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  1. 11 points
    Hi everyone. I actually signed up here in December, 2016, but haven't felt ready to start sharing. I spent a good deal of the past year or so dealing with significant emotional wounds, and I only now feel healed enough to be safe interacting with others. Hopefully this isn't as tough a crowd as where I came from. 😉 As for me: I spent 25 years of my life in evangelical Christianity. I wasn't fundamentalist, but the denomination (Baptist) was pretty conservative. I was one of those sold-out, all-in believers that signed up for every ministry, and every outreach. I headed up women's bible studies, did outreach to the homeless and did recovery work at rescue missions and the Salvation Army. I was also a professional (blues) musician prior to my conversion, so worship team and choir were also in the mix. During my time in the church, I "filed away" many things that either were "not OK to ask" or were "just the way things are." But cognitive dissonance as a coping strategy can only get you so far. Looking back, I'm amazed that I lasted as long as I did. Especially since I didn't come from a religious family upbringing. When I finally had my done moment and left, I'd been wearing a mask, hiding so many areas of disagreement with church doctrine or policy, that no one really "knew" me. I was a perfect little rule-follower, and as long as I did as I was told, or as I should, all was well. Except for all was not well with me. My husband and son and I had moved up to the Pacific Northwest from California, and our entire social life was wrapped up in this church. When we left, I lost every friend I had. Worse, after 25 years, I literally had no idea how to make friends outside of belonging to a church. It's been a long, hard road, but I think I'm going to make it. I look forward to sharing my ex-timonial at some point soon, and thank you for being here for those of us who arrive as walking wounded.
  2. 11 points
    When I first became a Christian, I was already an adult. One of the first things I was taught, was that we prayed for the president, no matter what the party affiliation. I can remember getting handed those, "Voter Guides" that I eventually realized had candidates from just one party. But aside from that, the takeaway was: The Bible tells us to pray for those in authority. As a new believer, wanting to follow what god said and take it seriously, I did so. I was one of those "all in" believers that took the bible seriously, and believed I should try to the best of my ability to follow it. And yet, during the eight years of Obama's presidency, my email inbox and Facebook feed was filled with Obama hatred. Jokes and memes of the most vile kind. I almost didn't survive the last election. One side note: I can get along with people of any political persuasion. I have friends that are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, Green Party, and so on. My issue is not with politics, my issue is with those who call themselves Christians, and then proceed to slander those they disagree with, in the most vile ways. (By the way Christians, slander is a no-no according to your god -- Psalm 101:5 and 1 Peter 2:1, Ephesians 4:31-31 to name a few.) But modern day Christians don't care with the word of their god says if it's inconvenient for them. Uunless it is to judge another with it. They largely ignore verses and teachings that touch any part of the way they want live their lives. So, moving on. The vast majority of these hate-filed, mocking memes I've had to endure are posted by my believer friends. How do I know this? As a good little evangelical Christian for 25 years, I was properly indoctrinated to associate only with my own kind. Therefore, 99% of my Facebook friends are evangelical. (At least they were at the time of my deconversion starting.) Evey time I saw this selective enforcement by my Christian friends, following only the rules they want to follow, it chipped away at me. They felt completely "justified" because they have "truth on their side" and that somehow invalidated how Jesus taught they should treat others. We have tried to raise our son to not "hate one party over the other" but instead to think critically about issues and make decisions based on thoughtful reflection. Most of all, when we were still believers, we taught him respect for the office, and to pray for who is there, regardless of party. The Bible actually has a specific verse for this, but again, Evangelical America selectively ignores what they don't want to do. Evidently, this measured approached was not appreciated in my son's youth group at the time, because he got "called out" for responding in reasonable and measured tones when some Obama hatred conversation was happening. (He was just 11 years old and already being subjected to the idea that if you don't conform to Evangelical “group think”, then you are rejected!) I'm not sure when being a Republican became a litmus test for proper Christianity, but I see and encounter this regularly. This was another reason we got out. I wasn't sure what scared me more: That my boy would be singled out for holding reasonable views, or that he would succumb to peer pressure and become like them. Let’s move on to Boy Scouts. No fewer than five of my Christian friends knew my son has joined, have had the following reaction (as either the first or second sentence out of their mouths): "Aren't you worried about the homosexual thing?" I have LITERALLY had to reassure them that, "No, I don't think there's any worry there." It's pedophiles we should be worried about, NOT gay men. Because, THIS IS HOW THEY THINK. For years I watched the subtle judging and shaming that goes on in Evangelical church culture. There is an "us/them" mentality that has become more and more prevalent. The silent judgment and not-so-subtle ostracizing of those whose political beliefs are different. The very subtle way they say, "We love you as a lost sinner, but once you become one of us, either you change or you're out of the club". So the "unofficial list" of everything we can't talk about, be involved in, or like, if we are Christians, grows ever longer. Christians: