Why I Quit Believing (Revised)

The other day a close family member asked me to explain to her why I left the Christian faith.  Three years ago I did what I could to boil down my main reasons for doing so for a handful of friends, all of whom were pretty theologically-minded and had a ton of question and challenges afterwards.  That prompted a second, longer letter that enumerated some of the things which nudged me in this direction.  Those letters are there for anyone to read, but this time around I decided I’d rather just give it another try and start over.  It takes time to develop a comfortable vocabulary for explaining something as hard to nail down as this, and the passage of time makes some things a lot clearer.  Below you’ll find my updated attempt to answer this question.

I have to first say again that I don’t usually spend much time doing precisely this because talking people out of their faith isn’t a particular burden of mine.  It’s not that I find anything wrong with that per se, but I just know that changing minds on really big things takes a long time and can’t be done in just one or two pithy conversations.  Most of my writing and talking to people is directed toward those who are already outside of (or on their way out of) their religion.  I couldn’t have said it better than Captain Cassidy said it recently:

I’m not out to change minds. I don’t know many bloggers who are out to do that. I’m out to crystallize people’s half-thought thoughts and show them they’re not alone in thinking what they think. Maybe illuminate some dark corners and give name to some shapes. I don’t know if I’ll ever run across someone who deconverts because of [her blog], but I do know I run into people all the time who realize they’re not alone because of what they read there and who suddenly get that light-switch-flip moment of illumination because of something I talk about. Makes it all worth it, really.

Or like a great meme I saw the other day said:

why_i_write

But someone close to me asked a direct question and unlike most people who seem only out to show me up and prove their beliefs are superior to mine, I believe this question was asked in earnest.  She just wants to try to understand how someone can go from fervently believing for decades to not believing at all anymore.

I also need to point out that any one of these issues taken alone might not have had the same effect on me, and could have been passed over because of any of the explanations people have come up with over the years for them.  But for me, it was more like a death by a thousand cuts.  It was the cumulative effect of all of these things that led me to decide that it made more sense to drop the belief in the supernatural than it did to hold on to it.


Dear [name removed],

I don’t usually go into all of my reasons for leaving the faith for people who are still in it because it usually leads to arguments and it always feels to them like something precious is under attack.  But you asked for some kind of explanation and this is my best shot at doing that.

For me it started with realizing how good we are at fooling ourselves about things we want to believe.  I noticed that people (including myself) are capable of overlooking mountains of information in order to leave undisturbed whatever beliefs we hold most dear.  Take Dr. Oz products for example.  I can tell a customer five different ways that the product she wants is useless and will not cause her to lose fat but she still will buy it anyway.  There was something she wanted to believe, and nothing could convince her otherwise.  The more I’ve noticed this tendency in other people, the more I’ve turned to analyze myself to see how many things I believe against contrary evidence.

Being in church leadership only intensified this for me.  For example, getting to watch the decision making process that goes into guiding a church made me see that: 1) There’s no magic to it; people just do the kinds of things people do, good and bad, only in church you’re taught to believe that something supernatural is happening when it’s really nothing of the sort,  and 2) People put more trust in religious authorities than is warranted.  They’re more willing to suspend their critical thinking skills in church than anywhere else, and that sent up red flags for me.  And while we’re on that subject…

I noticed that critical thinking skills in general are discouraged in both the Bible and in the Christian faith (or at least in most of the versions I’ve encountered, excluding the most liberal ones).  Sure, I could find one or two “proof texts” which mention reason and intellect, but the overwhelming drift of the Bible is against trusting reason.  Experience has taught me that this is a bad thing.  Anyone who tells you to suspend your critical thinking skills in the interest of trusting something or someone should usually be noted and avoided.  Both the Bible and our Christian culture as a whole do this far too many times to not raise my suspicion that something isn’t right.

Next I suppose I started to look outward to see that people all over the world believe very different things and that they are as convinced that they are right as I was that I was right.  I started to ask more earnestly how I knew better than they did?  How did I get to be so lucky to be born in one of the right countries so that I was taught just the right religion out of all the choices available out there?  How come I believe the Hindus are wrong and there’s only one God, not many?  How come Muslims got the number of gods right but picked the wrong one?  They’ve even got their own “Bible” and it disagrees with ours on really important things.  How come we’re right and they’re wrong?  Hinduism is older than both Christianity and even Judaism so I can’t say we’re right because of being here first.  And while there are only about a billion Muslims in the world, statistics say that soon there will be more of “them” than there are of “us” because of population trends. So I can’t say we’re right because we outnumber them.

So then I started asking myself what reasons I had for believing what I believed.  The more serious I became about that the more I saw that my reasons for believing were all inside my own head.  Once I asked myself what demonstrates the existence of supernatural things outside my own desire for them to exist, I saw that there really wasn’t much there.  Now don’t get me wrong, I spent more time than most accumulating arguments to support my faith.  I collected reasons for my faith like some people collect pictures on Pinterest.  But I came to see that their persuasive power lies entirely in our own willingness to believe them before we even see them.

monster-houseIt reminds me of a picture I once saw of the inside of a haunted house in broad daylight.  When the lighting is low it has the desired effect on people—it casts a spell of sorts—but when you turn the house lights back on the effect completely evaporates.  In bright daylight a haunted house doesn’t look spooky at all.  Well, this is kind of like the reverse of that.  I was taught to see the world as “haunted” but in a good way.  But the lighting always has to be right, and it all depends on your prior willingness to see it the right way.  Incidentally, people seem to sense this instinctively.  You’ll notice that a great deal of careful control is exerted over the worship experience at church, especially at a place like First Baptist.  The same could be said for a concert or a retreat or a camp experience.  There’s a good reason for that.  Those kinds of experiences rely on generating just the right emotions and experiences.  It’s like the opposite kind of haunted house experience.  Once you look at it from a different angle, and in better light, you see there’s not anything supernatural about it.

I could go into a bunch of other things but I would rather keep this short and just mention three more things which at one point in time felt like good reasons to believe but in time I came to feel they just weren’t.

I’ll start with the Bible itself.  I could spend way more time that you’d want listing all the ways the Bible isn’t what I was taught it is.  And you know it’s not because I didn’t take it seriously enough.  Quite the opposite; I took it more seriously than everyone else, which is why I started to figure out it’s a deeply flawed book.  Besides the internal inconsistencies and the historical and scientific mistakes it makes, it also makes promises which I found to fail almost uniformly (kind of like Dr. Oz’s products!).  It promises things about prayer which in my experience don’t match real life at all unless you first decide on principle to disregard or dismiss every instance in which it fails.  I was taught to make excuses for it and explain away all the many ways prayer fails to deliver what the Bible says it will (e.g. It wasn’t God’s will, You didn’t believe hard enough, You weren’t living right, etc).  But it finally dawned on me that this wasn’t really true to the way the Bible itself speaks of what prayer and faith can do.  And then there’s the character formation which the Bible promises will accompany the one who believes.  As with prayer, this belief only endures if you first decide to discount any time it fails to deliver (e.g. It was their fault, not God’s, They didn’t do it right, etc).  In my experience, people who are naturally kind and generous will be kind and generous no matter what their belief system.  And the jerks will be jerks no matter what, even though I’ll admit the overwhelming social pressure of Christian culture teaches some to keep it tucked under a nicer façade.

Belief itself can be powerful; I cannot deny that.  But that doesn’t mean it’s correct.  Beliefs can lead people to be very nice to others and they can also lead them to be very cruel and uncaring.  They can empower one person to forgive others of great wrongs, but they can also convince a group of devoted men to fly a plane into a building to kill as many as possible.  The power that belief has over us doesn’t mean that our beliefs are correct, it just means they’re powerful.

