De-converts: Are Christians Really as Bad as You Think?

October 16, 2008 at 5:15 pm 100 comments

I am a Christian who reads this blog quite a bit. However, I find that the debates seem to always go back to the uselessness of faith. This is kind of strange – on a personal level – like Christian faith is ‘bad’ or something. It is this issue that I would like to ‘flesh out’.

How is it that the Christian faith is something ‘bad’? I cannot find concrete reasons to believe this. Science cannot provide this reason – it cannot because science does not delve into morality and immorality per se. Science is really of no use in this debate.

(a) The core Christian faith teachings deal with moral ideals – like the ‘do nots’ of murder and adultery or ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. I cannot find places where the teachings actually allow for the immoral behaviour of someone committed to this faith. We know that it happens – but any small reading in the gospels will reveal they have no right to treat people like crap – none whatsoever.

(b) The Christian faith, if it is bad, does not produce very many bad people (per capita). I see the odd bad person crop up – that will commit murder in the name of God or picket funerals. However, they are the exceptions to the norm (deviations from the standard). If it was reverse, and they were not exceptions, the news and history pages would be littered with their vicious exploits. This is not the case at all.

(c) People that join the Christian faith actually can do a 180 degree turn in their life. Now we cannot scientifically prove the change in someone’s life or their 180 degree spin – but for those personally affected by that individual – they can see the change. As much as people do not want to give merit to personal stories of change – it is the best evidence of a person’s actual change in behaviour. No test can exist to show someone has changed – but as humans we can all admit when we have seen it.

(d) The Christian faith provides (and fills) something in society – a place to belong and find a value system. Most places you attend will not guide you into some type of value system – it’s just not going to happen…and sometimes families fail to fill this role. The church just happens to direct people into values that may help them become a functional piece of society. What they lack in culture, vision, ethical development, attention, community – all these things and more can be given to a person via a church.

(e) Christians say some strange things – I agree – and hold some strange theologies – I also agree – but how often does what they ‘believe’ make those same people into criminals or shady characters in society? Very, very, very rarely.

I admit the Christian faith has it drawbacks – namely in some of its weak theological ideas. However, I would not call it a faith that makes ‘bad’ people or makes society inherently ‘worse’ by being there. I admit they have some questionable behaviours – like being overly judgmental – but even within these behaviours they do not commit crimes against you or society. Churches actually help society in many ways – and can in many more.

I think most of the things said by de-converts about Christians is pure BS and a mass generalization. They have an axe to grind concerning the treatment they received from Christians – and I receive my share also – but at the end of the say I don’t let a few bad apples determine for me the whole apple orchard is rotten.

- societyvs (Guest Commentary)

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

At what point am I no longer a Christian? The Psychology of Apologetics – Introduction

100 Comments Add your own

  • 1. notreallyalice  |  October 16, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    But if it is an imaginary orchard made of imaginary apples, shouldn’t someone say so? Whether Christianity is good or bad, shouldn’t we also question whether or not it is true?

  • 2. blueollie  |  October 16, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    To me, “faith” (believing something without evidence) is bad for an adult.

    True, I might accept things I don’t understand (say, some details of quantum mechanics) but I accept these because

    1. People with strong track records for being correct came up with this stuff and

    2. Things that use this model work well (e. g., computers)

    So yes, “faith” is bad.

    Now having some central myth to help yourself out might be a good thing, as are some religious practices (e. g., prayer, meditation, yoga poses).

  • 3. Saganist  |  October 16, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    My main problem with faith is that it is considered a virtue to believe in something without evidence, or even in the face of contradictory evidence. I do not think this is something to be admired, or something one should aspire to. In fact, faith often leads to conflict because there is no objective way to resolve disputes between people who believe different things, when the beliefs are not based on objective evidence.

    I agree that Christianity can offer people many of the things you describe, but I think there are better ways to achieve those things without all the baggage that comes along with religion.

  • 4. LeoPardus  |  October 16, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    I agree that the Faith has good aspects to it. In fact I pretty much agree with what you wrote here. [You might enjoy an article I wrote called "The Good of the Church". It's in the archives.]

    You are somewhat right in that some of the folks around here are angry, hurt, or bitter toward the Faith. I can’t speak for their experiences or perspectives. Personally, I don’t have an axe to grind with the Faith. (I do find a lot of Christians how are rather grinding though.) My years in the Faith were largely very good ones, I learned many things, and it forms a significant part of who I am. I simply left it because I am convinced that its essential tenets are false.

    I’m around here because I know how distressing it is to leave the Faith and I would like to be of help to others in that process. Frankly I don’t even care if they stay in the faith. it’s the anguish and worry that I would want to help them with.

    I’m also here because de-converts have to rebuild parts of their world. I’m still in some of that myself and so I can get help here.

    As for grinding axes, I do keep mine sharp for the Gospel-club-swinging “Christian” trolls who so love to lumber through here.

  • 5. orDover  |  October 16, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    I agree with all of these comments, especially the one by Saganist (awesome handle, by the way!).

    The problem I have with Christianity is not that it makes bad people, but that it celebrates in delusion (by which I mean believing something without proof that is contradictory to reality, not being insane). It makes a virtue of blind faith. It praises those who believe like little children, without thinking critically or questioning.

    But I think the biggest gripe I have with Christianity is the way it co-opts people’s lives and encourages to focus on the world of what might be rather than the world of what is. I read recently about religious people who had to declare bankruptcy and had their home foreclosed. They could have kept their home if they would have just taken the 10% of their income that they place toward tithing into paying their bills. If you are going to make those kind of (unnecessary and even unbeneficial) sacrifices, you should have some proof to back up your convictions. It reminds me of a song by Arcade Fire that says “Working for the church while your life falls apart/Singing hallelujah with the fear in your heart,” suggesting this kind of doggedly loyal to the church and the complacency to do whatever the Bible or whatever the church tells you to do, regardless of your own well-being.

    Along those same lines, Christianity encourages people to look forward to heaven instead of enjoying life on earth. They’re meant to believe that this is all just one big dress rehearsal. But what if this is it? What if this is the final performance? Letting go of religion allowed me to live in the moment. For example, I appreciate ever second I spend with my husband exactly because I know that I won’t be spending eternity with him in heaven. I’m concerned with making the most of my life NOW. I see life as the most wonderful gift, but when I was a Christian I saw it as just a trial to be overcame, something to “get through” in order to find happiness in the beyond. I worry about all of the religious people who live their lives this way, who don’t live their lives to their fullest because they are banking on the myth of an afterlife. I think that is really the most detrimental thing that religion does.

  • 6. The Vicar  |  October 16, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    I have three major problems with faith. In no particular order:

    1. Faith nearly always inspires actions which are of no benefit if the faith is false. These efforts represent energy which could have been applied to more worthy causes. If the Christian god is wrong, for example, then regardless of whether there is a god or not, the vast sums of money and time spent on Christian worship throughout the world have been wasted. Think of what could be done to fight world hunger if just the Catholics alone stopped collecting money for the church and put that money to work. And don’t get me started on churches — yes, some church buildings (a minority of them) are used for charitable purposes. But they would be more effective and cheaper if they had simply been built for those purposes rather than built for worship and then adapted. Again, a huge waste brought about by religion.

    2. Faith often (again, not always) inspires worldviews which cause people to act negatively. What percentage of the people who get so fired up about gay marriage would even care about it if they weren’t being told by their pastors that gay marriage is evil? Religion has variously been used to support slavery, tyrrany (divine right of kings!), torture, and just about any other horror you care to name. While it is true that not all horrors are religiously motivated or sustained, religion is one of the most common justifications for horrors, and perhaps removing one of the justifications would remove some of the horror. Basically any policy justified by a millenarian worldview will prove to be disasterous if no catastrophe, in fact, occurs. The Rapture is a dangerous idea if no Rapture is going to take place. (And it isn’t just direct action: religions also cause people not to take actions which they should take. Stem cell research and birth control, for example, are commonly opposed, even though the potential benefits from both are practically unbounded.)

    3. The base notion of faith is the acceptance of ideas without proof. Even when the ideas explicitly involved can be supported rationally, people who get used to accepting ideas without criticism are likely to become victims of fraud. (How many fraudulent faith healers make a living out of scamming good but ignorant people?)

    4. Many (again, not all) faiths inspire metaphysical fear. As an atheist, I don’t fear hell. I’m not going to warp myself into some sort of psychological wreck to avoid an arbitrary rule. While there are faiths which do not do this, most do on one level or another.

    It is possible to devise a faith which does not have these problems, but the result ends up being uninspiring — you might as well not bother. When a new religion comes along, it is more likely to be a net negative. (It’s a bit like having a watch vendor come up to you on the street. Yeah, it might be a jeweler on his way home from work, and maybe Timex actually produced a run of watches where they misspelled their own brand name. But it’s much more likely that he’s a scam artist selling knockoffs.)

  • 7. orDover  |  October 16, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    I think it might also be helpful to add that those of us who are skeptical of Christianity are equally skeptical of ALL religions, regardless of their teachings. Our problem is with faith in general, not your faith in particular.

  • 8. Michael  |  October 16, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Ahh where to start. There are just so many problems with faith, and Christianity’s many versions thereof. Sorry for rambling a bit, I haven’t put these thoughts to paper before, so it is a little jumbled.

    As stated above – learning to believe without question is not a positive life-skill. Not only is there the obvious intellectual laziness involved, and he-said/she-said/my god is bigger than yours argumentative problems, among others. There is also the question of absolute power and being convinced that you/your peers have God on your side. Wars are almost an inevitable result. But this also helps lead to the subjugation of women
    (well, and men), abuse of children, or whole families and communities. They believe their leader, even when they are doing ‘evil’ deeds because they have God on their side AND they’ve been taught to believe without questioning. It’s patronising as well – as if you’re just a child and shouldn’t be asking questions or have curiosity – one of the greatest and most useful traits of any concious animal.

    Next. Disabilities and mental illnesses. e.g. if you’re born with a disability some are lead to feel that it is somehow their own fault, because they were not pure enough before God/’sinned in the womb’. Or if they attend a ‘faith healing’ and do not get better – then it is their own fault for not believing strong enough (a particularly nasty one there). Or if a family has a difficult child to care for/some nasty accident, they are likely to see it as punishment – ‘cross to bear’/martyr kind of thing which is probably not going to be good for their own mental health. In fact the whole ‘big eye in the sky’, and the wildly contradictory messages in the bible can’t be good for your mental health (do we live in something like a prison, with no privacy?). Nothing like some good ‘ol Irish Catholic guilt to mess with your head. Other serious mental health problems such as schizophrenia are treated as demonic possession, rather than an illness. And often people with problems are encouraged to pray and spend time with God/their own demons, rather than seeking help or at least company – which is often also about the worst thing one could do.

    History. The dark ages weren’t called the dark ages for nothing. War, oppression, genocide, slavery, abuse, forced conversions and culture destruction — it’s all been done in the name of God at one point – rightfully or otherwise. It may not happen on the same ‘scale’ today, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen expressly because of religion.

    Placing humans on a pedestal, or particular humans on a pedestal. To a Christian, humans are special, we are not just a particularly successful animal able to tame all environments and spread our seed in ever-increasing numbers. They are specifically `created in God’s Image’ unlike all other animals and plants. All the animals and in-fact the entire planet (and universe) is there solely for our own use and abuse if we want (racism/slavery is related too, e.g. when one human is better than another). This is not the sort of attitude you want when the planet is running out of resources and we’ve only got one of them. The irrational believe in a heaven-after-earth doesn’t help matters either.

    Fear. MUCH of the power to hold of Christianity, particularly in children, is based on fear. Specifically the fear of going to Hell — for ETERNITY (in-fact it is also the base of many of the problems with Christianity). At the end of the day – Christianity serves no real purpose without Hell – all you’re trying to do is get ‘saved’, right? If the only reason you’re nice is because of Hell, then what sort of person are you really? And if you can ask for forgiveness anyway and all is ok, how will that make you a better person? Living in fear is never seen as good, as say in a nasty dictatorship – why is living in fear of a faerie God-dictator any better?

    Blind faith is really about the **worst** thing of any religion – and without it Christianity and many others are nothing. For a good reason too — they just don’t make any damn sense without it!

    (Anyway, I digressed slightly, ‘love the sinner, not the sin’ and all that – I was talking about Christianity, not Christians, who can be just as nice as anyone else, but they certainly don’t need a fear of God to be that way).

