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8/30/2006                                                                                       View Comments

Is it possible to de-convert Christians?

By an anonymous agnostic Baptist minister
From Infidels.Org

Two concepts few would ever find themselves combining into one are “Baptist minister” and “agnostic” – unless of course one is describing a debate of some kind. Keep them separate and they make sense, bring them together into one person and the dissonance begins. And yet, an agnostic Baptist minister is exactly what I am. How I came to this place from fundamentalist Christianity is a story in itself better told another time, and where my beliefs might end up is yet to be seen. Nevertheless, this is what I am today.

I have been impressed with and an avid reader of articles on the Secular Web for about two years now. In fact, I suppose one could say that the Secular Web has played a significant role in my move from an advocate and employer of conservative Christian apologetics to a place of general theistic agnosticism. The Internet Infidels helped jam my own theistic memes, not by jamming anything down my throat, but by providing a resource of information to which I could turn as I sought answers to my own personal questions and suspicious regarding my religious tradition. In my life experience, when an “evangelistic atheist” came along attacking my faith, I would immediately respond defensively with an arsenal of apologetics. I would never have changed my mind because of frontal attacks on my beliefs. Neither did those attacks play a role in my eventual turn to agnosticism. That gradual decision came about as a result of other, much more subtle events and resources slowly helping me to be more honest about why I believed what I did at the time. I was not coerced but rather persuaded by a combination of rather subtle information and my own reasoning. I believe there is something very valuable to learn from my experience – especially when it comes to the mission of culture-jamming theistic memes effectively yet respectfully.

Perspective-Respect

As a non-Christian, if you’ve bothered to enter into debate with a Christian – say, in a Christian chat room – then you have probably discovered that the debate quickly reduces to “Yes it is / No it isn’t” kinds of exchanges. Instead of discussing the issues at hand with relative openness and a willingness to learn, both parties often end up staking their claim without so much as attempting to try on the metaphysical glasses through which their contender views and interprets reality. Now, already some might be balking at my suggestion that we should learn from each other; that it is the Christian who needs to revise his or her beliefs and abandon the bent to explain naturally occurring facts by invoking supernatural myths. It is important to understand, however, that both sides are operating from a particular viewpoint. Both believe themselves to be equally right. Now, I concur that reason and the history of empirical success are more than enough to make the naturalistic worldview a cogent one – likely the correct one. What we’re talking about at this juncture, however, is perspectives, not necessarily reality and it is critical that one remains conscious of this point while in debate. From the Christian perspective, naturalism flies in the face of much of what Christians hold true by faith – and the atheist or agnostic must at least, out of respect, try to understand that perspective. By better understanding the Christian’s perspective, not only do non-believers show basic human consideration, but they also better understand why Christians often respond the way they do. If the Christian is unable to return this basic human courtesy, then at the very least you have done the right thing. Furthermore, showing respect and courtesy for the other person’s perspective tends to help lower guards so that genuine exchange can transpire. But I believe it would be productive to explore a little more specifically just why most Christians react the way they do to non-Christian challenges to their beliefs. In so doing, I hope to increase some understanding to those who get frustrated trying to debate (or at least discuss) your respective epistemological differences.

The Common Christian Worldview

Let’s begin here by cutting to the chase. The reason the Christian worldview is so at-odds with naturalism is because of its dependence upon and veneration of its sacred writing, the Bible. Bottom line: to argue with a Christian is to argue with their faith that the Bible is a book inspired by God. The atheist must understand that when he or she sets out to dismantle the Christian beliefs, he or she is arguing with an entire system of thinking, another world wherein lie even its own debates and viewpoints based upon varying interpretations of its own sacred text. Thus, even the famous Christian philosopher, Alvin Plantinga wrote in his now-renowned article “Some Advice for Christian Philosophers” that Christians (particularly apologists and philosophers) should stop worrying about defending Christianity from atheists and focus more on questions and issues within Christian theology and philosophy (see http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth10.html). Probably 90% of the debate regarding Christianity is internal/internal (i.e., debates among professing Christians stemming from multitudinous and conflicting theologies and interpretations of the Bible) rather than external/internal (i.e., non-Christian/Christian debates about the veracity of Christianity or theism in general). Therefore, try to argue the scientific certainty of evolutionary theory with a Christian and you will get quotes from Genesis as a rebuttal. The Christian may take the literal, six-day creation stance and simply deny science is correct at all, or perhaps claim that there is an evil mind motivating the theories of natural science (e.g., the devil or some demonic force). More often than not, however, the believer will often try to intertwine science and the biblical text in order to attempt preserving biblical integrity in the face of scientific fact. Either way, they will refuse to abandon their text as anything less than divine in origin and thus, ipso facto, as correct no matter what. If one tries to undercut the integrity of the Bible by revealing contradictions, blatant historical and factual blunders, etc., then be prepared for either the classic “Wall of Rejection” response (i.e., “You simply refuse to believe God’s Word, so I have nothing more to say…”) or the growing “Volley of Apologetics” response (i.e., “Those are not contradictions, they can be explained this way…”). But it is doubtful you will get much farther than that. Why is that?

There are many reasons why you will get a Christian only so-close to thinking twice about his or her presuppositions regarding the divine nature of the Bible. Let me mention just three of them that I believe to be the most salient. First, one’s metaphysic, one’s beliefs about reality, is usually a very personal thing that resists being violated. This is due, as you might have guessed, to the fact that one’s metaphysic is the means by which he or she makes sense of the world. It helps one deal with the ebb and flow of life, self-concept and worth, joys and tragedies, etc. In this way, the atheist is no different than the theist. We all try to make sense of the world, even if we’re not fully aware of it, and we all have our own metaphysic, even if it has been handed down to us from our teachers and mentors. This brings us to the next reason.

Second, everyone has certain innate conceptual templates hard-wired into our brains from years of evolutionary development, and these concepts are susceptible to being attached to religious ideas. This is a fascinating and compelling theory spelled out in great detail in Pascal Boyer’s book Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought (New York: Basic Books, 2001). Without getting into the ultimate origins of supernatural belief here, we can at least say that religious concepts are passed down, generation to generation, culture to culture, so that their inferences seem as real to many people as inferences for any natural empirical fact. With this in mind, one must remember that faith-based concepts held by Christians are very concrete to them, so that for them to question such concepts would be like questioning their own existence or the existence of “that tree over there”. I should, however, qualify all this a bit by saying that it is nonetheless still possible for a Christian to question those deeply held religious concepts – it’s simply unlikely if they are soundly rooted. Once supernatural concepts become attached to certain naturally occurring conceptual templates in our brains, it becomes very difficult, though not impossible, to separate them.