I want to know if my beliefs match the way the world really is.  My need for that seems to be stronger than some people’s.  I cannot change that about myself.  I can’t even fake it.  And for me, that need has led me to where I am.  I had to eventually realize that my need to understand the world was not a weakness—it’s not something to overcome or squelch—and that it was so central to who I am that fear of people disapproving of me wasn’t enough to keep me from asking the questions I asked of my religion.  The disapproval hurts.  I hate it.  I feel like I’ve fallen from everyone’s good graces just for following my own drive to understand the world around me.  I don’t know if you have any idea how sad it makes me to know that people are disappointed in me for simply wanting to get to the bottom of things, for wanting to understand the world “too much.”  I know the people who love me aim higher than that.  But in my experience faith teaches you to see this insatiable need to know as a bad thing.  It’s okay up to a point, but once you start questioning certain things it becomes very bad.  And I just can’t go along with that.  I’ve always felt I should go wherever the evidence leads.  For me, that led me out of the Christian faith.

I don’t expect anyone else to follow me out of it.  You’ll notice I’ve never tried to convince any of you that I’m right and you’re wrong.  I wish that I could expect the same in return, but I know that some aspects of your faith dictate that I am “going down a path” which will end in either temporal misery or eternal punishment.  So the best I can hope for is that people who love me, once they’ve said their piece, can get back to just relating to me like a normal person and not a project, or a prospect for re-conversion.  People can sense that and it feels truly icky.

Thanks for asking, by the way.  It’s always a good exercise for me to try to put some things into words, and I’ll probably share it with some others.  Maybe it will help somebody else do the same.  As always, I’m open for conversation and questions about this, so consider yourself invited.

–Neil

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About Neil Carter

I wear many hats (and none of them pay well!): I am a school teacher, a tutor, a personal trainer, a supplement pusher, a driving instructor, a swim coach, and a father. I also help moderate a growing discussion group of more than 400 atheists in Mississippi and I’ve recently started a more public forum for anyone interested in discussing issues related to skepticism and/or life in the Deep South.

  • Tim Wolf

    And you know it’s not because I didn’t take it seriously enough. Quite the opposite; I took it more seriously than everyone else, which is why I started to figure out it’s a deeply flawed book.

    I don’t think one can over-emphasize how many former Christian’s path to unbelief began with earnest, comprehensive study of the entire Bible. Yet I am sure people keep pointing you back to the book that was the source of your doubts from the beginning. One thing I share with you and many other non-believers Neil, is a deeper knowledge of the Bible that almost everyone I encountered at church back when I attended.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

      Mine ended with it.

    • http://sbethcaplin.wordpress.com Beth Caplin

      I guess that would depend on how you’re reading it. The bible is a history book, a collection of poems, etc, that should be read literarily more than literally. It’s the people who insist that every single piece of scripture actually happened (and many might have, but not all), dismissing all other types of literary devices that wouldn’t change the overall message of the stories, who freak me out.

  • Tim Wolf

    And you know it’s not because I didn’t take it seriously enough. Quite the opposite; I took it more seriously than everyone else, which is why I started to figure out it’s a deeply flawed book.

    I don’t think one can over-emphasize how many former Christian’s path to unbelief began with earnest, comprehensive study of the entire Bible. Yet I am sure people keep pointing you back to the book that was the source of your doubts from the beginning. One thing I share with you and many other non-believers Neil, is a deeper knowledge of the Bible that almost everyone I encountered at church back when I attended.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

      Mine ended with it.

    • http://sbethcaplin.wordpress.com Beth Caplin

      I guess that would depend on how you’re reading it. The bible is a history book, a collection of poems, etc, that should be read literarily more than literally. It’s the people who insist that every single piece of scripture actually happened (and many might have, but not all), dismissing all other types of literary devices that wouldn’t change the overall message of the stories, who freak me out.

  • Tim Wolf

    And you know it’s not because I didn’t take it seriously enough. Quite the opposite; I took it more seriously than everyone else, which is why I started to figure out it’s a deeply flawed book.

    I don’t think one can over-emphasize how many former Christian’s path to unbelief began with earnest, comprehensive study of the entire Bible. Yet I am sure people keep pointing you back to the book that was the source of your doubts from the beginning. One thing I share with you and many other non-believers Neil, is a deeper knowledge of the Bible that almost everyone I encountered at church back when I attended.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

      Mine ended with it.

    • http://sbethcaplin.wordpress.com Beth Caplin

      I guess that would depend on how you’re reading it. The bible is a history book, a collection of poems, etc, that should be read literarily more than literally. It’s the people who insist that every single piece of scripture actually happened (and many might have, but not all), dismissing all other types of literary devices that wouldn’t change the overall message of the stories, who freak me out.

      • http://godlessindixie.wordpress.com godlessindixie

        Beth, I tried that approach as well. At first blush, “It’s just a metaphor” sounds like a great way to dismiss the most superficial problems of the Bible. But I found that even that approach leaves gaping problems. Much of what stands out as factually inaccurate comes to us from the supposed “historical” portions, not the poetic or apocalyptic ones.

        But as I often say in here, I find more to oppose within fundamentalism than I do within liberal Christianity. So it’s not a battle I often fight. Except the more I hear people dismiss what I’ve said by using that line of reasoning, the more I’ll probably engage that subculture, too :)

  • Tim Wolf

    And you know it’s not because I didn’t take it seriously enough. Quite the opposite; I took it more seriously than everyone else, which is why I started to figure out it’s a deeply flawed book.

    I don’t think one can over-emphasize how many former Christian’s path to unbelief began with earnest, comprehensive study of the entire Bible. Yet I am sure people keep pointing you back to the book that was the source of your doubts from the beginning. One thing I share with you and many other non-believers Neil, is a deeper knowledge of the Bible that almost everyone I encountered at church back when I attended.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

      Mine ended with it.

  • Tim Wolf

    And you know it’s not because I didn’t take it seriously enough. Quite the opposite; I took it more seriously than everyone else, which is why I started to figure out it’s a deeply flawed book.

    I don’t think one can over-emphasize how many former Christian’s path to unbelief began with earnest, comprehensive study of the entire Bible. Yet I am sure people keep pointing you back to the book that was the source of your doubts from the beginning. One thing I share with you and many other non-believers Neil, is a deeper knowledge of the Bible that almost everyone I encountered at church back when I attended.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

      Mine ended with it.

    • http://sbethcaplin.wordpress.com Beth Caplin

      I guess that would depend on how you’re reading it. The bible is a history book, a collection of poems, etc, that should be read literarily more than literally. It’s the people who insist that every single piece of scripture actually happened (and many might have, but not all), dismissing all other types of literary devices that wouldn’t change the overall message of the stories, who freak me out.

      • http://godlessindixie.wordpress.com godlessindixie

        Beth, I tried that approach as well. At first blush, “It’s just a metaphor” sounds like a great way to dismiss the most superficial problems of the Bible. But I found that even that approach leaves gaping problems. Much of what stands out as factually inaccurate comes to us from the supposed “historical” portions, not the poetic or apocalyptic ones.

        But as I often say in here, I find more to oppose within fundamentalism than I do within liberal Christianity. So it’s not a battle I often fight. Except the more I hear people dismiss what I’ve said by using that line of reasoning, the more I’ll probably engage that subculture, too :)

        • http://sbethcaplin.wordpress.com Beth Caplin

          I wasn’t trying to dismiss you at all. The bible is a disturbing, x-rated book in so many ways, which makes me want to try and understand it more.

          • http://godlessindixie.wordpress.com godlessindixie

            I feel like I did come to understand it, and that’s why I distanced myself from the ideologies it birthed. It’s not just that it unflinchingly portrays human flaws. It institutionalizes them, making them sacrosanct. Bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and anti-intellectualism to name a just a few. It’s got more liabilities than it has assets, IMO.

  • http://gravatar.com/markcamos Mark Amos

    I did the same thing with Hindu scripture (the vedas, the principle upanisads and the bhagavad gita) and the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (the baha’i holy book) and the book of mormon.