  • 9. DSimon  |  October 16, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Point by point:

    a) It seems to me that the core Christian faith is the existence of God, not the related moral concepts that spring from that faith. We can certainly agree that murder is immoral, but why does that have to have anything to do with faith?

    b) Although by many measures the majority of Christians are good people, that’s also true of people in general. In fact, there are a lot of measures where atheists do better (i.e. there are proportionally more Christians in prison than atheists).

    c) Since you’ve been reading this site a while, though, you ought to be aware that such stories go both ways; there are lots of testimonials on this site about how people made positive turnarounds in their lives by leaving Christianity.

    d) If you’re going to say that churches help society by providing culture, community, and values, then you’re arguing that the extra stuff that churches do (i.e. worshipping God) is beside the point. If they cut out the extraneous bits, they could be that much better at helping society, right?

    e) Most Christians are good people. However, there are many aspects of popular Christianity that I’d argue are not good, particularly the way many churches discriminate against gay people, and the difficulties placed for women in rising to positions of authority in the church. You may be right in that it doesn’t happen all that often, but faith can be used to justify immoral behavior in the same way it can be used to motivate moral behavior.

  • 10. silentj  |  October 16, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Several folks already addressed many of the points I would make. I will just add a few basic ideas.

    First, I don’t find anything wrong with personal faith, spirituality, or the belief in existence beyond the material world. If such ideas could be believed in a vacuum and not adversely affect others, I’d have zero concerns.

    I have a problem with Christians (and all religions for that matter) when they do the following:

    1. Push for laws that have little or no secular reason for existing, like blue laws on Sundays or obstructing gay rights.

    2. Promote laws and ideas that contradict reason. (intelligent design in the public classroom)

    3. Cause people to fear or hate each other for no other reason other than religious difference.

    4. Stop people from wanting to understand and celebrate the world they live in.

    5. Make people ashamed of natural parts of their lives.

    Now, if a religion could be shown to be clearly true (e.g. Jesus held a press conference in Boulder and performed miracles, televised to millions across the globe, then went on a tour so that others could witness his existence) then perhaps we might want to pass laws that supported his agenda. However, given that we have no proof at all for any one religion’s legitimacy over another, we should not let religion interfere in other people’s lives like the above cases.

  • 11. societyvs  |  October 16, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Wow I cannot believe I got posted on the De-Conversion site – thanks Roopster! It is an honor to be worthy of writing something that might promote conversation and to have it allowed on this site (which I hold to some level of esteem). Thank You guys/girls!

  • 12. john t.  |  October 16, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Jason

    Im surprised that youre surprised that they would have your thoughts on here. You know I dont necessarily agree with all of what you believe, but as Luke would say, you RAWK.

  • 13. The Apostate  |  October 16, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    Lets start from the beginning,

    I find that the debates seem to always go back to the uselessness of faith.

    I find that more of the debates go back to the uselessness of defending faith using any sort of logic. Most Christian visitors, and I would guess many in North America, are at this time confused about their station in modernity and postmodernity. They want modernity’s concrete solutions about history and facts and “Truth,” but with the sort of pluralistic and individualistic “realities” of postmodernity.

    This is kind of strange – on a personal level – like Christian faith is ‘bad’ or something… How is it that the Christian faith is something ‘bad’?

    You stated earlier that you are a Christian. The only thing confusing here then is why a Christian thinks there are people who thinks his/her belief system could be “bad.” Of course you don’t think it is bad – its your belief.

    This aside, as a contributor and long-time reader of d-C, most controversies center around the lack of truth in the “Christian” claim, not whether it is ethically corrupt or not. There may have been claims of ignorance and even stupidity in heated debates, but rarely are there vehement claims that Christians or Christianity is inherently evil. De-converts are usually the most passionate of non-believers for many different reasons. What happens, however, is that we have many fundamentalist trolls with disruptive behaviour who we tend to classify as “bad” people (or at least uncivilized).

    If you want to have a discussion about the ethics of Christianity, by all means, lets go at her – just tell me what type of Christianity isn’t “bad” so we can discuss it properly.

    Science cannot provide this reason – it cannot because science does not delve into morality and immorality per se. Science is really of no use in this debate.

    No one is saying it is. Science can only show us the historical inaccuracies in literalist claims. Once Christianity falls back to what it probably was in the first place, highly symbolic, then science has no domain – it is like a math teacher lecturing on Shakespeare.

    The core Christian faith teachings deal with moral ideals… I cannot find places where the teachings actually allow for the immoral behaviour of someone committed to this faith.

    Catch-22 in this. You (pl) define the morality and then state that you (pl) are moral. Why? Because God said so. As for someone allowing “immoral behaviour”, your don’t have to go too far in the New Testament. Ananias and Sapphias.
    Which is worst? Cheating, Lying, or Murder?
    Psychologist, Sociologists, Anthropologists, moral philosophers, moral biologists, and basic intuition tells us murder is the worse. Yet we are told that Peter, or the Spirit of God if you prefer, kills two people for a lesser crime. You may cry judgment, the moralists, however, states immorality begets immorality.

    The Christian faith, if it is bad, does not produce very many bad people (per capita).

    per capita? You must have some hard data on this one. Define “Christian faith.” Define “bad.” Give me your evidence of this as compared to say, Buddhists, or Muslims, or atheists, or pantheists. Tell me whether this, if this oversimplistic statement was true, was due to correlation or causation.
    Bad people? That sounds pretty black and white to me.

    People that join the Christian faith actually can do a 180 degree turn in their life.

    Yes… and? Maybe that person was always *cough* “good” but needed a crutch up. Good for Christianity – now lets get that person off the crutch and tell them the truth. Most of what is presented to people in “180” situations is all the airy fairy lovey dovey parts of Christianity. For some reason, proselytizing doesn’t usually start with the mass genocides or the beautiful representations of Armageddon.

    The Christian faith provides (and fills) something in society – a place to belong and find a value system.

    Yes, and probably the main reason it, along with some other major religions, not only survive, but thrive, albeit in a radically evolving form. Again, is this not simply another time where we say thank you and move along to something containing truth?

    Christians say some strange things – I agree – and hold some strange theologies – I also agree – but how often does what they ‘believe’ make those same people into criminals or shady characters in society?

    Again, I’m not too sure who is saying otherwise. I’m just wondering whether you are subconsciously or consciously implying that there are other major ethical systems, be them religion or non-religious, that do lead people to become criminals?

    I think most of the things said by de-converts about Christians is pure BS and a mass generalization. They have an axe to grind concerning the treatment they received from Christians – and I receive my share also – but at the end of the say I don’t let a few bad apples determine for me the whole apple orchard is rotten.

    I suppose this is the entire post in a nutshell – great, I agree. But again, who is saying otherwise? You keep referring to the way de-converts are treating Christians and I can pretty much guarantee that every example you may be able to give could quickly be countered with the opposite. If you are going to play persecution complex, please give examples rather than shallowly crying foul. No one here is saying the apple orchard is rotten – we are saying that what is believed to be an apple orchard is actually an orange orchard.

  • 14. The Apostate  |  October 16, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    *or an orange grove?

  • 15. DSimon  |  October 17, 2008 at 12:14 am

    I’m seconding orDover’s comment in #7. It isn’t Christianity in particular that we often have a problem with, it’s faith in general. It just happens to be that Christianity is the most imposing presence for most of the people here.

    Myself, I’m not a Christian de-convert. My parents and community brought me up in a New Age hippy-esque “Dude your aura is so awesome” culture. However, I’m as atheistic towards the existence of Mother Gaia as I am towards the Christian God, or to ancestor spirits, or to Eris the Goddess of Discord.

    Faith in the supernatural is just a bad idea, regardless of which supernaturality you’re talking about.

  • 16. Secular Planet  |  October 17, 2008 at 12:56 am

    (1) It affects politics adversely. We can’t have a reasonable discussion about abortion because of the idea of souls. Homosexuals can’t get married outside of certain areas because of religious bigotry. Wars are justified in God’s name. (See Bush and Palin.) Scientific education lags because people can’t see their scriptures as mythology.

    (2) It affects relationships adversely. In my own family, it causes tension between me and my now even more religious family.

    (3) It causes guilt and shame about sexuality.

    (4) It almost killed me. I took the threat of hell seriously and it drove me almost insane. I became suicidal. I got professional help and medication, but nothing helped until I investigated my doubts and realized it was all absurd. I immediately became completely healthy without any medication and I’ve been very happy in the four years since.

    Hell is the most insidious doctrine ever and any belief system containing it should be wholeheartedly rejected as nothing short of intensely vile.

  • 17. BigHouse  |  October 17, 2008 at 8:33 am

    No offense, societyvs, but his post to me reeks as one giant strawman. De-converts here were once part of something they no longer believe is true. So of course there is going to be some angst and criticism towards Christianoity and Christians here. The forum is for people of this stripe to convene and commiserate and support each other.

    But this doesn’t mean that in our day to day lives in the ‘real world’ we go around proactively deriding and criticizing Christians unprovoked.

    And I would have you look through th posts here more and find that on the whole, it isn’t the label “Christian” that gets a poster derision on the blog, but the proseletyzing, holier than thou, I know you and your past better than you know yourself that gets the disdain you describe in your post.

    In any event, kudos for posting a thread that gets good discussion traffic going.

  • 18. DagoodS  |  October 17, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Good questions, SocietyVs.

    First of all, I would note there is a difference between the title “Are Christians really as bad as you think?” and the body of the entry—focusing on “Is the Christian faith as bad as you think?”

    To address the titled question, of course “some” Christians are as bad as we think. And some are not. Christians are humans—therefore (as in any sub-group of a large size) we will find some that are “bad,” some that are “good,” some that are really bad, some really good, some left-handed, some bald, etc. The predominance of those who title themselves as Christians would agree, due to the continuing sin nature, that they are “bad.” Very few Christian sects hold out to be sin-free.

    The question (addressed in the entry) is whether, by virtue of Christian belief, the person is “more bad” or (for better English) “worse” than they would be without said belief.

    Part of the problem is this—what do we mean by the term “bad”? Stepping away from the theistic dialogue—imagine we were discussing what is a “bad” form of transportation. For a single person focusing on environmental concerns and gasoline efficiency, I could see how a mini-van would be a “bad” form of transportation. For a family of seven (7), the Smart Car would be a “bad” form. For a person who delivers pianos—both would be a “bad” form. For a person riding in the Tour de France—a Smart Car, mini-van, and a panel truck would all be “bad” forms of transportation.

    What I often see, in this discussion, is that the focus of “bad” modifies as situations change. Like transportation, there is no “one-size-fits-all” that in every situation Christianity is always “good” or Christianity is always “bad.” As with most beliefs, we can find situations (you touch on a few and I will go into this more in a minute) that Christianity improves an individual or society, and situations that it does not.

    To me, Christianity is primarily and paramountly “bad” because it is incorrect and dishonest. Incorrect in that the belief God communicated through inspiration of certain writers, or God appeared in the form of a human, or God communicated through the stories of the Tanakh is flat-earth, geocentric, alien-snatching wrong. Dishonest because (specifically the Christianity I am most familiar with) it fails to present alternative positions. How many Protestant Church libraries have books written by scientists for the viability of evolution? How many Sunday Schools have ever discussed the authorship questions on the Pastorals? How many church members could explain the Synoptic Problem?

    I also find it dishonest when Christians tell the world what non-Christians say, think, feel or do, they distort it and mischaracterize it. My position has been mis-represented so many times by Christians, it is hardly worth noting due to the common occurrence.

    However, I understand this is my make-up. It is what I consider of paramount import. Others certain may feel differently. I question whether I may impose my ideals on others, who have far different motivations.

    If a person claims to have been snatched by aliens, and stopped beating their wife because of it—even though I think alien-snatching is incorrect, can I say this belief is “bad”? It is here I struggle with confronting Christianity. If they are a more moral person because of a wrong belief—what should I consider of higher importance: the better moral or being closer to reality?

    SocietyVs: The core Christian faith teachings deal with moral ideals – like the ‘do nots’ of murder and adultery or ‘love your neighbour as yourself’.

    The pervasive difficulty in debating Christianity is defining that simple word—“Christian.” What this means to one person or group is vastly different to another. It is so polar in the extremes; we have almost countless groups claiming the title while denying to others. Who equally claim the title and deny it to the original claimers.

    If an alien (they must be on my mind) came to the world today, and reviewed the conversations taking place in the past 24 hours, they would have an extremely difficult time defining “Christian” with any specificity.

    Where do I find the “core Christian Faith teaching”? How do I compare it with your claim it deals with “moral ideals”? I looked to the Nicene Creed—nothing there on morals—only on beliefs. I looked to the Westminster Confession—nothing there on morals, except a comment on doing “good deeds.”

