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

Letter to Kathy Part 2

You know Kathy, we’ve been fairly blunt with you today. Flippant, too. And it’s tough when people talk to/about you that way. I’m sorry for that.

If we could cut through all the rhetoric for a second, I’d like to commiserate with you. A little over 4 years ago, I was a very dedicated Christian. I had some doubts, but they weren’t about the Christian faith, just my understanding of it.

I felt like there were problems in my beliefs about the gospel. I believed in a literal Hell, and I believed a lot of people would be going there. But I had a very hard time squaring that with a loving God. I had matured enough to realize that most people were pretty decent. Not perfect, certainly, but good people who cared about others and typically wanted to do the right thing. I didn’t think such people deserved Hell. In fact, like Paul, I often thought that if God would accept it, I’d gladly go to Hell myself, if it would save my friends and family. And if everyone else could be added into that deal too, even better.

So if I felt that way, could I be more compassionate than God? Of course not. But I had a very hard time finding anything in the Bible that backed up an idea that most people, regardless of creed or  belief would be saved.

I didn’t give up though. I knew about Universalists, so I decided to read up on their reasons for thinking everyone went to Heaven. It sounded good, but I just wasn’t convinced by their arguments. I just didn’t see the Bible teaching such a doctrine, and I still believed the Bible was the inerrant word of God.

I was in a state of flux.

And that’s the position I was in when I first ran across articles that pointed out flaws in the Bible. I was shocked by what the articles said, but since I didn’t have any answers against them at the moment, I got busy with research. I didn’t even comment on the articles — I just went to work. It wasn’t about winning any arguments; it was simply a search for answers.

I think that frame of mind I was in made all the difference for me. Deep down, I was already struggling. The doctrines I had long believed in, and even taught to others, didn’t fit together in my mind as well as they once had.

That’s probably the difference between you and me. I get the feeling that you question nothing about your faith. Not trying to put you down about that; just making an observation.

For me, discovering that the Bible was not the perfect book I had always thought it to be, and finding out that some of these church leaders I had always admired knew of these problems but never spoke of them, helped me make sense of a lot of things. It took time, and it wasn’t easy to come to the realizations, but everything finally fell into place for me when I realized Christianity was just another religion. For the first time, I finally understood the sentiment of that line from “Amazing Grace,” I once was blind, but now I see…

I don’t know if that’s helpful to you at all. Maybe one day it will be. Maybe one day, something will make you ask a few questions, and you’ll think back to those non- believers who were so insistent that Christianity was certainly not the only way. If that day comes, I hope you’ll find this exchange helpful and realize you’re not alone.

2,018 thoughts on “Letter to Kathy Part 2”

  1. @Mike

    Thats known as a priori and the insertion of it within the premise to prove a point is circular – otherwise known as begging the question

    Your belief must surely be based on something?
    You didn’t just suck it out of the air, and any truth claim must have something to back it up.
    If you consider that I have erred in stating Christianity has no evidence for its foundational claims then please tell me what this evidence is and I will apologize and retract my statement..


  2. “– so we’ve switched the “No true Scotsman” fallacy for the “No true Christian” fallacy! Sad.”

    BY that bit of non thinking we might as well conclude that liberals are people who believe in limited government, are anti abortion, don’t believe in helping the poor, are social and economic conservatives and go by the name of republicans.

    Please go read up on the “No true scotsman” fallacy to avoid embarrassing yourself again in the future.


  3. History does support the Bible sometimes. But so what? That does nothing for its claims of inspiration. However, if the Bible contains incorrect history, then that does a great deal of damage to the claim of inspiration. And in fact, history does disagree with the Bible in a number of places. This is not simply due to lack of evidence, but to contrary evidence.

    The Bible contains some prophecies. Some of the most specific ones (primarily in the OT) appear to have come true, but only because the prophecy and the fulfillment were written about at the same time. In the cases where prophecies were given about a far future event — things we could actually verify today, in other words — the prophecies are extremely vague and use a lot of imagery. And some of them, like the one about Tyre, are flat-out wrong. And some NT books, most notably Matthew, misuse OT passages to create prophecies that were never there to begin with. Taken as a whole, prophecy is actually a strike against the legitimacy of the Bible.

