I never wanted to be an Atheist

July 22, 2008 at 11:48 pm 294 comments

Since de-converting from Christianity, many who claim to follow Christ have accused me of wanting to lead a life of sin or wanting to hide from God, or just plain turning my back on God. I had one Christian named Dan, after I said the sentence that is the title of this post, tell me “Then you shouldn’t be, shame on you. It’s called faith for a reason. Sure God could reveal himself to us quite easily but he wants us to have faith in Him and Trust Him not just believe and not to be tempted.”

It’s odd to me that I do not attack their character and yet they attack mine, that somehow does not seem very Christian to me. I have some wonderful Christian friends and family. I have also made new Christian friends who I have met through various web sites.

Recently, I asked Dan a simple question – “Do you think I’m telling the truth when I say I don’t believe God exists” his response: “In a word…No.” I had given Dan no reason to call me a liar.

In fact, I do not call Christians liars for believing in God, yet some of them are so sure of their belief that they would call unbelievers liars for saying they don’t believe in the Christian God. I guess I understand this because I felt the same way when I was a Christian, though I never accused anyone of lying. I felt they had fooled themselves, not that they were flat out lying.

I understand this anger against atheists. When I was a Christian, I was pissed off when atheists attacked Jesus too, but I was pissed off at individuals not all atheists. Even then I knew that not all atheists made their business attacking Christ.

I loved being a Christian, I didn’t have any negative experiences, I just began to look at other things in the world, and wondering how if so many others believed so sincerely then how could I think their sincerity was somehow less than mine? I began to really look for evidence of God in my life, I began to really listen to see if I was truly hearing God’s voice or if it was just my own. To this day I still pray from time to time: “God, if you are real, please let me know.”

I never wanted to be an atheist. I just had to be honest about no longer believing.

- Mike aka MonolithTMA (Guest Contributor).

Entry filed under: ~Guest. Tags: , , , .

In God We Trust? The Secretive Messiah

294 Comments Add your own

  • 1. TheDeeZone  |  July 23, 2008 at 12:09 am

    As a Christian I wouldn’t call you a liar. I would say we have different perceptions of the truth. I believe God exists. You believe He does not. Also, I would not accuse you wanting to live a life of sin. Since I don’t know you and you haven’t really elaborated on your reasons for becoming an atheist there is really no reason to even make that assumption.

  • 2. John Morales  |  July 23, 2008 at 12:14 am

    TheDeeZone, you only insinuated it.

    Good Christian, you are.

  • 3. John Morales  |  July 23, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Um, since I don’t like just being a critic, I suppose I should add “me too” to Mike’s post.

    I think it was around the time of pubescence that I consciously realised this stuff was just plain silly. And so I knew I was an unbeliever.

    I further think it probable many unbelievers are so before they consciously acknowledge their deprogramming.

  • 4. Prodigal Daughter (aka Walking Away)  |  July 23, 2008 at 12:50 am

    Mike…I feel so much the same as what you said here. I could have written a lot of this myself. I understand where you’re at.

  • 5. TheDeeZone  |  July 23, 2008 at 1:07 am

    John,

    I am sorry that you thought I insinuated it because I didn’t. I don’t know Mike so there is no way I can even remotely make it.

  • 6. Quester  |  July 23, 2008 at 1:42 am

    Mike,

    It tends to confuse me when I hear that faith is both a choice, and a gift of the Holy Spirit. I don’t see how it can be both. I am not refusing any gift of faith; I simply do not have it.

    Like you, it was trying to evidence of God’s presence and voice that led me to a point where I can not honestly say I believe- not any problems with Christians or Christianity.

    I never chose to not believe, either. I simply reached a point where I chose to acknowledge I had faith no longer.

  • 7. Quester  |  July 23, 2008 at 1:48 am

    John Morales,

    You seem to be really on the attack, lately. Everything okay?

  • 8. John Morales  |  July 23, 2008 at 2:14 am

    Hm. Not especially, but I take your point.

    I retract.

    There’s just something in “As a Christian I wouldn’t call you a liar” that sets my sniffer twitching, though.

    Anyway, I retract. I was operating on instinct more than reason.

  • 9. TheNerd  |  July 23, 2008 at 2:27 am

    I completely agree. My desire to be a Christian is what kept me in the church as long as it did, long after my faith was left. I am still troubled by it. I would like to fit in with my family, share in “isn’t God amazing?” conversations about how blessed I am, and raise my child to think that he is never alone, even when I can’t be there for him.

    Same thing with my bisexuality (it’s hard not to bring up parallels here). I never thought “oh, I know! I’ll become bi just to be different, for shock value, because nobody can really tell the difference between a straight girl and a bi girl who has only had boyfriends!” In fact, I was tempted to pretend I’m straight just so I wouldn’t rock the boat. But what good would that do, it doesn’t change anything, just like a non-believer going through the motions of Christianity doesn’t change anything.

    Let it be known: life would be far easier, more satisfying, and more communal if I were sincerely a Christian. But I’m not, no matter how hard I try. I’m not going to waste any more time of this one precious life I get on pretending to be something I’m not.

  • 10. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Thank you all for your comments!

    I did not take offense at yours, TheDeeZone. As an atheist I wouldn’t call you a liar either. ;)

    John Morales, at the time of pubescence for me, I was still sorting out what I believed and eventually settled into Christianity as an older teen. I proclaimed myself an atheist this year, several months before my 39th birthday.

    It feels good to be understood, Prodigal Daughter. Thanks!

    Quester, as far as Christianity being a choice or a gift from the Holy Spirit, we could delve into Calvinism vs. Arminianism. As a Christian I was always an Arminian, even before I knew what that meant. ;)

    TheNerd, blessed is still a term I use, and I have little trouble talking with my Christian friends. When they say they are blessed by God, I smile because I am glad they are blessed.

    If I ever have children, they will know that I love them, even when they are alone.

    As far as bisexuality goes. I could try all I want and I couldn’t choose to be gay or bi. Guys do nothing for me, and that’s not to say I’m freaked out by homosexual things, not at all, it’s just that I’m attracted to women and not men. It’s not a choice and I think that’s a good analogy for us as deconverts. Thanks!

  • 11. truthwalker  |  July 23, 2008 at 9:20 am

    I was the person Christians went to for advice. It hurts so much to have people who used to respect what I believe now think that I believe only so that go do terrible things. I didn’t want to become and atheist. I didn’t (don’t) even want to do terrible things. All I wanted was to be happy. I find an atheistic world view much less causing of disappointment and frustration than my old Christian one.

  • 12. Philip  |  July 23, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Thank you, Mike. :-) To kind of repeat Prodigal Daughter’s comment, a lot of this can be straight out of my experience, too. I’ve had good friends, both in jest and in seriousness, make these exact same claims, even calling me a liar about my own reluctant deconversion.

    Of course it didn’t help in my case that there was a great deal of frustration and heartbreak toward the faith and its failed promises (“You know, I think your bitterness toward god and Christianity indicates that you still believe in him!”). And I had no problem with those few people who took a universalist stance toward salvation and redemption. I mean, agree or disagree, how do you harbor ill will against someone who believes EVERYONE will be saved?

    The majority of my Christian friends, though, tend to see things through various paradigms – the doubter, the prodigal, the backslidden, the sister/brother in crisis/sin – with the view that they are still Christian and in god’s hands; a deconvert is almost impossible for some of them to imagine (sparing the relatively rare Christian, at least in my experience, who is prepared to think in terms of apostasy…or it’s quite possible I just hang around too many Calvinists). And with that, the problem of classifying you, of determining your relationship with god when you obviously cannot, comes to play. Your situation must fit into the way they see god acting in the world, what they perceive as basically true – and that means looking in some sense “beyond” the world here and trying to find a meaning in spiritual or biblical terms.

    I don’t know how many friendships can survive that sort of conflict in interpretation. Presently I can’t talk to people now whom I once held in high esteem because of this, and since all my friends are Christians and most of them know each other this makes things…rather difficult all around. :-) I do hope that you have better results with Dan and your other friends who might be feeling similarly. Take care!

  • 13. tastethesea  |  July 23, 2008 at 9:53 am

    I’m sorry you’ve felt such rejection from Christians you discussed your belief with. This is a major area that Christians fail others in general. Too many Christians have seen people with differing beliefs as a threat to their own, instead of recognizing that it’s just an opportunity to love, which is what God called us to. I think your statement, “I never wanted to be an atheist” is very honest, and the case with most people. Many people also tend to have the ridiculous idea that atheists (or homosexuals as one of your commentors mentions) have chosen this just to be difficult or get under someone’s skin. It is just fear that makes them respond this way. My apologies. I’m sure I don’t always respond correctly either, but I try. I wrote a response to an atheist last week on the question “Is your belief based on faith or evidence?” If you’re interested in reading it, follow this link: http://tastethesea.wordpress.com/2008/07/16/answers-for-atheists-faith-or-evidence/

    Thanks for your honesty, I hope you come to peace on your journey.

  • 14. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 23, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Thanks again to all.

    tastethesea, I will read your post later, thanks for sharing the link. As to peace, I live daily with peace, it’s a wonderful thing. I just try to share a little bit of it with the kind of Christians that don’t seem to have any.

  • 15. Autumn  |  July 23, 2008 at 10:42 am

    You last statement here reminds me of how I felt a few years ago. (At least it seems similar) I did not see the point in being a Christian anymore. I gave up and just stopped caring, stopped praying. I told God I didn’t care for Him if this was all He had for me. At that point, there was no benefit to being a Christian and I gave up. I remember saying that “if others can live life even better than I have and they aren’t Christians, then why should I be?”
    A close friend died in a tragic motorcycle accident and at the same time I had found out my dad was not my real dad (at age 25). Everything in my world came to a stop. I was born into a non-Christian home, w/ a horribly abusive “father.” Yeah… not a good story, so the horrible dad I knew isn’t even my real dad. My family made everything worse, they are still to this day some of the most belittling/insensitive people I know. It took me almost 2 years to do it but… I made the decision to pray and ask God to help me live for Him. I prayed if He really had a plan, then I need His help to live for Him. I finally broke down and realized that I just can’t live without God working in my life. I need His salvation and I need His favor on my life. And it took a while for me to learn this… but as His children He does long to bless us and He does love us. He’s not up there ready to strike us down for sins or hold back good things. God really does love you.
    I feel like I learned that if I keep looking at how some people live – I’m basing my faith on people, not on God. Without realizing it, I began to live for people by comparing my life with theirs. We are all human and make mistakes (I’m known for the big ones) and we have failed each other many times and will continue to do so. My faith is not in people. My faith is in God. Some will call themselves Christians because they say being a Christian means you believe in Jesus. Yes… but to believe is one thing, to know Him is completely different. Being a Christian means to know God, and have a relationship with Him. A relationship means talking, listening, seeking, and spending time to know that person. He wants that relationship with you.
    He created you exactly how He wanted, every quirk and characteristic and there is a purpose to His plan. I was in situations that I never asked to be in, but He’s taken it and used it in ministry. My faith is stronger than ever because I’ve watched God bring me through. I can honestly say I’ve watched God literally take my life and work one miracle right after the other.

  • 16. CheezChoc  |  July 23, 2008 at 11:59 am

    TheDeeZone, I appreciate your thoughtful post.

  • 17. Grace  |  July 23, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Truthwalker,

    Can you share your frustration, and disappointment with a Christian world view?

  • 18. arensb  |  July 23, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    I never wanted to be an Atheist

    I wanted to be… a lumberjack!

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  • 19. LeoPardus  |  July 23, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Autumn:

    It’s great that faith could help you cope with things. Some people find such help in faith, some find it in psychotherapy, some just slog through, and some never find help.

    You’ve found a faith, a community, and an imaginary friend that all add up to help you cope. But don’t think that just because a religion made you feel better, that religion is real.

    to believe is one thing, to know Him is completely different. Being a Christian means to know God, and have a relationship with Him. A relationship means talking, listening, seeking, and spending time to know that person. He wants that relationship with you

    Bunk. Look in the archives of this blog and you’ll find an article entitled, “A Personal Relationship with Jesus?” in which I deconstruct the silly idea that anyone has a relationship with God/Jesus.

    He created you exactly how He wanted, every quirk and characteristic and there is a purpose to His plan.

    Oh really?!
    So He created the psychopath just the way He wanted and His plan was for the psycho to kill 20 people before being electrocuted.
    God created the child who lived 6 weeks in pain before dying of malnutrition.
    God created the monster who kicked a child to death over a period of months.
    You’ve got a monster, not loving being. (Though I’m sure you’ve developed a comforting, if intellectually dishonest way of letting Him off the hook.)

    I can honestly say I’ve watched God literally take my life and work one miracle right after the other.

    Bet you can’t. Name one miracle. One time where you’ve seen an amputee grow a new limb, or anything like that. You’re playing a game I call “Where’s Goddo?” in which you try to “see” God in the world. One of the ways to play is to take the tack of “ordinary stuff and coincidences constitute miracles ’cause I want to believe.” It’s not honest and it’s not true.

  • 20. LeoPardus  |  July 23, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    arensb:

    I wanted to be… a lumberjack!
    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    That’s OK. Live that dream, with your best girl on your arm, you can sing, SING, SING……

  • 21. Carrie  |  July 23, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I had a similar discussion with my husband one night. While he didn’t go so far as to say “shame on you for not believing if you wanted to,” he did insinuate that if I wanted to believe, I could. That brought on an interesting point of discussion: can you CHOOSE to believe something? If you decided you really liked the idea of, say, Santa Claus, even though you’d stopped believing in him as a kid, could you change your mind and say “you know what, I DO believe in Santa Claus!” and actually be telling the truth? To me, it seems like a rational mind has to have more of an impetus for the acceptance or disregard of a belief than personal choice. But maybe that’s just me.

  • 22. Quester  |  July 23, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Autumn,

    It took me almost 2 years to do it but… I made the decision to pray and ask God to help me live for Him. I prayed if He really had a plan, then I need His help to live for Him. I finally broke down and realized that I just can’t live without God working in my life. I need His salvation and I need His favor on my life.

    I hit that point about nine years ago. Prayed that prayer almost solid for six to nine years. Still waiting for a response…

    Carrie,

    That brought on an interesting point of discussion: can you CHOOSE to believe something? If you decided you really liked the idea of, say, Santa Claus, even though you’d stopped believing in him as a kid, could you change your mind and say “you know what, I DO believe in Santa Claus!” and actually be telling the truth?

    I occasionally subscribe to the “fake it ’til you make it” philosophy. You want to be happy? Act happy until it’s true. You want to believe? Act like you believe, and one day you’ll see it’s not an act any more.

    Recent experiences have shown me I’ve been wrong in these assumptions. How one acts can affect how one feels, but often only at a surface level.

  • 23. Joe  |  July 23, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Mike—

    Contrast these two paragraphs from your same article then ask yourself if your friend has a reason to doubt you:

    Recently, I asked Dan a simple question – “Do you think I’m telling the truth when I say I don’t believe God exists” his response: “In a word…No.” I had given Dan no reason to call me a liar.

    To this day I still pray from time to time: “God, if you are real, please let me know.”

    Mike—

    In one paragraph you are asking your friend to believe you when you say you don’t believe in God. You imply he is calling you a liar when he says “no”. Yet, you state later that you still “pray to God” from time to time. Is your friend really calling you a liar based on these two statements? Or is it maybe because he still sees things in you that lead him to believe you still “want to believe”?

  • 24. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 23, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Wanting to believe and believing are two very different things.

  • 25. Joe  |  July 23, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Snuggly–

    That’s true—but to a “believer”(Dan in this case) if you say or he hears, or reads “Sometimes I still ask God if he is there” he will see that as a prayer, and interpret it as though you still do have faith—-even if it is very small. So Dan saying “no” when asked if he believes you is actually valid from his perspective.

  • 26. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 23, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    It’s valid only if you are either too incompetent or ignorant to see the difference between believing and wanting to believe.

    And he is still calling Mike a liar either way. If someone says “I don’t believe in God” and you say he’s wrong, that he really does believe, even if you are right you are saying that he lied with his original statement of unbelief.

  • 27. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Hi Joe,

    I’m not technically a strong atheist. I would be categorized as a weak atheist, meaning I do not say I know there is no God. I allow for the possibility of God, so I pray “God, if you are real, please let me know.”

    The “if you are real,” part is kind of important. Believing in the possibility of God is different than believing in God. I believe in the possibility of life on other planets, but I do not believe in life on other planets.

    I was 99% certain of Dan’s answer before he gave it. I liked the guy, but he had certain things that you just knew he was going to say.

    Thanks for pointing that out.

  • 28. Joe  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Snuggly—

    Not sure why everything has to become an argument here. What I am saying is “Cut Dan a break”—-You as an atheist may see a huge difference between “believing in God” and “wanting to believe”. A Christian sincerely may not.

    Many Christians are heard to say every day “I want to believe more strongly in God” or “I wish I had more faith”, so if they hear someone who says they are an atheist say “I wish I could believe”, or “I wish God would show me He was there” they can interpret that as someone who is “claiming” to be an atheist, yet is really clinging to belief. What I mean is don’t call Dan an outright liar, when really he is judging the person on what he is hearing and seeing. If you compare to the quotes I showed, most “atheists” do not claim they pray, or even talk to God at all. Hiope you can accept that Snuggly–don’t mean to fight about it.

  • 29. Joe  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    It’s valid only if you are either too incompetent or ignorant to see the difference between believing and wanting to believe

    I also did want to point out—-many Pastors consider a “desire to believe” the same thing as “believing”, because God sees “intent” as “actually doing”. Often a Pastor or preacher will say “Perhaps you feel you can’t believe. Ask God to show himself to you–to give you the faith you need”. Again, that is because they are equating the two things as almost the same. The leper came to Jesus and said “I believe, help thou mine unbelief”—acknowledging he “wanted” to believe, and asking God to help him to do so.

  • 30. Joe  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Mike—-

    Thanks for the explanation. As I explained to Snuggly, many Christians interpret a “desire to believe” or “wanting to believe” as a sign that faith is “at work” in someone’s heart. David often prayed like this in the Psalms. “Create in me a clean heart oh God” or “Incline mine heart to your statutes”—he is saying he is having a very difficult time belieiving—-but really “wants to believe”. So, your friend Dan could be interpreting this the same way. “Oh, he “says” he is an atheist, but he still shows that he has faith in his heart but “wanting to believe”. That’s because a lot of Christians believe that God puts the “desire” to believe in someone’s heart:

    “Know ye not that it is the goodness of God that leads you to repentance”. “No one can come to me except the Father draw him” Both statements say God puts faith in the heart to come to him. So if you say “I want to believe, but I just can’t—it’s as though God has put that desire there. That may be how Dan is seeing it.

