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A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

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This is from the blog Debunking Christianity







"Here's an email I received from a man  named Robert:"

John,

Thank you for the time and effort you have put into your writing.  I am a  Christian of nearly 30 years; devout, church going, prayerful.  I first  found infidels.org about 2 years ago and it opened me up to the  possibility that the Bible is false.

 I always beware when I see one of these "long time Christian realized faith is buss shit." It really makes me angry and sick because whatever he says, no matter how banal or silly, he claims he's a Christian so he has to be one. This is one of the basic tenets of the New atheist faith, that there is no such thing as a false members of a group, any and all members of groups regardless of their experiences automatically represent that group it it's fullest and most articulate epitome. Otherwise, if anyone claims "we wasn't really a good Chieftain" they will say "that's no true Scotsman fallacy." Or they will say "how can you tell what a real christian is? I can't tell so therefore, no one can tell."

Of course it's always impolitic to try and claim that this guy I don't know is not a good Christian or isn't' one at all just becuase he fell away, that would be like saying "no one can disagree with me, the very act of doing so is proof enough that he's wrong." Mot atheists will admit that it doesn't prove anything that this guy fell away. He would have sat in the cry room for 30 years and done nothing, just went through the motions and did not spiritual growth at all so it is not proof of anything that he fell away. I've been a Christian almost 40 years, why isn't my faith proof that it's true? But that never goes over because just the act of objecting marks one as a fuss budget who can't truck disagreement.

On the other hand, it is common place to find many Christians who have been in the faith for years and are no strong, just go thorough the motions and don't bother to grow, not cultivated their relationships with God. Sleeping in a garage doesn't make you a car, sleeping in Church does not make you a Christian, nor does it bestow the full richness of Christian experience. But To be fair say he was a growth oriented one time strong Christian. There's something more important than being a Christian in terms of testimony of the truth. That something is experience of God in your life. One  must keep growth coming. I don't subscribe to the concept that a "true Christian" can't fall away because I don't believe in eternal secularist or pre destination because I'm not a Calvinist. I do believe that if you want to be kept Christ will keep you. I don't believe that Hebrews six is about nothing. It must, therefore, be possible for even a born again person to fall away. The falling away of such a person does not prove anything in relation to the truth claims of Christianity.

Btw I also believe that atheists are misusing the No true Scotsman thing, see my essay on that.

 The prodigal Christian continues:


I then started listening to you and Ken Pulliam, Luke Muehlhauser and a  few others.  I've read The   Christian Delusion and talked  with some of the most scholarly Christians I know about how they would  respond to what skeptics are saying.

 Here's his second mistake. It's just as plain as day. He began listening to Loftus! How in the hell can he expect not to be confused? I'm teasing. John is a friend of mine and he is very bright and learned. Seriously, he begins having doubts, why does he go to the people who specialize in widening the cracks and deepening doubt? Did he try to close the cracks by listening to Christians who specialize in plugging them up? He I don't remember him on my website. So one thing we do know is he did not consult the best apologists, right? We do know that, right? Well anyway (I heard that). One clue perhaps is that he said he went along for 28 years and then one day because he stumbles onto the secular web he begins to think maybe it's not true. It just seems likely to me that anyone who spend 28 years going to chruch saying he's a Christian and just begins after that to think it might be true is not much of a thinker. Perhaps such a person hasn't wrestled with faith and thus this would imply that his faith is to deep. Faith is deep when we go through the fire. Faith gets deep when we are tested and doubt. It's a dialectic, faith is an answer to doubt. No doubt means no faith.

 CP (Christian Prodigal)


I think about these issues every day:

 Why? After 28 years, why think about them everyday now? Because he hasn't before. Of couse his thinking now is not being fed by people who have gone through he struggle before and found strength and answers, it's fed by people who have a vested interest in denuding his faith. Don't see answers for the living among the dead. If you are wounded by attackers, do you turn to those attackers to bet help? He was wounded by the secular web, people who are designing to destroy faith and he turns to those very people to learn more. Are those guys going to give him both sides? will they have Christian answers that promote faith and really do the job of answering? In a pigs eye! He spent 28 years not cultivating a deep faith then when he needs one he goes right over to the enemy and starts cultivating the death of what little faith he had. What sense does that make? He never really gave his faith a chance.

