Jesus Called Me a Liar

A church outside Chicago apparently mentioned me and my book in a sermon last week.

So I listened to it… you can, too (MP3). The fun begins at the 30:00 mark.

The good: The pastor pronounced my name correctly!

The bad: I apparently have a website called HappyAtheist.com.

The huh?!: The amusing part begins at 31:30. The pastor is talking about the chapter in my book called “What It Would Take to Convert Me.” I write that if I saw an irrefutable miracle, I would have to consider the possibility of God/the supernatural. What does the pastor say about this?

“Jesus would say, ‘Hemant, you’re lying to yourself.’ Because even if someone was raised from the dead, you wouldn’t believe.”

And then he gives solid evidence of Jesus raising people from the dead: Stories from the Bible.

The pastor also says people don’t need a supernatural sign to believe; they just need a “submissive heart.” In other words, they need to stop questioning faith and the Bible and Christianity and just accept it.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Christian[/tags]

  • Gadren

    Wow… it always makes my faith in humanity hurt whenever I see people fall for that kind of twisted logic.

    *headdesk*

  • Mriana

    Riight! He obviously believes that the stories in the Bible are not literature, but literal- every single word. :roll: To stop questioning stunts mental and intellectual growth and sometimes emotional growth. Obviously the man is anti-intellectual. Not unusual among Evangelical Fundamentalist. He sounds like a knuckle head to me. Maria and I discussed another such knuckle head on my blog at MySpace. Spong 2 the knuckle head 0. :lol:

  • Aj

    Based on the quote I don’t think I could stomach listening to it, although I would like to know how to pronounce Hemant correctly.

  • http://unorthodoxatheism.blogspot.com Reed Braden

    HEH-mint

    I listened to the whole sermon. My mistake.

    Can I have my time back?

  • Maria

    He sounds like a knuckle head to me. Maria and I discussed another such knuckle head on my blog at MySpace. Spong 2 the knuckle head 0.

    LOL, I agree Mriana. I think knucklehead is a great term for such people. Obviously Hemant’s book was too complicated for this guy to even begin to understand…..

  • http://web.mac.com/zenner41/ JonJ

    It is dumbfounding how many people can’t seem to get it into their heads that the amazing stories in the Good Book might not be “gospel truth.”

    If all of the mental energy expended in demonstrating how two of every kind of animal could so get into the Ark and survive for 40 days (I understand what they did with the animal waste, but where did they put that much food? Or did the animals eat each other?) could be collected, it would probably light up Los Angeles for several months.

  • Darryl

    As much as I disagree with the preacher, he’s no knucklehead. As preachers go, he’s pretty good–he’s smooth; good delivery; very earnest-sounding. I mean, how can you lose when you’re using Katrina as the backdrop for your sermon. These well-meaning but misguided people need our help. Ironic isn’t it: we see them as blind and in need of our light, and they see us the same way. Ah, ain’t life grand!

  • Guy Incognito
  • http://jamonation.com/ Rolf

    As Darryl said, this guy is pretty good. While the content of what he says is utter crap, he’s good at how he presents it. I only listened from the 30:00 minute mark on. The thing that jumped out at me is the constant reference that this preacher makes to having to “save” the lost ones. What pisses me off the most is the arrogance of Christians in their need to convert those poor heathens – neighbours, classmates, co-workers, etc. The arrogance comes through loud and clear in this man’s style. It’s clear that these people consider anyone who hasn’t accepted Jesus into their heart as a second class citizen. The preacher promotes this arrogance by constantly reinforcing the distinction between the believers and those that are “lost”.