  • 31. Derek  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    “Create in me a clean heart oh God” — I thought King Dave wrote that after boinking another man’s wife and having him killed when it turned out she was knocked up. Doesn’t sound like a crisis of faith to me.

  • 32. Derek  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Joe, suppose a man marries a woman and then she cheats on him a few times and confesses. Now, if again he begins to suspect she’s up to it again (perhaps exhibiting “cheating behavior”) but she denies it. If he truly loves her, he may say he wants to believe her but cannot.

    Can you honestly say that, in that scenario, belief is the same as desire to believe?

    Suppose I don’t know a person’s email but I guess it and send out an email saying “hey I don’t know if you’ll get this but if it’s you…” does that mean I “believe” I have the correct email address?

    Can you provide any situation apart from God-belief where belief and desire to believe are the same thing? If not, then your alternate definition of belief is bunk.

  • 33. Derek  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    apparently closing parentheses render as winky-faces on this blog…

  • 34. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    I sing Keith Green’s version of Create in me a clean heart oh God all the time. That, along with many other songs kept my faith strong over the years. Now, it’s just a nice song that I like to sing.

    As to the desire to believe, I have the desire to believe in what is true. If God is true then I’ll bump into him at some point. The first thing I’ll ask him is who was I serving those 20 years as a Christian.

  • 35. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    ) <—-Winky face?

  • 36. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Oh, parenthesis, ok, I need a nap. ;-)

  • 37. Derek  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    @Mike

    I loved that song too. I was obsessed with my imperfections as a Christian and anything that was particularly moving and had to do with asking God to strengthen your commitment/belief/morality/etc was helpful to me. I even wrote a pretty nice worship song with some friends that unfortunately I’ll never get to hear again since it never caught on.

  • 38. michaellucianojr  |  July 23, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Me neither. I feel guilty, at times, whenever I write: “god” with a lowercase, but it’s tough to following fideism when it doesn’t give comfort.

    Michael

  • 39. Joe  |  July 23, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    “Create in me a clean heart oh God” — I thought King Dave wrote that after boinking another man’s wife and having him killed when it turned out she was knocked up. Doesn’t sound like a crisis of faith to me.

    Derek—

    Sure it is. He was under complete condemnation of heart. Nathan has just told him “you’re the man” when describing an awful person who stole someone’s only sheep. (in reference to Uriah’s wife whom David had stolen from him). David needed faith to ask for forgiveness. He pleads with God to forgive him of “bloodguiltiness”.

    But there are many other Psalms where David asks for help to believe, or admits he is having trouble believing, and needs to encourage himself in God’s promises. That was the point I was making.

  • 40. Joe  |  July 23, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Joe, suppose a man marries a woman and then she cheats on him a few times and confesses. Now, if again he begins to suspect she’s up to it again (perhaps exhibiting “cheating behavior” but she denies it. If he truly loves her, he may say he wants to believe her but cannot.

    Can you honestly say that, in that scenario, belief is the same as desire to believe?

    Derek—-

    Probably not in your scenario. i suppose anyone could come up with a numher of scenarios—-but does “Dan” (mentioned as Mike’s friend above) know all of them? I was talking about Dan as a Christian, and how he perceives a statement like “I wish I could believe” or “God are you there”?

    As a Christian, Dan is going to interpret it as “faith” still alive in the heart. I don’t think Dan is going to start thinking about cheating girlfriends when he hears it. :>)

  • 41. Derek  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Joe, my take on it though from personal experience is that doubt from a perspective of belief is VERY different from longing and desire from a point of unbelief.

    The reality is, “God, if you’re there, I want to believe in you, if you could just convince me” is not a prayer of belief. It’s dialing a number hoping someone’s home, on the off chance the entity you’re addressing might be real and listening and willing to grant your wish. It’s being humble enough to give faith a chance despite having none.

  • 42. shilohautumn  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Just came across your blog. Sorry to hear of your disillusionment. Never easy. Life is a journey.

    Faith, belief – or unbelief – are not static things. They seem to be influenced by daily experience, reason, ‘facts’, as well as feelings.

    Faith is required, whether one chooses atheism, or theism. Or agnosticism. And whatever sort of theism. Or whatever sort of religion. Based on human sensory information, it seems impossible to definitively ‘prove’ to the human mind, the existence, or non-existence of any being undetectible by those senses. Yet human reason tells us that there is far more to be known than what we presently know.

    People talk of losing their faith (usually referring to ‘spiritual’ faith – though how is that intrinsically different than any other kind of faith?). But they still walk outside without fearing the sky will suddenly fall on them. And step out of bed, trusting the floor will hold them up. So obviously they haven’t lost all faith in everything.

    Belief, or disbelief in something, whether one is fully aware of it or not, IS a choice. The question is: what exactly is necessary in order to make that choice?

    I believe in the God I do because: 1) there was sufficient evidence for me; I find it logical and reasonable, and 2) I choose to continue to believe not only in a God, a Creator God, an absolutely Supreme Being, but also that this God is an All-Good God, a God of Love. Even though I may not fully or completely know or understand or comprehend who or what God is, what God does or why, perhaps not even what goodness and love exactly are, I attribute those qualities to God. That’s the sort of God I choose to believe in.

    And honestly, it’s a choice I have to make regularly, especially when I am faced with circumstances or perplexities in which I could so easily choose to believe something else instead – and sometimes feel like I do believe for awhile. Because sometimes life really hurts. And sometimes it doesn’t make much sense.

    Anyway, I see I’ve gone on and on here. Hopefully haven’t made myself too obnoxious….

    To all my fellow soul-searchers out there, hope your Wednesday is a good day.

  • 43. John Morales  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Mike @27: Reading that, I was reminded of this:

    Roger Zelazny, Creatures of Light and Darkness, © 1969
    Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.

  • 44. John Morales  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Oh if you’re unfamiliar with the book, this prayer is said by an agnostic chaplain as a funeral rite.

  • 45. Derek  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    shiloh — I appreciate your respectful tone. However, regarding the claim that all positions vis-a-vis the supernatural are positions of faith, I submit to you Russell’s Teapot.

    I suspect that you are a newbie in the skeptic blogosphere in bringing this up, because you should be aware that most nonbelievers see it very differently, and most are prepared to either argue the point until you concede or just ignore you.

    For example, I’m sure Loch Ness believers would also assert that my lack of faith in Nessie’s existence is itself a position of faith. I don’t happen to see it that way. I don’t say “there is no Loch Ness Monster.” I just happen see a very deep lake that acts a whole lot like there’s no ancient plesiosaur in it.

  • 46. Ubi Dubium  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    shilohautumn

    People talk of losing their faith (usually referring to ’spiritual’ faith – though how is that intrinsically different than any other kind of faith?). But they still walk outside without fearing the sky will suddenly fall on them. And step out of bed, trusting the floor will hold them up. So obviously they haven’t lost all faith in everything.

    Please don’t confuse “faith” with “belief”. Over and over we have christians come here and urge us to have “faith” – and tell us that means we should “believe without evidence”. I don’t have “faith” the sky won’t fall, I have the repeated observation that it has never been known to, and the the science background to know that it is not solid, and cannot “fall on me”.

    Dont tell me Atheism requires “faith”. That’s a common misconception among christians. It doesn’t require “faith”. I don’t have “faith” in anything supernatural, nor do I need any. (If you try to claim that “Atheism requires faith”, then how would describe a person with no faith at all? )

  • 47. andrealudwig  |  July 23, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Sincerity is no measure of truth. I am sorry you find it hard to see that God exists. It is a sad state to be in, and I understand you feel helpless. But, you cannot be as helpless as you think you are. God promises if you seek him he will be found by you. The demons believe, and shudder. It shouldn’t be so hard for you to overcome your unbelief. Keep asking God to reveal himself to you, and he will. Ask him what it is that is hindering you. If you were a true Christian, you will come back. {1 John 2:19 says, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” I’ll be praying for you. There is hope!

  • 48. John Morales  |  July 23, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Love it!

    1. Sincerity is no measure of truth. 2. I am sorry you find it hard to see that God exists.

    See, by 1, I can’t judge 2. And the poster does not apply 1 to his own belief.

    Of course, since this is written by a self-proclaimed “true Christian”, it is overwhelmingly likely to be insincere.

  • 49. John Morales  |  July 23, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    … or her.

  • 50. Joe  |  July 23, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Of course, since this is written by a self-proclaimed “true Christian”, it is overwhelmingly likely to be insincere

    John—

    How can you say something like that? Why should it be “overwhelmingly likely to be insincere?”. She’s not coming in and saying “Everything you atheists say here is likely to be lies” or something such as that. I really don’t get it. Why so cynically negative from the start? Sorry—-I know I’m kind of ragging on you a bit—–but give people a chance before you judge them and belittle them—-I mean post back and forth several times, then call them “insincere” if that proves to be the case—but don’t label them after one post.

  • 51. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 23, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    andrealudwig,

    “I understand you feel helpless.”

    Where did I say I felt helpless?

  • 52. John Morales  |  July 23, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Joe:

    Of course, since this is written by a self-proclaimed “true Christian”, it is overwhelmingly likely to be insincere

    How can you say something like that?

    Because I was a true Christian, and because I’ve interacted with true Christians. Go figure.

  • 53. The Apostate  |  July 23, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Realizing this can create quite a tangent…

    …what is a “true Christian”?

    Is this based on what you believe?
    Or how you act?
    An arbitrary combination of both?

  • 54. John Morales  |  July 23, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    Well, for myself, a true Christian is one who genuinely believes they are a Christian.

  • 55. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 23, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Keep asking God to reveal himself to you, and he will. Ask him what it is that is hindering you. If you were a true Christian, you will come back.

    Some people here did that for many years before finally giving up.

    Sincerity is no measure of truth. I am sorry you find it hard to see that God exists. It is a sad state to be in, and I understand you feel helpless.

    Who said anyone here feels helpless?

    I enjoy reasonable discourse with Christians, but you’re just spouting platitudes at this point. It’s all so cliche.

  • 56. TheDeeZone  |  July 23, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    John,

    In comment #1 I was responding to what Mike had said about Dan essentially calling him a liar & Mike’s comment. I am a regular reader of this blog and have been for several months. I may not always comment but I’m not trying to make drive-by slams.

    Mike,
    You did make some very valid points about the way some Christians take offense to those who disagree with them.

    Would it be fair to say that you are more an agnostic than atheist?

    Derek,

    Wasn’t it also after Dave’s child with the other woman died?

    Joe & Derek,

    Sounds like you are describing Hosea’s wife.
    Autumn,

    That is a good explanation of the way I understand Christianity.

    Leo,
    He created you exactly how He wanted, every quirk and characteristic and there is a purpose to His plan.
    Oh really?!
    So He created the psychopath just the way He wanted and His plan was for the psycho to kill 20 people before being electrocuted.

    At least in my understanding that we have free will and choices. Not everything we do or that happens us is because God wanted it to happen but we made the wrong decision.

    CheezChoc,
    It’s been a long day which post?

  • 57. John Morales  |  July 23, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    TheDeeZone, I apologise.

    If you think you have something to contribute, go at it and I’ll consider what you say on its merits.

    I’d feel a shit if I scared you off.

  • 58. Derek  |  July 23, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Sounds like you are describing Hosea’s wife.

    And that is relevant how?! It’s just a contrived example to illustrate a point. Not every cheating wife was married to Hosea…

  • 59. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 23, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    TheDeeZone,

    I call myself a weak atheist or an agnostic atheist. I’m open to the idea of a god, but do not currently feel that any exist.

  • 60. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 23, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    TheDeeZone-

    At least in my understanding that we have free will and choices. Not everything we do or that happens us is because God wanted it to happen but we made the wrong decision.

    How do you fit genetic psychopathy into that? Some people are literally incapable of empathizing with other humans, and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

  • 61. CheezChoc  |  July 24, 2008 at 2:06 am

    DeeZone, I meant your first post in particular.

  • 62. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 24, 2008 at 8:38 am

    John Morales gets 10 points for quoting Roger Zelazny. ;) I don’t think I’ve ever read that one. I haven’t read any Zelazny in many years.

  • 63. LeoPardus  |  July 24, 2008 at 9:35 am

    andrealudwig:

    I am sorry you find it hard to see that God exists. It is a sad state to be in, and I understand you feel helpless. But, you cannot be as helpless as you think you are.

    I am sorry you find it so easy to believe your imaginary friend is real. It is a sad mental state to be in, but we understand that you feel inadequate to deal with reality on your own. But you’re not really that helpless.

    God promises if you seek him he will be found by you.

    Read some of our stories then come back and tell me we didn’t seek. Most of us were dedicated believers for decades. Almost all of us were horribly distressed when we felt like we were losing our faith/belief. We sought. Finally we accepted the reality that there is no one there. It was all in our imaginations all along.

    It shouldn’t be so hard for you to overcome your unbelief.

    Shouldn’t be too hard for an all knowing, all powerful deity to overcome it either. All he has to do is show up.

    Keep asking God to reveal himself to you, and he will.

    Many of us do keep asking, and God has yet to “reveal” himself.

    *Now I await the next set of silly platitudes.*

  • 64. Cthulhu  |  July 24, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Leopardus,

    I am sorry you find it so easy to believe your imaginary friend is real. It is a sad mental state to be in, but we understand that you feel inadequate to deal with reality on your own. But you’re not really that helpless.

    Mind if I steal that? It is the perfect reply when I get the ‘I fell so sorry for you’ line from the Christians. /What a smack down :-)

  • 65. andrealudwig  |  July 24, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Wow, the tone here is so interesting. Such great anger and pompousness, against God himself, even. Hmmm. He is not going to accept any of your excuses on Judgment Day. He is going to show you all of the ways he revealed himself to you quite clearly. Attributing evil character to God is a great sin, and very difficult to overcome, indeed. he is not evil, but holy. In Job 40:7-8 God states,
    “Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.

    Would you discredit my justice?
    Would you condemn me to justify yourself?”

  • 66. Obi  |  July 24, 2008 at 11:26 am

    andrealudwig –

    In the same way that you do not feel threatened by Zeus’ thunderbolts, Fenrir’s destructive power, Mars’ raging and war-like nature, or the judgment of Allah, Quetzalcoatl or Ahura Mazda, we don’t fear the empty threats of hellfire or judgment that you declare your God will punish us with. They’re all empty threats mate. Once you realize why you reject all other gods, goddesses, and mythological entities, you’ll realize why we reject yours.

    Hint: Because they don’t exist…

  • 67. andrealudwig  |  July 24, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Some day you will have a rude awakening when you see Jesus face to face.

  • 68. Obi  |  July 24, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Some day you will have a rude awakening when you see Odin face to face. I know that you feel hopelessly lost without him, but you must only pray and he will restore your faith. If you continue in your sinful ways, you will have no one but yourself to blame when you are devoured by Fenrir at the end of time.

  • 69. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 24, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    andrealudwig-

    Wow, the tone here is so interesting. Such great anger and pompousness, against God himself, even.

    Anger against God? Where are you seeing this? I’m seeing some irritated responses to you, but what do you expect when you start spewing all the BS that most of us here heard for years and even agreed with in the past?

    I’m not angry with God. I don’t think God exists, how can I be angry at him? I am a little angry with you for the attitude you’re displaying here. I’ll repeat myself: nothing you have said is something we haven’t heard before, and most of us used to believe it just like you do. You’re making statements that we have all heard in the past and now reject.

    He is going to show you all of the ways he revealed himself to you quite clearly.

    Well, that’ll be the universe’s shortest slideshow, now won’t it?

  • 70. Cthulhu  |  July 24, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo,

    Well, that’ll be the universe’s shortest slideshow, now won’t it?

    Now that is a pithy quote!

    andrealudwig,

    Some day you will have a rude awakening when you see Jesus face to face.

    OK – god – jesus – whoever – strike me dead right now as an example to the unrighteous…

    *crickets*

    Guess god is out to lunch…

  • 71. john t.  |  July 24, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Andrealudwig

    You should read you bible more carefully and you may get to understand the character of which you speak.

    Isaiah 45:7

    I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create Evil: I the LORD do all these things.

    It cant be much clearer than this.

  • 72. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 24, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    andrealudwig, way to show Christ’s love.

    You never answered my question.

    Where did I say I felt helpless?

  • 73. Cthulhu  |  July 24, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Mike aka MonolithTMA ,

    andrealudwig is representative of the ‘You are going to burn in hell’ branch of Christianity. And BTW – you didn’t say you felt helpless, nor do you sound helpless to me. Not sure how she got that idea…

  • 74. LeoPardus  |  July 24, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    andrealudwig:

    Wow, the tone here is so interesting. Such great anger and pompousness, against God himself

    OH!! I’m SO sorry, Lord. I didn’t recognize you by your online name.

  • 75. LeoPardus  |  July 24, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Attributing evil character to God is a great sin

    Whoa! The writer of Isaiah 45 is in big trouble. ;)

  • 76. LeoPardus  |  July 24, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Not to mention the writer of Amos 3:6 – “Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?”

  • 77. LeoPardus  |  July 24, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    And for those of you who want to know what comes next….. Next our silly, little “christian” trolls may treat us to one of their sermons/exegeses/apologetics to explain the aforementioned verses. (And somehow they can never seem to grasp the idea that just about all of us already know those silly apologetics.)

  • 78. Bobbi Jo  |  July 24, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    “I can honestly say I’ve watched God literally take my life and work one miracle right after the other.

    Bet you can’t. Name one miracle. One time where you’ve seen an amputee grow a new limb, or anything like that. You’re playing a game I call “Where’s Goddo?” in which you try to “see” God in the world. One of the ways to play is to take the tack of “ordinary stuff and coincidences constitute miracles ’cause I want to believe.” It’s not honest and it’s not true.”

