Have I believed a lie?

sent in by Mark

Have I believed a lie for 20 years?

I’ve been debating with my Christian friends for months now, about the bucket-load of inconsistencies, contradictions and atrocities I continue to find when I read the bible. After 20 years as a Christian, I can’t pretend any longer and ignore all the stuff that I’m finding.

I’ve spent hours on apologetics websites, spent pounds on books. I’ve gone to my friends to find out how they dealt with all this stuff. What’s the answer I’ve been met with? “Ignore all the inconsistencies and believe anyway”.

WTF? I thought that Christianity trumpeted itself as the truth, as a belief system with weighty evidence. Yet no-one seems able to tell me why the bible disagrees with itself on literally dozens and dozens of instances. (E.g. Dt 24:16 & 2 Sam 12:14). I even posted a challenge on this website, twice, asking Christians to explain it all. Yet no-one could.

I’m getting really frustrated with the glassy-eyed responses I’m receiving from my friends, when they look at me as if I’m talking a foreign language. I feel like I want to shake them, to get them to see what’s in front of their eyes.

Last night, I showed them a whole bunch of old testament atrocities, and despite all the evidence they refused to call it genocide when God slaughters a whole race, yet they will condemn a human being for the slightest ‘sin’. It seems that God can be called ‘good’ no matter what evil he performs or allows, yet I am a filthy sinner just because of who I am.

I have explored my doubts with honesty and integrity and I feel like I’m on the verge of walking away because the evidence from the bible has come up short. However, I fear that if I do walk away, they’ll rationalise my decision by saying that ‘I left because I wanted to sin/be in the world’ or that ‘I left because someone offended me’. How do you get them to acknowledge the fact that you’re walking away because you explored the evidence and found it lacking?

Birmingham
England
Joined: 18
Left: 40
Was: Evangelical, Fundamentalist
Now: Seriously Doubting
Believed because: Thought it was the truth
Doubting because: Realised it isn't

60 comments:

Anonymous said...

The answer is, you can't and must simply accept that there will always be people with differing opinions, especially when it comes to religious faith or lack thereof. People believe what and how they do for emotional reasons, they are 'attached' to their beliefs because of the 'weight' of wishful thinking, even those who are testable as having high IQ remain religious believers if they are emotionally attached. The subconscious mind is a powerful thing as any Psychiatrist can tell you. There has actually been scientific studies which reveal that some people have a more pronounced/active emotional center of their brains which contribute to their ability to be highly religious, see http://www.godpart.com for a good resource and book that discusses this. This is why even those who 'walk away' and were once highly religious can have a slew of emotional problems once they become cognisant of the irrationality of fundamentalist belief systems and it's not just Christians who experience this, see also, http://www.rickross.com for info on cult deprogramming.
Now that the Da Vinci Code is resulting in more questions, sources such as http://www.tombofjesus.com and archaeological interest will be presenting harder facts that believers with inquiring and honest minds will have to grapple with on top of the inconsistencies of their holy books.

openlyatheist said...

The #1 problem I hear from people growing out of their religion is the fear of losing loved ones. I don't blame them, because irreligion doesn't offer the same, safe support structure that people get at church.

To thine own self be true, I say. Once the door of questions is opened it tends to stay open. Don't be afraid, I say. What will really boggle their minds is when people around you start to realize that you are still 'you' despite your change of belief.

The world definitely needs people like you Mark. Thank you for sharing.

John

Anonymous said...

PS:there's a reporter discussing his visit to 'The Martyr's Tomb' which is the same one that is the subject of http://www.tombofjesus.com

see:

http://travel.news.yahoo.com/b/rba_daily/rba_daily4337

Scott said...

Mark, if these people are true friends, they'll accept you no matter what your beliefs are.

Anonymous said...

It is a strange journey, but as we walk out of the forest of deceit to the edge of the clearing, we yearn for the familiarity of the past, but know full well that the clearer understanding of the pastures ahead allow us to break free.

Not unlike a child breaking away from parents, this discovery is somewhat as painful, but the freedom of adult and religious independence is attained.

A few years ago I too struggled with breaking away from the faith. Now after a few years, I can look back and know that the decision was worth it. It is unbeleivable how much I defended what I now know as pure mythology.

Some people say that we should not try to convince Christians to de-convert, but I am beginning to wonder if that is the best thing to do, maybe we should lead them out of the falsehoods.

Anyway, I wish you the best on your journey forward. Keep studying. Read some of Joseph Campbells works on Mythology, good stuff!

Phil said...

True, what Scott said.

@ "People believe what and how they do for emotional reasons" - Far too often... but always? Across the board? Is this true in other areas besides religion too?

I still have hope that there are people who can put their emotions aside and analyze the facts when it comes to discussing important matters such as religion.

Jim Arvo said...

Hi Mark. You asked "How do you get them to acknowledge the fact that you're walking away because you explored the evidence and found it lacking?"

That's a very good question, and the sad fact is that you will probably not be able to get most believers to acknowledge that. There are too many ready answers built into Christian dogma that will allow them to demean you, while protecting their own views. But, that's not to say that ALL believers will react that way.

I will relate my personal experience with this, although it's not a close parallel with yours. In my case, I rejected Christianity as a child, and was essentially never in the position of having to "come out" to my family (who are all Christians of various denominations with differing strengths of conviction), because it was more or less common knowledge that I didn't buy into any of it. But, here is the part that is similar. I still needed to grapple with the negative stereotypes that each of them had concerning non-believers. I was shocked to discover (many years later) that most of them believed that atheists live only for the moment, and that disbelief was rooted in rebellion. Now, here's the really odd part. Nobody in my family thought of me this way. They all thought of me as a hard-working good and honest person, yet they KNEW I was an atheist! Nevertheless, this did not cause them to question their stereotype. Interesting, no?