Third, Christianity has a built-in defense system that effectively wards off attackers with the flick of a cliché or pat answer and a retreat to Bible verses considered relevant for supporting “proof”. Here are a few examples.
  1. The non-believer cannot understand the things of God because he doesn’t believe; if you would only believe, then you would understand. This is clearly a circular argument, but one usually used with confidence nonetheless. Such a statement further presupposes that there is some mystical, epistemological window of understanding opened up in the mind of the believer because he or she has taken the “leap of faith”. Thus according to most Christians, anyone, regardless of their education, will a priori have a deficient understanding of reality unless and until they become a believer in the Bible.
  2. The Bible is the Word of God; therefore, anyone who disagrees with it must be wrong. This, again, presupposes the very thing it sets out to prove. Nevertheless, it serves as a very effective shield against rational and critical thinking that might undermine the believer’s trust in the Bible. To undermine this presupposition, one would have to convince the Christian to doubt the veracity of the Bible, but then this presupposition automatically dismisses any such argument to do so outright. So, we end up going in a vicious circle:

    Christian: “The Bible is the Word of God.”
    Critic: “But what about verse x and it’s blatant contradiction with verse y?”
    Christian: “The deficiency is not with the Bible, but with our understanding of it. After all, it is the Word of God and thus cannot be in error.”
  3. Jesus said we should expect unbelievers to try and lead us astray. This might be stated in any number of ways using words like “persecution”, “deceive” and “Satan” to give additional support to the idea that Christianity is the truth and anything that seems to be subversive should instantly be relegated as a “lie”. The Christian worldview tends to be very dualistic: that is, most things are interpreted as either God’s will or Satan’s doing. The everyday events of life are often perceived as either being orchestrated by God or the Devil, and often believed to contain warnings or messages to help guide one through his or her day. Thus, anything you present as contrary to biblical truth (however they might interpret it) is often automatically interpreted as deceptive, originating from some evil source, since it could not be from God.
  4. The Bible is backed by scientific proof. There is a great deal of Christian literature that tries to establish the Bible’s truthfulness using evidence from various scientific fields: physics, astronomy and cosmology, medicine, microbiology and archaeology just to name a few. But again, most of these writings are fueled by the same adamant presuppositions that they are setting out to prove (i.e., that the Bible simply must be literally true). Thus, the “evidence” is almost always very selective, very biased and often inaccurately interpreted. Christian professionals are quoted and non-Christian professionals often misquoted (or taken out of context) in order to shift empirical weight to whatever biblical claim being staked. In brief, this answer is often given with a cluster of quotations and “did you know…?” trivia, but it hardly has the kind of backing Christians would like to think. Nevertheless, the literature available to buttress this kind of defense of the Bible is plentiful and gives the Christian the rather confident feeling that they’re using their opponent’s arsenal against him while giving strength to their own position. Pseudo-science and misapplied good science supply a false sense of certainty to beliefs, but don’t expect it to go away anytime soon. And don’t expect to change too many minds set in this way…no matter how much evidence you bring to the table.


Taking these three factors alone into account – the personal nature of one’s metaphysic, the difficulty of disassociating supernatural concepts from natural ones hard-wired in the brain, and Christianity’s built-in defense against attack – one can see just why it is so difficult to get beyond “You’re wrong and I’m right” volleys in Christian/non-Christian debates. To question the veracity of the Bible would be to cast a shadow of doubt over what we might call the believer’s RCP – their Reality Central Processor, the central presuppositions by which they live their lives. They live in the security and safety of the walls of “Castle Christian” one might say, and they are taught that, truly, there is nothing outside its walls, or at least nothing but lies. Thus, it is a frightening prospect for them to discover that there is a much bigger world beyond the walls of “Castle Christian.” This is frightening to them for at least two reasons, one socially motivated and the other more personal. From a social standpoint, Christians usually face a great deal of (often unspoken) peer pressure from fellow believers to remain faithful in the face of doubt and the accusations of infidels. To question those traditionally held beliefs places one in danger of being ostracized, ridiculed, avoided and/or pitied as a believer who has “strayed from God’s truth.” Second, there is often a personal fear associated with facing life without the emotional and psychological safety nets that Christianity provides. Most Christians have established their worldview through their lens of their faith as a way of understanding life with all its ups and downs as we’ve already mentioned. Seeking hope in the face of the finality of death or trying to find purpose in the midst of suffering is inextricably woven together with their faith. Thus, although some have ventured beyond the walls of “Castle Christian” and have claimed to experience a newfound, even euphoric sense of intellectual freedom, for most inside the safety of the walls, such a journey looks foolish at best and hopeless at worst. Additionally, for many Christians there is the fear of being condemned to hell for all eternity if they choose to abandon the faith and become apostates. With all of this in mind, it is not difficult to see why the whole enterprise of trying to win a debate with a Christian (i.e., make him concede) is highly unlikely.

Recognizing Futility and Respecting Feelings

So what is the point of trying to get a Christian to abandon his or her faith? Is there good reason to try and “de-convert” those who are established in their faith? Or am I suggesting here that “culture jamming [Christian] memes” is an impossible or unethical thing to do? Not necessarily, but hear me out. To be sure, there are some “evangelistic” atheists out there with such a passion for educating the public that they do little more than engage in debates with Christians or publish writings intended to dismantle beliefs in the supernatural as superfluous, even dangerous. Then there are others, like Shermer and Sagan, who have written popular books just trying to preserve the integrity of methodological naturalism in science by exposing and discrediting pseudo-science (i.e., science mixed with supernatural or paranormal hypotheses). I will be the first to admit that there has been (and continues to be) a great deal of pain and suffering in the world caused by religious beliefs. I will also concur that the search for truth (i.e., the correct facts about reality) is something of no small importance and science should not be diluted with theistic ideas. At the same time, however, one’s method of “culture jamming” will have everything to do with both success rate (putting efforts where they are most effective) as well as whether such jamming, understood by those involved as a positive effect on our world, actually becomes personally hurtful to some people. What can we say about these two concerns? At least two things.

First, and probably not surprising at all, I believe it’s a waste of time and energy to try and change the way most Christians already believe. Based upon what I’ve already mentioned above, it’s just not going to happen at any rate worthy of notice. A few believers might venture out beyond the wall, but most will not. If they do, it will not likely be because a debate effectively shattered their faith; rather, it will more likely be because they decided to journey beyond the wall for their own personal reasons.

