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

Never Going Back

I value open-mindedness over most other things. When I was going through my deconversion and having frequent religious discussions with my family, I often felt that they weren’t being open-minded. I know that it’s hard (perhaps impossible) to judge how open-minded someone else is being, so I hesitate to even pass that kind of judgment. At the same time, it’s not like they were answering the problems I brought up with actual solutions — it mostly centered on how arrogant I was to question “God’s word.” On top of that, they never read any of the books or articles that I asked them to — I don’t think they even read all of the stuff I personally wrote to them.

It was the seeming lack of open-mindedness that shocked me most, in many ways. During my time as a Christian, I tried to be as open-minded as possible. I was part of a strict denomination that thought most other Christians were wrong, so I often had discussions with my Christian friends to try to help them see “the truth.” In those discussions, I often admitted that I could be wrong:

Either I’m wrong, or you’re wrong, or we’re both wrong. We can’t both be right…

I firmly believed (based on Matthew 7) that as long as I was searching for the truth, I would find it. Also, if what I believed about Christianity was true, then more study would only bear that out. In other words, I had nothing to fear by discussing and examining Christianity with those who disagreed with me. If they could show me where I was wrong, then that was good! It would mean that I had believed the wrong thing, but learning that would give me the opportunity to correct it and be more pleasing to God.

Now that I have come out of Christianity, I still feel just as strongly about the merits of open-mindedness. Recently, someone suggested that I read In His Image, by William Jennings Bryan (which I’m now doing), but when he gave me the suggestion, he then backpedaled and said I might not like the book because it supports Christianity. I was disappointed by that statement. I told him that I don’t read things based on whether or not I will agree with them — I take religion very seriously, because all religion is an effort to explain reality. If this book by WJB can provide some arguments I haven’t considered before, or answer some of my questions about Christianity, then I want to know that!

But now for the admission. Now for the part that I haven’t been able to say to my family yet: I don’t see any way that I’ll ever believe Christianity again. On the surface, that may seem like it runs counter toward my goal of being open-minded, but it really doesn’t. The fact is, I’ve just seen too much. “I once was blind, but now I see.” The fact is, the Bible can’t fix its problems because it’s a closed document. No more material is going in or out of it. Nor is God going to speak to me directly or perform some miracle to overcome my skepticism. We’re stuck with what we’ve got.

We’re left with a god that’s supposedly omnipotent, omniscient, and loves us all, yet we still have evil in the world. He remains hidden from us, but supposedly wants a relationship with us. He supposedly left us a message, but no one can agree on what it says, and its books look pretty much like all the other things that were being written at the time. As this post said:

Let’s face it – I may still be open to the idea of being convinced on the matter, but this is a genie that’s not going to go back into the bottle easily. I can’t unlearn what I’ve found; I can’t simply deny the truth that I’ve been able to discover without the fear of uprooting my faith. To ask me to believe again would be to take on the herculean task of not only providing sufficient evidence but also dealing with all of the logical and evidential problems or to ask me to knowingly deceive myself – and I’m not sure I’m willing to do that for anyone.

I am still an open-minded person. But I also know enough about Christianity now to know what it is and what it isn’t. I didn’t lose my faith by forgetting things, but by learning things. And if I had known years ago what I know now, I never would have been a Christian in the first place.

445 thoughts on “Never Going Back”

  1. SOM,
    I’m glad you’ve been commenting — you’ve done wonders for the traffic on my blog.

    In the end though, you haven’t really said anything. You believe Moses was real because the Jewish religion is old. That’s basically your main argument. As we’ve all pointed out numerous times, when it comes to actual evidence, there’s none to support your belief.

    I still sometimes wonder if you’re actually a non-believer posing as a Christian, because some of the statements you make are so ironic that it’s hard to believe you’d make them seriously.

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  2. Mark,
    I know it was several comments back, but I thought your point about Christianity being Paul’s religion was spot on. Also your points about what is required for salvation. The Bible is not cut and dry — it says all kinds of things about all kinds of issues. Trying to fit it all together is really tough; hence, all the myriad denominations one can choose from…

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  3. “I still sometimes wonder if you’re actually a non-believer posing as a Christian, because some of the statements you make are so ironic that it’s hard to believe you’d make them seriously.”

    Nate: Have you ever heard of Poe’s law? There’s a wikipedia page on it.

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  4. I had never heard of it before, but just read the wiki page you referenced. And yeah, that’s a perfect corollary!

    I have a tendency to get really irritated at exchanges like this, because I want everyone to be able to discuss things reasonably. I don’t expect SOM to cave in and agree with us. But if he could just show some occasional thoughtful consideration, I’d be happy.