At one point, not too long ago, I sat down with several of my fundamentalist family members, Bible open before us, and had a very very long and open discussion about our various beliefs. It was very civil, and several very interesting things came out. First, it became clear that there were at least three radically different interpretations of the Bible represented at that table, and that I was the only one who had actually READ the entire Bible! This was as much a surprise to me as it was to them. It was also clear that I had studied it's history in much greater depth than they had, and could cite scripture on a par with them. I explained the fallacies in all of the common "proofs" for the existence of god, and pointed out some of the ghastly violence in the Bible (which they were largely unaware of). As a result of all of that, at least one of my family members came to realize exactly what you asked about--that I had rejected Christianity by using my head, not because I wanted to rebel. However, I'm not sure that it made much of a dent in the thinking of the others.

The moral of the story is this: The Christian religion is a very powerful belief-system with many built-in safeguards against "outsiders". Even with substantial evidence patiently laid out before, some (indeed most) may still fail to see that you arrived at your views rationally. But, in my opinion, the best way to cope with that is to show them, day in and day out, that you live ethically, treat others well, and seek to be honest with yourself and others. If they choose to continue in their delusion, then that's their choice. There isn't much you can do about it.

Best of luck to you. I hope you continue on your road of questioning and truthfulness. In the end, I think the rewards far outweigh the disadvantages.

Jim said...

Hi Mark. Why are you concerned about your friends ditching you for walking away from Christianity? Who gives a stuff if a brainwashed society turns their back on you? My wife and I were deeply entrenched and had literally many many Christian friends. When we finally realised we had been conned and walked away from the church, every one of these supposed friends had nothing more to do with us. So you soon create new friends who usually do not have religious beliefs. Some may actually believe in a God but that's it. No church involvement, no rules to follow. Just get on with life and enjoy what life has to offer, there's nothing after death. Cheers all Jim Lee.

Jim said...

I've decided to post here a little essay of mine. Please enjoy. Cheers all. Jim Lee
Was the supposed Jesus the first raised from the dead? Read on.
New Testament writings state that not only was Jesus raised from the dead.
But many righteous people came back from the dead also. These righteous people would have had to be Jewish as the gentiles had not yet been redeemed and Christianity did not exist then.
These people that rose up out of their graves happened at the same time that Jesus died on the cross, and the graves opened up due to an earthquake. Matthew.27:52-53. This claim is startling. It's bad enough that we have no record of Jesus resurrection outside of the New Testament. We don't have a record of this event either. If a large number of people got out of their graves and strolled around Jerusalem somebody would have mentioned it surely. Philo and Josephus are silent about it and the other books in the New Testament don't mention it. In a way this event surpasses that of Jesus resurrection, yet it is not mentioned in any of the other gospels or epistles. Were these people resurrected before Jesus? It appears so by about three days. Did these people ascend up to heaven? Or did they die again like Lazarus, meaning that they died twice and New Testament writings say that it is appointed for men to die once and then the resurrection.
How much credit can we give this story. According to the gospels Jesus rose in the flesh. The epistles say that he rose in the spirit and not in the flesh. You would think that because this is an important issue the New Testament writings would be able to agree.
The resurrection of the Messiah figure is also not found anywhere in the Jewish Tanach, and there is also no mention in Tanach that the Messiah would be God.
The Tanach says in Jeremiah 31:34 that no man will need a teacher and every man will know God, Christians say that this is when Jesus comes a second time. The Tanach makes no reference to the messiah coming twice.
As unpleasant as it may sound, anyone who worships Jesus should look into the matter very carefully. Jesus as shown in the New Testament writings bears a strong resemblance to many pagan gods whom predate Christianity.
1 Tim.2:5-6 "For there is one God and mediator between God and men, The man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time." Matt. 20:28. Jesus supposedly say's "Just as the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many."
God looks upon a human sacrifice in the Tanach as an abomination. Where does Jesus stand?

Jim Lee.
P.s At the time I put this essay together I was still in an agnostic stage, believing in a God. I have since become a full blown atheist never no more to have beliefs in a God or Gods.

J. C. Samuelson said...

Mark,

You already know the answer to your question.

As Jim Arvo said, the Christian religion is a very powerful belief system. There is little to nothing you can do to convince your friends that their faith is nothing but a house of cards. To them, it is a tower from which they will not retreat unless they decide to do so on their own.

But, ask yourself why you need to convince them? To be blunt, it really isn't your business what they believe. Nor is it their business what you believe. If your only common ground was your faith, I would suggest seeking other avenues of social interaction.

Is it perhaps that you still have some insecurities about losing your faith? We all have them. Some of us years after leaving. You're not alone. That's why this site is here; to provide support for ex-Christians like you and me.

Is the affirmation of your Christian friends in your new path so important? Now, we all feel the need to be affirmed by our friends, that's true. However, we cannot force this affirmation and as individuals they can choose to do so or not as they see fit.

Addicts regularly alienate friends and loved ones, sometimes for life. Even if they "get clean," they often suffer the stigma of having been an addict for the rest of their lives. This is also unfortunately true for some of us who leave the faith, and we're forced to find new friends.

In my own situation, I had grown a pretty good circle of friends at the church where I was converted. After my de-conversion, I haven't been welcome. To be fair, I never pushed hard to remain included in their lives. Our primary bond was faith. Once that was gone, we had little to discuss that wouldn't cause an argument.

If you want to argue with Christians about the problems with their religion, there's usually one or two bold enough to post to one or more articles/testimonies here. Plenty of lively debate to help you express the many revelations you've had about your former faith. Or, you can visit any number of Christian forums and engage in discussions there. It can be a learning experience.

