The God Who Takes His Own Sweet Time

Editor’s Note: As we head into the more serious pursuits of autumn, we’re taking a look at the Bible for what it really is, instead of pointing out how wrong it is, as we did in Vacation Bible School. In this excerpt from his new book, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: A Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, Clergy Project member David Madison explains that the Bible actually spreads atheism. And it’s not just for the usual reason that some sections of the Bible defy belief. Alexis Record will review David’s book in a future post and I have written a blurb for it, both of which should entice you to read it for yourselves. Here’s my blurb: “David Madison’s book, written from the perspective of a former Christian minister and scholar, is engaging, personal and erudite. I wish I had known about him when I was conducting interviews for the Dennett-LaScola study of non-believing clergy.  He would have provided insights from a liberal Christian point of view that are hard to come by.”

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By David Madison, Ph.D. (Excerpted from Chapter VI, pp. 138-139, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief)

Madison book cover

The seeds of atheism are spread widely throughout scripture. There are Bible verses that should make even pious readers stop dead in their tracks: “How can this possibly be true?” Genesis 15:13 is an arresting, breathtakingly embarrassing text, a sharp stick in the eye for anyone who wants a good god.

First, a little about context. Genesis is one of the literary masterpieces of the ancient world. It tells the sweeping epic of the origins and progress of the Hebrew people. It is an elaborate patchwork of folklore. (Not a scrap of it is history, but this fact is not relevant to the point to be made here.) The Old Testament as a whole tells a story of the triumph of the Israelites, their high point being the kingdoms of David and Solomon, supposedly in the 9th century B.C.E. But the folklore also tells about slavery in Egypt and the heroism of Moses in rescuing the chosen people (not a scrap of that is history either, by the way).

By the time Genesis was written in the 7th century B.C.E., the theologians who preserved the epic needed to clean up the story. How could it be that the chosen people had been slaves? Their solution was that God had planned it all along, right from the beginning. Theologians had to sanitize the folklore, or at least try. That’s why we read in Genesis 15:13 that God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.” (NASB)

This story is set in a time when there were many gods, and supposedly Abraham had options. Wouldn’t slavery have been a deal breaker? Who could have blamed Abraham for tossing back a stiff drink and saying, “What the hell does it mean to be the chosen people? How is slavery part of that bargain? Can’t this god do better than that? Maybe other gods would try harder to take care of my offspring.” But even more staggering is the part about slavery lasting four centuries. Yes, it is folklore, and thus we expect predictions from gods and sturm und drang, but four hundred years? It didn’t dawn on the author of this Genesis text that he had wandered into bad theology.

One of my teenage moments of doubt was occasioned by this verse. Why would God allow the slavery of the Hebrew people to go on for such a long time? He planned that? It didn’t make sense. Doesn’t this puncture the idea that God is loving and powerful and can get things done? We’re supposed to believe the story about his Really Big Stunt at the Red Sea, but God is powerless to stop four centuries of slavery? This is the conundrum: The Biblical narrative is about a god who is not in a hurry when a whole lot of pain and suffering are happening right under his nose.

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David Madison headshotDavid Madison is an ex-clergy atheist who was raised in a conservative Christian home in northern Indiana. Under the tutelage of his mother he was fascinated by the Bible and this prompted him to pursue the ministry. He served as a pastor in the Methodist church during his work on two graduate degrees in theology, one of which was a PhD in Biblical Studies (Boston University). But by the time he had finished the PhD he had become an atheist; he shares the story of this transition in the Prologue of his book. He gave up his ordination, left the church and pursued a successful business career.

His interest in the Bible did not diminish, however. Not because he was still searching for God—far from it, he says. “Like Dan Savage has pointed out, ‘I didn’t lose my faith, I saw through it.’” Madison’s thinking about Christianity’s many points of vulnerability has resulted in his new book: 10 Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith.

