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Hierophant

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Hierophant last won the day on June 3

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About Hierophant

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    Thinker

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    Male
  • Location
    East Coast
  • Interests
    Bible criticism (this does not = hating on the Bible) and digital forensics. Everything else is just a hassle.
  • More About Me
    Became a sincere Christian in 2003 (fear of death and possible subsequent assignment to hell). In 2017, I reached a breaking point-I could not deal with the stress of thinking I might go to hell if I did not figure out what God wanted. I wanted answers, but I could not determine which church had it right and it was eating me alive. I realized there is no way to demonstrate or prove there is a God, let alone what they are like and what they want, or if there is a soul, or if there is an afterlife, and so forth and so on.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
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  1. Welcome to Ex-C, glad to see you here. I know I was glad to stumble upon this site after becoming absolutely frustrated with Christianity and I wanted to hear something other than superficial, dogmatic apologetics. As @TABA stated, every generation of Christians has been claiming the end of the world since the movement started. And I would not worry about the Book of Revelation, I am not going to go off the deep end on it, but nobody actually knows who wrote it. It barely made it into the canon and significant church fathers in history did not think much of it. Martin Luther thought it should be thrown in the river and made it an appendix (essentially it was edifying, but not divinely inspired or something along those lines) in his own canon. Look at how many people thought we would experience the end times in just recent history, David Koresh, Harold Camping, the great disappointment in 1844. This same rhetoric has been stated so many times before it has become the boy crying wolf, though I never suspect a real wolf will eventually show up.
  2. I don't understand what your specific question is then. What about the passage are you confused about? It is straight forward in its reading...in ancient Israel, they were making sacrifices of their firstborn child to YHWH, likely on the 8th day. And those who did the sacrifices were operating under the impression child sacrifice was a commandment of God. You will see remnants of this in other places in the OT, Exodus 22 comes to mind right away and there is another mention of it elsewhere. This is how the historical-critical scholars see it. Israel's most primitive practice, or primeval, was not to redeem their firstborn child from YHWH, but they sacrificed their firstborns on the eighth day of life to YHWH as a way of showing their trust in YHWH that he will open the womb. Later, whenever Israel got away from this practice, they started to redeem the child, that is, a substitution sacrifice. Some scholars now think that Molech was not actually a god, but Molech is actually a name for child sacrifice ritual. Not sure all the details behind it, but I know Heath Dewrell talks about it in his book. What you are reading in Ezekiel is Ezekiel acknowledging child sacrifice was part of the primeval Jewish cult and they have moved on from that practice. Ezekiel is writing after the fact and is making an excuse about why that was a practice.
  3. I see. I thought you were just asking if it was speaking to child sacrifice actually happening. The passage is essentially Ezekiel writing in the name of God about why these sacrifices were ever taking place. It reads as if he knew they happened, and was trying to conjure a reason about why this was a standard practice. His argument is that since Israel was ignoring YHWH's statues and ordinances, he punished them by giving them ordinances by which they could not have life and horrified them. Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF), Ezekiel is not arguing that YHWH never gave these commandments, he is stating it was a commandment, but it was a punishment of sorts. What exactly "defile" means, it is essentially to pollute or stain. In this context, I guess you could read it as "I marred them," or brought them to ruin, something along those lines.
  4. Yeah, that is exactly what it means. A little known nugget, child sacrifice was a practice in ancient Israel, and it seems here Ezekiel knows about that little nugget of embarrassing information and is trying to explain it away. Recommended reading: Child Sacrifice in Ancient Israel by Heath Dewrell
  5. I don't know, I guess my motivation was along those lines, but I never really thought that particular way. What I wanted was some kind of resolution, like a no-joke 100% validation I knew exactly what God wanted me to believe and what he wanted me to be doing on a second by second basis. The breaking point for me was that I was requesting supposedly exactly what God wants, 100% commitment. I was willing to do that, literally go all the way. I would sacrifice anything if he would just show up like any real loving father would and let me know exactly what he expected. As I said elsewhere, if eternity is on the line and I cannot get an hour of God's time to ask some clarifying questions about what I am supposed to be doing, then what is going on here? Nobody who is "all loving" would just leave you hanging like that. That is not even being a decent friend, let alone a loving, personal God. That being the case, then you can throw the Gospel According to John right out the window. There you go, the Bible is not perfect and infallible. I can personally demonstrate how content, specifically stating "God is love" within the Gospel of John is not literally true. Get rid of it, we know better. Moreover, it completely destroys the theological