Second, I believe that actively trying to dismantle someone else’s faith, and thus their current Reality Central Processor, is simply unnecessary and can often even be hurtful. Now, granted, there are some who are wrapped up in truly harmful, hate-propagating cults and need rescue from causing harm to both themselves and others, but that, I think, goes without saying. We’re talking here about Christians who are just trying to live their lives by living out their faith in positive ways (which includes, by definition, hoping to see others also become Christians – and respecting their wishes if they choose to decline). Do they need to know the truth about the historical and philosophical problems that exist within the infrastructure of Christianity, its evolution and its sacred text? Will it truly free them, or will it crush them? We must remember that there are a great number of people in the world, and not all of them have the same desire to seek truth “whatever the cost”. There have been many simple people who have lived simple lives with simple faith in their god or gods, and I believe we must respect their beliefs. For many people, their faith is not a tool to rule or dominate the lives of others, but merely how they get through their day. Who am I or anyone else to raze their hope, even if that hope doesn’t in fact jibe with reality (i.e., if there is no God, etc.)? True, there are many Christian groups and coalitions that seek to impose the Christian belief system on others through the power of politics, and those groups need to be dealt with and neutralized by the same political medium they are using to gain power. But for me, as an agnostic Baptist minister, though my personal beliefs differ significantly than those of my parishioners, I have no reason to try and pull the confessional rug out from under them. If Christianity works to help them deal with life, then well and good. My job is to teach and preach the sacred text of the Christian faith and I do that faithfully. I veer away from interpretations that induce judgmental or condemning attitudes and draw close to those that engender love and acceptance of self and others…and my parishioners – most all quite conservative in their thinking – seem to love it.

“Culture jamming the theistic memes” is a perfectly legitimate enterprise if that is what one believes will make a positive difference in the world. Keep in mind, however, that it will be most successful reaching those not already rooted in their particular faith, not to mention that militant culture jamming could hurt some people who truly aren’t hurting anyone with their faith and have no reason to abandon their beliefs.

So what about me? As a Baptist minister who is also agnostic in many ways, do I try to live by what I’m “preaching” here in this article? I try to. Am I a hypocrite for believing one way and teaching another? For some who believe that Christianity is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, yes, I suppose I would seem to be. And even to some atheists or agnostics I might seem a little on the hypocritical side. To me, and to others who understand my perspective, however, no, I am not. But this “Yes and No” answer also sheds a great deal of light on why it can remain in apparent contradiction without actually being contradictory. It reveals why I believe it is not only pointless to try and convince my church to abandon their faith, but also why I think it would be wrong to do so. It reveals how religion, though perhaps a colored lens through which to view reality, can serve a practical purpose in people’s lives if they so choose to believe and that I should not seek to break that lens. It reveals how, if I were indeed asked by an inquisitive Christian about what might be outside the walls of Castle Christian, I would gladly and gently express my views, what I have discovered in my search. The rest should be up to them.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are an agnostic baptist preacher. Well,look on the bright side. Half of you can go to heaven and the other half to hell. You can have your cake and eat it to.

Ian said...

Very interesting article, thank you for posting it.

I would say the main reason ex-christians try to educate the public is to try and counter the influence christianity has on our culture and our government. We don't want to live in a country where the laws are dictated by an ancient book. If christianity takes over this country, it will be the Taliban repeated all over again, and ex-christians don't want that to happen.

Your explination of why it's a waste of time to try and deconvert christians was very eye opening. I also got the idea that from now on, to simply say "Thank you for your concern, but you will have better fortune ministering to others then to me."

Thank you for posting this.

beepbeepitsme said...

RE philosophy

“Philosophy is the science which considers truth”
http://beepbeepitsme.blogspot.com/2006/08/philosophy-is-science-which-considers.html

cj said...

"Am I a hypocrite for believing one way and teaching another?"

YES!

"if I were indeed asked by an inquisitive Christian about what might be outside the walls of Castle Christian, I would gladly and gently express my views"

LIAR!
How would you keep your leadership position if it became known that you don't believe the Baptist doctrine you represent? Why are you anonymous?! Another representative of god, deceiving the naive sheep...

boomSLANG said...

What he's saying about his position in terms of the denominational labels...i.e.."Agnostic/Baptist", is totally redundant. EVERY person of Faith is "agnostic", by definition. It's just that this guy admits that he doesn't know if his God exists---well, whether he knows it or not, at least... that IS what he's admitting.

J. C. Samuelson said...

Insightful and well-written. Also, I appreciate the timing of this post, because I've become frustrated with dealing with the faithful here and in my daily life. It is likely much healthier to choose one's battles, since not all of them are worth fighting.

As for the writer being an agnostic Baptist, there's nothing surprising there. However, the fact that minister is the writer's profession is enough to give one pause, since there is dishonesty there. Any way you slice it, the writer is fostering the continuation of a religious delusion and knows it, and though it may be of the warm and fuzzy kind, it can lead elsewhere quite easily.

Lorena said...

In my opinion, you may be doing the right thing staying in ministry. My deconversion process started by listening to a Baptist pastor who sounds a lot like you. His name is Gerald Mann. I used to watch him in America at Worship. He started to stretch my mind with statements like, "Abraham wasn't asked by God to kill Isaac. Abraham was just imitating other tribes who sacrificed theirs children to their gods."

Anyway, if you are anything like Gerald Mann, you may be helping a lot of people become free of christianity, in a very gentle way.

R. Shelby said...

Anonymous Agnostic Baptist Minister,

You made a case for why many Christians fail to see reason when it slams them in the face. You also made a compassionate argument for ex-Christians not to compel believers to leave their faith. What I cannot understand is why you remain a Baptist minister? Do you feel guilty when the warm bodies filling the pews in your church plop down cash into a collection plate? You are an agnostic but continue to bilk money from people in the name of Jesus. I believe it is equivalent of running a check-cashing business in a ghetto.

Perhaps you would do these people a favor if you would come clean.

R. Shelby

Anonymous said...

The answer is a resounding No!
Reason:
As long as people continue to believe you can take a pile of lumber and build a box and put a steeple on it and call it a church of God and every word spoken in a church by a preacher is the absolute word from a god, then you're not going to de-convert any Christians.

David M said...

Well, this article at the very least provoked many thoughts and emotions in me. I've often looked upon Christianity as performance art writ large. This article confirms that view. This anonymous Baptist minister is a magician... no... more like a lead character in a play helping the other characters believe the roles that they play. He facilitates the act. He confirms it's legitimacy. He is an ethical opportunist.

This is all fine and good for the present. Sure the act will go on... for a while. But humanity is in the midst of growing pains. I rest peacefully in the fact that so long as humanity persists there will be those who venture out from comfortable theaters and beyond castle walls. Men and women who are not ethical opportunists but rather both ethical and vicious!

tigg13 said...