    While to you, SocietyVs, the core to Christianity is on morality (and you are to be commended for it)—what makes your determination in this regard correct? How does an outsider determine what the “core Christian faith teachings” are in light of 1000’s of churches and millions of believers who disagree with your determination?

    Two reasons I question the accuracy of Christian core dealing with morals. Go look up a Church website. Any church website. 10’s of 1000’s (if not more) out there. Almost all of them have a link on “what we believe.” Look at that. Does it have to do with morality, or certain dogmas?

    Secondly, why am I not a Christian? Is it because of what I do/do not? Or because of what I believe? If the core of Christian beliefs was moral ideals, then we would look at what one does rather than what one believes as the defining difference between Christian and non-Christian.

    Which one do we look at?

    SocietyVs: I cannot find places where the teachings actually allow for the immoral behaviour of someone committed to this faith. We know that it happens – but any small reading in the gospels will reveal they have no right to treat people like crap – none whatsoever.

    But this is your interpretation. Surely you recognize a vast number of Christians disagree with how you view what is written? I think this says more about your goodness than you realize.

    What I have encountered, in discussing with Christians—those who tend to look at life as helping, loving, and empathetic to other humans find those same teachings in the New Testament. Those who look for confrontation, justification and ostracizing equally find teachings in the New Testament.

    It is here where it is difficult to generalize Christians as “bad” or “good.” People who would be “good” without the Bible—find solace and reason to be good within the writings. People who would be “bad” without the Bible—find solace and reason to be bad within the writings.

    Christians use the Bible to justify slavery. Polygamy. Woman not being pastors. Homosexuals not allowed to marry. People not allowed to date. Mixed bathing prohibited. Women wearing veils. Family members shunned. I find none of that moral.

    Probably the best and easiest example is the difference between “love your enemies” and Jesus’ confrontation with Pharisees. Christians who desire a more civil discussion with non-believers focus on Luke 6, and its command of “love your enemy.” Christians who desire a far more contentious, mocking and ridiculing discussion with non-believers focus on Jesus’ pejoratives against the Pharisees, or Paul’s suggestion of Gal. 5:12.

    Isn’t this neat? If you want a reason to say to be kind—you can find it. If you want a reason to be insulting—you can find it. I’ve had Christians justify lying to me—because I am “the enemy” and there are examples of God endorsing lying to “the enemy”!

    Yep—you can justify anything. This is also a reason I would consider Christianity “bad.” Due to its lack of definite statements, anything goes.

    SocietyVs: The Christian faith, if it is bad, does not produce very many bad people (per capita). I see the odd bad person crop up – that will commit murder in the name of God or picket funerals.

    Isn’t this true of most societies though—Christian or none? Does Japan produce many bad people (per capita)? China? Europe? Africa? Australia? Even nations such as Iran—while the leadership is, in my opinion, immoral—is the general populace? Aren’t they living lives as “moral” within their own understanding?

    And, of course, we traipse back to the problem of what you are looking for in terms of “bad.” You use two examples—murder and picketing funerals.

    What of the inability of homosexuals to marry? I consider that immoral. In America (not Canada) there are a majority of “bad people (per capita)” in my opinion, since amendments to State Constitutions prohibiting such marriages are passed over and over.

    Or the idea of hell? Or the exclusionary tactics of Christians. I could go on and on. Sure, if we are only to look at the BIG ones—MURDER, RAPE, TORTURE (whoops, maybe not that last one after our last presidency) Christians only produce a handful, per capita, of such individuals. But so does any other belief system.

    In fact, simply by virtue of Christianity outnumbering non-Christians in America, there are more Christian murderers than non-Christian murderers! (Just like there are more right-handed murderers than left-handed murderers.)

    And no, I am not saying Christians kill because of their Christian beliefs—but nor do non-Christians kill because of their non-Christian beliefs. Both kill because of selfish desires which both have regardless of what they believe about a god or no god.

    SocietyVs: People that join the Christian faith actually can do a 180 degree turn in their life.

    And here is where I have difficulty calling Christianity “bad.” This absolutely happens. While I understand it is based upon a false belief, the result is certainly beneficial. If a placebo makes a person healthy—who am I to tell them the “truth” of the lack of actual medicine?

    SocietyVs: The Christian faith provides (and fills) something in society – a place to belong and find a value system.

    Again, I agree. I disagree with Sam Harris calling for the complete removal of religion. Due to the social inherencies of humans, coupled with our tendency to follow and insuppressible hopes—even if we eliminated all religions, something would come up in its stead that would be equally problematic. Equally prone to totalitarianism. Would equally divide and exclude. Whether it was social clubs, or athletic groups—there would be something.

    It is who we are as humans. (Look at how well politics does it without a god….)

    I disagree with the value system of most. I disagree with the truthfulness. I disagree with most of its foundational beliefs. But I agree it fulfills some role we, as humans, crave.

    I struggle with whether the harm it causes justifies this role.

    SocietyVs: I think most of the things said by de-converts about Christians is pure BS and a mass generalization. They have an axe to grind concerning the treatment they received from Christians …

    Not surprising you consider what we say about Christians to be “pure BS”—because you don’t see yourself in the picture being made.

    I was talking to an insurance agent the other day that sells insurance policies for people to pay for nursing homes. I said, “With all the baby boomers coming of age—business must be pretty good.”

    His reply? “Are you kidding me? I give seminars in which I tell people statistics show 50% of all people will be in a nursing home some day. And what do the people do? Look to the person to their right and think, ‘He must be talking about her.’”

    We never think they are talking about us. It must be someone else. Those “other” Christians. Those “other” de-converts.

    Every single Christian, without exception, reads what de-converts say about Christianity and think, “Oh, s/he is talking about some other Christians.” Not THEIR Christianity. Not THEIR belief. If I had a nickel for every time I heard the Christianity I de-converted from was not the “right” Christianity…

    Sure we have an “axe to grind.” Look, as humans we socialize. We tend to socialize with those of a similar experience or background. Single adults socialize with…single adults. Young married couples without children socialize with….young married couples without children.

    Democrats socialize in the political setting with…democrats.

    As de-converts we went from being Christians to a vastly different theistic belief. Perhaps liberal Christianity or Deism or agnosticism or atheism. And we became an anathema to the very people who once loved us and held us at tightly as brothers/sisters. The doors we once were invited in became barred by steel and iron.

    Within the world of the internet (because it is rare for de-converts to live close enough to become friends in person) we wend our way through blogs and forums and conglomerate together. Not surprising at a place called de-conversion.com.

    As social creatures we share similar tales of commiseration. Similar tales of experiences that hurt us, and with a rush of relief hear someone else say, “Wow. I’ve been through that too, and as much as it hurts me, it helps to know someone else lived it as well.” We have an opportunity to share our complaints and “grind our axes” in a community rather than alone.

    I had close friends intimate and suggest without outright stating it, that my wife should divorce me because I de-converted. Because of a belief I did not want, but could not stop. People who stood in my wedding who want us to separate! Initially my wife informed me her biggest regret was marrying me. (How she feels now, I do not know. I dare not ask.)

    Do you have any idea how much that hurts?

    Who do you suggest I share that with? Who else has experienced such emotional, physical and mental turmoil? I found it in other de-converts. So we discuss and share and it holds meaning for me to hear other de-converts who have gone through similar experiences. The divorce rate in de-converstion stories is catastrophic.

    I am sure, to an outsider, reading such tales would come across as an “axe to grind.” I would be told my friends weren’t “true Christians” or what they suggested was not “true Christianity.” I am sure it sounds as if we find all Christians terrible because what has happened to us.

    It’s not. But absent going through it, I don’t expect Christians to understand. The benefit of the ability to share far outweighs my concern over the picture Christians want to paint of me. Speaking of generalizations and all…

  • 19. Postman  |  October 17, 2008 at 11:10 am

    How is it that bicycles are “bad” for fish? How is it that the Emporer’s clothes are “bad” for him?

  • 20. Derek  |  October 17, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    I’ll prefix this by stressing that I’m one of those agnostics who says if you are truly better off as a person in your particular faith, then more power to you.

    People that join the Christian faith actually can do a 180 degree turn in their life.

    The thing there — people can completely reverse polarity after joining any faith. This is not unique to Christianity. But the polarity reversal can go both ways. An altruistic atheist can go apeshit fundy just as much as a heroin dealer could “find Jesus” and start an addiction outreach program as a result.

  • 21. societyvs  |  October 17, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    “But if it is an imaginary orchard made of imaginary apples, shouldn’t someone say so? Whether Christianity is good or bad, shouldn’t we also question whether or not it is true?” (Alice)

    What is truth? That is the part in that sentence I would like to see answered. True how exactly? I know that the world didn’t start like is explained in the Bible (an Adam and Eve and what have you in the garden) – I accept that as mythology. However, aspects of the story ring with truth – just not in a historically literal fashion.

    “So yes, “faith” is bad” (blueollie)

    Some faith is bad – some faith is good – a generic assumption about the term faith seems dishonest to me. I can agree ‘blind faith’ in the examples of getting prayer for healing and not accepting medical treatement is wrong (yes – wrong/immoral) – classic example of bad faith (in my personal opinion). However, since I was 18 all I wanted was to own a home, work a goof job, be married, and live a normal life (things I did not see as a child or did not experience). That type of ‘faith’ is not necessarily bad – in fact – pushed me to work hard for my goals and achieve those things.

    “faith often leads to conflict because there is no objective way to resolve disputes between people who believe different things, when the beliefs are not based on objective evidence” (Saganist)

    I agree – faith does lead to conflict when one refuses to enter reasonable discussion concerning the issues at hand (and they remain close minded). For example, the virgin birth is not something we can prove one way or the other – but we all have a leaning towards the idea is likely not true (including me). We base this on the best evidence we can find to challenge the theory in Matthew and Luke (and maybe what the story means). I cannot prove the virgin birth never happened (that’s impossible to do) – but I can make a great case concerning its lack of validity. But that’s being reasonable. Being unreasonable – is people that hold this view getting ostracized for holding it. And how do you fight that? Be reasonable – maybe it’s contagious.

    “I’m around here because I know how distressing it is to leave the Faith and I would like to be of help to others in that process” (LeoPardus)

    I think that is a laudable effort personally. I have left my old faith a while back – quit attending church and studying under that institution for some time (8 years or so). I liked the faith though – so it is tough for me to knock it – I can’t say I didn’t gain a lot. But I can respect the process of befriending people that truly got burned in the process and hurt by people they trusted (that happened to me also) – there is need for room to talk (which this site does very well). I only applaude the effort.

    “Along those same lines, Christianity encourages people to look forward to heaven instead of enjoying life on earth. They’re meant to believe that this is all just one big dress rehearsal. But what if this is it?” (Ordover)

    Not a good point – a great point! I ask myself this question a lot ‘what if this is it?’ – and it’s humbling and keeps life in perspective. I believe the people in faiths need to consider this more deeply and allow for the thought to push them to time spent in the here and now. I don’t put much stock in heaven (on a personal level) because when I read those scriptures everything is directed to ‘here and now’ and my life in the midst of society and community. I think you are right though – faith has pushed focus onto another world – a world all of them can admit having no interaction with whatsoever.

  • 22. societyvs  |  October 17, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    “These efforts represent energy which could have been applied to more worthy causes” (Vicar)

    I agree – one of my main problems with the church and the use of it’s wealth (resources). Question is – do we complain it away or do we seek it’s change?

    “Faith often (again, not always) inspires worldviews which cause people to act negatively” (Vicar)

    I agree here – but only to a certain level can I truly agree. I admit negative worldviews do exist and can cause immoral behavior amongst Christians – this happens. However, I am not sure committed Christians committ many crimes – if they inspire hateful ideals they themselves do not live them out (which I find strange).

    “Many (again, not all) faiths inspire metaphysical fear” (Vicar)

    True – the idea of fear is there – but I am not sure of the justification of it. Psalms points out that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…’ – it’s the beginning, not the ending or even the middle. Faith, as it is used in some Christian circles, I would classify as unhealthy and detrimental to one’s sanity (namely the guilt complexes). I have complained it makes some Christian people unstable – crazy in some senses – so that they lose the meaning of what faith is supposed to be about (peace).

    “The dark ages weren’t called the dark ages for nothing. War, oppression, genocide, slavery, abuse, forced conversions and culture destruction — it’s all been done in the name of God at one point – rightfully or otherwise. It may not happen on the same ’scale’ today, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen expressly because of religion.” (Michael)

    I think the corruption of Christianity is politics/gov’t – the joining of the two closely until one is the other. In my personal opinion, a lot of the things that happen in the ‘name of God’ are actually done in the name of country – but the use of God is such a good way to wash one’s political conscience clean. In the middle ages, maybe people were more superstitious and did react in the name of their faith in immoral ways – but then where did the get the power to do such things (slavery, abuse, oppression, and genocide)? Christians are not exactly a country or continent.

