoring your requests to provide simple truths, but perhaps the problem is you cannot see them even if they are under your nose…

  • 64. LeoPardus  |  July 14, 2008 at 10:50 am

    First this:
    Why would I need to forgive people who do not believe in God?
    And later:
    Jesus taught quite clearly that we are to forgive those who do wrong unto us and who subsequently repent. I have no right to forgive someone for their transgressions against someone else. I am also responsible for holding people accountable to their actions and requiring their repentance before I will forgive them. Just as Jesus did.
    And finally:
    So me saying that I cannot forgive people who reject God is perfectly biblical.

    Care to trot out your Bible verses for this position? It’s exactly the opposite of what I heard in the church, and does not line up at all with the Bible when I read it (several times). So I’d be interested to see a so-called christian support the position you’ve just taken.

    [Yes. I just called you a "so-called christian". Figure it's a favorite thing for christians who skate in here to tell de-cons that we were never christians, so it must be OK for us to return the favor. After all, "Do unto others..."]

  • 65. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2008 at 10:59 am

    I fully understand not forgiving without repentance. I taught this as a biblical position in my study group – to the discomfort of everyone else, I am afraid. After all, we did not think God forgave without our repentance, so why should we do any different? I still think it is a pretty good position to hold. But this is the part that I don’t get:

    So me saying that I cannot forgive people who reject God is perfectly biblical.

    I never thought as a Christian I had the responsiblility of forgiving somebody when they accepted God, or holding a grudge against them when they rejected God. I mean, isn’t that God’s job?

  • 66. Grant Dexter  |  July 14, 2008 at 11:22 am

    I never thought as a Christian I had the responsiblility of forgiving somebody when they accepted God, or holding a grudge against them when they rejected God. I mean, isn’t that God’s job?

    I never said that. All I say is that I have no place handing out forgiveness to those who reject Christ. If they act against me that is a different matter. Then I am involved. How they respond to God is between y’all. ;)

  • 67. Grant Dexter  |  July 14, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Leopardus. Why would I trot out bible verses when you cannot even understand what I say?

    Please show me exactly what problem you have with the collection of my quotes you compiled. Here, I’ve highlighted the places that should be most useful to you…

    First this:
    Why would I need to forgive people who do not believe in God?

    And later:
    Jesus taught quite clearly that we are to forgive
    those who do wrong unto us and who subsequently repent. I have no right to forgive someone for their transgressions against someone else. I am also responsible for holding people accountable to their actions and requiring their repentance before I will forgive them. Just as Jesus did.

    And finally:
    So me saying that I cannot forgive people who reject God is perfectly biblical.

  • 68. orDover  |  July 14, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    I’m really enjoying these posts Richard. They are very well written. Thank you for your effort.

    One thing that struck me as I was reading this, another way that Christians combat the isolation factor is by believing that god dwells within them.

    You said, “Thus, though we may have friends, though we may have deeply intimate relationships, even the most intimate of relationships can only be so close. There is an ‘unbridgeable gulf’ between me and every other person. No one can, essentially, get inside my own skull, except me.”

    Christians who see Jesus as “dwelling in their hearts” have “solved” that problem. They are never alone, even in their private thoughts. Their gulf has been bridged.

  • 69. Richard  |  July 14, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    orDover — Yes, exactly! Good thought. Thats exactly the sort of defensive function I think religion can serve.

    Now, I think that, like all defenses, this is not *necessarily* a bad thing. We all have defenses, and we all need them. The issue,to my mind, is how tightly and desparately we cling to these defenses. I think that at least part of what makes a fundy a fundy is exactly that — a psychologically desparate need for such consolation.

  • 70. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 14, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Richard, I think that sums up my mother’s faith quite well. I don’t think she could function without religion, she needs the comfort it provides, even if it’s an illusion.

    Your comment on defenses reminds me of something I read on depression once. Something to the effect that it’s possible people with depression actually have a better grip on reality than the rest of us. The average person is in fact unrealistically optimistic about life, and this is perfectly natural, an evolved defense to the fact that reality is completely cold and unfeeling toward us.

  • 71. The Apostate  |  July 15, 2008 at 12:11 am

    Grant,

    Why should we accept your opinion of the bible when you reject it?

    One, my reading of the Bible, in hopes of at one time being an apologetic theologian by profession, led directly to my deconversion. I would say this is grounds for a discussion of the text. Two, it is something I believe every Christian should at least be familiar with, whether they actually are or not. Three, I reject the historical grounds on which it is written – I accept, however, the reality it presents for many religious people living today.

    Do you (assuming you’re an atheist) think that if my friend beats you up that I should be able to forgive my friend for what he did to you? Do you think that might heal the relationship between you and my friend?

    Although I agree with the many philosophical positions presented by atheists, I am not an atheist. I am a agnostic towards the concept of God and I pragmatically live [mostly] by a pseudo-Buddhist philosophy. Nevertheless, I am uncertain what your question has to do with our discussion. Is it not up to me to forgive your friend? I am uncertain what you have to do with your abusive acquaintance. The only thing that might do is help your relationship with your friend (although he/she may look at you very oddly).