First off, the main goal of this web site is not to de-convert christians but to provide a place for ex-christians to share their ideas and experiences.

That being said - I have spent a good many years debated with myself as to whether or not I should attempt to challenge the beliefs of christians.

I do believe that, if one has an internal philosophical system for dealing with things like morality, truth and the purpose of life that works for them and doesn't interfere with anybody else, then that's wonderful. Whether or not it makes sense to me is irrelevant - so long as it works for them.

The problem is, a great deal of institutionalized christianity it focused on making the world a one-religion planet. There are very serious and well backed people who want to make the United States a christian-only nation. There are a whole lot of people who consider themselves to be christian who never really had a choice in the matter - they were brainwashed by their parents and their churches into accepting christianity as a given.

I would never work towards the total abolishment of christianity. But it needs to be questioned, its leaders scrutinized and its short-cumming held up for all to see.

You are right in that there are many many hard core zealots who will never allow themselves to open up their minds to what non-believers have to say. But, if you've been following this website, you'll notice that we do reach some; we let them know they are not alone and give them a chance to voice their heretical questions and blasphemous opinions.

And that's good enough for me.

SpaceMonk said...

I remember being in school, knowing our science teacher was a bible believing creationist christian, but when it came to teaching evolution she taught it just the same as any other teacher would. It was just her job. She didn't believe it, she didn't promote it, she just did her job.
I don't think she was hypocritical.

I don't know when this guy woke from his beliefs but now he's just doing a job. He may not have any other skills...?

Personally, I wouldn't do it this way. I'd make one final sermon as clear and precise against christianity as I could, then quit.

I don't know whether it's good or bad really. I wish I had been exposed to an alternative while in christianity, by someone in his position. Obviously that's not what he's doing though, and I hate being led down the garden path by someone who knows better.


Anyway, aside from all that, maybe back on topic, one argument I get when I dicuss things with my Dad is that what he's telling me is something that can only be 'spiritually discerned', and what he's saying won't make sense to the 'natural man' until god opens my mind...

There's nothing to say against it that isn't already dismissed by that argument.

I usually simply attack the idea of hell as eternal, seeing as this is not justice or love, let alone merciful. Hell is the fear that lies at the base of christians stepping outside that 'castle christianity'. Without this fear all the other intellectual and historical knowledge is irrelevant.

Sarge said...

I would never try to deconvert anyone, I think that the posting gives pretty good reasons why such an exercise would be like shovelling motor oil into a sieve to take it to the dump.

I was never, even early on, a christian, and my parents and others couldn't make me a "believer". Even being dragooned into sunday school, bible studies, devotions in the home, punishment for blasphemy (stating my personal doubts) scripture and prayer in school,and an outright physical assault or two didn't make me a believer. If none of these things convinced me, or made me bow my head, I doubt that I could convince anyone who was a firm believer, and I certainly would never do to others what was done to me, often (but not always) in the name of "my own good".

Nvrgoingbk said...

Anonymous, your post hit home concerning the almost fruitless attempts of de-converting Christians. I have come to the point in my life now of biting my tongue and just walking away from a potential argument, because I have found it to be utterly futile. I mean, really, how many of us de-converted due to the evangalistic approach of hard core atheists? 99.9% of us came to the conclusion after a period of years of searching for answers and years of trying to reconcile Biblical contradcitions, christian hypocrisy, and absurd doctrines such as eternal punishment, pre-tribulation rapture, original sin, the whaskly old devil, predestination, etc. I NEVER thought that I would come to the conclusion I have. I would have NEVER predicted this. The fear of Hell was too strong.

What I find unconscionable is the fact that you perpetuate the lie by remaining in the pulpit. I would disagree with Lorena who seems to have more tolerance for your deception. I can understand your reluctance to actively try and de-convert someone, but to stand at that pulpit every week and teach from a book that teaches self loathing, bigotry, scientific impossiblities, murder, rape, child sacrifice, etc. is disgusting! Sure there are some good teachings in the Bible, but the same can be said of the Baghavad Gita and the Annalects. Why not teach on Buddhism or Hinduism if it's not important to really adhere to the beliefs you preach? Why not preach on one of the many crucified man-gods that have died for the sins of the world throughout history? I'll tell you why. BECAUSE THOSE OTHER MAN-GODS AND OTHER RELIGIONS ARE NOT AS PROFITABLE FOR YOU!!! It is inexcusable to wear a mask of Christian faith and piety when you don't believe.

Albert said...

That article is several years old, call it a hunch, but I doubt that that person is still doing the same job.

Harlequin said...

That would be a shame, since his hands are cleaner that those who believe...

When you lose the 'religion' part, Christianity then becomes a philosophy, not a faith.

ThusI don't see the big deal. You go from working the idea that 'all this happened' despite the logical, historical, and geographical holes (which are shored up with circular arguments and out right lies) to it being a matter of preaching on illustrative myth. The matter of 'truth' becomes secondary, and the idea of 'right' comes to the fore. I think his version is cleaner, if he did but see it, than being a 'believer', since to believer you have to subscribe to known half truths, holy forgeries and downright fallacies in the name of 'faith' in a psychotic imaginary friend with MPD

All the best,

Grandpa Harley

twincats said...

I think that evangelizing is repugnant no matter what you're trying to convince someone else of. I would never do it, not even when I was a Christian.

Evangelicalism is the biggest problem our planet has ever faced, either now or in the past.

That would be my biggest objection to the agnostic preacher because he is obligated by the faith that he preaches (but doesn't believe) to encourage evangelsim.

Anonymous said...

my name is Richie, i left christianity about 5 years ago. My father is a minister in Rapid City, SD. We are good friends...my dad and I.

I have been reading every post for the last five years....yours is the one i printed out to give to my dad...Thank you!

You did a good job in your post!
i would like to talk to to over the phone sometime.. !!!

donjared said...

I was very impressed with this article. I am in a similar circumstance as the writer. I have stopped believing, but there are people in my life that I am very reluctant to tell. I know it would hurt them deeply and change the dynamics of our relationship. So what do I do? I just continue to talk the talk without walking the walk. Is this hypocritical? I suppose the answer is yes, but I don't know how to handle this situation any differently. The funny thing is, like Fox Mulder, I WANT TO BELIEVE. My whole life (I'm 34 now) has been spent as a fundamentalist Christian and I don't know any other way. But I can not in my heart, or more importantly in my mind, believe what logically seems to be false. In any case, I understand the writers situation and wish him the best. He WILL leave his ministry, it's just a matter of time.

Billy Wheaton said...