    Another thing that bothers me about Christianity is the idea that all one has to do is accept Jesus into your heart and one will be saved. Saved from what? Hell? Someone please help me here. Lets say hypothetically that I wanted to be saved and to accept Jesus into my heart. How do I do it? This preacher, and others like him, make it sound easy, as if it’s as simple as switching on your belief in Jesus. Is there a switch somewhere that I don’t know about that I can flip that will allow Jesus into my heart? Do I just pray and it will happen? How will I know that Jesus has come into my heart and I have been saved? The idea of being saved has always struck me as utter nonsense. And that’s only part of the reason that I say that Yes, I am an atheist.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    I’m frankly sick of Christians calling me a liar. I have recently been told that it’s impossible that I was ever a “real” Christian, because the Christian talking to me couldn’t imagine every leaving her faith behind, therefore it was impossible that I had done so. These people are delusional and they have absolutely no ability to understand anyone outside their subculture. I used to be that way and somehow was able to break away. I’m not an insider any more, but it seems like these folks are insulating themselves more and more in their fantasy world and not allowing anything that will disturb their worldview to enter their sphere. The idea of blinders has been aptly used before. Somehow we have to continue trying to pop their fantasy bubble and let reality in.

  • http://www.conversationattheedge.com/ Helen

    writerdd, I hear you.

    Hemant, here’s something I don’t get – Jesus (according to the gospels, in Luke 16) told a story in which God says to a dead guy, there’s no point in him being raised from the dead to convince people because ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

    So why don’t Christians push Moses and the Prophets rather than “someone rising from the dead”? Am I missing something?

  • Mriana

    If his content is utter crap, how can he be good?

  • Mriana

    Why is Christianity even based on a murder for that matter, Helen?

  • http://george1001.livejournal.com/ George

    This is why the bible is so clever – it offers a sort of memetic toolbox full of methods for a leader to ensure his followers remain compliant.

    Claiming that faith is a virute (and the lack of faith a vice) is a great way to stifle questions about assertions that have no basis.

  • http://george1001.livejournal.com/ George

    So why don’t Christians push Moses and the Prophets rather than “someone rising from the dead”? Am I missing something?

    I think the point of the parable was that the rich man and his relatives were raised in the jewish tradition and therefore should have known better.

    However, since Hemant was not raised in a religious household, it makes no sense for the minister to compare him to the rich man.

  • http://jamonation.com/ Rolf

    Mriana, he’s good at using the methods, as George suggested, “to ensure his followers remain compliant”. In other words, he knows how to massage his flock to keep them coming back for more. So, from a moral standpoint, he’s not good. But he is a good snake oil salesman. In order to be a good snake oil salesman, one must have access to a large gullible customer base. He does … his congregation.

  • Mriana

    I agree with you, Rolf, but it saddens me that people can be so gullible. :(

  • http://www.scienceblogs.com adrian

    wow, that was extremely pathetic. I’ve never seen someone rise from the dead so how in hell does he know how I will react to it. Has he ever seen someone rise from the dead? No. This guy won’t touch empiricism with a 10 foot poll.

  • Mriana

    Three words: The God Delusion

  • http://www.templewhore.blogspot.com Slut

    But why won’t those Christians believe Mohammed flew up to Heaven on a winged white horse? It’s written down in an ancient holy book!

  • Mriana

    Because it’s not THEIR holy book. Only their holy book is the right one. :roll: I guess they forgot that none of the religious text can be taken literally. Oh, yes, they did forget, but only to insist that their way is the right way and the only way. Thus all the religious battles over the centuries. Without such beliefs and insistance that this text or that one is the “literal and unerrant word of God” there would not be any Crusades. Seems to me that the extremists enjoy fighting over whose god is better.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    I know of that church. They were the ones who had Oliver North as a special guest speaker a few years back. I almost even considered applying for a job there once before I realized how ultra-conservative they are. I’m glad I stayed far away.

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com/ Bad

    Hmmm, there IS a happyatheist.com, by it redirects to cheerfulatheist.com… which while an atheist site, also offers porn and dildo reviews sure to shock churchgoers. I wonder if the pastor did that deliberately.

  • http://www.conversationattheedge.com/ Helen

    Mriana, there are so many whys…

  • http://www.conversationattheedge.com/ Helen

    Bad, most likely the pastor didn’t and he’d be very embarrassed to find out he accidentally gave the URL of a site that includes porn.

  • http://4evrhis.wordpress.com darla

    I am really sorry that some Christians are insensitive to others. we are not all the same, just as all of you who have posted here are not the same. One pastor does not speak for every one. Hemant you are my brother on this planet, we believe differently, but we are human…and I have a great deal of respect for your thinking. you are a very intelligent person. I think we could all try to open our minds a little more and all try to stop being the perfect all knowing people that none of us are.