    Do you (I’m assuming you’re an atheist again) think that if someone continues to repeat the same offence against you and never asks for forgiveness that you should forgive him and reset the relationship each and every time?

    Once again, I will answer no matter what I actually am. Forgiveness is not, in human terms, a “reset” button. See, there are two main dictionary definitions of “forgive.” The first is “to stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone for an offence, mistake, or flaw.” The second is simply to “cancel.” The former presents what I believe forgiveness is and, obviously, why I believe it is pragmatically healthy. The second definition nearly equivocates forgiveness with mercy, and hence is the root of the Jewish sacrifices and later Christian mythology of the Christ-figure. Obviously when we are asking of a human affair like the one presented above (and not some legal or religious term) we are speaking of the former. Therefore, I must ask myself, what is the point of feeling angry or resentful towards that person? What does it accomplish? Does it only make me less joyful, less compassionate, less full of life? Do I want to be consistently angry, full of hate and rage, and perpetually judgmental?

    You accuse me of ignoring your requests to provide simple truths, but perhaps the problem is you cannot see them even if they are under your nose…

    Are you stalling?
    I thought you were willing to tell me, then when I asked you gave me a one word summation of what I said and now you accuse me accusing you of ignoring me. It sounds very complicated now.
    So call me stupid, call me ignorant, call me blind – help out a fellow man and tell me these damn obvious truths!

  • 72. The Apostate  |  July 15, 2008 at 12:13 am

    HeIsSailing:

    I never thought as a Christian I had the responsiblility of forgiving somebody when they accepted God, or holding a grudge against them when they rejected God. I mean, isn’t that God’s job?

    Wasn’t God’s job also your job? (Matthew 5:48 )

  • 73. The Apostate  |  July 15, 2008 at 12:24 am

    Grant, once again,

    I never said that. All I say is that I have no place handing out forgiveness to those who reject Christ. If they act against me that is a different matter. Then I am involved. How they respond to God is between y’all.

    No, that is not what you said, this is what you said:

    Why would I need to forgive people who do not believe in God?

    and then

    So me saying that I cannot forgive people who reject God is perfectly biblical.

    We are not talking about the so-called forgiveness as sins that you allude to or assume in your latest dialogue with Leopardus. We were never talking about the deal between us and a being many of us don’t believe exist. We were all talking about the forgiveness between humans. During this entire discussion, why would you ever presume that we are debating over the soteriological nature of the Bible’s version of forgiveness? You asked why you should ever bother forgiving someone who isn’t part of your cult and then continued to debate along the path of presuming that this person wronged you – who said anything about what we have done to a hypothetical deity?

  • 74. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 1:47 am

    OK. If y’all think forgiveness is simply an act designed to make the forgiver feel better then what word are you going to use to describe the act of one party that overcomes the division of relationship brought about by wrong-doing of another party?

    Dang, it’s really hard to talk to people who make up their own definitions for things…

  • 75. The Apostate  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:37 am

    Grant Dexter

    Dang, it’s really hard to talk to people who make up their own definitions for things…

    Forgive (verb): stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, law, or mistake. (Oxford English Dictonary)

    Forgive (verb): to give up resentment of or claim to requital for (Merriam-Webster)

    Forgive (verb): to stop blaming or being angry with someone for something they have done, or not punish them for something. (Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

    Forgive (verb): To pardon; to remit, as an offense or debt; to overlook an offense, and treat the offender as not guilty. (Crossmap Dictionary – an evangelical resource)

    Grant, how would you define “forgive”?

    …then what word are you going to use to describe the act of one party that overcomes the division of relationship brought about by wrong-doing of another party?

    Begging the question, aren’t we? I mean, we’ve gathered you’re syllogisms are somewhat coherent, but they are still syllogisms.
    Why do we need a word for someone that goes around “forgiving” an individual (or society) for something they have no part of? It can still be forgiveness, it is, however, simply a shallow forgiveness due to the that “forgiver’s” value of nil in the equation. That person has no right to forgive someone on behalf of another.

    But back to something else you said…

    If y’all think forgiveness is simply an act designed to make the forgiver feel better

    Who said that? Was it “y’all”? Was it me? I don’t think so. You asked me, more or less, why the hypothetical atheist should forgive. I gave a response. I never said or remotely implied the limitation that you have placed that forgiveness “is simply an act designed to make the forgiver feel better.” Are you in such a hurry to dismiss what other’s say to put words in their mouth? You wanted what was in it for the forgiver, so I gave it to you. It certainly does not end there. The obvious benefiter of forgiveness, which I thought was basic common sense, is the person being forgiven. Forgiving is an act of compassion and generousity with someone on both ends of the act with various spectrums of rewards on each sides. Forgiveness, then, directly benefits all parties involved and indirectly can benefit many more (could you only imagine if our politicians were more forgiving?).

    And the very fact that you keep waving this “obvious truth” around without ever being to say it makes me wonder: maybe the greatest secret of humankind is that there is no secret.