    “Blind faith is really about the **worst** thing of any religion – and without it Christianity and many others are nothing. For a good reason too — they just don’t make any damn sense without it!” (Michael)

    I think Christianity makes tonnes of sense without ‘blind faith’ being it’s leading contributor. Now some faith is required – like God exists and I trust Him – but some things are laid out so straightforward (ie: the teachings) that they don’t require ‘blind faith’…and are yet tied to faith. The best example is Torah and Judaism – the original fore-runner of the Christian movement. The use of Torah in the development of the faith signals the direction of the faith – it is not blind – it has a document it builds from. I would say the same for the Christian faith. Faith is so much better without the ‘blind faith’ aspects – and ‘yes – makes even more sense.

  • 23. BigHouse  |  October 17, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Now some faith is required – like God exists and I trust Him

    Leader in the clubhouse for 2008 understatement of the year..

  • 24. SnugglyBuffalo  |  October 17, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    However, since I was 18 all I wanted was to own a home, work a goof job, be married, and live a normal life (things I did not see as a child or did not experience). That type of ‘faith’ is not necessarily bad – in fact – pushed me to work hard for my goals and achieve those things.

    I think we’re getting into semantics here. I wouldn’t call that faith, at all. That’s just setting goals and working for them.

    I think the entire concept of faith is a rather detrimental one. The idea that some things have to be accepted with no evidence is exactly why we have various charlatans today, the psychics, the dowsers, the homeopaths. These things do real harm, and if we could get humanity to abandon its tendency to accept things on faith we would be in a much better place.

    But then, given that my time spent at the James Randi Educational Foundation’s website was probably the precursor to my de-conversion, maybe I’m a bit biased. :P

  • 25. societyvs  |  October 17, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    “It seems to me that the core Christian faith is the existence of God, not the related moral concepts that spring from that faith. We can certainly agree that murder is immoral, but why does that have to have anything to do with faith?” (Dsimon)

    Actually the core of the Christian faith is tied up in 2 commandments – Love God and love your neighbor as yourself – which ties ones actions with their faith. As for murder, this is a concept in one of the commandments – easily summed into love your neighor (a teaching). The fact it is a commandment – it is not something someone of faith can really overlook – thus tying it into to their faith commitment.

    “In fact, there are a lot of measures where atheists do better (i.e. there are proportionally more Christians in prison than atheists).” (Dsimon)

    Statistics are fun – but what do they really mean? What was it these people were asked in prison? Do they believe in God (as in there is a God)? Or was it they follow the Christian faith (made a commitment to those ideals)? To me, that statistic means very little considering my work with people who have been in and out of jail – very few to none of these people I know even so much as hint at wanting to follow this faith (and yet believe their might be a God). If anything, they are more one the agnostic front than anything.

    “Of course you don’t think it is bad – its your belief” (Apostate)

    Not really – I think it’s not bad because it’s a system of thinking that asks questions of the follower and their personal actions. I also would say it’s not bad because I interact with Christians quite a bit – they just aren’t people that society has to be scared of. So even though it is my belief – it’s not based in some assumption. Many of the Christians I knew since my 20’s have not been to jail or care to committ actions that hurt another person – this is just the way they are. Can that be attributed to faith? Yes, they made commitments to God that do not allow such behavior – they readily admit that. The Christian faith, in general, does not produce adherents that live to hurt society.

    “This aside, as a contributor and long-time reader of d-C, most controversies center around the lack of truth in the “Christian” claim, not whether it is ethically corrupt or not” (Apostate)

    Now this is true – I know that from many convo’s – and I think that is admirable. But sometimes these types of convos do slip into a matter of ethics. If someone is going to call someone’s faith ‘meaningless’ or ‘imaginary’ – then the person with faith will have to have problems with that – because they do not see their faith as ‘meaningless’ or ‘imaginary’ (which could include their personal behaviors and actions due to following the faith). It’s tantamount to saying to someone their work in a soup kitchen is ‘useless’ or adopting of children means ‘nothing’. Yes, people will take offense at that.

    “You (pl) define the morality and then state that you (pl) are moral. Why? Because God said so” (Apostate)

    God does not have to say so – the honus is on the person to become moral in actions. If I committ actions that are immoral – like cheating on my wife – then I have to come clean (no amount of God is going to make me more moral). I base this simpy on the teachings themselves and what is asked of the person reading.

    “Psychologist, Sociologists, Anthropologists, moral philosophers, moral biologists, and basic intuition tells us murder is the worse” (Apostate)

    Actually, I have to disagree. Certain criminal psychologists have termed that ‘lying’ is the worst trait for a human to develop. Lying, or the ability to specialize one’s lying skills, actually is so ingrained in various crimes (as justification for the action to be committed) that it is found in all of the worst socio-paths and serious crimes investigated. Now murder doesn’t happen overnight – it starts in the mind of someone prior to that event – how do they justify their behavior? They start with some small fabrications.

    Where I deem murder as the act that is the most condemnable – to even deserve the death penalty – it doesn’t start there.

    As for Ananias and Sapphira – that’s one incident in the NT (from Acts) and what happened there I cannot fully flesh out. However it is clear that they lied – not to Peter alone – not to God alone – but to the community they were ascribing themselves to. They held back money and tried to be like everyone else that didn’t. Why they receive such a harsh determination is beyond me – but nowhere in scripture am I asked to judge like that – in that scenario it is the reader that is being cautioned concering their ‘behavior’. There really is not much more to say. Christians are not using if for anything but as a story – and a cautionary tale.

    “You must have some hard data on this one. Define “Christian faith.” Define “bad.”” (Apostate)

    No one is doing serious statistics on Christian morality for some reason – except Barna – and even that is not going to address my question. I use observable behavior. I know sme 200+ Christians – 1% of those (and that’s being generous) actually committed a crime against society. And even when they committ such an action – they do not justify it – they accept the penalty (by the law) and try to make that situation ‘right’.

    Christian is a term related to ‘Christ’ and someone following those teachings – nothing more to that really. I would state however, by follow I do mean commitment of some sort.

    “I’m just wondering whether you are subconsciously or consciously implying that there are other major ethical systems, be them religion or non-religious, that do lead people to become criminals?” (Apostate)

    Good question – it strike at the heart of the himan dilemma…who is teaching people to committ actions that are offensive to other people? Parents? Society? Or is this just an innate condition within us that needs to be ‘curbed’?

  • 26. BigHouse  |  October 17, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    So, societyvs, you base your conclusions above on the 200 or so Christians YOU know. How is anyone else supposed to ratify that information? How is that dataset useful to anyone else? Are you suggesting your dataset trumps other people’s experiences and broader statistics and information?

  • 27. societyvs  |  October 17, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    “I think we’re getting into semantics here. I wouldn’t call that faith, at all. That’s just setting goals and working for them.” (Snuggly Buffalo)

    Really? Semantics or not – that is the definition of faith as used in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. This definition seems to encapsulate the ideas of faith in the gospels. I mention a story from when I am 18 ‘hoping’ for things I have ‘not yet seen’ that I think are in my personal ‘future’. Fact is, no one knew if they were or not. I am 33 now and have achieved those very things – and that’s not faith? Oh Boy.

    “I think the entire concept of faith is a rather detrimental one” (Snuggly Buffalo)

    And this is what I am talking about Apostate – the use of terms like ‘detrimental’ concerning one’s faith (that calls into question one’s behavior by virtue of the wording). If that’s not a semi-attack on someone in the faith’s behavior – I am not sure what is. And if we can’t agree on that – are we even looking at the same issue anymore?

  • 28. societyvs  |  October 17, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    “So, societyvs, you base your conclusions above on the 200 or so Christians YOU know. How is anyone else supposed to ratify that information? How is that dataset useful to anyone else? Are you suggesting your dataset trumps other people’s experiences and broader statistics and information?” (BigHouse)

    What do you propose I do – travel country-wide, quit my job and leave my family behind, to get the observable stats and info you require? If you cannot accept my personal observations than I am not sure what more I can do for you.

    I am only reporting from what is within my personal grasp to do – and relate the information as I have seen it. Now I cannot see everything nor do I actually care to – so I relate what it is I have experience with (16 years). I mention 200 has a safe estimate – fact is I may have met 1000’s of people – I can monitor 200 right now if I so choose.

    I am yet to see how Christainity is ‘detrimental’ or whatever else people want to label it. I am not saying my data set has to trump anyone’s – but I have to live with what I see and go by that – stats are nice – but there are few in this field. Should I pretend I don’t see what it is I am seeing?

    Now if someone wants to use my experience – go ahead – if you want to reject it – go ahead. I am stating what i know from my personal interactions with this faith for 16 years. But you cannot ask more of me than what I am aware of – that’s ludicrous.

  • 29. john t.  |  October 17, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Snuggly……..not all people who claim to have some psychic abilities are Charlatans.

  • 30. orDover  |  October 17, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Statistics are fun – but what do they really mean? What was it these people were asked in prison?…

    societyvs, you were the one wanting to play statistics games. I don’t think it’s fair that you assert something like “The Christian faith, if it is bad, does not produce very many bad people (per capita),” and then turn around and say that a statistic that does agree with your viewpoint is basically meaningless. I can say the same exact thing about the statistic you claim. How would those people define “Christian?” Are they True Christians or just people who identify as “Christian” and only go to church one day of the year, or maybe even never at all? Etc.

  • 31. BigHouse  |  October 17, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Do you not have TV/Internet/Phone/Radio? You really have no information about Christianity other than your personal world? That’s either very naive or willful cocooning.

    There is documented cases of Christians letting their children die because they won’t give them medicines because of their faith. the catholic chruch is rocked by a sex scandal becaue they thought they were serving the Bible’s tenets of forgiveness by not removing pedophillic priests from their positions altogether.

    If you want to believe Christianity is all milk and cookies, you are welcome to. But don’t whine when other people want to open up the range of evidence beyond your social circle.

  • 32. orDover  |  October 17, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Snuggly……..not all people who claim to have some psychic abilities are Charlatans.

    They aren’t all scam artists, but they are indeed charlatans in the sense that they claim to have a skill which they certainly do not have.

  • 33. john t.  |  October 17, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    orDover.

    Dont be so sure of yourself. I know someone personally who possesses that skill. It is not 100%, but in my experience its more than proven itself through the years.

  • 34. Ubi Dubium  |  October 17, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    john t.

    Snuggly……..not all people who claim to have some psychic abilities are Charlatans.

    No, some of them are just mistaken. Please visit the James Randi Educational Foundation website for more on this subject. To date, nobody has been able to demonstrate a paranormal ability under controlled circumstances sufficiently to pass even part one of their million dollar challenge. But this is really a subject for another thread.

  • 35. orDover  |  October 17, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Dont be so sure of yourself. I know someone personally who possesses that skill. It is not 100%, but in my experience its more than proven itself through the years.

    I’m not sure of myself, I’m sure of the real data out there, of the multiple scientific studies done on the subject. I’m not going off of anecdotes or personal experience here.

    And what Ubi Dubium said.

  • 36. john t.  |  October 17, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    ok…i guess my weekly experiences just arent scientific enough ;)

  • 37. BigHouse  |  October 17, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Is today anecdotal evidence Friday?

  • 38. john t.  |  October 17, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    You know the most amusing thing is that the majority of De Cons were die hard Christians. Believers without any evidence, now most dont believe anything without absolute proof. Talk about irony.

  • 39. orDover  |  October 17, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    We learned from our mistakes. ;)

  • 40. BigHouse  |  October 17, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Irony..I don’t think this word means what you think it means…

  • 41. societyvs  |  October 17, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    “There is documented cases of Christians letting their children die because they won’t give them medicines because of their faith. the catholic chruch is rocked by a sex scandal becaue they thought they were serving the Bible’s tenets of forgiveness by not removing pedophillic priests from their positions altogether” (BigHouse)

    Whoa…I never denied any allegations like the one’s mentioned here. These stories happen and do exist – we know that from the press and what have you. However, these are the exceptions to the rule and not the normal standards – has always been my contention.

    It’s fine and dandy to say there are some serious problems within the faith – I admit that with no shame – but to think because some priests committed acts of astrocity the rest of the faith is at fault – is a leap. Because some Jehovah Witnesses decide against help for their children does not make them the standard either. These are the deviations to the norm in my opinion. Very few cases like this hit the news in comparison to the numbers within those segments of Christianity (those priests are like what % of total Catholics?).

