Happy Birthday, Patheos!

#Patheos5Yrs atheism atheistToday is the five-year anniversary for Patheos, the site that hosts this blog. Patheos is now in the top 500 U.S. websites and is the world’s largest site for several communities, including atheists. Congratulations, Patheos!

I’ve been blogging at Patheos for close to two years (and solo for a year before that). When I started, there were about ten Patheos atheist blogs, and now there are 21. Patheos hosts more than 300 blogs exploring many categories of thought.

The Cross Examined blog has gotten almost 900,000 total views. Patheos as a whole will generate that twice in a week, but that sounds like a nice bit of impact to me. And I don’t make the views—you do. This wouldn’t work without you, and I’m very appreciative for your time and feedback.

Figuring out what content connects with the audience and what doesn’t is sometimes difficult. Maybe the headline was boring (if yesterday’s Doonesbury is good advice, I need to work “sideboob” into my titles more). Maybe the post just didn’t get the Facebook or reddit love that it deserved. Or more likely it was just a lot less insightful or interesting than I thought. Ah well—I always learn from the process.

I’ll take this fifth birthday opportunity to muse on five categories of blog posts during my time at Patheos.

1: “10 Reasons the Crucifixion Story Makes No Sense”

This post has been my most popular. Each of the ten points is touched on only briefly, but the post seems to be a useful high-level summary of skeptical criticism of this part of the gospels. Christians who find the sin/redemption story compelling would probably dismiss this post as no challenge to their faith, but that’s not where it ends. These Christians would likely also think that the crucifixion story is compelling to outsiders. It’s not.

2: Social issues

Google ranks “20 Arguments Against Abortion, Rebutted” first for the search “arguments against abortion.” That’s ironic, since it’s a rebuttal of those arguments, and I wonder how many pro-lifers arrive here to find something they didn’t expect. Still, I’m not complaining. I hope it’s provocative while being civil.

Christianity is an 800-pound gorilla within society. It does some good, but it also does a lot of harm, and I’ve responded to some of those social issues—homosexuality and same-sex marriage, Creationism, church/state separation, the First Amendment, and so on.

Institutions like Christianity are inherently conservative, but the paradox is that this one claims to have a direct line to the source of morality. Christianity should be leading the way rather than digging in its heels. Let me quickly acknowledge that some Christians are doing honorable work to improve society, but theirs is too often the still, small voice amidst the wind and earthquake.

3: History

I’ve found the history behind Christianity to be both more complicated and less supportive of confident Christian pronouncements than I expected. I’ve written about:

In general, I’ve been fascinated at how easily some icons of Christian thought have crumbled with research. That’s not to say that there’s nothing there, but what’s there often turns out to be different from we’ve been told.

4: Apologetics

Apologetics, the intellectual arguments in favor of Christianity, are what got me into this study over a decade ago. I’ve blogged about the Transcendental Argument, Argument from Design, Argument from Morality, Cosmological Argument, and others.

I’ve also responded to arguments from about two dozen apologists. Repeat offenders include William Lane Craig, Greg Koukl, Lee Strobel, Frank Turek, and John Hagee. Their arguments are widespread, and I will continue to respond to what appear to be the most popular.

5: Trying on some new things

New projects keep it lively. I made a short video, “Are the Gospels Eyewitness Accounts?” I wrote a flash fiction piece, “Interloper.” I wrote my second novel exploring atheism and Christianity, A Modern Christmas Carol.

I also issued a public challenge to organizers of Christian apologetics conferences: you say that your apologetics can withstand the challenge? Then don’t have a Christian present the atheist position; bring in an atheist. You’ll get the last word, but don’t you want your attendees to understand the real challenge? Give me an audience, and I’ll do it for free. (So far, no takers. Just intimidated, I guess?)

As a blogger, sometimes I feel like the new teacher who’s just a chapter ahead of the students in the book. I’ll never be a biblical scholar, but if I can learn interesting things and pass them on to you, that will be enough. If you’ve enjoyed reading along, I hope you’ll continue to share the journey with me.

So what’s next? Do you have ideas for improvement? Any fundamentals that I need to focus on or new areas to explore?

Faith is not an excuse for getting “there” last.
It’s an obligation to get there first.
Leonard Pitts, speaking about how Christianity
often lags society in knowing the right thing to do

Photo credit: Robo Android

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  • avalon

    Keep up the good work, Bob!

    “Any fundamentals that I need to focus on or new areas to explore?”
    How about the different views on intuition? Natural vs supernatural?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I’ll take a look. Thanks!