  • 76. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 7:54 am

    The Apostate. I don’t think you’ve understood a word I’ve said. Perhaps that is my fault. How about we just start from the position that we agree on what forgiveness is and take it from there…?

    What started this off was you accusing me:
    “…you don’t sound very forgiving of apostates.

    Now tell me. Do you think I have the right to forgive people for rejecting God when they have rejected God?

  • 77. John Morales  |  July 15, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Do you think I have the right to forgive people for rejecting God when they have rejected God?

    Do you feel you’ve been injured or hurt in some way?

  • 78. The Apostate  |  July 15, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Grant,
    How can I understand what you say? You chose what you want to answer and you do so with only your context in mind. I can only imagine you sitting there wanting to scream “JESUS” as the answer to everything when that simply does not work. For example, your latest question:

    Now tell me. Do you think I have the right to forgive people for rejecting God when they have rejected God?

    This was a response to me saying:

    …you don’t sound very forgiving of apostates.

    Well, that didn’t come out of nowhere. The context of that was:

    Is what you believe really worth all that pain and separation?

    …which in turn was a result of a discussion of how deconverts go through a period of pain with themselves and their relationships with others.
    God is not in this equation. So please, follow the conversation and not insert random variables. No one is asking you to “forgive people for rejecting God.” How about just being forgiving in any situation? In this entire discussion you come off as the person that if a non-believer crosses you in any way whatsoever you are completely incapable of forgiving them for their transgression. If you agree with this, than you are an ignorant heretical mean-spirited fool. If you believe this to be a misunderstanding, please re-read our entire discussion, focusing mostly on what you have written.

  • 79. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    No one is asking you to “forgive people for rejecting God.” How about just being forgiving in any situation?

    I will forgive when I am wronged and then see repentance.

  • 80. The Apostate  |  July 15, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Grant, sometimes you just won’t get it. And then, according to the definition of “forgive,” you will simply wallow in anger and resentment.

  • 81. Grant Dexter  |  July 16, 2008 at 2:31 am

    There is nothing wrong with being angry or resenting someone’s actions and there is nothing that says I must be angry or resentful having not forgiven. You simply have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • 82. The Apostate  |  July 16, 2008 at 10:19 am

    There is nothing wrong with being angry or resenting someone’s actions and there is nothing that says I must be angry or resentful having not forgiven. You simply have no idea what you’re talking about.

    “There is nothing that says I must be angry…”
    According to the definition of “forgive” which you disputed but never, of course, gave me your own definition, is does mean that you must be angry. If you are incapable of forgiving someone based on YOUR [corrupted] religious doctrine you will become a very angry person. Have you ever been in these churches that have a median age of 65+? While many people are happy and joyous, have you ever seen those old crank-pots sitting in the front row? That is a result of lack of forgiveness towards others and decades of judgmental hoo-haw.

    I apparently have more of an idea than you do.
    Have you ever been so wronged and hurt by someone where your anger just bottles up and makes you sick to your stomach? Have you been so resentful that you wish the world would be a better place if a fellow human being would never have been born, or worse, if he or she was killed?
    The problem is this is what creates the Hitlers and Stalins of the world. In everyday life you have no say in whether the world is better off, but you do have control over your own emotions. Now imagine is Hitler had not allowed himself to be consumed by is hatred for Jews, Gypsies, blacks, and homosexuals? He justified his hatred the same way we all do – but for him it grew to such a point that it destroyed not only him but the entire continent he lived on.

  • 83. Grant Dexter  |  July 16, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Apostate: According to the definition of “forgive” which you disputed but never, of course, gave me your own definition, is does mean that you must be angry.

    If you were trying to make some kind of point here it was lost in your grammatical typhoon. Regardless of how incomprehensible you are it seems clear that you are determined to be completely at odds with me at all costs. I did not dispute the dictionary definition of “forgive”.

    If you are incapable of forgiving someone based on YOUR [corrupted] religious doctrine you will become a very angry person.

    My view of forgiveness is that I have no right to forgive people for the wrong they have done to other people. I only have the right to forgive people of the wrong they have done unto me.

    Have you ever been in these churches that have a median age of 65+? While many people are happy and joyous, have you ever seen those old crank-pots sitting in the front row? That is a result of lack of forgiveness towards others and decades of judgmental hoo-haw.

    Wow. Just .. wow. That’s great, Apostate. Have you ever walked down the street and seen someone with a scowl on their face. What terribly unforgiving people they must be! What anger they must retain!

    I apparently have more of an idea than you do.

    Yeah. You have ideas. That’s a good one, mate.

    Have you ever been so wronged and hurt by someone where your anger just bottles up and makes you sick to your stomach? Have you been so resentful that you wish the world would be a better place if a fellow human being would never have been born, or worse, if he or she was killed?
    The problem is this is what creates the Hitlers and Stalins of the world. In everyday life you have no say in whether the world is better off, but you do have control over your own emotions. Now imagine is Hitler had not allowed himself to be consumed by is hatred for Jews, Gypsies, blacks, and homosexuals? He justified his hatred the same way we all do – but for him it grew to such a point that it destroyed not only him but the entire continent he lived on.

    I can see, quite clearly, that you are a moron.

