Image by joaquimb via FlickrSent in by exrelayman
I guess it is time for my testimony. I have commented here a few times. Here is a complete post.
This testimony is about how belief became unbelief. It will not be cluttered with elements of my life story or feelings (Life Story: concerto for mouth and tear ducts). It is, as best I can recall from a 40-some-year-old memory, in sequence.
1) Reading the Bible:
The very first chink in my belief was the supposed cry of Jesus on the cross, "Why have you forsaken me?" I did not immediately become an atheist, but the concept that Jesus, being divine, could either be abandoned or feel abandoned in this vital moment was troubling.
The next chink for me was the abrupt change in the Jews. How could the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, accompanied by hosannas and adoration, so quickly become (I paraphrase), "Crucify him, let his blood be upon us?" A subset of this problem was why did his enemies need Judas to identify him when he was so widely known?
Another chink was Jesus explaining his parables in private to his close apostles, withholding the correct meaning from the multitude lest they understand and repent and be saved. What in the world? A subset of this idea was Jesus lying at his trial, saying that his teachings were always open and to everyone.
I will give just a few more chinks from the New Testament in quick summary, as this is not argumentation but testimony: How could Jesus’ family have once thought he was crazy if angels had revealed to Mary (or Joseph) his divinity? How could Satan ever tempt God? How could all the kingdoms of a spherical world be viewed from any high place? What divine, godly nature is revealed by cursing a fig tree?
2) The clash of Bible and reality:
In my high school education, the scientific evidence as to the age of the earth, evolution, and unlikelihood of a global flood became problematical. Also where the wives of Cain and Seth came from.
3) The brutality of God:
Because one pair ate of the forbidden tree, everyone everywhere for all time bears the curse of a sinful nature? If we bear the curse of a sinful nature, how can it be said that we possess free will? Did all the animals have to be killed because man was sinful (flood story)? Can it be possible for a loving God to punish beings in Hell forever because of what they believed incorrectly in one lifetime? Did all the firstborn Egyptians have to die because of what 1 person (Pharaoh) did? (Didn’t the Bible writer know the name of this particular Pharaoh?)
4) The invisibility of all things scriptural:
The inability to sense or detect with any instruments God, Jesus, Satan, Heaven, Hell, Sin, Soul. The complete absence of anything happening when I prayed, even for the cures of others or for a strengthening of my faith in the face of doubts.
That’s basically it. Some 40 years later I learned much more via the Internet, but these realities were sufficient for me at the time to question and lose my faith. I tried to hold on to my belief. I sought support for my faith from ‘Evidence that Demands a Verdict’, but found the arguments therein mostly illogical and unconvincing. The Bible is supposed to be God’s book. Others should not have to explain what doesn’t make sense. It should make sense.
A final note: The truly most scholarly and well researched work that I am aware of for the inquiry into these matters. It is ‘The Origins of Christianity and the Bible’ by Andrew Benton and is available at Amazon. I have no connection of any kind with the author or publisher.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)