Agnosticism, Atheism, Christianity, Culture, Faith, God, Religion, Truth

A Brand New Direction

It’s been a year and a half since I’ve posted on here, but I think it’s time I start up again. I have some new things to say.

Around this time last year, I was writing some Bible class material on the subject of “Christian Evidences” when I came across these articles claiming that the Book of Daniel was a forgery. Naturally, I was highly skeptical of the claim and decided to test it. Much to my surprise, there was real substance to the articles — arguments that substantially called the inspiration of Daniel into question. After doing further research, I found that the information given in the articles was accurate and accepted, even by Christian scholars (Christian scholars don’t accept the conclusion of course, just the historical evidence).

I was completely dumbfounded. As my previous articles on this site show, I was unwavering in my belief that the Bible was the inerrant, inspired word of God, and I had spent a lot of time studying the doctrinal issues in the Bible. But after researching the Book of Daniel, I realized that I had never tested my belief in the Bible’s inspiration; I had just assumed it. I felt humiliated! The entire foundation of my life was based on something I had never really investigated!

I immediately started to do heavy research into the prophecies of the Bible, the alleged inconsistencies of the Bible, and the transmission and canonicity of the Bible. I also spent time thinking more deeply about the theology of the Bible, especially the concept of an eternal Hell. With every subject I studied, my doubts grew and grew. Within a couple of months, I realized that I could no longer accept that the Bible was inspired by God. There were too many issues in it to be the message of a perfect deity.

My blog is called “Finding Truth” because that’s what I’ve always tried to do, even when it’s uncomfortable. As I make future posts, I want to examine the things that led me to my current position and explain why I actually find more comfort now than I did as a Christian. I’ve decided to leave all my old articles in place as an interesting comparison to where I am now. I hope everything here will be useful to those searching for truth.

42 thoughts on “A Brand New Direction”

  1. “To assume dogs just rely on “instinct” also makes it easier for people to mistreat them or treat them harshly.”

    Just correcting myself – to “mistreat” and to “treat harshly” are the same thing

    🙂

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  2. Awesome discussion…except that I was apparently not being clear. lol.

    While I would, probably, make some kind of argument about “why do we need the bible when animals clearly have a moral code”, that was not, on this occasion, anywhere close to what I was saying.

    What I was attempting to respond to was the whole “you can’t explain away spiritual experiences through Materialist Reductionism…or if you can, what stops you from then using the same thing on concepts like Family or Love”. It was something portal/Ryan referenced on Apr. 12.

    What I was saying is that Family and Love are already explainable from a Materialist perspective, as it appears to be something that the “higher” lifeforms have. By explaining away a “spiritual experience” as euphoria/hallucination/mass psychology, it does not open the door to destroying concepts of Family and Love.

    In fact, I think that explaining spiritual/divine experiences would be more difficult if not for a materialist explanation, as adherents to numerous and completely contradictory faiths experience them. If only Christians (or Muslims, or Jews, or whomever) experienced these things, then I think that could be used as evidence for not only a spiritual realm (and therefore a good chance for a god), but for their interpretation or knowledge of that realm to be the correct one. However, since they all experience it…they can’t all be right, but in this particular I think they can all be wrong.

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  3. Hi esell thanks for clarifying that,

    I think you were being quite clear in your last posts

    I was just focusing more on your example of lions having family ties. I then moved onto thinking about the cognitive ability of dogs 🙂 sorry, my mind does jump around a bit, I have to practice staying on track.

    “It does not open the door to destroying concepts of Family and Love.”

    I agree that a purely materialist approach doesn’t necessarily destroy concepts of family and love. I like what you wrote in your previous post – that a child is a product of reproduction and a collection of related individuals is a family 🙂 using different terms to refer to the same thing doesn’t take away its value, a child is both a (1) valuable member of a family, and a (2) biological offspring of his parents. However, to treat spiritual experiences this way can risk denying the experience altogether. I ask myself, is it really our place to discount and attempt to reduce these experiences? Especially if these spiritual experiences others have are cherished and valuable?

    “However, since they all experience it…they can’t all be right”.

    People can interpret an experience differently after it has happened, this doesn’t rule out the experience itself.

    Hope your have a brilliant day/night 🙂

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  4. If so, you’re left with conflicting experiences from conflicting sources, with many, if not all, proclaiming their own divine source, with their own divine and eternal consequences. Even with the stakes being so high (eternal consequences) there is no way to verify which one is right. There is no way to know whether any are right.

