If I'm not a Christian, what am I?

Sent in by Stina

I grew up in church. I accepted Christ and was baptized at age 9 and went to a couple of different Baptist churches up until age 18. As a teenager, I felt that my church didn't offer the kind of support I wanted, so I was an avid reader of Brio magazine for girls (produced by Focus on the Family). I felt I was really a "true" Christian, whereas many people I knew seemed to claim to be Christians without believing the Bible was the inerrant Word of God.

At age 17 I went on a mission’s trip with Brio magazine to Brazil. I became friends with a girl who told me about Capernwray Hall, a Bible school in England. She was going to attend, and when I graduated from high school it seemed like the perfect plan for me also, since I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. It was just what I wanted: an incredibly supportive Christian environment with about 200 other 18-mid 20 year-olds, where my beliefs were reaffirmed.

My family began attending an Evangelical Lutheran Church while I away at school, so I also attended when I returned home. The theology was much more liberal than any church I'd ever attended. Homosexuality was not viewed as sin, there were no Bibles in the pews... I felt like I was going to one of those "dead" churches I'd heard about in my Capernwray lectures. But the people were (are) lovely and loving, and I still enjoy the relationships I built there. But I missed that supportive (and conservative) environment of Capernwray, so after attending community college for a couple of years, I sought to go back, this time to a school called Holsby Brunn in Sweden, another Bible school that is part of the Capernwray Missionary Fellowship of Torchbearers schools.

Again, it was just what I wanted and thought I needed. My beliefs were reaffirmed and rejuvenated and I met many other people my age with similar beliefs. When I went back home again I sought out a church that was more biblically sound than the Lutheran one I had been attending. I started going to a Southern Baptist Church around the same time I started attending university. And it wasn't long after this that I fell in love with an incredibly wonderful non-Christian man and my whole world fell apart.

First he converted to Christianity and we began dating. Then he told me he just couldn't force himself to believe in the Bible, and he hated some of what my church was teaching (women being subordinate to men, that homosexuality is sin, etc). I broke up with him. But I wanted to be with him so badly, and I couldn't understand why my faith in God should prevent me from being with such a great person.

I started to hate the exclusivity of my church, and I started questioning other aspects of my faith. I realized I couldn't believe in an eternal hell and also believe in a loving God. I decided I wanted to be with my boyfriend whether he was a Christian or not. This first incredibly deliberate act of disobedience to what I'd been taught my whole life was a turning point for me. I stopped attending the Southern Baptist church and eventually stopped attending church altogether (though I still visit my parents' Evangelical Lutheran church occasionally), and now I live with my boyfriend.

I'm reluctant to entirely give up the label "Christian" since it's been a part of me for so long, but I have no idea what it means to me anymore. I'm also a little reluctant to deeply examine exactly what I do believe, in case I really am no longer a Christian. If I'm not a Christian, what am I? What is the purpose of my life? These are the questions I need to dig into.

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65 comments:

Nvrgoingbk said...

Since you are new to this site, I'll take the risk of being redundant and relay a similar story of what happened to my husband and I. We were both Christians together, but because I had been seperated from my cheating husband for 2 1/2 years, our divorce was nearing, and I began to have real fear of remarriage to Nick, because of certain NT scriptures strictly prohibiting it. The mental torment was relentless. I pushed aside the constant guilt for as long as I could, but it caused alot of anxiety in other areas for the both of us, and eventually Nick broke up with me. Thinking he was being obedient to God, he gave me up. While we were seperated for 2 1/2 months, I did alot of research on my own. I didn't know whether Nick and I would ever end up together, but I was going to use my time alone wisely and study the origins of just what I believed. I came to the inevitable conclusion after much useless prayer, questioning, and study, that everything I believed in was a lie.

When Nicolas called me one day out of the blue, he was still hanging on to his Christian beliefs. I had to be honest with him about all that I had found and assure him that I would never return to the fold. After only a few hours of thinking it over, Nicolas walked away from his faith. He knew in his rational mind, that the things I had told him were true. So confident was he in my ability to seek out the truth, that he chose to give up his long cherished god. Now, over time as he's researched on his own, he too has come to an intellectual and rational conclusion rather than an emotional one, but we are together nonbelievers "praying" for the demise of religion and the rise of rational thought.

You asked if you were a Christian any more. Only you can answer that. It's usually a process of a portion of revelation at a time. If you learned overnight just how corrupt ALL religion is and especially how appalling the secrets of the Christian church really are. Now that you have begun your own search for the truth, I am confident that you will move along speedily to the same conclusion as the rest of us.

MikeG said...

Stina, I think that the most important thing for you right now is your relationship with your boyfriend, and the future of that relationship. The two of you need to make a priority of just what is your level of commitment. You are giving of yourselves to one another (assuming that your relationship is sexual) in a way that will be for both of your greater happiness if you make it exclusive to yourselves alone. In other words, sex is a serious matter, and, assuming the boyfriend is the quality of person you would be happy to spend the rest of your life with, you will both be happier if you make that relationship something that the two of you share exclusively with one another. That means either get serious about marriage, or break it off before you give more of yourself to someone else's husband. That's what I see as the most important thing for you in your situation.

As far as your Christian faith, the Gospel is a very beautiful story of God's love for man. There are many beautiful truths woven throughout it, and many desirable virtues will be yours by following its teachings. However, having said that, please understand that it is 'the greatest story ever told'. By that I mean that it is indeed a story, and cannot be taken literally.

I have lived as a born-again Christian for more than 25 years, and have likely studied more thoroughly than most pastors. Hopefully you will be helped by understanding that God is real, but He is perhaps less rigid or severe than he is sometimes presented as. The Gospel is a story of God's love and forgiveness, and sometimes men (or women) have a tendency to be less loving, forgiving, or truthful than what the Gospel calls us to be.

May God bless and guide you.

Anonymous said...