  • wtfwjtd

    I enjoy your blog here Bob, and the “10 Reasons” post has always been one of my favorites. I was glad to see it “resurrected” in a timely fashion!

    I have also enjoyed reading both of your books, and the video was a nice project too. Keep ‘em coming!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      A reader of both books?? I knew you were brilliant!

  • http://www.klrich.net KLRich1

    I would like to invite you to read my new book, “The First Black Friday: The Crucifixion of Christ” by K L Rich on Amazon.com. It took the love of a Father to send His son down to earth to suffer at the hands of an evil world and die for our sins. Jesus having been told what was needed to save mankind, mentally struggled with the mission, but knew that it was necessary to keep man from being eternally lost. It was a horrible day. It was a day of cruelty and torment. It was…The First Black Friday. Faith is all you need!

    • Castilliano

      Of course you mean faith in your religion, not that silly faith the majority of the world has in so many other religions.
      So really it’s faith in your faith.
      And since faith is so fickle, often leading people astray, one needs to build up one’s faith in faith…so faith in faith in your faith.

      But first an outsider would have to forget how silly Christianity is:
      1. God who is Jesus sent himself (whatever that means to an omnipresent entity) to impregnate (via rape) his future mother.
      2. Jesus needed to save mankind from a hell which he himself created, but failed to get word to the majority of mankind before they died.
      3. Biblically, God’s forgiveness was earned through sacrificing goats. Jesus came and changed all that…by sacrificing himself instead of goats? Because he liked goats? Our sins were covered.
      4. And it’s a good deed for God to torture and kill his own son to appease himself even though omnipotent and able to choose whatever method he wanted? He chose human sacrifice and we should be impressed by this act?
      5. And despite the dozens of historians present in Jerusalem, somehow the several spectacular miracles surrounding Jesus’ death & rebirth are not in the historical record? They’re only in these stories written decades later?

      Ultimately, the gospel story is an ugly myth about an unnecessary human sacrifice to a blood-hungry god who has decreed a majority of humanity shall suffer eternally in hell.
      And you want me to choose to have faith this historically unfounded abomination is true?
      No, thank you.

      • Pofarmer

        I was thinking a little bit about vicarious atonemtent today, and the act that the U.S. legal system is supposed to be set up specifically prevent the innocent from being punished for someone elses crimes. The whole story is just too messed up on too many levels.

  • Ozark

    I think “Gnostic” would be a good buzzword to use to generate more hits.

    Something salacious like “the secret gnostic history of Christianity fox news doesn’t want you to hear about”.

    That should generate the hits if you don’t mind feeling dirty afterwards, lol.

    Shouldn’t be hard to throw up something about gnosticism and the Gospel of John.

    • JohnH2

      Given all of the non-canonical scriptures that people call Gnostic (even though many of them really have little to nothing to do with any actual Gnosticism), one can totally come up with multiple histories of Christianity which are called gnostic and which most Christians, and probably fox news, really don’t want anyone to hear about.

      • smrnda

        Gnostic is one of those words that actually has a fairly precise meaning, but which ended up being a relatively meaningless label because of the habit of slapping it around haphazardly.

  • Ozark

    Here’s another good hit grabber :

    5 secret diets from The Bible that really work! (and why the ensuing post has nothing to do with this.)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I like!

      • Ozark

        I’ll be your new copywriter :

        1. Wander into desert without provisions. Wait for Manna to appear.

        2. Subsist on locusts and wild honey while wearing a camel hair shirt.

        3. Wander in wilderness for 40 days until you hallucinate that angels are feeding you.

        4. Follow the dietary law of Leviticus to a tee. Also, carefully count calories and limit your daily intake to 1,200 calories. Watch the pounds melt away!

        5. Imagine bread and wine is human flesh as a form of aversion therapy. Limiting carbohydrate and alcohol intake in this fashion could do wonders for your degenerate material form in this Earthly hell. (I call this the Gnostic diet)

  • nakedanthropologist

    Congratulations Bob! Your blog and book have been a great boon for me, as part of my journey in leaving Christianity. Thank you for all your hard work and effort!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Terrific! Thanks for the feedback.

  • RandomFunction2

    To Bob the broken, yet somehow fabulous, atheist :
    Hello! I’m back. I’m still hopelessly broken though. Doing a bachelor’s degree in religious studies, going on with studying languages (English, Spanish). What are you up to?
    Any news of the real Random Function? He was one of your greatest fans.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Thankfully, the real RF is gone. I hope for good.

      Welcome back. Poke around the recent posts and see what you think.