Really, I think the only option you have if you want to keep your Christian friends is avoid talking about religion. Use this site to vent when necessary and just hang out and hope they don't bring it up. If they do, just suggest talking about something else - or change the subject.

It's rare to find someone who is able to present a cogent defense of their religion, and I've yet to find one who can present evidence that is more than "I believe."

It's the nature of the beast, my friend.

GoneNsane said...

Believers who staunchly ignore the cruelties and inconsistencies of the bible do so because they are afraid. Afraid of the painful process of reassessing everything they understand about life and their place in it. On the high diving board of life, they are clinging desperately to the railing.

I don't think believing is just an emotional attachment thing. I am highly emotional but I am not a believer. Indeed, part of my leaving was the emotional turmoil I felt over the cruelty of biblegod. No, I don't think it's general emotions, but the specific emotion of fear that keeps people trapped within an outdated pagan religion. Just my two cents, anyway.

David said...

To Mark,

Let me start by stating that I am a Christian. And as much as I do not wish to see any leave the flock you must do what you feel is right. You can not base your decisions on what others will think, either in your current situation or any other situation that you may encounter. Now you have probably already done this but I suggest you seek The Lord’s advice on this. Don’t ask your Christian friend’s, don’t even talk to them for a while. Just seek the Lord.

Dave Poole

Anonymous said...

You asked: Have I believed a lie for 20 years? and the answer is: a resounding YES. It is a lie, a resounding lie, and, to me, at least, it became glaringly obvious as soon as I started reading the Wholly Babble systematically, taking notes as I went. The contradictions started in Genesis, and never let up. And those to whom I turned for an explanation hemmed and hawed and fumbled around and wound up "being too busy to talk to me about it now".

I rapidly (in a matter of a few weeks) came to the conclusion that God, Jesus, Satan, etc., were all one with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.

In other words, a load of crap. (It got kinda interesting for a while when I announced my findings in Sunday School... I was never again too popular with that crowd.) I was, however, a minor celebrety: the Kid Who Told Off The Minister. My parents were mortified, but couldn't do anything: they were the ones who told me to discuss it with the Minister.

Good luck: being an atheist is so relaxing, and, besides, you have Sundays off.

boomSLANG said...

David Poole: "Just seek the Lord."



Gee, a total implication the we, as former Christians, did not "seek the Lord", either at all...or the "right way". It really doesn't get much more rude than that, does it?



Related question for anybody: As temporal beings, what is a reasonable amount of time to sit back and WAIT for a reply from a being who is presumably "timeless" and "limitless", only to get zero in return? Just curious.

angelo said...

Go to equip.org and do your own research. You might just find the truth.

Thackerie said...

And, once you get done laughing at the nonsense on equip.org (just another christian brainwashing site), check out some TRUE information, such as you can find here or at http//www.skepticsannotatedbible.com

Anonymous said...

The survival of our specicies may be at stake. The more that humanity realises that there is no god, the more the mentally unstable believers visiously defend their delusions, particularly the inevitability of the APOCOLYPSE! If the apocalypse is coming, why defend the earth from pollution and war?

The belif that there is a GOD and that it controls the earth allows the believer to shirk their responsibilities. Poverty? God's will. War? The prelude to the apocalypse. Global Warming?...etc.

The refusal to grip reality may contain the seeds of our extinction as a species. De-programming the mindless believer is the responsibility of all. It is our brain that has catapulted our species to the top of the foodchain. We need to ensure our survival by revealing the proof (science) to all.

David said...

To Boomslang,

I said: "Now you have probably already done this but I suggest you seek The Lord’s advice on this."

I did not imply that you exchristians did not try. I said quite the opposite. Stop looking for reasons to get upset and indignant.

Dave Poole

boomSLANG said...

Oh, pardon moi--- let me rephrase my question for David Poole: "How long should one *KEEP* trying to 'seek the Lord' while getting ZERO results?"

Jesus christ, David, the Tax man can find us even when we're NOT "seeking" him....what's up with that? (rhetorical)

Bentley said...

The greatest myth to dismiss or shake is the one that proposes the Biggest Threat!

Santa poses a small threat, no presents! Easter Bunny poses small threat, no candy! Tooth Fairy poses small threat, no money! A nonbelief in these above, you soon realize you will survive, you will recover!

But!!! A nonbelief in God and the Bible and Jesus has never ending consequences, a threat of a eternal burning Hell! With no means of escape, but with an exception, depending on what you declare to believe, what you believe will define to God your intentional desire to believe.

So your belief is what is most important to this Heavenly God, it's what you are willing to give up and sacrifice starting with your freedom, your inherent common sense, your money, your time with your family, for an accepted place in the religious society to be as one of them.

So now, giving up the false belief, is to be cast off from them, and this makes the believers, look like the idiots that they really are and they are sitting there with rotten egg all over their face.

A belief carries mental no value, it carries fear with rules and rules applied with fear.

A belief serves no purpose to any God, it only serves man and his petty religious ideals.

Here in USA we've been showered with Jesus since the day we were born, we are drenched daily with religious propaganda, people are walking around in a sel-frighteous fog of Jesus.

Religions and beliefs offer escapism from reality.

xrayman said...

Dear David,
If I were to seek God for answers, what do I look for to know he is talking to me? I never seem to get any answers. That is the quintessential road block that has lead to my total non-belief. I live in Michigan, and along a freeway on the way back from my mom's house there is this big billborad made to look like a phone company ad.....It says Call God, He Answers. I've called God about 14,834 times, and still no answer. What in the hell am I doing wrong?


Boomslang....That remark about the taxman was fucking great and so true. If they can find us, why can't all mighty GAWWWWWD?

Phil said...

What kind of results are you looking for?

Phil said...

That was to boomslang... I see that xrayman already asked that question though. But hey, if nobody really knows how God would respond, how do you know whether or not you're getting results?