Stina,

There are a lot of people who will see your uncertainty and try to guide you based on their agenda. Just remember this, certainty divides and uncertainty unites. When you're in questioning mode you're open to new ideas, concepts and philosophies. When you are certain about something you're not and you tend to set yourself apart from others. I've come to believe that we are at our best when we don't know all the answers. Enjoy your uncertainty and respect it in others. The vast majority of us come into life alone and we usually exit that way too. Sharing your life with a partner can be a wonderful experience, unless it's not. Enjoy the good things in your life and take from the less pleasant aspects of life learning to guide you going forward. You are a seeker and the process of seeking has its own rewards. Let life itself guide you as it has recently. Books can be helpful, but very often they speak someone else's truth. Create your life together with your boyfriend, until he's not your boyfriend anymore (for whatever reason) and seek your truth through the living of your life.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Stina! You asked the question and you answered it, too.

I have been an ex-Christian for a couple of years, and I just recently discovered that the purpose of my life is to discover who I really am apart from Christianity, my husband, and my family.

I am finding it very difficult and the going is slow. But I get better at it everyday. My backbone is growing by the second.

Do you have a backbone? Do you know what you like, what you hate? Do you do things because others say it's good for you, or do you do stuff because YOU want to do it.

I dare you to try to be yourself in every way: food, politics, religion, reading choices, travel. You may find it hard, but you will love it.

Thank you for writing your story, I enjoyed it. I wish you well.

Dylan said...

Stina, I'd say don't worry so much about "who you are" just learn to live in the moment, The purpose of life is whatever you make out of it. Don't worry if you don't have everything figured out...no one does.


And in regards to MikeG's comment.

MikeG you claim that god is not judgmental, but spends half of his post spewing a diatribe about how she shouldn't have sex outside of marriage. The irony is palpable.

MikeG said...

Dylan wrote

MikeG you claim that god is not judgmental
===================================

I never claimed any such thing. He's very judgmental. It's just that his judgments are of a higher quality and greater sensitivity than men often portray them as.

And what I told her is true. Stina and her boyfriend will be happier if they safeguard their relationship and make it an enduring and fruitful one. And if it won't be an enduring one, then there's no benefit in her letting herself be used or taken advantage of by someone who will not be there for her in her future.

Hellbound Alleee said...

I've been thinking about this a lot lately--"If I'm not a Christian, what am I?"

My instinct is to say, "Well, I could tell you, but why do you want someone else to decide for you?"

This is the worst thing that group identity does to individuals--it strips them of their identity. "If there is no God, we are nothing." Therefore, if we give up God, we become alone.

BAH!

Look around. There are six billion people on this earth, and they say "you are alone?" Weirdos.

You already are somebody. Actually, what I mean to say is, there was no God all this time, and you already were somebody. You cannot take away what never existed in the first place. You - 0 = YOU. Just because some people choose to identify as a part of a group, say, Christians, Democrats, Republicans, ATHEISTS, doesn't mean that it says anything whatsoever about WHO YOU ARE. It just says what your interests are.

Don't let other people define you! Choose! Like they say on TV 1000 time every stinking day: You Can Be Whatever You Want To Be. So go.

Anonymous said...

MikeG said:

"As far as your Christian faith, the Gospel is a very beautiful story of God's love for man"

Ummm, no, the Bible is a dusty old book written over 2000 years ago, documenting the daily lives of a band of primitive delusional sheepherders who thought that donkeys could talk, horses could fly and sticks could turn into snakes! I suspect some of them were even psychotic (i.e. the writer of Revelation) as they often documented hallucinations and heard multiple voices in their heads. As with the Bible, Quran, or any other "holy" book (Torah, Vedas, etc), anyone who would take these stories as being anything other than primitive superstition and mythology really needs to work on developing some critical thinking skills! LOL!

As for Stina, we're thrilled she's questioning her beliefs, as it will allow her to grow as a person, regardless what she decides in the end!

Bill said...

I am happy to say I never feel for the bullshit of organized religion or the Bible, but I did profess a belief in an all loving generic sort of God who rewarded the good and punished the bad(in the end). My God didn't give a rip if I lived with my wife before we were married. My God was an if it feels good do it kind of God.

Perhaps your belief system has evolved to this level Stina, but if you make it there, I can almost gaurentee you it won't be long, if you hang around this site, and start thinking outside the box, your rational brain will really kick in, and God belief will be a thing of the past.

A good friend of mine who was born again, who tried to recruit me while I was religiously confused, once told me on matters relating to belief in God/Jesus: I must learn to set my intellect aside and just have faith. Wonderful words of wisdom from a Jesusbot. Thankfully I choose to keep my critical thinking skills in high gear and I have been a proud born again atheist for well over a year.

Personally I have found my grand purpose, and it is to make love to the woman who's next to me in bed as often as possible. I've been doing it 25 years and it never gets old, so it must be my purpose.

Seriously I could never understand this need of a "grand purpose" concept. Have fun, enjoy your life, be kind to others.

xrayman

ComputerGuyCJ said...

You could take this quiz to see which religion or belief system you most closely relate to. It's probably not very scientific, but it's a start.

http://www.selectsmart.com/RELIGION/

I'd pick out the top 3 results and look into them, if for no other reason than to find out what others like you think about life.

Telmi said...

MikeG says:
"As far as your Christian faith, the Gospel is a very beautiful story of God's love for man...

Hopefully you will be helped by understanding that God is real..."

That's a load of crap. I have read the Bible and given up Xianity because of the portrayal of the Bible God as a malevolent, genocidal maniac, among other things.

How people with intelligence cannot see how stupid and illogical many of the biblical stories are is one of of the greatest enigmas in life.

God is real? Keep dreaming or imagining, MikeG.

And MikeG, please look at the big picture; read this >
It has been reported that about 300 million people in Africa [about one third of its population] do not get enough food each day. But Africa is not alone; there are millions of poor people in other parts of the world. It has been reported that there are about 350 million children living in poverty in Asia and one out of every 10 people in the world today is an Asian child in poverty, lacking one or more of the essential services we all take for granted. According to the International Labour Foundation, Roughly half the world’s population still scrapes together a bare bones existence on the equivalent of about US$2 [S$3.30] a day. And in too many places, having a job does not guarantee the ability to escape from poverty. The world is full of working poor.