    Can you tell me what homos and Jews did wrong in order to need Hitler to forgive them?

  • 84. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 11:10 am

    The problem is this is what creates the Hitlers and Stalins of the world.

    Godwin’s Law!

    Grant, you may not be angry, but you certainly seem upset that there’s a blog full of people who have left Christianity.

  • 85. The Apostate  |  July 16, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Grant,

    If you were trying to make some kind of point here it was lost in your grammatical typhoon.

    I apologize for my grammatical mistakes – a bout of the fever has made it difficult to keep track of commas.

    . I did not dispute the dictionary definition of “forgive”.

    See Grant’s comment in #74.

    My view of forgiveness is that I have no right to forgive people for the wrong they have done to other people. I only have the right to forgive people of the wrong they have done unto me.

    OMG. Are you still on this? No one is talking about going around forgiving people that have not done anything to you! Please stick with me! This entire conversation, on my side anyway, has been about whether you are capable of forgiving a person, who just so happens to be a non-believer, that has done wrong to you; I am not asking you to forgive someone for not being a believer (why would I care?).

    Wow. Just .. wow. That’s great, Apostate. Have you ever walked down the street and seen someone with a scowl on their face. What terribly unforgiving people they must be! What anger they must retain!

    They probably do. People who lack the ability to forgive others are often very angry. Why would I scowl if I was not angry? Why would I be angry if no one has wronged me, or better yet, if those people who have wronged me have been “righted” in my forgiving eyes.

    Yeah. You have ideas. That’s a good one, mate.

    Grant, I have answered every single comment, both logical and illogical, you have made. You have, in turn, felt free to pick and chose what you reply to with increasingly irrational responses.

    I can see, quite clearly, that you are a moron.

    This is what you must resort to? How old are you?

    Can you tell me what homos and Jews did wrong in order to need Hitler to forgive them?

    I have no clue what goes through the mind of a homophobic racist. The point is not whether those people actually did anything to him, the point is that this was his perceived reality. If you had been in Germany during the time Hitler grew up, it did not take much – the entire culture was saturated in antisemitism, so much so that if a Jew even looked at you the “wrong way” it was, according to people such as Hitler, grounds for persecution.

    Grant, it is not what people do to you that matters because you can’t control those people. What matters is how you respond and what you do to others.

    -Apostate

    P.S. I forgive you for calling me a moron.

  • 86. Grant Dexter  |  July 16, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Grant, you may not be angry, but you certainly seem upset that there’s a blog full of people who have left Christianity.

    It is a little saddening, I guess.

    Can we show a little unity and resist Apostate’s poorly crafted posts? He’s not showing any capacity for reason at all…

  • 87. Grant Dexter  |  July 16, 2008 at 11:53 am

    I apologize for my grammatical mistakes – a bout of the fever has made it difficult to keep track of commas.

    OK, no worries.

    Grant’s comment in #74 did not reject the dictionary definition of forgiveness.

    No one is talking about going around forgiving people that have not done anything to you! Please stick with me! This entire conversation, on my side anyway, has been about whether you are capable of forgiving a person, who just so happens to be a non-believer, that has done wrong to you; I am not asking you to forgive someone for not being a believer (why would I care?).

    Then we’re discussing nothing and you should have simply answered, “No” to the question in my post #76 attempt to end the misunderstanding. Of course I am capable of forgiving someone who has wronged me. Why would you think otherwise?

    This is what you must resort to? How old are you?

    Feel free to prove me wrong.

    I have no clue what goes through the mind of a homophobic racist. The point is not whether those people actually did anything to him, the point is that this was his perceived reality. If you had been in Germany during the time Hitler grew up, it did not take much – the entire culture was saturated in antisemitism, so much so that if a Jew even looked at you the “wrong way” it was, according to people such as Hitler, grounds for persecution.

    This is mind boggling! Congratulations. You have just described the very anti-thesis of biblical forgiveness. Forgiveness is all about forgiving a person who is repentant. The whole point of being able to recognise what needs forgiving is to show people the wrong they have done in the hope that they will change!

    With regard to Hitler it would have been very appropriate for Jews to fight against those who came to take them away to their deaths. What sort of madman suggests that they should forgive and go along for the ride?

    Grant, it is not what people do to you that matters because you can’t control those people. What matters is how you respond and what you do to others.

    We forgive people in order that they might be forgiven. Any benefits we might gain are happy by-products. You seem to be asking that every person be forgiven of every act automatically and even before they have committed them! You’ve just destroyed the entire need for the word forgive.

    P.S. I forgive you for calling me a moron.

    And this is where the rubber meets the road. You can forgive me, but it means nothing because I’m not sorry. You need to learn to confront reality instead of living in this dream world you’re trying to create where everyone is just going to get along.

  • 88. The Apostate  |  July 16, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Grant’s comment in #74 did not reject the dictionary definition of forgiveness

    After I quoted straight from the OED you stated that I was making up my own definitions.

    Then we’re discussing nothing and you should have simply answered, “No” to the question in my post #76 attempt to end the misunderstanding.