    When I returned to the Bible, I found striking comparisons. They’re all about convincing people that something really weird is true and that what they believe from their own observation is wrong… The more I read, the worse it got. Then I started studying the church…

    You’ve got a way with words, Neil. Nice job.

  • http://gravatar.com/markcamos Mark Amos

    I did the same thing with Hindu scripture (the vedas, the principle upanisads and the bhagavad gita) and the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (the baha’i holy book) and the book of mormon.

    When I returned to the Bible, I found striking comparisons. They’re all about convincing people that something really weird is true and that what they believe from their own observation is wrong… The more I read, the worse it got. Then I started studying the church…

    You’ve got a way with words, Neil. Nice job.

  • http://gravatar.com/markcamos Mark Amos

    I did the same thing with Hindu scripture (the vedas, the principle upanisads and the bhagavad gita) and the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (the baha’i holy book) and the book of mormon.

    When I returned to the Bible, I found striking comparisons. They’re all about convincing people that something really weird is true and that what they believe from their own observation is wrong… The more I read, the worse it got. Then I started studying the church…

    You’ve got a way with words, Neil. Nice job.

  • http://gravatar.com/markcamos Mark Amos

    I did the same thing with Hindu scripture (the vedas, the principle upanisads and the bhagavad gita) and the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (the baha’i holy book) and the book of mormon.

    When I returned to the Bible, I found striking comparisons. They’re all about convincing people that something really weird is true and that what they believe from their own observation is wrong… The more I read, the worse it got. Then I started studying the church…

    You’ve got a way with words, Neil. Nice job.

  • http://gravatar.com/markcamos Mark Amos

    I did the same thing with Hindu scripture (the vedas, the principle upanisads and the bhagavad gita) and the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (the baha’i holy book) and the book of mormon.

    When I returned to the Bible, I found striking comparisons. They’re all about convincing people that something really weird is true and that what they believe from their own observation is wrong… The more I read, the worse it got. Then I started studying the church…

    You’ve got a way with words, Neil. Nice job.

  • Southern Skeptic

    “I’ve always felt I should go wherever the evidence leads. For me, that led me out of the Christian faith.”

    I like how you put that. Christian teachers instilled in me a love of truth, but their strategy backfired. It got to where I was more interested in discovering the truth (no matter what it might be) than in defending my beliefs. I didn’t realize that would lead me away from Christianity, but of course it did.

  • Southern Skeptic

    “I’ve always felt I should go wherever the evidence leads. For me, that led me out of the Christian faith.”

    I like how you put that. Christian teachers instilled in me a love of truth, but their strategy backfired. It got to where I was more interested in discovering the truth (no matter what it might be) than in defending my beliefs. I didn’t realize that would lead me away from Christianity, but of course it did.

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

    I totally get what you’re saying. I think you handled this question very graciously, probably way more so than I would have. (And thank you for the kind nod.) I still remember the first time I realized, when dumping a boyfriend (the one I got right after Biff) that I didn’t need to persuade him that my reasons for breaking up with him were valid. He sure thought I did and that if I could not then I was not “allowed” to break up with him, but when I realized I didn’t at all, that he was a growed up and could figure it out himself or believe for the rest of his life that I’d left for invalid reasons for all I cared, that he was officially Not My Damned Problem Anymore, that’s when I took another step out of that fundagelical programming I’d internalized. He was not a Christian, incidentally. I am not saying such behavior is the sole province of religious people, nor that your relative fell into that thinking at all. I just get the feeling sometimes, when people ask me questions like that, that maybe they’re asking me in a roundabout way to justify my reasons for leaving religion and explain myself to their satisfaction. It’s really important to set the kind of boundaries you did here and set that expectation early on that you’re not really interested in converting anybody to your way of thinking.

    I will say that given the Christian culture and beliefs around proselytization, you can just about see people’s mental gears shift sans clutch sometimes when you tell them you’re not really out to persuade them of anything. You gave this questioner enough information that she’ll be able to easily find the information she needs if she really wants to know about stuff like Biblical inconsistency and the Outsider Test for Faith. I hope she does, too. It’s a glorious world out there, when one gets free of dogma and ancient myths. Every day it expands a bit more in my vision.

    • Megan Ratts

      I love your analogy of breaking up with someone and having to justify your reasons! I never had to defend myself against my family and I consider myself lucky in that regard, but I’ve certainly had friends and acquaintances try to tell me I really believe in god, I just don’t realize it; or I’m too nice to be an atheist so I obviously have it wrong. These stem from their own biases and misinterpretations, but I always feel the need to try to explain reality to them. The break-up analogy is rather liberating!

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

        I’m really glad to have helped! It’s what it always felt like to me too. You don’t have to explain anything to anybody. You’ve bought and paid for your freedom ten times over and nobody gets to demand you justify yourself to King Them. The people who truly love you won’t make such demands, and the people who don’t truly love you won’t ever believe you anyway no matter how hard you try because their biases will prevent them from accepting anything you say. They need atheists to be meanies and everybody to secretly, deep down, believe in Jesus. We’ll put the lie to it all in time. :)

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

    I totally get what you’re saying. I think you handled this question very graciously, probably way more so than I would have. (And thank you for the kind nod.) I still remember the first time I realized, when dumping a boyfriend (the one I got right after Biff) that I didn’t need to persuade him that my reasons for breaking up with him were valid. He sure thought I did and that if I could not then I was not “allowed” to break up with him, but when I realized I didn’t at all, that he was a growed up and could figure it out himself or believe for the rest of his life that I’d left for invalid reasons for all I cared, that he was officially Not My Damned Problem Anymore, that’s when I took another step out of that fundagelical programming I’d internalized. He was not a Christian, incidentally. I am not saying such behavior is the sole province of religious people, nor that your relative fell into that thinking at all. I just get the feeling sometimes, when people ask me questions like that, that maybe they’re asking me in a roundabout way to justify my reasons for leaving religion and explain myself to their satisfaction. It’s really important to set the kind of boundaries you did here and set that expectation early on that you’re not really interested in converting anybody to your way of thinking.

    I will say that given the Christian culture and beliefs around proselytization, you can just about see people’s mental gears shift sans clutch sometimes when you tell them you’re not really out to persuade them of anything. You gave this questioner enough information that she’ll be able to easily find the information she needs if she really wants to know about stuff like Biblical inconsistency and the Outsider Test for Faith. I hope she does, too. It’s a glorious world out there, when one gets free of dogma and ancient myths. Every day it expands a bit more in my vision.

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

    I totally get what you’re saying. I think you handled this question very graciously, probably way more so than I would have. (And thank you for the kind nod.) I still remember the first time I realized, when dumping a boyfriend (the one I got right after Biff) that I didn’t need to persuade him that my reasons for breaking up with him were valid. He sure thought I did and that if I could not then I was not “allowed” to break up with him, but when I realized I didn’t at all, that he was a growed up and could figure it out himself or believe for the rest of his life that I’d left for invalid reasons for all I cared, that he was officially Not My Damned Problem Anymore, that’s when I took another step out of that fundagelical programming I’d internalized. He was not a Christian, incidentally. I am not saying such behavior is the sole province of religious people, nor that your relative fell into that thinking at all. I just get the feeling sometimes, when people ask me questions like that, that maybe they’re asking me in a roundabout way to justify my reasons for leaving religion and explain myself to their satisfaction. It’s really important to set the kind of boundaries you did here and set that expectation early on that you’re not really interested in converting anybody to your way of thinking.

    I will say that given the Christian culture and beliefs around proselytization, you can just about see people’s mental gears shift sans clutch sometimes when you tell them you’re not really out to persuade them of anything. You gave this questioner enough information that she’ll be able to easily find the information she needs if she really wants to know about stuff like Biblical inconsistency and the Outsider Test for Faith. I hope she does, too. It’s a glorious world out there, when one gets free of dogma and ancient myths. Every day it expands a bit more in my vision.