    “Do you not have TV/Internet/Phone/Radio? You really have no information about Christianity other than your personal world? That’s either very naive or willful co”ooning” (BigHouse)

    I have all of those mediums and I use them quite a bit. But reading some stories about select behavior somewhere doesn’t tell me much unless I am there to actually fully gauge the situation – and how it effects the totality of the faith. Your examples are select, and tragic, cases – but they are the deviation from the norm. How do I know?

    (a) There are approximately a billion Christians on this planet – if these select cases were indicative of Christianity as a whole unit – then wouldn’t we know of these crimes on a more mass global scale – not only in select instances/select places?

    (b) In the majority of cases where Christians are involved in criminal acts – there is always the denouncing of it as ‘immoral’. Even in the cases of the priests these things were not seen ‘as the norm’ but as ‘abnormal’ behavior – in need of some change – you mention forgiveness – I’ll add in repentance. Catholic Church made some horrible mistakes in this instance by allowing those priests to serve again (I agree 100%) – but they never deemed that behavior appropriate or ‘normal’.

    “and then turn around and say that a statistic that does agree with your viewpoint is basically meaningless” (OrDover)

    I never said the stats were meaningless – I merely asked what did they mean? I have the right to question what questions were asked to these inmates – don’t I? Like I said maybe they were asked if they believe there is a God and not about personal commitment to this God…I don’t know. All I know is most people in prison don’t really care much for this faith – and why should they – it would require some serious personal involvement…something they may not be ready to handle.

    “If you want to believe Christianity is all milk and cookies, you are welcome to. But don’t whine when other people want to open up the range of evidence beyond your social circle.” (BigHouse)

    Huh? With some people you can’t win – even when you play the hand. I am not sure of this critique of me – it seems very – and I mean very unjustified.

    I admit to the problems in the faith – I admit changes need to occur – I even admit my limitations to the totality of evidence – somehow I am not trying? What would make you happy Big House – what do I have to do to show you I am being honest and involved in this conversation – not from bias but from a basic realistic standpoint…if I agreed with you? How much data is enough? Do I have to find (or generate) statistics for something that may not even have any?

    “Is today anecdotal evidence Friday?” (Big House)

    I see nothing wrong with evidence generate from someone’s personal experiences – it’s problematic to a few here (maybe many I don’t know) but we all function on this level.

    If you want to buy a new soda for example – do you research it first for statistics on ‘how many people enjoyed it?”. If you are buying a specific house – do you research and see what the opinion of that house is? How much of your personal experience and judgment are used in everyday scenario’s like that? I would say it’s all based on personal judgment – what you like, think, believe about a product, etc.

    Now once you tested and tried the said product – well how do you base your opinion on whether it is something that appeals to you? From statistics? No – no one does this – life is not a science experiment – stats are fine and dandy – but the majority of what most of us do we do based on our own judgement and critique of the situation or product.

    People that deny the use of personal experience are either robots or an alien life form without the ability to reason/judge within itself. I guess I don’t understand why stats, which can be manipulated to mean a lot of things, is the ultimate bar being used here? Is this because we all play from the same even playing ground with the same information? If so, I agree that would be nice – but that’s not reality. Life is not a science experiment – stats are going to help to a certain degree – the rest is on us and our perceptions.

  • 42. john t.  |  October 17, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Societyvs(Jason)

    So eloquently put. Kudos.

  • 43. BigHouse  |  October 17, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    society, you’re really racheting up the persecution complex. Sorry if it’s not working on people here.

    You were the one who said you only needed info from your base of 200 Christian contacts to base your opinion of the faith. I (and many others) have called you on that. Now you say you are aware of examples of bad Christians outside of this ring but choose to discount them as exceptions. That’s your prerogative, but it starts to show your bias stronger.

    Anecdotal evidence is fine, but you can’t paint broad brushstrokes with them. You, in fact, decried Christians being painted with broad brushstrokes yet you did the same of de-converts but reading some material on this blog. THAT’s irony.

    So, if in your opinion, and based on your circle of knowlege, Christianity ain;t so bad, that;s fine. Other people here have different experiences. How do you expect your experience to move them if you are unmoved by theirs? Again, more irony.

    And your Coke trying example is an oft-used analogy that falls flat on it’s face. I can empirically test the coke and see if I like it. If I do, I will continue to drink it. Once it starts tasting like swill, i will stop.

    How, pre-tell, may I test empircally your God?

  • 44. OneSmallStep  |  October 17, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    I had originally commented on Society’s post when he contributed it to his own blog, so I’m just copying it here. He did submit a response to this, and we dialogued for a bit.

    **How is it Christian faith is something ‘bad’? I cannot find concrete reasons to believe this. Science cannot provide this reason – it cannot because science does not delve into morality and immorality per se. Science is really of no use in this debate. **

    This would greatly depend on how you are defining the Christian faith. What you mean on this blog by the Christian faith is not necessarily what a fundamentalist would agree to, or a Quaker, or a Unitarian, or a liberal/conservative Christian. It may not even be what de-converts mean when they refer to Christian faith.

    ** I cannot find places where the teachings actually allow for the immoral behaviour of someone committed to this faith. We know that it happens – but any small reading in the gospels will reveal they have no right to treat people like crap – none whatsoever. **

    This also depends on the definition of “immoral,” or how one sees “immoral.” For instance, we could say that the Christian teachigns say that it’s immoral to ignore someone who is suffering. However, if this idea is applied to the concept of hell, then millions of people who are suffering are thus being ignored. What makes one immoral and not the other? Especially if that suffering is meant to highlight the glory of God. Many of the words used in the Gospels, such as Jesus’ behavior towards the Pharisees, has been used to justify the horrendous treatment of Jews for the last 2,000 years or so.

    **I see the odd bad person crop up – that will commit murder in the name of God or picket funerals. However, they are the exceptions to the norm (deviations from the standard)**

    This also depends on the type of behavior one focuses on. Does the definition of “bad” also include those who are judgemental? Because that category goes way beyond the odd type of person. And for many who have left, they kept encountering one judgemental person after another within their faith system which lead them to see it as something bad. Now, I know you later say that there are judgemental people, yet qualify that as it does not mean a crime is commited against society. But is that how de-converts are labeling the religion as “bad?” It’s bad because a crime, as defined by society, is committed? Or the idea of a bad person. I think it was Tony CAmpolo who made the comment to a group of Christians and said (making up a number here), “Over 100,000 children starved to death last night, and most of you don’t give a shit.” A gasp from the audience. He continues: “ANd most of you just gasped because of the word “shit,” not because of the number of deaths.” So is that group into the idea of a “bad” person?

    Granted, that statement can be said about many non-Christians as well — not caring about the starvation rate. However, if Christianity is tied to a specific moral behavior that one should see, then it will be used as a critique when such a behavior is not thus observed.

    **As much as people do not want to give merit to personal stories of change – it is the best evidence of a person’s actual change in behaviour. No test can exist to show someone has changed – but as humans we can all admit when we have seen it. **
    Yes, they can. Although, many times the reason why merit is not given is not because the change occured. It’s not given merit towards any one religion’s truth claims, because many people can experience 180 degree change when they become a Hindu or a Mormon, or even an atheist.

    **I think most of the things said by de-converts about Christians is pure BS and a mass generalization.**

    Again, though, this depends on how “Christian” is defined. As Andrew said, the negative charges are what we can witness in almost any particular group. The question would be is it fair to use these charges in a greater degree against a religious group? The answer could be no, because even in the religious group, everyone is still human. Or the answer could be yes, because the religious groups are making claims about how it leads to improved moral behavior.

  • 45. The Apostate  |  October 17, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    soceity, I appreciate your candor and attempt to answer most of the questions delivered to you. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that you really answered any of my actual questions.
    Be that as it may, I am concerned somewhat with the following statement:

    know sme 200+ Christians – 1% of those (and that’s being generous) actually committed a crime against society.

    Unlike the other person who commented on this, I do not criticize you for basing your knowledge on *only* 200 people. 200 people can sometimes be a great frame of reference. What I am concerned with is how much you know of those people. The problem with your view is that you are setting yourself up for extreme disappointment. Some of my closest friends have turned out not to be what I expected them to be. This is the problem with the dishonesty in the Christian subculture. I know, I was a part of it. I grew up in it and I further immersed myself in it in the Bible Belt of B.C., Canada. The truth is, people are complicated. 99% of people do not fall into your nice categories of “good” and “bad.” Everyone has a story. You say your frame of reference are those 200 people. Do they where their entire life on their sleeve? Are they that transparent? Do they always mean what they say or say what they mean?
    In my experience, and I admit that I am still young, I have found that people do not come screaming out with their transgressions. And as a student of ethical philosophy, it is not hard to argue that ethics, morality and law are not equivalent. What makes a person “ethical” does not make a person “law-abiding.”
    Again, there is another catch-22 with Christian criminality, which I am not too sure whether you subscribe to or not. Ted Haggard. Is the guy a “True Christian”? Pat Roberson, Jimmy Bakker, Jim Jones? Are these controversial figures “True Christians”? Who can judge? Many Christians say only God. Many others say they can judge by the “fruit of the spirit.” The problem is, this could immediate disqualify every single so-called “Christian” at one point or another. The minute that a Christian commits a crime, of various degrees, many others soon claim that person “isn’t a REAL Christian.” This is shallow and I know many Christians who disagree with this sort of thinking. Nevertheless, this sort of thinking would definitely limit the ratio of “Christian criminality.” And again, what are we comparing this to? Do you have 200 Buddhist, atheist, and Hindu friends that you trust so that you can compare?

  • 46. orDover  |  October 17, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    All I know is most people in prison don’t really care much for this faith – and why should they – it would require some serious personal involvement…something they may not be ready to handle.

    How do you know this? Do you understand the heart of ever prisoner?

    The Federal Bureau of Prison keeps religious statistics, and they say that 39 % of prisoners are Catholic, and 35% are Protestant. 74% of people in prisons claim to be a Christian in one form or another. I agree with you that we can’t really know what that means, but the data points to the fact that prisoners care enough about Christianity to openly affiliate themselves with it. Are they True Christians™? I can’t say. But you also cannot say that they are not True Christians™. They obviously broke some of God’s laws if they ended up in jail, but to say that they don’t care about religion is being both presumptive and assuming a stereotypical attitude toward a certain demographic that is based on nothing more than your own guesses.

    I hate playing this True Christians™ game so much. I’m so sick of it. When someone says they are a Christian, regardless of their depth of understanding of the faith or commitment to it or actions or anything, I take it on face value. If they chose to associate themselves with the religion, to give themselves the label of “Christian,” then I am going to take their word for it, because I can never really understand the inner workings of their psyche or the level of dedication they have to their belief system. This really is the “No True Scottsman” logical fallacy. Therefore the 74% of prisoners who call themselves Christians are every bit as much a Christian as anyone else, including Billy Graham or C.S. Lewis or any of the commentors on this site.

  • 47. CheezChoc  |  October 17, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    society,
    You keep saying that there are only deviations and exceptions to the norm, yet the number of those deviations and exceptions is quite high. I’m reasonably sure that almost all of those people who prayed for a sick child instead of taking her to the hospital, handled snakes in church, killed thousands in the name of God, etc. were absolutely certain in their faith and convictions. They believed they were doing the good or right thing.

    Side issue but still related to the above:
    Honestly, I think that if those who claim to follow Jesus actually followed what he said about caring for the poor, hungry, needy, lonely, oppressed, etc., this would be a far, far better world for it. How did they get things so twisted and gnarled and wrong? How did we get to the point where some “believers” think God is a Republican, others hold up nasty picket signs at a gay person’s funeral, and still others start arguments with science teachers about the age of the Earth? (Those are only a few of many examples. They are hardly qualifiable as exceptions anymore.)

  • 48. Lorena  |  October 17, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I have all kinds of problems with faith, aside from the fact that it is a huge lie. But right at this moment what comes to mind is the trust issue.

    It bothers me that in some Christian circles naive believers trust that the the pastor and the leaders are telling them the truth, just because of their profession of faith. A few examples pop to mind.

    – Children trusted blindly to Sunday School leaders–sexual abuse has been known to happen occasionally in such situations.
    – Pastors preaching the submission of women–many Christian men mistreat their wives, and the women take it, because the pastor says so, according to his interpretation of the Bible.
    – Unrelentless and unreasonable demands for money from financially struggling congregations. All done in the name of God and supported by the Bible.
    – Investment in businesses ran by Christians who are crooks with evil intentions.