For the record, judgment is a very bad evangelism strategy. There were so many unofficial "litmus" tests to jump through. You learn early on that you don't ask certain questions, even if they are questions that stem from a true desire to understand. Back when I was a new Christian, spending a lot of time in the Bible, I did have some questions. Some things didn't make sense, some chapters seemingly contradicted other chapters, or events. I just wanted to ask someone to help me understand. I learned many, many years later that I had unintentionally bumped right up against the "inerrancy" doctrine of the Bible, and how we should never point out any flaws. (I believe the "inerrancy" thought is relatively new -- 19th Century?) You get branded as a "troublemaker" if you continue to ask questions, so you are shamed into silence. The litmus tests I've encountered are: You must vote republican, or you are voting for murder (abortion). This was literally said to me. If I'm not a "one issue" voter, I can't be a Christian. If I believe in man-made global warming, I'm clearly not in the fold, or worse, a liberal. Social justice. If I'm "for" helping the least of these, I'm clearly a liberal. (Ignoring all of the scriptures on this exact mandate to help those less fortunate.) Ironically, the Christian/Republican dogma of "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" with no help from the government rings amazingly true to Darwinian "survival of the fittest." I digress. I have actually seen in the 25 years that I was a Christian, it go from "following the teachings of Jesus" when I help the poor, to "being a liberal." Seriously. Social justice issues used to be a ministry option, now it's a dirty liberal word. Or worse, Democrat! Helping the homeless in some church circles is considered "controversial!" I actually overheard a pastor in my own church refer to "those people" with disgust when discussing “the problem” that there are "more and more of them" in our town. Then the endorsement of Donald Trump by Jerry Falwell, Jr. happened. One became the front-runner of the Republican Party and the other was hailed with applause in the largest Christian college in America. Mic drop. The beginning of the end for me. And the silence has been deafening in Evangelical America. These preachers of hateful, xenophobic rhetoric are the only voices doing the talking. Of course mainline Christian pastors are talking, but as Franklin Graham recently said in his ridiculous "tour" to "save California" recently said, those in mainline Christian denominations are, "godless." His words! So now evangelicals are attacking any form of Christianity that doesn't mirror their echo-chamber truths. The bile is backing up in my throat just typing that. And I see the evangelical Christian churches falling in line with messages of nationalism over the teachings of Christ. Ignoring inconvenient teachings about enemy love, and instead proof texting bible verses, going to war against any other believer that sees it differently. Guns, borders, walls, immigrants --- are all political wars that have been brought right into the church. And the church wonders why there's a mass exodus. And the the fully indoctrinated continue to point out that those who fall away because of what "man" does, were probably never believers! Well, some of us fall away because we've bothered to study the bible critically and we're sickened by what the church has become. But that doesn't fit into your neatly tied little package of conditional grace and love, does it? My question is this: How can you Christians show the love of Jesus to all people, when that love has become so conditional? So politically entangled? When you've become more known for what you are against? Culture wars. Christmas wars. Offended at every turn. I spent more time undoing damage done by Christians when I used to talk to a non-believer than I did actually showing the love of Christ (when that was my thing). How is a dying and hurting world expected to believe Jesus loves them, when his followers clearly don't? And they are blind to their own hypocrisy! The church has always seen itself as counter cultural. Yet somehow American Christians think that conforming American culture to the church is an assignment straight from God Himself. We are just over 200 years old as a nation. 2000 years ago the early church did not think this way and a cultural takeover (or take back) is not a biblical mandate, although I'm sure plenty of evangelicals would argue that. You see yourselves as "being persecuted" simply because Christianity is no longer holding the same privileged position is has for so much of our country's history. Your solution? Legislate us back into the 1950s. No thank you. I've seen gay and transgendered people run out of churches. Why? Because they continue to live in "sin?" Because they "chose" that "lifestyle?" (I hate that phrase.) I have news for you. Everyone's got something they are dealing with in the "shit they need to deal with" category. INCLUDING YOU, CHRISTIAN. Every single one of you ought to think about that. Because that is conditional love. What happened to "come all ye who are weary and I will give you rest?" I know, I know, you have a thousand doctrinally sound reasons why people who continue to "sin" can't stay in your church. My only point is that if you could actually enforce the idea, with 100% accuracy, that those who are sinning (according to you) without repentance are not welcome in your congregation, your church would have to shut its doors due to lack of attendance. Starting with all the so-called Christians slandering others with impunity on social media. American Evangelical Christianity has become so wrapped up in nationalism that I barely recognize it anymore. Republianity. What happened to "this world is not my home" and that we are foreigners here? Political views have been elevated to the level of theology. Can anyone really say that a culture war to "take back the United States" is advancing the cause of Christ? It's not. It's repelling people. I've seen this a lot, given that most of the ministries I have spent my 25 years in the church in are "front line" where I had a high degree