    • Megan Ratts

      I love your analogy of breaking up with someone and having to justify your reasons! I never had to defend myself against my family and I consider myself lucky in that regard, but I’ve certainly had friends and acquaintances try to tell me I really believe in god, I just don’t realize it; or I’m too nice to be an atheist so I obviously have it wrong. These stem from their own biases and misinterpretations, but I always feel the need to try to explain reality to them. The break-up analogy is rather liberating!

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

        I’m really glad to have helped! It’s what it always felt like to me too. You don’t have to explain anything to anybody. You’ve bought and paid for your freedom ten times over and nobody gets to demand you justify yourself to King Them. The people who truly love you won’t make such demands, and the people who don’t truly love you won’t ever believe you anyway no matter how hard you try because their biases will prevent them from accepting anything you say. They need atheists to be meanies and everybody to secretly, deep down, believe in Jesus. We’ll put the lie to it all in time. :)

  • http://amusingnonsense.wordpress.com siriusbizinus

    I like this post because it’s a comfort and a chance to feel vindicated in leaving Christianity. There are many agreeable statements, and they’re put beautifully out there to be enjoyed by everyone who wants to.

  • http://amusingnonsense.wordpress.com siriusbizinus

    I like this post because it’s a comfort and a chance to feel vindicated in leaving Christianity. There are many agreeable statements, and they’re put beautifully out there to be enjoyed by everyone who wants to.

  • http://ernestleecking.wordpress.com Ernest Lee C King

    “In my experience, people who are naturally kind and generous will be kind and generous no matter what their belief system. And the jerks will be jerks no matter what, even though I’ll admit the overwhelming social pressure of Christian culture teaches some to keep it tucked under a nicer façade.”

    Well said.

  • http://ernestleecking.wordpress.com Ernest Lee C King

    “In my experience, people who are naturally kind and generous will be kind and generous no matter what their belief system. And the jerks will be jerks no matter what, even though I’ll admit the overwhelming social pressure of Christian culture teaches some to keep it tucked under a nicer façade.”

    Well said.

  • http://ernestleecking.wordpress.com Ernest Lee C King

    “In my experience, people who are naturally kind and generous will be kind and generous no matter what their belief system. And the jerks will be jerks no matter what, even though I’ll admit the overwhelming social pressure of Christian culture teaches some to keep it tucked under a nicer façade.”

    Well said.

  • http://ernestleecking.wordpress.com Ernest Lee C King

    “In my experience, people who are naturally kind and generous will be kind and generous no matter what their belief system. And the jerks will be jerks no matter what, even though I’ll admit the overwhelming social pressure of Christian culture teaches some to keep it tucked under a nicer façade.”

    Well said.

  • Alfred Smith

    As a former (still recovering) Christian minister, I found this post both encouraging and validating. The author expressed far more eloquently than I ever have the challenges, both internal and with family members and former parishoners, I’ve experienced both before and since leaving the church. Thank you!

  • Alfred Smith

    As a former (still recovering) Christian minister, I found this post both encouraging and validating. The author expressed far more eloquently than I ever have the challenges, both internal and with family members and former parishoners, I’ve experienced both before and since leaving the church. Thank you!

  • http://empiricalmeta.blogspot.com/ Sam Daniels

    The one thing you mentioned here which resonates the loudest for me is the fact that you took matters of belief much more seriously and thoughtfully than everyone else around you. This too was my experience, though I left as a young adult. However, even today, there are some in my family who will insist that I have not thought seriously enough about God and the Bible. And everything you have written about here can be applied to our current problems (social, political, economic) as a nation. People “believe” what they will, “trust” whom they will — without much thought and regardless of the facts.

  • http://empiricalmeta.blogspot.com/ Sam Daniels

    The one thing you mentioned here which resonates the loudest for me is the fact that you took matters of belief much more seriously and thoughtfully than everyone else around you. This too was my experience, though I left as a young adult. However, even today, there are some in my family who will insist that I have not thought seriously enough about God and the Bible. And everything you have written about here can be applied to our current problems (social, political, economic) as a nation. People “believe” what they will, “trust” whom they will — without much thought and regardless of the facts.

  • http://empiricalmeta.blogspot.com/ Sam Daniels

    The one thing you mentioned here which resonates the loudest for me is the fact that you took matters of belief much more seriously and thoughtfully than everyone else around you. This too was my experience, though I left as a young adult. However, even today, there are some in my family who will insist that I have not thought seriously enough about God and the Bible. And everything you have written about here can be applied to our current problems (social, political, economic) as a nation. People “believe” what they will, “trust” whom they will — without much thought and regardless of the facts.

  • http://empiricalmeta.blogspot.com/ Sam Daniels

    The one thing you mentioned here which resonates the loudest for me is the fact that you took matters of belief much more seriously and thoughtfully than everyone else around you. This too was my experience, though I left as a young adult. However, even today, there are some in my family who will insist that I have not thought seriously enough about God and the Bible. And everything you have written about here can be applied to our current problems (social, political, economic) as a nation. People “believe” what they will, “trust” whom they will — without much thought and regardless of the facts.

  • http://empiricalmeta.blogspot.com/ Sam Daniels

    The one thing you mentioned here which resonates the loudest for me is the fact that you took matters of belief much more seriously and thoughtfully than everyone else around you. This too was my experience, though I left as a young adult. However, even today, there are some in my family who will insist that I have not thought seriously enough about God and the Bible. And everything you have written about here can be applied to our current problems (social, political, economic) as a nation. People “believe” what they will, “trust” whom they will — without much thought and regardless of the facts.

  • http://gravatar.com/trappedpentecostal Thought2Much

    I completely understand how disillusionment with religion can happen when you become a behind the scenes witness to how a church is run.

    It’s like the old expression, “No one who likes the law or sausage should see how they are made.” I would throw religion into that, as well.

  • http://gravatar.com/trappedpentecostal Thought2Much

    I completely understand how disillusionment with religion can happen when you become a behind the scenes witness to how a church is run.

    It’s like the old expression, “No one who likes the law or sausage should see how they are made.” I would throw religion into that, as well.

  • http://gravatar.com/trappedpentecostal Thought2Much

    I completely understand how disillusionment with religion can happen when you become a behind the scenes witness to how a church is run.

    It’s like the old expression, “No one who likes the law or sausage should see how they are made.” I would throw religion into that, as well.

  • yo

    Well, you are making the mistake that many have made, and that you yourself is describing as a mistake that most people make, but you are in fact doing it yourself!

    You started with the assumption that Christianty is the correct religion, and then you claimed that the facts doesn’t match with it, and you asked who claims it is the correct religion.

    So instead of concluding that you have to research other religions if they make more sense and if they can better explain why they are right, you just dropped religion entirely, any proof that this is the correct way.

    But if you are really interested in finding the truth, not just dropping religion, then your first thing was to study the original Bible in its original language and with the original interpretation which everyone knows is Judaism.

    In fact since Christianity and Islam both agree that the old testament is true, just claiming that things or nations have changed etc.while the old testament in the original version claims that this can never ever happen, so these religions are just self defeating.

    Moreover Judaism does allows to question and even encourage it (as long as you understand that a person is limited and just because is not understanding something doesn’t mean it is not true, as in the book of איוב) and in fact God proved the religion by all the miracles and by showing himself on mount Sinai.

    In fact the original Bible is full of building on that proof “you have seen to know” and all the commands are essentially just reminders on that.

    And of course this itself disprooves all others, how can God command something in front of million people and supernatural miracles, and then command to change it by speaking to someone privately?…

    In fact the Bible itselfs deals with that, “if it will stand up a prophet that will say something against my commands you should not listen to him even if he shows miracles, instead this man should be killed”.

    And the Bible also gives simple rules what a prophet is at all “and how will you know what God had not told? If the prophet will say something that will not happen then he is lieyar and you should not care on him”.

    So as it turns out Judaism is more like an evidence based religion while other religions are self defeating.