Facebook: 10 Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief

Website: http://www.tentoughproblems.com

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Foxglove

    My take on this sort of stuff is like this: the writers of the Bible weren’t so much concerned with the morality of things as they were with demonstrating their god’s power. “He’s the biggest bully on the block!” The fact that he genuinely is a bully is irrelevant. It’s the fact that he’s the biggest that counts. Which is why he can kill lots of children in Egypt because he’s mad at the Pharoah (whose heart he has hardened) and a lot of people don’t question the act.

    You’ll see this at work in other places. E.g., the story in one of the apocryphal gospels about Jesus changing a lot of children into goats when he got mad at them. A truly amazing thing! even if it wasn’t a particularly moral act. But this story was so ridiculous not even the compilers of the NT could stomach it.

    Or consider the story Suetonius tells about the young Octavian (future Augustus): on his parents’ country estate he got so annoyed at all the frogs croaking so loudly that he told them to shut up. And they did. And thereafter no frog ever croaked on that estate again. Ridiculous story, but it demonstrates how amazing Augustus was, even as a little fellow.

    • mason

      All this ridiculous theistic crap was for political spin and use. I think the turning children into goats story is my favorite one now. It’s all so childish and silly, yet so many still lap it up and give money to the tellers of tales.

    • http://www.tentoughproblems.com David Madison

      I nothing else, all the theological spin (no matter which brand) is entertaining. It’s just so sad that folks feel the need to defend, explain–and explain away, to their god off the hook.

  • Mark Rutledge

    John Crossan, my teacher, provides a word of wisdom for all of this, when he says, “My point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them metaphorically, but that they told them symbolically and we are dumb enough to take them literally.”

    • http://www.tentoughproblems.com David Madison

      My point is not that the stories should be taken literally—it would be hard, very hard, to make the case that the stories of Abraham are history—i.e., that this stuff actually happened. I simply want people to come to grips with the theology that prompted the creation of these stories. “Chosen people” has been—and still is—taken very seriously by many folks, but history has undermined the concept repeatedly.

      Hence stories like this one about Abraham striking the deal with Yahweh look good only on the surface. Even as a kid I saw through it. It’s not that this incident “actually happened” (as opposed to treating it as metaphor); it stands as a reminder that theologians can make up really silly stuff in the attempt to make monotheism (whichever brand they’re defending) work.

      • Linda_LaScola

        That’s kind of how I feel: OK – so it’s metaphorical– that’s nice, but it’s no reason to hold up the Bible up as being so special that I (or anyone) should be motivated to think that its stories central to leading a worthwhile life.

      • ElizabetB.

        Part of the concept is what one is chosen “for” — for special favors, or, as in Gen.12, “blessed to be a blessing” — to help the world. That could be a metaphor that the Shoah wouldn’t refute… but underline the terrific cost of trying to be constructive.

        Taking ctcss’ cue, I followed the FB link, and the Michelangelo painting there is so arresting… well done.

        At the Amazon site, a review by a reader who grew up in a communist country, then was educated in a strict religious environment, is very moving….

        “I wish to have had a book like this one by David Madison to guide me when I was trying to find my way out of the religions quagmire. It would have made my journey faster and less painful to know there was a kindred spirit. His clear, easy style is deep yet approachable to anyone who can read and think critically. What makes it, for me, even more meaningful is that David shares the struggles he went through and the intellectual quest that helped him pinpoint what, to him, are the ‘Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief.’

        “While the ten problems that David focuses on are specific to Christian scriptures, the underlying problem of ‘believing in what ain’t true’ applies to some aspects of all the religions I’ve studied or practiced, including 25 years of Zen.”
        https://www.amazon.com/review/RQYW3VOMMCZHM/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=194289712X&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=283155&store=books

        I’m looking forward to reading… thank you for your years of work on these deeply felt issues

      • Mark Rutledge

        thanks–i take your point about theology. Mine was more about how we see the Bible in the first place. There are plenty of bad theologies in the Bible, e.g., the book of Revelation for only one. And some you point out well.