Phil said...

BTW... what contradictions?

Big Daddy said...

Phil: "That was to boomslang... I see that xrayman already asked that question though. But hey, if nobody really knows how God would respond, how do you know whether or not you're getting results?"

Exactly... if you don't know what a perfect god would "do", because you are not perfect, or how to identify a "perfect" act by a "god", then its not really possible to "ever" know a "god", is it. If you say, a god still intervenes in our lives, but we just aren't able to discern his acts, then, at the same time, we can't distinguish his acts from any other gods acts, to include the devils'. Thus, either no gods exist (i.e., we can't perceive the acts, etc.), or, we can't distinguish between the acts of the many potential infinite gods that possibly exist, for the person who actually believes in supernatural gods.

Uh, and in the bible itself, the OT has the god El, and the NT has the god YHWH, and they are "not" the same god. In the NT, Satan is introduced, but he wasn't around in the OT. Also, if you want more gods explained, all you need do, is look in your bible, and see the many verses that declare there are "many" gods. The bible was highly influenced via greek mythology and the pantheon of gods.

Phil said...

@ Big Daddy - My belief is that a person's knowledge of God is extremely limited without the Bible... so yeah, if you dismiss that as a source of authority then there's very little else to go by. I haven't found any convincing evidence against the Bible though... and I honestly don't expect to.

What makes you think that they're two different gods?

Anonymous said...

Science can be PROVED. god cannot. Why try to defend faith with logic?

"It is better to remain silent, and be thought of as a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt."
Chinese Proverb

I used to BELIEVE my ex loved me, till she PROVED she did not by sleeping with my best friend.

Faith is proof of nothing. But we use science everyday, i.e. internet, automobiles, airplanes. Science is repeatable, reliable, whereas faith can never be better than hit and miss.

Dave Harty said...

Anonymous wrote:

"The survival of our specicies may be at stake. The more that humanity realises that there is no god, the more the mentally unstable believers visiously defend their delusions, particularly the inevitability of the APOCOLYPSE! If the apocalypse is coming, why defend the earth from pollution and war?"

I too have run into the roadblock from friends, "Everyone can believe what they want." To which I have recently responded:

"So, it doesn't bother you that so many people out there believe in these fantasies as if they really happened? That fiction written so long ago is still affecting the lives of people today? Not to mention the fear that people have over a god who will punish them in the worst way if they don't love him unconditionally? Religion is a sort of mental disorder we should all be rid of, especially if we ever hope to evolve intellectually...We'll never grow-up as a species, if we still think demons and spirits are real."

Phil said...

Ultimately, nothing can be "proved". It's impossible to know anything for certain. Therefore, everything is faith. Faith in science, faith in God, faith in the sturdiness of your computer chair.

So then, it's just a matter of deciding in what you're going to put your faith and why.

Anonymous said...

Phil,

Can i get some of what you're smoking?

Turn your light switch on and off.

Science.

Phil said...

How do I know that science is making the light go on and off?

blaine said...

Hi Mark,
You and I have traveled a similar path-except that I just admitted to myself that I'm gay in 2004.
Religion and politics are two very powerful controllers. Mankind has often used both to excuse atrocities with a clear conscience.
As Scott said, "Mark, if these people are true friends, they'll accept you no matter what your beliefs are".
I have lost some friends, confused others but my true friends have remained despite our differances. Sadly some of those I thought were my "true friends" will have nothing to do with me or my wife when we years ago changed denominations.
I have included two paragraphs that I have used before. I hope they can help you and please remember that you are loved and have many friends.
I can truly say I love my God and people more than I ever have-in large part thanks to this site because it brought up close the contradictions of a God who is supposed to love unconditionally, have the qualities of mercy, compassion, forgiveness and grace [unmerited favor] as compared to Bible God who lacks the very virtues that His followers talk about; and I no longer have to "judge" who is worthy of God's love.
So I have a peace in my heart that I have never had before. I feel I am free from the chains of religious bigotry, judgment and hate.
I know "my peace" is a contradiction to some but it works for me and those I am privileged to help. And for that I am very grateful.
I cannot believe in any writings which lessen the dignity of mankind and speaks more of his depravation, wickedness and worthlessness than of his beauty, grandeur and value. I cannot believe in a God who says we were created in His image and likeness and then that same God sends His image and likeness to a fiery hell for not thinking like He does when we thought we were serving Him as he desired. How can I unquestionably accept the Bible when it lessens the majesty of a loving God and looks upon His finest creation as better dead than Bible fed.
Take care our friend,
Nelson blaine

freeman said...

Phil,
I just love how you ignorant christians love to equate science with religion! Both based on faith, what a joke!

I, personally, have faith in nothing. I trust in things and when that trust is broken, I no longer have trust in that which I had given.

freeman said...

Phil,
If you are serious about going back to school "for something", might I suggest some science classes and how about philosophy of religion. But your brain might hurt and you will probably drop out again!

Mean Bo Jean said...

Phil: "How do I know that science is making the light go on and off?"

The properties of electricity have been well known since Edison invented the incandescent bulb in 1879, but people like you choose to stay in the dark ages. And, BTW, the idea that science requires "faith" is pretty damn assinine. Please get a clue, or at least half a clue, before bothering us with your moronic dribble.

J. C. Samuelson said...

"Ultimately, nothing can be "proved". It's impossible to know anything for certain. Therefore, everything is faith. Faith in science, faith in God, faith in the sturdiness of your computer chair."

If you're talking about 100% certainty, you're absolutely right. However, there's a difference between faith and scientific exploration.

While it's true that a scientific theory is simply the best available explanation for a particular phenomena, it is subject to repeated tests to determine its validity. In other words, evidence is required.

