• 0
StevieWeevie

Feeling disturbed

Question

Hello, until recently I considered myself a Catholic Christian, I was also involved with fundamentalist Protestantism for a number of years. I found that my Catholic faith caused me a lot of fear and condemnation. I put this down to the dogmas and doctrines and the representation of God in the bible. I have read many atheist books and come to an agnostic/atheist position. I have been disturbed recently because my best friend Mags a catholic lady, told me that the reason I am atheist is because I am rebellious against God, that I want to do what I want, I want to do my own will and I don't want to be accountable to God. That when I point out the odious character of God in the bible and other awful things in it, she keeps saying it has to be rightly interpreted and read in context. That these things are metaphors. That right from the early days of the church, citing Origen this was taught. She says that the reason I have such a negative view of God and Catholicism  is because my Dad abused me( which he did) and because of my very damaging childhood( which it was). And that this is the lens through which I am interpreting these things. She says that it's understandable that I am rebellious, don't want to do his will or be accountable to him because these things have given me a wrong image of God.  Whereas she seems to get a great deal out of her faith and seems unaffected by the things that bothered me. Anyway for some reason her comments about me being rebellious etc have really got to me and I'm not sure why, or what to do about it. Could you please give me some feedback. Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

11 answers to this question

Recommended Posts

  • 0

I was thinking how even their j***s told them to use subtlety when dealing with people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you for your support
Buy Ex-C a cup of coffee!
Costs have significantly risen and we need your support! Click the coffee cup to give a one-time donation, or choose one of the recurrent patron options.
Note: All Contributing Patrons enjoy Ex-Christian.net advertisement free.
  • 0
florduh    4,221

Welcome!

 

Mags may have a point about your history, I don't know. However, there are also plenty of legitimate reasons to doubt Christianity and I've found none to cause me to believe it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
DarkFlash    24

Not at all is this a surprise. Often are we told this once we've approached these conclusions from believers because of their insight of still 'doing whats right and saving the dark side of the soul' though with Ex-Christians like ourselves are we still wondering about why they're entrapped in the deluded still while we're not. See, when i've had these conversations thus far with certain members of my family did I often ask myself and them at times why, if god truly existed is this conversation afoot? Why did my de-conversion birth itself as my finalized decision after so long of my believing in him alongside my family? They deem it as 'we're all given free will' but, if our souls are on the line as well as so much more, shouldn't this caring god make things more. .preventable? I can't call it anger or frustration that you've made your move like all of us here since, hell, a moderator here did what i'm sure a good majority of us did before it was in question and that was list our 'inner demons' or forgiveness to god if we made a reckless move in questioning both he, and our nearly lifelong beliefs and like usual has nothing sprouted but of course the most puzzling. What you're doing currently is not only natural, but a strong sense of freedom in being told that you can live without these giftless and fabled shackles you've been fed otherwise he'd have come down and convinced you otherwise like ourselves.

 

There's a hymn in church that was sung quite a bit before I stopped attending called 'If you live right, heaven belongs to you', but in us living like so why did this come about? And i'm referring to what believers would call both you and our decisions rebellious against him. Didn't he have enough of the supposed mocking and whipping during his time in Dragonland? In fact, should the common defense of free will be given to you can it also be countered typically with his presence because like everyone else, I see no gates of thanksgiving when it's pretty clear that your time has been wasted. What has been imprinted in those books are what we've been taught and those with neurons left upstairs have dissected with decisions to walk and as you have done your part with them as one whom was Christ-like did you finally wake the hell up and see life for what it truly is. Live, but never regret. If they can't wake up and even family, you cannot save everyone and it's what i've told myself plenty of times. You're Steve, yes but in escaping the nonsensical are you whom you were brought on this world to be. Yourself, literally.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
knightcore    132

Hey Steve. It's really understandable that her comments are getting to you. They're really dismissive of the overall issue. I think it's worth saying that you're not just being rebellious and stubborn, and that your feelings are coming from a real place of hurt and that they should be acknowledged and not just brushed aside for faith. I know Mags is your friend, but maybe talk to her about how this is affecting you. I know she's trying to be honest but there's a line between being blunt and hurtful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
♦ ficino ♦    1,638

Hi StevieWeevie, welcome from me, too. I got saved as a Protestant fundamentalist and later became Catholic. Now I'm an atheist. So I can relate!