    Leo, so basically you are calling her a liar? I don’t understand how all of you can get so upset that Dan called Mike a liar, yet several here have come right out and called “christians” on this blog liars. I have been called in not so many words, a liar (on other posts before) for saying that I have seen God’s presence in my life. I have a different point of view than you all, but I don’t belittle any of your opinions and certainly don’t call anyone here a liar. I am as bewildered as you as to why God could show up in a way that is tangible to me, yet not respond to you. I seek answers to questions and I find this blog to usually be very helpful, and thoughtful. It seems the last few blogs I read have done nothing but create animosity (especially between 2 people who take 60 posts to argue about arguing). And even though I’ve sensed more anger than usual, I will continue to listen in, as I think you all are thought-provoking in your coments.

  • 79. TheNerd  |  July 24, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Usually I duck out of the commenting when I see the poo start flinging across the room.

    But I have to say, comments #69 and #70 are some of the BEST BURNS EVER!

  • 80. LeoPardus  |  July 24, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Bobbi Jo:

    Leo, so basically you are calling her a liar?

    Deluded or lying, one or the other. If she tells me she’s actually seen a bona fide miracle, fine. I’d still be inclined to think she was lying or deceived, but I wouldn’t push that.

    I have been called in not so many words, a liar (on other posts before) for saying that I have seen God’s presence in my life.

    Don’t recall what you said. Did you just say you’d “seen his presence” or other vague stuff, or did you claim you’d seen a real miracle, vision, etc?

    I am as bewildered as you as to why God could show up in a way that is tangible to me, yet not respond to you.

    Me too. For you and anyone else who thinks they’ve had any special “in” with the deity, do let him know that there are some of us who would be ecstatic to have him show up in our living rooms.

  • 81. Fig Newton  |  July 24, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    “If there were no God, there would be no atheists”.

    –G.K. Chesterson

  • 82. ED  |  July 24, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Mike,
    I am exactly where you are. After 50 years I came to the point where it all became untenable. I hung on as long as I could. I wanted desperately to believe.

    My best wishes.
    ED

  • 83. Bobbi Jo  |  July 24, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    “Me too. For you and anyone else who thinks they’ve had any special “in” with the deity, do let him know that there are some of us who would be ecstatic to have him show up in our living rooms”

    Hmmm…for me, God has usually shown up when I least expect it. What I mean is, I have never demanded that of Him. I don’t mean this to come across harsh, but who are you to demand anything of God? Wouldn’t that make you more important than God? Especially if He did answer you. You talk of how you would not want to worship a God who hides from you. I would not want to worship a God who bowed down to every demand of humans.

    Just thinking out loud here….I certainly don’t have it figured out so these are legit questions I’m asking not only of you, but also of myself.

  • 84. LeoPardus  |  July 24, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    “If there were no God, there would be no atheists”.

    If there were no atheists, would there be a god?

  • 85. LeoPardus  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Bobbi Jo:

    Fair questions. In the Bible, God is supposed to have said, “Come. Let us reason together.” Is it reasonable for me to believe in a deity whose holy book shows him doing loads of miracles and such, when I see nothing of the sort today?

    If one of Jesus’ own disciples can say, “Unless I see the nail prints in his hand and place my finger in his side, I will not believe.”, am I really being all that demanding?

    If God really loves me as much as is commonly claimed, then am I (or anyone else) not important enough for Him to give just a little assurance, or evidence to?

    I don’t need a genie who grants my wishes. I just need a deity who shows up enough for me to believe he actually exists. When the best i can get is apologists to explain his absences, I don’t get that sense of assurance. (Have you ever had the experience of someone who will not return your calls? Do your really believe them then, when their answering system says, “Your call is important to us…..”?)

  • 86. Obi  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Bobbi Jo –

    Read your Bible. God (Jesus) declares that he will listen to your prayers and act on them, what you call bowing down to the demands of humans. As a Christian your supposed saviour, Jesus, bowed down to wash his disciples feet, so when you saying that he isn’t willing to do so, you definitely aren’t speaking for him.

    Matthew 17:20, “ 20He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

    Matthew 18:19-20, “19″Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

    James 5:16-18, “16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

    17Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

    With all these and many more proclamations of the power of prayer by God himself as well as many others throughout the Bible, why do you think God doesn’t answer more prayers, with more miraculous results? That verse in Matthew that I quoted above states that if any two are gathered in Jesus’ name, that whatever they request will be done by God in heaven. Not may be or might be done, will be done. So why is it that, for example, AIDS hasn’t been cured, world hunger hasn’t been taken care of, the civil wars in Africa haven’t been settled, or any of the number of other issues that millions, even billions around the world pray for each and every day? Jesus mentions only two, but I’ve seen gatherings of thousands of people praying for something that never came to fruition. Why is that?

    Is all this lack of answering part of his “divine plan”? If so, then why did he even command us to pray and go so far as to promise that our prayers would be answered if he knew that some wouldn’t be? If God has the power to answer these prayers, he has promised to answer these prayers if people ask, and billions of people have asked, why are there no results?

  • 87. Bobbi Jo  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Leo, when you were a christian, was there ever a time where God showed up to you? Why is it not sufficiant now? I know you will answer that it was the whole “where’s goddo” thing and I’ve heard that from you before. What I want to know is do you believe in coincidences? and if so, how many would it take to make it seem like God is there with you?

    I do agree that God should give you some assurance though, that you can thoroughly see. I have a thousand apolagetics running through my head, and since I know that will not do anything for you, I will just say that I hope that still happens for you.

    “Fair questions. In the Bible, God is supposed to have said, “Come. Let us reason together”

    Do you have a verse for this?

  • 88. Cthulhu  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Fig Newton,

    “If there were no God, there would be no atheists”.

    If there were no god believe me – someone would invent him again.

    And god sure is taking a long lunch – haven’t been struck dead yet ;-)

  • 89. Fig Newton  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    “Fair questions. In the Bible, God is supposed to have said, “Come. Let us reason together”

    Do you have a verse for this?

    Isaiah 1:18

  • 90. Paige  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Isaiah 1:18 would be the verse.

  • 91. Paige  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Sorry, I see someone beat me to it.

  • 92. Bobbi Jo  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Obi, those are some good questions. And good verses. And personally, I have a lot of apologetics and no frickin clue. If I knew, I’d be God. Maybe, even though we can’t see it, it works out for the greater glory of God. Although, I can see how that really doesn’t sit well with us while we’re here on earth. I do have a hard time praying for that reason. It’s His will, but we’re suposed to ask? That’s a hard one.

    on a side note, my church is having a sermon about objections to Christianity. I would be interested to hear what is your # one objection. This is for everyone, not just Obi. Should I put absence of God’s presence down for most?

  • 93. LeoPardus  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Bobbi Jo:

    when you were a christian, was there ever a time where God showed up to you?

    No.

    What I want to know is do you believe in coincidences?

    Coincidentally, yes. :)

    and if so, how many would it take to make it seem like God is there with you?

    Dunno. But since they are coincidences, he isn’t really there anyhow is he?

    I will just say that I hope that still happens for you.

    Thanks. I actually do too.

    “Come. Let us reason together”
    Do you have a verse for this?

    Isaiah 1:18

  • 94. John Morales  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Bobbi Jo:

    And personally, I have a lot of apologetics and no frickin clue.

    So what the hell are you doing preaching, when you admit you don’t have a clue?

    You’re doing your cause more harm than good, do you even care about that?

  • 95. LeoPardus  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    my church is having a sermon about objections to Christianity. I would be interested to hear what is your # one objection. This is for everyone, not just Obi. Should I put absence of God’s presence down for most?

    I’d say that’s a biggie.

    Here are some articles in the blog archives that you can look at for input:

    -7 Reasons why Christians de-convert
    -Inconvenient categories: The really real reasons de-cons leave the faith
    -8 Reasons why I no longer believe
    -Reasons why I can no longer believe: 3 – Unchanged lives
    -Reasons why I can no longer believe: 2 – God as a ‘no show’
    -Reasons why I can no longer believe: 1 – God is “we know not what”

  • 96. Obi  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Bobbi Jo –

    What exactly would it take you to prove to you that your God doesn’t exist? As in, how could we falsify your claim of its existence?

  • 97. Bobbi Jo  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    John, I apologize if I have ever seemed preachy. I have refrained from using a lot of apologetics for that reason. That is why I said that. I am searching for answers too, and was just being honest that I don’t really know anything more than anyone else.

    On a side note, someone (i think Quester) asked if you were doing okay and you said not really. You seem very angry lately and I am wondering the same. Is everything all right? I know you will probably not confide in me, per se, but if you give us an insite as to where you are coming from it might help us relate better to you.

  • 98. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    was there ever a time where God showed up to you?

    There were times where I thought I felt God’s presence, or “heard” him speak to me. I now realize that what I heard was just my own “inner voice,” and I can trick my mind into feeling all kinds of presences quite easily.

  • 99. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    One of the biggest objections I have to Christianity right now is the total inefficacy of prayer. The only answer I ever get for this is “sometimes God’s answer is ‘no.’” How convenient that God answers “yes” and “no” with frequencies consistent with what we’d expect if God didn’t exist.

  • 100. Bobbi Jo  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Leo, yeah I’ve read that, maybe I will let my pastor read that post as well so he can get a better idea. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Obi, why would you want to prove to me God doesn’t exist? I mean, I (as a christian) want to prove to you he does for the whole afterlife reasoning, but even if I always believe in God and he turns out to be false, what’s in it for you except an “I told you so”. It’s not really gonna matter on your end if I believe or not. But on my end it will matter (where you spend eternity).

  • 101. Obi  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Bobbi Jo –

    I’m just curious. Religion plays a large role in peoples’ lives as well as in the world as a whole, so I’d say it’s an extremely important issue this side of death. Not only that, but perhaps you’re believing in the wrong God? have you ever thought of that? So in the end your belief in the wrong God may end up putting you at an extreme disadvantage. Pascal’s wager is bunk.

    Regardless, I’d still simply like to hear your answer to the question, if only out of curiosity and nothing else.

  • 102. Derek  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Hey Bobbi Jo,

    “Falsification” is a frequently misunderstood term. Obi is not asking you to disprove God’s existence.

    According to the basic scientific method, if something is not “falsifiable” (i.e. cannot be disproved), then its corresponding truth value is meaningless.

    In other words, is there any conceivable experiment that can be performed, that, depending on its results, would require modifying a hypothesis about the existence of the Christian God? If not, then the claim that the Christian God exists is essentially vacuous.

    Oh, and BTW… But on my end it will matter (where you spend eternity). is called Pascal’s Wager and there are several very good arguments for why it’s not so great, chief among them being that belief to avoid eternal damnation is not real belief.

  • 103. bobbi jo  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    hey, I’m not ignoring anyone, but I have to go and won’t be able to be on till late tomorrow and since this forum moves so fast, I’ll be way behind. So I’ll try to answer then. thanks and have a great night!

  • 104. Obi  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Derek –

    Aye mate, great explanations.

    Bobbi Jo –

    Alright mate, we eagerly await your return.

  • 105. rover  |  July 24, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    bobbi Joe,

    I have some questions for you pastor”

  • 106. Anonymous  |  July 24, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    When some people came to dinner, the hostess turned to her six year old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?”
    “I wouldn’t know what to say,” the girl replied.
    “Just say what you hear Mommy say,” her mom answered.

    The daughter bowed her head and said, “Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”

  • 107. rover  |  July 24, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    bobbi Joe,

    I have some questions for your pastor”

    1. Why can’t born again believers agree on the gospel. Does the bible teach that we must simply have faith as in Romans or do we have to become discples like in Luke 14?

    2. If people believe the Bible is the word of God then why don’t they do the things therein, ie, forgive, pray without ceasing, study like Bereans, share the Gospel. Why are most Christians afraid to share the Gospel verbally, face to face? Why has proclamation been replaced with “relationship” evengelism?

    4. Ephesians says that the reason the believer works is to take care of the needs of the saints? This involves far more than tithing a little cash, why don’t we work to meet the needs of the saints? Why do we seek to live materialistically like the world?

    5. If Christians really believe prayer is effective why don’t they do it more? Why doesn’t the majority of our prayer lives focus on the needs of others .(generalization). Why don’t we spend a good portion of the day “moving mountains” in prayer?

    6. Why do Christians deny the evidence for an “old earth” without every actually examining it? Why do they rely on old sources to refute evolution?

  • 108. Black Sheep  |  July 24, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Here are a few more questions for your pastor, Bobbi Jo, or for you, or for any Christian here, for that matter.

    I’m really choking on the doctrine of Hell.

    Why didn’t the Jews teach Hell like the Christians do now?? Oh I know–progressive revelation, right? Sure.

    Why didn’t the concept of Hell show up at all in the OT until the mention of “everlasting destruction” in the book of Daniel? Also, why do you think it showed up during the Babylonian captivity, when the Jews were exposed to Zoarastrianism, which was the prominent religion in the area at that time? Check out the coincidences. The word Hell is poorly translated in the KJV. Look at the more recent translations. The word Sheol is a vague word that means the grave.

    Why don’t we see unrequited belief in believers when someone they love goes “to Hell.” Really, how could you have any peace with the thought of someone you love, let alone someone you know, living forever in that kind of torment? Wouldn’t that mar your peace just a little? When someone dies, and the believer has no hope that they escaped Hell, shouldn’t there be at least a little corresponding distress? Be honest about this!! Really think through what this says about you and your image of God!! If you don’t have a lot of distress, you really need to look at the temperature of your heart! Or is it easy enough to write off some “sinner”, since in the end you have your own ticket punched?

    If Christ crushed Satan on the cross, and died for the sins of the world (Sorry Calvinists–look up all those references to world in the NT. They are always “cosmos”), why are people still dropping into Hell like flies. Is it because He wants it this way? He only died for the few “chosen”? He’s really not that powerful, and Satan is strong enough to make him look ineffective in his death and resurrection? If he was once and for all victorious, why run around on such a discouraging rescue mission, trying to salvage the few you can? Come on!!! It doesn’t make sense to me anymore!!!!

    Where is the free choice in this: I love you with an everlasting love, and my mercy (not anger, not judgement, but MERCY endures forever. . .) However, if you don’t DO YOUR PART, I will kick you into Hell for ever and ever. I died for you, but this is really one big cosmic wager. Good luck!!!

    That is how the whole thing looks when one thinks about it for awhile. How would we respond to any earthly father who treated his children that way? It makes God sound like a maniacal, crazed lover capable of the ugliest manipulation.

    Do any Christians you know ever question the unquestioned answers????

    Black Sheep

  • 109. John T.  |  July 24, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Black Sheep

    Well Said. It wont stop the clique from forming though.

  • 110. Aussie Ali  |  July 24, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Snuggly said:
    There were times where I thought I felt God’s presence, or “heard” him speak to me. I now realize that what I heard was just my own “inner voice,” and I can trick my mind into feeling all kinds of presences quite easily.

    The other thing I have noticed about the way humans behave is that we love to attribute everything that happens to us to something eg
    “They argue because he’s so like his father. ”
    “They argue because he and his father are opposites.”

    I work for an eye specialist and at work I often have people saying that they lost their vision just after a particular thing happened to them, even if I know perfectly well that the 2 causes are unrelated.
    I feel the same way about prayer. It is easy to attribute things to God that we otherwise would explain in a completely rational manner.

  • 111. Obi  |  July 24, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

    The stuff faith is made of.

  • 112. The Nerd  |  July 24, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    Good message, Black Sheep. It deserves to be its own post.

  • 113. Aussie Ali  |  July 24, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Obi “Post hoc ergo propter hoc.”

    Exactly but you just can’t see it till you’re on the other side

  • 114. TheDeeZone  |  July 25, 2008 at 12:59 am

    John,

    Takes a lot more than that to scare me off. That was nothing compared to St. Geo.

    Derek,

    Not an example just an observation. It just struck me that it sounded like Hosea & Gomer. Wasn’t trying to make a point.

    Mike,
    Ty for clarifying

    SnugglyBuffallo,

    Can’t explain it. You bring up something I have been discussing with a friend but won’t go into details because it is a private matter. Seems I have very few answers these days.

    Oh, off topic. Great name. Makes me smile when I read it.

    CheezeChoc.

    TY

    Leo & Bobbie Jo,

    Bet you can’t. Name one miracle. I can. Of course, Leo, I think we probably discussed this on an earlier post, “The Call for Miracles”. I know that there have been miracles in my life. 2 have been medically confirmed. The 3rd I prefer not to share because it is personal. Also, I do not wish to elaborate on details. While, I believe miracles happen I do not base my faith on them. None happened because of anything I did or asked for. BTW, if you don’t believe they were miracles that is doesn’t change my views.

    Rover,

    You bring one some very good questions. From my experience there seem to be some Christians who are really more concerned about their own agendas & only choose to follow the parts of the Bible that they like.

  • 115. John Morales  |  July 25, 2008 at 4:39 am

    Bobbi Jo @99:

    1.On a side note, someone (i think Quester) asked if you were doing okay and you said not really. 2.You seem very angry lately and I am wondering the same. Is everything all right?

    1. You refer to this:

    7. Quester | July 23, 2008 at 1:48 am
    John Morales,

    You seem to be really on the attack, lately. Everything okay?

    8. John Morales | July 23, 2008 at 2:14 am
    Hm. Not especially, but I take your point.

    I only answered the first question. To the second, I answer that I am under no distress.

    2. I am not angry. If and when I am, you will not be in any doubt.

    To amplify, what to some appears like aggression and vilification to me appears like determination and honesty. I just don’t like to allow misdirection, obfuscation or evasion to ride unchallenged, particularly when the original point was made to me.
    And I am no neophyte at internet discussions – for example, there is no technique I’ve yet seen here which is novel to me.

    In short, my tone and manner are neither capricious nor uncontrolled.

    I suppose I suffer from mild SIWOTI syndrome and a real bad case of intellectual honesty. People who know me IRL know this and take advantage (not that I mind).

    So, there ya go. Wonder no more.

  • 116. John Morales  |  July 25, 2008 at 4:44 am

    PS BTW I have been called a pedant, and I have not disputed this. The first question was, of course, inplicit.

  • 117. graceone  |  July 25, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Wow, Black Sheep,

    You’ve certainly given this Hell issue tons of thought. Sure there are Christians that question, and explore all the time. I wouldn’t personally belong to a church that didn’t allow anyone to question.

    Not everyone agrees. My own husband is an universalist. He basically feels that everyone will be “saved,” but through the cross of Christ, and has a different take on these verses that seem to speak of Hell, and eternal judgement.

    I personally feel no mere mortal can look at someone, and know that person is destined to be eternally seperated from God. We can’t know or understand what is in another person’s heart, and mind even at the point of death. I think God above anything else is loving, and just. I trust that.