    Note something else, that for someone not burn Jewish is not commanded to convert to Judaism (the only religion I know that has this aapproach) instead they have to observe seven commands that are just basic humanity and keep it because have told so on mount Sinai

    Of course there is always an option to convert to Judaism, however it is usually discouraged unless the convert fully understands the implications of observing 613 complicated commands instead of 7 simple ones and after conversion there is no way back.

    So in summary you had logical questions on a religion that is not even consistent, and you have correctly suggested that other religions might be true, so if you are looking for the truth then just go ahead and check out other (consistent not self defeating) religions, especially Judaism that 1) no other religion comes close to the miracles that Judaism claims 2) all promises that the old testament made are proved true, for example Jews never vanished and even never went off the headlines etc. 3) for someone not burn Jewish it is actually the simplest religion requiring just 7 commands of basic humanity.

    • kimmi

      Jumping from one way of magical thinking to another doesn’t work for me.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

      That three groups of people agree on the same basic nonsense doesn’t make that nonsense magically true, no matter how big those groups are or how old the nonsense is that they all like. It sounds a bit like you don’t know that most Christians would at least say out loud that they’re open to doubt and questioning. Like you, though, they don’t realize that their religion has absolutely no real evidence behind it–only the same logical fallacies you are committing here. It’d take a book to unravel all the ones you made in just this one post!

      You’re implying here that Neil hasn’t done enough in your opinion to have earned his apostasy, and the problem is that you’re shifting the burden of proof onto the person you’re making the claims to. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.

    • Sam

      Yo. Even Judaism has many of the problems mentioned for instancevwhen people pray and it doesn’t work, also assuming Judaism is true one still must debate the morality of following it (killing people just because a voice in the sky told you to)

  • yo

    Well, you are making the mistake that many have made, and that you yourself is describing as a mistake that most people make, but you are in fact doing it yourself!

    You started with the assumption that Christianty is the correct religion, and then you claimed that the facts doesn’t match with it, and you asked who claims it is the correct religion.

    So instead of concluding that you have to research other religions if they make more sense and if they can better explain why they are right, you just dropped religion entirely, any proof that this is the correct way.

    But if you are really interested in finding the truth, not just dropping religion, then your first thing was to study the original Bible in its original language and with the original interpretation which everyone knows is Judaism.

    In fact since Christianity and Islam both agree that the old testament is true, just claiming that things or nations have changed etc.while the old testament in the original version claims that this can never ever happen, so these religions are just self defeating.

    Moreover Judaism does allows to question and even encourage it (as long as you understand that a person is limited and just because is not understanding something doesn’t mean it is not true, as in the book of איוב) and in fact God proved the religion by all the miracles and by showing himself on mount Sinai.

    In fact the original Bible is full of building on that proof “you have seen to know” and all the commands are essentially just reminders on that.

    And of course this itself disprooves all others, how can God command something in front of million people and supernatural miracles, and then command to change it by speaking to someone privately?…

    In fact the Bible itselfs deals with that, “if it will stand up a prophet that will say something against my commands you should not listen to him even if he shows miracles, instead this man should be killed”.

    And the Bible also gives simple rules what a prophet is at all “and how will you know what God had not told? If the prophet will say something that will not happen then he is lieyar and you should not care on him”.

    So as it turns out Judaism is more like an evidence based religion while other religions are self defeating.

    Note something else, that for someone not burn Jewish is not commanded to convert to Judaism (the only religion I know that has this aapproach) instead they have to observe seven commands that are just basic humanity and keep it because have told so on mount Sinai

    Of course there is always an option to convert to Judaism, however it is usually discouraged unless the convert fully understands the implications of observing 613 complicated commands instead of 7 simple ones and after conversion there is no way back.

    So in summary you had logical questions on a religion that is not even consistent, and you have correctly suggested that other religions might be true, so if you are looking for the truth then just go ahead and check out other (consistent not self defeating) religions, especially Judaism that 1) no other religion comes close to the miracles that Judaism claims 2) all promises that the old testament made are proved true, for example Jews never vanished and even never went off the headlines etc. 3) for someone not burn Jewish it is actually the simplest religion requiring just 7 commands of basic humanity.

    • kimmi

      Jumping from one way of magical thinking to another doesn’t work for me.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

      That three groups of people agree on the same basic nonsense doesn’t make that nonsense magically true, no matter how big those groups are or how old the nonsense is that they all like. It sounds a bit like you don’t know that most Christians would at least say out loud that they’re open to doubt and questioning. Like you, though, they don’t realize that their religion has absolutely no real evidence behind it–only the same logical fallacies you are committing here. It’d take a book to unravel all the ones you made in just this one post!

      You’re implying here that Neil hasn’t done enough in your opinion to have earned his apostasy, and the problem is that you’re shifting the burden of proof onto the person you’re making the claims to. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.

  • yo

    Well, you are making the mistake that many have made, and that you yourself is describing as a mistake that most people make, but you are in fact doing it yourself!

    You started with the assumption that Christianty is the correct religion, and then you claimed that the facts doesn’t match with it, and you asked who claims it is the correct religion.

    So instead of concluding that you have to research other religions if they make more sense and if they can better explain why they are right, you just dropped religion entirely, any proof that this is the correct way.

    But if you are really interested in finding the truth, not just dropping religion, then your first thing was to study the original Bible in its original language and with the original interpretation which everyone knows is Judaism.

    In fact since Christianity and Islam both agree that the old testament is true, just claiming that things or nations have changed etc.while the old testament in the original version claims that this can never ever happen, so these religions are just self defeating.

    Moreover Judaism does allows to question and even encourage it (as long as you understand that a person is limited and just because is not understanding something doesn’t mean it is not true, as in the book of איוב) and in fact God proved the religion by all the miracles and by showing himself on mount Sinai.

    In fact the original Bible is full of building on that proof “you have seen to know” and all the commands are essentially just reminders on that.

    And of course this itself disprooves all others, how can God command something in front of million people and supernatural miracles, and then command to change it by speaking to someone privately?…

    In fact the Bible itselfs deals with that, “if it will stand up a prophet that will say something against my commands you should not listen to him even if he shows miracles, instead this man should be killed”.

    And the Bible also gives simple rules what a prophet is at all “and how will you know what God had not told? If the prophet will say something that will not happen then he is lieyar and you should not care on him”.

    So as it turns out Judaism is more like an evidence based religion while other religions are self defeating.

    Note something else, that for someone not burn Jewish is not commanded to convert to Judaism (the only religion I know that has this aapproach) instead they have to observe seven commands that are just basic humanity and keep it because have told so on mount Sinai

    Of course there is always an option to convert to Judaism, however it is usually discouraged unless the convert fully understands the implications of observing 613 complicated commands instead of 7 simple ones and after conversion there is no way back.

    So in summary you had logical questions on a religion that is not even consistent, and you have correctly suggested that other religions might be true, so if you are looking for the truth then just go ahead and check out other (consistent not self defeating) religions, especially Judaism that 1) no other religion comes close to the miracles that Judaism claims 2) all promises that the old testament made are proved true, for example Jews never vanished and even never went off the headlines etc. 3) for someone not burn Jewish it is actually the simplest religion requiring just 7 commands of basic humanity.

    • http://gravatar.com/trappedpentecostal Thought2Much

      That’s hilarious. I think that’s the funniest thing I’ve read all day.

    • kimmi

      Jumping from one way of magical thinking to another doesn’t work for me.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

      That three groups of people agree on the same basic nonsense doesn’t make that nonsense magically true, no matter how big those groups are or how old the nonsense is that they all like. It sounds a bit like you don’t know that most Christians would at least say out loud that they’re open to doubt and questioning. Like you, though, they don’t realize that their religion has absolutely no real evidence behind it–only the same logical fallacies you are committing here. It’d take a book to unravel all the ones you made in just this one post!

      You’re implying here that Neil hasn’t done enough in your opinion to have earned his apostasy, and the problem is that you’re shifting the burden of proof onto the person you’re making the claims to. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.

