Author Archive

William P. Young’s “The Shack”

While I was still working as a pastor, I brought my doubts to my bishop and he started the process of finding me a spiritual mentor. The process of my leaving licenced ministry for an indefinite period of time went faster than the process of finding a spiritual mentor, and by the time I first met the pastor who would be my mentor, I was already unemployed. We agreed to meet anyway, and see how things worked out. I was very unsecure in my deconversion and was hoping there was something obvious I had overlooked.

One of the first things my mentor asked me to do was read a book called The Shack, written by William P. Young. The tagline on the front cover reads, “Where tragedy confronts eternity” and on the back cover is the claim that in Young’s story, he wrestles with the question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” Young wrestles with this question through the fictional character Mackenzie Allen Phillips (or Mack, for short), who suffers some horrible tragedies in his life, then one day receives an invitation in his mailbox which may or may not be from God.

Please be aware that this article contains SPOILERS and that if you want to be surprised by anything in the book, you should read the book before finishing this article. You may still find nothing in the book to be surprising, but at least that won’t be my fault…

Continue Reading September 8, 2008 at 3:06 am 186 comments

What does a de-converted minister do with all their stuff?

I was an ordained minister for almost three years when I asked to leave and have my license revoked because I could no longer see any reason to believe in God. I have now moved out of the house I was living in (provided by the parish I worked for) and into an apartment. Packing, tying up loose ends, saying good-bye and moving can be painful no matter what the surrounding circumstances, but in this context I found myself dealing with more stress and depression than any previous move I’ve made.

I boxed the birthday card the Sunday school had made for me, telling me, “Yu are a good Minster”. I packed away the photos of the confirmation class I taught, and the farewell gifts presented to me by the congregations I ministered to. I also found, and carefully packed, gifts I had been given at my ordination: from my family, from the congregation of the church I interned at, and even a a few from some of the dear women who had taught me Sunday school decades previously. They were all so proud and so happy for me at my ordination. I felt like such a disappointment as I put their gifts in boxes to go with me on my move. I couldn’t throw these things out, though. Not yet. It would hurt too much. It doesn’t matter that I have no practical use for greeting cards, angel statuettes, or portable communion kits. I look at these things and think about the people who gave these to me, people who felt that God had touched their lives through me, and now I could not even manage to believe that there is a God who could do so…

Continue Reading June 10, 2008 at 11:45 pm 138 comments

Should we challenge every theistic argument?

chess game 1Recently, many books and websites have been written on the dangers of theism. Theism is described as an irrational belief leading to irrational actions including flying planes into buildings, bombing abortion clinics, or considering prayer to be an appropriate alternative to seeking medical care. Because these actions can affect more people than the acting theist alone, and sometimes affect them in a fatal manner, non-theists are being called to not settle for being non-theist, but to become anti-theist.

There are choices to be made, though, in what goals one will choose to pursue, and what means one will employ to pursue those goals. Is it best to spend time and energy challenging every theist or even every theistic argument one encounters? Or is this like giving money to an individual begging you for money instead of giving to a charity that provides food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, or medicine for the sick? I have heard this latter question debated in classrooms and hallways, on Internet forums and television shows. In some ways, it depends on what you are trying to accomplish by giving your money away…

Continue Reading March 31, 2008 at 12:08 am 17 comments

Opposing the God of the Gaps

broken chainI’ve long been familiar with the type of argument that is known as “the God of the gaps”, though it has only been within the last year that I’ve heard that name applied to this particular argument from ignorance.

Shortly, for those who are unfamiliar with the phrase, a “God of the gaps” argument points to one area where either humanity as a group, or the individual making the argument in particular, have less than complete knowledge. The one proposing the God-of-the-gap argument then declares that God fits into that gap of knowledge. At one time, it was possible to respond to any question of how or why by responding that God was the answer, or at least the cause. As humans have discovered how various things work or why they happen, the gaps for this God to live in have gotten increasingly smaller.

The God of the gap is popularly invoked to explain the very beginnings of the universe, consciousness, common understandings of morality or the existence of living organisms. If we don’t quite know how something happened, God did it. If we aren’t sure why something happens the way it does, it happens that way in accordance with God’s plan…

Continue Reading March 11, 2008 at 11:58 pm 19 comments

Defending “Doubting Thomas”

Doubting ThomasCarried the Cross, in his post Reasons I Remained Faithful for so Long, described himself as having felt like a “doubting Thomas” at different points in his life, wondering if some sin was keeping him from being able to accept Christianity as “Truth”.

I think about this myself, as I struggle with my faith and doubts, wondering if God exists and, if God does exist, if the Christian understanding of God has any truth to it. John 20:29 haunts me. “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'”

Then I wonder, who are these people Jesus is referring to? According to the gospels, Jesus had told his disciples that he was going to die, then rise again “on the third day” (Mt 17:22-23, Mk 10: 32-34). The disciples had, reportedly, witnessed many miracles, including Jesus raising people from the dead. If the gospel accounts are true, there is no reason for Jesus’ disciples to doubt his claim…

Continue Reading February 20, 2008 at 5:17 pm 42 comments

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Attention Christian Readers

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

de-conversion wager

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



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