MikeG, are you a resident in the US? Have you ever wondered why God seems to be impotent in preventing the hurricanes/tornadoes that are sweeping across the US and causing severe destruction in terms of losses in human lives and damage to the living environment? Hurricanes and tornadoes exact their toll not only in the US but also in other countries. In addition, there are other natural disasters such as tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, droughts etc.

God seems to be missing where the big picture is concerned.

Look at some of the events that happened in the last century, for example, the two World Wars, and the genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia, Sudan, Bosnia etc. What about the Holocaust and Auschwitz? What about the deaths/cruelty perpetrated during the time of the Inquisition?

MikeG, where was your God?

Madworld said...

Poor ole Mike G believes in an "airy fairy" kind of god. He's no different from your average cherry-picker, in that you can make the babble into EXACTLY what YOU want it to be. You can either fart-arse around with your babble in this manner or be clever and walk away from this bunch of tripe quicker than quick.

Dylan said...

MikeG your post if full of nothing but opinions and pop psychology, when you have some actual evidence or sensible claims then come back.

Women are no more victims of their own free choice to have sex than men are. and marriage is not necessary (or a guarantee) to make a relationship happy. There are far more important things to be worried about.

Also, I'm sure Stina has enough problems to deal with already without having to listen to the rantings of Jesus cultists like yourself...though I'm sure you'll keep yapping anyway.

Anonymous said...

Stina, you have received some great advice with one moronic exception.

The only thing I might add that helped me in my journey was to read the bible. By doing so you will quickly learn how inherently self-defeating it is. When you stop allowing others to interpret for you and use your own comprehensive ability you will begin to see the irrationality of the literal belief in almost every aspect of the bible. Common sense and your own intelligence will lead the way to the incredible happiness that all ex-christians share. As Allee explained, only you can define yourself! Good luck!!!

MikeG

Mike says: .......the Gospel is a very beautiful STORY of God's love for man....... The Gospel is a STORY of God's love and forgiveness.............

Thanks for this observation. You have pointed out that it is only a STORY with no foundation in truth. There is not a god. You have claimed in many posts to be so well educated and versed. Do you drive one of those gigantic four wheel drive pickups? Are you compensating? Your claim of intelligence is clearly demonstrated when you open your mouth and illustrate otherwise.
A gay friend of mine dropped by and was reading your most recent posts. After we both shared a good laugh or two at your ignorance he made an interesting observation of his own. He said that you sound exactly like many closeted gay christians that he has known. You are desperately trying to cling to some semblance of your faith while denying the bible as being the definitive word of god. Your redefining god to suite your own needs so you can rationalize your desire for men and alleviate your guilt. He thinks you hang around here because you feel safe here. Your surrounding yourself with people who won’t judge you if and when your secret is revealed. He thinks you elicit responses with obscure statements in order to re-enforce and shore what you already feel but are too afraid to admit. He want’s to know if you have a MySpace page? I don’t know if he’s right about you, but it sure makes sense to me!
Noell

MikeG said...

Stina,

Just remember that both you and your boyfriend and, should the two of you make that lifelong commitment to one another, your children as well will be happier and better off if the two of you commit to one another in faithfulness. And don't share what is sacred between the two of you with others. That is the simple truth that will not change, regardless of how many morons there are who don't understand or accept it.

May the God of Heaven love and bless and guide you (and your boyfriend).

Andrew H said...

If you are not a Christian, what are you???

Of the gazillions of possibilities of sperm/egg combos, you are one of the "lottery winners" who has a chance to experience the universe consciously. By random chance you were born into a time and place into a country where you can pursue a path of your choosing. Furthermore, you escaped from the chains that enslaved mind binding you to a dogma and thus, now you can explore this little corner of the universe in this short time you have.

I used to be like MikeG, and reading his posts remind me how fortunate I am that I am also one of the few.

ComputerGuyCJ said...

MikeG said:
The Gospel is a story of God's love and forgiveness, and sometimes men (or women) have a tendency to be less loving, forgiving, or truthful than what the Gospel calls us to be.

That's right, pluck out the story in the Bible that you like the best, because it's such a beautiful story of self-sacrifice. Then take it completely out of context by ignoring all the rest of the bullshit, nonsense, and cruelty that the Bible is composed of that's supposed to support and give credibility to the good news part. Do you remember why Christ had to die? It's because we were set up to fail from the very beginning.

Here's a synopsis of your god that loves us so much:
1) He creates us as flawed beings, then tells us not to be evil, but fails to give us the knowledge of what evil is.
2) Rather than saying "oops", zapping us, and starting over he forces us to live painful lives and promises that at some point he'll give us a solution to our problem. Notice it's our problem now, not his, even though he created us with a flaw.
3) Four thousand years pass as god continues to tell us not to be evil, even though there's apparently nothing we can do about it because we're born into a sin nature now.
4) Finally god thinks up a solution and kills his son to make up for our sins. Only problem is, that's not good enough. We still have to try not to be evil and do what jesus did, even though that's impossible because we have a sin nature.
5) Everyone who doesn't respect god's flawed plan of salvation burns in torment forever. You'd think that wouldn't be too many people, but apparently it's the majority of people who ever lived.

Thanks god. I love you. You're so wonderful.

Dylan said...

Hey MikeG let me ask you a question. Don't you think its possible to have commitment in a relationship without marrige, and without god for that matter?

Anyway, keep yapping, and while your at it take a journey to see the wizard and ask for a brain.

before said...

if im not a Christian what am i? answer: looking for an answer

tazer said...

dylan: What makes you think the commitment isnt some form of marriage? and I think without God there are no human relationships to have.

hope this is helpfull said...

Stina, There is a very excellent program for people with questions called Alpha it is worldwide and most likely close to wherever you live. It allows you to ask any question and I mean "any" in a safe non argumentative group of about 8-12 people. I am serious they dont argue but they do discuss with zero pressure so much so that you can get up and leave anytime and they will never track you down or hound you. You can even remain anonymous or make up a fake name if you want and it is free (at least the one i went to i was told some charge for food (as the evening opens with a meal)). It is very cordial and a good way to explore what you believe and hear what others believe. here is a link and i hope you find this helpfull http://www.alphausa.org/ i am assuming you live in america if not just do a search and you can find the info for your country

Stina said...