 It's also pretty instructive what he finds as "serious questions:"


-- Why does the Bible condone sex-slavery and genocide?


Yea that's a good one. Gee, that verse that says "thou shalt have a sex slave and destroy whole races." which commandment? that's the 134th commandment I think. Its' in the third book of Sapient. Of cousre there is no such passage. There is no passage that says to have sex slaves or kill people. Why would this guy, brave mature Christian in the faith 28 years think that this is a fair and valid way to reflect the truth of the Bible? He wouldn't unless he's pretty deeply into falling away already.  Did he even try to read Glen Miller's stuff on Slavery in the Bible? Does even know the history of the abolition movement? Not to mention my stuff on OT and Social oppression.

-- Why would a super-intelligent God seem unable to communicate his will  without confusing millions of devout followers? 


Of course here one has a huge range of ideas and answers to choose from, from the  vast range of liberal theology to notions of Biblical inspiration and what it means, to the answers brought by conservative evangelicals. In his 28 years of spiritual ferment it never occurred to him to think about the nature of God. Why chuck out the whole concept at once when some other concept of the same idea might not be closer to the truth? For example why give up the idea that there is a God based upon the strident nature of the OT when the idea of process theology God would explain why God's will isnt' obvious? For that matter mystical theology explains. For that matter so does my soeteriolgoical drama.

-- Why are the gospel accounts of Jesus death and resurrection in  disagreement about what actually happened? 


In 28 years it never dawned on him to read a harmony? They easy to come by. The answers are not difficult. Read my thing above on the nature of Biblical inspiration and then read my Resurrection Harmony.

-- Why did Jesus tell people he would come again "in this generation" if  it would be thousands of years later?

He didn't. Do some research. There many possible answers. To understand you need to read the link on Biblical inspiration first. Basically it's a gloss on answers to two different questions, they got them switched becuase the redactors assumed they were the same event. the two questions are

(1) When will the temple be destroyed

(2) When will you come back (assumes he's going away, they don't ask about that)

the answer 1: "in this generation"

the answer 2: "when you see the angels coming in the  clouds.

but becuase they assumed these are the same event, an assumptino necessary for them since they could not imagine Judaism without the temple they reduce the two questions to one then mix up the answers so that the answer to question 1 becomes the answer to Q 2 and vice versa.

But this guy's question about the issue imply that he was in fundie churches. He's one who thinks Bible must be literal and perfect and every single thing is literally truth. This is why i'm not a fundie because the only thing that view is good for is letting people down. Why does he not examine liberal theology before the gives up faith completely? Because he's been brain washed to think liberal = evil!



When I am honest - when I stop making stupid excuses for what the Bible  says (and not what I want it to say) - the answers are obvious. 


But at this point doesn't he want an excuse to leave the faith? Hasn't it become tiresome and hard to manage he's too lazy to look for answers? He give no indication that he ever did look for answers. What he sees as "obvious" to me seems not great insurmountable problems that Christianity can't answer. No I see simple ho-hum here we go again, easy bull shit that I answer in my sleep.


I might have never known that my Christian beliefs were wrong without  people like you.  Thank you.  I don't know how I'm going to tell most of  my friends and family about this, but even if they think I am  delusional, I am happy to be free from the laws and mindset of ancient,  superstitious people.

Sincerely, Robert


"A man only sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest." He sleeps n his faith for 30 years until he decides it's no longer convent, maybe he's not in need of business contacts anymore, and finds shallow excuses to give it up. This does not mean that I think all people who have changes and move out of their faith are like this. I don't really know that this guy is like this. But I do know there's another kind of person who gives up faith, that's some one who realizes the world view he sees is no longer small enough but has enlarged and the framework for the world faith, religious faith, is no longer big enough to contain the world view. Perhaps this guy is like that, although he doesn't give any evidence of it, but that may be the case. This is what happened to me when I became an atheist and I've seen it in others many times. The thing is this is not outgrowing the truth of God. They need to be enlarging the framework of their faith. Then have been brain washed into thinking that it's evil to do that, the liberals are evil and only the fundies are true Christians. Thus when the framework is no longer able to contain the new understanding, they have to just smash it and give up on God.