I don't have "faith" in the sturdiness of my computer chair. From repeated tests of this and other chairs (by sitting in them), I've found them to be reliable. If I ever have one collapse beneath me, I can always resort to testing them before sitting in them (setting something heavy on them, etc.).

Faith in deity is completely different. It relies on subjectively interpreting a certain feeling, event, or idea originates with some unseen being. I cannot test God to see if such a being is reliable, because any results I have are simply not subject to objective interpretation or validation.

GoneNsane said...

Brrringgg, brringgg...hello, God? Yeah, I have a question for you: is the bible true? No? It was written by a bunch of people who simply wanted a deity to give them ultimate power over their enemies? Huh, how about that. What's that? You're nothing like what the bible says? And you wish people would quit worshipping Jesus and learn that there's no such thing as sin? Okay, sure I'll tell everybody. Thanks, God.

Well, Christians, you heard it straight from the horse's mouth.

Big Daddy said...

Phil: "What makes you think that they're two different gods?"

Uh, the "fact" that the Old Testament was written by the Jews, and their gods' name was "El".

"El is a northwest Semitic word and name translated into English as either 'god' or 'God' or left untranslated as El, depending on the context. El is used extensively in the Tanach(Old Testament) to refer to the God of Israel as well as heathen gods.

In the Levant as a whole, El or Il was the supreme god, the father of mankind and all creatures and the husband of the Goddess Asherah as attested in the tablets of Ugarit.

The word El was found at the top of a list of gods as the Ancient of Gods or the Father of all Gods, in the ruins of the Royal Library of the Ebla civilization, in the archaeological site of Tell Mardikh in Syria dated to 2300 BC. He may have been a desert god at some point, as the myths say that he had two wives and built a sanctuary with them and his new children in the desert. El had fathered many gods, but most important were Hadad, Yaw and Mot, each of whom has similar attributes to the Greco-Roman gods Zeus, Ophion and Thanatos respectively."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_%28god%29

If you don't like wikipedia, I can refer you to some other research material.

"Research in comparative mythology shows a linguistic correlation between Levantine Yaw and monotheistic Yahweh, suggesting that the god may in some manner be the predecessor in the sense of an evolving religion of Yahweh."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaw_%28god%29

El, or Il, per the previous research shows that this God, fathered "Yaw"... Yaw, became known through comparative research, as Yahweh. Therefore, either "father" El/Il was killed off, and Yahweh was made supreme god per early theologians, or El just allowed his youngster to take over the family business, and they are both currently throwing back a few suds in the cosmos together.

I'm sure an ignorant person, without reading anything to do with comparitive religion or mythology, would just "assume" that El and Yahweh are the exact same. Well, because they haven't researched history in any capacity, obviously El, was around much earlier than Yahweh, and El, was worshipped by those who lived in the Northern Judeah region. Over time, Yahweh became popular in the Southern Judean region, and overtook El, as being the supreme creator. And, well, then there was Paul, siding with Southern Judean belief, and attempting to get "all" Jews to believe the Old Testament laws (and El), were no longer necessary, that some guy, named Hey-Zeus/Jesus, fulfilled all of their messianic prophesies, and they just missed it all.

Constantine I, got a council together to vote on Paul's claims, of a Jesus and his nature, hundreds of years after the fact, and they non-unanimously agreed that Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies and that Jeus was a "god" of sorts, and that the Jews are now living in their new kingdom (well, of course the Jews didn't see Hitler as part of their vacation package in paradise, but, christians still claim the Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled through Jesus).

Then, after Constantine I, legalized christianity, he forced it on the Roman Empire by law, decreeing those who didn't abide by the "state" sponsored religion were to be executed. It was around 367CE that the New Testament was canonized, by those who voted on this Roman council, and they placed only the books in the NT that supported their vote, to include, removing El in the capacity of the earlier supreme deity of the Jews.

Phil, don't you ever wonder why the Jews don't accept the gospels? Jesus, to them, was nothing but a catalyst for Paul and Constantine I, to rid themselves of an exclusive religion that caused much controversy. The Jews were at war, since the beginning, and they are still at it. Even creating an entirely new "god", didn't work, the Jews are still in love with their "El", and don't believe Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies, thus YHWH, is a non-factor.

Now, that being said, there are some modern "mesianic Jews", and even a lot of christians, who have no clue about the authors of the OT or NT, and their extremely divergent views.

To this day, Rabbinical/Orhtodox Jews, do "not" believe Jesus was their messiah, as they would be living in their new kingdom, and they do "not" believe christianity, based on the gospels is the "true" religion, and "their religious elders" were the "authors" of the Tanakh/Old Testament. Yeah, not much has changed since ancient Rome, just the fact that the jews are spread out all over the world instead of being centered in the Levant area.

Pauline Christians claim, otherwise, that "everyone" gets the chance to receive the "new kingdom", and not just the Orthodox Jews, of course, based on the "gospels", which were written after a lot of voting, and discussion amongst the people who were "not" the chosen ones per the jews. Yep, the religious leaders selected by Constantine I, rewrote the requirements to be saved, etc., etc, and deliberately entered anonymous writings into the New Testament canon, to "contradict" the jews.

Ever wonder, why there is so much contradiction between the New Testament and the Old Testament? There's your sign - it wasn't an accident. The Romans wanted to knock off the jewish belief system, and draw them towards Roman christianity, now, Roman Catholicism. Well, there you have it Phil, the truth, archeologically speaking, and, if you throw in mythology in with the agenda of the Roman Empire, to unite all rivaling religious sects, the bible actually makes sense.