    But, on the other hand, I do think it an aspect of God’s love that He doesn’t arbitrarily force people into the kingdom. We’re more than puppets on a string. And, there are sadly some people out there who truly wnat nothing to do with God in this life, and have even deliberately given their lives over to evil. Would all this change for them in the next? (I’m not talking about people who sincerely struggle with issues of faith.)

    I think that anyone who sincerely seeks after God, and want sto know, truth, and do His will, will be brought to Christ, either in this world, or the next.

  • 118. rover  |  July 25, 2008 at 8:48 am

    To Christians:\

    There is none who seek Him, no not one.

    So he chooses a few. The others He sends to hell. If there are Christians here who do not believe the teachings of the Bible then what do you believe? Either Christ sends those who do not believe in him to hell or he doesn’t. Isn’t it disengenuous to say, that your not sure who is going to hell? Anyone who does not beleive that Christ died for their sins in going to hell. Let’s at least be honest.

  • 119. John Morales  |  July 25, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Graceone,

    And, there are sadly some people out there who truly wnat nothing to do with God in this life, and have even deliberately given their lives over to evil.

    Have you ever considered that some may in all honesty and despite best efforts not, if they are to be honest, say they believe in God?

    Those people are us.

    Talk to us. Not your imaginary evil monster.

  • 120. John Morales  |  July 25, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Ahem, I think I’d better rephrase, for my own reasons.

    What I mean is you write as if there’s (us) – that’s believers – and then there’s (those) who “want nothing to do with God” an (those) who “give their lives to evil”.

    I’m saying: Hey!! What about us!

    Read the testimonies – the big red exclamation mark on the right.

  • 121. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 25, 2008 at 9:09 am

    graceone,

    “But, on the other hand, I do think it an aspect of God’s love that He doesn’t arbitrarily force people into the kingdom. We’re more than puppets on a string. And, there are sadly some people out there who truly wnat nothing to do with God in this life, and have even deliberately given their lives over to evil.”

    I’ve heard this again and again: “If God revealed himself to everyone that would be a violation of their free will.” In the Bible God sure did violate a lot of people’s free will then.

    I seek God every day. If a god exists I want to know. Until I know I must act as if one doesn’t exist.

  • 122. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 25, 2008 at 9:13 am

    As to the whole issue of theists claiming atheists are lying and atheists claiming theists are lying, I don’t believe either, and I don’t like to see the accusations. We each are perceiving reality in our own way, and we have no idea what is inside the mind of another.

  • 123. Obi  |  July 25, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Building on Mike’s point, I always respond to that “If God revealed himself to everyone, we’d have no free wlll” answer by reminding the Christian in question that Satan obviously had free will in his choice, even after supposedly seeing God. Regardless, doesn’t it seem extremely cruel for an entity to purposefully conceal itself, and then if a human doesn’t “seek and find” that specific god out of millions of possibilities by the end of its finite lifespan, he/she will be sent to a place of infinite punishment?

    That’s definitely not just, merciful, or loving.

  • 124. John Morales  |  July 25, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Mike, that’s hyperbole.

    We certainly have some idea.

  • 125. graceone  |  July 25, 2008 at 9:53 am

    John,

    I wasn’t refering to specific people who post here in my comment. I think you are honest, and sincere. I understand that not everyone who hasn’t come to faith is deliberately rejecting God, and choosing evil.

    I don’t think you or anyone posting here is a monster, by any means.

    Hey, I’ll be back later this evening to talk some more.

  • 126. John Morales  |  July 25, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Graceone, good to know.

    For myself, I try to practice linguistic political correctness. It’s good to eliminate racist, sexist, ageist and so forth connotations from language. There’s more than nothing, I think, to the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.

    I spoke up because, unknowingly, you were in fact excluding us from your post.

    Anyway.

  • 127. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 25, 2008 at 11:10 am

    John,

    We can guess what is in someone’s mind by what they say or do, but we really don’t know, and even those guesses are clouded by our experiences which are not the same as those of the one we are making guesses about. So, yes my statement was perhaps mild exaggeration, but full blown hyperbole?

  • 128. Anonymous  |  July 25, 2008 at 11:30 am

    http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/ksc/725674463.html

    Now here’s an atheist with a great idea!!

  • 129. Fig Newton  |  July 25, 2008 at 11:32 am

    http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/ksc/725674463.html

    Here’s an atheist with a great idea!

  • 130. John T.  |  July 25, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Mike

    Dont worry about John, even if he agrees with you , he’ll find something to disagree with, its in his nature. I certainly have some idea its that way.

  • 131. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 25, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks for the heads up John T. ;)

  • 132. John T.  |  July 25, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Mike

    You know the one great thing about life, is that its all connected. So every belief system, every sickness, every joy, all connects. We just havnt figured out how the connections work.

    We sure love to banter about it though. ;)

  • 133. Eve  |  July 25, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    You said what I have been thinking and feeling. Sometimes I have to take a break from thinking or I will go crazy. I still have a hard time calling myself an atheist, I will have to stick with agnostic for now.

    Great post.

  • 134. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 25, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks again John T.

    And thanks Eve, I’m glad you could relate.

  • 135. Bobbi Jo  |  July 25, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Wow! I knew I’d miss a lot! as for all the questions, I am going to email them to my pastor and see what he thinks. I obviously can’t answer for him. I will try to answer some with my own personal belief (which btw is much different than my pastor, as he would be more towards the calvinist side and I am not).

    1. Why can’t born again believers agree on the gospel. Does the bible teach that we must simply have faith as in Romans or do we have to become discples like in Luke 14?

    I have to preface all my answers with most will be me saying I don’t know. If I had it all figured out, I would either be God or start my own religion. :) But I think as humans we are flawed in our thinking and always interpret things according to the experiences we’ve had. So I think none of us has it exactly right. I think there are several kinds of atheists as well that argue about things. That’s gonna happen no matter what topic you bring up. “For as much as cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens” -Abe Lincoln I don’t agree with everything my pastor says either. Does that make him wrong? Does that make me?

    2. If people believe the Bible is the word of God then why don’t they do the things therein, ie, forgive, pray without ceasing, study like Bereans, share the Gospel. Why are most Christians afraid to share the Gospel verbally, face to face? Why has proclamation been replaced with “relationship” evengelism?

    I don’t think most people who go to chruch are true christians. I think they just go because it’s habit, they were brought up in it, ect. They don’t care one way or the other. They confuse being a christian with going to church, so when asked are you a christian they answer yes. But really their heart is not in it. I myself do try to do the things in the bible, but I fail. Alot. But it’s like dieting, if you fall off the wagon, get right back on, right? I will never personally be able to do all those things perfectly. I’ll probably mess up just typing this post. As for hiding, I know several athiests on this site who haven’t came out irl because of various reasons. Christians have those same reasons.

    6. Why do Christians deny the evidence for an “old earth” without every actually examining it? Why do they rely on old sources to refute evolution?

    Why do evelutionists rely on old sources. Come on, Darwin wrote that quite a while ago too. We’ve learned so much just in the last 150 years. Ftr, I beleive in some parts of evelution, just not all of it. Not gonna get into all that now, this post will be more than long enough.

    Why didn’t the concept of Hell show up at all in the OT until the mention of “everlasting destruction” in the book of Daniel? Also, why do you think it showed up during the Babylonian captivity, when the Jews were exposed to Zoarastrianism, which was the prominent religion in the area at that time? Check out the coincidences. The word Hell is poorly translated in the KJV. Look at the more recent translations. The word Sheol is a vague word that means the grave.

    I don’t know enough to coment on this, but this is something I have asked my pastor to speak on as well. So if he gives a sermon on it, I’ll let you know.

    Why don’t we see unrequited belief in believers when someone they love goes “to Hell.” Really, how could you have any peace with the thought of someone you love, let alone someone you know, living forever in that kind of torment? Wouldn’t that mar your peace just a little? When someone dies, and the believer has no hope that they escaped Hell, shouldn’t there be at least a little corresponding distress? Be honest about this!! Really think through what this says about you and your image of God!! If you don’t have a lot of distress, you really need to look at the temperature of your heart! Or is it easy enough to write off some “sinner”, since in the end you have your own ticket punched?

    I agree with others that I won’t ever really know what is in their hearts, so I will grieve for the ending of their life on this earth, and I hope I will see them again someday. I certainly would never write someone off as a “sinner” banished to hell.

    If Christ crushed Satan on the cross, and died for the sins of the world (Sorry Calvinists–look up all those references to world in the NT. They are always “cosmos”), why are people still dropping into Hell like flies. Is it because He wants it this way? He only died for the few “chosen”? He’s really not that powerful, and Satan is strong enough to make him look ineffective in his death and resurrection? If he was once and for all victorious, why run around on such a discouraging rescue mission, trying to salvage the few you can? Come on!!! It doesn’t make sense to me anymore!!!!

    How do you know they are droping into hell like flies. did someone call you frkom hell and let you know that it’s almost full? Again, I stress, I don’t know someone’s heart completely, so I don’t know where they are going. So of course I’ll try everything to get them to come with me (through Christ). Right this way folks…:)

    Where is the free choice in this: I love you with an everlasting love, and my mercy (not anger, not judgement, but MERCY endures forever. . .) However, if you don’t DO YOUR PART, I will kick you into Hell for ever and ever. I died for you, but this is really one big cosmic wager. Good luck!!!

    This one is again too long to answer in this post. I will answer in another.

    Do any Christians you know ever question the unquestioned answers????

    Yes, I have many times. So has everyone on this blog which is why you are all here. Thanks for the list of great questions. I will let you know what my pastor says about it if you are all still interested (by the time he gets back to me, you’ll all have 50 more posts for me to read and it will be a completely different topic). I still have a list that I think the Apostate gave me that I’m going through when I have time. Actually, right now it’s packed as I’m moving this week. Anyway, great discusion.

  • 136. Derek  |  July 25, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    We just havnt figured out how the connections work.

    I believe it has something to do with the fact that we’re all, at the core, human, so most of us have more in common than we tend to think.

  • 137. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 25, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Ftr, I beleive in some parts of evelution, just not all of it. Not gonna get into all that now, this post will be more than long enough.

    I’d be very interested in your view on this when you have the time to elaborate. I know as a Christian I more or less fell into the “micro-evolution” but not “macro-evolution” camp. Basically, I believed evolution happened but couldn’t lead to full speciation.

    Also, if it’s not on your list, as a Christian what fate do you believe awaits people who die after never hearing of Christ? I’ve never gotten a straight answer on this, till I eventually pushed it out-of-mind and only recently started wondering about it again after de-converting.

  • 138. Bobbi Jo  |  July 25, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Snuggly,

    my warehouse answer (in a warehouse full of all the apologetics) says that God would know whether that person would have accepted him or not if given that chance. I don’t think that answer is gonna sit well with you. Have you not ever gotten an answer at all or has it always been one like this, where you don’t consider it an answer because you can’t accept it as a straight answer? I’d be interested to know what other answers you have gotten, if you did get answers.

    On to evelution. Yeah, the macro bothers me, at least, I’ve never seen any evidence to support the theory that we can evolve from another species. But more so, it bothers me that we just randomly got here by chance. The body is so complicated and in order, that I just can’t accept that. Sure we can create cells from other Living cells, but it has never successfully been proven to make a cell from a Non-living cell. So where did we start? If you know more about it, let me know of some sites. I try to read up on it when I can. Again, add it to the lists of things to read.

  • 139. Obi  |  July 25, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Bobbi Jo –

    The only people who don’t accept evolution are those who don’t understand or don’t know about it, but it’s a good thing that you say that you’re open to learning. Here’s a good place to start…

    http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/evolution.html

    As for “how did life start”, that’s not the theory of evolution, that’s the theory of abiogenesis. Quite different, actually.

  • 140. Bobbi Jo  |  July 25, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks Obi. I re-read what I wrote and saw that I did not make a clear distintion between the two. Thanks for the site. I’ll check it out.

  • 141. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 25, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Indeed, it’s hard to separate evolution from the origin of life when coming from a Christian mindset, but they are separate.

    Another thing I should point out is that scientists generally say that evolution is not random. The mutations and the like may be random, but selective pressure “chooses” which ones will stick around and which will disappear; and I recognize that my training in biology and evolution is pretty minimal, so I invite anyone with a better understanding to give a better explanation than I ever can.

    Think of it this way: is macro evolution any more random than micro evolution?

    Anyway, for the earlier question: I really never got any kind of a real answer, people mostly just tried to dodge the question. I like your answer a lot better, though I’m curious as to whether it has any biblical support. This is all just idle speculation for me at this point, though, as I’ve pretty thoroughly given up my faith for reasons completely unrelated to this question. I’m just curious anymore.

  • 142. TheDeeZone  |  July 25, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    On origins of life I haven’t found an explanation that I totally agree with. There are some I don’t agree with (i.e. Gap Theory, Young Earth).

    Still sorting out what I think about intelligent design.

  • 143. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 25, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Isn’t Intelligent Design in the Young Earth camp?

  • 144. Bobbi Jo  |  July 25, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    ” I like your answer a lot better, though I’m curious as to whether it has any biblical support. ”

    I supose if you consider the verses on predestination, God would know if he already predestined us. But I’m not really sure where I stand on the issue of predestination in general. I supose I like “foreknowledge” better. Though I don’t know if that has biblical support.

  • 145. LeoPardus  |  July 25, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    SB:

    ID is not young earth most of the time. Most ID’ers hold to an old earth. Most of them recognize that the fossil record does indeed show evolution.

    Basically ID’ers are theistic evolutionists. They don’t deny evolution. They just think there was a guiding hand behind it.

  • 146. John Morales  |  July 25, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    John T. @132: I find that malicious.

  • 147. graceone  |  July 25, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    HI, Rover,

    I think part of the difficulty here is that different Christians can interpret Scripture differently about some matters anyway. I personally think we need to look at the overall witness of the Bible interpreted by reason, and tradition. Most of all I’m looking at Scripture through the life and teaching of Christ.

    To say that everyone who doesn’t come to knowing trust in Christ is sure to end in Hell, just doesn’t make alot of sense to me personally. I mean there are folks who my have never heard of Christ,.People who are mentally disabled, and unable to believe. What about young children who die?

    I do feel there is a huge difference between someone who is genuinely spiritually seeking, has honest doubt, and someone who knowingly, and deliberately rejects the cross of Christ, who just doesn’t care. Not everyone is the same, and God knows our hearts.

    The bottom line for me is that I can leave who is going to be lost or saved to the wisdom of the Lord. I think I should concentrate in my own relationship with Him, and sharing God’s love in this life.

    Which brings me to this question for everyone on the board. How can committed Christians best show caring, and support to folks who are deconverts , skeptics, or who are struggling with issues of faith? And, what are some things that are definitely not supportive, and helpful?

    It maybe this question has been answered somewhere else. You can point me in that direction, too.

    Thanks! :)

  • 148. Ubi Dubium  |  July 25, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Grace:

    How can committed Christians best show caring, and support to folks who are deconverts , skeptics, or who are struggling with issues of faith? And, what are some things that are definitely not supportive, and helpful?

    Oh, that’s an excellent question. For a start – what’s not helpful. Please look for the big red exclamation point on this page, and read Post 1 that is linked from there. Saying any of the things you will find listed in the post is definitely not helpful.

    And how to show support for deconverts, or skeptics? I’m sure others here will have some better answers, but my first thought is “Just treat us like other people.” Don’t shun us, don’t try to convert us. Let’s just figure out what we have in common, and work from there.

    You know, your question could be the basis for a new post here. I think it could spark some interesting conversation.

  • 149. John T.  |  July 25, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    John m.

    #148………finally you are accurate.

  • 150. John T.  |  July 25, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Graceone

    “Not everyone is the same, and God knows our hearts.”

    Yeah, but you dont so why even bother Judging………Silly, silly person.

  • 151. LeoPardus  |  July 25, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    graceone:

    How can committed Christians best show caring, and support to folks who are deconverts , skeptics, or who are struggling with issues of faith?

    You hit it fairly well when you said, “The bottom line for me is that I can leave who is going to be lost or saved to the wisdom of the Lord.” Right. If there is a God, he can handle all this.

    There are some Christians who hang here and mostly listen, and ask some questions. They wait before posting their own opinions, then advance them humbly. In the words of St Francis of Asissi they “seek first to understand”.

    Simply living as a Christian should (see the passage on fruits of the spirit) is always a good witness to people. And it’s an all too rare one at that.

    For those who are struggling still, acknowledging the problems they are seeing with the faith, not pretending you have the answers, NOT condemning or judging, are all good. And letting them know that whatever they do you respect them for their honesty and seeking the truth.

    Understand that the process of de-converion, for those in the midst of it, is usually intensely distressing and even frightening. For those who are already through the process, many have a story of abuses behind them.

    And understand that we are, by and large, deathly serious and supremely honest about what we believe now. For most of us, the Christian faith was THE MOST IMPORTANT THING in the world when we were in it. So we didn’t leave for light reasons. It took a huge wave of evidence to get us out. It will take an even bigger wave to get us back. (An undeniable miracle or visitation or some such is about the only thing that would work.)

    And, what are some things that are definitely not supportive, and helpful?

    As Ubi Dubium said, the big red exclamation point is a good start.

    Specifics that come to mind:
    -Don’t give us “the answers”. We’ve heard them ALL.
    -Don’t toss out Bible quotes. It’s just an old book, written by primitive tribesman.
    -Don’t try to pigeonhole us. (as per red ! posts)

  • 152. John Morales  |  July 25, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Mike @129, at the risk of seeming contrarian and while still granting your sentiment, I was referring to the way you expressed it.

    We each are perceiving reality in our own way, and we have no idea what is inside the mind of another.

    John T., as per site policy I shall no longer address you.

  • 153. John T.  |  July 25, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    Leo

    I think thats some of the best advice Ive ever heard on here. :)

  • 154. John T.  |  July 25, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    John M.

    “John T., as per site policy I shall no longer address you.”

    Pussy.

  • 155. Black Sheep  |  July 25, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    John T and The Nerd,

    Thank you. I need to re-read and try to write a little more smoothly. This internet conversation is new to me, but it’s great to have a place like this to sort things out in a relatively understanding environment!

    Graceone and Bobbi Jo,

    Thank you both for your answers, and for your compassion and desire to dialogue. I do apologize for the angry edge in my post. It is there, but it’s not directed at either of you.