    • Sam

      Yo. Even Judaism has many of the problems mentioned for instancevwhen people pray and it doesn’t work, also assuming Judaism is true one still must debate the morality of following it (killing people just because a voice in the sky told you to)

  • http://christianagnostic.wordpress.com christianagnostic

    Reblogged this on christianagnostic and commented:
    Thoughtful post explaining to a friend why they left the faith. There is much here that matches my own experience…enjoy!!!

  • http://christianagnostic.wordpress.com christianagnostic

    Reblogged this on christianagnostic and commented:
    Thoughtful post explaining to a friend why they left the faith. There is much here that matches my own experience…enjoy!!!

  • http://christianagnostic.wordpress.com christianagnostic

    Reblogged this on christianagnostic and commented:
    Thoughtful post explaining to a friend why they left the faith. There is much here that matches my own experience…enjoy!!!

  • http://rejectingjesus.com cneilrobinson

    Great letter that really resonates with my own experience, Neil. Did the recipient reply?

  • http://rejectingjesus.com cneilrobinson

    Great letter that really resonates with my own experience, Neil. Did the recipient reply?

  • http://rejectingjesus.com cneilrobinson

    Great letter that really resonates with my own experience, Neil. Did the recipient reply?

  • https://www.facebook.com/MPWood Mary MP Wood

    I, like many, struggle with “what to say and how to say it.” I don’t want to come off as preachy – hard to complain about the faithful preaching at me if I’m preaching right back. On the other hand, I feel a moral responsibility to at least shine a spotlight on hypocrisy, ask the questions honestly and out loud, and let others who question know they are not alone.

    Excellent, excellent read Neil!

  • https://www.facebook.com/MPWood Mary MP Wood

    I, like many, struggle with “what to say and how to say it.” I don’t want to come off as preachy – hard to complain about the faithful preaching at me if I’m preaching right back. On the other hand, I feel a moral responsibility to at least shine a spotlight on hypocrisy, ask the questions honestly and out loud, and let others who question know they are not alone.

    Excellent, excellent read Neil!

  • https://www.facebook.com/MPWood Mary MP Wood

    I, like many, struggle with “what to say and how to say it.” I don’t want to come off as preachy – hard to complain about the faithful preaching at me if I’m preaching right back. On the other hand, I feel a moral responsibility to at least shine a spotlight on hypocrisy, ask the questions honestly and out loud, and let others who question know they are not alone.

    Excellent, excellent read Neil!

  • http://lukeaustindaugherty.wordpress.com Luke Austin Daugherty

    Thanks for the great summation of your reasons for leaving the faith and sincere delivery. Coming from American Christianity and the ministry prior to my own deconversion, that is nearly my own story exactly, with a few subtle differences. Also, it is rare to have a believer ask you your reasons for leaving without a hidden desire to tear them down, so, it is important to share with those who do.

  • http://lukeaustindaugherty.wordpress.com Luke Austin Daugherty

    Thanks for the great summation of your reasons for leaving the faith and sincere delivery. Coming from American Christianity and the ministry prior to my own deconversion, that is nearly my own story exactly, with a few subtle differences. Also, it is rare to have a believer ask you your reasons for leaving without a hidden desire to tear them down, so, it is important to share with those who do.

  • http://lukeaustindaugherty.wordpress.com Luke Austin Daugherty

    Thanks for the great summation of your reasons for leaving the faith and sincere delivery. Coming from American Christianity and the ministry prior to my own deconversion, that is nearly my own story exactly, with a few subtle differences. Also, it is rare to have a believer ask you your reasons for leaving without a hidden desire to tear them down, so, it is important to share with those who do.

  • C

    History did it for me. The 30 years war was fought between catholics and protestants. God did nothing to stop this slaughter among his own people and there wasnt even a winner (evidenced by the fact that we still have both) and now i am supposed to believe that suddenly this same god is intimately concerned with the details of my personal life. Any idea how much blind ego that would tale to go with that idea after that (one) instance of so much carnage? More than i could ever muster.

  • C

    History did it for me. The 30 years war was fought between catholics and protestants. God did nothing to stop this slaughter among his own people and there wasnt even a winner (evidenced by the fact that we still have both) and now i am supposed to believe that suddenly this same god is intimately concerned with the details of my personal life. Any idea how much blind ego that would tale to go with that idea after that (one) instance of so much carnage? More than i could ever muster.

  • http://gravatar.com/apastasea apastasea

    “I want to know if my beliefs match the way the world really is.”

    As a christian I never thought about these things too much because it was such a given from birth and Christianity was my only frame of reference. I only considered this question when I had to think about these things in a Christian Worldview class, which is a requirement for everyone at my college. In the class we looked at different ‘worldviews’ with a cliffsnotes-like summary and then had to submit each one to a ‘test’ which included something like : ‘Is this worldview consistent with living in the real world?’ or something to that extent. Ironically, this class whose purpose was to give each student a run-down of why christianity is objectively better than the other options (which were presented as strawman) triggered the beginning of questioning. The logic course I took at the community college before transferring, really undermined their mission.

  • http://gravatar.com/apastasea apastasea

    “I want to know if my beliefs match the way the world really is.”

    As a christian I never thought about these things too much because it was such a given from birth and Christianity was my only frame of reference. I only considered this question when I had to think about these things in a Christian Worldview class, which is a requirement for everyone at my college. In the class we looked at different ‘worldviews’ with a cliffsnotes-like summary and then had to submit each one to a ‘test’ which included something like : ‘Is this worldview consistent with living in the real world?’ or something to that extent. Ironically, this class whose purpose was to give each student a run-down of why christianity is objectively better than the other options (which were presented as strawman) triggered the beginning of questioning. The logic course I took at the community college before transferring, really undermined their mission.

  • http://gravatar.com/apastasea apastasea

    “I want to know if my beliefs match the way the world really is.”

    As a christian I never thought about these things too much because it was such a given from birth and Christianity was my only frame of reference. I only considered this question when I had to think about these things in a Christian Worldview class, which is a requirement for everyone at my college. In the class we looked at different ‘worldviews’ with a cliffsnotes-like summary and then had to submit each one to a ‘test’ which included something like : ‘Is this worldview consistent with living in the real world?’ or something to that extent. Ironically, this class whose purpose was to give each student a run-down of why christianity is objectively better than the other options (which were presented as strawman) triggered the beginning of questioning. The logic course I took at the community college before transferring, really undermined their mission.

  • kimmi

    As I was growing up in elementary school, I found I had an affinity in math and science. I loved it so much. Anything in science fascinates me: dinosaurs, origins, geology, plate tectonics, space, the universe the atom so much more.

    At fifteen it just dawned on me that I didn’t need an old book to explain most of what I learned or what I still learn. I still have my bible and read it end to end at least four times. The more I read it the more disagreeable it was. I guess you have to read it more than once to understand some very objectionable sections (at least to me). I’m sorry if I hurt people’s feelings but those are the feelings I had about it.

    I saw you on YouTube and decided to come here. Thanks for being around when I was.

    Kimmi.

  • kimmi

    As I was growing up in elementary school, I found I had an affinity in math and science. I loved it so much. Anything in science fascinates me: dinosaurs, origins, geology, plate tectonics, space, the universe the atom so much more.

    At fifteen it just dawned on me that I didn’t need an old book to explain most of what I learned or what I still learn. I still have my bible and read it end to end at least four times. The more I read it the more disagreeable it was. I guess you have to read it more than once to understand some very objectionable sections (at least to me). I’m sorry if I hurt people’s feelings but those are the feelings I had about it.

    I saw you on YouTube and decided to come here. Thanks for being around when I was.

    Kimmi.

  • el_slapper

    Hi.