    Great site, just wanted to check it out…came over from Friendly Christian…

    **writerdd- i hope you come back.

  • Mark

    All great comments on the pastor’s content and reference to Hemant.

    Ironically, I planned on quoting (and by the time you read this) will have quoted Hemant … using the same scripture as the pastor … BUT … not in the same way. I agree with many of Hemant’s comments found in his book. They offer incredible insight to a pastor like me. For example … compassion and mercy were not produced by the Christian movement … they were adopted by the first followers based on Jesus’ teaching … but in no way can Christianity “trademark” compassion and mercy. Some churches have trouble adopting compassion and mercy into their ministry 2000 years later.

    Anyway … back to what I am going to quote from “I Sold My Soul On Ebay”, Page 178 “Here is my advice to Christians who want to influence people like me; be open to reaching out to people who disagree with you, instead of forcing us to adopt your beliefs in order to win approval. Why not go ahead and ‘approve’ of me simply because I’m a fellow human? Shouldn’t that be enough to earn respect.”

    He’s right … and sooooooooo often the church gets this wrong. Guilty as charged. Anyway … we may not agree on everything … but I think we might agree on this … people, regardless of race, gender, beliefs, etc would have less problem with institutionalized religion if we (the church) quit judging and started embracing … being open to others.

    I confess that I do not always get it right … but am trying.

    Thanks for listening.

  • Richard Wade

    I hope it goes well for you, Mark.

  • http://atheisthomeschool.blogspot.com/ Ute

    It amazes me how those who take the Bible literally don’t own slaves and other such stuff that can be found in the Old Testament. Recently I mentioned the Old Testament to a fundamentalist Christian who freaked out and told me the Old Testament was the book of Jews and he is not a Jew, he’s a Christian and lives by the New Testament. I asked him if it wasn’t true that Jesus was the king of the Jews. This ended our conversation abruptly. I wonder why???

    :)

  • http://Mickeyholsteensbcglobal.net Mickey Holsteen

    Hi,
    I have never believed in giving simple pat answers to why Jesus Christ has changed my life but I do have a challenge for you. If you are under the assumption that all Christians are dim witted, I strongly encourage you to listen to Ravi Zecharias who has spoken around the Globe as well as Harvard and packed out auditoriums answering questions about Christianity that give you a perspective you have never considered before. Let me know what you think..
    Thank you for your time,
    Mickey Holsteen

  • http://friendlyatheist.com FriendlyAtheist

    I strongly encourage you to listen to Ravi Zecharias who has spoken around the Globe as well as Harvard and packed out auditoriums answering questions about Christianity that give you a perspective you have never considered before.

    I’ve listened to him. And I’ve read Lee Strobel. And Josh McDowell. It’s very easy to refute them. They make the same mistakes in reasoning that all the other apologists do. But kudos to them for trying to answer the questions about Christianity that others just ignore.

  • http://Mickeyholsteensbcglobal.net Mickey Holsteen

    Hi,
    I never believe in giving pat answers as to why Jesus Christ has changed my life, but I do have a challenge for you, If you hold to the belief that all Christians are dim witted, I would encourage you to listen to Ravi Zacharias. Ravi has spoken all over the globe as well as Harvard and packed out auditoriums. He answers the difficult questions such as: Why are we here? Who says Jesus is the only way and countless others with a perspective that you may have never even considered. You can find out more at his website “RIZM”. Let me know what you think..
    Thank you for your time.
    Mickey Holsteen

  • Mriana

    I’ll do you one better, Mickey. Try reading Bishop John Shelby Spong’s books- like “Why Christianity Must Change or Die” and “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism” and “Sins of Scripture”. You could end up very enlighten and move on to other things. He too has spoken around the globe, even for some Humanists groups, and has written many books. Or better yet, read Robert Price’s “Reason Driven Life”. You might learn something from both of them.

    Just thought I’d recommend a few things to you since you were recommending things too.