Wow, I haven't even read all the comments yet, there are so many! Thanks to everyone who responded to my post. I'm sorry about the word-slinging going on, though. Everyone's entitled to say what they think, including mikeg. Don't worry, no one person's comments are going make me suddenly feel bad about my current life-choices. Thanks again to everyone. This site and the people on it have been so helpful for me; just to know that I'm not alone in this path away from the Christianity I've always known is a huge support.

Dylan said...

To tazer

you say "What makes you think the commitment isnt some form of marriage?"

I have no idea what you are even asking here, but marriage is either a political or religious institution depending on definition. If political, it has nothing to do with morality or comitment, if religious then it is about "God" giving his approval of a relationship...since there isn't a god this is pointless.


Tazer also said "and I think without God there are no human relationships to have." again, this really doesn't make any sense. Care to elaborate?

Steve said...

You could always be a Joshuan. Joshuans believe in the teachings of Jesus but NOT the structure of the organized church. Joshuans don't judge based on sexuality. Joshuans believe in trying to follow the four gospels....NOT the entire Bible. We also don't believe that the Bible is inerrant. In short, we despise the abusive, organized church. Whatever path you choose I hope you will find peace and true joy.

Anonymous said...

wow...these stories make me so sad. If there is anything i can say as an 18 year old girl...is when all else fails and everything you have searched for and found and 'figured out' isn't what you wanted and doesn't quite ever make you happy, and your world falls apart. Jesus is always waiting. Never forget it, and i pray for you all.

Dylan said...

To Anonymous

I'm sorry that these posts have made you sad...truly I am. But I think you have failed to understand the point.

My years in Christianity (as well as the process of leaving it) were punctuated with horrible depression. I for one, would never willing go back into that.

To be precise, I am a much happier and well adjusted individual now that I realize that Jesus is, indeed, NOT waiting for me, or anyone.

When I was 18 I would have said the same things you say now, lets see if you can say the same thing in 10 years, after life has kicked you in the teeth a few times.

boomSLANG said...

...when all else fails and everything you have searched for and found and 'figured out' isn't what you wanted and doesn't quite ever make you happy, and your world falls apart. Jesus is always waiting. Never forget it, and i pray for you all.

Hi anony-girl,

Hey listen, in your little mini-pity-crusade, whether you know it, or not, you've raised a very good point---one that you could possibly learn something from, that is, if you're not too far-gone in your indoctrination.

Here it is:

When trying to figure out "everything"(as you say above), there comes a time in one's adult life, where, if there is dissonance(conflict) in thought--in ANY facet of life---that one needs to deal with what is "real" head-on. It's called "intellectual honesty". (Remember that term, you'll need it later).

Anyway, in this search, it's about courageously seeking what actually "true"---it's not about what one wants to be true. Golly gee, anybody can "believe" ONLY the things that make them "happy". A four-yr old can "believe" they have an invisible friend to keep them from being lonely. They can believe their stuffed animals talk to them. Hopefully, even you can see the problem with that, if such fantasies are brought into adulthood.

Secondly, and also whether you know it, or not...it's very redundant, and quite silly, to suggest to former Christians that they should seek Jesus because "Jesus is always waiting". In others words, it's very insulting to imply that we "didn't try" to seek your Jesus. You obviously haven't read any of the anti-testimonies of the ex-ers here.

Seek reason; abolish legendary thinking.

Good day.

tazer said...

dylan asked: Don't you think its possible to have commitment in a relationship without marrige, and without god for that matter?

i meant to ask if you might agree any relationship entered into by a man and a woman with the intention of exclusive lifelong commitment and raising of children and sharing in a common life might rightly be viewed as marriage whether it was nothing more than an agreement made amongst the couple without any public ceremony. or restated it isnt that its commitment without marriage but that the commitment is the marriage.

Dylan said...

Tazer, if this is all that is meant by marriage than I have no problem with it.

Except the part about requiring them to be "Man and Woman" and Also not everyone who gets married has children and I don't think that makes ones commitment less valid, but these are debates for another time and place.

However, when most Christians use the word marriage, they are speaking of a ceremony held in a church, that they believe has special significance, because they are making a promise to God that they will commit to one another.

I don't believe in god so I think the ceremony is pointless, I would never get married, (at least in a Christian ceremony) because I don't agree with much of the Christian ideas on marriage. Also I'm the kind of person who wouldn't exactly be welcome in most churches anyway.

Anonymous said...

Keeping with the original title of the post, I think it is safe to say you are not a Christian. No one is. The problem is that we put labels on people, but the label is so broadly defined, that it is often unclear what it means. Christianity is supposed to be a religion where people insist on following Jesus to the point of death, but in modern times, it is more of a philosophy.
As far as living with your boyfriend, you have simply transferred your faith in God to a faith in love. Several liberal Christians do the same thing, but this is not as great as people make it sound. You will probably get tired of your boyfriend one of these days when the hormones wear off or for some other reason, and you will move on to someone else. That's just reality...I've seen it happen too many times before. If it does work out, then you will be one of the few. Nothing in this life is certain, which is probably the reason why religion was invented.

A. Ford

Lady Sidhe said...

Mike G, I agree with you. If someone today were to attempt to kill their child, I doubt a jury would accept, "but God told me to!"

Back then, hallucinations were called "visions from god." Today, we call them "psychosis," and prescribe medications that make them stop.

Anyway...

This whole cult thing becomes annoying after a while. Those "conservative" churches you were attending, Stina, used the same methods on you that other cults use on their members. They isolate you from anyone who doesn't reinforce what they're teaching (ie, that "incredibly supportive christian environment," where their teachings are "reaffirmed" (read, "reinforced"). The very fact that the "dead churches" you went to, although full of people you felt were "lovely and loving" made you uncomfortable...they weren't what you were brainwashed to believe a religious group was supposed to be.