    No, not all Christians are sex offenders or crooked. But because there is so much TRUST in Christian circles, people can be–and are– taken advantage of quite easily, and that’s bad.

  • 49. societyvs  |  October 17, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    “society, you’re really racheting up the persecution complex. Sorry if it’s not working on people here.” (Big House)

    No clue what you are talking about here – I read points and I address them. How can persecution even remotely be a topic of conversation when you have done nothing personal to me (like strike me or something for a personal belief I live by).

    “Now you say you are aware of examples of bad Christians outside of this ring but choose to discount them as exceptions. That’s your prerogative, but it starts to show your bias stronger” (Big House)

    Oh brother…how sheltered do you think I am? My point – which I made 2X – was that I am going by what I see around me – now the cases exist and are true – but are they to be the sole reflections of this faith? No. They are select cases of problems that exist – not all of Christianity in a nutshell (which was always my point).

    “You, in fact, decried Christians being painted with broad brushstrokes yet you did the same of de-converts but reading some material on this blog” (Big House)

    Granted – and if I generalized – I am sorry to who that offended – my generalization were not meant to mean every de-convert – and for that I admit my mistake. For this single line “I think most of the things said by de-converts about Christians is pure BS and a mass generalization” (SVS)

    That being said, my claim about de-converts has nothing to do with painting the e-convert movement in some immoral fashion – that never slips out of my mouth. So while I am making a generalization about things said about (the totality) of Christians being BS (and for that I am sorry if you don’t feel that way – my bad) I have not pretended that people claiming atheism are somehow ‘detrimental’ to society. Even if I know some atheists that are beyond reproach.

    “Other people here have different experiences. How do you expect your experience to move them if you are unmoved by theirs?” (Big House)

    I am not ‘unmoved’ by their experiences (not something I said) – I am ‘moved’ to action to do something about it. I talk with pastors, write blogs, confront wrongs in this faith when I see them, talk to people about their experiences, etc. In all honesty, I have had as much problems with the church and likely more than most people on this blog. But I don’t blame all of the Christian world for those experiences – that’s not reasonable either.

    For example, I come from a First Nations background of people that were subjected to religious residential schools from the late 1800’s to about 1969. All o fmy extended family – in my mom and dad’s age bracket – were subject to those schools (so my whole community of Aboriginals I am affiliated with). That’s a mass problem caused by certain churches – including United, Catholic, Anglican, and Presbyterian. Should I blame Christianity, as a faith, for all of those problems they caused me and my community?

    No. Certain people in those institituions are to blame and the prevailing winds of the day (including non-Christian sources). Christianity, as these religious institutions enacted it, had little to anything with the faith they claimed to follow. Nowhere is sexual and physical abuse or pedophilia even so much as tolerated in the teachings of Jesus. And not everyone in those institutions did these things…should people be made to pay for the crimes of another?

    If anyone, I should be holding the church as generic unit up for condemnation – but I don’t. I know these teachings – I read and sudy them – and I cannot find the legitmiate justification for those religious schools behavior – there is no excuse – inclduing from their own faith (thus an apology and condemnation from each church and the gov’t). No one in their right mind holds that behavior up as Christian in any form – religious crap yes – but according to the actual teachings – I was born – just not yesterday.

    So for someone to come out and claim the Christian faith is the problem – that’s not true. Of the billion Christians practicing in the world – how many were complicit in these actions and are to blame? I couldn’t even guess a statistic but it’s going to be quite low of ‘everyone in the faith’. That is being reasonable. As much as I despise what happened – I have to admit now all the faith is to blame for those actions.

    “And your Coke trying example is an oft-used analogy that falls flat on it’s face. I can empirically test the coke and see if I like it. If I do, I will continue to drink it. Once it starts tasting like swill, i will stop. How, pre-tell, may I test empircally your God?” (Big House)

    My quest is to prove Christianity is not ‘that bad’ – not as bad as ‘everyone in it is corrupt in some way’ or ‘deterimental to society’…my quest has nothing to do with pronving God.

  • 50. Rover  |  October 17, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Society,

    I have to agree that faith can be very dangerous. The power that people can wield over those who follow them can be quite harmful. Have you ever turned on TBN and seen millions of dollars being donated by poor fools of the faith who can’t even pay their own bills? Have you ever seen faith destroy relationships? We can’t associate with those who don’t believe exactly what we do or with those who leave the faith. This thinking destroys families. Faith has many positive aspects but it can certainly be destructive.

  • 51. societyvs  |  October 17, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    “The problem with your view is that you are setting yourself up for extreme disappointment” (Apostate)

    Not really – if they actually do committ actions against their teachings and the law of Canada – they answer for their problems.

    What I am getting at here is the actual totality of the people’s behaviors. Not one of them has ever accosted people I knew and brought around (ie: assualt). No sexual misappropriation (ie: rape or sexual assault). No one has ever tried to kill any of my friends (ie: murder or attempt to murder). No one has ever tried to steal my property (ie: breaking n entering). My wife is fairly safe around them (ie: no one is making adulterous passes). This list can go on and on.

    And even if it does happen – it is yet to – it’s a very select person that does it (not even peoples or groups). To me, that speaks volumnes about the content of people characters in these churches.

    Yes, law and ethics go hand in hand in my personal viewpoint on this subject. The law of Canada (many parts of it) exist to define moral and immoral behavior for the society – that which is accepted and that which is not accepted. In the above examples I mention a variety of crimes found in the Canadian law books – which Christians do not waste their time trying to committ on me – which in some sense – makes them fairly decent human beings.

    That’s all I am getting at. I am going by a measuring stick we all have to use for basic living ethics – the law of our country. In that I see that Christians who committ actions against the society seem to be delineation from the norm in their own communities. And even when they delineate from the standard – it is not defended as ‘correct behavior’ – but as behavior to be corrected and changed. This all seem so commonplace to me – I can’t be the only one seeing this (and if I am – man am I special).

    “The problem is, this could immediate disqualify every single so-called “Christian” at one point or another. The minute that a Christian commits a crime, of various degrees, many others soon claim that person “isn’t a REAL Christian” (Apostate)

    That is not to say people make mistakes – and these people you mention (except for Jones) would all agree to themselves making mistakes. Christianity, in my personal opinion, is about living by a standard and trying to enact that into your daily living. Some people make mistakes and do things that are against that standard – and when confronted on it – admit they broke the standard. No one has to be perfect – we are humans after all.

    It’s like living according to Canadian law – which we likely both do (I am in Sask). The laws exist to protect us and others in society – for the personal well being and fulfillment in each society. However, people break the laws and harm others in our society – are they no longer Canadians? Can they still redeem themselves? No one is perfect – and misatkes are made – but can people make right those wrongs and still be useful in society? I guess prison in this example would be like ‘not being a member of Canadian society’ anymore (sorta).

    So, for me, a Christian is someone that desires to live by the standard of Jesus’ teachings. Like the law example, at what point does someone that goes against the standard not belong to the community anymore? That’s a tough one to call – it’s such a case to case basis in my opinion. But crimes the law see’s as condemnatory – I guess would be prime examples of cutting oneself off from the community.

  • 52. societyvs  |  October 17, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    “How do you know this? Do you understand the heart of ever prisoner?” (OrDover)

    No – it’s a general assumption. However, I do hang around with a lot of ex-cons and none of them made any real commitments to the Christian faith. I admit – assumption onmy part – but the Christian faith does require a moral commitment – and people didn’t get to jail by being moral (again assumption).

    “They obviously broke some of God’s laws if they ended up in jail, but to say that they don’t care about religion is being both presumptive and assuming a stereotypical attitude toward a certain demographic that is based on nothing more than your own guesses” (OrDover)

    I am not saying they don’t care – they likely have some base affiliation with the faith – no doubts there – and some were probably even committed to the faith. However, if you want me to believe 74% of inmates had some personal commitment to the Christian faith then I am not sure I can verifiably say that. If they were actively following the faith and developing moral guidelines – how’d they get into jail? I can’t think of one thing that is taught in the Christian teachings that would of put them in there.

    Now I know we hate personal stuff – but I have to relate this little bit. I was not a Christian growing up – thus I have a lot of friends that have been in and out of jail. As a young man this was the same place I was headed – if I didn’t stop running with the crowd, get an education, and develop some guidelines for my life. I started going to church on the original basis of ‘fear’ – but eventually started reading and studying the teachings and things started to change. I got an education, went to college, became familiar with responsibility and a job, etc. You know what I considered myself prior to all of this – even as a young thug? A Christian. Was I? Not bloody likely. I question the legitimacy of those stats because anyone can say anything.

    “No, not all Christians are sex offenders or crooked. But because there is so much TRUST in Christian circles, people can be–and are– taken advantage of quite easily, and that’s bad.” (Lorena)

    I agree and we all have to stand up to it – and ask for changes in local churches to be made (if we are part of these churches). The truth is churches are quite trusting and can allow for behavior to go unchecked – and this is problematic (namely if a pedophile gets into a Sunday School classroom). I think churches need to truly know someone before they allow them around people’s children or in places of leadership. It’s a definite problem that needs to be addressed.

    “This thinking destroys families. Faith has many positive aspects but it can certainly be destructive” (Rover)

    I agree – people give to churches almost foolishly sometimes. For some it has landed them in dire straits – even poverty – and the church does nothing to reciprocate this giving (in my opinion). Not enough social programs exist and some people are even getting rich from other people’s sense of duty (tithing). I think it has gotten to the point where the tithe system either needs to be eradictaed altogether or re-formatted so that the money goes into helping the poor, widows, single mothers, seniors, etc…or else we see things like what happens with Hinn and his followers.

  • 53. societyvs  |  October 17, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Man. this is tough trying to keep up with everyone’s comments – yeow. It’s fun I must admit – but a lot of wriiting – i think have a mini-book on my hands here.

  • 54. orDover  |  October 17, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    What I am getting at here is the actual totality of the people’s behaviors. Not one of them has ever accosted people I knew and brought around (ie: assualt). No sexual misappropriation (ie: rape or sexual assault). No one has ever tried to kill any of my friends (ie: murder or attempt to murder). No one has ever tried to steal my property (ie: breaking n entering). My wife is fairly safe around them (ie: no one is making adulterous passes). This list can go on and on.

    And even if it does happen – it is yet to – it’s a very select person that does it (not even peoples or groups). To me, that speaks volumnes about the content of people characters in these churches.

    Okay, so you’re making your judgments of Christianity based on the actions of people within your Christian church circle, so I’m going to do the same thing. I know you might not believe me, just as I might not believe you, since we just have to take each other’s words here, but I promise this is a true list of immoral acts committed within the Christian community I grew up in, the Christian church and Christian school I attended:
    -A teacher had a lesbian affair with a 17 year old student (big, big No-No in the world of conservative Christianity)
    -Many (I can name at least 6) Christian kids I went to school with abused drugs and alcohol, even to the point of bringing vodka to school in a water bottle and being sent to rehab for crystal meth addiction (not a big shocker for a regular public school, but a giant shocker for a Christian school)
    -My first boyfriend’s father, who taught Bible study at his church, had an affair with his colleague which ended his marriage
    -My friend’s mother had an affair with the father of my friend’s best friend, who she of course knew through the church. She was actually excommunicated.
    -The wife of my church’s pastor had an affair and then murdered the pastor so she could be with the other man. She claimed it was an accident, that a gun they kept near their bed just “went off” and was acquitted by the police. She later confessed her crime to my mother, who contacted the police and had them re-open the case. She is now in jail.

  • 55. societyvs  |  October 17, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    “You keep saying that there are only deviations and exceptions to the norm, yet the number of those deviations and exceptions is quite high” (Cheezchoc)

    Not really when you start dissecting problems on a case by case basis. People that handle snakes – is very low in the America’s – almost unheard of anymore – what % of Christians were those people? Under .05% most likely.

    Who is to truly blame for people praying for someone sick and does not get medical help and how often does this happen in churches? I would think leadership and the parents are at fault – and most churches likely will not stop people from getting (if not advising) the parents to seek medical help alongside prayer. I see very few cases like this – the majority seem to come out of ultra-faith ministries and JW’s. Even then these cases seem to be not a widespread phenomenon (they sporadically happen).

    I have seen one clear-cut case in my life in a few churches that I attened in the inner city where I lived – and it was my brother (who was 25 at the time). In his case – I can’t blame the church – he made decisions allowing himself to fade away (denied himself chemotherapy – which is too bad – he was a great guy). But he was advised from many of us to continue to treatments – he was not a Christian mind you – which made it really hard for me to watch as he got prayer at a tent meeting about a month prior to his death (concerning this condition). This incident changed my faith for the rest of my life. I don’t put much stock in healing – however – I know very few churches that actually do (not without people seeking medical advice also).