of contact with non-believers. For years, the conversations have gone something like this: "Wow, I would go to church if more people were like you..." Then they tell a story of being judged and condemned by someone who called themselves a Christian. What they are really saying is, "unconditional love is shocking, I want more." Christ could have not been more clear when he talked about this. In fact, I see more unconditional love, or acceptance, by those who hold no beliefs at all. Including my new friends here at Ex-C. I realize I'm not talking about all churches or even all the people in my own former church. I won't paint all evangelical Christians with the same broad brush I see them using against those who don't believe as they do. But these issues, along with a multitude of problem areas in the Bible itself, plus the disingenuous way that pastors preach from it, have repelled me out of that system. Good riddance, Republianity.
  3. 9 points
    If an all powerful and all knowing god created a race he was not obliged to create, knowing even before he created that race that the vast majority of them would scream in hell forever, how does he have the temerity to expect to be called a god of love?
  4. 8 points
    Richard Carrier has commented on the finally published "first century" fragment of the Gospel of Mark found in Egypt that "Christian historians" theologians and apologists have been hyping for at least six years. Guess what? It dates from the third century. Just another lie pushed by Jesus, Inc. Carrier: It’s officially the mythical mummy Gospel. The “first century” manuscript of Mark Christian apologists have been gloating about and beating everyone over the head with for years…is not a first century manuscript of Mark. It also didn’t come from a mummy. It came from, apparently, garbage. And on top of all that…there is a weird unsolved question about it still looming. Here’s the latest. Backstory & Update I’ve written on this legendary Mummy Gospel several times already (see The Mummy Gospel Isn’t Even a Mummy Gospel!? and From Lead Codices to Mummy Gospels). Publicly, this all began in 2012 when Dan Wallace, a credentialed but oft gullible Christian apologist, tried to “gotcha” Bart Ehrman in a debate claiming we’d found a first century copy of the Gospel of Mark. Legend grew. It supposedly came from mummy masks. And this supposedly had something to do with how we know its date. All of that was bullshit. But we already knew that (see the first link above). Now the manuscript in question has finally been published under peer review. Hallelujah! Only…oh no. It says it dates to the late second, early third century. And the dating is based on what it usually is: paleography (handwriting style). Also…it’s being published in the Oxyrhynchus papyrus collection. And has always been there (that collection was famously excavated in and around 1903, but as it recovered half a million papyri, the collection is still being translated and published to this day; it is nowhere near done). Which is news to us, contradicting some previous (and even some still current) insistence it was in someone’s private collection and on the market (more on that in a minute). But no. It is now confirmed to have been recovered in the original dig and never left the collection (figuratively speaking). That means it comes from the Oxyrhynchus excavation—famously an ancient garbage heap in the Egyptian desert. This manuscript is also just another tiny, torn fragment, containing only a few verses from Mark 1—which we knew; but now we know it only contains mere bits of Mk. 1:7-9 and 1:16-18. The official publication is in the 83rd volume of the The Oxyrhynchus Papyri (officially dated 2017; delayed printing is common for academic journals). It was translated and edited by Daniela Colomo and Dirk Obbink. The entry: [Oxyrhunchus papyrus] ‘5345. Mark I 7-9, 16-18’. They conclude it dates by paleography to the late 2nd early 3rd century. Just as we predicted would happen. Wallace has now apologized. Christians? You need to learn a lesson here. The Loch Ness monster doesn’t exist. That exciting new publication coming “any year now” that proves all your wildest dreams, is probably going to be bullshit. And when you start to realize that’s pretty much always the case, you’ll start to understand better why we’re not Christians. More Details You can see images and a brief on this new published papyrus, and how we know it’s really the mythical “mummy” Gospel, at the blog of Brice Jones (Ph.D., Early Christianity). Elijah Hixson (I assume the same who is a Ph.D. candidate in New Testament & Christian Origins at the University of Edinburgh) is keeping tabs on this new development with updates appended to his own latest article on it. So much uproar has gone up already, that the owners of the fragment (the Egypt Exploration Society or EES) have posted an official press release to dispel various rumors about it. And when that wasn’t enough, within hours they just went ahead and put the whole article online. It’s now designated P137 in Lists of NT Papyri. The EES press release makes a special point of noting, “No other unpublished fragments of New Testament texts in the EES collection have been identified as earlier than the third century AD.” That’s a hint. They mean: the date range including late second century might be wishful thinking. It’s probably a third century papyrus. If all NT texts found there date 3rd century or later, arguably a literate Christian presence in Oxyrhunchus itself only began in the 3rd century (and hence no Gospel could have been tossed into the garbage there in the 2nd century). (snip) And notice how many letters are uncertain (marked with dots beneath). They weren’t kidding when they said they had so little to go on in dating the hand! This also means the editors are relying a lot on other manuscripts of Mark even to reconstruct what is written on this one. Granted, there are limits on what letters can be there. But this just illustrates how tiny and trivial and vexed it all is. The harrumph was all about this. A few barely legible scribbles on a piece of trash. Copied well over a hundred years after the book was even authored. Wah, wah.
