Posts tagged ‘Bible’
A number of months ago I wrote pair of posts called Why Doesn’t God Make Things Clearer? and God and the IRS. They touched on what has become a intellectual cornerstone of my own personal transition out of evangelical Christianity, namely, “divine hiddenness” – the idea that God, if there is one, does not seemed to have made things very clear for us.
But as we say in Texas, there is more than one way to rope a steer. (Actually, I think I just made that up. But it’s pretty catchy, yeah?) Here, I’d like to make this same point a little differently, and, hopefully, more entertainingly.
So let’s start with the basics: people disagree about God. They disagree about God’s existence, and, even among those can agree on this much, they disagree about God’s alleged nature.
But how is this even possible? How can there be so many different religions, creeds, theologies, churches, sects, and denominations? Especially if God, as is alleged, wrote a book to lay it all out for us! And if he did write us a book, then why are their so many, many views about what it really means and what it tells us about this God? This state of affairs does not seem to obtain with the IRS, where the instructions for its basic form, 1040, are intricate, perhaps, but overall pretty clear. To the point: if there is one Almighty God, and this God has one single, simple message of salvation for us all, then why doesn’t he just write the damn thing down – clearly?..
I’ve heard Christians say that what one must do is look at the life of Jesus, and decide what you make of him. This is the basis of Alpha Courses and, in my experience, it’s the way many Christians approach Christian apologetics or evangelism. ‘What do you think Jesus meant when he said x?’ ‘What did it mean for the Jews when y happened?’ ‘Wasn’t the love shown by x to y a perfect sacrifice as prophesied in z?’ etc etc.
The belief is that the Bible, in this case, is reliable reportage – miraculously accurate and by its very nature irrefutable. Christians believe there is enough evidence to decide that water was turned to wine, dead men were raised and thousands of ready cooked fishes materialized from thin air. And furthermore, that there was no other important (perhaps more private) relevant statements made that were not reported in the book.
Surely the decision to believe this is at the very least a cognitive event. In the same way that I do not believe in ghosts (until convinced otherwise), I need to decide whether I accept the Bible / Koran (or 100s of other religious holy books) to be reliable…
Kieran Bennett recently completed his series on why Christians de-convert. To answer this question, he considered 94 of the 117 de-conversion stories he read on one of the largest archives of de-conversion stories on the internet.
Here is what he found:
- Dissatisfaction with the answers to simple questions proffered by the religion was the most common reason cited for de-conversion amongst the sample (14.89%).
- The realisation that religious dogma contradicted observable reality was
the second mostan equally common reason for de-conversion cited within the sample (also at 14.89%).
- 12.76% of the de-converted Christians in the sample spoke about realising the contradictions within the dogma itself.
- For 10.63% of people in the sample, reading the bible was significant in ending their faith.
- Only 8.51% of people in the sample attributed their de-conversion to the hypocrisy of the church.
- In another 8.51% of the de-conversion stories, people tried to speak to god and they now credit god’s lack of an answer for their de-conversion
- And finally, stumbling across the realisation that many religions were just like theirs caused deep doubts for 8.5% of the sample he read…
Hello again everyone. I’m happy to say that I finally have some time to make a post on this blog. Sparing you the details, let’s just say that finishing up grad school is pretty time consuming… but enough about that, on to the my topic!
Without question, the internet has increased the level of human interaction and discussion (this blog alone stands as a perfect example). Through the years, I have seen discussions of all sorts, but naturally, I am most interested in ones concerning religious manners. I have seen countless arguments on why Christianity is a fraud, so I thought that I would share one with you.
One way to argue the falsehood of Christianity is to point out the human element of the Bible, that is, to demonstrate that the Bible contains political and social biases of the variety of authors. Doing so provides evidence that the book is more or less human invention and therefore discredits any divinity claims.
There you go! That is one way to de-bunk big bad Christianity!! The end!
This is the third installment of the series “Why do Christians de-convert?” in which I’m citing the primary reasons for de-conversion amongst the sample of the 117 de-conversion stories I read.
Billboards exhort us to “read your bible”, and perhaps it’s a good idea. For 10.63% of people in the sample, reading the bible was significant in ending their faith. For some de-convertees the bible demonstrated how little their present religion had to do with the holy text that it supposedly revered.
Consider one person’s experience when quite young:
I had to fill out a worksheet about what the teen-age Jesus did after he woke up in the morning, rolled up his mat (like a good fundamentalist child) and went out to help his father in the carpenter’s shop. When I went back to the bible and saw that no one knows what happened [in those years of Jesus' life].
A simple “learning” activity prompted the above Christian to question their faith…
For my birthday I gave myself a HarperCollins Study Bible. It’s quite a tome of scholarly commentary running alongside the text of the Old and New Testaments. Yet I don’t actually enjoy reading the Bible; after about 16 years of intense grappling, I found the whole thing to be tiring, disjointed, and just downright difficult to grasp. Despite this, I’ve bought this thing, a book that is either highly revered or detested, considered to be either the Word of God or just another ancient religious text. So why am I choosing to torture myself in the confusing and sublime text of Christian scripture?
For me, the purpose is to unravel the text in the light of contemporary Christian and religious experience. I do this from a critical and skeptical viewpoint, taking nothing for granted. Doubt is probably the most beneficial tool here, for it seeks not merely an alternative understanding, but rather an understanding that is shaped by how I perceive and experience the world. This really puts me at odds with many Christians, who perceive that we must approach the Bible from a viewpoint of faith. It is only by faith, they say, that we can truly understand the words of scripture. By faith, we can hear the voice of God speaking through the words and directly to our heart.
It is that notion of faith that we must apply doubt first of all. For if God truly did speak through the words of the Bible to his faithful, why then do we have such multiplicity of interpretation?…