    The Bible contains contradictions. Mike says that each of them has plausible explanations, but plausibility lies in the eye of the beholder. Many people do not find the “explanations” plausible in the least. And what does it say about a God who allows for even seeming contradictions in his all-important message to mankind?

    Referring to the original language of a text is useful. However, it’s also prudent to acknowledge one’s lack of expertise in such things. And considering the number of high-quality scholars who have been involved in the major translations of the Bible, it’s not surprising that the translations almost always accurately reflect the original meaning of the text. Many times, this need to refer to the original languages is just a red herring.

    The time and culture that a text was written in is also important to its understanding. But this also strikes against the notion of inspiration, since God is supposed to be outside time and culture. When the Israelites write in a way that matches their time and place in history, and they speak of a tribal god that mirrors the other tribal gods around them, and their understanding of cosmology is geo-centric, and this god evolves as time goes by, showing a notably different nature in later times than he did in earlier times, this only highlights the very human origins of the Bible. On the other hand, if the Bible had taken on a more precise tone that focused on clarity and accuracy, then not only would it have been easily understood by people today, but it would have been easily understood by people of any time.

    Finally, Mike complains that the points we bring up against Christianity just come from other skeptics and aren’t primary. I don’t know what he’s talking about. There are times when we reference the work of others, like William Dever, Israel Finkelstein, Bart Ehrman, etc. But it’s only because they’re experts in their fields, and they have some important things to say. Other than that, we point to actual passages, or actual problems within the Christian doctrines. That IS going back to primary sources. Is he complaining because they’re not new points? I hope not, because why would that matter? And doesn’t he violate his own standards by continually linking to apologetic sites? This is simply more diversion.


  4. Not sure you can be blamed too much. GIven that you consider yourself informed by a book written by a bunch of priests and scribes, who weren’t scholars in anything – its to be expected.


  5. ” I wouldn’t do that. So am i more merciful than god, and if not, then in what way would god be more merciful than me?”

    and yet I note with unquestionable truth that with all the causes to die for in this world you have never died for a single one. Nothing like an armchair martyr in delusional quotient.


  6. and yet I note with unquestionable truth that with all the causes to die for in this world you have never died for a single one.

    Why is that significant? Are you referring to Jesus?


  7. “I will apologize and retract my statement..”

    When has that lie ever worked outside of your nightmares at night?

    Does this mean you have evidence but refuse to show it, or have no evidence and once again are simply going to avoid the issue and obfuscate as all those schooled in fundamental apologetics do?


  8. “There is no evidence for the foundational claims of any religion that is based on the supernatural”

    Thats known as a priori and the insertion of it within the premise to prove a point is circular – otherwise known as begging the question

    So if you’re saying Ark is wrong, then you’re saying that such evidence exists – trot it out —


  9. Thats better. Breath in deep – doesn’t the air feel fresher when you are finally honest??
    How would you know?


  10. ” Many times, this need to refer to the original languages is just a red herring.”

    Your status as a hack is hereby firmly established. Thats as bone head stupid as a spanish only speaker claiming the need to refer to the nuances of English when studying Shakespeare is a red herring

    You will write anything to delude yourself that you are up to snuff


  11. “What I understand is the end of that process and that skeptics are RARELY ever skeptics they are just skeptical of one side.” – Mike

    and some believers accept explanations and arguments for their beliefs that they wouldn’t accept for an opposing one. I guess no one is safe from bias, and all struggle with perfect objectivity.


  12. I would suspect that on boards such as these, Mike finds a sense of importance that is missing in his real life.


  13. Mike,

    Ok, lets just assume that everyone that doesn’t believe in God is deluded.


    and you disagree.

    Your positions have been outlined.

    rather than continuing to say that they are acting deluded, or stupid, or ridiculous, or deceptive ect.

    wouldn’t this conversation be a lot less muddled and more clear if the questioning of peoples integrity and character subsided?

    What if the focus remained on what people believe and why? Without jumping back to saying how the other party is stupid, or ridiculous, or deceptive ect. ]

    Wouldn’t this be more effective and reasonable?


  14. @ Mike,

    Are you saying that if a person doesn’t know Hebrew or Greek they have no means or ability to question the veracity of the Bible’s claims? The implication is that they don’t even have the right to do so. Not everyone has the luxury of that type of education. What is the purpose of translation into English if the Bible can only be understood in it’s original language?