  5. 7 points
    This is a good few pages back (page 6 actually) but I just have to address this, as no one else has. So, say it's your toddler. As the adult parent, YOU'RE the only one of the two of you who fully understands the danger, and the pain that follows if your child is violated. At 2, she's too small to comprehend what rape is. That is why you don't teach the small child to not touch a rapist. You certainly don't teach them that they're responsible for being hurt by an adult and will afterwards be punished with yet another hard-to-comprehend thing. Instead, you teach her to trust in you and tell you instantly if someone tries to touch her swimsuit area. You will do all you can to keep her safe from harm, without exposing her too much to the ugly truth that is in danger of happening. And your responsibility as the adult parent is to teach the goddamn rapist to not touch your child, by getting him arrested if you come across him hurting your (or someone else's) child. And if the worst happens despite all this, you sure as heck don't throw your violated toddler out of the safety of your home, and then ensure her (and her future offspring's) life from there on is a slow and painful death, before throwing them all in the oven to suffer if they don't repent for being born after what was done to the uncomprehending 2 year old. Right?
  6. 7 points
    Apologetics always has an answer for every INDIVIDUAL question. So, all of my individual questions always received an answer. Example: How can the earth be 6,000 years old when the fossil, geological, celestial, and DNA evidence clearly shows the earth at several billions of year old? The answer: "God pre aged everything to test your faith". And, yes, I was indoctrinated/programmed enough to accept this answer in my 30's; especially when it temporarily relieved a huge cognitive dissonance burden. For 20 of my 25 years in I "parallel processed" this world on two tracks: A church track and a semi reality track. I could not get the two to reconcile. It drove me crazy. The totality of everything was just too much. I "knew" there must be some way to reconcile both tracks. One day while looking out over Mt. Hood. a question came to my mind: "What if god was imaginary"? I processed this, and very quickly literally everything fell into place. It all made sense, especially people, their choices, communication, and behavior, made sense. I dumped my 25 years of indoctrination that day. I swear I could feel my mental operating system rewriting itself in my mind. That was 8 years ago. Nothing in that time has convinced me to reconsider the conclusion that god is man made and imaginary. These last 8 years continue to be the best of my life.
  7. 7 points
    I can't think of one. I don't take offence to people praying. When my family is over for dinner, I ask one of my parents to say grace, because I know that they would want to. But if someone asks me to pray, I respond by saying "I don't pray". Personally, I think it is more respectful to be honest than to pretend.
  8. 7 points
    Your best long-term strategy is to get far away from the people who are trying to force you to go to church..
  9. 6 points
    Most people seem to accept the notion they they are somehow lacking in certain areas, that they are incomplete. They agree from childhood to play the role their elders, friends and society has imposed on them. Nobody is brought up to think they are complete and capable in and of themselves. You need to get a spouse. You should have children. You need to have a good career. You need to go to college. You need to have the right religion. You can't make it on your own. In frustration and desperation, when life gives them lemons in particular, many people turn to wacky religions and cult saviors because they are convinced they need something from outside of themselves to be complete. They do not, but don't know that. Critical thinking and logic are usually not part of our curriculum.