You were accustomed to a group that told you what to do, how to think, and what to feel about certain situations and things. Without that constant supervision, maybe you felt kind of lost.

But now you're on your own. YOU decide what's right for you, not someone who claims they have The Truth.

I'm sure that the hardest part will be throwing off the knee-jerk feelings of guilt for doing (fill in the blank).

Just know that you're doing what YOU feel is right for you, not what someone else TELLS you is right for you.

To be honest, if God IS really there, and he has something to say to you, he will. He doesn't need a preacher as his go-between. That's yet another brainwashing technique: controlling the information the brainwashee receives.

You'll make it, darlin', don't worry. You've taken the first step by taking back control of your own life. Have no doubt that you will pick the right path. Have faith in yourself.

Leo West said...

There would appear to be basically two comments running through this thread. Those you are directly commenting on the original post concerning this woman's struggle over faith, and those who are attacking MikeG and his faith. I find this second element rather odd. According to this view, one must either be a fundamentalist Christian or a fundamentalist atheist. Such black and white distinctions do not help anyone, nor do they reveal the complex nature of faith or non-faith. There are Christians who are intellectuals and those who are not. There are Christians like Simon Conway Morris at Cambridge University, England who is one of the leading paleatologists (i.e. Evolutionists), and believes in the resurrection of Christ, as well as people like Richard Dawkins who is a staunch athesist. What is needed is not more extremist viewpoints, yet rather understanding and respect for faith and non-faith.

Anonymous said...

Here is the link to the BBC relgious section which has an interview the evolutionist & Christian Conway Morris

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/realmedia/belief/conwaymorris.ram

Transcript

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/belief/scripts/conwaymorris.html

.:webmaster:. said...

Leo, no one is ATTACKING MikeG. He is attempting to turn several threads (not just this one) into his personal evangelical soapbox.

And, read the site disclaimer posted in the upper right-hand corner of every page.

Don't be so quick to judge people who are sick to death of amateur religious evangelists coming to this site to "win the lost for JEBUS!"

eel_shepherd said...

Stina,
At the Council Of Nicea, in the 4th century, a number of very political people got together to assemble which writings would get accepted into the bible and which would be rejected. They settled on a specific 66 texts. From that day on, those 66 texts, decided on by power politics, were to be considered to be beyond question, as to their ultimate origin (um, that would be god...). Suddenly, now it's god who's the author and the editor. And if a person raises doubts, either in his/her own mind or the mind(s) of another, well, the Christianity power structure knows how to deal with such people. They're professionals at it; their livelihood and/or sense of security depends on it.

_People_, just like the ones you see out your window driving their cars down the road, originated and edited the bible. People, not some supernatural being. What secret knowledge do they all have about your life that you don't have about theirs?

Anonymous said...

I can relate to what you wrote. I spent many years in Bible College and Seminary. I have an advanced degree and said much of the same stuff people in Christianity still say. There is no hurry to decide who or what you are. Life will march on regardless. People like "MikeG" are simply trying to appeal to your emotional side and feel good about his motivation for witnessing to you. When our beliefs don't match our experiences we often begin questioning our beliefs. It takes time to sort it all out. The one thing I know for sure is that a truly authentic person has to find their own way in life. Other people with good intentions will try to guide you to believe as they do. Much of the time they are trying to convince themselves that what they believe is right. The rest of the times they are following a mandate they believe they have to follow in order to gain favor from God and/or show God how much they love him/her. If God is real, he/she surely has patience and compassion in order for you to find your own way and define your life purpose.

BillJ.

D Laurier said...

I strongly suspect that you are indeed a christian.
Not a raving fundie christian, All hate and venom and selective bible literalism.
But a christian, And probably a very nice one.

And if some nasty fundie trys to tell you that you arent... You can tell them to go get stuffed.

Mikayla Starstuff said...

Stina,
You may be a Christian or you may not. I can't tell by reading the article. The only advice I can give is for you to seek truth anywhere you can get your hands on it, and don't try to push beliefs on your mind that are not consistant with what you know of the world. It is ok not to believe what you were taught to belive. Just give yourself some time and you will discover your true beliefs.

I hope this is helpful.

Leo West said...

Webmaster, it would appear that what you are saying is that this discussion (and website) is only acceptable for those who identify themselves as ex-christians, and possibly athesists? This seems like a very strange way to identify oneself. To say that something is ex-christian or non-thesist (i.e. athesist), one is therefore forming an identity from the very thing that one dislikes. Image if you put this classification in another context. One hates soccer, so he/she uses the label non-soccer fan. One hates carrots, so he/she uses the label non-carrot fan. The identities expressed by these labels are non-existent because they depend on the very thing they dispise as source material. One is not creating a new identity. Instead, these identities are wraped up in attacking something, but not expressing what they are.

If one wishes to be logical, then this site should not be ‘ex’ anything, for this ‘ex’ presupposes something. That something is christianity. One needs christianity in this site, including both evangelical and fundementalism, if not other forms like catholicism. These forms of christianity supply the very thing which defines the identity of this site. To suggest that MikeG cannot participate by attempting to evangelise others is akin to eliminating the vary identity of this site, and many of people who currently participate in it. Until one can creates a new identity where Christianity has been purged and replaced by something new, one ought to not only welcome MikeG’s comments, but encourage others to join in.

.:webmaster:. said...

Leo,

You have every right to go start your own website and administer it according to your own strict standards.

Until then, please read the site disclaimer for this site.

Thanks.

Leo said...

Dear Webmaster,
I have read the disclaimer and I do not understand your objections. What are are accusing me of? Am I a troll, a spammer, spoofer or any other of these labels? All I have done on this site is query what goes on here. One of the writers here, in fact, encourages others to use ‘critical thinking’. Isn’t this what Socrates did? One questions, probes and explores the issues raised. I have never used profanity, as many other have. I have always tried to broaden the discussion to encourage people to not be so black & white about things. It would be shame if people moved from fundamental Christianity and entered fundamentalist atheism.

.:webmaster:. said...