    IMHO(that’s worth what you paid for it, ergo not much), The Bible is a book of its time. A testimony of the struggle of people of antique eras with the world around them, within themselves. If you read it like that, it is a very positive book – with striking similarities with other books of the same era. Rationalwiki points out that Mark’s Gospel has similarities with Homer’s Odyssey, for example. Both are excellent texts. (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/RationalWiki:Annotated_Bible/Mark)

    Excellent texts if you take them as they are, not as absolute prescription of what should be. That’s the problem. Star Wars is an excellent movie, but you shall not follow its teachings blindly. Both are full of wise snippets. Both are also full of genocide(like when Luke – the hero – kills everyone in the Death star, and everyone but the dark lord rejoices). Those epic stories are designed to reflect how our brain works(and it’s often ugly). By design, they cannot be enlightened guides for life.

    I’d go even further : where Star Wars is better is that people have to give up their master to progress. Luke, especially, disobeys its masters to fulfill its destiny. That’s a message for a more adult kind of mankind. The Bible always sends us back to the teachings of the master, therefore speaking to a more childish audience. Still useful by some aspects, but growing up means going further than both stories. Growing up means building your own story.

  • el_slapper

    Hi.

    IMHO(that’s worth what you paid for it, ergo not much), The Bible is a book of its time. A testimony of the struggle of people of antique eras with the world around them, within themselves. If you read it like that, it is a very positive book – with striking similarities with other books of the same era. Rationalwiki points out that Mark’s Gospel has similarities with Homer’s Odyssey, for example. Both are excellent texts. (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/RationalWiki:Annotated_Bible/Mark)

    Excellent texts if you take them as they are, not as absolute prescription of what should be. That’s the problem. Star Wars is an excellent movie, but you shall not follow its teachings blindly. Both are full of wise snippets. Both are also full of genocide(like when Luke – the hero – kills everyone in the Death star, and everyone but the dark lord rejoices). Those epic stories are designed to reflect how our brain works(and it’s often ugly). By design, they cannot be enlightened guides for life.

    I’d go even further : where Star Wars is better is that people have to give up their master to progress. Luke, especially, disobeys its masters to fulfill its destiny. That’s a message for a more adult kind of mankind. The Bible always sends us back to the teachings of the master, therefore speaking to a more childish audience. Still useful by some aspects, but growing up means going further than both stories. Growing up means building your own story.

  • el_slapper

    Hi.

    IMHO(that’s worth what you paid for it, ergo not much), The Bible is a book of its time. A testimony of the struggle of people of antique eras with the world around them, within themselves. If you read it like that, it is a very positive book – with striking similarities with other books of the same era. Rationalwiki points out that Mark’s Gospel has similarities with Homer’s Odyssey, for example. Both are excellent texts. (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/RationalWiki:Annotated_Bible/Mark)

    Excellent texts if you take them as they are, not as absolute prescription of what should be. That’s the problem. Star Wars is an excellent movie, but you shall not follow its teachings blindly. Both are full of wise snippets. Both are also full of genocide(like when Luke – the hero – kills everyone in the Death star, and everyone but the dark lord rejoices). Those epic stories are designed to reflect how our brain works(and it’s often ugly). By design, they cannot be enlightened guides for life.

    I’d go even further : where Star Wars is better is that people have to give up their master to progress. Luke, especially, disobeys its masters to fulfill its destiny. That’s a message for a more adult kind of mankind. The Bible always sends us back to the teachings of the master, therefore speaking to a more childish audience. Still useful by some aspects, but growing up means going further than both stories. Growing up means building your own story.

  • el_slapper

    Hi.

    IMHO(that’s worth what you paid for it, ergo not much), The Bible is a book of its time. A testimony of the struggle of people of antique eras with the world around them, within themselves. If you read it like that, it is a very positive book – with striking similarities with other books of the same era. Rationalwiki points out that Mark’s Gospel has similarities with Homer’s Odyssey, for example. Both are excellent texts. (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/RationalWiki:Annotated_Bible/Mark)

    Excellent texts if you take them as they are, not as absolute prescription of what should be. That’s the problem. Star Wars is an excellent movie, but you shall not follow its teachings blindly. Both are full of wise snippets. Both are also full of genocide(like when Luke – the hero – kills everyone in the Death star, and everyone but the dark lord rejoices). Those epic stories are designed to reflect how our brain works(and it’s often ugly). By design, they cannot be enlightened guides for life.

    I’d go even further : where Star Wars is better is that people have to give up their master to progress. Luke, especially, disobeys its masters to fulfill its destiny. That’s a message for a more adult kind of mankind. The Bible always sends us back to the teachings of the master, therefore speaking to a more childish audience. Still useful by some aspects, but growing up means going further than both stories. Growing up means building your own story.

  • el_slapper

    Hi.

    IMHO(that’s worth what you paid for it, ergo not much), The Bible is a book of its time. A testimony of the struggle of people of antique eras with the world around them, within themselves. If you read it like that, it is a very positive book – with striking similarities with other books of the same era. Rationalwiki points out that Mark’s Gospel has similarities with Homer’s Odyssey, for example. Both are excellent texts. (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/RationalWiki:Annotated_Bible/Mark)

    Excellent texts if you take them as they are, not as absolute prescription of what should be. That’s the problem. Star Wars is an excellent movie, but you shall not follow its teachings blindly. Both are full of wise snippets. Both are also full of genocide(like when Luke – the hero – kills everyone in the Death star, and everyone but the dark lord rejoices). Those epic stories are designed to reflect how our brain works(and it’s often ugly). By design, they cannot be enlightened guides for life.

    I’d go even further : where Star Wars is better is that people have to give up their master to progress. Luke, especially, disobeys its masters to fulfill its destiny. That’s a message for a more adult kind of mankind. The Bible always sends us back to the teachings of the master, therefore speaking to a more childish audience. Still useful by some aspects, but growing up means going further than both stories. Growing up means building your own story.

  • Henry

    In the fourteenth paragraph, you wrote “In my experience, people who are naturally kind and generous will be kind and generous no matter what their belief system. And the jerks will be jerks no matter what…” – Very generalistic and not true.

  • Henry

    In the fourteenth paragraph, you wrote “In my experience, people who are naturally kind and generous will be kind and generous no matter what their belief system. And the jerks will be jerks no matter what…” – Very generalistic and not true.

  • http://lifeafter40.net Logan GLT

    Great post Neil. It echoes so many of the same things for me. And I have to disagree with Henry who thought it “very generalistic not not true” in regard to “people who are naturally kind and generous will be kind and generous no matter what their belief system…”. I have very much concluded the same thing. Christianity helps put a mask over people. Kind people remain kind. Jerks remain jerks.

  • http://lifeafter40.net Logan GLT

    Great post Neil. It echoes so many of the same things for me. And I have to disagree with Henry who thought it “very generalistic not not true” in regard to “people who are naturally kind and generous will be kind and generous no matter what their belief system…”. I have very much concluded the same thing. Christianity helps put a mask over people. Kind people remain kind. Jerks remain jerks.

    • Henry

      And so then what scientifically shows that a person who is unkind will always been unkind, and the opposite? A belief like that would requirea lot of faith, with no support for it either… I know several people whose personalities have totally changed. So… What? Hahaha

  • http://lifeafter40.net Logan GLT

    Great post Neil. It echoes so many of the same things for me. And I have to disagree with Henry who thought it “very generalistic not not true” in regard to “people who are naturally kind and generous will be kind and generous no matter what their belief system…”. I have very much concluded the same thing. Christianity helps put a mask over people. Kind people remain kind. Jerks remain jerks.

  • http://lifeafter40.net Logan GLT

    Great post Neil. It echoes so many of the same things for me. And I have to disagree with Henry who thought it “very generalistic not not true” in regard to “people who are naturally kind and generous will be kind and generous no matter what their belief system…”. I have very much concluded the same thing. Christianity helps put a mask over people. Kind people remain kind. Jerks remain jerks.