You said, "There have been many simple people who have lived simple lives with simple faith in their god or gods, and I believe we must respect their beliefs. For many people, their faith is not a tool to rule or dominate the lives of others, but merely how they get through their day. Who am I or anyone else to raze their hope, even if that hope doesn’t in fact jibe with reality (i.e., if there is no God, etc.)? True, there are many Christian groups and coalitions that seek to impose the Christian belief system on others through the power of politics, and those groups need to be dealt with and neutralized by the same political medium they are using to gain power."

This to me is the most striking belief of the average, even bright, Christian like yourself. The same 'political medium' is the church! Virtually impenetrable to outsiders. The mandate of remaining ignorant from the clergy and leaders generates their power and regardless, even if they had no power is highly immoral!

As well, your tradition (Baptist) I think you would be hard pressed to tell me ANY consistent Ethic or Orthopraxy in ANY protestant sects. Yet you can likely name many very sacred and vehemently defended doctrines. Since your tradition allows for people to walk across the street to the "Fourth Baptist" church when they find out you no longer "preach straight from the Word of God" and no longer "have the guts to stand up to the liberal media", etc etc etc..

This process leads to extremism that poses a grave threat to all of us now that Evangelicals have gained so much power. I simply could not disagree more! Wrestling those with fewer nature abilities and mental faculties away from the highly immoral grip of protestant Christianity seems to be an unfortunate necessity--if for no other reason than to help these people live a better life. I would imagine over time here you will begin to realize that Christianity is not so benign,I applaud the guts you have shown already.

Your Ex-Christian Friend and recently awakened to the grave harm of evangelical christianity.

Billy wheaton

by the way, read the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrency, think about the way it is presented much like a Pope or King in medieval times--how is this junk tolerated? How could the simple followers you speak of benefit from leaders that could think that document sane?

Anonymous said...

From what I am reading, most of your readers are responding emotionally while proclaiming rationality as their guide. The writer of the article is so immersed in postmoderism that he cannot even see the logical fallacy of that ideology. Hey, if he is having an experiential problem with Christianity, that's one thing, but to generalize all Christians as any stereotype is to assume privileged knowledge that is impossible for the author to have.

Also, I am hearing over and over this idea of an aggressive, ignorant Christianity that I'm sure exists, but aggression and ignorance exists in all belief and "un-belief" systems...so aren't you just being biased towards Christianity? And if so, isn't that intolerant?

To say Christianity has no valid logical arguments is to show yourself unstudied. Alvin Plantiga, N.T. Wright, C.S. Lewis, William Lane Craig? These men have valid arguments that can only be brushed aside by ad hominem. They can be reasonably argued against, but not brushed aside.

I realize there are good arguments on both sides of belief and I enjoy being seriously challenged. But generalizations and name-calling destroy your credibility, even if you have good arguments.

.:webmaster:. said...

Two Chix,

Are you saying that Christianity is not based on faith? Are you saying that it is based on reason?

Did you reason that demons, angels, flying chariots, satyrs, witches, un-dead flying god-men, and horrific eternal torture for unbelievers in hell is reality? If you reasoned that all these things exist, could you explain the reasoning process you used to conclude that these invisible, mythic sounding creatures and places actually exist?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Webmaster,

I will give your questions my best shot. But first I would like to hear a formal argument for the non-existence of those beings. I think saying these things cannot exist assumes special knowledge and dismisses them a priori which leads to a non-argument.

Just a quickie for you: There is a study being done by Dr. Gary Habermas on the medical jouranling of near-death experiences. These are not fairy tales, they are written reports by doctors in medical journals. I am waiting for this information to be compiled to see what doctors are saying. If, through these medical reports of n.d.e.'s, we find evidence for something, rather than nothing, after life, will it change our view of an afterlife or of the supernatural realm?

Also, you will have to further explain the "un-dead flying god-men" example. I am unsure what you are referring to.

Thanks for taking time to respond! I don't know how you keep up with all these comments and such! You've got an interesting blog going here.

Jim Arvo said...

Two Chix Apologetics (henceforth, TCA) wrote "From what I am reading, most of your readers are responding emotionally while proclaiming rationality as their guide."

That's a very poor characterization. While it's true that many here have gone through emotional upheaval in leaving Christianity, most have done so only after a sober assessment of Christianity's claims, and serious consideration of alternative points of view. If you find fault with the arguments, then please address them rather than suggesting they issue from some unobservable (to you) mental state.

TCA: "The writer of the article is so immersed in postmoderism that he cannot even see the logical fallacy of that ideology..."

Dismissing the points raised in the essay as "postmodernism" is fruitless. First, I do not find your characterization to be apt. In any case, such a blanket dismissal adds nothing to the discussion.

TCA: "To say Christianity has no valid logical arguments is to show yourself unstudied."

Here's another possibility: We are quite well-studied and simply disagree with your assessment. By the way, what information do you have regarding our respective educations? Isn't that a rather careless conjecture on your part?

TCA: "Alvin Plantiga, N.T. Wright, C.S. Lewis, William Lane Craig? These men have valid arguments that can only be brushed aside by ad hominem. They can be reasonably argued against, but not brushed aside."

I'm not sure in what sense you use the word "valid" here; the technical sense (i.e. logically sound) or the colloquial sense (i.e. true or well-supported). I will agree that Plantinga has offered quite a few logically sound arguments, although I disagree with his premises. Regarding C. S. Lewis, as gifted a writer as he was, his apologetics often contained glaring fallacies, such as his "Lord, Liar, Lunatic" trilemma. I would not put his apologetics in the same league as Plantinga, Van Till, or Moreland for example. I also find William Lane Craig to be one of the better apologists, but still prone to circular reasoning. I cannot agree that any of them have "valid" arguments in the colloquial sense, and only Plantinga remains standing when the word is used in the technical sense (in my opinion). In any case, I don't see anybody trying to "brush aside" their arguments; many of us have examined such arguments closely and found them wanting. If you find some argument particularly compelling, then let's hear it.

.:webmaster:. said...

I would like to hear a formal argument for the non-existence of those beings. I think saying these things cannot exist assumes special knowledge and dismisses them a priori which leads to a non-argument.

Is there such a thing as a formal argument for the non-existence of things? It seems a bit silly to ask people to argue for the non-existence of characters in a story book. Would you think it reasonable for me to ask you to argue for the non-existence of a golden fleece, mermaids, a woman with snake for hair, Cyclops, sirens, and all the other magical and mysterious creatures in Homer’s classic? He wasn’t writing a novel you know. For 1,000 years people believed those stories embodied gospel truth!