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  5. Nate,

    Christianity defines itself.

    That means you saying, “Christianity is Paul’s religion,” is just another one of your atheist hallucinations of an alternative universe of nonsense.

    Paul worked to annihilate Christianity before God struck him down and granted him insight into Revelation.

    Paul preached the Gospel of Jesus just as Peter and the other Apostles did.

    Things have their own nature.

    Yet atheists think they can say the magic words and all will be redefined according to their personal specifications just because they say so.

    “Moses and Jesus never existed!” And “Voila La!” Two of mankind’s greatest teachers never were.

    The entire world is swimming under the influence of Moses and Jesus, yet the atheist is totally oblivious.

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  6. Even if Moses did exist, and again, I maintain that there is no evidence that he did, he was certainly not one of “mankind’s greatest teachers,” as there is no indication that he ever taught anyone anything.

    Beginning in the 15th century, with Bishop Tostatus, biblical scholars have increasingly doubted that Moses was the actual author of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Today, even “The New American Bible,” the Catholic version of the King James, accepts Wellhausen’s Documentary Hypothesis.

    According to Wellhausen, and consequently, the Catholic Church, at least four groups were responsible for writing the books attributed to Moses:

    The Yahwist Sopurce, located in Jerusalem, in the Southern Kingdom of Judea, composed it’s version c.950 BCE.

    The Elohist Source, located in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, in Schechem, wrote c.850 BCE. Around 750 BCE, the Northern priests, seeing that Israel was likely to be attacked, took their documents Southward, to the protection of the Southern Kingdom in Judea, where the Yahwist Source and the Eloist Source were then combined.

    The Deuteronomist Source was written sometime during the 7th century (800+) BCE in the kingdom of Josiah – some feel it was written by Josiah himself – and miraculously “found” in an old dusty, unused room of the temple, prior to renovation, and proclaimed to be a lost book of Moses! Hallelujah!

    The Priestly Source wrote in Babylon, after the captivity of 722 BCE. Those priests felt that Israel had caused its own destruction, and wrote in an effort to bring the Jews back to the earlier worship of their god. Gen 1 is a good example of the work of the Priestly Source – they felt that the Yahwist version was too anthropomorphic, what with god popping down to earth for walks, “in the cool of the day,” and acting as a tailor for Adam and Eve, but those who combined the various sources were afraid to toss out what became Gen 2, and so we are left with two creation stories to this day.

    The four sources were eventually redacted – pieced together like a patchwork quilt – in 400 BCE – and the Torah was born.

    So when Silence speaks of Moses as being one of “mankind’s greatest teachers,” he taught nothing. Even the story of his being placed in a basket as a baby, was plagiarized from Akkadian Mesopotamia, regarding the legend of Sargon, the great general who united all Mesopotamia under the Akkadian banner and opened trade routes all the way to the Mediterranean.

    I find his lack of knowledge unbelievable, he must live in a giant bubble.

    “If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood, or persuaded of afterward, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call in question or discuss it…the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.”
    — William Kingdon Clifford —

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  7. @Silence ofno mind
    “The notion that Moses and Jesus didn’t exist is moronic.”

    LOl..Should we inform pretty much the entire archaeological community that all their years of work has been refuted on a blog?

    What an absolute dickhead you are SOM.

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  8. Arken,

    Atheists habitually hallucinate alternate realities in order to make their beliefs come out right.

    So what started out in this post as a consensus of the archeological community concerning the dearth of archeological evidence pointing the existence of Moses and Jesus has now genetically mutated into full blown, overwhelming, incontrovertible evidence that supports the archeological communities concrete findings that Jesus and Moses didn’t exist.

    I’ve already blasted those notions to smithereens with reasoning any kindergartner could understand.

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  9. No. This is a blatant lie.
    Nobody , other than you, has disputed the non-existence of Moses.
    You have done nothing of the sort. In fact you have yet to offer a single piece of evidence to refute either claim, merely ranting on about hallucinating atheists.
    You are a childish fool and a very poor apologist.

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  10. Archeao,

    Western Civilization and the Christian dynamo religion that powered its rise to unprecedented greatness is incredibly obvious evidence that Jesus existed.

    The existence of Israel is also incredibly obvious evidence that Moses existed.

    Unfortunately, atheists can’t see the obvious, even when it painstakingly explained to them.

    I’m trying to figure out how to get atheists to hallucinate any sort of alternate reality that can get them past their overwhelming bias into something approaching objective reality.

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  11. ”Western Civilization and the Christian dynamo religion that powered its rise to unprecedented greatness is incredibly obvious evidence that Jesus existed.”