  10. 6 points
    I'm in the midst of processing my deconversion. I wrote this today. I'm probably a little shrill, but whatever. 🙄 I really hope any current believers that lurk here see this. I wrote a bunch of stuff over the years, much it from a place of incredible emotional pain and torment, as I felt my heart slowly get ripped away from my faith. It's hard to read now. However, this list came to me, after pouring through those writings today. 42 Reasons Why I'm Not a Christian Anymore The idea that if you are divorced because you were in an abusive marriage, you’ve got “no grounds” for a “scriptural divorce.” Seeing Christians more motivated by who they hate, than by who they should love. (Um, that would also be people groups that your savior, Jesus, said to love.) Attacking each other if you dare to offer any other rational idea to a problem than the accepted “party line.” All forms of “We’re a Christian Nation!” The idea that you will go to hell if you don’t worship or believe “X” way. I’m talking denominational differences here. Theological in-fighting. I’m right, you’re wrong, about “X” theological presumption. And writing endless books to prove the point. Pre-trib, post-trib, who cares?! Christians would rather argue about the evils of social justice in the church, rather than lift a finger to help the hurting. Oh, and if you do want to help the hurting or needy, you’re a liberal! You must believe the exact literal interpretation of creation as written in Genesis. Young earth teaching. Random TV Morality: “Desperate Housewives” is OK, but Harry Potter or Twilight isn’t. Arguments about symbolic rituals: baptism or communion comes to mind. My Christianity is better than yours! And we are all better than those that don’t believe “our way”. Jesus would be a Democrat. Jesus would be a Republican. Actually, any sentence that begins with, “Jesus would be a....” If Christians are being criticized, it’s the devil attacking. It's never because they are being cruel, mean or unfair. The evil upturned eye when you get when say you are interested in learning yoga or meditation. (“Don’t you know they are “gateway exercises”!?) Ignoring completely that meditation is in the Bible. The Boy Scouts are bad! They let in homosexuals! Beware of psychology! Science is run by liberals! (And therefore, has a hidden agenda!) 12 Step programs are evil! If you are gay, you can’t be a Christian! Elevating some sins over others. Social justice is “invading” the church and should be stopped, at all costs! Shooting your wounded. Shaming messages. If you are hurting, it’s clearly YOUR fault. You don’t trust God enough. All forms of “Should we be friends with this unbelieving family who ______?” (Fill in the blank….drinks, smokes, lives together, is less modest….etc) We have the right to diagnose and point out non-believer’s sins, and we do this in the name of “loving them” (Ours aren’t up for discussion, though.) We have the right to tell non-believers how they should and should not live, whether they want to live our way or not. We have the additional right to legislate what their morality should be. We have the right to email out slanderous, racist, vicious emails about President Obama, including portraying him as a MONKEY because we don’t agree with his political views. Never mind that the Bible says slanderers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Just details! (See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) And on that note, only in the church can someone who is obese feel morally superior to a homosexual person. Ever heard of gluttony? God sure has. (See Proverbs 23:2) All forms of spiritual abuse. All forms of legalism. Rules are elevated to be more important than love and compassion. Grace? What’s that? Oh yes, something you say Jesus gave his life for freely, that you won’t extend to others. Got it. Invalidating people’s pain. Be sure to bring up how someone else is suffering far worse than they are…..somewhere in the world. Tea Party. Feeling it’s OK to slander anyone with impunity if they don’t share your religious beliefs, political ideals, or any other number of issues (fill in the blank) For shaming anyone who has every struggled as a believer, when they sought out answers to sincere questions and doubt. For completely invalidating someones faith experience, if they have left the church.
  11. 6 points
    Suppose we grant the point. Jesus and Caligula both existed. Turns out Caligula thought he was God too. Where does that leave us? The whole issue of trying to establish an historical Jesus is just a dodge on the part of apologists. Even if Jesus existed, it does not follow in any way that he was anything other than a moderately crazy preacher. I'm not an historian. I don't know if there was an actual Jesus or not. It doesn't matter. Real or not, there's no historical reason to think he rose from the dead. So much for Christianity.