    Oh, I am sorry, I didn’t realize that you can change the subject at any given time and assume I am suppose to understand what the hell you are talking about.

    Of course I am capable of forgiving someone who has wronged me. Why would you think otherwise?

    Do you or do you not agree with the outline I gave in comment 78?

    Feel free to prove me wrong.

    Do you want to take a vote?

    Forgiveness is all about forgiving a person who is repentant.

    Who is making up their own definitions now? I believe you are confusing forgiveness (the act of the forgiver) with soteriological grace. There is nothing in the definition of forgiveness that implies that someone must repent/apologize to you for you to forgive them. The only difference, then, is that your forgiveness is limited and conditional. Sort of like your god.

    The whole point of being able to recognise what needs forgiving is to show people the wrong they have done in the hope that they will change!

    Who died and made you God?

    With regard to Hitler it would have been very appropriate for Jews to fight against those who came to take them away to their deaths. What sort of madman suggests that they should forgive and go along for the ride?

    Who says that you can’t fight for your freedom and right to live despite being able to forgive the person causing you pain? Mennonites did such a thing throughout the 16th and 17th century while they were being persecuted by Catholics and Protestants.

    We forgive people in order that they might be forgiven.

    Wow. Logic. Why do you care that someone is forgiven? Can you tell me what is the point of forgiveness without using the word “forgive” in the same sentence. Forgiveness is not an obviously innate value.

    You seem to be asking that every person be forgiven of every act automatically and even before they have committed them!

    I seem to be, but I am not. If people were robots and forgiveness as a mechanical feature of ours, then this might be the case. But we are not, as the author of this post was pointing out. The whole point I am making is that forgiveness must be an internal action. We must process our frustration, regret, and anger and, in maturity, be able to forgive someone, whether they want to be forgiven or not.

    You can forgive me, but it means nothing because I’m not sorry.

    It means nothing to you, but it does to me. It means I don’t have to live with my own anger and resentment towards you. What you feel and how you react is up to you, not me.

    You need to learn to confront reality instead of living in this dream world you’re trying to create where everyone is just going to get along.

    Do not confuse is from ought. I live in the same reality that you do – a reality of hateful, as well as loving, people. You appear to find any justification for your hatred. You are incapable of responding to comments in a constructive, civil, or logical way.

  • 89. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Grant, I see you as a fool.
    With every post you make, you reinforce my opinion.

    Fool.

  • 90. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Grant, I see you as a fool.
    With every post you make, you reinforce my opinion.

    Fool.

    OK–now Grant can “forgive” John for what he just said(without John even knowing), and meet The Apostate’s definition of forgiveness. But John will never know that he has offended John, and has a responsibility to ask the offended person to forgive him for his wrong. Thus—-John goes around calling everyone a “fool”, offfending over and over again. True forgiveness is based on confronting the person who has wronged you (for their good and your own) and bringing them to a point of repentance. You “forgive” them, and they are healed of their wrong, and you are also healed of any bitterness.

    True—you can go around saying “I forgive you” to anyone who has wronged you without ever confronting them–you may feel a bit better for it—-but if you truly care about THEM also, you will want them to ask for the forgiveness that you can bestow.

  • 91. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Thus—-John goes around calling everyone a “fool”

    Joe, interesting flight of fancy there.

  • 92. ubi dubium  |  July 16, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Joe:

    True—you can go around saying “I forgive you” to anyone who has wronged you without ever confronting them–you may feel a bit better for it—-but if you truly care about THEM also, you will want them to ask for the forgiveness that you can bestow.

    Ahem – Luke 6:27

    But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

    Matthew 6:14-15

    If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

    That doesn’t sound to me like you are supposed to insist on an apology first. You are not supposed to forgive them to make yourself feel better, you are supposed to forgive them so god will forgive you. If you actually believe in this bible of yours, then it sounds like you should be forgiving everybody who wrongs you, not just those who are sorry about it.

  • 93. The Apostate  |  July 16, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Wow, has anyone ever seen the link that Grant’s name connects to?
    “Theologyonline.com” is subtitled: OPEN REBUKE IS BETTER THAN LOVE CAREFULLY CONCEALED.

    Grant, I think you should stick to spreading your curious version of Christianity on Christian forums before hitting up people who already have issues with orthodox or evangelical Christianity.

  • 94. Grant Dexter  |  July 18, 2008 at 2:28 am

    #88. The Apostate: After I quoted straight from the OED you stated that I was making up my own definitions.

    Your definitions restrict forgiveness to things the dictionary definition does not.

    Oh, I am sorry, I didn’t realize that you can change the subject at any given time and assume I am suppose to understand what the hell you are talking about.

    Well, consider yourself informed. When I post a short restatement of a previous thought in the form of a question I’m probably trying to focus on what I believe to be the crux of our disagreement.

    Do you or do you not agree with the outline I gave in comment 78?

    Did you read the post directly after that? 78 + 1 = Post #79.

    Do you want to take a vote?

    Voting doesn’t prove anything relevant.