 

The standard Christian response when someone abandons the faith is to ignore whatever rational basis lies behind the person's decision and instead chalk it up to:

mad at God

hurt by mean people at church

didn't understand the gospel

didn't understand the theology of [insert name of theologian or denomination here]

and most of all:

just wants to sin.

 

Because the Catholics and Orthodox claim that their faith is handed down by divinely-guided tradition, of which the Bible is but a part, they can insulate themselves against Bible absurdities and atrocities and contradictions more effectively than Protestant fundies, whose only rule of faith is the Bible as interpreted by themselves.

 

Your friend is right that the early church adopted an allegorical interpretation of much of the OT. That's found explicitly even in Paul; e.g. in Galatians 4:24, where he says "which things are an allegory; for these are the two covenants..."  And I think she's right that the antecedents of what became the catholic church adopted the principle that scripture must be interpreted by the church hierarchy in light of tradition, since tradition and church preceded the NT (on their view). II Peter talks about how there are things in Paul's letters that are hard to understand, and no prophecy of scripture is a matter of private interpretation.

 

When I was in college, a philosophy prof of mine was also a rabbi. a student asked about the NT, whether Jews should accept it. Prof. Feldman simply replied that the NT writers adopted an allegorical interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures. That shut up all of us, even me. Why should anyone go along with the church's allegories?

 

So, is this enough to insulate the RCs from the baggage that the OT and parts of the NT bring with them?

 

In my view, no. There is way too much to go into in one reply, so I'll just toss out some lines of thought:

 

1. If Judaism's claims are false, Christianity's claims are false. Judaism's foundation story and presumed covenant betw Yahweh and the nation of Israel is myth. The Exodus is myth. The result is the same problem as the one that faces the Catholics and Orthodox: their religious leaders claim to pass along divinely-guided tradition, which is normative, but the historical basis on which the leaders' authority rests is fabricated. So the leadership is logically reduced to having no authority beyond themselves for the binding force of their pronouncements. 

 

2. If all the potential defeaters of Christianity are neutralized as inspired myth/allegory/metaphor, how can Christianity's claims be falsified? If they are in principle unfalsifiable, how are they not a system of pseudo-questions?

 

3. Catholics are committed to certain events as historical. They can't get away with allegorizing, say, Jesus' bodily resurrection. But the case for that does not hold up when looked at critically.

 

4. The Catholic Church has changed its teaching over time, so they're in the same boat as the rest of us. E.g. on religious freedom.

 

5. We all do wrong things, and it's good that we feel guilty about them - for that emotion can spur us to right wrongs we've done and avoid committing new ones. The theological construct, "sin," is something else, which depends on the whole theological foundation that is itself the problem. Lots of us got saved or whatever because we felt guilty and leaped from "I did wrong" to "I sinned" without realizing all the theological assumptions that lie behind the conversion of "wrong" to "sin." The category "sin" comes out of ancient tribal taboo systems that aren't strictly speaking ethical. 

 

6. Your friend is working from the assumption that Catholicism is the obvious default position and that you are required to prove it false to justify leaving it. She is shifting the burden of proof onto you. This is a typical tactic of the religionist. if you both teleport yourselves to a place of simple inquiry and ask, of all the religions floating around, why should we accept THIS one as the truth - the burden of proof is on the person making the assertive claim.

 

Adding: it's also a good question, of WHAT is the allegory a teaching? Let's say a sophisticated Catholic tells you that the story of the Flood is an allegory. Of what? What's it saying about God that the story has God kill babies and puppies and kittens and bunnies because angels had mated with humans etc? Non-fundies can only say something like, it's an allegory of how God is just and merciful and protects his people, and then quickly switch the subject. This is cherry picking. It's one thing to argue that reason tells us that God should have certain properties, but it's another to take gruesome stories and try to read those properties back into them. Scripture really is a scandal for Catholics just as much as for other denominations.

 

Then too, the early churchmen to whom your friend appeals did not deny the literal sense behind the supposed history; they added allegory to the literal sense. Early Christian hermeneutics started with the "sensus litteralis" and then proceeded to allegorical and other ways of reading.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Sounds like Mags just wants to rebel against the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  Probably because she experienced bad marinara as a child.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Thank you so much for all the feedback and the humour as well. Ficino you make some excellent points which I found really helpful, thankyou to all of you. There is a lot from all your comments for me to take away 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
♦ ficino ♦    1,638

Hey, if you have any other questions, concerns, please voice them. That's why we're all here!