Leo,

My comment to you was based on your criticism that MikeG isn't being treated with enough courtesy and politeness. In fact, you said he was being attacked.

From the disclaimer: "This forum exists for the express purpose of encouraging those who have decided to leave religion behind. It is not an open challenge to Christians to avenge what they perceive as an offense against their invisible friend."

Mike has posted a fair share of discourteous posts of his own. Regardless, everyone is still posting away freely. Who has been stopped? Everyone is FREE to discuss these issues in any way they like. However, there is no implied guarantee that repetitious parroting of religious dogma will be received joyfully.

No one is required to agree with the way this site is administered.

Please.

Anonymous said...

So, I like how people either believe or don't believe in God or religion. I consider myself a Christian right now more so out of fear of what people would think if I wasn't. I know that is wrong and I am trying to find the right answers. The problem is that the bible does have a TON of problems that logic, knowledge, and science all prove to be false. People would say that the whole point of faith is to "just believe." That's a bunch of crap.
Anyway, what I really wanted to say (before I go off on how stupid religion is).... is that I think we (everyone) needs to be more accepting of what other people think. Let MikeG post his comments about how wonderful God is. And let the atheists post about how he does not exist but in the end, no one can PROVE or DISPROVE the existence of God or Jesus or Angels or Demons. It's not possible and unfortunately, that is why it is called FAITH. Deal with it but quit arguing over who is right because no one will ever know.

.:webmaster:. said...

Nice cuddly thought, anonymous, but life doesn't work that way.

Either all this blather about there being a god is true, or it is false. And, it matters to the future of our race.

For instance, there is a large portion of the world population that believes unquestioningly that Allah is God and Mohammad is HIS prophet. Many who dogmatically assert this belief are willing to kill and die to promulgate this belief. Christians are quite willing to vote into existence and then enforce laws that mandate their religion be adhered to in the making of public policy.

Ideas have consequences, and when it comes to religion, history (past and present) demonstrates that just meekly accepting everything without argument whatever religionists say, is downright dangerous.

Dave8 said...

anony: "It's not possible and unfortunately, that is why it is called FAITH. Deal with it but quit arguing over who is right because no one will ever know."

Faith is a contradictory word, it suggests a person can believe without evidence, but it is the evidence of reality by which one is able to form such a belief.

Leo West said...

Dear Webmaster,

You are correct; I did say that these posts are attacking. I don’t know how you define this word, but let me first give some detailed examples, and you can decide for yourself. Dylan wrote of MikeG, ‘you claim that god is not judgmental, but spends half of his post spewing a diatribe about how she shouldn't have sex outside of marriage’. The use of word ‘diatribe’ according to dictionary.com states, “a bitter, sharply abusive denunciation, attack, or criticism”.

A second example is from Anonymous who responsed to MikeG by stating that the bible was written by “primitive delusional sheepherders”, and anyone, and I suppose this means MikeG, who believes it’s stories “needs to work on developing some critical thinking skills”. The author, here, seems to be inferring that MikeG is lacking in the head.

Taking a similar line of argument that MikeG is unintelligent, Telmi states “How people with intelligence cannot see how stupid and illogical many of the biblical stories are is one of of the greatest enigmas in life. God is real? Keep dreaming or imagining, MikeG.” This post suggests that while MikeG might have a brain, it is not exactly all in the right place.

In addition, Madworld responsed with “Poor ole Mike G believes in an "airy fairy" kind of god”. This derogatory use of the phrase ‘poor ole’ combined with ‘airy fairy’ suggests that MikeG is a child that needs to be forgiven his misdeeds. Furthermore, Madworld compares MikeG to a “cherry-picker” who “babble(s)” as he talks while “fart-ars(ing) around”.

Dylan adds another post with “I'm sure Stina has enough problems to deal with already without having to listen to the rantings of Jesus cultists like yourself”. Here the word ‘rant’ can be defined as “to speak or declaim extravagantly or violently; talk in a wild or vehement way; rave”. A further post had Dylan stating, “Anyway, keep yapping, and while your at it take a journey to see the wizard and ask for a brain.” The use of the word ‘yapping’, while typically evoking shrill, is most likely, given the informal use of this post, an example of noisy or stupid talk (see Dictionary.com).

Are these posts ‘attacking’ MikeG? Well, you can decide for yourself. However, I think the evidence is quite telling.

.:webmaster:. said...

Leo, calm down.

These are words on a computer screen. No one is being physically attacked. If his ideas are being attacked by other ideas, well, maybe his ideas need to be attacked. Surely if his ideas are based on reality he will have no trouble defending them. And if you just want to be right, then I concede to your use of the word attack.

There, happy now?

Perhaps you are unaware of Mike's latest contribution to this site and the comments. I suggest you check it out: CLICK HERE.

Peace

.:webmaster:. said...

The main point, Leo, is that Mike is being allowed to post anything he wants to post. At the same time, everyone else is free to post as well.

He doesn't HAVE to post here. And he doesn't HAVE to leave.

Again, if you find this site distasteful for any reason, you are under no obligation to participate with it. It's been steadily growing for over five years now. Thanks for the suggestions, but...

Peace.

Leo said...

Please Dave, we are both intelligent people. Of course the words are written on the screen and no one is being physically attacked. These are given, a priori facts that cannot be disputed. I never said, nor implied that they were. Furthermore, I am not ‘happy’ to be right. My aim, rather, is to point out a larger issue relative to this site and this growing discussion about MikeG and his role here. If the people on this site are to grow into a ‘healthy’ community, shouldn’t they be given opportunities to share their ideas and emotions without fear of being labelled fundementalist, and criticised with terms such as ‘diatribe, primative, yapping, dreaming, cherry-picker, cultists’?


Moreover, as a social scientist myself, I hope that this community would develop broader interests and not be so exclusively set towards one strict view of the world. As I implied in a response to Dr. Valerie Tarico who original encouraged me to view YOUR site, and has posted on it, what the world needs is not more extremest positions. One does not need to move from fundementalist Christianity and towards fundementalist Atheism. To do so would be akin to a drunkard confessing Christianity and then condeming all uses of alcohol. Why can’t people just move towards the middle ground? Does ex-christian necessarily imply atheism or can’t one just become an agnostic, or even, God forbid, a regular mainline protestant or Catholic?

boomSLANG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
boomSLANG said...