  • ctcss

    “David Madison’s book, written from the perspective of a former Christian minister and scholar, is engaging, personal and erudite. I wish I had known about him when I was conducting interviews for the Dennett-LaScola study of non-believing clergy. He would have provided insights from a liberal Christian point of view that are hard to come by.”

    Linda, I’m surprised to see you characterizing David’s book as providing a liberal Christian point of view. I looked at the website, and it just struck me as yet another non-believer’s take on the literal word of scripture, going by what he was saying in the chapter summaries. Any time someone trots out the “fact” that Jesus wanted people to hate their families is going for a less-than-thoughtful take on what Jesus was trying to convey to his audience, at least IMO.

    A book that I would find much more interesting to read are the points that David was trying to make in this book responded to by his mother. She sounds like a wonderful mom and a wonderfully perceptive religious person. I would much rather have found out more about her perspectives on religion and how she approached it.

    • http://www.tentoughproblems.com David Madison

      Oh, I was indeed a liberal Christian in my youth. My parents had no use for fundamentalism, but my mother especially was devout. As I tell my story in the Prologue (and I do say more about my mother’s faith there), it was at liberal Boston University School of Theology that my faith faded under the weight of evidence.

      Luke 14:26, of course, is a major stumbling-block for Christians, and so many clever attempts have been made to soft this “hate-your-family” text. You accuse me of “trotting out” the “fact”—your quotation marks—that Jesus expected his disciples to hate their families. Why is it “trotting out” to simply point to this embarrassing text? I highly recommend Hector Avalos’ book, “The Bad Jesus.” There’s a 40-page chapter analyzing the “hate-your-family” text in detail; Avalos demonstrates that Christian attempts to soften this text fail. It’s really hard to evade the fact that it’s meaning is clear, just as it stands.

      But, of course, there is another issue: are the words of Jesus in the gospels authentic? There are major reasons for doubting that any teachings of Jesus have survived intact. But then we have to face the fact that the writer of Luke’s gospel was quite okay with this text; he put these words on Jesus’ lips. As far as he was concerned, Jesus was speaking in character. What is THAT about?

      I don’t know how Christians deal with the cognitive dissonance. There are so many negatives about Jesus in full view in the gospels, yet Jesus has to be the most perfect guy ever! The “ideal Jesus of the imagination” has to be defended at all costs.

      • ctcss

        Oh, I was indeed a liberal Christian in my youth.

        I read the description of your upbringing on the website, so I definitely believe that’s how you were raised. But given that, I find it hard to view your current stance as one born out of a liberal approach to the Bible. I would expect a liberal Christian to have a more nuanced view of scriptural passages, and I don’t think I really saw indications of that in your chapter summaries. You sound more like an evangelical atheist than someone discussing the different facets and aspects of what one might encounter in Bible passages. (BTW, I come from a very non-mainstream Christian sect, and I do not neatly fit into any generalized classification of Christian groupings.)

        it was at liberal Boston University School of Theology that my faith faded under the weight of evidence.

        What evidence was that? It sounds like you’d already had a pretty good grounding at home. How is anything that they might have taught you at BU likely to have swayed you away from what your mother’s wise approach seemed to be?

        Luke 14:26, of course, is a major stumbling-block for Christians

        Hardly. From what I read, Jesus simply wanted his listeners to reason deeply about what he was saying, thus he often used strong wording to wake them out of their complacent views. Luke chapter 14 illustrates that quite well. He is trying to point out to his listeners the consequences of valuing the everyday over the exceptional, specifically, should the things of the world truly be valued by any believer over what is offered by the kingdom of heaven? Honestly? At what point would it make sense for a believing person to tell God that they have better things to do than to accept an invitation to God’s kingdom? What kind of thought says of God “Yeah, I suppose God’s alright, but he’s not #1 on my list of favorites. I reserve that spot for really special things and people!” (BTW, by God I mean God, not Jesus. I was never taught to regard Jesus as God. Once again, I am from a very non-mainstream sect.)