  12. 6 points
    Atheism is not a belief. It is not a philosophy. It is not a choice. It is the conclusion one inevitably reaches when one cannot find reason to believe in gods. I submit that YOU are also an atheist regarding the existence of Zeus. If it were possible for me to believe something that made me feel good and offer hope, I would still believe in Santa Claus. However, I am unable to simply choose to believe something that doesn't make sense, doesn't jibe with reality and doesn't have any evidence to support it. Many atheists believe in an afterlife and reincarnation, yet they are properly labeled as atheist because they have no god belief. Obviously, such beliefs also offer hope without a god involved. A more materialistic atheist finds joy and hope in making the most of his life, experiencing the awe of nature, taking care of our planet and making things better for the generations to follow. A militant anti-theist may not even necessarily be an atheist, though they frequently are. This person has simply seen the harm of religious belief. He sees the division it causes between families and nations. Those pushing the theist agenda are at the root of much of the world's unrest. It is incorrect to consider the atheist and anti-theist as the same thing. It is not only possible but quite common for people who do not share your belief system to live happy, moral, fulfilled lives, with a clear conscience and hope for the future as well as the present. Hopefully absorbing this information will start to make a dent in the misconceptions that theists hold regarding atheists.
  13. 6 points
    Having read through this thread, I think I would like to share a few thoughts that seem to be relevant to this discussion. Christianity is essentially a prepackaged worldview. Its seems plausible to the average person because it attempts to explain things that people don't want to spend copious amounts of time trying to figure out. Our brains like to be as efficient as possible and tries to limit the amount of energy spent trying to figure out things. Because Christianity (and other religions) have spent the time and energy "working" through these issues, it makes sense that humans would be prone to accept what Christianity (or other religions) offer. Truth be told, I would rather spend my time doing enjoyable activities and having fun than contemplating the meaning of life or some other complicated issue. Religion eliminates the need for that. But some people are not content with the "answers" that religion provides (in this case Christianity). Indoctrination is a common theme among the many people who frequent this site. Its a powerful tool for developing Christians and is likely the primary reason most people become Christians. When you are young and looking for answers, Christianity provides answers, but they aren't necessarily the "correct" ones. But as a child, you don't generally know any better, and you trust that the people who are helping you and have no reason to doubt what they are telling you. So you grow up simply accepting what you were taught as a child, only to find out later that it wasn't true or wasn't quite as true as you thought it was. This is a problem. As humans, we have a long maturation period until we are adults and some scientists believe that, due to this long maturation time, and due to our need to rely on someone else for our survival for the first several years of our life, this mechanism (our reliance on others) that is innate in our minds only continues into our adulthood. It brings comfort to us when we think that a cosmic being is still caring for us and that it still has some control over our lives. Religion uses this already intuitive process and applies it to what already is natural for us to believe. Its like a match made in heaven. Its why religion in general is so prevalent through the world. So, the powerful combination of prepackaged worldview and our own limitations as humans makes for the perfect canvas for religion to paint itself upon our lives. As to your comment about the people on this thread being the same as Christians, I think I understand what you were referring to, and you're right to some degree. One of my favorite quotes is this one: This statement perfectly summarizes what humans do. Whether it be political views, sports views, religious views, cooking views, etc., we all want to be right and we want others to agree with our view. When others believe as we do, it creates a sense of community and thus a group is born. Churches are, for the most part, social clubs for like-minded people. When we realized that Christianity wasn't all it was made out to be, we all of the sudden lost our community and we were the outcasts among the people we thought were our friends. This website provides us with a new community of (generally) like-minded people who have all come from the same basic place. Christianity has no more of a claim to humanity that Atheism or Paganism, or whatever religion you want to mention. We are all human first, then religious second or atheist second. As someone mentioned up thread, we as humans tend to look at the world in black and white, but in reality, its really a lot of gray with some black and white. In regards to this: I think it might be beneficial to first sit down and think about what an "inspired" book from a Deity would say. List some criteria that you would expect to be in a book that was inspired by the person who claims to be the one divinely inspiring the book. Ask questions like "Do I think a book inspired by a divine being would hold universal, eternal truth?" "Would a divinely inspired book have contradictions?" "Would a divinely inspired book provide special insight into the world we live in, which can provide us with valuable information regarding how we should live, how we should treat illness or disease or how to prevent them?" "Would a divinely inspired book teach us that we are all the same and that we are equal as humans and that we should treat each other with that in mind?" Answering these questions first should provide you with a good framework of criteria upon which to judge the Bible or any other divinely "inspired" text. As others have pointed out, the bible (and Christians) make a claim. That claim needs to be validated to be true, not the converse claim of it not being the claim that is true. The default isn't "God is Real, the Bible is True". The default is "I don't know if God is real or that the Bible is True", how can I confirm this? In order to get as objective an answer as you can, you have to be as objective as you can be when you seek the answer.
  14. 6 points
    What question could Christianity never answer for you? All of them, I think.