    No. It merely illustrates how clever those who split from mainline Judaism in the wake of the wars were able to adapt. The character of jesus in the bible is a narrative construct.

    ”The existence of Israel is also incredibly obvious evidence that Moses existed.”
    LOl..this merely demonstrates your complete ignorance of the history of the Egyptians and the geography of the area and how much of the area they ruled.

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  12. Arkenaten,

    I think you and your little band of atheists are the only ones who deny the existence of Moses and Jesus.

    Judaism and Christianity are too well defined and perpetual to be the result of mere coinkydink or some nebulous confluence of people and events.

    The Catholic Church is over 2000 years old and traces its history all the way back to Jesus. At one time it was the greatest most powerful institution in Europe, if not the world.

    The Catholic Church like a time capsule full of historical treasure.

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  13. ”I think you and your little band of atheists are the only ones who deny the existence of Moses and Jesus.”
    Actually the first two words of this sentence are an oxymoron. No further explanation required.
    You are a dickhead.

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  14. My claim is that there is not enough archeological evidence to state conclusively that Moses didn’t exist. ~silenceofmind

    Radiocarbon, Vol 37, No 2 (1995). pp. 213-220

    Tell Es-Sultan (Jericho): Radiocarbon Results of Short-Lived Cereal and Multiyear Charcoal Samples From the End of the Middle Bronze Age

    Hendrik J. Bruins, Johannes van der Plicht

    Abstract:

    “The final destruction of MBA Jericho occurred during the late 17th or the 16th century BC.”

    In other words… Jericho already lay in ruins for at least two centuries prior to the alleged time of the exodus (1200–1450 BCE).

    That, coupled with the logistical nightmare imposed in trying to accommodate the physical needs of over two million people plus livestock camped in a dessert for 40 years, and the fact that they left absolutely no trace of their sojourn… makes the story highly improbable.

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  15. SOM, I got tired of wading through the fecal fields, so I admittedly didnt read anything… sorry. A few things, though.

    1. I never said there was no moses or jesus. I dont really care. the bible stories may have been based loosely off of real people or at least real names – I dont care. I was commenting on your position that tradition bears more weight and validity than archaeology and science. If we believe the bible, then not only was there a huge exodus of israelites, led by moses, who wondered the wilderness for over 40 years, they did it with an abundance of egyptian spoils… yet there is nothing in the sand to confirm this. There should be something and there is not. Is this iron clad proof? that could be stretch, but it is more of an indication that the bible was wrong (or over exaggerated the real events) while there is no evidence to support the bible’s claims. Like Homer (and others), I think the bible has some historical parts to it, but I dont buy the miraculous and divine, for many reasons.

    2. I think you’re being unfairly biased toward judeo-christian tradition… or do you feel the same about all ancient traditions? traditions of islam, Zoroaster, Buddhism, etc?

    3. and the original post had nothing to do with moses, but we’re discussing him. Why not another topic and some insight on your theology?

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  16. SOM,
    Like William said, not all of us are claiming definitively that Moses and Jesus didn’t exist. I think we’ve hinted at that before, but you’ve seemed to ignore it.

    Personally, I think Moses is a myth. But it’s possible that there was someone named Moses way back in Israel’s history somewhere, just as it’s possible that there was a tribal leader named Arthur who lived about 1500 years ago. But there’s not enough evidence to really say anything for sure, as we’ve repeatedly shown.

    As to Jesus, it wouldn’t surprise me if he had been a real person, though I think the gospel accounts we have of him are exaggerations based on inflated oral tradition. It’s hard to say how closely he resembled the accounts.

    So I’m not sure where the breakdown is in communication… what are you expecting from us? Are you trying to get us all to say that Moses was a real person who led over a million people out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, etc? Considering that you’ve offered no actual evidence, you’re not going to get anything close to that from us.

    Instead, if you were being intellectually honest, I think you’d have to concede that the actual evidence for Moses is scant, to say the least. And that he’s someone you believe in solely on your faith in Christianity. While none of us would agree with you, we’d at least accept that as a reasonable position, considering we haven’t discussed any other lines of evidence yet. It would be inconsistent to expect you to abandon Christianity over one single issue.

    So why don’t you get off of this hill you’ve commandeered for your last stand, and let’s move onto another issue? Or are you afraid of what you’ll discover if we change topics?

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  17. @Si, OBjective reality involves careful consideration and weighing of evidence, of which, you’ve provided none; SUBjective reality involves making it up as you go along, which appears to be your forte. Hard to believe those three universities you mentioned attending, unless you flunked out of all three, which is more likely the case.