        So by the time Jesus gets to the verse 26 and what follows after, he is trying to point out the need to commit totally to the value of what the kingdom of heaven offers. Why? Because if a believer in God values anything over God and God’s kingdom, they are consciously and deliberately depriving themselves of God’s goodness by tossing them aside and choosing something far less valuable in their place. Basically, doing so causes a believer to break commandments 1, 2, and 3. So, given that Jesus is addressing a crowd who apparently values God, and considers the commandments to be of great importance, he is trying to point out to them the need to examine their thinking so that they don’t make either a conscious or an unconscious decision that, upon sober examination and reflection, they would not wish to make.

        So, does Jesus say “hate” with regard to everyday things which people might normally consider to be valuable? Sure! He’s doing that in order to make a strong point. He wants to shake his listeners up. He wants them to think. (And Jesus does this quite a lot throughout his ministry. Remember, his oft repeated call to repent means to rethink, to reconsider.)

        But does any of this mean that Jesus literally wants his followers to hate people? Of course not! He gave his own mother into the care of John at the cross. And he certainly loved children. And he told his followers in no uncertain terms they were to love not just their neighbors, but their enemies as well.

        So, I have no problem with this verse at all. It’s not at all embarrassing or offensive to me because I can see what Jesus was getting at. Personally, I think it’s a rather neat challenge to his followers to have them examine what it is that they are worshiping, even if they might think that they are worshiping God, and God alone.

        I don’t know how Christians deal with the cognitive dissonance.

        IMO the only cognitive dissonance that occurs is when a person can’t decide what they value more, that which is of the world, or that which is of God’s kingdom. One really can’t have both. If one values one side, one must let go of the other side, whichever goal one is seeking. And BTW, I am not talking about death here. Jesus said that the kingdom was available right where a person was. He was simply trying to show people how to draw closer to it in their thinking. Which to me is a good thing.

        This, BTW, is why I keep feeling that you are speaking more from (or to) a fundamentalist mindset. To me, there is so much more in the Bible than what is superficially there as isolated, literal texts meant to be taken on blind faith. I think that you and I most likely view the same texts in rather different ways. I am guessing you are viewing various “disturbing” passages in the text as things to avoid. However, I am viewing them as ways of helping to shed light on problematic ways of thinking that I may be consciously or unconsciously embracing. The point, to me, of studying the Bible is to correct one’s thinking and thus, one’s actions. After all, one can hardly put off the old man if one does not willingly replace that which is incorrect with that which is more correct. It’s a step by step process, and it takes just as long as it takes. But this correction won’t ever happen without giving it lots of careful thinking.

        That’s why I don’t really have a problem with the Bible. To me, it’s all about waking up one’s thought and being willing to draw closer to God in thinking and in action.

        • carolyntclark

          Linda, is proselytizing appropriate on RD ?

          • Linda_LaScola

            I view ctcss as forcefully expressing a personal view. This is the telling part: “…the only cognitive dissonance that occurs is when a person can’t decide what they value more, that which is of the world, or that which is of God’s kingdom.”

            The presumption is that there is a “God’s kingdom” – a premise that atheists reject.

          • ElizabetB.

            I found the question & response helpful… as I read, I started wondering what a challenge to liberal/metaphorical Christianity would look like, & am glad to learn that that is the focus of the book. Now I’m more curious than ever : ) Thanks, all

        • http://www.tentoughproblems.com David Madison

          Hi again, ctcss. It really isn’t fair to draw conclusions based on the website chapter summaries only, without reading the book itself. Check out the whole story, please! It was precisely the “liberal Christian nuanced views of scripture” that wore thin for me. “Nuanced” so often means, “thinking up clever excuses.” Liberal Christians know that they have to flee the “obvious” meaning of so much of scripture—because it is rooted in ancient superstitions. Hence we have found the great liberal adventure in resorting to allegory, metaphor, the “deeper spiritual meaning,” etc. etc.