I like reading about unicorns, satyrs, dragons, arrowsnakes, fiery chariots racing in the heavens, storm gods with lightening, magic lanterns used to separate the waters on multiple occasions, a magic staff used to split the sea for an escape, a boat that holds two of "every" animal on the earth, etc., etc. Great stuff, if one relizes the bible for what it is - literature, that reflects the beliefs of the people of that era, over a two thousand year period. If you want, I an paste passage after passage of where there is reference of "multiple" gods as well, as greek mythology, and the pantheon had its impact on the anonymous writers of the Old Testament as well.

Bill Nye - D' Science Dude said...

Phil: "How do I know that science is making the light go on and off?"

Its not science, moron, its naure, consider humanity part of that nature, and it all seems to make sense, doesn't it. However, I suppose you could suggest there is a supernatural reason electrons accumulate in the fashion they do, please, indulge us with your insights. Science is hardly perfect, in a unified sense, and the bounds of the language used to express such observations are limited, but, they are a heck of a lot better than guessing why electrons gather together to produce a charge, perhaps you'd suggest they are cold, and feeling lonely?

Robert Frost said...

Phil: "So then, it's just a matter of deciding in what you're going to put your faith and why."

To a certain degree you are correct in your post. However, "faith", is not the same thing as "confidence", and that is the difference. Just so its understood that I am not positing an axiom on absolute terms, as that is absurd, let me just state that on a broad spectrum, I see two ends of reality. One end, is purely Natural in property (whatever one wants to define as the property of nature), and on the other extreme, is the purely Supernatural. Between these two extremes, reality can be postulated in varying degrees.

Now, faith is a loose term, so, lets define.

Faith:

-Religion: a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny; "he lost his faith but not his morality"

-Complete confidence in a person or plan etc; "he cherished the faith of a good woman"; "the doctor-patient relationship is based on trust"

-Religion: an institution to express belief in a divine power; "he was raised in the Baptist religion"; "a member of his own faith contradicted him"

-Loyalty or allegiance to a cause or a person; "keep the faith"; "they broke faith with their investors"

wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Now, I can say, I have complete "trust" in myself, as can be derived by the second definition, however... that is a far cry different than the definitions of one and three. Phil, "you", fall under the definitions of one and three, based upon your belief in the supernatural. I, could accept either two or four, without the hint of a sepernatural deity.

The object of our "faith" is different, as you said. However, its not only the "object" of our "faith", its the "context" in which the word is used.

Phil, many religious people are deceived, and literally use words to reinforce their beliefs. A religious person hears that everyone has faith, and all of a sudden, they feel better about themselves, because they are just like everyone else. They ignore or disregard the fact, that "faith" has multiple meanings, and they choose to accept the definition they want to hear.

I don't support mis-communication so someone can feel all snuggly about themselves.

I am "confident" in myself first, followed by belief (based in this natural existence)...

You, have "faith", in someone/something else "first", followed by your sinful self - that's the truth, and it should be conveyed in that manner.

The object of faith, the context its used, and the further underlying implications of that one word, make this word almost useless in casual conversation unless both parties are of the same mind set. Here on this site, we don't see eye to eye, on the definition, the context, or the underlying implications of the word as it applies to our belief systems. Thus, it appears deceiving to use such a word, as if it means the same thing to everyone - its a sly way to "generalize" people, using a "word", that carries multiple meanings - that's fallacious.

Thomas said...

Mark

My story is very similar to yours. (testimony in Dec 05) I am also in the UK and have been "in" for 22 years and much of my family and friends would be deeply shocked by where my views have got to.

I got some good advice on this site which was to take it slow and gradually introduce people to where you are at. Its been good advice for me.

I wish you well with your journey.

Thomas

Phil said...

@ Ubergeek - Right, that's exactly what I meant! But I disagree with what you say about not having faith in the sturdiness of your computer chair. No matter how many tests you run, it's not 100% certain, right?

True, Christianity involves faith -- but not blind faith. There IS substantial evidence.

Anonymous said...

ever hear of the enlightenment?

Shannon said...

I have faith that most facets mark with a ‘C’ controls the cold water, my bed is not made out of marshmallow, and swimming pools are not filled with lemon juice.

Do I have faith that most chairs that I place my butt in are going to hold it? Yes, but that faith is a firm belief in the integrity, ability, effectiveness, or genuineness of someone or something. (Merriam-Webster Online Thesaurus).

What’s more, at any time that a chair begins to show signs of not being safe, I can change my mind and not sit it. I don’t have to trust it. I can be skeptical.

Trusting things to behave in a consistent manner is not the same as having a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.

Anonymous said...

Phil, this is Mark, who started this thread. You said that christian faith is based on evidence. I disagree. I have been lookign for evidence that answers the hundreds of contradictions and atrocities in the Bible. Foe example, if you can reconcile Dt 24:16 and 2Sam 12:14, I would be delighted and surprised. My whole dilemma is that the very Bible I am supposed to accept as reliable is in fact anything but. I challenge you, as I've challenged a lot of believers, to reconcile these two passages. I hope you don't faith as they all have!

Sarge said...

In the early church there was the admonition to believe the absurd (at least the xian creeds) because it IS absurd. This is some sort of demonstration of faith. And, several people I know hold this view. I have been told by many, usually in anger, that I am dangerous because I will not accept the fictions necessary for civilization. You are just beginning to get a look at one such fiction and its necessity to many.

J. C. Samuelson said...

Phil,

"@ Ubergeek - Right, that's exactly what I meant!"

Great! Then you agree that there's a difference between faith in God as opposed to scientific evidence?

"But I disagree with what you say about not having faith in the sturdiness of your computer chair. No matter how many tests you run, it's not 100% certain, right?"

Ah, but the chair tests produce evidence one way or another. Plus, if I were to test my chair by subjecting it to 400 lbs. of stress before I sit in it (some companies do subject their furniture designs to these kinds of tests, and I'm 200 lbs.) and it passes, I can have near 100% certainty (maybe 99.9%) it will work as intended based on objective evidence. Your God is exempt from tests that would produce any kind of objective evidence as to reliability or even reality.