All those things I listed, demons, witches, etc., live in a book, and that's the only place they exist. None of players or situations in those stories appear anywhere outside that book. I mean, when was the last time you saw a flying chariot? Or, for that matter, when was the last time you saw a god-man (Jesus) rise from the dead (un-dead) and fly into the air? All these magical "beings" are words on paper, and nothing more. In essence, they don’t exist, anymore than all the other imaginary creatures that live within the covers of billions of books filling millions of libraries and bookstores. Lots of things only exist in people’s imaginations.

Now, it's typically considered the responsibility of person making an extraordinary claim to provide evidence supporting the claim. Surely you understand this basic principle. If I tell you I've just spent my lunch hour with Big Foot aboard a cigar-shaped UFO from the Dog Star, you'd be right to expect me to give a little more evidence than just my word for it before you either believed me or adopted a new philosophy of life. Can you see the point? So, without any rational evidence for the magical entities and places talked about in the Bible, it's reasonable to assume those things don't exist.

Now, if my assumption is wrong, and someone would be willing to produce a demon, or something, well then I'd be glad to admit my mistake and alter my viewpoint.

These are not fairy tales, they are written reports by doctors in medical journals.

An interesting choice of words: fairy tales. It seems you might subconsciously agree that Bible stories highly resemble fairy tales. (Just an observation — no extra charge.)

I've been reading about NDEs since the 70s. Frankly, in regards to the topics dicussed on this website, I don't think much about them at all. Regardless of what NDEs may or may not indicate regarding life after death, nothing from any of the NDE research indicates that Christianity is the one true religion.

supernatural realm

That's an example of Christian-ese. I don't think there is an alternate "realm" where magical creatures hang their hats, play harps, or whatever they might do. I'll have to admit, however, that I enjoy the Harry Potter stories and the Hobbit stories. It might be fun if there were such a magical "realm."

boomSLANG said...

Taken from "Confident Christianity":

The idea that science can account for everything we know or will ever know has become more than a respected theory, it has become a dogmatic commitment on the part of those who believe.

Science is methodical and self-correcting. It is not a conviction, and therefore, not "dogmatic"---nor is it "committed" to any conclusion with absolute certainty. You attack a straw man.

And contrary to their banner of "tolerance", naturalist scientists are intolerant of any person professing Jesus Christ as Savior. How has this been accomplished?

What "banner"? Where are all these scientists who say you can't believe what you want to believe, or worship who you want to worship? Is there some "mission statement" of naturalism that we don't know about?....one that talks about people's religious affiliation?....or, do you feel an "intolerance" simply as a result of naturalism being the antithesis of supernaturalism, thereby including Christianity? I say the latter.

If, through these medical reports of n.d.e.'s, we find evidence for something, rather than nothing, after life, will it change our view of an afterlife or of the supernatural realm?

Near death experiences are just that--"near" death. They are not evidence of an afterlife, for they occur in this life. While these people may be pronounced "dead", and/or be flat-lined, these experiences are likely the result of anoxia. If/when a cadaver pops up and starts going into details about some dude in a cave named "Muhammad", then that would be something to consider ; )

Hereforatime said...

Question: What ancient document in the entire history of the planet has more evidence for its existence and realiability than any other?

Thought: Take all religion and philosophies out of our thinking and viewpoints. Why are we here?

Life Observations: Where did all that stuff come from to start all the stuff we see? Space sure seems ordered and designed to me.

Kuddos Two Chix!! You actually have supporting evidence and documentation for your reasoning. The other posts seem to have conjecture and, as you state, emotional reasonings.

Astreja said...

Most reliable ancient book? My money's on the Dào Dé J?ng.

Why are we here? To be alive and do stuff. When we cease being alive, we cease doing stuff. Simple as that.

Where did everything come from? Don't know. Don't particularly care. And space, ordered and designed? *snorts with laughter* You don't get out there much, do you?

boomSLANG said...

Thought: Take all religion and philosophies out of our thinking and viewpoints. Why are we here?

Gee, I don't know...why not? Why is a tapeworm here?

Space sure seems ordered and designed to me.

I'm sure it does.....oh, speaking of "space". 125 BILLION gallaxies?...all centered around humankind?...hmmm...seems like a waste of space to me. Tisk tisk, Allah.

Anonymous said...

Okay guys…this is a long post. I tried to answer as much as I could. :-)

Are you saying that Christianity is not based on faith? Are you saying that it is based on reason?

Actually, Webmaster, yes I am…in the same sense that I put faith in other things that I have reasoned about; including that the medicine I take will do what it is supposed to, that the money I put in the bank will be there, that there are good scientific theories about the origins of the universe. All of these things, including Christianity, have been reasoned before putting faith in them.

Two Chix Apologetics (henceforth, TCA) wrote "From what I am reading, most of your readers are responding emotionally while proclaiming rationality as their guide."

That's a very poor characterization. While it's true that many here have gone through emotional upheaval in leaving Christianity, most have done so only after a sober assessment of Christianity's claims, and serious consideration of alternative points of view. If you find fault with the arguments, then please address them rather than suggesting they issue from some unobservable (to you) mental state.


I agree that it is a possibility that many of the readers here have gone through an examination. I was commenting on what I was reading, but you are right in saying I do not know their backgrounds. However, this is not a good format for understanding their backgrounds.

Dismissing the points raised in the essay as "postmodernism" is fruitless.

I was not dismissing the points, rather noting the foundation for the arguments. Postmodernism is based in language constructs that rely on one’s social environment to give meaning to the very language they are speaking. In postmodernism ideology, we can never really get to reality “as it actually is,” because our “reality” is always tainted by those constructs. I think this is an important aspect of understanding the basis for a person’s arguments.

TCA: "To say Christianity has no valid logical arguments is to show yourself unstudied."

Here's another possibility: We are quite well-studied and simply disagree with your assessment. By the way, what information do you have regarding our respective educations? Isn't that a rather careless conjecture on your part?


If you are well studied, then you have the ability to present good arguments and that is what we will discuss. Interesting how you thought I was regarding you, personally, as unstudied. I didn’t know I said that.

Regarding C. S. Lewis, as gifted a writer as he was, his apologetics often contained glaring fallacies, such as his "Lord, Liar, Lunatic" trilemma. I would not put his apologetics in the same league as Plantinga, Van Till, or Moreland for example.

I agree with the “L, L, L” as not being an apologetic that works outside of the context of the Bible. However (not that you are suggesting this), that doesn’t dismiss all of C.S. Lewis’ work. If I do that, I have to apply the principle across the board and ill-regard Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity because he made an error by placing a cosmological constant in his theory to promote a steady state model of the universe, which was shown to him to be erroneous. He did accept the criticism. I, too, am very interested in Moreland’s work. I haven’t read as much of Van Till, just a couple articles.