Leo: One does not need to move from fundementalist Christianity and towards fundementalist Atheism.

"Fundamentalist Atheism", is it? If I may, "Atheism" is merely lacking believe in God. It is strictly about "belief", not about "knowledge". There is a misconception that "Atheism" = "there is no God". Not so.

That said, the term "fundamentalist Atheist" is non-sensical, misleading, and redundant. Empirically speaking---God either exists, or God does not exist; you believe it, or you don't. So I'm not quite sure about any "middle ground" as far as "Theism".

Additionally, a "Theist" usually believes with conviction, where "Atheism" is not a conviction. That, alone, is a noteworthy difference.

Leo: If the people on this site are to grow into a ‘healthy’ community, shouldn’t they be given opportunities to share their ideas and emotions without fear of being labelled fundementalist, and criticised with terms such as ‘diatribe, primative, yapping, dreaming, cherry-picker, cultists’?

I would venture to say that 99.9999999999% of the Christians who stumble in here, do so inadvertently, and a large percentage of those who decide to chime in, do so for one reason only, and that is to minister.

So, I agree with you---I don't quite see how such ministering and evangelizing is conducive to a "healthy community", since many if not all of the EX-christians here had less-than-desirable experiences in Christianity, not to mention, wasted large portions of their lives believing a lie. It would be the equivalent of someone barging in on an AA meeting, and offering Schnapps shooters for everyone. And BTW, I'm going to go out on a limb, and say that that person might get called some names when attempting to do such a thing.

Notwithstanding, there is a site disclaimer available to all guests, Christian, or not.

Hope this helps.

Leo said...

Thanks for your reply Boomslang, and subsequent correction of my spelling. I currently have my spell checker disabled due to a linguistic document I’m working on that would over tax my system if enabled. I am also familiar with the entymology of the word ‘atheist’ having done a stint in Greek. As alluded to earlier, my research interest focuses on group and their behaviour and so when I read that Stina began to doubt her affiliation with the church as in “I started to hate the exclusivity of my church” I began to question her move to other groups.

It is well known, as you noted with the AA, that groups have particular social behaviours, norms if you like. When a person crosses those norms, the other members will find ways of bringing that person back to the ‘fold’. Even on this website there are terms which present this activity (i.e. Troll, Spammer, etc.). Furthermore, there are often tabeau subjects which if raised bring a swift response, and I suppose that attempting to Evangelise is one of those for this internet site. In addition, there are in many groups, those whose actions may attempt to subvert the ‘standard’ norms. These people (i.e. MikeG) or concepts (i.e. ‘The Devil’) display unexceptable behaviours that need to be avoided.

Hopefully, you see where I am heading. Stina’s desire to rid herself of ‘exclusivity’ has driven her towards it, in the unlikely form of this internet site. My remark is not necessarily meant as a criticism of this site or its members, but more of an observation into human behaviour.

Humans desire social interaction, and in the process form ‘standardized’ norms which potentially exclude others from participating. If those behaviours become extreme one may well label those as ‘fundementalist’, which conjures numerous negative images for those who are not members, and possibly positive ones for those who are.

As someone who is new to this site, and desires to pariticipate, I would prefer to be allowed to broaden the numerous discussions, and to accept a more ‘middle ground’.

Just something to think about.

leo said...

opps I did it again- I meant 'etymology'. Such is life without a spell checker!!!

.:webmaster:. said...

Leo: "If the people on this site are to grow into a ‘healthy’ community..."

This "community" (as you called it) is for ex-Christians.

Leo: "Moreover, as a social scientist myself..."

Troll red flag here. Authentic posters don't feel the need to set themselves up as some kind of authority. Besides, Leo, this is a website, not a country.

"Does ex-christian necessarily imply atheism or can’t one just become an agnostic, or even, God forbid, a regular mainline protestant or Catholic?"

People can do adhere to whatever they world view they like. Who said they couldn't? What I think you are trying to say is that people SHOULD NOT adhere to a different world view from you. Or, at least that people should not write in tones and phrases that you personally find unnecessary.

Everyone is different Leo, and some ex-Christians are angry. As a "social scientist" I'm sure you realize that.

.:webmaster:. said...

Leo: "If the people on this site are to grow into a ‘healthy’ community..."

This "community" (as you called it) is for ex-Christians.

Leo: "Moreover, as a social scientist myself..."

Troll red flag here. Authentic posters don't feel the need to set themselves up as some kind of authority. Besides, Leo, this is a website, not a country.

Leo: "Does ex-christian necessarily imply atheism or can’t one just become an agnostic, or even, God forbid, a regular mainline protestant or Catholic?"

People can adhere to whatever world-view they deem best. Who said they couldn't? What I think you are trying to say is that people SHOULD NOT adhere to a different world-view from you. Or, at the very least you are saying that people should not write in tones and phrases that you personally find too harsh.

Everyone is different Leo, and some ex-Christians are angry. Real communication is not always extremely polite. As a "social scientist" who works in linguistics, I'm sure you realize that.

MikeG said...

web:
"Perhaps you are unaware of Mike's latest contribution to this site and the comments. I suggest you check it out: CLICK HERE."
===================================

web, it may help you a bit for me to clarify for you that I am NOT Mike Brown. 'G' is not 'B'. Furthermore I neither endorse nor share his views. And, while I may make an occasional typo, I hope that my spelling and grammar does not approach the atrocity exhibited in his post at the beginning of that thread.

MikeG said...

Leo wrote:

"If the people on this site are to grow into a ‘healthy’ community, shouldn’t they be given opportunities to share their ideas and emotions without fear of being labelled fundementalist, and criticised with terms such as ‘diatribe, primative, yapping, dreaming, cherry-picker, cultists’?"
===================================

Leo, it's not a problem, and doesn't bother me a bit. By posting in that way, such folks are saying more about themselves than they are about me. It seems to me that would be plainly evident to the readers.