    It creates a situation where it’s one’s word against another’s, and where people are forced to take stands, making pitiful excuses as to why their improvable faith and flawed book is the “right” one.

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  5. Does anyone know of accounts of miracles that exist outside of the Abraham faiths? I know Hinduism and Greek Mythology refer to stories of how people were created – but are there any other faiths that outline miracles in their texts?

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  6. Absolutely. Ancient historians attributed miracles to all kinds of people. And you should check out the info on Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba. There are many miracles attributed to him, and he only died about 2 years ago.

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  7. will do thanks,

    any pointers to where I can find ancient Greek/Roman accounts of Miracles BCE that are associated with other religions?

    Im reading an online book atm called The Cambridge Companion to Miracles, really interesting stuff, but since its only a sample, some pages are missing. Do you know of any other books?

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  8. I’m afraid I don’t have any suggestions for you on those topics — they’re just aspects I haven’t researched too much so far. Anyone else have any suggestions?

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  9. Ryan, for an introductory sample I really recommend reading John H. Hick’s Philosophy of Religion. Also, I would really recommend reading The Upanishads.

    After that try Bergson’s The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, James’ Varieties of Religious Experience, Mbiti’s African Religions and Philosophy, Prothero’s Religious Literacy, Smart’s Doctrine and Argument in Indian Philosophy, Jennings’ The Vedantic Buddhism of the Buddha, Lapidus’ History of Islamic Societies, and Warraq’s Why I Am Not A Muslim.

    Good reading, my friend.

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  10. Thanks for the list Persto. Only way I’ll complete them all is if life really is eternal. 😉 Seriously though, I’ve always had the same question as Ryan’s, and I’m glad you’ve provided a good list.

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  11. Howie,

    I’ve always thought that an infinite regress of causes or events was absurd, so…no worries about getting them all read. Lol.

    Regards

    Ryan,

    Cool.

    Regards

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  12. Hi Nate,
    I apologize for jumping on your blog and asking a question based on one comment in one of your posts where you write:

    ” I guess the only thing I’m missing is my family, but I can’t do anything about that.”

    I’ll try to keep this brief but I would like to ask a question. You say that you miss your family; when you were a “believer”, was your family fully accepting of you?

    My experience with my own (biological) family was that no matter what I believed, even if I believed the same core beliefs of the christian faith along with them, they would continue to find just one more thing that indicated that I fell short of being a “true christian”. It made no difference if I came closer to their way of thinking; they would just continue to find some other flaw in my beliefs. There was always this you-are-just-not-one-of-us attitude no matter what. There was the occasional moment when they acted loving and accepting toward me, but it was always followed with some sort of rejection later on. I wasted years of my life thinking that I will eventually be accepted if I just change in some way.

    My theory now (years later and now an agnostic) is that the type of mindset that latches onto a faith so blindly and unquestioningly does so because they need that mental security and it is that same need for security that they create for themselves a hierarchical structure. They need to feel that someone is “out” of the group in order to feel that there is an “in” to which to belong. And it is that same need for security that they can push out a believer that is threatening in some way (I always questioned everything and didn’t shy away from argument even at a young age) with the claim that he/she isn’t a true believer or, my favorite, doesn’t have a “personal relationship with Jesus” yet turn around and claim that some other individual is “of course a good christian” even when that person shows no sign of having the same religious faith as long as that individual affirms some other strongly-held belief/position they hold. For example, if that individual shares with them the same political views.

    I was wondering if this has been (or was) your experience at all.

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  13. Hi R,

    Thanks for the comment — sorry it’s taken me so long to respond!

    I’m really sorry to hear about the situation you’ve had to endure with your family. While there are definitely some similarities in our stories, my experience wasn’t the same as your in regard to how accepting my family was. There was a very long period where we had a great relationship and agreed on all the “big” issues. I had a few personal beliefs that were slightly different from theirs, but I didn’t make a big deal about them. And they usually didn’t either.

    I think for most of my family, it’s not that they needed an “out” group — they just firmly believed that God had set things up that way. They believed that God’s requirements for us were reasonably easy to understand from scripture, but that many people just disregarded them. Thus, those people became the out group by default.

    I’m part of that out group now, but not because my family wants it that way. They believe God has told them to “withdraw fellowship” from us to both keep themselves pure and to bring us back to the fold. I think they’ve arrived at that belief from mis-applying some passages, but I don’t doubt their sincerity.

    Thanks again for the comment. Please feel free to join in on the discussions here any time you like!

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