    Bobbi Jo, thank you for your willingness to consult your pastor.
    Maybe that will be of help to someone else. Not so much for me at this time, though.

    My progression into terrible spiritual vertigo began with a hard look at 5 pt. Calvinism. That led to serious questions about Hell, which led to serious questions about why I held to an inerrant, infallible, inspired view of scripture. My foundations have been shaken, and there is much that I just don’t know anymore.

    The doctrine of 5 pt. Calvinism is abhorrent to me. However, I can see certain things their way. I do understand why they don’t really believe in free will. I also understand why they don’t believe that God loves everyone. I guess they see God as all knowing and all powerful, but not all loving. Anyway,
    a few encounters with arrogant Calvinists, have, I’m afraid, left me completely distrustful of the whole lot. Therefore, I can’t discuss anything of this much importance with anyone holding those views.

    Oh–I would be willing to discuss their thoughts on Calvin’s role in the murder of Michael Servetus, however. Some folks choose interesting “heros.” LOLOL.

    Anyway, thanks for the discussion. Please don’t read any hostility into my tone. I don’t feel that at all. My frustration is in no way directed at either of you! Believe it or not, I actually desperately want to hold onto the most optimistic view of God possible. I love the version of Him that I understand and have always believed I’ve encountered. I just don’t know what’s real anymore. : ( I love the idea of universal reconciliation, but that makes me quite a heretic. Maybe it doesn’t hurt to hope, but who’s to say?

    Black Sheep

  • 156. Cthulhu  |  July 25, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Black Sheep,

    You have taken a brave step into an unfamiliar world – you have turned a critical eye on your own faith. Not an easy thing to do but an infinitely valuable one. Don’t give in to despair and frustration – keep searching. But once you have taken the first step, it is very hard to turn back. I wish you well and hope you find your answers – my journey ended up godless and I am happier and more at peace than I have ever been.

  • 157. Ubi Dubium  |  July 25, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Black Sheep,

    Good luck on your journey. My journey also ended up godless, but yours may not. I hope you finally arrive at a belief system that you find both rationally consistent and emotionally fulfilling. Don’t worry about being a “heretic” – in this place most of us are! Never be afraid to ask questions!

  • 158. LeoPardus  |  July 26, 2008 at 12:07 am

    Black Sheep:

    My progression into terrible spiritual vertigo began with a hard look at 5 pt. Calvinism.

    The doctrine of 5 pt. Calvinism is abhorrent to me.

    Yessireebob. I rejected Calvinism long ago. It is truly horrid. I still had many years after that though before the “end”. With Ubi and others I wish you well in your journey. Wherever it goes, we will be happy to help you if we are able.

  • 159. TheDeeZone  |  July 26, 2008 at 2:39 am

    Leo
    Basically ID’ers are theistic evolutionists. They don’t deny evolution. They just think there was a guiding hand behind it.
    Your definition of Theistic evolution comes closest to describing my views about Origins.

    However I have gotten myself in trouble with some Christians because I disagree with out the Bible is sometimes miss used to prove Creation/ Origins.

  • 160. Black Sheep  |  July 26, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Cthulhu, Ubi, and Leo,

    Thank you all so much for your words of encouragement. It is very helpful to be able to discuss things in a safe environment where others actually do understand. That is definitely not true irl,
    though I’m fortunate to have a husband that sees things the same way.

    You all have a lot of great insight, and I’m really enjoying hanging out in this corner of the cyber-world. : )

    Black Sheep

  • 161. grace  |  July 26, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Thanks to everyone for your comments so far. Appreciate it.

  • 162. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 26, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    John Morales on July 25, 2008 at 10:08 pm said:

    “Mike @129, at the risk of seeming contrarian and while still granting your sentiment, I was referring to the way you expressed it.

    We each are perceiving reality in our own way, and we have no idea what is inside the mind of another.

    John, do you really think the way everyone perceives things is so similar? This is a good year to see the opposite here in the good old U.S.A. during election time. Everyone interprets what they observe different. For example: some people here seem to see you as a jerk, whereas I think you are just misunderstood. ;)

  • 163. Bobbi Jo  |  July 26, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    “Everyone interprets what they observe different. For example: some people here seem to see you as a jerk, whereas I think you are just misunderstood. ”

    True, John, you saw me as “preachy” and I hope others have interpreted my time here differently. I really am just curious to learn more about you all and the world around me, whether I agree with you or not. Btw, I don’t think you are a jerk.

  • 164. John Morales  |  July 26, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Bobbi Jo, I appreciate your comment.

    Mike,

    John, do you really think the way everyone perceives things is so similar?

    In short, and with reservations, yes. After all, we’re all the same (social) species, and we have the same wetware.

    Our sensoria are similar, and we share the same physical reality, so the null hypothesis would be that our uninterpreted perceptions are also similar.

    As members of a social species, it seems we have neurological mechanisms to help us relate to other members.

    My reservations relate mostly to the fact that everyone is different, and that the way we think and reason is, in large part, mediated by culture, language and environment.

    And I hasten to add that my answer relates more to perception of others’ mental state than to interpretation thereof.

  • 165. John Morales  |  July 26, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Um. I might have been a little obscure.

    In really short, I think that we have human empathy indicates we have more than no idea of what goes on in others’ minds.

    Sorry.

  • 166. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 27, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Interesting. Are you married? Do you know what your wife is thinking at any given moment? ;-)

    I understand that we are the same species and all that, but 10 people can observe the same event and come away with different reports.

    Our brains and our eyeballs may be constructed the same, but how we perceive things is based on so much more than physiology.

    “My reservations relate mostly to the fact that everyone is different, and that the way we think and reason is, in large part, mediated by culture, language and environment.”

    Exactly!

  • 167. Obi  |  July 27, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Mike said, “Our brains and our eyeballs may be constructed the same, but how we perceive things is based on so much more than physiology.

    Actually, I beg to differ. Our differences in perception are based on differences in physiology (mainly brain chemistry and structure).

  • 168. Cthulhu  |  July 27, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Obi,

    Actually, I beg to differ. Our differences in perception are based on differences in physiology (mainly brain chemistry and structure).

    Our perceptions can also be colored by external phenomenon – filtered through a world-view so to speak. Still – it is all processed by neuro-electrical and neuro-chemical activity in the brain.

    Cheers…

  • 169. John Morales  |  July 27, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Mike,

    I’m married to someone I met when she was at school; my only partner. (She’s still a church-going Catholic).

    As (presumably) with most long-term partnerships, we know each other’s likes and dislikes, how we approaches certain issues, etc.

    I have some idea of what she’s thinking, when we interact, but no, I don’t know what she’s thinking.

    In other words, her thinking has some translucency for me – more than that of a stranger – but it’s not entirely opaque.

    And that’s as far as I can realistically go; I have little knowledge of neurophysiology or cognitive psychology so can’t address these as other than “black boxes”.

  • 170. John Morales  |  July 28, 2008 at 6:41 am

    Um, 2nd to last para in my previous should’ve’d appended “… rather than almost clear.”

  • 171. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  July 28, 2008 at 9:05 am

    And with that, I think there isn’t much left of the horse. ;-)

    Thanks again for all the great comments folks!

  • 172. Bobbi Jo  |  July 28, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    If anyone is interested this is what my pastor wrote,

    “Hey, thanks for loving this person (or people) and encouraging their questions and thoughts. You are doing a great job engaging and welcoming their concerns.

    These kinds of questions are much easier answered in person, face-to-face, than over email or in writing. I would love to sit down and talk with whoever is asking these questions. I really do think I can offer some encouragement and answers and help. So rather than writing a point-by-point response (which would take days and still be very impersonal and academic), I’d like to set up a meeting with this person. Can you try to work that out? Let me know.

    Thanks for helping your friends pursue answers to their questions!”

    So if anyone wants to converse via email, let me know of your address and I can pass it on. or I can give you his. He is under the assumption that you all live here where I live, so I think he would still converse through email, even if it is more impersonal than in person. Just wanted to throw that out there.

  • 173. LeoPardus  |  July 28, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Mike:

    Are you married? Do you know what your wife is thinking at any given moment?

    Sometimes. But if I tell her, I know she’ll denies it. Then I know what lie she’ll tell. ;)

    John:

    I’m married to someone I met when she was at school; my only partner. (She’s still a church-going Catholic).

    Really! I’m married to someone I met when we were in high school. She’s my only partner. (She’s still a church-going Orthodox).

    On what folks were saying about perceptions:
    Our brains and our eyeballs may be constructed the same, but how we perceive things is based on so much more than physiology.
    Actually, I beg to differ. Our differences in perception are based on differences in physiology (mainly brain chemistry and structure).

    Both are right. Perceptions are based in pure biophysics, BUT we also process via our experience. We also mix and match input.

    A simple example is the ocular “blind spot”. Physically there’s a spot in everyone’s eye that is blind. (It corresponds to where the optic nerve actually inserts at the back of the eye.) So the brain fills that spot in by two means. 1-Moving the eye and “remembering”. 2- Matching the background.

    There are many more examples of course. Illusionists use them for a living.

  • 174. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 28, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Of course, we could really get into the details, and talk about how your experiences shapes your brain’s physiology, influences the connections it physically makes to allow it to think certain ways. That if you had different experiences, your brain would be, on a microscopic level, physically different. I have to go with Obi on this, I think it all ultimately comes down to physiology.

  • 175. notcalvin  |  July 28, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Bobbi Jo,

    Where do live? In general of course. City? State?

  • 176. Bobbi Jo  |  July 28, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Omaha NE.

  • 177. Bobbi Jo  |  July 28, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Interesting topic. My daughter has a type of epilepsy where her brain is absent for a spell. She also has a wondering eye, completely unrelated. I often wonder how different she would react to things if this were not the case. I often wonder how much she relies on experience when the physiology is electrically “taking a nap”. That is the term we use so she can understand and doesn’t feel that she is different.

    “Sometimes. But if I tell her, I know she’ll denies it. Then I know what lie she’ll tell”

    Leo, my husband caught me doing this this weekend! I had to take a step back and actually admit he was right. I hadn’t even realized I had done it at first! :) Just curious how long have you been married? Or together total?

  • 178. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 28, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Leo, my husband caught me doing this this weekend! I had to take a step back and actually admit he was right. I hadn’t even realized I had done it at first! :)

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned about relationships, it’s that even when the man is right, he’s wrong.

  • 179. TheDeeZone  |  July 28, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo,

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned about relationships, it’s that even when the man is right, he’s wrong.

    Shortly after we got married one of the men in our church gave my husband some advice. He told The Big Guy to start the day with the following: “Yes, dear I’m sorry. It is all my fault.”

  • 180. Bobbi Jo  |  July 28, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    On a serious note, I’ve actually apologized more this year alone to my husband than all the years past combined, partly because of my own eye-opening that others who don’t always agree with me have valuble things to say. I’ve grown a lot this year and I’m glad I found this blog this year and not in years past, as I don’t think you would have let me stay. :)

  • 181. TheDeeZone  |  July 28, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Bobbi Jo,

    You are right. I’ve learned some times it is not as important to be right.

  • 182. Elroy  |  July 28, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    On this subject, the other night I was talking with some of the guys about marriage. We were over at my house. They asked “Who wears the pants in your family?”. I said that I definitely did. I told them “I’m the captain of this ship, and I know it because my wife, the ADMIRAL, told me so”.

    sorry–old joke, but kind of funny actually.

  • 183. LeoPardus  |  July 28, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Just curious how long have you been married? Or together total?

    Married 23 years. :D Had about a year of going together and almost a 2 year letter writing relationship before marriage.

  • 184. Jasper  |  August 1, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    I had a quick question. I recently acquired a very energetic Shetland Sheepdog, or “Sheltie” named Raleigh. He loves to run in circles very fast, and can really bark up a storm. When the mail-man comes he runs around barking and barking, and does so with every visitor except one. When Father ‘Connell, our priest, comes by, Raleigh just sits there staring off into space as though the priest isn’t even there. Not only does he not bark, or run in circles, he does nothing at all. And then at night when I begin to read the Bible out loud, Raleigh stands up and walks into the other room and lies down.
    Sometimes he growls first before he leaves.

    Do you think my dog might be an atheist?

  • 185. silentj  |  August 3, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    First time poster. [clears throat... rrr.. flexes fingers]

    I just wanted to comment on two things:

    1. There were several comments about faith and what it means to be an atheist, including the common perception that you have to believe in something. One thing I’ve realized over the last year is that I’m not an atheist in that I don’t define myself as an atheist. To me, “atheist” is how I answer questions about what religion I am. I do include myself under the category of atheist, however, I don’t want to join atheist churches, wear atheist t-shirts, or espouse an atheist world view, largely because it speaks nothing of me other than the fact that I do not believe in a god. Which leads me to my second response, based on Graceone’s question about what Christians can do.

    2. Christians should realize that most people (strictly a guess, based on who I know) decided to become an atheist because either:
    a. they had no reason to believe in a god. (They had no previous religious world view and, thus, had no reason to believe.)
    b. the cognitive dissonance caused by what we know of the natural world and theological beliefs was too much to handle. They had to be honest with themselves, which meant admitting there was no god.

    People who don’t believe typically do not quit the faith because they want to sin more or don’t want to be accountable. They simply don’t believe. Christians would do well to recognize people who don’t believe as distinct individuals who can be extremely moral, ethical, and altruistic. The golden rule is about as universal a moral code as you can get, applying to atheists and Christians alike.

    There are other things I wish many Christians could understand in terms of living in a vast republic, especially in terms of public education. However, I’ll gladly begin with treating people as people rather than lumping
    them into big categories and expecting the worst.

    Lastly, I stumbled upon this forum two days ago, and I’m quite happy to have found it. Even though I don’t put much emphasis on atheism as part of my identity, I’m more than a little concerned about being ‘outed,’ so to speak, in an area of the country that is strongly Christian. In fact, I don’t tell many people my belief, or lack thereof, as I’ve heard them harshly judge others. Thankfully, I have some close friends with similar views that I can go to if I do want to talk about issues of spirituality. I think the vast majority of people I know think I’m a Christian because I’m a nice guy. (Perhaps I should start making tracts to hand out with slogans like “An atheist just held the door for you! :) ” )

    I like this site because people can voice shared experiences that are often rooted in sincere searches for the eternal.

  • 186. Quester  |  August 3, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Welcome, Silentj! You raise some very valid points. I hope you stick around and continue to contribute.

  • 187. andrealudwig  |  August 3, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Silent J, thanks for holding the door open. I can understand why you find it hard to believe in God, but if you begin by prayerfully reading the Bible you may change your mind. Just be prepared to accept whatever the truth is. I believe you can be a nice guy, yet in danger of going to hell. How can that be? Well, in order to get into heaven you have to be perfect. Sound unfair? Jesus’ perfection can be imputed {given} to you if only you accept that you are a sinner and ask for forgiveness. Surely you can think of something you have done wrong. Be brave and read the Bible for yourself, and then decide. If you have a humble heart and sincerity in seeking the truth, God will reveal himself to you. He promises to do that. A life without Jesus is not really life at all.

  • 188. Obi  |  August 3, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Why is it that one cannot enter heaven on their own merit and by their own good? What type of judge holds people to such impossible standards that none can even possibly hope to reach? Is that fair in any sense of the word? For example, there are two types of court in the U.S. — juvenile, and adult. We don’t judge juveniles according to the standards of an adult and we don’t punish them according to the standards of an adult because they don’t have the maturity of adults, nor even the mental capacity for decision-making that adults have, as recent advancements in neuroscience have shown.

    We wouldn’t charge a 3-year-old for stealing a toy from a store, because that would be unjust. A child cannot possibly hope to meet such standards, and so we compensate and take the whole situation into account. However, why does God, the supposedly perfect arbiter of justice see fit to judge humans that he knows are imperfect by his completely perfect standards? He is an omnipotent and omniscient being, and humans are none of these. Judging a human by “God standards” is brutally unfair, because God is the only being in existence that could ever meet them.

    Come to think of it, that’s one of the reasons I dumped Christianity. Its system of “justice” doesn’t make any sense at all. Calling it “justice” at all is a complete distortion of the word, because if God’s supposedly “perfect” system of justice was implemented amongst humans, there would be outrage, and for damn good reason.

  • 189. andrealudwig  |  August 3, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Obi, you are missing something. You ask some excellent questions, but there is a good answer. You are right in saying that no one can measure up to God’s standards of righteousness. You are also right in saying that God would be unjust if he held children to the same standards as adults. First, the whole reason Jesus died on the cross was to save sinners who were fully incapable of saving themselves. He requires nothing of you but repentance. As far as children go, have you ever heard of the age of accountability? Surely God automatically allows children who die to enter heaven because they have not yet reached full maturity and are not fully responsible for their actions. God is merciful, and he has provided a way out for those who can humble themselves enough to accept it. Dare to be vulnerable and needy, cry out to him and you will be saved from your sins. It is true freedom.

  • 190. silentj  |  August 3, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Andrea,

    I’m new, so you couldn’t have known what my past was like. However, I fall into the category with several of the others who were longtime Christians. I’ve read the Bible, prayed, lead study groups, gone on mission trips, and generally enjoyed most of my experiences as a Christian. However, I simply don’t believe any longer. It wasn’t a choice I made. I’m pretty sure I tried to be a Christian for a couple of years after I stopped believing.

    I know that in your world view Christianity makes sense and seekers shall find the truth. However, again, I know too much about the natural world and other cultures to believe in a singular god or a god at all. That may sound arrogant, but I don’t think it’s any less arrogant than those who believe that in this ridiculously immense universe, where Earth isn’t so much as a speck, that a god created us and has a personal relationship with us. Rather, I have the humility to understand that I simply am, a infinitesimal part of a gargantuan, wonderful universe. Nobody created me, yet, I have a mind that can consider the greater universe around me and a heart to love my family and friends.

    I don’t believe in Hell and, thus, am unafraid of it. Am I scared of death? Yes, but more because I want to keep living than because I’m afraid of an afterlife.

    As for you comment about life without Jesus, I find that train of thought pretty insulting, although I don’t think you meant it as much. I assure you, I enjoy my life and all of the wonderful things I experience throughout my journey. If it’s not a life, it’s a wonderful death or absence or whatever you’d like to call it.

  • 191. Obi  |  August 3, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    The reference to children was but an analogy. Children are to adults as the entire human race is to God. I could care less about accepting Jesus and getting a free pass into heaven, because the underlying system is hideously unjust and it was supposedly set up by a God who is perfectly just. It’s a contradiction — it doesn’t match up.