    Who is making up their own definitions now? I believe you are confusing forgiveness (the act of the forgiver) with soteriological grace. There is nothing in the definition of forgiveness that implies that someone must repent/apologize to you for you to forgive them. The only difference, then, is that your forgiveness is limited and conditional. Sort of like your god.

    There is something in the definition of forgiveness that states that people need to do something wrong. There is the rational idea that someone may not even know something is wrong. There are people prepared to take responsibility for their actions and repent without conviction. That you want to ignore these concepts is bizarre.

    And there is nothing wrong with being limited and conditional.

    Who died and made you God?

    I think your brain died so whatever is left just makes it appear to you that I have unearthly powers… ;)

    Who says that you can’t fight for your freedom and right to live despite being able to forgive the person causing you pain? Mennonites did such a thing throughout the 16th and 17th century while they were being persecuted by Catholics and Protestants.

    OK. I forgive you, but I’m going to chop you to pieces anyway…. more from the koo-koo land that is The Apostate’s cranial interior…

    Wow. Logic. Why do you care that someone is forgiven? Can you tell me what is the point of forgiveness without using the word “forgive” in the same sentence. Forgiveness is not an obviously innate value.

    If you are forgiven then the relationship can be restored. If you are not forgiven then the relationship will be strained.

    I seem to be, but I am not. If people were robots and forgiveness as a mechanical feature of ours, then this might be the case. But we are not, as the author of this post was pointing out. The whole point I am making is that forgiveness must be an internal action. We must process our frustration, regret, and anger and, in maturity, be able to forgive someone, whether they want to be forgiven or not.

    You can process frustration, regret and anger without forgiving someone. I think you just need to use a different word.

    It means nothing to you, but it does to me. It means I don’t have to live with my own anger and resentment towards you. What you feel and how you react is up to you, not me.

    Well, if you’re going to get angry and resentful every time someone calls you a moron then you’d better switch on that auto-forgiver anytime you speak in public, mate.

    Do not confuse is from ought. I live in the same reality that you do – a reality of hateful, as well as loving, people. You appear to find any justification for your hatred. You are incapable of responding to comments in a constructive, civil, or logical way.

    Really? That doesn’t seem true to me. But then you do have some weird ideas….

    John Morales: Grant, I see you as a fool. With every post you make, you reinforce my opinion. Fool.

    And here is where the rubber hits the road. I won’t forgive John because he has not repented yet. Nor am I even obliged to forgive him even if he does say sorry. I happen to live in a world where I am not bound by any such moral law.
    :)

  • 95. Grant Dexter  |  July 18, 2008 at 2:37 am

    Ubi:

    Mark 1:4
    And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

    Mark 6:12
    They went out and preached that people should repent.

    Luke 3:8
    Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

    Luke 5:32
    I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

    Luke 11:32
    The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.

    Luke 17:3
    So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”

    Luke 17:4
    If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

    Acts 2:38
    Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    2 Corinthians 7:10
    Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

    2 Peter 3:9
    The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

    Revelation 2:21-22
    I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.
    So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.

  • 96. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:46 am

    Grant, you’re spamming this thread.

    And you’re being rude by assuming we’re somehow unfamiliar with the babble.

    At least have the decency to write your own words, if you must spam.

  • 97. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:52 am

    PS What are you on about, “I won’t forgive John”?

    There’s nothing to forgive, except my pointing you out for what you are.

    Pray off.

  • 98. Grant Dexter  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:00 am

    <The Apostate: Wow, has anyone ever seen the link that Grant’s name connects to? “Theologyonline.com” is subtitled: OPEN REBUKE IS BETTER THAN LOVE CAREFULLY CONCEALED.

    Do you not agree? Do you think it is possible for someone to express disapproval from a loving standpoint? Do you think it would be better if such a person said nothing?

    Grant, I think you should stick to spreading your curious version of Christianity on Christian forums before hitting up people who already have issues with orthodox or evangelical Christianity.

    And perhaps people would understand their issues with religion better if they understood the truth….

  • 99. The Apostate  |  July 18, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Grant,

    Your definitions restrict forgiveness to things the dictionary definition does not.

    Backpedal backpedal backpedal.
    Prove it.
    Show me how “my definition” was any different than the dictionary definition. I plagiarized the dictionary. I shifted the same words around so it was not so archaic, but I added nothing and subtracted nothing.

    Well, consider yourself informed. When I post a short restatement of a previous thought in the form of a question I’m probably trying to focus on what I believe to be the crux of our disagreement.

    Only if it only makes sense in your mind what you are doing. The rest of us are not claiming omniscience here.

    Did you read the post directly after that? 78 + 1 = Post #79.

    See, you can’t even answer a simple question. The only thing you said in 79 was an implied fabricated definition of “forgive” that can be found in no dictionary except for the Grant Dexter Dictionary. How subjective can you get?

    There is something in the definition of forgiveness that states that people need to do something wrong. There is the rational idea that someone may not even know something is wrong. There are people prepared to take responsibility for their actions and repent without conviction. That you want to ignore these concepts is bizarre.

