Posts tagged ‘christianity’
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!”…
So, I know I’ve said recently I wanted to get away from all of this, but I just couldn’t help but post this because I find it amusing…
It occurred to me today that probably the core loophole in all of theism is found in the inherent impossibility for God /gods to be described without assuming the universe already exists. Try it! (Friendly reminder, you can’t use any words that assume space and time exist. You know, core words like “in”, “outside of”, “before”, “beginning”, “pre-existing”, “incarnate”, “only”, etc.)
Consider one example: the phrase “God is three in one” or even “God is one”.
Apologist Dr. James White said in a recent debate: “numbers are a part of Creation itself”.
However, if God created numbers then it is idolatrous and irrational to use any numbers to describe God. If God did not create numbers yet has properties defined numerically, then a believer admits there is something more fundamental to reality than God.
Now, to help see how silly all this is, imagine how many people have been killed for not accepting the correct numerical description of God…
I’ve been reading the comments here lately and I have noticed that a lot of Christian readers say the same things over and over again: “If you REALLY had been a Christian you would have never de-converted.”
Now the details of the statements differ from reader to reader, some saying “if you’d really had faith,” others saying “if you’d really known the love of God,” or “if you’d really read the Bible with an open heart,” “if you really prayed honestly,” or even “if you were a true seeker you would have found the Lord.”
I’ve been struck by another thing recently as well: noticing that many de-converts were formerly in the ministry.
These two things made me think that maybe it’s being TOO dedicated, too devoted, too much a seeker that is the danger.
Here’s what I mean: Maybe we de-converts were more real in our Christianity than the people who can’t believe we eventually rejected “the truth.” We weren’t content with going to church on Sunday and Wednesday, or with going to confession once a week, or with saying our daily prayers and reading the Bible in a year every year — whatever the flavor of true devotion was in our particular version of Christianity.
We wanted more. I know that is true for myself. I wanted to see the power of God, the way it was described in the Bible. I wanted to experience what the apostles experienced on the day of Pentecost. I was hungry for more of God and I read the Bible every day, over and over again in several translations. I worshipped Jesus with all of my heart.
I know whatever I say here won’t convince anyone that I was a “real” Christian…
I put the phone back on the receiver with a hesitant click. Did I really almost end the message with “In Jesus’ name, amen?” Could I seriously be praying too much?
Glancing to the other side of the room I once again fell back into my mind. The thoughts haunted like an itch on the brain that you are desperately trying to scratch, but cannot. Flooding in were the doubts, the questions, the wondering at my every action and thought. Was it a lie if you had honest intentions at the time? Did you need to confess it?
An erection during church service. The horror. Every small slit of cleavage told a story of a young man’s temptation. Except for Mrs. W… I hope God doesn’t put me with a woman like her. How does her husband do it… do her. But God probably will. God knows best and often what we think is best for us is not what is best. Doubtless I would end up with an ugly woman, just so God can teach me how to be thankful for what I have. I wonder if it is all the same in the dark. I wonder what a vagina looks like. What do you call a vagina anyway? I know on men it is called a penis, but dad only explained to me what an erection was and didn’t tell me what sex actually was. I’ll bet I could find a picture of a vagina in the dictionary if I knew what it was called.
Flipping the pages one by one, each one falling with a thump that was only matched by a beat of my heart. Thump. Thump. Thump. B. r. e… a… Jesus wouldn’t want this. Jesus is watching me. Oh, how I love you Jesus, but I am dying of curiosity. A footstep upstairs. What if I was caught with my erection up and my hand on a picture of a naked woman? Lust is sin. Slide the dictionary back onto the shelf, Josh. There, Josh. Thank you Lord for helping me resist temptation…
In talking with my wife once about my reasons for de-conversion, I set forth some very simple logic about why BibleGod could not be real. I basically said, “If the God of the Bible or Christianity is real, then there are certain, distinct traits about him that we can be sure of. Those traits have obvious and necessary outcomes. We simply need to look for those necessary outcomes. If we don’t find them, we are forced to conclude that the being we are discussing does not exist.”
Knowing the logic of this was unassailable, she derailed it all by saying, “That’s Enlightenment thinking. It’s all human reason as the ultimate. There are more things in the universe than what human reason can deduce.”
Of course the discussion was over then. Once someone takes logic and brains out of the discussion, there are no guidelines to go by. One can make up any specious claims and back it with tradition, “alternate thinking”, appeals to authority, or voodoo.
Of course I knew this was wrong “thinking”, but I needed a bit of time to think it through. Aside from the obvious problem of divorcing the only thinking organ we have in favor of …….. whatever, the big problem with the “That’s Enlightenment (or Humanist) thinking” approach is that it’s bogus. It’s not Enlightenment thinking. It’s just thinking.
Straightforward logic isn’t something humanity only came upon after the Middle Ages. It’s been around since we first starting hunting and using tools. It doesn’t take a post-Enlightenment, college-educated, westerner to think that way. A caveman could do it…