          I explain in detail in the book “the evidence” I ran into at BU. Please read the book, rather than expecting me to repeat everything here! These words are astonishing: “swayed you away from what your mother’s wise approach.” Moms and dads in countless religions have molded their children’s minds to accept the faith they accept as true. Why would that automatically be a “wise approach”? Very few moms and dads have gone to the trouble to apply due diligence to their accepted faiths. My mother was a compassionate, devout woman, but she didn’t have a clue about how to analyze Christianity critically.

          How can Luke 14:26 NOT be a major stumbling block? The hero at the center of the faith states plainly and bluntly in this text what he expects. You go on and on and on trying to get Jesus off the hook—as have countless other Christian apologists trying to persuade themselves and others that Jesus “wouldn’t have said such a thing.” Please read my full discussion of this text in my chapter 9. I hear from you a major clutter of theistic assumptions in your defense of Jesus. You never explain how you know all this stuff about God, the kingdom of heaven, etc etc. It is standard preacher talk. This is just slick maneuvering: “It’s not at all embarrassing or offensive to me because I can see what Jesus was getting at.”

          YOU can see what Jesus was getting at? Well, you’d be the first person in history to have achieved that level of insight. You will find in Chapter 6 of my book a candid analysis of the problems that the gospels present. No one knows, really, what was on Jesus’ mind because the texts are unreliable and contradictory. And I show why this is the case…as have countless other scholars. Even devout scholars have made hundreds of guesses about what Jesus was like and what he thought, but the whole project is a mess. Are you unaware of the turmoil in Jesus studies? Please dig into the works of Bart Ehrman. What’s the basic problem? The gospels were written decades after the death of Jesus, we have no idea what sources were used, and there is no contemporary documentation whatever. And the gospel writers had strong theological biases–and they had a talent for writing fiction!

          Also read Richard Carrier’s “On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason to Doubt.” Carrier’s command of Christian origins is staggering. This 600+ page book should be studied intensively, including the awesome footnotes.

          You wrote about Jesus, “He gave his own mother into the care of John at the cross. And he certainly loved children. And he told his followers in no uncertain terms they were to love not just their neighbors, but their enemies as well.” How do you know any of these things? These statements all come from the gospels that cannot be taken at face value. Please read chapter 6 of my book with an open mind….see why the gospels are so suspect.

          Do you grasp that I didn’t invent the ten problems that I discuss in my book? They have vexed Christian theologians, preachers and apologists for centuries.

          ctcss: You are expecting a privilege that is not yet yours: not have not yet read my book, with my full explanations of the points I make. Yet you want me to engage in debate with you.

          Here are a couple of conditions for my going forward with this discussion: (1) read my book, cover to cover, including every last footnote; (2) But also—I am so weary of hearing Christians making claims about what God is and wants—tell me where I can find reliable, verifiable data about God that ALL THEISTS AGREE ON, i.e., Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Mormons—and the thousands of other sub-divisions (I discuss this problem in Chapter 5). Your own ideas and assumptions about God flow so freely: where can I find the data to back up what you have written about God? I discuss the problem of god-knowledge at length in Chapters 2 and 3.

          Cheers, David Madison

          • ctcss

            David, thanks for the reply.

            It really isn’t fair to draw conclusions based on the website chapter summaries only, without reading the book itself.

            Agreed, but I think I got a fairly clear sense of your basic approach from the summaries (which you wrote, I assume), not to mention the Amazon preview pages (in this case, regarding your musically talented brother) which quite clearly show the kind of concepts you are referencing to help make your points. So, based on the concepts you seem to be focusing on, I don’t think that I will be very surprised by what your book contains, but I am somewhat curious as to your experience at BU.

            “Nuanced” so often means, “thinking up clever excuses.”

            But it can often mean an insightful and thoughtful take on a subject. You might want to consider not wishing to be in such a rush to be a cynic regarding an approach which you don’t espouse yourself. None of us are benefited from living in an echo chamber. And once again, I am not a liberal or a conservative Christian. I am from a very non-mainstream sect that doesn’t match up well with mainstream Christianity.

            These words are astonishing: “swayed you away from what your mother’s wise approach.”