William Lane Craig to be one of the better apologists, but still prone to circular reasoning.

Please list one of Dr. Craig’s circular arguments so I can investigate it. Thanks.

many of us have examined such arguments closely and found them wanting.

I don’t deny that, but how do you know that for everyone blogging on here? Or are you generalizing, which is what I’m being accused of?

Is there such a thing as a formal argument for the non-existence of things? It seems a bit silly to ask people to argue for the non-existence of characters in a story book. Would you think it reasonable for me to ask you to argue for the non-existence of a golden fleece, mermaids, a woman with snake for hair, Cyclops, sirens, and all the other magical and mysterious creatures in Homer’s classic? He wasn’t writing a novel you know. For 1,000 years people believed those stories embodied gospel truth!

Your examples here are not quite the same as one of the most influential ideologies in the history of mankind. Christianity has influenced science, government, culture, law-making, and education. It has been such a strong influence in history that I would like to know the basis for your rejection. That is not asking for a something unreasonable. It is an observation that has my interest.

All those things I listed, demons, witches, etc., live in a book, and that's the only place they exist. None of players or situations in those stories appear anywhere outside that book…….. In essence, they don’t exist, anymore than all the other imaginary creatures that live within the covers of billions of books filling millions of libraries and bookstores. Lots of things only exist in people’s imaginations.

An interesting choice of words: fairy tales. It seems you might subconsciously agree that Bible stories highly resemble fairy tales. (Just an observation — no extra charge.)


I chose “fairy tales” due to the previous two paragraphs you wrote.

The problem for grouping Christianity in with all those myths or fairy tales is that the early Christian movement and the life, death, and empty tomb of Jesus was written down in books outside of Christianity. And the characters were attested to by outside resources as well.

supernatural realm

That's an example of Christian-ese. I don't think there is an alternate "realm" where magical creatures hang their hats, play harps, or whatever they might do. I'll have to admit, however, that I enjoy the Harry Potter stories and the Hobbit stories. It might be fun if there were such a magical "realm."

Actually, this is an example of Immanuel Kant. There is the noumenal world and the phenomenal world. The noumenal world is the natural world. The phenomenal world suggests something other than the natural realm. So, if you don’t like supernatural, because it has a religious connotation, we can call it Plato’s realm of the Forms or the “other than natural” realm. Kant suggests there is an “other” than this realm where we get objectivity from. And I realize that Kantian philosophy has been argued for and against…I trying to show where I was coming from.

Science is methodical and self-correcting. It is not a conviction, and therefore, not "dogmatic"---nor is it "committed" to any conclusion with absolute certainty. You attack a straw man.

What "banner"? Where are all these scientists who say you can't believe what you want to believe, or worship who you want to worship? Is there some "mission statement" of naturalism that we don't know about?....one that talks about people's religious affiliation?....or, do you feel an "intolerance" simply as a result of naturalism being the antithesis of supernaturalism, thereby including Christianity? I say the latter.

Nice move on the argument. You say I attack a straw man, but naturalism holds sway in many university science departments and in the public schools.

Banner? You cannot be a “naturalist” scientist and worship anything by the very definition of naturalism: that the natural world is all there is in the universe. That is their banner and there is no room for a deity here. How about “motto” or “creed” instead of “banner”? The “intolerance” is displayed by the spokespersons for naturalism. One of them, Richard Dawkins of Oxford, is cited as saying “Religion is a mental virus and one of the strongest memes transmitted from parents to vulnerable children who do not really have any choice in whether their minds should be allowed to be exposed to this virus.” www.news24.com/News24/Columnists/George_Claassen/0,,2-1630-1827_1756747,00.html
This appears to be intolerant.

Anoxia

What is this? I am unfamiliar with it.

I’m not ready to discredit or fully accept n.d.e.’s. However, the experiences being related are fascinating.

Okay, if you’re still reading, I apologize for the length. I tried to answer as much as I could.

Webmaster, I didn’t ask you before, but is this kind of dialogue acceptable on your site?

And, I will be writing research papers for the next two weeks and may not be as available until mid-December. I will try to answer in short form, but may not until later.

Thanks again to all who responded!
Great conversation!

.:webmaster:. said...

Two Chix:

This type of dialog is fine.

You said: "Actually, Webmaster, yes I am…in the same sense that I put faith in other things that I have reasoned about; including that the medicine ... the money I put in the bank ... good scientific theories."

I think you're mixing apples with oranges here. All the things you listed, are verifiable and easily falsifiable. All the things you listed exist in this "realm." I still don't see how you reasoned that pigs can be demon-possessed or that there even is such a thing as a demon. The same goes with the rest of the characters and creatures in your favorite book of myths.

The religions of the Greeks and Romans had a profound and long-term influence on western culture. In fact, every star in the sky is named after characters in those stories, as are the names of the months and the days of the week. The Egyptian religion deeply influenced a huge portion of the ancient world for about 5,000 years. If we go to the Orient, we'll find religions that have been in place for thousands of years that have dramatically influenced the ideologies and cultures of over half the world. Surely you're not implying differently? Even Islam is valid based on your reasoning in this area.

You said: "The problem for grouping Christianity in with all those myths or fairy tales is that the early Christian movement and the life, death, and empty tomb of Jesus was written down in books outside of Christianity. And the characters were attested to by outside resources as well."

There is not one single thing written outside the Bible that attests to the life, death and empty tomb of Jesus. There is nothing outside the Bible that talks about talking snakes, talking bushes, flying chariots, walking on water, feeding five thousand with a kid's lunch, demon possessed swine, men living inside of fish for three days, trees of knowledge, angels who impregnate women, super strong blind men who knock down temples with their bare hands, people who can survive a fiery furnace and not even smell like smoke, bottles of oil that never run out, etc., etc., etc. Please explain to me how any of these magical stories are even slightly different from all the other magical stories of antiquity.

If there is a "supernatural realm" then by definition, there is no way for us to know anything about it. I mean, if it's "supernatural" then there is no natural way to be aware of it. If supernatural creatures venture into the "natural realm," then they become part of the natural universe, and can therefore be tested, examined, measured, weighed, etc. Once something "supernatural" crosses over into the "natural realm," then it becomes natural.

Paraphrase all the philosophers you want, no one, absolutely no one except Christians uses the term "supernatural realm" and when Kant created terminology to define his philosophy, he in no way was arguing in support of Christianity. I challenge you to show otherwise.

Now, back to the main question that I have for you, which you have yet to answer. What process of logic and reason did you use to determine that the creatures, magical events and colorful characters in the Bible are anything other than mythic?

Thanks for your time.