    • Henry

      And so then what scientifically shows that a person who is unkind will always been unkind, and the opposite? A belief like that would requirea lot of faith, with no support for it either… I know several people whose personalities have totally changed. So… What? Hahaha

      • http://lifeafter40.net Logan GLT

        Henry, you’re right – I can’t claim any scientific study regarding human behavior. I base my conclusions on my personal life experiences at the age of 48. I have gotten to know many very kind and considerate people though who were not Christians. I’ve also known many Christians who were also very kind, loving and considerate. I’ve also known an awful lot of Christians who were mean, hateful, judgmental and petty. There are only a few conclusions to draw. 1) those Christians weren’t really Christians, or 2) Christianity doesn’t really change people in a truly significant way. And I can refer to a study that shows the viewing of pornography is actually higher among religious conservatives. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16680-porn-in-the-usa-conservatives-are-biggest-consumers.html

  • http://gravatar.com/markcamos Mark

    @Logan, I’m reminded of a corollary to that point that someone once made in a 12 step program: “A sober asshole is still an asshole.”

  • http://gravatar.com/markcamos Mark

    @Logan, I’m reminded of a corollary to that point that someone once made in a 12 step program: “A sober asshole is still an asshole.”

    • http://lifeafter40.net Logan GLT

      Lol. Yes, I agree with that too. I had a conversation with a close friend once about whether being intoxicated revealed who a person truly was on the inside vs. whether intoxication altered who a person normally was. I think you can make a case for both points of view. But the bottom line for me was, as you said, a sober asshole is still an asshole. But look out for the intoxicated one who is now a supercharged asshole.

  • http://matthewbrackney.com Matt

    My disbelief came in several steps.

    First there was the realization that not all christian denominations can be right, this lead me to rationalizing that belonging to any christian denomination had to be “close enough”, because God couldn’t expect someone to know which one was right.

    Next came the belief that NO denomination is right. I started thinking that really, all one needed to do was believe in Jesus and the Bible.

    Then I started looking at all the flaws in the Bible and thinking… well, the Bible is obviously written by men, and is thus flawed. All that matters is I believe.

    Eventually, that lead to realizing that without the Bible there’s no reason to believe in a God that’s at all like anything the bible describes, and that if I follow the evidence there’s no reason to even believe in a god at all.

  • http://matthewbrackney.com Matt

    My disbelief came in several steps.

    First there was the realization that not all christian denominations can be right, this lead me to rationalizing that belonging to any christian denomination had to be “close enough”, because God couldn’t expect someone to know which one was right.

    Next came the belief that NO denomination is right. I started thinking that really, all one needed to do was believe in Jesus and the Bible.

    Then I started looking at all the flaws in the Bible and thinking… well, the Bible is obviously written by men, and is thus flawed. All that matters is I believe.

    Eventually, that lead to realizing that without the Bible there’s no reason to believe in a God that’s at all like anything the bible describes, and that if I follow the evidence there’s no reason to even believe in a god at all.

  • http://godlessindixie.wordpress.com godlessindixie

    Beth, I tried that approach as well. At first blush, “It’s just a metaphor” sounds like a great way to dismiss the most superficial problems of the Bible. But I found that even that approach leaves gaping problems. Much of what stands out as factually inaccurate comes to us from the supposed “historical” portions, not the poetic or apocalyptic ones.

    But as I often say in here, I find more to oppose within fundamentalism than I do within liberal Christianity. So it’s not a battle I often fight. Except the more I hear people dismiss what I’ve said by using that line of reasoning, the more I’ll probably engage that subculture, too :)

  • http://sbethcaplin.wordpress.com Beth Caplin

    I wasn’t trying to dismiss you at all. The bible is a disturbing, x-rated book in so many ways, which makes me want to try and understand it more.

  • http://godlessindixie.wordpress.com godlessindixie

    I feel like I did come to understand it, and that’s why I distanced myself from the ideologies it birthed. It’s not just that it unflinchingly portrays human flaws. It institutionalizes them, making them sacrosanct. Bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and anti-intellectualism to name a just a few. It’s got more liabilities than it has assets, IMO.

  • http://godlessindixie.wordpress.com godlessindixie

    I feel like I did come to understand it, and that’s why I distanced myself from the ideologies it birthed. It’s not just that it unflinchingly portrays human flaws. It institutionalizes them, making them sacrosanct. Bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and anti-intellectualism to name a just a few. It’s got more liabilities than it has assets, IMO.

  • http://godlessindixie.wordpress.com godlessindixie

    I feel like I did come to understand it, and that’s why I distanced myself from the ideologies it birthed. It’s not just that it unflinchingly portrays human flaws. It institutionalizes them, making them sacrosanct. Bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and anti-intellectualism to name a just a few. It’s got more liabilities than it has assets, IMO.

  • Megan Ratts

    I love your analogy of breaking up with someone and having to justify your reasons! I never had to defend myself against my family and I consider myself lucky in that regard, but I’ve certainly had friends and acquaintances try to tell me I really believe in god, I just don’t realize it; or I’m too nice to be an atheist so I obviously have it wrong. These stem from their own biases and misinterpretations, but I always feel the need to try to explain reality to them. The break-up analogy is rather liberating!

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

    I’m really glad to have helped! It’s what it always felt like to me too. You don’t have to explain anything to anybody. You’ve bought and paid for your freedom ten times over and nobody gets to demand you justify yourself to King Them. The people who truly love you won’t make such demands, and the people who don’t truly love you won’t ever believe you anyway no matter how hard you try because their biases will prevent them from accepting anything you say. They need atheists to be meanies and everybody to secretly, deep down, believe in Jesus. We’ll put the lie to it all in time. :)

  • http://gravatar.com/trappedpentecostal Thought2Much

    That’s hilarious. I think that’s the funniest thing I’ve read all day.

  • http://gravatar.com/trappedpentecostal Thought2Much

    That’s hilarious. I think that’s the funniest thing I’ve read all day.

  • kimmi

    Jumping from one way of magical thinking to another doesn’t work for me.

  • kimmi

    Jumping from one way of magical thinking to another doesn’t work for me.

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com Captain Cassidy

    That three groups of people agree on the same basic nonsense doesn’t make that nonsense magically true, no matter how big those groups are or how old the nonsense is that they all like. It sounds a bit like you don’t know that most Christians would at least say out loud that they’re open to doubt and questioning. Like you, though, they don’t realize that their religion has absolutely no real evidence behind it–only the same logical fallacies you are committing here. It’d take a book to unravel all the ones you made in just this one post!

    You’re implying here that Neil hasn’t done enough in your opinion to have earned his apostasy, and the problem is that you’re shifting the burden of proof onto the person you’re making the claims to. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.

  • http://lifeafter40.net Logan GLT

    Lol. Yes, I agree with that too. I had a conversation with a close friend once about whether being intoxicated revealed who a person truly was on the inside vs. whether intoxication altered who a person normally was. I think you can make a case for both points of view. But the bottom line for me was, as you said, a sober asshole is still an asshole. But look out for the intoxicated one who is now a supercharged asshole.

  • http://lifeafter40.net Logan GLT

    Lol. Yes, I agree with that too. I had a conversation with a close friend once about whether being intoxicated revealed who a person truly was on the inside vs. whether intoxication altered who a person normally was. I think you can make a case for both points of view. But the bottom line for me was, as you said, a sober asshole is still an asshole. But look out for the intoxicated one who is now a supercharged asshole.

  • http://lifeafter40.net Logan GLT

    Henry, you’re right – I can’t claim any scientific study regarding human behavior. I base my conclusions on my personal life experiences at the age of 48. I have gotten to know many very kind and considerate people though who were not Christians. I’ve also known many Christians who were also very kind, loving and considerate. I’ve also known an awful lot of Christians who were mean, hateful, judgmental and petty. There are only a few conclusions to draw. 1) those Christians weren’t really Christians, or 2) Christianity doesn’t really change people in a truly significant way. And I can refer to a study that shows the viewing of pornography is actually higher among religious conservatives. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16680-porn-in-the-usa-conservatives-are-biggest-consumers.html


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