Posts tagged ‘christianity’
I have recently been asked by several individuals to detail the reasons behind my de-conversion from Christianity to my current position of agnosticism. As a preface to this, I’d like to state my general disposition towards Christianity.
I spent over 25 years as a Christian, and for most of those years I was quite happy. I forged many significant relationships, and learned much while within a Christian community. I do not feel, as do some non-believers who have never been on the inside, that Christians are, as a whole, evil people intent on forcing their agenda on others. I do, however, believe that most Christians are uninterested in an honest inquiry into what is true due to vested interests of various emotions. I will detail these emotions later.
First, I must comment on what I feel is the greatest overlooked truth when considering knowledge and belief; human minds are not well-equipped to assess what is true. This is in stark contrast to the tacit Christian notion that all truths that matter are immediately accessible to nearly every human without much cognitive effort. Let me elaborate.
Religious sects all around the world subscribe to a set of beliefs that set them apart from other sects. They then claim that these “truths” within their faith are either accessible through common sense, common rationality, or divine revelation. This forces them to conclude that persons in all other sects are self-delusional, and rebelling against the truth that is apparent either through reason or divine revelation. It is assumed that these persons feel some sort of guilt stemming from their rebellion or rejection of truth.
However, this assumption is testable. If Christians were to befriend Muslims, they would discover that this is not true. The Muslims do not possess this sense of guilt, and instead possess the same deep confidence in the tenets of their faith as do Christians. Persons who have spent time among persons of another faith normally do not find people who are evil, bitter and guilty…
Take a look at this verse:
Titus 3:10 “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.”
Now think about it.
This command says to separate from divisive people. Hmmm.
Consider: by having “nothing to do with him” how are you ever to reconcile things? You cannot reconcile unless you discuss the issue that caused the division in the first place, but if you deem the issue divisive you might not be able to resolve it! So if the person ever comes back and confesses their “divisiveness”, then is he or she just never supposed to bring up the issue that caused the division ever again? In order to follow this command, you have to break it, and nothing ever gets accomplished!
In practice, a situation here at home has devolved into exactly what you predict would happen when people follow this command to the letter. An elder brings up an issue: the issue begins to “divide”. The elder is deemed “divisive”. The issue over which he is dividing is moot at this point, because it is determined that he is sinning – not on the basis of whether the issue he is bringing up is right or not – but on the basis of the fact that it is causing disunity. As such, everyone in the church is told to have nothing to do with him.
So basically this command devolves into a Biblical gagging order. Literally shut up and shut out people whose information could cause a division. And the minority will always be labeled the divisive group.
The real problem with this command is its subjective nature: the judge and the jury become one in the same. After all, on its surface it sounds like good advice: avoid people who are breaking up relationships. That sounds good, right? After all, that type of person should be avoided…
- Save any of his followers from sickness, disaster, disease, or loss of goods or liberty. And this is despite the screaming, fervent, desperate prayers and pleas of his “beloved children”. (What a great father!)
- Heal autoimmune disorders, cancers, genetic defects, paralyzed limbs, lost limbs, dementia, insanity, or even acne. (What a great physician!)
- Show up and convince, scare, bewilder, or just talk to any person, skeptic or seeker, in order to provide them with something to believe in other than wishful thinking. (What a great communicator!)
- Write a treatise that provides clear guidance as to what he is like and what he expects of humanity. (What a great author!)
- Provide his followers with some sensible, logical, convincing, sound, intelligent, ‘non-internally-contradictory information that they can pass on to other humans. (What a great inspirer!)
- Manage to inspire his followers with enough sense, love, information, grace, diplomacy, brotherly love, or humility to keep his church from fragmenting into thousands of squabbling sects. (What a great administrator!)
- Give his church enough unity, sense, inspiration, drive, integrity, or guts to ‘accomplish such good works as to shame people of their slander’, or to ‘withstand the gates of hell’, or to ‘overcome the world’, or to ‘keep the unity of faith’, or to do anything else that he said the church should do. (What a great founder and guide!)
- Do anything. (What a great, all-powerful deity!)
In a classic case of irony, Christians tried to get the statement “No God, No Peace. Know God, Know Peace” to trend today on Twitter.
The result of this effort was the phrase “No God” became the #1 trending topic.
Please understand that atheists have been trying for months to get an atheist related topic to trend and this one was gifted to us.
“God” must be looking out for us :) Of course, I should note that the phrase really should be “Know God. No Peace. No God. Know Peace.”
- The de-Convert
- The originator of the initial tweet is reported to be @RevRunWisdom. Thanks Rev Run!!!!!