    Regardless, the concept of Jesus’ sacrifice is itself unjust as well. I don’t want someone else to take my “lumps” for me, because that isn’t justice. Justice is receving the consequences (punishment or not) that you deserve for the actions that you’ve done. Imagine a court system where a judge bases your conviction upon whether or not you knew his son. If you did, you were free to go, no matter the crime. If you didn’t, you were sent to jail for an infinite amount of time, no matter the severity of the crime or amount of crimes. Again, if we implemented God’s “justice”, our world would crumble.

    Not only that, but why must God sacrifice himself to himself to convince himself to give humans a reprieve from the laws that he himself created? It makes no sense. God could easily just abolish the entire unjust system of making us have to attain complete perfection (or have never had it at all), instead of pointlessly sacrificing himself to himself. It’s almost as if he has an unsatiable thirst for blood, and needs to have it shed to satisfy some type of primal urge. That’s an animal desire, not one that a supposedly supreme being should have.

    This Einstein quote is quite appropriate for the situation…

    I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own — a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.

  • 192. silentj  |  August 3, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Andrea (in response to 189),

    I don’t think there’s good reason at all in the global setup of humanity and what is at stake in Christian theology.

    First, an omniscient god physically gives a set of laws to a single person. At that point, all of man, not just the ones locally, must live by these laws.

    Later, said god realizes that no person can possibly live by these laws, so he sends himself as a savior to relieve us of our sins which were put in place by him.

    Now, all of mankind will be judged on whether they sought a man who lived a single human life in a relatively small geographic area of the earth. If you do not believe in him, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven AND you will burn in a lake of fire.

    In order to guide the people to find Jesus, we are given a written text that either:
    1. Literal (and can be plainly contradicted by what we know of the natural world.)
    or
    2.) Metaphorical, in which case, the Bible can lead us to any number of conclusions about what we’re supposed to do here. That sort of ambiguity gets messy when it involves the throwing of stones.

    Too complicate matters further, false gods have set up shop all over the world proclaiming to also be the truth, with no real evidence giving any one religion any advantage.

    I think for me, not believing isn’t about being upset with a few minor details of justice; rather, the whole thing just makes no sense to me, and I don’t believe it’s because I’m too simple minded and He works in mysterious ways. I think it doesn’t make sense because it was created by man in a time where a lot of hype could easily overcome reason and the minute amount of information we knew about the natural world.

    I’m not so much against an intangible higher power. However, I really don’t see why there need be one. I know some of these comments may sound callous or angry. However, I don’t know how to explain myself in much simpler terms. God’s ways make no sense to me, his methods condemn a lot of people to unjust suffering, and a god hasn’t made it’s present truly known in 2,000 years, at least, not like he did in the age of the testaments. I believe he hasn’t appeared because he doesn’t exist and science and reason don’t allow for superstitions and miracles to take root as they once did.

  • 193. silentj  |  August 3, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Obi,

    You would have save me a lot of time if you had just typed that a few minutes earlier.

  • 194. Obi  |  August 3, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    silentj –

    No mate, your post was excellent, and I completely agree with your points.

  • 195. andrealudwig  |  August 3, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    I really appreciate the respect you guys have shown me. I do wish you could see God as he is: holy and perfect, and never a doer of wrong. It is sad that you hurt him by falsely accusing him of evil. You are so wrong about him. =( But he loves you all the same.

    Have you read Revelation and believe that the prophecies in it will soon come true? Have you seen the many prophecies throughout the Bible which have already come true? If you ever had the indwelling Holy Spirit you would understand. I pray you will have experiences which show you God is real. The universe displays the glory of God. Wish I could be of more help. Hell is real and I don’t want you to go there.

  • 196. silentj  |  August 3, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    I don’t know why I feel the need to post this, but it comes to mind when I think of humility:

    http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i196/Slydrag0n/one.gif

    My apologies if this is old for most of you.

  • 197. silentj  |  August 3, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    Andrea,

    Not to be argumentative, but just to show the flip side:

    The universe displays its own truth and beauty. It doesn’t need a god to be glorious.

    I am constantly awed by nature. I

  • 198. Obi  |  August 3, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    andrealudwig –

    *sigh*

    Sure.

  • 199. Obi  |  August 3, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    andrewludwig –

    By the way, I just want you to know that I’ve heard everything you’re saying before. Those are the responses force fed to one by the church, which I see Christians simply regurgitating in situations like this. Such sayings simply don’t affect me anymore, because I’ve come to realize that threats of hell and claims for rewards in heaven are empty and have always been empty.

    “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” — Stephen P. Roberts

    I rather dislike sounding arrogant or overly sure of myself (especially in situations such as this where the reverse position is taken much to my chagrin), but I’d rather tell the truth no matter how it sounds. Your religion is false, just as all other human religions are false. God(s) may yet exist, but they aren’t the ones described by or worshipped in human religion. Of that I’m sure.

    Peace.

  • 200. john t.  |  August 3, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    silentj

    #196

    Just like looking at our body except a different scale…………incredible isnt it. Sure makes me wonder how it can be all just random chance. Thanks for the link.

  • 201. john t.  |  August 3, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    andrealudwig

    “It is sad that you hurt him by falsely accusing him of evil.”

    Now Im all for faith, but if you are taking your scripture literally then you need to look at this.

    Isaiah 45:7

    I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create EVIL: I the LORD do all these things.KJV.

    Taken right from the horses mouth.

  • 202. silentj  |  August 3, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    John,

    It’s not random chance. It’s a relative snap shot of a virtually infinite amount of time, most recently chunked into a 13.7 billion year old universe. Stars are the results of forces applying to mass.

  • 203. john t.  |  August 3, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Silentj

    Well correct me if Im wrong, but from an atheist perspective its random chance that we have life. RIght?

  • 204. Obi  |  August 3, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    John T. –

    I don’t want to engage you in an argument, but I just wanted to point out that it makes me want to kill someone (hoho…) whenever I read/hear the phrase “random chance” used in such a context. No scientist will tell you that the Universe is “run” completely by random, chance events. What use is it devising theories and laws if a random event could change your entire framework the next second?

  • 205. silentj  |  August 3, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    The question of evil brings up another thing I don’t understand:

    How is the fall possible in Heaven?

    If it could occur once when Heaven was perfect, what is to stop it from happening again?

    I just don’t understand that part of the story.

  • 206. Obi  |  August 3, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    I think I share the minds of a few people on this blog, silentj and SnugglyBuffalo in certain instances being two of them. Or perhaps it’s just that we all run into the same problems over and over again…

  • 207. john t.  |  August 3, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    Obi

    But dont we often have our theories changed by “random events” ?

    We have in the past had ideas and then something showed up that didnt fit our theory and we had to recalculate. At least that has been my experience on this earth.

  • 208. Obi  |  August 4, 2008 at 12:04 am

    John T. –

    You’re confusing utter randomness with unforseen events. They’re worlds apart. If our Universe was completely up to random chance, gravity might reverse tomorrow, or it might completely shut off. Likewise, electrons might become positively charged, and Dane Cook could become funny. However, since the Universe isn’t completely random, we can be fairly certaint that these things won’t happen.

    Long story short, the Universe isn’t random.

  • 209. Obi  |  August 4, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Aye, perhaps I should say that the Universe isn’t completely random, because there are some random events, especially on the quantum mechanical scale.

  • 210. john t.  |  August 4, 2008 at 12:07 am

    Obi

    Ok. thanks for your insights. Off to bed……….to ponder the mysteries of the Universe. ;)

  • 211. silentj  |  August 4, 2008 at 12:09 am

    John,

    I’m not sure of the nature of “random events” you’re talking about. However, in terms of scientific understanding, our understanding of the forces that hold the universe have been and are challenged. (The search for the unified theory.) However, “random events” haven’t changed the understanding. Rather, new insights or observed short comings of the understanding lead to revised understandings.

  • 212. silentj  |  August 4, 2008 at 12:12 am

    Obi, I’m not a physicist, but I’m not sure quantum mechanics is random either. It just doesn’t make sense given our expectations for bigger pieces of matter.

  • 213. LeoPardus  |  August 4, 2008 at 12:20 am

    andrewludwig:

    Yes, we’ve read the Bible. Many of the people here know it better than you do.

    Look in the Archives of this blog for an article called “By the way, who are the de-cons”. It may help you to realize that we aren’t a bunch of life-long atheists who don’t know the Christian faith from yogurt.

  • 214. LeoPardus  |  August 4, 2008 at 12:21 am

    The de-Convert:

    I do think that “By the way, who are the de-cons” ought to be added to the red exclamation mark posts.

  • 215. andrealudwig  |  August 4, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Leo, I did read it. I was just hoping I could reach someone somehow is spite of it.

    John T., I read your verse about God creating evil. I am familiar with that verse. Creating things with the propensity for good and evil is not the same as being responsible for the evil occurs. God, knowing that evil would occur, has provided a way out and we have no excuse if we reject him.

    I know you just don’t understand.

  • 216. andrealudwig  |  August 4, 2008 at 12:47 am

    I forgot the word “that” in the sentence: “Creating things with the propensity for good and evil is not the same as being responsible for the evil THAT occurs.”

  • 217. Obi  |  August 4, 2008 at 1:40 am

    andrealudwig –

    Since you seem to be so sure about what others understand and what they don’t, can you answer a (series of) question(s) for me that I “don’t understand”? Namely, why does God allow unnecessary suffering in the world, even when people pray to him to relieve them of it? This is actually a multi-pronged series of questions, and it’s my main objection to Christianity.

    First, let’s start with some Bible verses dealing with prayer.

    Matthew 17:20, “20He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

    Matthew 18:19-20, “ 19″Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.

    James 5:16-18, “16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 17Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

    In these verses, we see Jesus as well as James (among others in the Bible) speaking about the power of prayer and its effectiveness. Jesus promises us that when we gather together and pray in groups, our prayers will be heard by God and will be answered. The specific type of unnecessary suffering that I’ll talk about here is hunger and starvation. Food is a necessity for survival in humans and all other organisms, and when we don’t receive enough, we die. Jesus promises that God will give us what we pray for, so why are people still dying of suffering in places all around, for example in the African continent? Millions of people pray every day there and around the world for God to relieve them of their hunger and provide some type of food and sustenance, but thousands of them die every day without ever receiving so much as a crumb from this supposedly benevolent God.

    A weak answer to this might be “God is sending aid workers to help them and provide for them”, but that’s foolish for a number of reasons. The main one being, why would an omnipotent God send humans to do something he could easily accomplish himself, especially when it is an issue of this magnitude? The second one being the fact that we already have a precedent for God providing food without going through a human middleman — namely, the manna that fell from the sky to provide food for the Israelites in their trek through the desert. God supposedly sent food to them straight from heaven, not through Babylonian aid workers. Why can’t he do that today, when people are praying and crying out to him for him to fulfill what he promised in the Bible?

    On a related note, the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus’ instructions on how to pray, even contain instructions telling us that we should pray to God and request of him things that we need in our daily life. Namely, bread. Food.

    Luke 11:2-4, “ 2He said to them, “When you pray, say:
    ” ‘Father,
    hallowed be your name,
    your kingdom come.
    3Give us each day our daily bread.
    4Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
    And lead us not into temptation.

    Also, this issue ties into the problem of evil, which is a major, crippling issue for Christianity. In fact, Jesus gives his answer to the problem of evil in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

    Luke 10:30-37, ” 30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

    36″Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

    37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
    Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

    The problem of evil is best summarized by Epicurus:

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

    So where do the two come together? Jesus states that those who are fully able to do good and relieve the suffering of another but do not, such as the Levite and the priest, are evil. Those who are able to do good and follow through on their will to do so, are good. We can assume that by these standards, if God is truly benevolent and omnipotent, then he is both willing and able to do good. Then, according to Epicurus, “whence cometh evil”?

    So in the end, we have (1) Promises by Jesus that prayers will answered by God (2) Millions of people praying every day to relieve their suffering, all in accordance with the words of Jesus (3) A parable by Jesus telling us that those who are good relieve others of suffering if they are able. If they do not, they are evil. (4) The existence of rampant starvation and unnecessary suffering, in the face of the promises and teachings of Jesus himself in the Bible.

    All of this leads me to the only logical conclusion: that the God as described by the Bible does not exist.

    Oh, and please pardon the atrocious writing and any errors in formatting and punctuation. It’s late.

  • 218. andrealudwig  |  August 4, 2008 at 3:42 am

    This is what I do know:

    Jesus said we will always have the poor with us.

    Suffering will not be eradicated until Jesus comes back.

    Suffering by Christians helps us identify with Jesus.

    People’s sins affect others around them, and often means undeserved suffering for those affected.

    God will make everything right in his time.

    He can absolve the world of evil and he will, in his timing.

    He promises to feed those who depend on him. “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” {Psalm 37:25}

    We can pray for whatever we want but it is his will that will be done.

    You have to trust that He is good, and will do whatever is best.

  • 219. Rover  |  August 4, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Obi,
    As a Christian I have always believed that evil entered the world due to Adam’s sin. When he rejected God, God made him and humanity accountable for their decision. He would let them reap the consequences of their choice to make themselves God.

    God will one day restore all things, but not until the rule of man has run its course. Jesus told his disciples that they would experience persecution. Hebrews tell us that miracles are a glimps of the age to come and therefore will not be commonplace in this age. No amount of prayer would apparrently change that. Evil exists because God allows man a freewill. One day, according to Revelation, he will reclaim the Earth and do away with all sufferring, except for those He torments day and night in hell (crap, I was on a roll).

  • 220. Obi  |  August 4, 2008 at 9:47 am

    andrealudwig –

    That’s what I expected. The same old, meaningless, and endlessly regurgitated Christian platitudes. However, I’ll leave you with this.

    If God is able to abolish evil.
    If God is willing to abolish evil.
    Then why is there evil? It makes absolutely no sense, and it’s a clear contradiction.

    If one is fully and completely able to relieve suffering but does not act immediately because one is not willing, then that means that one is evil. For example, if an ambulance received an alert to pick up and treat someone suffering from a heart attack but they waited around to do it in “their time” and the person died, are these people good? Were they doing the job they committed to do?

    God receives prayers from people suffering, he is fully able to answer them, he has promised to answer them, and you say he ignores them to make them right “in his time”. See the contradiction? People he promised to help and provide for are dying of starvation, and each and every one of them is an example of a broken promise — disproving the Christian God.

  • 221. LeoPardus  |  August 4, 2008 at 11:00 am

    andrealudwig:

    I was just hoping I could reach someone somehow is spite of it

    I know what you mean. I’ve been in the same mindset. You’ve just GOT TO get through to people with what you think you know. It’s the most important thing in existence. Believe me, most of us know very well why you feel so driven.

    You, by contrast, cannot really see as we do now. Once you’ve seen through the whole delusion of theism, it’s astounding to think that you ever believed. The clarity is amazing. It’s like we once were blind and now can see (apologies for ripping of Mr Newton).

    Of course, in a very real sense, you don’t want to get too close to our perspective. It’s wonderfully clear and freeing. But getting there is the scariest thing you can imagine. If you see our stories (posted around the blog and forum sites), you’ll read over and over of how frightened and horrified we were when we started to seriously see the whole delusion for what it was.

    Where you’re at is a very happy, comfortable world. I know, I once occupied it too. You may not want to look too hard for the world outside your world.

  • 222. LeoPardus  |  August 4, 2008 at 11:05 am

    andrealudwig:

    On your answer to John T:
    I read your verse about God creating evil. I am familiar with that verse. Creating things with the propensity for good and evil is not the same as being responsible for the evil occurs.

    That falls flat when you read your Bible too:
    Amos 3:6 “When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?”

    “the LORD caused it” Can’t get any clearer than that can you? Of course since it’s just a bunch of writings by a primitive people about their made up deity, it’s really a moot point. When disaster comes to a city, it’s just what happens. No deity need apply for responsibility.

  • 223. LeoPardus  |  August 4, 2008 at 11:14 am

    andrealudwig:

    He promises to feed those who depend on him. “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” {Psalm 37:25}

    REALLY???? So why are there Christians dying of starvation in the world? They are out there you know. They are believing, and praying, and watching their families and friends die for lack of food. Many of them have read Psalm 37 too.

    You have to trust that He is good,

    Your use of the word “good” is utterly meaningless. Here; I will insist to you that no being could be “good” by any definition of the term, if they have the power to stop a child molester or some such and they sit by and do nothing. Now you will insist that God is still “good” but that his “good” is beyond our understanding. And now you’re undone. Because you just said that what you said, “He is good” doesn’t mean what we all understand it to mean. In fact it could be reworded to, “He is xytulixiredczn” and it would carry the same meaning.

    Sorry, but you cannot insist that God is “good”, expecting us all to apply the positive meaning of “good” that we all know, and then turn around and insist that “good” might not mean what we all mean when we use it.

  • 224. Rover  |  August 4, 2008 at 11:30 am

    LeoPardus,

    Greetings! In defense of andrealudwig from God’s point of view what is described in Amos is God’s judgment based on Israel’s disobediance. Israel was uniquie in that they were a nation chosen by God to be His people. When they obeyed they were blessed, when they disobeyed he caused them to suffer by withholding rain, sending pestilence and destructive forces. It was not evil so much as it was judgment. I know you know this but I think it is fair to point this out.

  • 225. andrealudwig  |  August 4, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Rover, thanks for the backup on this site and Rusty’s blog, too. You are indeed roving. {Sorry, couldn’t resist.} =)

    I am questioning whether God really wants me to be trying to reach out to people who are self-proclaimed apostates, which Hebrews 6:4-6 says will never know God. God still has compassion on them, though they are blinded. Heart-wrenching, isn’t it?

  • 226. Obi  |  August 4, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    “Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.”
    – Euripedes

    andrealudwig, it seems that all you can do is call others blind while you ignore and gloss over my arguments and objections without answer. Religious delusion corrupts the mind so thoroughly that it amazes me that humans would willingly subject themselves to it.

  • 227. andrealudwig  |  August 4, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Now I am a bit embarrassed. I got Rover mixed up with Jim B, on Rusty’s blog. Let it be known that I am not perfect! I am sure everyone already knew that, so no harm done, I guess!

    In any case, God possesses all knowledge so look to him!