            I didn’t apply “wise” to your mom just because she was your parent. I was simply impressed by how you described her. She sounded very reasonable, insightful, thoughtful, and level-headed. I truly think I would have enjoyed talking with her about her religious outlook, even though we might finding ourselves in disagreement about some things.

            she didn’t have a clue about how to analyze Christianity critically.

            Contrary to what I think is your take on things, Christianity (at least as I was taught it) is more about living it (and thus hopefully being transformed by the effort) than it is about critically dissecting it. For instance, I can’t imagine a marriage being blessed by one partner critically analyzing the other partner. Marriage requires wholesale commitment and devotion from both partners, not constant questioning of the integrity or worth-whileness of each partner by the other. There is a mental threshold to cross before becoming involved in a serious undertaking (marriage, raising children, becoming committed to a religious pathway, etc.), that means sticking with it unless something terrible happens to upend the effort. Somehow, I think your mom found her Christian pathway to be more helpful in her life than you did in yours. But I think it would be a mistake to think that she only stayed because she simply didn’t know enough about analyzing it properly. She may have stayed simply because what she had seen and experienced of it made her want to continue exploring it further.

            How can Luke 14:26 NOT be a major stumbling block? The hero at the center of the faith states plainly and bluntly in this text what he expects.

            You might have a valid point about “plainly and bluntly” if the majority of the purported words of Jesus were always couched in plain and blunt terms. The problem is, they were not. The words attributed to him were usually couched in ways to help illustrate concepts, not to be literal descriptions. For instance, in his teachings he referred to commerce, agriculture, and politics, but he was not instructing people in those areas of endeavor. He was trying to shed light on the unfamiliar (God and God’s kingdom) by referring to something more well known. So no, I do not consider Luke 14:26 to be a major stumbling block. Some Christians might, but I never found that verse, or verses like it to be a problem. Literalism is not my thing, nor do I suspect that it was Jesus’ thing.

            I hear from you a major clutter of theistic assumptions in your defense of Jesus. You never explain how you know all this stuff about God, the kingdom of heaven, etc

            For the record, I am taking the purported teachings of Jesus as reasonable guides to God’s nature and God’s kingdom, i.e. they form the core of a working hypothesis that my religion invites me to explore and to work with. Do I have absolute proof that these conceptual notions about God are true? Of course not, no one does. But I am more than willing to explore things from that basis. I am, after all, trying to follow Jesus, so why shouldn’t I begin my exploration with what he seemed to be teaching? And exploring is what one does when one wishes to find out more about a subject that is still not clearly understood as much as it should be.

            That said, while I also very much understand your explanations as to why you may have sincere questions as to what can be trusted in the Bible to work with, I still find myself mystified by your conclusions as to what you desire to go with, just as much as you seem to be by my conclusions as to what to go with. And this is the problem. You most definitely have encountered what you consider to be very solid reasons for not believing in God that mean something to you. You’ve spent a great deal of time trying to research the theological notions you were exposed to and as far as you’ve been able to determine, you’ve come up dry. I get it.

            But what you have encountered and what you have been moved by and what you have studied isn’t the same as what I have encountered, been moved by, and have studied. Which makes perfect sense since our lives and our experiences have no doubt been very different, being that we are different individuals on different paths. Thus, similar to you (but in a different direction), I most definitely have encountered what I consider to be very solid reasons for believing in God that mean something to me.

            The point I am trying to make is not that I am correct and that you are mistaken, or that you are correct and that I am mistaken. The point is that all of your work (and I sincerely respect you for making all of that effort) is not universally applicable. Your arguments only apply to what they apply to, i.e. they rely on your starting assumptions, your experiences, and the kinds of problems you were intent on resolving. For instance, you might have a slam-dunk, absolutely conclusive piece of evidence that Jesus never existed. Such solid evidence might very well stop a Christian in their tracks and make them lose their faith in God. But such evidence would mean absolutely nothing to a religiously devout Jew or a Hindu because it does not apply to them.