 

It's very instructive to trace the history of the Catholic hierarchy's reaction to higher critical studies of scripture. I don't know whether you want to go down that one among many rabbit holes. But from, say, the time of Vatican I to the present, there have been a series of Church pronouncements about scripture. The hierarchy has step by step backed away from a firm declaration that scripture cannot err to various ways of fudging that. Officially, they maintain that scripture is without error. Pope John Paul II quoted w/ approval Pius XII’s statement in the encyclical, Divino Afflante that in scripture, “the words of God, expressed in human languages, became like human language in every respect except error.” 

 

But between Pius XII and John Paul II had intervened Vatican II. At that council, Cardinal König of Vienna had pointed out various contradictions among different scriptural passages. He brought up the question, does inerrancy extend to all assertions in scripture or only to those that pertain to salvific truth, i.e. to faith and morals vel sim. Eventually the resulting decree, and subsequent authoritative teaching, said that

"Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully, and without error that truth which God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation.”

 

So in the words, "that truth which God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation," there is a lot of ambiguity and wiggle room. The Catholic scripture scholar, unlike the hierarchy back in the time of Copernicus, can blithely wave away all the statements about the world that science has overturned. Etc etc etc. Strictly speaking, as long as a Catholic does not reject the teachings of the hierarchy, s/he can get away with dismissing a lot of stuff in scripture as not asserted "for the sake of our salvation." Protestant fundies will lose their jobs if they do this. Baptist Mike Licona lost his job when he suggested that unique stories of the post-Easter events in Matthew are theological meditations not meant to assert historical fact (like the zombies and such).

 

As I look at things as an ex-Catholic, I think their attenuated appeals to scripture still fail. As I suggested before, they are locked into holding that Jesus rose bodily from the dead. Given the many critical problems in the passion/Easter narratives, I think the evidence for that claim is a fail. So it doesn't help the Catholic to retort, well, the gospel writers were expressing the tradition of preaching for different audiences etc etc. Where is the evidence that the supposed "preaching" was true? It evaporates, and all we're left with is the same stuff that we're left with in Protestantism: church leadership asserting authority based on a deposit of evidence that crumbles on serious, sustained examination.

 




 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
Akheia    1,808

By attacking your motivations, Mags is recentering the conversation on you and what she views as your suspicious motivations rather than on your concerns about the religion. She does this because in Christianity these attempts tend to be brutally effective. (Silencing tactics work much the same way, and are equally effective.) She literally cannot address your actual concerns, so her goal will be to make you feel bad for even doubting the nonsense you've been indoctrinated with--and if possible to get you to doubt your own common sense. After all, millions of Americans weren't abused as kids or suffered a bad home life, and they still have very negative views of Catholicism. Others were abused and are very firm Catholics their whole lives. Abuse has nothing to do with it, but Christians often think that it does. My husband is a near-lifelong atheist (rejected the whole stinking rotten mess of it in childhood) and had a fantastic relationship with both his parents and an idyllic childhood--and he just laughs when Christians try to imply that his non-belief has something to do with trauma from childhood.

 

As you get to know more ex-Christians, you'll start seeing that "rebelliousness" is pretty much the opposite of what drives us out of the religion. For many of us, we actually sought the truth with all our might, and yet the more we learned, the more ridiculous and harmful it all seemed.

 

I wouldn't doubt that Mags herself may have raised similar doubts once and been silenced in much the same way--or that she saw some unlucky fellow Christian do it and get slapped down, since Christians tend to lead with the arguments and tactics that they think personally are the most effective. Once you know what to look for, it'll become much easier to identify these attempts to get you to pipe down and quit asking who's standing behind that curtain over there.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
♦ ficino ♦    1,638

Akheia!! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Thanks Akheia, this is so true. I was only thinking today about how Mags seems to turn the conversation and make it personal whenever  the subject of religion comes up I've also noticed the quite marked change in her countenance and demeanour towards me when this happens, which she denies. Unfortunately it does start to cause me to have self doubts and lose my peace. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now