Trusting objective evidence is vastly different than having faith in subjective interpretation.

"True, Christianity involves faith -- but not blind faith. There IS substantial evidence."

Substantial evidence from your personal experiences that cannot be independently verified, perhaps? Either that or, like many people of faith, you have a more liberal standard for what constitutes evidence for your faith.

An indicator of how strong religion is how some Christians will apply a loose standard of evidence for their belief in God and an overly stringent one for science, or equate trusting evidence to faith.

In any case, people mistakenly conflate the argument, creating a dichotomy in which faith is at odds with science and vice-versa. There is no need to do this, but that's my personal opinion.

boomSLANG said...

This whole "faith"/"science" thing is apples and oranges. There are certain "buzz words" within Christianity----words like "Faith" and "Truth"---that have been ass-signed totally different connotations than their related "generic" meanings. Yes, the word "faith" in it's everyday usage can simply mean "to trust"...however, "Faith" as it applies to Christianity means to believe in the ABSENCE of evidence(just the way the Holy Bible intended it, BTW). A certain "someone" here is merely weasle-wording the definitions as to attempt to show that the Atheist world view is the "same"(i.e...just as bad) as the Christian worldview in terms of "faith". Bzzzzzt! WRONG.

Apologists, listen up: The Atheist worldview is one of *neutrality*. When/if the stool breaks?...then you don't trust that particular stool anymore. It's that f%cking simple. Furthermore, relying on a piece of wood to support your ass while you sit at your PC, and calling that reliance "faith", is to play the semantics game. The same goes for "truth", and "Truth". All religious belief is subjective; there IS no "Truth"(with an upper case "T"). This is obvious when we look around and see a bazillion different religious denominations and sects ALL claiming to have the one "Truth".

Science shows us "truth" only as far as what is testable AND falsifiable. The only absolute "truth"(with a lower case "t") is change within the universe. Science realizes this and applies it. Conversely, religious belief is a conviction..i.e...NOT subject to "change". To anyone with a functioning brain, this much ALONE, is CLEARLY a contradiction.

Dave8 said...

boomSLANG, a tear came to my eye, after reading that post, great stuff!

GoneNsane said...

To take it one step further, it is possible to have faith that a light bulb will produce light, but it is absurd to have faith that a light bulb will produce snow. Why? Because light bulbs have consistently produced light but have never produced snow, there is no evidence of snow ever coming from a light bulb. If someone made that claim, would you believe him? So we must discern what to have faith in, given the evidence.

Ergo, to have faith in a God who gives no reliable evidence is the same as expecting snow to fall from your dining room chandelier.

muttmutt1978 said...

its been two years since i Deconverted and im still slapping myself in the face. What was i thinking? Im relieved that my husband shares my pains, he grew up with no religion, yet he knows enough about christianity to steer clear of it. sometimes he gets tired of hearing me rant and rave like an angry wolverine (one of my totem animals) But i feel the need to vent and I do as often as possible. as for the bible belt, I am a force to be reckoned with. I dont like it as one person said that its everywhere in every magazine on every billboard. Now thats ridiculous.

Nokes said...

Mark,

I really appreciate your honest and diligent approach to this, and I feel for you. You obviously need serious discussion partners that are willing to ask hard questions and are not afraid to doubt. Thankfully, it doesn't sound like you're about to take your friends up on their suggestion to ignore the inconsistencies and believe anyway. That way madness lies. Anything True is not about to be discredited by the integrity you're showing.

With respect to the contradiction you mention...

Deuteronomy is essentially a "clarification" of the covenant of Mt. Sinai. As part of the clarification, the writer indicates (what is believed to be Moses' understanding) that if people are put to death, it should be in retribution for their own crimes.

Samuel is essentially a storybook, purportedly historical. In 2 Sam, Nathan is telling David that his son will die (by an act of God) because of the wrong that David has done. Sure enough, seven days later, the child dies.

Two things:

1. this is technically not a contradiction.
2. it might as well be

Why is it not a contradiction?

Because a covenant is a specific kind of agreement of the form "If you...then I..." It's basically a contract, where each party has a role to play. The covenant between God and Israel is "signed" in Exodus 24. Israel has a host of laws to obey. God has promises to fulfil. In Deuteronomy, the verse you mention is one of many clarifications: the people are not to kill children for the wrongs of adults. God's role is pretty much to provide the Israelites with land. Technically, there's no contradiction.

BUT...

It might as well be, right? I mean, what kind of God would do that? What kind of God wouldn't live up to the expectation (s)he puts on people? What kind of God engages in genocide? Infanticide? That's a tough question to answer credibly if you believe (a) that God is Good, and either (b) that the Bible is the divinely inspired, breathed Word of God or (c) that the people who wrote either Deuteronomy or Samuel (or Genesis, or Exodus, or...) really understood God.

The Bible is a good read, but since it was written so long ago, it's really really hard to understand. It requires research, historical criticism, contextual knowledge. Honest theologians and Biblical scholars continually revise their understandings of God and scripture when confronted by archaeological evidence. Likely, the average "level of understanding" of things scriptural is higher on this site than in most churches, and quite possibly, in most pastors. Sad, really...for the Christian church, anyway.

...regardless, my guess is that if someone were to understand the Bible fully within its context, they would still find "contradictions", but the contradictions would be understandable within the context of human experience...exactly like this website and the postings on it.

You sound serious about your quest for clarity and understanding. I guess my advice would be this: whatever you do, don't do it out of fear.

Maybe think of it this way...