  15. ” And some of them, like the one about Tyre, are flat-out wrong.”

    You flat out flopped on Tyre desperately begging that an island shared borders with sidon several miles up the coast and on the coastland to try and escape that the mainland was considered Tyre in the BIble. It was a performance worthy of a gold medal in olympic contortion gymnastics. Meanwhile the mainland was scraped clean, is in ruins and will never be rebuilt because its under UN protection

    On the other hand you are doing such a bang up job in proving that Israel is not a nation fulfilling many prophecies. Ruth has assisted you I see by linking to some sites that back the claim. Its kind of a good throwback. She is like your straight person in the comedy act. Its nostalgic of comedy acts of the golden era of television. Unique selling point for the DVD.

    Unfortunately my time for comedy must be put off now. The full day awaits


  16. “and yet I note with unquestionable truth that with all the causes to die for in this world you have never died for a single one. Nothing like an armchair martyr in delusional quotient.” – mike

    you talking about jesus? If i was god, I wouldnt require that my son die to save people from a doom that i created. If anyone had to die, i’d sooner kill myself than my son, but if i’m making all the rules, that wouldnt be necessary.


  17. Ruth, you bring up an excellent point. And how does the gospel work if one must first become an expert of ancient languages to understand it? Makes one wonder why God ever thought using the written word would be better than direct, individual revelation.

    And Ryan, I think your suggestion is excellent.


  18. “you flat out flopped on Tyre desperately begging that an island shared borders with sidon several miles up the coast and on the coastland to try and escape that the mainland was considered Tyre in the BIble.” – mike

    I cant believe we’re still talking about this. of course the mainland was part of tyre, but what you keep trying to ignore is that island was also part of tyre, the part with the fortress and ports…

    Oh yeah, you think that NYC was destroyed and never rebuilt on 9/11…


  19. Oh, and for the record, TBlacksman – I’m not really sure what I am; I’m still figuring it out. (At 56 years of age and still attending church). And before you and Kathy level the “Not a REAL Christian” boom (whatever that means) I’ll just ‘fess up. No, I’m probably not.

    All I know is this. I brought my own kids up (four of them) in the church because that’s what my parents did. I honestly never really thought about the whole thing until a couple of years ago; I just did what I thought was the right thing to do and what I thought was my responsibility as a parent to do.

    I have grandchildren now and they are being brought up in loving, respectful, caring environments (we’ll be up to 11 in the next few days!) where there is no such thing as celestial ‘boogeyman’ to scare them into behaving. They are kind, polite, normal kids (in other words, not perfect!) who treat others the same way they are treated. My children and their partners are doing a wonderful job and I admire the fact that my ‘Nones’ are doing a fine job of raising their children with morals; it’s plain to see in them. They are doing just great without a belief in the supernatural.

    To tell the honest truth, I feel quite silly that I ever believed in such foolishness. Communion? I now shudder to think of what my innocent grandkids would think if they were presented with the ‘blood and body of Christ, shed for you’ . .. it kinda creeps me out to even think of that, now. Yes, I still go through the motions, as it’s part of my social world (and I attend church because of the obligation factor. . . I know, I know – HYPOCRITE!), but our little church will soon be closing and that will be that. That ISN’T to say that I feel any differently about the people I’ve been involved with in churches who DO believe- I respect and care about all of them. What I have learned, however, is that they would still be the wonderful people that they are with or without God. I firmly believe that. Take Nate, for instance (and I could use many people who are commenting on this Blog as examples). You can just tell, reading his Blog, that he’s a good person; it’s in the respectful tone he takes and his willingness to share of himself. I can’t see how anyone would ever think that he wasn’t a good example of a ‘real Christian’ – he’s the embodiment of what most Christians I know would recognize as such!

    I guess, what I’m trying to say is this: I was challenged by my eldest, who asked me one day, “Mum, you don’t really believe all that, do you?? (after telling me that there was no way she was getting our firstborn grandson baptized) I had to really stop and think about things that I had just done out of habit for years. I started reading – books, articles, blogs, you name it. Then I THOUGHT. Then I changed my mind. It really is that simple.

    It’s taken me about two hours to get this written (I get lots of interruptions) and I see by my inbox that there’s been lots more comments – I’ll have to go check them out!


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