  15. 6 points
    There is a different way to approach life. The method Christians are familiar with is to start with the conclusion. You have the truth handed down to you from the holy book and the holy preacher. Then you interpret everything else that happens through this context. Facts that conflict with the conclusion are either rationalized or outright ignored. The conclusion is never discarded but when support for it is lacking then the search continues. But there is a different way! Some people start with skepticism. All ideas must have demonstrable merit before they shall be considered. And that merit comes from objective evidence, facts we observe, or from the consequences of valid logic. Under this system the facts are followed regardless of where they lead. If new information turns up that conflicts with a previously accepted conclusion then that conclusion gets overturned and discarded. If an error is found in the logic that was used then it's back to the drawing board to start over. So no, it isn't the same thing as religion. These two approaches are very different. (edited for clarity)
  16. 6 points
    Welcome slam! It's great to see new members posting. I don't know that I would term this a "scientific" explanation per se, but it is a rational explanation nonetheless. On the belief that God does not exist, life need not have any inherent meaning or purpose. As such, we no longer have a duty to behave a certain way, lest we be punished. We are free from the fear that there is a reckoning coming. This is not to say that we should, therefore, behave recklessly, as if our actions have no consequences. Rather, we should behave as if our actions may have dire consequences in the here and now. But once that is finished, that's it. There is no need to lose sleep over the thought of eternal consequences. Christianity is premised on the notion that God has set the bar just a little out of our reach. We are never good enough. There is nothing that we can ever do to change this fact. Once Christianity is set aside, we are free to realize that, while we might like to be better, there is no ultimate standard that we are doomed to forever fall short of. This, in itself, is a very freeing realization. Karl Marx is often misquoted as saying that religion is the opiate of the masses. What he actually wrote is as follows: "Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." When we leave Christianity, we leave behind the notion that we require salvation. We leave behind the notion that there is eternal life. But we also leave behind the notion of hell, of damnation, and of condemnation. Christians think that they need to be saved, and that they have been saved, and are, therefore, grateful for their salvation. They can't imagine living without it. But if the need for salvation is removed, then everything is fine. Here we are, and here we will stay until we are no more. It isn't fantastic, but it is what it is.
  17. 6 points
    Welcome to Ex-C. To be clear, I am an Ex-Christian, not an Ex Church Goer. The congregation and pastor I was involved with were blameless and knew no better. The premise of the religion and it's source material, the Bible, are another story. The religion fails on its own and doesn't need to be sabotaged by the people promoting it. That said, I realize there are a few people who had issues with people and organizations and therefore left, but the real reason to leave the belief system is the belief itself; it is without any foundation in reality.
  18. 5 points
    My husband and I were talking about our “seeds of doubt” that we had over the years. Here’s mine: The first question I had as a so-called “baby christian” of just weeks, was after some missionaries visited our church from a remote tribe. I asked, “What happened to all the tribal people that lived and died with no knowledge of the message of Jesus? Did they go to hell? “ Given the looks I got, and the tone of voice the pastor used, I could tell I’d stepped in it. And, at the time, it was asked from a sincere place of wondering. That was the very first time I learned there were things you didn’t ask. His answer led to another question, which I knew would be even more problematic. (His answer was that at some point god would show his glory to each person and they’d have a chance to choose...which made no sense. My immediate thought was, “Then why bring the message to them at all if god does it for each individually?) 🙄🧐🤨 So that was when I learned the old standby, “We just don’t know. We have to take it on faith.” In other words, any failure to trust blindly, even in the face of a non-logical answer, was MY fault for lack of faith. And round and round we go..... crazy-making at its finest.