This is discussed by Jesus in the Gospels. Jesus talks about putting new wine in old wine skins(Gospel of Matthew 9:17, Gospel of Mark 2:22 and Gospel of Luke 5:37-39. ). He's referring to the Holy Spirit and the Baptism thereof, but it also applies a larger world view as well. You need to oil the wine skins so they don't burst and you do with the oil of the Spirit, that is with spiritual growth which comes through experience of God's presence. If you are in a position where you feel yourself outgrowing your faith, this is not a sing that your faith is not real or true, it's a sign that you need to grow in it more. This is a call to revive your relationship with God and grow into a deeper understanding not to give up and above all not seek help among the enemies of God!???

why would anyone go to the atheist camp to look for answers to their problems of faith? That in itself says "I want out of the faith." that's like going to the people who beat you up and robbed you for medical help.

8 comments:

I couldn't see your link for Glenn Miller's stuff on slavery and whatnot ... I think I've read it before anyway, but just thought I'd let you know.

Good post tho ... I mean, I can understand looking to see what the atheist camp has to offer, but I don't understand going to them as a main source of study. I think it would be better to read from both sides of things.

Unfortunately, it can be very hard in my experience to pull those who leave back to the fold (assuming they truly were in the fold to begin with).

This makes me think of what Ken Boa calls "PFS" - Post Fundamentalist Syndrome.

I can't find all the stuff Miller used to have on it. It seems some is gone. I find some here

I agree its very hard. But especially hard once they get to the point of labeling themselves "I am not a Christin I am X" especially if they label themselves as "atheist" then it's impossible. Of course God specializes in the impossible.

"why would anyone go to the atheist camp to look for answers to their problems of faith? That in itself says "I want out of the faith." that's like going to the people who beat you up and robbed you for medical help."

Well, exactly.

Notice how ridiculously manicured this particular letter seems to be. This is how someone talks when they want to maximize effect, not when they're speaking frankly.

And, as should be obvious given Loftus' track record, DC is far more interested in "having an effect" than in anything else. And really, that desire to have an effect probably has less to do with idealistic goals than other motivations.

Notice how ridiculously manicured this particular letter seems to be. This is how someone talks when they want to maximize effect, not when they're speaking frankly.

>>I did notice that. I think you make a good point.

Metacrock,

I read your argument that Mary made two trips from the tomb, i.e., a flash-back-departure hypothesis.

Are you certain it's superior to a legendary embellishment hypothesis?

Isn't it evident that the author of "the Gospel of Matthew" meant for his readers to understand that "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary" together saw and heard an angel announce that Jesus had risen and that "they" both ran from the tomb with great joy and "they" even met Jesus and touched him on their way to tell the others?

Matthew 28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. 5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you." 8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. 9 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."

Also, Instead of attempting to pick apart one brief letter sent to John containing mere summaries of arguments, that you could and should address more substantial fare.

I would suggest for instance, these three books published in 2010

The Christian Delusion

The Case Against the Case For Christ

Scripting Jesus

Also, on the topic of slavery I would suggest that Christians were not universally opposed to slavery, not even 1800 years after the time of Jesus.

Biblically-based defenses of slavery existed in England alongside the abolitionist movement there.

In the U.S. the Southern Baptist, Southern Methodist and Southern Presbyterian denominations split from their northern brethren 10-18 years before the Civil War because they supported the right of clergymen to own and discipline their own slaves. Their northern brethren defended the right to own slaves, but argued that clergymen ought not own slaves. That was their irreconcilable disagreement and the basis of disfellowshipping each other.

Major denominations in the U.S. did not oppose slavery en toto, nor consider it to be a sin. Why? Because the Bible never calls slavery a sin. (Though the Bible does speak of God in the OT multiplying one's slaves as a blessing.)

Mark Noll is a Christian historian, and an Evangelical. He taught at Wheaton, Billy Graham's alma mater, and wrote a book about the crisis in Evangelical biblical authority concerning the slavery question prior to the Civil War. He said in an interview that reading the ancient documents and disputes brought literal tears to his eyes. That period of time constituted a time of crisis in biblical authority and interpretation.

Jesus is even depicted as saying in a parable, "The servant/slave who knew his master's will but who did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes." Such a verse spoken by the Christian Lord was not only recited by slave owners but put into practice as well.

Perhaps the OP did not catch Edward T. Babinski's responses here, so I am bumping the thread.

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