If God is, then God had better be synonymous with love/good/truth/shalom/etc. If not, then is there a really point in devoting your life to Her/Him/It? Clearly, that's your question to answer, but since fear is oppositional to the
"God ethos", it's a poor choice for a motivator (assuming you're trying to stay within the "God ethos").

...and as for Jesus...real or mythical, messiah, prophet, rabbi, zealot, whatever...you're not going to find conclusive evidence to tell you what he was, and it's unlikely that you or anyone else ever will. What you decide to believe and what you decide to call yourself (if you decide to call yourself anything but Mark) is up to you.

Peace,
nokes

...by the way, in addition to this forum, you might want to also consider looking among some non-fundamentalist Christians for discussion partners. I've met people from the Catholic Worker Movement, some Quakers, Mennonites, Lutherans, etc. with whom I've had quite honest, hard discussions that were much less frustrating than those you describe...

angelo said...

Pitiful, relativist nonsense, limited to what you want to believe or what you think you know. You focus on yourselves - SELF - the root of all that is wrong in this world and the root of all evil.

Am i talking about christians or athiest/ex-christians?

boomSLANG said...

"Pitiful..."

Yes, passing off coersive and conditional love as real, authentic love, IS definitely "pitiful".

"relativist nonsense...."

Yes, talking snakes, fiery chariots, swimming hammers, and flying ghosts is certainly "nonsense"---and it relative to nothing in reality.

"limited to what you want to believe..."

God: If you believe ONLY what I want you to believe, I'll reward you with an eternal existance of serenity where you won't have a care in the world. If you don't believe what I want you to believe?... I'll roast you in eternal hellfire."

Seems like that's a good reason to "want to believe"---and call me crazy, but it seems just slightly "limited", oui? lol!

"or what you think you know."

The Atheist/Agnostic position is one of neutrality...i.e. waiting on objective evidence. The religionist postion is one of conviction---100%unfalsifiable.

Gee, who acts like they "know" something?

"You focus on yourself- SELF -the root of all that is wrong in this world and the root of all evil."

Atheist/Humanist: Doing what is right for all of humanity, even while knowing that when your time is up?...it's the end of your "self".

Religionist: Doing what is right for your God, including going to war with people who hold opposing beliefs, all because you have been promised that your life will never really end, and you can live happily ever after in the clouds in exchange for your belief.

Let's see, now......."SELF" ?


"Am i talking about christians or atheist/ex-christians?"


Hmmmm, you must be talking about christians....::wink::

nokes said...

"Pitiful...limited to what you...you think you know. You focus on yourselves...

Am i talking about christians or athiest/ex-christians?"

I'm not actually clear who you're talking about, nor who you're talking to, but it doesn't matter all that much, I suppose. It's Mark's post, and I'm pretty sure you weren't talking to him. Nevertheless, since you commented after me, and I'm curious, I'll ask...was that directed at me?

peace,
nokes

Anonymous said...

I believe Jesus said, "The love of money is the root of all evil." So by logical conclusion the
Republican party is the party of evil. You cannot serve two masters.

Anonymous said...

Mary says: The bible does not contradict itself. Get a Nelson strongs exhaustive concordance and a King James companion bible. Learn what the Massorah text is. Take the words back to their orininal meaning in Greek/Hebrew/Chaldea etc. Another hint, try "Shepherds Chapel" Ive studied for 13 yrs and yes you have believed a lie. Start with Genesis one more time! If you dont REALLY know what happened in the beginning you wont know what will happen in the end.

boomSLANG said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
boomSLANG said...

Anonymous/Mary: "Another hint, try "Shepherds Chapel" Ive studied for 13 yrs and yes you have believed a lie."

Yes, we "believed a lie"...it's called Christianity. And you can study a lie for as long as you'd like, it's still a lie.

Anonymous/Mary: "If you dont REALLY know what happened in the beginning you wont know what will happen in the end."

The hosts of "Shepherd's Chapel" weren't there in the beginning, were they? No, nor were the redactors of the "holy bible". Yet, we are to believe that this document, the "Bible", was inspired by a "perfect" being, but now we're being told that we need "companion books" and to watch some red-neck and his father on TV so they can "tell us" what the bible "actually means", because it wasn't written in a way that generation, after generation, after generation, etc, etc, etc, can understand it.

' Seems God should steer away from subcontractors the next time he has a "plan".

J. C. Samuelson said...

"The bible does not contradict itself."

Actually, it does. I'd list specific examples, but I'm far too familiar with Christian apologetics tactics and psychology to think it will make any difference to you. Do a little homework that includes scholarly criticisms of the Bible and you'll find out for yourself. Unless, of course, you're not willing to entertain the possibility of error/contradiction (like most literal inerrantists).

"Get a Nelson strongs exhaustive concordance and a King James companion bible."

I have both, plus Strong's Strongest Concordance, several commentaries, and several versions of the Bible besides the KJV. What's your point?

"Learn what the Massorah text is."

Who do you think you are addressing here? Many of us have been where you are, done what you are doing, felt much the same as you do, and believed as you believe. No textual tradition is 100% authoritative, partially because we don't have the originals, and nearly all of the traditions were repeatedly edited. This is not speculation, it's historical fact.

"Take the words back to their orininal meaning in Greek/Hebrew/Chaldea etc."

Yes, do that if you haven't already and feel so disposed. It still doesn't hold water.

"If you dont REALLY know what happened in the beginning you wont know what will happen in the end."

You don't REALLY know what happened at the beginning any more than anyone else. What you have is an ancient collection of writings by people who were searching for a way to explain their world. As for the end, I feel confident stating that when each of us dies, our bodies will decay. If you're talking about the end of the Earth, either the Sun will expand/explode and swallow it, or our galaxy will collide with another, possibly destroying millions of star systems in the process. That is, unless we haven't destroyed the Earth ourselves in the name of God.

Have a nice day!

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