    The existence of Israel is “incredibly obvious evidence” that the United Nations established the State of Israel, usurping land claimed by the Palestinians, and Moses, if he ever existed, unless he was heading the UN in 1949, had nothing to do with it.

    Western Civilization rose to unprecedented greatness due to the conquests of the Roman Empire, slipped into the Dark Ages for a thousand years due to the shackles of Christianity, and finally threw off those shackles, beginning the Age of Reason, which continues to leave religion in the dust, where it belongs.

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  18. @Si, “At one time it (the Catholic Church) was the greatest most powerful institution in Europe, if not the world.” – and as the world matured, it began putting aside childish things.

    Bit I have to admit, Catholic Priests make great baby-sitters —

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  19. Good work, Ron – add to that the fact that the oldest evidence that the Hebrews had a written language, dates to 1000 BCE – that’s what happens when you hang out with sheep and goats all day, instead of going to school.

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  20. SOM is doing this blog a great service in that as long as this blog is here, people who are seeking to better define their belief system will continue to read what has been written. This exchange of views blatantly shows even the most ignorant reader (likely me) that there is a vast difference between faith and reason.

    Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.” Som has shown over and over his tree is sprouting huge amounts of enmity, cowardice, and lack of any trace of love. The atheists here are much better “Christians” than he could ever be, in a sense of caring for their fellow human, and that will be obvious to any reader.

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  21. @William, RE: “Is this iron clad proof? that could be stretch” – still, that’s what courts refer to as, “the preponderance of evidence,” meaning, which is more likely, based on the evidence available? Now if we could just get Si to provide some —

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  22. @Nate, RE: “As to Jesus, it wouldn’t surprise me if he had been a real person”

    I used to believe that Yeshua never existed, for the simple reason that the very first accounts of him weren’t written until 42 years after his alleged crucifiction (pun intended), but something an atheist friend said, caused me to reconsider.
    It was prophesied in Isaiah that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, and there was a reason for that. Migdal Eder was a tower near Bethlehem.
    To make a short story long, it was used to watch over large flocks of sheep.
    The flocks in Bethlehem were raised for very special purposes. The shepherds that cared for these flocks would have been specially trained for their job, as a special flock of sheep were raised by rabbinical shepherds from Jerusalem. These shepherds were very knowledgeable of the ceremonial laws of cleanliness and took very seriously their job that the sheep were to be protected from harm or injury of any kind.
    Bethlehem was the birthplace of these lambs and since their final destination involved being offered as a religious sacrifice in the temple at Jerusalem, special care had to be taken that they were not blemished. Only a perfect lamb would be acceptable. These people’s god wasn’t satisfied with factory seconds. Regarding his human creations, he admits he made junk, but he expects only perfection in return.
    Migdal Edar was a two-story tower that was covered to protect the watchman who looked over the horizon to be on guard of any impending danger from both human and animal enemies. The lower level of the tower was specifically used as the place where the lambs from the flock were born. It was ceremoniously clean and orderly.
    According to historic writings, underneath the watch tower itself was a cave-like lower portion. This is where the ewes would be taken to be protected and cared for while they delivered their newborn lambs. Temple ritual would have required that the birthing place for these lambs be ceremonially clean, so a lamb used for sacrifice would likely not be born in a dirty environment as we would think of a stable in our Western mindset.
    When a lamb was born, it was immediately wrapped in swaddling clothes (described historically as strips of cloth) to keep it from injuring or otherwise blemishing itself and placed in a small stall or manger, where it could temporarily recuperate until it gained strength. This was done so the lambs would be protected from harming themselves on their unstable legs. Then, at some point, they would be examined by a priest to ensure they were fit for use as a sacrifice. This was the only function of the lower level of the Migdal Eder.
    The flock of sheep was kept outside 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This was a holy place, set apart for the sole purpose of birthing the temple sacrificial lambs.
    It’s easy to see how the legend of the birth of Yeshua (Jesus) would have been crafted to comply with the requirements of these ancient rituals, even to the point of inventing a non-existent Roman census, in order to facilitate his birth in Bethlehem, traditional birthplace of sacrificial lambs.
    While it’s true that there is no record of such a Roman census, and even if there had been, requiring every Jewish male to travel to his birth city would have brought commerce to a standstill, as shops would close so their owners could make the trek, there was no reason for Yeshua to return to Nazareth and be raised there, unless he had actually existed, as being raised in Nazareth did nothing to further the storyline – the birth in Bethlehem was BS, to fulfill the prophecy, but the childhood in Nazareth may have been true. Therefore, there is at least that one thin thread of plausibility.
    But now, however, there is some controversy among biblical archaeologists as to whether or not Nazareth existed at the time Yeshua allegedly did, so in my mind, the jury’s still out.

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