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

Original Two chix quote:

And contrary to their banner of "tolerance", naturalist scientists are intolerant of any person professing Jesus Christ as Savior. How has this been accomplished?

boomslang's original correlating response:

What "banner"? Where are all these scientists who say you can't believe what you want to believe, or worship who you want to worship? Is there some "mission statement" of naturalism that we don't know about?....one that talks about people's religious affiliation?....or, do you feel an "intolerance" simply as a result of naturalism being the antithesis of supernaturalism, thereby including Christianity? I say the latter.

Two chix counter: Nice move on the argument. You say I attack a straw man, but naturalism holds sway in many university science departments and in the public schools.

'Beg your pardon---I said you were attacking a "straw man" in reference to your statement that the proponents of science(it's "believers") were dogmatically committed to scientific knowledge, which was in reference to an earlier quoted statement of yours. You took it completely out of context.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you posit that the people from the scientific community, or from proponents of "naturalism", or whatever you will, are "intolerant" of Christianity, yes?---okay, again, if you can please provide a list, or roster, of "naturalist scientists", or hell, any scientists for that matter, who say that people are not free to believe what they want to believe, or worship who or what they want to worship, I'd be happy to have a look at it. On the other hand, if you feel "not tolerated" because they don't allow the supernatural or metaphysical aspects of your religion in their laboratories, it's because those things don't apply to the natural/physical universe.

Like the Webmaster pointed out---if things that are metaphysical were observable, testable, and falsifiable......they'd no longer be considered meta-physical...i.e..beyond physical. One other quick point---scientists throw the same exact religions out of the laboratory that you throw out of your church, just one extra, so I wouldn't feel too slighted.

Anoxia. What is this? I am unfamiliar with it.

Cerebral anoxia is a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Jim Arvo said...

TCA said "...you are right in saying I do not know their backgrounds. However, this is not a good format for understanding their backgrounds."

Given that the format is what it is, I assume you agree that you should therefore not make generalizations about the backgrounds of the participants here.

TCA: "If you are well studied, then you have the ability to present good arguments and that is what we will discuss. Interesting how you thought I was regarding you, personally, as unstudied. I didn’t know I said that."

Interesting word game. I said "we" not "me", so I clearly did not interpret your remark as pertaining specifically to me. I offered you another interpretation in lieu of your broad-brush (and unfounded) suggestion that the participants here are "unstudied". Would you like to either clarify who the "you" was in your original remark, or admit that you had no foundation for it?

"I agree with the “L, L, L” as not being an apologetic that works outside of the context of the Bible. However (not that you are suggesting this), that doesn’t dismiss all of C.S. Lewis’ work..."

Of course it doesn't. Each argument must clearly be judged on its own merits; I don't think anybody here has suggested otherwise.

"Please list one of Dr. Craig’s circular arguments so I can investigate it."

Here is one... Craig uses Paul's testimony to support the resurrection of Jesus. Specifically, Craig points to the usual list of so-called "eyewitnesses" including the "500 brethren" mentioned in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. Craig claims that these witnesses could not be legendary accounts because Paul is assumed to be acquainted with (some of) them! In other words, the claims are not legendary because some (indirect) claims are not legendary. You can find Craig's entire argument here. See page 6.

Craig is also guilty of rampant special pleading in that he only seems to be aware of those scholars who largely or totally accept the historicity of the gospel accounts. He, like many apologists, dismisses rather abruptly the idea of legendary embellishment, citing only those scholars who agree with early dating of various manuscripts (both extant and conjectured).

But most of my objections to Craig's arguments are to his unsupported assertions. For example all of his cosmological arguments (that I have seen) ignore much of 20'th century physics; quantum mechanics in particular. He dismisses out of hand the notion that "something can come from nothing" or "uncaused events" when, in fact, these are demonstrable quantum mechanical effects. He continually employs dubious "probabilities" when discussing the so-called "fine-tuning" of the fundamental physical constants, and simply assumes that the fundamental forces we observe could in fact be different from what they are (when this is currently unknown). He claims that the "first cause" must be "personal" and "timeless", based on his inability to imagine otherwise. With respect to Biblical claims I can make a long list: He takes the gospel accounts as reliable independent historical accounts, rather than hagiographic works consisting largely of midrashic interpolation. He insists that Paul's reference to the resurrection of Jesus necessarily implies an empty tomb (yet Paul never states this explicitly) because "The notion of resurrection is unintelligible with regard to the spirit or soul alone." This completely ignores other Hellenistic beliefs at that time that spoke of resurrections of deities occurring in a purely spiritual realm. That should suffice for now.

I said "many of us have examined such arguments closely and found them wanting." To which TCA replied "I don’t deny that, but how do you know that for everyone blogging on here? Or are you generalizing, which is what I’m being accused of?"

That's a specious complaint. I said "many of us" not "everyone blogging here". Specifically, I am referring to many regulars I know through numerous discussions and exchanges spanning several years.

TCA: "The problem for grouping Christianity in with all those myths or fairy tales is that the early Christian movement and the life, death, and empty tomb of Jesus was written down in books outside of Christianity."

Here you have gone way out on a limb. Please list for me the extra-Biblical works attesting to 1) the life of Jesus, 2) his death (presumably you mean the crucifixion), and 3) the empty tomb. I'll bet the best you can do is Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the younger, and the Talmud, all of which are scant and problematic for various reasons, and NONE of them speak to an empty tomb or to any other miraculous event. Please correct me if I'm wrong about that.

TCA: "...You say I attack a straw man, but naturalism holds sway in many university science departments and in the public schools."

What to you mean by "holds sway"? If you mean that it is the hypothesis employed in science, then I will agree. But you seem to be suggesting some kind of pervasive intolerance, which goes well beyond the dictates of falsifiability in science. I too think you have erected a straw man because naturalism does *not* consist in a dogmatic dismissal of "other realms," as you seem to suggest. Science does not dismiss Yahweh, or Allah, or Zeus and non-existent; it simply recognizes that which admits OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE. If an invisible conscious being manifested itself in some way that could be objectively observed, then science would happily incorporate such beings. If not, then they simply have no bearing on science. Science is not in the business of dealing with unobservable phenomena.

o'brien echols said...

To the anonymous angnostic baptist preacher: If your arguments are felt so strongly by you, why are you anonymous? Why are you ashamed to let people know who you are and how you feel? Why are you a servant and minister to a God that you are not sure exists? The fact that you refuse to identify yourself discredits both sides of your argument. You can't have it both ways, either you believe one way or not. Or do you believe in the existence of a god who only gets involved when invoked. You are not helping those you minister too nor anyone on this forum. Your refusal to identify simply says I am too afraid to be a Christian and too afraid not to be one.