- We are officially declaring Oct 20th as “No God Day!” We’ll celebrate again next year.
- In an apparent attempt to slow the increase traffic to Twitter (lots of the “fail whale” page today). after trending all day as #1, the “No God” hashtag was removed from the trending topic list even though my tests show that it’s still the #1 trending topic. Then as a part of the cover-up, Twitter listed “no god” as being synonymous with “Know God” and displayed it as “Know God.” Of course, this is backfiring as there are now new cries of “CENSORSHIP!!!!”
- We were quoted in the Washington Post
On Monday, 12 October, a few days after my 44th birthday, I had surgery on my cervical spine to replace two degenerative discs. This could almost be classed as an emergency surgery since I started having severe pain three weeks prior when my left C7 nerve root became impacted. There were two large left paracentral disc protrusions which caused impingement of the spinal cord. From my initial visits to my doctor, there it was an MRI on the 2nd, consultation w/my doctor on the 5th, consultation with a Neurosurgeon on the 6th, pre-op on the 7th, and surgery on the 12th. Bottom line, it all happened pretty quickly for me. I should note that I have not been in a hospital since birth and have enjoyed a relatively healthy life that has never included this type of pain (I don’t even get headaches).
This is my first crisis since de-conversion and I must say it was a good, solid test of my non-faith. In this blog, we have discussed the fact that dealing with crisis is one of the major reasons humanity has created gods and developed religious beliefs. I was faced with my first challenge of dealing with crisis without having my imaginary deity to run to for security, comfort and the general “it’s going to be alright.”
The other issue I faced was my response to my Christian family and friends. Even though it was difficult at times, I was respectful and said “amen” and “thank you” to the many prayers I received. I realized early on that they needed to say those prayers not to necessarily make me feel better but to allow them to feel secure about my surgery and that I’d be ok. Initially, their prayers were for my healing (I come from a Pentecostal/Charismatic background). I wanted to explain to them that God doesn’t perform these types of miracles (where degenerative discs are regenerated) but I did not. I wanted to explain to them that the only miracles God performs are the once that are scientifically possible (like cancer going into remission, etc.) but, of course, I kept those thoughts to myself. I wanted to challenge them to find ONE instance where an arm or a leg was grown back via a miracle knowing that there are no such cases…
Hold onto your pants, boys and girls, the following sick and humorous story is true…
A couple months ago, an elder at my family church was reprimanded and kicked out for having an “improper hermeneutic”. Apparently he was beginning to question the doctrine of Lordship salvation as he saw that it was being used by the church as an element of control. Basically Lordship salvation holds that a person is not actually saved unless they make Jesus their Lord. This means that a church can, at their discretion, determine whether a member is “making Christ their Lord” based upon the members assessed behavior. Ultimately, this elder was concerned the church was becoming extremely legalistic and un-Christlike in their love towards those attending. Basically, they were using doctrine to be assholes.
Now, step back a few months before. This elder was sitting in an elders meeting in which nearly every elder, except for the pastor, admitted they did not know what “hermeneutics” was. My father is the elder who explicitly said this. They immediately all agreed that they needed to study hermeneutics.
So imagine this elder’s surprise when he is told that he is in a form of rebellion against the church and was being kicked out for having an improper hermeneutic. Obviously, the pastor had a strongarm in this decision. To make a long story short, he was basically told to write his resignation letter or else he would be dismissed that Sunday. He was not allowed to defend himself, his position, or get a clear answer as to what he had done wrong. The most obvious conclusion given the circumstances was that he was the most educated elder besides the pastor and the pastor was beginning to be jealous of the amount of influence he had. The kicked out elder was becoming interested in allowing my brother’s fiance to lead a Bible study and the pastor was basically like “we don’t know who this girl is or what she will teach…”
Jesus is almost always held up as the great, human example of love. He’s supposed to embody all that the Christian should aspire to (WWJD). When a Christian does something mean, unloving, etc, they often say they messed up and need to be more Christ-like. But since I now can look at the Bible objectively -i.e., without filtering it through a set of presuppositions that demand that it must all be (mis)interpreted so that it “looks good”- I see that being angry, hateful, vengeful, even going on the out and out attack, is really being very Christ-like. It’s just the sort of thing Jesus would do.
In fact, according to the gospels, he seems to have had some problems with anger management.
Let’s look at a few situations to see WWJD.
Fig tree withering:
Matt 21:18-19 “Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.”
Mark 11:12-14, 20-21 “The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. ….. In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”…