  • http://Mickeyholsteensbcglobal.net Mickey Holsteen

    Hello,
    One more comment if you would allow. I have been a Christian for thirty years and have heard many different attacks on believing in Jesus. I was on the other side and thought belief in Jesus Christ was the Conservative’s crutch to avoid dealing with “Real Life”. Christianity will always be refuted and ridiculed but there’s one thing that can not be denied and that is a life changed inside and out after having an encounter with Jesus Christ. Until you watch someone dying with cancer and getting through an unbelievable hardship like that claiming that the only way they can is because of their relationship with Christ, it’s all just debate. A life changed is the only evidence that can’t be refuted. I am one of those lives. Thanks again,
    Mickey Holsteen

  • Mriana

    :roll: Sorry, but I have lived among the extremely religious for years, even as a child. I saw it as a source of misery then and now, with no divine intervention because it was humans doing onto humans. God had nothing to do with your friend’s cancer. It was all in the genes. Your life only changed because you wanted it to change, nothing more.

    I do highly recommend “The Reason Driven Life” to you, Mikey.

  • Brian

    BTW – Lee Strobel will be speaking at “that pastor’s” church (Christ Community Church) next weekend (Sept 15-16)…Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

  • Mark

    Brian is correct. Lee Strobel will be speaking on Sept. 15 and 16 at Christ Community Church in St. Charles, Illinois. Lee Strobel is a former aetheist who set out to prove the Bible was wrong. Anyone reading these series of comments who is in the area is sincerely welcome to hear him on Saturday at 6:15 or Sunday at 9:00 and 11:00.

    In the comments preceding mine, I have read a lot of strong opinions as well as some sincere questions. I personally don’t object to strong opinions as I have a few of my own and welcome sincere questions as they reflect an open mind that seeks answers. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I have found some good sources. Hope you can come!

  • Christian Believer

    I just wanted to respond to some of the comments made.

    One comment was made about how a religion could be based on a murder. Jesus was not murder. Jesus sacrificed himself for the sins of all people. Jesus was the only man in the world who had no sin. Jesus had the power to stop the “murder” but Jesus was predestined. It was foreshadowed many times in the Old Testament of the coming of Christ.

    The passover in Exodus symbolizes Christ coming. The Israelites were to sacrifice the first born of their cattle, the first born could not have any ailments or disablities. They were to spread the blood on the sides and tops of their doors. They were to eat unleaven bread, which is bread without yeast. The first born with no ailments or disabilites is to symbolize how Christ was to be the born and live with no sin and be perfect in everyway. The blood on the doors was to symbolize the blood of Christ that he shed for all people. The Spirit of God passed over those houses with the blood on their doors. This was to symbolize that those that believe in Jesus will be saved from death, in this case eternal death. The unleaven bread was to symbolize the holines and purity of God.

    Someone also made a comment about the simplicty of being saved. Can we just ask God into our hearts and we be saved? Yes it is that simple, that’s how powerful God is. Romans 10 states that If you belive in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord then you will be saved.
    But anything you ever let in your heart needs to be nurtured for it to really have meaning. As an example, you can work with someone everyday, but they could mean nothing to you unless you develop or nurture the relationship to a possible friendship rather than a co-work to co-worker relationship. Once you develop that friendship that person has a place in your heart and you begin to love and care for that person more and more as you spend more time with them. It is the same with faith in Jesus. It is simmple to just believe and be saved but now that Jesus is in your heart to give it more meaning you must nuture it and start to get to know Jesus more and more everyday and you will begin to love and care for Jesus more and more.

    There was a comment made that Christians treat non-Christians as second class citizens. Christians are taught to love all people. Matthew states love your neighbor as yourself. 1Corthians 13 is the “love chapter” . That is the true foundation of what love should be and how God’s love is.

  • Mriana

    First of all, the Bible is not the inerrant word of God.

    Jesus sacrificed himself for the sins of all people.