Anonymous said...

Don't give up on yourself or your boy friend. Pray that God will show both of you the way He wants you to go. Assume that God will hear you and that He will act to put you both on the right track.

Jim Arvo said...

Leo,

I don't think your comments about the "identity" of this site make much sense. Sure, it's a given that this site would not exist if it were not for Christianity. One cannot be "ex" anything without the "thing". But that does not mean we "presuppose" anything other than what is clearly evident: the existence of a religion called "Christianity" to which most of us adhered for some period of our lives--indeed, some for major portions of their lives. Since Christianity commonly has far-reaching effects on one's life (e.g. often dictating one's circle of friends, one's view of science, etc.), leaving it can be a difficult adjustment. That, to my understanding, is the primary reason the WebMaster created this site. Those who have left it do indeed share something that identifies them as a group; that "thing" lends no credence whatsoever to the dogmas of Christianity, only to the existence of the religion, and to the consuming nature of the belief system it engenders. The regulars here very clearly reject the Christian dogmas, but are united by (among other things) the experience of leaving a pervasive belief system. Most of us are also of the opinion that religious theocracies are an appallingly bad idea, and we would like to ensure that we do drift in that direction as a nation. There are numerous other common traits as well.

I and many others here actually enjoy hearing from current believers. I like to hear why they believe what they believe, and I like to try to educate those who come here with distorted notions of what atheism is (which, sadly, is nearly all of them). I've had many interesting exchanges with Christians here on far-reaching topics, including science, philosophy, history, and of course theology. I don't personally mind at all if someone tries to defend their religious beliefs here, and I'm happy the WM allows them to do so. What I do mind, however, is when religionists try to turn this into their forum by simply proselytizing; for example, by stating their opinions ad nauseam with no apparent appreciation for the opinions held by others (e.g. by ignoring their comments, not answering questions, etc.). The result is not a discussion, it's a monotonous and predictable monologue that is completely out of place here. Nobody cares to hear it except, perhaps, as a reminder of what they formerly believed, and how silly it all sounds now. But, given how little value that has, the WM wisely attempts to curb it when it gets out of hand.

Of course it's a judgment call as to when a visiting Christian has crossed that line from discussion to evangelism, or in some cases incoherent or hateful rambling; sometimes it's very clear, but mostly it's a shade of gray. I think the WM gives a huge amount of leeway here. Personally, I tend to get annoyed by visitors who project absurd opinions on us and show no apparent desire to learn our actual positions. But even such posters are generally given the opportunity to say what they have to say.

Do you find fault with anything I just said?

.:webmaster:. said...

Whoops! My apologies Mikeg. For some reason, I did confuse the two of you.

MikeG said...

"Whoops! My apologies Mikeg. For some reason, I did confuse the two of you."
===================================

web, not a problem. Of course, if it happens again, it will be clear evidence of an anti-theist conspiracy. [/dry humor]

Stina said...

Leo said:
"Stina’s desire to rid herself of ‘exclusivity’ has driven her towards it, in the unlikely form of this internet site. My remark is not necessarily meant as a criticism of this site or its members, but more of an observation into human behaviour."

Since this is directly about me, I'll respond. The exclusivity of the church I attended is incredibly different from whatever exclusivity you seem to think this site exhibits. This site has not set itself up as a spiritual leader telling his or her parishioners they need to spend less time with certain people because those people do not share the same beliefs. That's the exclusivity I turned my back on. This is a website where I can meet people who've gone through similar experiences, but it does not by any means fill the same space in my life as the church I had been attending. That space is now occupied by many relationships with an array of people, Christian and non-Christian alike.

Hound Doggy said...

Stina-
What I try to do, and it is a bit difficult, is to not use labels. There are so many labels that I'm not sure that any are accurate. I took the quiz that was linked by Computerguycj and it was very interesting. Out of any of the matches I could take bits and pieces. That's my joy of learning and forming my opinions. Some of the groups I had never even heard of (Scientific or Naturalistic Pantheism) but you know, I agree with 95% of their ideas. I pick and choose ideas that are right for me. If someone asks me "What are you?" I would have to say " How much time do you have?"
It's ok to pick and choose. Pick the good things of many religions or groups or things that you believe and your boyfriend can too. Have fun in the exploration. If someone says Are you a Christian, just say...hmmmm, it is just more complicated than that.

Leo said...

First let me say that I agree with Hound Doggy. Labels are often misleading since they are 'signs', I mean this in a linguistic sense, and therefore represent individual experiences often constructed through years of socialization.

I also agree with Stina that religious groups are often more exclusive than other groupings. It is very important to have numerous social contacts for this is how humans develop. And I suspect that most of you would agree with this. Similarly, this would likely compare to Jim's assessment, and in just about everything he commented on. However, my initial comment on Identity should probably be developed more. My influences for discussing this issue stems, in part, from the work of the sociologist Erving Goffman and his work in social interaction. Wikipedia has a nice synopsis if you are interested.

Well, all of this has been fun. I'm sorry if I offended anyone, that wasn't my intention. I won't be posting for awhile as I have lots of work to catch up on.

Take care

Luke said...

Anonymous said:
"Christianity is supposed to be a religion where people insist on following Jesus to the point of death, but in modern times, it is more of a philosophy."

I agree. Upon examination of Scripture, a Christian is someone who lives for Christ (as THE 'Way, Truth, Life'), and will be persecuted and ridiculed (eg. Paul).

For me, I just entered a same-sex relationship and this has caused me to question things. However, you like me, Stina, must work out whether you are rejecting a philosopy or whether you are rejecting truth.

If you determine that Christianity is indeed a philosophy, then really it is irrelevant whether you are a Christian or not. All Christians are wasting their time. If you determine that Christ was indeed God incarnate, lived a sinless life, died for the sins of mankind, and rose to life - then whether or not you are a Christian is determined by whether or not you are following him in your actions. And if Jesus is Lord, then how you respond to his actions (which the Bible says were for our salvation) is of great significance.

Cool site btw, so good to have topics of depth fleshed out.

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