            Basically, your very thoroughly researched and passionately stated book doesn’t apply to the religious path I am exploring. Your book does bring up points that require thoughtful consideration, of course, but your conclusions are based on the mental viewpoint and framework you bring to the problems of human existence. For people with a similar mental viewpoint and framework, your book might very well resonate. However, your former Christian theology and my current Christian theology are very different in nature, thus our viewpoints do not correspond. We are very much poles apart from one another, thus a debate is not likely to be productive. We basically have almost no common ground.

            So your suggestions to look up Avalos, Erhman, and Carrier are well meant, I am sure, but arguments at cross purposes will remain at cross purposes, whether from them or from you. (Being very non-mainstream, I am poles apart from them as well.) But your suggestion that only if every Christian agrees on one unified theology will you have any interest in it strikes me as being a bit naive. I don’t require other people to agree with me about my religious pathway any more than I need them to agree with me on my choice of marriage partner. People explore pathways because they find them to be of interest. I like mine and you like yours. To each their own.

            I’d still like to look at your book, but it doesn’t seem to exist in Barnes and Noble, nor is it in my public library, so I guess I’ll just have to wait to see if it does show up. I am still curious about your experiences at BU, but not so much as to impel me to purchase the work.

            All the best.

          • http://www.tentoughproblems.com David Madison

            I have read your 1,400 word reply, and see that you neglected to meet either of the stipulations I stated for me to continue the discussion with you. You wrote: “But your suggestion that only if every Christian agrees on one unified theology…” That is not what I suggested at all. I asked that you tell me WHERE I CAN FIND THE RELIABLE, VERIFIABLE DATA about God that theists agree on. I’m just looking for the data, not “one unified theology.”

          • Linda_LaScola

            you can also check at Amazon, where the book does currently exist https://www.amazon.com/Problems-Christian-Thought-Belief-Minister-Turned-Atheist/dp/194289712X/

    • carolyntclark

      So curious that Jesus chose messages using such muddled words.
      After 2000 years of study, scholars are still struggling to explain and excuse His clumsy metaphor for following Him.

      • http://www.tentoughproblems.com David Madison

        Well, of course, we have no idea what Jesus actually said. The gospel writers created freely (compare Mark and John), and contemporary documentation is lacking entirely. The chances that any of Jesus’ original words were captured accurately, and handed down accurately for decades? Virtually nil.

        • carolyntclark

          ’twas said mockingly with tongue in cheek.

    • Linda_LaScola

      Hi, ctcss – long time no see. I read the book without checking out the website, and based my comments on that.

  • carolyntclark

    David, your book looks like a valuable addition to spotlighting Biblical fable.
    Kudos and good luck. We can hope that the scales will fall from more eyes.

    • http://www.tentoughproblems.com David Madison

      Yes, “scales falling from the eyes” is the aim….or as I also like to say, “Snap out of it!” :)

  • carolyntclark

    Looks like Muslim refugees will be victims of predatory Evangelicals

    “A special message from the publisher…” (Christian News)
    “Dear Reader, our hearts are deeply grieved by the ongoing devastation in Iraq, and through this we have been compelled to take a stand at the gates of hell against the enemy who came to kill and destroy. Bibles for Iraq is a project to put Arabic and Kurdish audio Bibles into the hands of Iraqi and Syrian refugees—many of whom are illiterate and who have never heard the gospel.Will you stand with us and make a donation today to this important effort? Please click here to send a Bible to a refugee >> “

    • mason

      The vultures always circling for the credulous, injured, grief stricken, and ignorant.

  • mason

    David, thanks emphasizing you “saw through” your religious beliefs! I cringe when someone says they lost their faith. Car keys, wallets, are lost; religious nonsense is exposed, saw through, ditched, discarded etc.

    • http://www.tentoughproblems.com David Madison

      In the book’s Conclusion I refer to the Great See-Through Faith. But I have to give credit to Dan Savage, i.e., that term, “I saw through it,” which I read in one of his articles.