    I don’t think those deviations are very high – maybe I need to conduct a survey on this topic and faith? It definitely has me thinking anyways – since a ot of people are so sure the Christian faith is not very nice – I will think about this idea.

  • 56. societyvs  |  October 17, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    “Okay, so you’re making your judgments of Christianity based on the actions of people within your Christian church circle” (OrDover)

    That was just an example of what I have come to know – from a variety of churches I visited and was affiliated with – including myself and a lot of my friends. Not much happened to us – not to say we did some things questionable to leadership – but my example is only one example.

    “since we just have to take each other’s words here, but I promise this is a true list of immoral acts committed within the Christian community I grew up in, the Christian church and Christian school I attended” (OrDover)

    I take people at their word – and in this case – I have no reason not to believe you.

    That being said, I am sure these were horrible instances and hurt many people – I agree – problems do exist in the church and its not like this faith is isolated from human corruption. I admit to this totally. What happened in the church, concerning the cheating and murder, is beyond horrible.

    But since we are making a case here concerning everyone in this faith being people that are ‘detrimental’ to society – was everyone in that church complicit in the actions of the people that acted in immoral ways? Did everyone know and willingly participate in the actions that lead to adultery and murder? I am guessing most people were very hurt by what happened (even to the point of indignation) and condemned the actions of those involved. I am also guessing these actions are not held up as standards – but things that people are ‘not to do’ and if they ‘do’ – they need to repent (take responsibility).

    I am not saying certain Christian people do no committ crimes – I admit to that – it’s obvious. What I am not going to concede is these people are somehow worse than your average society you live in – including other organizations where I know for sure most of it is corrupt. Gangs would be a prime example – which does include a commitment factor. Neo-Nazism would be another example.

    For me, I am not sure churches, concerning their commitment, actually make people more immoral or more ‘detrimental’ to society. I am not saying aspects of this do not exist – Fred Phelps being a prime example. But I have contended the majority of Christianity is concerned with their own actions towards others – we have deviations – and those deviations are not accepted as standards – but condemned.

    I may be wrong – I may be right – but I am wanting people to at least consider it when they talk with Christians in general or make sweeping generalizations concernig them (which I am not allowed to make concerning atheists – and was called out on – fairly I believe).

  • 57. orDover  |  October 17, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    But since we are making a case here concerning everyone in this faith being people that are ‘detrimental’ to society – was everyone in that church complicit in the actions of the people that acted in immoral ways?

    Well that wasn’t the case I was attempting to make with my examples. I was trying to show that Christians are just like everyone else, not that they are more detrimental to society than any other organization, but that they are also not necessarily more moral or more beneficial to society. You were making the case that of the Christian people you know, you feel confident that they are moral people who wouldn’t kill you or sleep with your wife. I presented examples from my own life of Christian people who did those immoral things to illustrate the point that Christian do not exist on a higher moral plane than your average person, as so many Christian, including yourself, try to claim. I don’t think those people did those bad things that I mentioned because they are religious, or that their beliefs caused them to carry out those actions. They’re just humans. My point is that their faith did not KEEP them from doing those things.

  • 58. BigHouse  |  October 18, 2008 at 8:39 am

    should people be made to pay for the crimes of another?

    I personally don’t think so. But the Bible does, right in it’s 1st book..

  • 59. CheezChoc  |  October 18, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    BigHouse:

    That’s one of the biggest mind-benders there is: the concept that we are all born evil, guilty, and in need of redemption because of what someone else allegedly did quite some time ago. (Of course, there’s a whole ‘nother discussion regarding the temptation to do it, being forbidden to do it, being set up, etc.)

  • 60. CheezChoc  |  October 18, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    RE: #9 in the original essay:

    Not that I’m convinced that they are actually Christians, whatever that means, but…this has to be said: GWB and Cheney claimed to be ordained/called by God to do certain things–like run for office, and now Palin claims that the Iraq war is a “Task from God.”
    How shall we take this? Assuming they are not nutty, did they really have some divine inspiration? Did they get an answer to a prayer? How can we know? More to the point, how can they? I have problems here with the epistemology.
    At the very least, their statements are arrogant and presumptous. At worst, they’re dangerous–because if they think they’re on a mission from God, nobody can question or crticize them and their policies (well, we can, but it’s not as if they would listen).
    Another disturbing factor enters the forum now: if such officers or candidates invoke God’s name enough, will they garner more votes? Probably, but why? Why must people fall for this?

  • 61. Prodigal Daughter  |  October 19, 2008 at 1:29 am

    Great conversation. Nothing to add but wanted to say I still read here every day. I still go back and forth and have no idea what I believe. But oDover always makes a ton of sense to me.

  • 62. societyvs  |  October 20, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    I don’t think those people did those bad things that I mentioned because they are religious, or that their beliefs caused them to carry out those actions. They’re just humans. My point is that their faith did not KEEP them from doing those things.” (OrDover)

    I have to make a certain point here. Okay, so because a few people committed these actions of adultery and murder – does it take away from the fact I use those teachings as a guideline for my commitment to my wife and adherence to non-violence? I admit we are all humans in this – that’s fairly obvious – but should I be judged in the same class as someone that chooses to ignore teachings they claim to have commitment to? For that matter, a whole lot of Christians also need not be included in someone else’s fault.

    The point you make seems like a sweeping generalization – these Christians did this so all Christians are to pay for their actions. This is not a generalization I am not allowed to make of atheists – how is it an atheist can make this generalization concerning the Christian faith? We all admit to there being over 100+ denominations within the Christian faith – they obviously are not all similar.

    Now maybe you are correct – no matter who we are no one group is more moral than the next – I would tend to agree to a certain level. I am not saying a Christian is more moral than a de-convert for example. But it should be noted that the Christian faith is an ethical institution – meant to deal with that aspect of one’s life. Does it always work? No. Does it always fail? No. We are all humans as you point out – thus choice is a huge piece of the puzzle. Maybe the church is not more moral – but I can admit many good people come from their – including many of the de-converts now on this site.

    “should people be made to pay for the crimes of another? I personally don’t think so. But the Bible does, right in it’s 1st book..” (BigHouse)

    That depends on how one reads that first book – I am guessing you mean Genesis here? Experts in Torah disagree with this interpretation – by experts I mean rabbinical scholars. They do not see this same thing – concerning Adam and Eve or even some of the Abraham episodes – people being made to pay for the sins of another.

    “Another disturbing factor enters the forum now: if such officers or candidates invoke God’s name enough, will they garner more votes? Probably, but why? Why must people fall for this?” (Cheezchoc)

    I don’t like this type of politics since they are accepting a job/position not based on their faith’s standards but that of the constitution (country). Now things happening in the country may very well be against the teachings they personally follow – then they face an internal struggle – since they are not the voice for themselves but for the whole people. I am not sure how one’s personal faith is supposed to work on that level – when they belong to the people now?

  • 63. Luke  |  October 20, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    i’ve been lurking here for a while and wanted to drop in a few comments..

    SVS is saying “Not all Christians are bad.” and the response seems to be “I have all kinds of problems with faith, aside from the fact that it is a huge lie.”

    y’all are talking past each other. how do you first define ‘faith’? it seems to me that most nay-sayers are confusing faith with ‘fundamentalist, apologetic doctrine’. Faith is merely defined as “a future hope” by Paul.. or the text book definition which is a “Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.” so you can have faith in science or religion or BOTH! if you find that both have truth, value, etc.

    not all atheists think the same… nor do all Christians.

  • 64. CheezChoc  |  October 20, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    “That depends on how one reads that first book – I am guessing you mean Genesis here? Experts in Torah disagree with this interpretation – by experts I mean rabbinical scholars. They do not see this same thing – concerning Adam and Eve or even some of the Abraham episodes – people being made to pay for the sins of another.”–societyvs

    Fine, but that’s a far cry from what many Catholic and Protestant churches teach–at least the ones I’m familiar with. In the Baptist church, we were told/yelled at about how we were all fallen, wicked, evil sinners, rotten, born that way, etc. They sure know how to make people beat themselves up. One of my younger family members pummeled herself (with words on a blog) recently just because she had a brief moment of being unhappy with God about her personal life. She ended up calling herself a wicked brat.
    That makes me sad, but obviously it’s what she’s learning in her church.

  • 65. Tit for Tat  |  October 20, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Fine, but that’s a far cry from what many Catholic and Protestant churches teach–at least the ones I’m familiar with.(CheezChoc)

    If you read about baseball pitchers and then had someone try to teach you how to throw the ball, and they couldnt even reach home plate, would you listen to their instructions?

    As my momma always said. “Son, no one can walk on you unless you lie down”

  • 66. BigHouse  |  October 20, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    If all societyvs is saying is “Not all Christians are bad” then this is a pretty big waste of space and energy, no?

  • 67. The Nerd  |  October 20, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    I don’t believe that a person can be told their entire life that “if you don’t do XYZ, you will be tortured for all eternity in hell” and not pick up a few emotional scars. The doctrine of hell is cruel, it shows contempt for humanity, and it’s inexcusable.

  • 68. CheezChoc  |  October 20, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    The Nerd,

    And another problem is: how does one define XYZ? It’s different depending on who you ask, listen to, which church you attend, what you read, and so on.

  • 69. Luke  |  October 20, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    @bighouse: SVS is saying that not only not all Christians are bad.. but some are even beneficial to society.

    yet this was masked by all the people who have an axe to grind and show how certain doctrines can leave scars. this articulation only proves his point that, yes, religion can be just as harmful as it can be helpful, but what can’t be used as such if placed in the wrong hands?

  • 70. Luke  |  October 20, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    @cheezchoc: you got it dude!

  • 71. CheezChoc  |  October 21, 2008 at 12:25 am

    I’m not a dude, but..thanks!

    (Actually, my younger niece calls everybody “dude” regardless of gender, so never mind.) :)

  • 72. Luke  |  October 21, 2008 at 12:53 am

    yeah.. dude is my gender-neutral term. i use it much like your niece. but thanks for the heads up! ;-)

  • 73. BigHouse  |  October 21, 2008 at 8:27 am

    How is it that the Christian faith is something ‘bad’? I cannot find concrete reasons to believe this.

    This is the question and conclusion posed in the 2nd paragraph. I think the responses generated have done well to provide answers and alternative conclusions.

    But of course every person and situation is different so you will get exceptions to both sides of the all.

    I think athesists/agnostics would generally say it’s less an issue about the faith being “bad” as it is about not believing the faith is “true”.

  • 74. VorJack  |  October 21, 2008 at 9:14 am

    BigHouse :
    I think athesists/agnostics would generally say it’s less an issue about the faith being “bad” as it is about not believing the faith is “true”.

    Some, yes. But others, like Greta Christine say that you can’t separate between the two. Believing something that is not true is almost always harmful, and therefore “bad.” As she says in her post True or False? Helpful or Harmful?: “Because if religion is mistaken — and I think that it is — then that makes it harmful. By definition. Basing your life on a false premise is going to lead to you bad decisions.”

    I am most strongly against the frequently expressed notion that faith (defined loosely as “believing something without evidence”) is a virtue. Greta goes a step farther by saying that faith is a vice. Yes, it may be helpful, comforting, soothing. It may provide the feeling of purpose and clarity. But in the end, since it’s based on mistaken assumptions, it will lead to harmful actions. This is a fact that all the faithful can recognize in other people of faith, particularly when it leads to violence or illness (think the Christian Scientists).

  • 75. Tit for Tat  |  October 21, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Vorjack

    I believe in a Creator. I dont try to quantify what it may be other than just that, “a creator”. My faith does not make me any better or worse than anyone else in the world. I think the flaw in some of what you just stated is that it is not pointing to the correct culprit. Faith isnt the problem, its when someone thinks that “their” idea of faith is the correct one and that anyone who doesnt follow it is wrong. So I think your beef is with religion not faith. By the way, I believe it is completely Logical and Reasonable to think that there is an intelligent, Creative driving force to the Universe that we see.

  • 76. VorJack  |  October 21, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Tit for Tat: Faith isnt the problem, its when someone thinks that “their” idea of faith is the correct one and that anyone who doesnt follow it is wrong.

    In the case of the Christian Scientists, how is is the problem that they think everyone else is wrong? They have a conviction, but they are not trying to force it on the rest of us. They simply wish to allow God to work his will upon them and their children, without the intervention of medical science. The same is true with the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their resistance to blood transfusion.