    First sentence – correct.
    Second sentence – agreed.
    Third sentence – right.
    Conclusion – what? Grant, when have I ever implied that I disagree with any of those statements? We haven’t even discussed anything like that. Stop being so concerned with winning an argument with someone you don’t care about and start talking to people like they are actually human beings. You might realize that this might help you crusade a little more.

    And there is nothing wrong with being limited and conditional.

    I apologize if that was my implication. It was a causal observation. By breaking down what you believe to be forgiveness and what I believe it is, this is the basis of our disagreement.

    I think your brain died so whatever is left just makes it appear to you that I have unearthly powers…

    Grant, is this the only way you are able to have a conversation? I could sit here and call you an idiotic, moronic, brainless, half-witted, parroting, immature, spawn of Satan, but what good does it do? How about you write like we are talking face to face and we are both adults.

    OK. I forgive you, but I’m going to chop you to pieces anyway…. more from the koo-koo land that is The Apostate’s cranial interior…

    See above. Instead of responding in maturity, you say stupid shit.

    You can process frustration, regret and anger without forgiving someone. I think you just need to use a different word.

    Once again, the dictionary definition of “Forgive”:

    transitive verb
    1a: to give up resentment of or claim to requital for
    b: to grant relief from payment of
    2: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon
    intransitive verb: to grant forgiveness

    Please point out, Grant or anyone else, where it is even implied that someone must repent in that definition (or any other dictionary definition – I used Webster’s this time, Oxford seemed to go over Grant’s head).

    Well, if you’re going to get angry and resentful every time someone calls you a moron then you’d better switch on that auto-forgiver anytime you speak in public, mate.

    Grant, it was an example. Geez.

    Do you not agree? Do you think it is possible for someone to express disapproval from a loving standpoint? Do you think it would be better if such a person said nothing?

    No I do not agree. You are saying it is BETTER to rebuke than it is to love. I agree that open rebuke can be positive and healthy. It is not, however, better than even the most concealed love.
    I am not arguing that we should all sit in some perfect ideal harmony with each other. I think growth and maturation requires getting hit upside the head every once in a while. However, the way that website described itself reminds me of those Christians who are all nice and smiley on Sunday and than are no different than everyone else Monday through Saturday. Except instead of actually frowning on this watered-down religious life, this website wants to institutionalize it, making it okay to be an asshole Monday through to Saturday.

    Grant, Jesus rebuked his own people. He rebuked the high and mighty spiritual leaders – not the sinners and less “spiritually fortunate.” Paul rebuked the heretics and morally corrupt believers, not the non-believers.
    What is your justification for your hatred?

  • 100. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Grant-

    Do you think it is possible for someone to express disapproval from a loving standpoint?

    Yes. Yes I do. I agree that sometimes open rebuke is necessary, but I do think it is possible to lovingly express disapproval.

    The Apostate-

    We haven’t even discussed anything like that.

    Don’t be so surprised, TA, he’s done this to me a few times, too. He has a love for strawmen. I don’t even remember the number of times he claimed I said logic doesn’t exist, or that humans can create perfect logic, etc. None of which did I actually say.

    He commits logical fallacies left and right, then claims he is being logical, even after his fallacies are pointed out to him.

  • 101. Grant Dexter  |  July 18, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    No I do not agree. You are saying it is BETTER to rebuke than it is to love.

    Uh .. no. I don’t.

    Can you agree with the following?

    Forgiveness only has value as forgiveness if there are two parties that agree to the process. One repents, one forgives. Repentance without forgiveness is not forgiveness though it might have benefits for one party. Forgiveness without repentance might be called forgiveness, and it is of use in some situations, but the best situation is where a person who has done wrong recognises their mistake and asks for forgiveness which is then granted.

    Can you agree with that?

    I’m afraid that a

  • 102. Grant Dexter  |  July 18, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    I’m afraid that a …

    er .. I don’t know what I was saying … :D

  • 103. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    …but the best situation is where a person who has done wrong recognises their mistake and asks for forgiveness which is then granted.

    I can agree that it’s the best situation. I do not agree that it’s a requirement for forgiveness.

  • 104. Grant Dexter  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    I can agree that it’s the best situation. I do not agree that it’s a requirement for forgiveness.

    Do you think someone has the right to reasonably expect the best?

  • 105. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    That doesn’t sound to me like you are supposed to insist on an apology first. You are not supposed to forgive them to make yourself feel better, you are supposed to forgive them so god will forgive you. If you actually believe in this bible of yours, then it sounds like you should be forgiving everybody who wrongs you, not just those who are sorry about it.

    Ubi—

    I understand where you are coming from. and thanks for the verses. But we are to be “followers of God” and God says:

    “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)

    Note—confession brings forgiveness. Once Jesus says that if we don’t forgive others he will not forgive us—-he is implying about “witholding” forgiveness from someone asking for it. Basically saying “I refuse to forgive you”.

    I thinkwe may be talking semantics here. Jesus says if “someone hits you on one cheek, turn the other”, and yes, the Bible says that we should not allow a “root of bitterness” to develop in us. So we “let it go”–I guess you could call that a form of forgiveness, in that you are not holding the person accountable. But true, Biblical forgiveness, involves someone asking, and receiving it from someone else.