    First of all, not everyone believes he died for our sins. See Bishop Spong’s articles on Beliefnet:

    http://www.beliefnet.com/story/72/story_7216_1.html

    http://www.beliefnet.com/story/119/story_11975_1.html

    http://www.beliefnet.com/story/74/story_7454_1.html

    The passover in Exodus symbolizes Christ coming

    This is an extrapolation to write a story. The story of Jesus’s birth is just that. 1. The first census was in 6 A.D. and they did not travel to registar for the census. 2. It would have been just plain silly for a man to take a woman, much less a pregnant woman, on such a trip due to the bumpy terrain, robbers, and heat. 3. Pagans loved virgin birth stories, so the author had to have a virgin birth story. 4. Mary was not a virgin. She was a young maiden. The idea was taken from a mistranslation of Isaiah 7:11. The almah in Hebrew means young maiden, not virgin. It was mistranslated in Greek. 4. The crucifixion story was taken from other pagan stories, such as Horus and alike.

    See Spong’s article on the virgin birth: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/58/story_5859_1.html

    I could go on and on, but the story is a myth. IF there ever was a Jesus, and there were many men named Jesus at the time because it was a popular name, he is so buried in myth, he can’t be found. The story is no more true than John Jake’s North and South series.

    I can give you more authors about this too if you like- Don Cupitt, Robert Price, Tom Harpur, and more. All Episcopalians/Angelicans as well as a couple Humanists, besides Angelicans.

    However, I am fairly well versed on the Bible, so you don’t need to tell me your theology. I was brought up in the Christian Church too, so none of this is new to me, but I can interpret it for myself. I don’t need a minister to tell me what it says.

  • http://george1001.livejournal.com/ George

    There was a comment made that Christians treat non-Christians as second class citizens. Christians are taught to love all people

    Correction, some christians are taught to love all people. Many are not, and many have been extraordinarily hateful throughout history. You are confusing the way Christians could (or should) be ideally, and the way they really are.

  • HappyNat

    One comment was made about how a religion could be based on a murder. Jesus was not murder. Jesus sacrificed himself for the sins of all people.

    God sent his “son” to earth as a perfect human to be sacrificed, to save people from the wrath of himself. If not murder it is at the very least bad planning, not a good quality of an omnipotent/omniscient God. He was in change of setting up the system and the best solution was to have his own son killed? Sounds to me like he was no longer happy with animal sacrifices and wanted to up the ante.

  • Christian Believer

    First,I would like to say that this is suppose to be a blog where people can voice their opinions freely. I aman open-minded person and every is entitled to their own opinions. So why does it come across that my opinions are being attacked?

    First of all, the Bible is not the inerrant word of God

    The Bible was written by God ordained people. God provided the words for these people to write down and some of these people kept a journal of their thoughts and letters.

    Correction, some christians are taught to love all people. Many are not, and many have been extraordinarily hateful throughout history. You are confusing the way Christians could (or should) be ideally, and the way they really are.

    Actually the basis of Christianity is love, those that are extraordinarily hateful were not true Christians. But we all have flaws, no one is perfect which the purpose of having faith in Christ.

    God sent his “son” to earth as a perfect human to be sacrificed, to save people from the wrath of himself. If not murder it is at the very least bad planning, not a good quality of an omnipotent/omniscient God. He was in change of setting up the system and the best solution was to have his own son killed? Sounds to me like he was no longer happy with animal sacrifices and wanted to up the ante

    Have you heard that God is three, God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit. Each of the three with their own purpose. Jesus sacrificed himself to save us from God’s wrath of eternal damnation. Jesus was dead for three days, during those three days, God the father was still present. After Jesus was raised from the dead, he stayed with his disciples for sometime and then sent His Holy Spirit to be with us until Jesus is to come back to earth again.

    There have been many books and researches done on the Bible because it’s such a controversial topic, so anyone can read those things and easily believe those facts as well. I love to share my beliefs but I’m not attacking others beliefs. I think hearing others beliefs helps each and every one of us learn and grow in our intellectual thinking. So I have chosen to share my here, please to don’t feel that I am attacking your beliefs or as the topic of this blog section, “Calling you a liar”.

  • Mriana

    I don’t know why you feel like your opinions are being attack. Maybe there is some truth in what people are saying and some people can’t handle the truth. It could be others feel you are evangelizing too.

    The Bible was written by God ordained people. God provided the words for these people to write down and some of these people kept a journal of their thoughts and letters.

