The following post was written on April 7th, 2007:
Last year about this time, I celebrated Easter as a committed believer of the Risen and Living Savior. I have done so every Easter I can remember except for a rebellious stint I had while in my 20s (we all have those, no?). The one thing I knew for certain was that it was impossible to be a true Christian without this conviction.
.…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. - 1 Cor 15:17-19 (NASB)
Of course I believed in the Resurrection. It is a foundational belief. It is essential. As C.S. Lewis would say, it is part of “Mere Christianity”.
I have always been an avid reader, and I always saw books in the library or store that had titles that just screamed, “Open my cover and browse my pages if you dare. For we are here to challenge your Christian beliefs!” My church pastors had words for authors of books like this: Pseudo-Intellectuals, who “professing themselves to be wise, they had become fools” (Rom 1:22). They were likely angry apostates, out on an agenda to debunk The Word of God, the Anvil that has worn our many Hammers. It was easy to pass by these books left on the shelf without thinking another thought…
(The following entry was originally posted as comment #87 on 8 Reasons why I no longer believe)
After I left Christianity, understanding morality was one of the harder challenges I had to face. I had been told all my life that without God, we had no basis for our morality. Without that lifeline, I have to admit that it was pretty scary there for a while.
Many theists approach this subject from a false premise. They ask a non-believer where the universal standard of morality comes from if not God. Rather, I submit that there is *no* universal standard of morality.
To a theist, that is scary. I understand that. It is cold. It is harsh. It is raw, amoral naturalism. My wife recently asked how our children were going to get their morality if I was no longer a Christian. Wow. She knows I am a good man, but that Christian mindset that there is no good without God is so ingrained in her that she is not even aware of it. That any morality can come without God is inconceivable to most of us!
But now that I have been away from Christianity for a while, and have had a chance to observe my former faith from the outside – I think I have a pretty fair idea what is going on. The bottom line is, I do not believe there is a universal standard of morality…
This is part 3 of 3 of my rant against the belief in eternal damnation.
With the implications of eternal damnation on the bulk of humanity, I had no peace in Jesus. I looked at humanity in two camps – the Saint and the Heathen – the Saved and the Damned. I witnessed to my workmates fervently, because they were my friends, and I could not imagine them in eternal torment. I prayed every morning for the Holy Spirit to empower my witness so they too could experience the peace of Jesus.
Several years ago, my mother could tell that I was anguished at her unbelief. She was a strong Christian when I was younger, but had since left the faith after her own period of questioning and doubting. I was constantly witnessing to her and inviting her to church, as if she had never before heard the Gospel. The fate of my mother’s eternal soul weighed heavily on my conscience. One particular day, after praying for the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to fall upon my mother, I tried to show her that she needed to repent and again recognize the One True God through Jesus Christ. My face must have betrayed my true feelings – you can’t fool mom…
I stumbled onto this video that I thought De-conversion readers would enjoy. It is a clip from the 1985 G-rated movie The Adventures of Mark Twain, which tells some of Twain’s lesser known tales with clay animation. This clip, where Tom, Huck and Becky meet a mysterious stranger is disturbing, dark and beautiful animation.
As always, I am interested in your thoughts.
I like to collect Christian clichés. Most clichés that I hear from Christians are harmless, but there is one cliché that I can do without ever hearing again. When considering their own sinfulness, Christians often say, “We deserve Hell.” Or worse yet, “I deserve Hell,” usually followed by, “but by the grace of Jesus…” – fill in the blank.
“I deserve Hell”. Do Christians really believe this? Most Fundamentalist Christians hate the science of biological evolution, because they think that evolution lessens the value of human life. Christians believe that if we are not uniquely designed by God, if we are a mere bag of molecules and chemical processes determined by the injudicious whim of natural selection, then our existence must have no value. And they readily accuse atheists of imposing this value system.
Yet these same Christians believe that they themselves are of so little value and self-worth when compared to God, that their lives are good for nothing more than to be objects of God’s wrath. A Christian believes that, by nothing more than the act of being born, by virtue of the doctrine of Total Depravity, every man, woman and child on the planet deserve nothing better than never ending torture…
LeoPardus recently published 3 articles which focused on reasons he left Christianity. I will be reprinting 3 slightly edited articles from my old website that highlight only one of the main reasons I left Christianity – the tortuous doctrine of eternal damnation. If you have already read these, forgive me for this second go-around.
I used to wear a button on my hat. I wore it everyday for years. It was one of those buttons that I used to identify myself as a Bible Believing Christian, without having to go through the trouble of actually having to say it to everyone I met. My button had a cliché printed on it.
It read “Know Jesus Know Peace, No Jesus No Peace.”
Why did I have peace in Jesus? I was to have peace because my faith in Jesus Christ gave me hope of an eternal reward in Heaven. No matter the trials of this mortal life, no matter how I was persecuted for my faith, no matter what physical ailments may become me, no matter if death knocked on my door, I could say “O death where is thy victory, O death where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55)…
Years ago, as a younger Christian, I had serious doubt about Christianity, but I decided to hold onto my faith in Jesus. Most Christians doubt their faith at one time or another, so what I was doing was pretty normal. Many Christians, in fact the vast majority of them, admit there is really no evidence to believe in God. However, they are quick to point out, that is where faith comes in. We believe, because God wishes for us to believe without any evidence. That is the importance of faith, and as a scientist who is conditioned to rational thinking, I clung to living by faith for many years.
About a year ago, I was really struggling to hold onto my Christian faith. I was reading every fundamentalist’s favorite Gospel, the Gospel of John. Several places in that Gospel, Jesus praises people who have faith based on no evidence, and trashes people for not believing without a sign. This all culminates with the classic scene at the end of the Gospel where Thomas refuses to believe unless he sees the risen Christ for himself. Jesus appears to Thomas, and what does Jesus say to his dumbstruck disciple?
“Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed…”