    I guess what I am saying is that a person can say “I forgive that man for murdering my daughter”, but often you will see that same person contacting the killer, hoping he will “ask” for forgiveness, so that the “true forgiveness” can take place—where the killer sincerely asks to be forgiven, and the person can really say “I forgive you”. Does that make sense, or am I going to get jumped on all over for this?? :>)

  • 106. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Joe, yes, we get the gist of your inchoate concept despite your tortured adumbration.

    Forgiveness is a visceral impulse as much as a rational one, and when one’s belief is that forgiveness is required and not optional, cognitive dissonance can strike.

    Like it has you, and which you attempt to rationalise.

  • 107. ubi dubium  |  July 18, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Joe:

    Does that make sense, or am I going to get jumped on all over for this??

    It makes some level of sense. But I think that Jesus was quite specific about “bless those who persecute you.” He did not say “but only if they are sorry for it” I was responding to Grant initially, who says that he is preaching christianity, but his arguments are not sounding very christian. If he comes here proclaiming that he is a true christian, I think that the de-cons are entitled to hold him to it.

  • 108. The Apostate  |  July 19, 2008 at 3:03 am

    Grant,

    Uh .. no. I don’t.

    Okay, I apologize. That was an assumption I made from your connection to the website you link your name to. The website does directly state that.

    Forgiveness only has value as forgiveness if there are two parties that agree to the process. One repents, one forgives.

    I believe for the value of a healthy reconciliation between two parties, this is certainly the case. Forgiveness and repentance, however, may be connected but they are exclusive. Repentance does not imply forgiveness and forgiveness does not imply repentance – although it is nice to hope that this would always be the case.

    Forgiveness without repentance might be called forgiveness, and it is of use in some situations, but the best situation is where a person who has done wrong recognises their mistake and asks for forgiveness which is then granted.

    I think we agreed on this. We can play games with language, but forgiveness is the act of forgiving, whether the person repented or not. Reconciliation, on the other hand, requires both repentance by the guilty party and forgiveness by he/she who was wronged.

  • 109. Grant Dexter  |  July 20, 2008 at 2:29 am

    No worries, The Apostate. The website doesn’t say what you said either, though.

    I believe for the value of a healthy reconciliation between two parties, this is certainly the case. Forgiveness and repentance, however, may be connected but they are exclusive. Repentance does not imply forgiveness and forgiveness does not imply repentance – although it is nice to hope that this would always be the case.

    Sure! There are obviously cases where repentance is impossible and it might be of benefit to forgive just as one might be repentant without forgiveness.

    I think we agreed on this. We can play games with language, but forgiveness is the act of forgiving, whether the person repented or not.

    I believe that to forgive without first looking for repentance destroys the value of true forgiveness. Sure there might be special situations where repentance is impossible, but we should not use those cases to justify lesser standards elsewhere.

    Reconciliation, on the other hand, requires both repentance by the guilty party and forgiveness by he/she who was wronged.

    Sure thing! Perhaps we should talk about the true end of forgiveness in order to avoid further conflict :)

  • 110. Grant Dexter  |  July 20, 2008 at 3:18 am

    Joe. I’m sorry, but your theology is a mess :D

  • 111. John Morales  |  July 20, 2008 at 4:51 am

    Grant, yeah, but he has a theology.

    What’s your excuse?

  • 112. Brandon  |  August 14, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    This thread had me confused. But all I know is if Ubi, Snugg, and Apostate were on the same side then they are probably right……….when I was a Christian I was never taught that someone has to repent to me and I forgive them for their crimes against me. I always perceived forgiveness as an unconditional gift on a human level but conditional on a Human to Divine level (repentance). Correct me if I am wrong………

  • 113. Helltime for June 22 « I Built His Cage  |  June 22, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    [...] the stress, but at its root, there is a fundamental divide between us and the users, just like the existential divide between the individual and other [...]

  • 114. dB  |  June 21, 2010 at 5:08 am

    HI. Seems like you’ve all got it pretty well worked out or are at least on a good path, so I just wanted to say “Have a Happy!” and I’ll see ya on the other side, well those who don’t have to come back here again. Good luck and sleep loose! I’m Audi.

  • 115. dB  |  June 21, 2010 at 5:46 am

    Oh, sorry … Hi again! I did have one question that I was kinda playing with. <–preposition at end, (OH NO! See I'm really not that smart, and I'm sure that preposition ending sentence will damage my credibility, but this isn't meant as an accusation. It really is just a question, Ok?)
    So here goes, I've really been in the desert for sometime now, and this messiah thing is much more fun than it looks and probably worth the "horrible death" I'll have to suffer, and it occured to me that there seems to be this big misunderstanding about why Yes-hua came here, and I thought if maybe a few of you asked yourselves this question I have and took it with you to the desert as well, it might help. To wit: If a messiah came to earth and actually conquered death, why would he need to come back? And don't say lost luggage.

  • 117. Existential Short Stories « My Independent Study  |  September 13, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    [...] http://de-conversion.com/2008/07/12/existentialism-death-and-isolation/ Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

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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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