    No, humans wrote it. God had nothing to do with it. If you research the stories in the OT, you will find many are similar to other myths in the area at that time. They all shared their stories. Secondly, the world was not populated by only two people. Third, there was no world wide flood. Moses was worshipping a volcano god. I can go on and on and on.

    There have been many books and researches done on the Bible because it’s such a controversial topic, so anyone can read those things and easily believe those facts as well.

    First, the Bible has no “facts”. It is not a scientific or historical book. Please do see The Jesus Seminar: http://www.westarinstitute.org/Jesus_Seminar/jesus_seminar.html and the Jesus Project: http://www.jesus-project.com/articles_forums.htm Both have well educated religious scholars on their panels. You may become very enlightened by the ministers involved in this project. Alse read Robert Price’s (who was/is on these two projects) “The Reason Driven Life”. I would also recommend Karen Armstrong’s “The History of God”.

    However, you don’t have to read any books to notice that the Bible is a work of fiction.

    BTW, I’ve taken many college level religon courses as well as studied under a couple of those on the Jesus Project. So, it’s not like I’m not educated about the Bible. However, I have come to the same conclusion after all that study, as those I learned from- it’s just a work of fiction.

  • HappyNat

    First,I would like to say that this is suppose to be a blog where people can voice their opinions freely. I aman open-minded person and every is entitled to their own opinions. So why does it come across that my opinions are being attacked?

    This is an atheist blog and friendly or not, if you preach christianity here your posts will be challenged. If you take this as an attack on your beliefs beliefs so be it, but did you expect us to suddenly accept your preaching without questions?

    Have you heard that God is three, God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit. Each of the three with their own purpose. Jesus sacrificed himself to save us from God’s wrath of eternal damnation. Jesus was dead for three days, during those three days, God the father was still present. After Jesus was raised from the dead, he stayed with his disciples for sometime and then sent His Holy Spirit to be with us until Jesus is to come back to earth again.

    Of course I have heard that God is all three, I was raised Christian. Just because you say it doesn’t mean it makes sense. It doesn’t change the fact that god sacrificed himself to himself to save mankind from his own imposed sentence of hell. I’d just like a god with better planning skills.

  • Christian Believer

    Well I hope everyone was able to take something from our blogging. I’ve learned some things as well.

  • miller

    Christian Believer,

    I’m not going to comment on anything but one statement.

    I aman open-minded person and every is entitled to their own opinions. So why does it come across that my opinions are being attacked?

    It is absolutely normal for people on the internet to disagree with each other, and attack each others opinions. You yourself attacked the opinions of previous commenters, and no, there’s nothing wrong with that. I know you said that you weren’t trying to “attack” anyone, but all disagreements of opinion, are, in a way, an “attack” on the other opinion. Of course, it’s best to keep conversation polite, and people have been doing so here. It is easy to unintentionally convey a negative tone when all you have is written word, so be careful to assume that people are angry or something.

    Also, you should be aware that “open-minded” means you are open to criticism.

  • Christian Believer

    Well we could go back and forth all day about people’s character here when we don’t know each other. All I have to say is my apologies if I stepped on any toes here. Just wanted to express my opinion. That has been done so my work is done here.

    Thanks for for listening and all the comments.

  • Mriana

    Oh brother! :roll: Not to sound mean and I really don’t mean it as meanness, but it honestly sounded more like Evangelism than it did an opinion.

  • BEM

    Back to the original topic, what I think the pastor is trying to say is that we try to rationalize every miracle, we do it today and they did it in Biblical times as well. Some people could/have/will see a miracle and credit it to a natural occurrence, even if none can be found. Therefore, they refuse to believe in a higher power despite the evidence.
    The nice thing is that it sounds like everyone, to some extent, has researched what they claim to believe. Both sides can present a list of scholars and books that refute what each other believes. My faith is strengthened, like the comment above, by the personal miracles that have taken place in my life. Although I’m sure some will try once again to rationalize and credit them to my doing.
    I hope all sides continue to investigate their beliefs and be open minded, oh and take it easy on the snake oil sales man. That may not be a good representation a friendly athiest.

    Brandon
    .


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