  • 228. LeoPardus  |  August 4, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    andrealudwig:

    I am questioning whether God really wants me to be trying to reach out to people who are self-proclaimed apostates

    The real problem here isn’t trying figure out what you imaginary friend would want you to do. That’s easy. SInce he’s only in your imagination, you can do anything you imagine him wanting you to do.

    The real problem is what I said earlier. You may start to understand our point of view. When that happens, your world gets VERY frightening for a while.

    which Hebrews 6:4-6 says will never know God

    Bad exegesis. Don’t you know how to interpret that in at least six of seven ways? I can give you good, Calvinist interpretations that would allow for any of us to be “still saved” even now.

  • 229. Dan  |  August 19, 2008 at 12:01 am

    In my defense I said:

    “You call it being a liar, I call it being in denial”

    We are in denial if we believe there is NO God IMHO.

  • 230. Dan  |  August 19, 2008 at 12:05 am

    I wanted to apologize also. I never wanted your feeling to get hurt. I was trying to get you to engage in a conversation I had no idea you would never talk to me again forever. Forgive me please. I enjoyed our conversations. Now I just miss them.

  • 231. Dan  |  August 19, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Would that be considered quote mining?

    Anyway if anyone is really interested I followed it up with a reply

  • 232. Dan  |  August 20, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    One of two things has happened to you: Either you were saved and has a tremendous amount of remorse for your behavior. Or you were never saved and you just brushed it off as “who cares”

    We get to a place where we are repenting, our repentance is, in itself, an evidence of the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit. The test is not: are you sinning and feeling rejected by God? The test is whether you want to be forgiven. If you commit an unpardonable sin, you have utterly and completely rejected the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and you can’t care about it – you will have a complete disdain and revulsion to the things of the gospel. If you are worried that you are beyond God’s grace, if you fear God’s judgment, if you desire to be saved, the Holy Spirit is still working in you and you cannot have utterly and completely rejected God or have blasphemed the Holy Spirit.

    Are you lost forever? Do you care? If you do not I will give you my word that I will leave you alone. If you care about truth and seek it and fell remorse of any kind then the Holy Spirit is working in you.

    It all boils down if you were ever a Christian or not. The chance is that you were never a Christian if you don’t care. Read Hebrews 6:4-8

    It’s never too late if you care…do you?

  • 233. andrealudwig  |  August 21, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Dan, very well said.

  • 234. LeoPardus  |  August 21, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Dan:

    Hey! You just used this post in another thread. No fair trying to get extra points. Now go read the article entitled “Convenient categories”.

  • 235. ordover  |  August 21, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    As SnugglyB pointed out on that other thread, our friend Dan here is from a blog called “debunking atheists,” so the Convenient Categories are his bread and butter.

    (PS-Maybe this post should be deleted. Doesn’t posting the same hateful and willfully ignorant mini-rant TWICE qualify as spamming?)

  • 236. LeoPardus  |  August 21, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Actually I’ll give Dan some benefit of the doubt. I don’t think he’s really hateful or willfully ignorant. Remember how many of us used to think in just the way he does? We were boxed in, brainwashed, programmed. Dan’s still there.

  • 237. ordover  |  August 21, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Yeah, I suppose you’re right. But still, once is annoying, twice is spamming.

  • 238. Oleander  |  August 21, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    PS-Maybe this post should be deleted. Doesn’t posting the same hateful and willfully ignorant mini-rant TWICE qualify as spamming?)

    How is Dan’s post hateful and willingly ignorant? He is stating a scripural stand taught by many theologians. I actually totally agree with what he is saying. God has placed Heb.6:4-6 like barbed-wire is placed around a pasture area. If you truly are a Christian and begin to wander far enough away then you will encounter verses like Heb. 6:4-6 and Heb. 10:26 which are scriptures of warning. If you truly have the Spirit living in you, you will take heed and fear. The verses will literally turn you back from totally apostasizing.

    However, if you are not a true believer you will be able to go on past the barbed wire so to speak. Soon, you will be able to read those verses without them even bothering you any more. You literally will not care any more. You will have no DESIRE to repent—and without the desire it becomes impossible to return——not because God does not want you to return—but because you have hardened your heart so greatly that you will not respond to the Holy Spirit’s promptings any more. I believe this to be very scriptural—not hateful or willingly ignorant—it is accepted teaching in many circles.

    I think almost every theologian would say that if one has a desire to repent, or even a desire to desire, then the Spirit is still at work. It is when one becomes a complete mocker, or has absolutely no desire whatsoever to return to Christ, or any fear of the consequences, that one may have gone to far.

  • 239. LeoPardus  |  August 21, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    OK Oleander, we’ll give you a booger point too for using the same “Convenient category”. Now you and Dan both have one. Are you happy?

  • 240. Oleander  |  August 21, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    OK Oleander, we’ll give you a booger point too for using the same “Convenient category”. Now you and Dan both have one. Are you happy?

    Booger Point? :) :)

  • 241. Obi  |  August 21, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    “Never a ‘true’ Christian in the first place, hurr hurr. Hurr hurr.”

  • 242. Oleander  |  August 21, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    “Never a ‘true’ Christian in the first place, hurr hurr. Hurr hurr.”

    I understand your sarcasm and being wearied of hearing about “true Christians”. However, Jesus said in Matthew 7 that many would say to him on that day “Lord, Lord, haven’t we done many miracles in your name…etc.” And he said he will answer “I never knew you, depart from me”.

    So, despite mocking that concept (though I understand you have probably heard it times without number) it is clearly taught in the Bible. These people really THOUGHT they were Christians—they are arguing with the Lord and saying “BUT didn’t we do this, or do that?” And He is saying “I never knew you” (you never really were born again).

    But again, I understand–many come in here and say the same things I suppose.

  • 243. Obi  |  August 21, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    There you go again. Some people never learn, I guess. “No true Scots– err, Christian would ever hurr hurr…”

    Also, isn’t it funny that the person making these stupid accusations and false equivocations always considers themsekves a ‘true’ Christian (hurr hurr)? Food for thought, ruminate on it.

    Damn that was a good play on words.

  • 244. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 21, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Oleander, if any of us were not “true” Christians, then you have to face the possibility that you yourself are not a true Christian and may one day apostatize. In fact, no Christian can be certain that he is a true Christian until he dies.

  • 245. ordover  |  August 21, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    How is Dan’s post hateful and willingly ignorant?

    Well, first of all, I took back that statement after what Leo said, because I know Dan (and you) don’t intend to be mean and rude. But I initially find things like that hateful and ignorant in the sense that they project nothing but Holier-Than-Thou style arrogance.

    “Also, isn’t it funny that the person making these stupid accusations and false equivocations always considers themsekves a ‘true’ Christian (hurr hurr)? Food for thought, ruminate on it.”

    Yep!

    “In fact, no Christian can be certain that he is a true Christian until he dies.”

    Yep!

  • 246. Rover  |  August 21, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Oleander,

    What makes you think Hebrews 6 is not talking about true believers?

  • 247. Oleander  |  August 22, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Oleander,

    What makes you think Hebrews 6 is not talking about true believers?

    Rover—–

    Hebrews 6 is written to true believers. It is placed in the Bible due to God’s great love and mercy to his people. Hebrews 6 does two main things: it identifies what a TRUE apostate is, and also restrains TRUE Christians from following the same path. Hebrews 6:1-3 is to TRUE believers, 6:4-8 speaks of TRUE apostates, and 6:9 comes back to “We are persuaded better things of you BRETHREN, and things that ACCOMPANY SALVATION”–back to true believers once again.

    I like to think of Hebrews 6 as a barb-wired fence around the Good Shepherd’s “pasture”. When one of his real sheep begins to stray way to far he runs into the barbed-wire. We often see this (and I am one who has gone through this) in believers who are petrified that they have committed the “unpardonable sin”. They KNOW they have committed some sin that is very bad—but they are confused as to what the unpardonable sin is. They have strayed into the barbed wire of the warning verses God has placed there to drive them back to himself.

    A TRUE apostate will not be bothered by this barbed-wire though. In fact, they can even mock Heb. 6:4-6 and other warning passages, because they are BEYOND them now. They have shown who they really are.

    I realize this is just an interpretation of those verses—-but I believe it is the correct one. A TRUE Christian WILL persevere in his faith—whereas a TRUE apostate will not. And this is because a true Christian has the Holy Spirit living in him, and convicting him/her of sin and unbelief. The warning passages (if someone strays so far as to come close to renouncing their faith) will bring so much fear to the heart of the wandering Christian that he will be forced to cry out to God for mercy. The apostate will not do this—but will follow his own way and defect from the faith for good.

  • 248. Oleander  |  August 22, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    I will add that the reason Hebrews 6 and 10:26 and Matt 12:30,31 are so effective in driving Christians back to God if they stray too far is the difficulty in interpreting the verses. One can think he fully understands them, then “drift” in their faith very far—they will hit a place where they say “But WHAT IF I HAVE become Hebrews 6:4-6? What if I HAVE committed the unpardonable sin?

    Because the passages are so difficult to interpret, one is never sure. However, a true Christian will be so bothered by the verses that they will repent and turn back—-an apostate will not–but will continue into renouncing their faith, and eventually even mocking the very verses meant to turn back the Christian to God.

  • 249. Obi  |  August 22, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Oleander, how do you know that you’re a “true Christian” (hurr hurr)?

  • 250. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    So, if the sheep leaves the pasture and ignores the barbed wire fence, that means it’s not really a sheep?

    Seriously, following this way of thinking, you have no way to know who is a true Christian until they die. Before death, you have absolutely no certainty that a person will not apostatize.

  • 251. Obi  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Further than that, Snuggly. Oleander quoted a verse where two people on the “last day” who were practicing Christians when they died were rejected by Jesus. You don’t even have to apostasize to have never been a “true Christian” (hurr hurr). The question still stands: how do you know that you yourself are a “true Christian” (hurr hurr), Oleander?

  • 252. orDover  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Oleander, how do you know that you’re a “true Christian” (hurr hurr)?

    I’m starting to think this question is never going to be answered by Oleander. If you count the times I’ve quoted it, it’s been asked six times now.

  • 253. orDover  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Make that seven.

  • 254. Oleander  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Oleander, how do you know that you’re a “true Christian” (hurr hurr)?

    I know I am saved because the Bible says I am—and I continue to believe that just as strongly as I ever have. I “tried” to apostasize once but became so gripped with fear about being one of those mentioned in Heb. 6:4-6 that I came to a place where I had to come back, repent, and return to the God. I know others are not because they “say” they “used to be”, but OBVIOUSLY do not believe the Bible any more. This leads me to believe they never REALLY believed it in the first place or they would never have renounced the faith the “claimed” they believed in the first place.

    Snuggly–

    Before death, you have absolutely no certainty that a person will not apostatize.

    Well I know you have, and several others on the board. It’s true—only God knows the hearts. But if Hebrews 6:4-6, 10:26 don’t bother you when you are drifting away, and have not been effective in restraining you then I would say you are showing signs of being an apostate.

    So, if the sheep leaves the pasture and ignores the barbed wire fence, that means it’s not really a sheep?

    Yes—for sure. I’ll tell you why. If a person truly has received Christ and has the Holy Spirit in their heart, the Holy Spirit will not let that person go. And that is because Jesus has promised that none of his true believers can be plucked out of his Father’s hand. (John 10:28) If the true believer wanders that far he WILL BE CHASTISED (see Hebrews 12)–and the Lord does this in many ways—-one of them is through the warning and threatening verses. They are there in love to drive the Christian back to Him. As an earthly father or mother will scold a child for wandering into the street, sometimes with threats of punishment, so God does to his dear children.

    But apostates are different. They do not have the Spirit, and are not true children. They made a “profession” of faith, yet they are able to go beyond those verses—with no chastisement at all:

    But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (Heb. 12:8)

    That is why they can continue on, renounce the faith, and eventually even mock what they used to believe. A real believer can never do that.

  • 255. Oleander  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Where the smileys are should be John 10–28 and Hebrews 12–8

  • 256. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Oleander, how do you know that 10 years from now you won’t be an apostate yourself? A year ago, I would have sooner died than renounce my faith. And yet here I am…

    You think those verses didn’t bother me? They certainly did. But I can’t let fear keep me from seeking the truth. Once it became clear that God wasn’t really there, those verses became meaningless.

    Those verses kept you from leaving the faith in the past, but there is no way to be certain they will be effective in the future. Without being able to see the future, you have no way to ascertain who is or is not going to apostatize before they die, not even yourself. Maybe you’re not really a true Christian, and won’t realize it for years. Maybe I really am a true Christian, and a few years from now I will return to the faith and and stay with it till I die.

  • 257. Oleander  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (Heb. 12–8)

    When one reads that verse one has to ask themselves “How was I able to apostasize from the faith if I was really a Christian”?

    In answer again to the question of how I know I am a true Christian, what I can say is I have believed the promises of God for a long time now, through all the ups and downs, and even doubts and still continue every day. Jude 24 says he is able to keep us from falling, so I claim that verse all the time–and when I slip I am always lifted back up. When I have wandered too far I have been chastised by God—finding peace and joy only when I am following Christ. And that is because the Holy Spirit lives in me and will never let me get “comfortable” in my unbelief. I will be miserable until I return to Christ—that I can say as a fact after so many years.

    What else can I say? A child knows their own father right? I KNOW I belong to Him and that he loves and disciplines me. A lot of you obviously DON’T know that or you wouldn’t have become so unsure that you left God and renounced the faith—and on top of it were never chastised when you did.

  • 258. Oleander  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Did it again! Should be 12–8 geez!

  • 259. Oleander  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    I apologize—I am getting far too “preachy” and really did not intend to do that.

  • 260. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 22, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Oleander, I’m sure almost every single one of us would have given the same answer you just did before we de-converted.

    I KNOW I belong to Him and that he loves and disciplines me. A lot of you obviously DON’T know that or you wouldn’t have become so unsure that you left God and renounced the faith—and on top of it were never chastised when you did.

    Except we did know that, and yet left the faith anyway. And what do you mean by “chastised?” Do you mean chastised by God? I certainly felt a lot of chastisement from my inner voice which I used to mistake for God.

    Nothing you have stated above didn’t apply to me when I was a Christian. So again, I say that in spite of what you believe now, there is no way to be certain that you will not apostatize later on. Maybe one day you will “slip” and not be “lifted back up.” One day you might wander too far and not be chastised. You have no way of knowing with any certainty that this can’t happen. Every reason you have given for why you “know” this is a reason I would have given just a year ago.

  • 261. orDover  |  August 22, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    What I keep hearing you say again and again is that you can tell you are a real Christian (or anyone can tell they are a real Christian) if Hebrews 6 strikes fear into your heart. Am I wrong in asserting that as the crux of your argument?

    If I am, I guess you can disregard the following, but I’m going to look at this with a critical eye. You say you believe in God, and you didn’t apostatize, because you were scared by the threats in Hebrews 6. Is fear a good reason to believe in anything? When I was a kid I had an older cousin who told me electric eels lived in the pipes of my pool, and that they would bite me if I swam past. For days I was scared to go into the pool, but finally I decided that I could either keep being scared forever, or look in the pipes and see if there were really eels hiding there. So I looks, and guess what, no eels! I learned that the basis of my fear was false.

    I would suggest that you need to examine critically the basis of any claim before you can give into its fear mongering. I was scared by Hebrews 6 too. I was scared of hell, scared of letting down God, scared of disrespecting him, scared that I was spitting into the face of Jesus who made the ultimate sacrifice for me, scared that my name would be written out of the book of life, scared that I was wrong. But I decided, rater than give into that fear, I had to examine the basis. I looked for empirical, non-emotional proof for the existence of a benevolent, all-powerful creator. I think you know what I found. Nothing. No proof of something called a “soul,” no proof of bottom-up design, no proof of anything supernatural.

    I found no proof of eels in my pool, but I could have continued to be afraid. I could have insisted that the eels were invisible, that my eyes weren’t well-equip enough to see them, that they were really there but I had failed to notice. The next time I went swimming I still avoided the pipes. I still had the emotional fear that the eels were there, even if I could find no proof of them. But that emotion didn’t make the eels real. And I decided that I had to let go of the fear because I really wanted to enjoy swimming that summer. Likewise, I decided I had to let go of God, despite my inner fears, because there was no proof of him either.

  • 262. orDover  |  August 22, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Nothing you have stated above didn’t apply to me when I was a Christian.

    Me too.

  • 263. Obi  |  August 22, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Oleander, what you fail to realize is that years ago, all of us used to be in the same position that you’re in right now. We know how it feels to be sure that one is a Christian, but then to face reality and then realize that the religion simply isn’t true. Indeed, it seems like you continuously reassure yourself that you are indeed a “true Christian” (hurr hurr), when a verse that you yourself quoted shows that you can continue believing that until after you die and still be rejected by Jesus at the entryway to heaven (in the Christian system of mythology, not in the real world, of course).

    Hoho, it’s just so humorous to me seeing you act “holier-than-thou” and condemning us all as never having been “true Christians” (hurr hurr) when you can’t even be sure yourself. You may even be a false Christian in total denial, simply thinking that you’re a real Christian. After all, if those men who worked miracles for Jesus were mistaken, who are you to think that you aren’t as well?

  • 264. Oleander  |  August 22, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    orDover—

    You are misunderstanding me. I am not saying that I am a Christian because of fear. I do not serve Jesus Christ as some sort of slave of fear. What I said is that when someone
    who really is a Christian slips so far that you can’t tell them and a real apostate apart, the Holy Spirit will chastise them with the last resort available, and that is fear. The Holy Spirit
    always works through love—he calls, he woos, he reminds us of his past workings, he reminds us of what Jesus did for us. But if we ignore all of those things only discipline remains. If one truly is a Christian they will be chastised (See Hebrews 12:8). if not, they are a “bastard” and not a “son”. They will be “allowed” to go their own way.

    Judas is a prime example of an apostate—he was with Jesus for his ministry, watched him work, saw his miracles, may have done miracles himself (when Jesus sent them out 2 by 2 and gave them such powers), and most likely called himself a “follower of Jesus”. Jesus even called him “friend” when Judas came up and kissed him before betraying him. He was the treasurer for Jesus also–entrusted with the money for ministry. He “appeared” in every way to be a follower, and most likely looked to be very sincere as the disciples at the last supper did not suspect him to be the betrayer when Jesus said one of them would do that. They saw Judas as one of themselves. Yet, the whole time he never REALLY believed. When Jesus prays in John 17 he calls Judas the “Son of Perdition” and says he will go “to his own place”. But Jesus knew who he was, and what he would do, and he let him go do it.