    I find these beliefs harmful. It leads to the deaths of the believers and their children. Now you can argue that these are extreme cases, and you’d be right. But I think we all know people who proclaim that they’re going to “let go and let God,” and cease to strive for this or that. By ceasing their efforts, they reduce their chances of success in whatever direction they were striving for. It’s a perfectly rational response when you believe in an interventionist God who cares about us each individually. But since I feel that this belief is false, I have to say that the “let God” response is harmful.

  • 77. Tit for Tat  |  October 21, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Vorjack

    Youre right in those instances, but they just reinforce my position that your beef is with religion and how people impose their belief. In those instances you are stating the people are imposing their beliefs on their children. Also you are talking about people who quantify what their belief is and make it absolute. There are people out here(such as myself), who dont do that. I, like you dont know what started it all but I believe its completely reasonable and rational to think there was a starting force. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that faith or belief, do you?

  • 78. BigHouse  |  October 21, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Tit for Tat,

    I see what you’re saying. Indulge me ona question.

    Is racist hate speech “bad”? Why?

  • 79. Tit for Tat  |  October 21, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Sure in my opinion I would consider it “bad”. The reason, is that its hurtful to others and whoever is making the comments. So from that basis its definately bad.

  • 80. societyvs  |  October 21, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    “Fine, but that’s a far cry from what many Catholic and Protestant churches teach–at least the ones I’m familiar with. In the Baptist church, we were told/yelled at about how we were all fallen, wicked, evil sinners, rotten, born that way, etc” (Cheezchoc)

    Agreed.

    ““Because if religion is mistaken — and I think that it is — then that makes it harmful. By definition. Basing your life on a false premise is going to lead to you bad decisions.”” (VorJack)

    This is the kind of talk that made me post this blog in the first place and ask such questions concerning Christianity. One person used the word ‘detrimental’ and now another is using ‘harmful’. Someone told me the problem most atheists have with Christianity is mainly in the beliefs – not so much in the behavior – but terms like those above lead me to think this is not always true.

    Telling someone their faith is ‘harmful’ is making a statement about their beliefs and actions – not just some doctrines of the church. And I think that statement is a huge over generalization concerning the matters of what faith is and what it does for someone.

    It’s tantamount to saying one’s only hope in a time of turmoil is ‘harmful’ – yet I wonder how. It’s like saying one’s generosity to those struggling in soup kitchens – means very little and is not beneficial. I can name a million things + 1 in all honesty that a variety of Christians do because of the perspective their faith gives them. I do not think it is harmful – I personally don’t think Greta whoever is correct on this one.

    Some things concerning faith – like hope – are not tangibles. How do you measure the benefit of that by-product? It seems to me Greta does not care to measure that – the premise is flawed and that’s that.

    Here’s something shocking – the premise is flawed for all of us. Not a single one of us knows everything there is to know about what is happening on this planet. In some sense, due to a lack of knowledge, we are all the whims of some sort of ‘faith’ – believing something without really thinking it through ourselves. In some senses, we all have faith.

    We can’t know everything there is to know about psychology, sociology, physics, creation, various religions on the planet, etc. In some sense we are the whims of another’s work – and that is a form of ‘faith’ – ‘trust’. Is that really a ‘vice’?

    “Greta goes a step farther by saying that faith is a vice.” (VorJack)

    I think this Greta person is likely a very nice and intelligent person – but she is definitely wrong on this one.

    That’s not to say bad things don’t happen from people within faith groups – it does. Good things also happen. Habitat for Humanity sprung from the Christian idea of ‘helping the poor’ (with Jimmy Carter’s support).

    The claim it all is a ‘vice’ (faith) – is beyond ridiculous – because then the facts have to back that up – each time and in each situation. I can find many situations – including my own – where this is just not the case. If Faith is a Vice then I should be worse for having faith – this does not appear to be the case…in my case not having the direction a faith can give was detrimental.

  • 81. orDover  |  October 21, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Someone told me the problem most atheists have with Christianity is mainly in the beliefs – not so much in the behavior – but terms like those above lead me to think this is not always true.

    Telling someone their faith is ‘harmful’ is making a statement about their beliefs and actions – not just some doctrines of the church.

    I think that what the majority of us have attempted to explain, or at least what I have certainly attempted to explain, is that our gripe is not with the belief, per se, or the behaviors, per se, but the behaviors which are directly caused by the beliefs, such as bigotry toward homosexuals, suicide bombings, and choosing to focus your life on the hereafter rather than the here-and-now. Just to take the issues of homosexuality as an example, I don’t so much as a problem with the belief that homosexuality is as in. Although I wholeheartedly disagree with that moral judgement, the problem I have rests with the behaviors, or actions, that said belief causes, namely discrimination and withholding of civil rights. You can think homosexuality is a sin. That is your prerogative. But as soon as you attempt to act on your prerogative in a way that infringes on the rights of others or directly harms yourself (as in the case with the Christian Scientists), then yes, your faith has become harmful.

    So to summarize: in my opinion, faith is only harmful when it manifest itself in an action directly driven by faith that is accepted without a logical basis.

  • 82. Luke  |  October 22, 2008 at 12:20 am

    “in my opinion, faith is only harmful when it manifest itself in an action directly driven by faith that is accepted without a logical basis.” -onDover!

    i’m completely with you there! i would say that faith accepted without criticism is awful too! an unexamined life isn’t worth leading and an unexamined faith isn’t worth following.

    much of the world’s problems are caused by a lack of thinking, wouldn’t you say?

  • 83. CheezChoc  |  October 22, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Excellent post, Luke.

    Personally, I like reading what the fellow who runs Christian Agnostic dot com has to say in his daily writings. They make a lot more sense to me than what I’ve heard from the pulpit.

  • 84. BigHouse  |  October 22, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Tit for Tat,

    If I find a Christian telling me I am going to hell because I am not a believer “hurtful” does that make it ‘bad’ to tell me that?

  • 85. Tit for Tat  |  October 22, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Bighouse

    Yep.

  • 86. Luke  |  October 22, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    @CheezChoc, thanks for the blog site, i’ll check it out. I’ve been called a Christian Agnostic as well and i like that title. to me it says “i don’t know and you don’t either! let’s find out what we can!” and you’ll hear that from my pulpit, so come on over if you’re in eastern PA anytime!

    @bighouse, isn’t that crazy that Christians are SO concerned with hell when they are supposedly immune from it. By our own doctrines and in Romans we’re told that just through faith in/of Jesus we are “saved from the firey furnace”. isn’t ironic that they forget the last part and focus on spreading around fear and hate.

    sorry you were scared but those people were wrong. if it’s any consolation, i’m sorry and take the blame for my fellow Christians bad-behavior. you’re right, they were wrong.

  • 87. bipolar2  |  October 24, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    ** there is no xian ethic **

    Jesus’ ethic is irrational, otherworldly, and impractical. It promises much, and delivers nothing. His so-called “interim ethic” couldn’t outlast one generation of true believers.

    The fideistic irrationality of Paul of Tarsus with its anti-intellectualism, misogyny, and revenge seeking has poisoned the West for 2,000 years. (1Cor1:1-30)

    Chinese culture was far luckier. From that very rational, this worldly, and sometimes practical book, The Analects, attributed to Confucius (500 years before a myth enshrouded Jesus):

    6:20 Fan Ch’ih asked what constituted wisdom. The Master said, “To give one’s self earnestly to the duties due to men, and, while respecting spiritual beings, to keep aloof from them, may be called wisdom.”

    15:23 Tsze-kung asked, saying, “Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?” The Master said, “Is not ‘reciprocity’ such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” [trans. S.R. McIntyre 2003]

    No god is needed to police human behavior. All ethics are irreducibly cultural, but not utilitarian. Harming others can not be generalized; otherwise, no culture could exist.

    bipolar2 ©2008

  • 88. Luke  |  October 29, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    @ bipolar2

    http://videos.howstuffworks.com/ted-conferences/1776-dan-dennett-talks-at-ted-about-religion-design-video.htm

    ’10,000 years ago man counted as one tenth of one percent for the land going vertebrates on the planet. Today we count as 98%, that is a huge leap! Man has become the dominant force on the planet and we have not been around for that long. Man’s key to planetary domination is culture, and the key to our culture is religion…”

    no we don’t need God to police human behavior, we have culture and society to do that which we base on the grounds that God dictated this (for authoritarian purposes). but to understand culture, i argue you must understand the religious groundings.

    here through religion and an anthropological lens we can find the shaping of cultural identity and that’s where i think Dan Dennett is right on! we can ignore science, culture, and religion at our own peril. it is my personal opinion that all must be educated on all three, read EDUCATED not INDOCTRINATED!

  • 89. LeoPardus  |  October 29, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    10,000 years ago man counted as one tenth of one percent for the land going vertebrates on the planet. Today we count as 98%,

    WTF??!!

  • 90. Luke  |  October 29, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    LeoP- watch the video, dude lays it all out.

  • 91. BigHouse  |  October 29, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    I needn’t a more convincing harbinger of truth than “dude”.

  • 92. Luke  |  October 29, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    haha! dude sums it up for me!

  • 93. LeoPardus  |  October 29, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    OK. I listened. I took notes. I did a little snooping around.

    First: He said that 10000 years ago, man + livestock + pets accounted for roughly 0.1% of the total mass of vertebrates on land. Today that same group accounts for roughly 98%. A bit different from what you said. Mass and population are very different things.

    Second: The fellow who gave this statistic was an aerospace design engineer, not a paleontologist or the like.

    As a biologist, I tend to regard statements like the one you put forth with suspicion. At present, i cannot give the statement any credence.

    Also you should pay closer attention to what you hear and read. You said man in your citation of Dennet’s/MacCready’s statement when in fact they had said man + livestock + pets.

    Third: I tried to confirm this statistic in reputable, scientific sources and could not manage it.

  • 94. Josh  |  October 29, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    “We know that it happens – but any small reading in the gospels will reveal they have no right to treat people like crap – none whatsoever.”

    “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work. ”

    This verse bothered me for quite some time because it seems to be insinuating that Christians should intentionally give the cold shoulder to anyone who does not agree with their ‘teaching’. I find this passage slightly ironic because John does not elaborate on what he means by “this teaching” other than that it refers to the antichrists – or people who hold to gnostic teachings. What is up with this admonition to not even allow them into your house?

  • 95. Josh  |  October 29, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    “I think most of the things said by de-converts about Christians is pure BS and a mass generalization. ”

    I am not sure why we should take you seriously when you say this. This sentence itself is a generalization of de-converts!

    “They have an axe to grind concerning the treatment they received from Christians – and I receive my share also – but at the end of the say I don’t let a few bad apples determine for me the whole apple orchard is rotten.”

    And you are not grinding an axe yourself because of the treatment you think Christianity is receiving from de-converts?

    Not trying to be a pain, but it really bothers me when de-converts are subjected to moral accusations by people who do not realize they are breaking them themselves by making the accusations! I have received so much of this lately it almost makes my head spin!

  • 96. Josh  |  October 29, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Secular Planet –

    “(4) It almost killed me. I took the threat of hell seriously and it drove me almost insane. I became suicidal. I got professional help and medication, but nothing helped until I investigated my doubts and realized it was all absurd. I immediately became completely healthy without any medication and I’ve been very happy in the four years since.”

    Holy cow, I thought I was the only person who ever experienced this! I almost committed suicide when I was like 15 because I was so afraid of losing my salvation – even though I grew up in a church that taught me that I could not lose my salvation. I read the Bible myself and realized that there are extremely strong passages (like Hebrews 6) that indicate a person can lose their salvation. In my child-like mind I realized I needed to take God’s Word over man’s word (the word of pastors etc.) and so I figured I probably could lose my salvation. Ironic that I am now a deconvert and happier than I was then!

  • 97. Josh  |  October 29, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    “Faith is merely defined as “a future hope” by Paul”

    See Hebrews 11:1 (not Paul). Faith is defined within Scripture as a blind hope, as confidence in something that cannot be sensed. The problem is: hope in what? Confidence in what? I seem to remember a man on death row for bombing an abortion clinic who had complete ‘hope’ and ‘confidence’ that he would enter heaven as a part of God’s Army. He could see none of this, but his faith was strong. By what standard can a Christian judge his faith as irrational and his own as rational?

    There is zero standard for judging one’s faith other than by what we *can* see. If a person’s confidence in what is not seen is judged by what we can see, then I would argue faith is a self-defeating concept. One might as well do those things that are seen as good and drop the faith altogether.

  • 98. Luke  |  October 29, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Leo

    i mispoke and that must completely nullify all truth.

    sorry about that.

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Attention Christian Readers

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

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

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