  19. 5 points
    What are you known for? Is it your love for others? If someone were to read your social media posts, what would it reflect? What about your comments? Christians, I'm talking to YOU. It seems the ship has sailed on loving others. Especially other Christians with whom you disagree. I truly believe that social media has shone a stark, bright spotlight on the hearts of men (and women) and the verdict is in: Christians have just as much hate, anger, judgement and vitriol in their hearts as everyone else. Let that sink in. And then get angry. But not at me. I have to call it like I see it (or in this case, read it). Every. Single. Day. Obviously, everyone is human. We all have those emotions and feelings. What I'm talking about is if you call yourself a Christian, you are held to a higher standard. Especially where your behavior towards others is concerned. But I have a question for you: Are you the called ones? Or the ones tasked with calling everyone out? I'm weary. Really weary. Weary of seeing your Bible used as a weapon. So much so, that prior to my deconversion, when I did still did devotions, I would come across verses that are typically the "clobber verses," and I couldn't focus anymore. It destroyed the Bible for me. [Cue the judgmental rant: "Well, that's YOUR fault! It must be YOUR relationship with God. YOU need to work on that!] No, it could not possibly be the effect of other Christians' behavior. Nope. I'm so weary of the superiority and judgement of believers. [Cue the proof texts about why it's OK to do this....] I'm sick of the Christian double standard which goes something like this: "I'm on the side of God, therefore when I call you out, it's a holy calling. My behavior, however, is not up for discussion." I see this play out day after day online. And in real life too. I'm weary of seeing Christians nod in agreement about loving others during a sermon, and go home to eviscerate someone on Facebook who dares to have a different opinion. Especially political. Sit tight Christian. Buckle up. I've got some news: God is not a Republican or a Democrat. When your church becomes a mouthpiece for a political party, you cease to be the church. In the words of one of your own pastors, Carey Nieuwhof: I could not feel more strongly about this. Especially in political discourse. Every day, I see people with little to no understanding of theology use the Bible as a weapon to make a point or win an argument. We call it "proof texting." You know what? It's destroying your witness. It's destroying other believers, and it's destroying any chance someone wants to jump into your cesspool of hate. The rhetoric I see vomiting out of Christian mouths every day turns my stomach. The message, more often than not, is "I love you, as long as you agree with me." If not, all bets are off. I don't recall Jesus saying that. In fact, he talked about enemy love. Another long-lost Christian command that no longer exists in Evangelical America. What happened to being peacemakers? Instead you pledge allegiance to America First. It seems the "kingdom" that holds first place in your heart is not God's. It's man's.
  20. 5 points
    That sounds pretty close to a Christian telling us we were never really saved. Intense indoctrination dulls critical thinking skills. People become convinced the Bible is true & the indoctrination convinces them that questioning the Bible is a sin unto death. Religion has built in protection components. Christianity is a cult, some versions more so than others. Cults are built and survive on fear. The fear is obtained by intense indoctrination and the indoctrination allows them a great deal of control over their subjects. Add the social element and you have a near full proof prison because the inmates don't want to escape. Overcoming all of that is hard and relatively few believers are able to do that. I'm sure many see the flaws, inconsistencies, & contradictions but they are afraid to do anything about it. All salesmen know that the fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain. And that is difficult to overcome.
  21. 5 points
    They should all pray about it
  22. 5 points
    I no longer live my life as if it were a test for the next life. Now my belief that we only have one life, makes it precious. It feels like stepping out into the sunlight, seeing reality as it truly is. We are free to create our own purpose. The scientific universe may not have a purpose for me but I do.
  23. 5 points
    Thanks for your thoughtful answer LogicalF. I know my parents, extended family and Christian friends wholeheartedly believe that saying you are not Christian means you are • promiscuous • sleep with people’s husbands • have an abortion once a week • steal • lie and be dishonest whenever there’s a chance • do drugs They will be scared for their kids to be around me.
  24. 5 points
    I can't recommend this video (lots of side tracks and pointless digressions on this one) but you can probably skip the first 25 minutes. From 10:00 to 25:00 he does a lot of complaining. It's way off topic. After 25:00 he gets back to the subject and makes some good points. The Greek vs. Aramaic issue is quite strong. I also like the issue of scholarship vs. science that starts around 40:00. It really is for the cultural anthropologists to figure out how the Christian cult got started. The video is very interesting at the 1:00:00 mark regarding treating Christianity like any other religion. Sounds like the book might be good. Anytime somebody talks about the historical Jesus it makes me want to ask about the historical Superman. I don't see a difference. When you search for the historical Jesus you get zero hits when you look for somebody like the character in the gospels. If you back away, making the search criteria more generic, you still get zero hits. You give up the name so it doesn't have to be somebody named Jesus or even Yeshua, give up the time line, give up his basic character, give up the city he was from, give up everything specific to him and suddenly you get dozens and dozens of hits. You have to make historical Jesus so generic that he loses all his meaning before you find any possible candidates. So . . . any man who was stronger than average and was employed as a newspaper reporter in a big city could be the historical Superman.
  25. 5 points
    My Voice Have I ever had a voice? If I ever did, it’s been long since silenced. Beaten down. Ignored. At one time, I’m sure there was someone alive in there. Burning need, desire, ambition; longing to be free. But my voice is now a mere shadow of itself. A glimmer, a memory, a thought of someone I could have been, might have been, way back when. But still, the seed of me, of who I can be, it burns, it needs, it longs. My voice: it is not dead, merely crushed. Unrecognizable even to me. But the faint echo of promise has stirred within me. I will speak.