    Whereas Peter, whom Jesus said Satan wanted to “sift like wheat”, denied Jesus—-but once he realized he had done so he “went out and wept bitterly”. He denied Jesus (3) times—-and in John 21 Jesus gently “chastises” him, asking him (3) times also “Do you love me Peter? Feed my sheep”. He restored Peter through the chastisement, and Peter went on to be a great apostle. The apostate Judas went to “his own place” but Peter was restored to the Lord. One was a “professor” and one was a true believer.

    I am just saying that if it takes fear to bring back a genuine believer God will use it. If you really were in Christian circles, you most likely ran into someone who thought they had committed the “unpardonable sin”. This is a horrible experience, but in a way it can be a great blessing also—in that one is touched with how horrible it would be to be separated from God forever. If one is a true believer that thought is one of the saddest thoughts imaginable and breaks the heart and drives one back to God.

    Obi—

    I understand what you are saying, but you see, most of you have already apostasized. You have shown what was in your hearts all along. Why have you finally and totally given in to unbelief? Because you never really believed in the first place. I know you all hate to hear that—but that is the conclusion (even using logic) that most would come to.

    The best way I can put it is that you took hold of “Christianity”, but Jesus himself never took hold of you. Because if he had you would still be Christians. Might sound “holier than thou”—but I find it to be scriptural. Sorry.

  • 265. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 22, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Damn my penchant for engaging in futile debates…

    They saw Judas as one of themselves. Yet, the whole time he never REALLY believed.

    How do you know this? You have nothing to back up this claim. Perhaps Judas really did believe, up until he decided to betray Jesus.

    You have shown what was in your hearts all along. Why have you finally and totally given in to unbelief? Because you never really believed in the first place.

    Again, you have no way to support this. There is absolutely no reason a person could not truly believe at one point and then later stop believing. It is as possible that you don’t really believe as it is that I never did.

    The best way I can put it is that you took hold of “Christianity”, but Jesus himself never took hold of you.

    Kinda makes Jesus a jerk, doesn’t it? Refusing to take hold of us and then damning us to Hell for it?

    Anyway, what the hell does it matter to you, anyway? Why are you even here if we’re just a bunch of people who never believed anyway? What are you trying to accomplish here?

  • 266. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 22, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    And now I feel like an idiot for putting the word “anyway” both at the beginning and end of the same sentence. *sigh*

  • 267. Obi  |  August 22, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Oleander –

    No, you don’t understand. We’ve ‘given into unbelief’ because the belief wasn’t true in the first place, not because “Jesus wasn’t working in our hearts”. However, let’s hypothetically say that Jesus does in fact exist. Why would he choose not to ‘take a hold of us’ but choose to ‘take a hold of’ you, as it seems that you desperately assure yourself that he has?

    And trust me, I don’t hate to hear that at all, but it simply isn’t true. It would actually be quite a compliment, because it would show that I never surrendered my mind to religion, but as a child being raised in a Christian home, that’s somewhat hard to do. I just find it uproariously funny that you have the audacity to tell me what I believe(d), which is why every time you tell me that I wasn’t a “true Christian” (hurr hurr) it makes me think of you as more and more of a block-headed idiot. Please don’t make me think like that. Please.

  • 268. ordover  |  August 22, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    I am just saying that if it takes fear to bring back a genuine believer God will use it.

    And I’m just saying is that before you give into fear of damnation, you better be pretty sure that you have an actual reason to be afraid. You better make sure, independent of your emotions, that God is real before you decide to be afraid of the punishments that men say await those who don’t believe in him.

    You haven’t give me any example of why you believe in God, why you should be afraid of his warnings, aside from emotions and inner feelings, just “knowing” intuitively.

    Why have you finally and totally given in to unbelief? Because you never really believed in the first place. I know you all hate to hear that—but that is the conclusion (even using logic) that most would come to.

    What logic? CHRISTIAN logic? That circular system of self-reliance? The logic of the Bible? The logic of Biblical interpretation? That’s only a logical position if you believe in the Bible in the first place, and that is what that kind of logic doesn’t fly with us.

    Might sound “holier than thou”—but I find it to be scriptural. Sorry.

    And there you have it. Oleander is right and we are wrong because Oleander gives credence to a magical book without any rational, logical reason to give credence to the book, or believe in it’s magic.

    The best way I can put it is that you took hold of “Christianity”, but Jesus himself never took hold of you

    Oleander also completely understand our spiritual lives, even more than we understand them. That’s good to know. I guess my subjective experiences were actually wrong all along.

  • 269. LeoPardus  |  August 22, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    The whole of Oleander’s view is simply one big “No True Scotsman” fallacy. And he WILL not see that. Why? Because it is critical that he not see it. If he did allow himself to see it, he’d also have to see, and admit, that at least some of us were just as much “real” Christians as he thinks he is. That’s too horrible a thought to contemplate. It rips all the security out of his world. And so…. he MUST not see his view for what it is. And he will not.

  • 270. Oleander  |  August 22, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Snuggly—-

    You said:

    How do you know this? You have nothing to back up this claim.

    Jesus knew who was an apostate from the beginning:

    Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?” He was referring to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot; it was he who would betray him, one of the Twelve.

    Jesus also said “I have kept them that you gave me, and none of them is lost save the son of perdition, that he might go to his own place”.

    It is apparent that Jesus knew when he chose Judas that he was an apostate at heart and would never really believe—because if he had he would be saved just as the other apostles were.

  • 271. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 22, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Nothing you have said shows that Judas didn’t believe, only that Jesus knew Judas would betray him.

  • 272. Oleander  |  August 22, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Snuggly—–

    Didn’t mean to anger you in anyway. I know I am sounding quite “smug” and “holier than thou” when I am saying some of things I am saying. When I said that Jesus didn’t take hold of you I am not implying he doesn’t want to. There just appears to be a kind of faith that really isn’t complete—-I don’t know what it is really. I do not fully understand it. But the Bible appears to teach it.

    Read John 6—-at the end of that chapter Jesus says “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him”. It then says that “many then turned back away from following him and walked with him no more”–the verb tense speaks a finality to it—they would follow him no more–their belief was over. (this is at the end of the chapter–it’s a very long chapter–around 70 verses or so).

    This appears to show that there are a type of people who will start out following Jesus (who knows the reasons–could be a myriad of them), but their heart really isn’t in it. They are not following Jesus for Jesus, but for something “associated” with him. They therefore turn back, because the true motivation that should be there for believing is not there, and their faith slowly dies.

    Again, forgive me—–this appears to be a Biblical teaching–read John 6–and several other passages where people “believed” but not fully or really (see Simon Magus in ACTS).

    I will be quiet now—-I realize that I am going on and on about something that is very hard to understand. There are many, many Christians, and I think many of us visit here because it is hard for us to believe that the small minority of apostates actually truly believed. You know your own hearts though—so didn’t mean to be offensive about this. I guess it’s hard to have a theological discussion with someone who doesn’t believe in God (pretty obvious huh? As Homer Simpson might say “DOH!!!”

  • 273. Oleander  |  August 22, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Nothing you have said shows that Judas didn’t believe, only that Jesus knew Judas would betray him.

    Snuggly—

    I beg to differ there though. Jesus said that “have I not chosen you and one of you is a devil”—-he is obviously referring to someone who is “devilish” in nature—-an impostor, or liar. If you want to disagree with that, that’s fine. But it is pretty obvious to me.

    It also says in John that “he was a thief, and held the money bag” after Judas complained that the woman was pouring expensive oil on Jesus. Judas was far more concerned about the money than he was about Jesus, who had proclaimed he was about to be crucified. Judas obviously was not a true believer. He was also absent when Jesus washed their feet saying “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me”. Jesus knew Judas would betray him because he knew the 12 apostle’s hearts. One of the twelve was only a “professor” from the beginning.

  • 274. Oleander  |  August 22, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Here are the verses from John. Note how the two thoughts are put together one after the other. First many of his disciples go back, never to follow him again. Then he mentions Judas being “a devil”—perhaps inferring that the same type of person who drew back in unbelief is following him still.

    I will shut up now–just wanted to share the verses I was referring to.

    Then he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”
    As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.
    Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
    Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
    We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
    Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?”
    He was referring to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot; it was he who would betray him, one of the Twelve.

  • 275. Oleander  |  August 22, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    I am not inferring apostates are “devils”. What I meant was that Jesus is speaking about the heart. The “many” turned back because they weren’t committed to Jesus. They were following him, but not really for him. Then Jesus mentions Judas, because he knows his heart also.

  • 276. Ubi Dubium  |  August 22, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Oleander, I prefer the perspective of the Gospel of Judas. It makes so much more sense. If sacrificing himself was part of Jesus’s plan all along then he needed someone to turn him in. This was a really important job. In the Gospel of Judas, Jesus asks Judas to turn him in because Judas is the one he trusts the most. He tells Judas that the others will condemn him, but a reward will be awaiting him in heaven for fulfilling god’s plan. The disciples were indeed angry, so much so that they left this part out of the other gospels.

    Even when I was a believer, I had problems with the idea of condemning Judas as evil. It just never made sense.

  • 277. Rover  |  August 22, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Oleander,

    Read Hebrews chapter 6. Study the word “tasted” and you will see that this is speaking about believers.
    Did Satan believe in God? Yes, he did. Just because Judas was at one point possessed does not mean that he didn’t believe in God at some point.
    Judas will be punished severly for betraying Jesus. Why would God choose someone to do this, cause them to be in the position to do it and then punish them for doing it?

  • 278. Quester  |  August 22, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    If you count the times I’ve quoted it, it’s been asked six times now.

    Damn my penchant for engaging in futile debates…

    I just find it uproariously funny that you have the audacity to tell me what I believe(d), which is why every time you tell me that I wasn’t a “true Christian” (hurr hurr) it makes me think of you as more and more of a block-headed idiot.

    By these quotes, it looks like you (Snug, Obi and OrDover) have realized that you’re in a futile conversation. Forty posts ago, Oleander summed up someone else’s thoughts by saying:

    God has placed Heb.6:4-6 like barbed-wire is placed around a pasture area. If you truly are a Christian and begin to wander far enough away then you will encounter verses like Heb. 6:4-6 and Heb. 10:26 which are scriptures of warning. If you truly have the Spirit living in you, you will take heed and fear. The verses will literally turn you back from totally apostasizing.

    This isn’t a cogent argument. This barely counts as communication. Responding to this level of blatant ignorance gets nowhere fast, and stays there for as long as you continue posting.

    Perhaps I’m missing some sign of growth or progress in this conversation- some hope that something will actually be said and heard. If so, I apologize. Otherwise, please, do not feed the trolls.

  • 279. Obi  |  August 22, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Aye Quester, you’re right. Reading that quote, it’s awkward to see how many times (s)he used the word “truly” in such short succession — it was as if (s)he was trying to make it as obvious as possible that he was engaging in the No true Scotsman fallacy. Perhaps (s)he was being dense on purpose…?

  • 280. ordover  |  August 22, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    You’re right Quester. It’s just really hard to accept the fact that some people won’t be given to reason. I want to have faith that, if prompted by the right questions, people can change their minds, or at least see the logical shortcomings of their arguments. Oleander’s argument was based on such a blatantly obvious logical fallacy, I just hoped that eventually, if we made that clear enough, if we pointed it out enough, that they would understand, if nothing else, the fact that their argument was based on faulty logically. :(

    I do need to learn how to pick my battles in a more productive manner.

  • 281. TheDeeZone  |  August 22, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    While haven’t said anything in a while I have been following the debate as to whether you were truly a Christian have and grown weary of responses by some Christians. I think that maybe they need to learn some lessons from reading this blog. First as myself and any other Christian that reads this blog is a guest. As a guest should respect the “hosts”. Second, the chances that anything myself or any Christian posts will cause someone to re-convert is very slim.

    As for if someone who de-converted was truly a Christian. It really is impossible to make such a judgment based what has been written here. If you say you were truly a Christian I take that statement at face value. Besides what I think really doesn’t matter.

    Just my not so humble opionion.

  • 282. Ubi Dubium  |  August 23, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Thank you DeeZone – well said.

  • 283. Quester  |  August 23, 2008 at 1:09 am

    It’s just really hard to accept the fact that some people won’t be given to reason.

    It is. Sometimes, I have to get out of my chair and leave the room in order not to post a response to something that seems to call out for even the slightest dose of reason. Occasionally, I fail to resist. I’m sure, at times, I also resist posting in situations where that reason might actually be heeded.

    Nonetheless, seven repetitions (#253) is probably a sign that the conversation can be stepped away from.

  • 284. john t.  |  August 23, 2008 at 7:44 am

    Quester

    I fully understand how unbelievable any actual story about God would be accurate, be it Christianity, Buddhism, Islam. But I was out with my wife last night in a multicultural area of our city and we both thought how unrealistic and unbelievable it is to think that there isnt a driving force with some purpose behind it. Like come on, really?? THis world is just a fluke or just a bunch of Atoms and such with no purpose other than just to continue itself. How freaking fantastical is that to believe.

  • 285. Ubi Dubium  |  August 23, 2008 at 10:30 am

    johnt

    Like come on, really?? THis world is just a fluke or just a bunch of Atoms and such with no purpose other than just to continue itself. How freaking fantastical is that to believe.

    But any being that could consciously create such a complex and purposeful universe would have to be more complex that that universe. And how could such a being just happen to exist? Was he created by an even more complex being, or did he just pop into existence out of nothing? Either one of those is also pretty “freaking fantastical” to believe.

    For me, any supernatural theory of creation sounds too much like “turles all the way down”. The other choice is that complexity can arise from the interaction of basic natural principals without needing any help or guidance. That’s the only theory that is not too “freaking fantastical” for me.

  • 286. john t.  |  August 23, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Ubi Dubium

    Why does the idea of a Creative force have to be an entity, like a person. Could it not be an energy or force of some sort. Also it just happening to exist is no different from the forces of nature just happening to exist or pop up out of nothingness. My take on the Universe is that there is intelligence behind its creation that far exceeds my capabilities. I dont need to quantify it to make it real.(for me that is)

  • 287. Ubi Dubium  |  August 23, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    johnt-
    So are you arguing on behalf of an “energy or force” or for an “intelligence”? I don’t think they’re synonymous.

  • 288. john t.  |  August 23, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Why not? Do you understand the workings of the Universe so well to make that statement?

  • 289. Ubi Dubium  |  August 23, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I don’t think that stating there is a “force” automatically implies that the force has an “intelligence”. Could be an “unintelligent force”. I’m just trying to establish which you are arguing for.

  • 290. john t.  |  August 23, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Hey Ubi

    Ok, When I look at my world and its surroundings I see some level of intelligence to it all. I find a sense of structure and order to the Universe that makes me believe that it has been created. I find this belief to be completely “Reasonable”. Thats what Im implying.

  • 291. Ubi Dubium  |  August 23, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    johnt
    OK, so you would argue -”a force exists” and “that force is intelligent”

    Next question. Many “deists” I have read about generally consider “god” as much like a celestial watchmaker. A “force” that set the workings and laws of the universe in motion originally, but which does not interfere with the day-to day workings of things, and does not meddle in the affairs of humans. Is your “intelligent force” a hands-off force like this, or is it one that continues to be involved with things?

    (I realize that this is not really an argument here, but since you are so often involved in other discussions, it’s helpful fo me to know the basic point of view of those I am talking with. )

  • 292. LeoPardus  |  August 23, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    From post #254:

    Oleander, how do you know that you’re a “true Christian” (hurr hurr)?
    I know I am saved because the Bible says I am – and I continue to believe that just as strongly as I ever have.

    I’m certain you’re not in there. All those folks died long ago.

    But at any rate, I and most of the de-cons here, have said those very words when asked the same question back when we were absolutely sure we were true Christians.

    I “tried” to apostasize once ….. I came to a place where I had to come back, repent, and return to God

    Yes sir. I did the same.

    So experientially and theologically you and I (and many others here) would look and sound nearly identical as Christians. In fact I can guarantee that if you met and got to know the ‘me’ of years past, you would be certain that you had met a kindred spirit. We would both have joyfully declared all the reasons why we were true Christians, saved to the end, eternally secure. It is only from this vantage point that anyone could ever see me ‘out of the faith’.

    Really though, you need not face up to this It would rip the security out of your world. And having been through just that, I can tell you it’s one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had.

  • 293. john t.  |  August 23, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Ubi Dubium

    Im not 100% sure how the energy works into our lives, in fact maybe we are that energy. So many possibilities, lol, so little time. I just believe its reasonable to assume there is an energy that started it all. Not sure what I would call myself, my friends my say Nuts, but thats only on the golf course. Anyways I digress. Talk to you later.

  • 294. Rod  |  August 24, 2008 at 7:04 am

    “Liar” may be a little offensive. Self denial, make believe, inventive, creative, could be some of them. Or have not people heard of the saying that once a (thing) always a (thing)? Once a Christian always a Christian?

    People don’t change; they just become the sum of all their experiences and years. The mind is unlike PCs that one can simply click information, good or painful, to delete them permanently. They’re just identified, modified, relegated, quarantined, so they don’t become say, painful, assertive, dominant, as they are not deleted by the mind.

    Christ was the new thesis or synthesis from Judaism that apparently remained static since Abraham and Moses. He was the spiritual absolute of his time. Christianity in turn has been static for two thousand years that saw developing antithesis to it that eventually gave rise to synthesis or newer thesis like Protestantism and others in constant process of refinement. (See Georg Hegel’s theory on Absolute and Dialectic)

    Now, fact is, people are born and raised in society that is already influenced by religions. The spiritual side of him is of the religion, or the philosophies in life of that certain religion, in this case Christian religion.

    Ok, so you think you are really de-(Christianized?) Like greed is good? That the tree that is unproductive should be propagated instead of “thrown into the fire”? I know you don’t conform to these suggestions. De-conversion is therefore just modification of the same thing; updated version of the old thing or same thing that just evolved. Maybe people have rights to put a sort of ‘patent’ to it, meaning calling it by another name if they want to. That’s what some Judaists did in their time – called themselves Christians and looked at themselves no longer part of Judaism, a branch-out. Christianity is modified Judaism.

    But I don’t believe in the existence of such thing as Atheist as defined by people who first invented the word.

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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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