notion that all goodness flows from God, it could be stated that I have more compassion and love than God does. How does that work? How did God create everything but I am able to better execute these traits or whatever you want to call them? The apologist will state, "well no, you do not have the capacity to love more than God, he just does not act because he has a plan, and this is part of his plan." First and foremost, they have no idea if that is remotely true. Two, WTF is the plan?! I would like to know, maybe I can help. Actually, if I knew the plan, perhaps I could make better decisions knowing I am helping the plan. Third, if God does not want you to know the plan and wants to keep me in the dark, well fine, then I would like my one hour conference so I could know what my piece is and that I am staying on track. It is just a mess, there are no answers in Christianity. All it will do is drive you insane trying to understand any of the dogmatic precepts or philosophical musings. I just cannot see it, the whole thing just strikes me as bizarre now.
  6. On the topic of moral evil, what does evil even mean in relation to the Christian God? IMO, evil is merely reduced to stuff God does not like (even though he supposedly created everything and could have just omitted anything he did not like from the blueprints - right? I mean come on; how does God go about making the universe, but throws in this wild card that HE KNOWS will piss him off later. The concept just sounds so absurd.). And frankly it is arbitrary because what decision making process went into God defining evil? This reduces to, might makes right. Whatever God deems good is good merely because he declares it and nobody is powerful enough to override his might and say something else; therefore, any arbitrary ad hoc command given by God becomes "good." According to the Bible, God has, and will do some stuff that makes our blood curl. This is where I get pissed off with Christians, they cannot be honest enough to say that God does some things that are abhorrent to humans (Read Ezekiel 25:26). The God they worship is not the God of the Bible, they have created a false idol of the God they want to be true, not one the Bible supports (well, the Bible is not even consistent in the God it represents, so I will give a free pass on this one). There is a guy named Bruce Gerencser who runs a blog about being a fundamentalist preacher and then an atheist. He said something in one of his blogs that I thought was pretty spot on. He stated that if the God of the Bible was real, he is not someone you would invite over for dinner. I am sure you understand the implication. He is not our ally nor our friend. If he is there, were are just peasants to play with and tell him how great he is. He does not love us unconditionally, he does not have our best interest at heart, we are just basically tools and play things to be used as he wishes. Which, if that is the case, then that is just how it is, do with it what you will. But the ridiculous axe-grinding apologetics trying to make God out to be this dolphin-eyed being who really does not like suffering and suffers with it, come off it. There is just no way. How would that even work? What imperative is overriding his willingness to step in and stop the BS? As another person stated earlier, what are his plans for the universe? I like to call it, what is 'God's prime directive.' What is motivating him to act like this. Towards the end of my belief, this was the one thing I wanted to know. What is God getting after? If I knew, then I could make a freewill choice to get on board with it or not. There was the rub, the Bible is so fragmented with God acting in different ways in different circumstances that you cannot pin anything down. Even if he was there, no idea what he is thinking about or what you could do to get in his good graces. It's like chasing a ghost. I just stopped seeing the point of the pursuit and then started to see how all of this was just so outlandish, it just could not be true; the Bible, other Christians, the stories, the apologetics. Looking back on it, it is just one far fetched assumption built upon another.
  7. It is Hell on earth! I am a big advocate of the philosophy that one thing we can know 100%, is that we have the life we are living now, anything beyond that is just mere speculation. And the one thing I can do is live my life here the way that makes me happy. Being in religion only made me miserable, depressed, and at times I just wanted to die. That is how bad those thoughts were, they were ruining my life. I hope one day you will be able to put this behind you and discover peace of mind. I became a different person after leaving religion. It is difficult, and there will be some other things you struggle with, but going through it myself, I will be here whenever you need me.
  8. No problem, brother. I know what you are dealing with.
  9. Intrusive thoughts - a symptom of anxiety. You have to realize your brain is wired a certain way right now. Mine was the same way for the longest time. I would have thoughts randomly enter my head and it would torment me because they did not reflect who I was at the core. Instead of being able to ignore them, you start obsessing about them because you think it is wrong to have these thoughts and you have offended a deity who is threatening to punish you. This is similar to me telling you NOT to think about pink elephants. What is the first thing you do, you think about pink elephants. They differ because the thought of pink elephants does not have an existential threat in your life, so the thought is not emotionally alarming. What is happening, and I speak from personal experience, is that you are constantly on high alert of a triggering thought. Your mind is probably never able to relax because it is constantly on guard not to have an image or thought that you think is going to make God angry. In actuality, this only causes these thoughts to occur because it goes back to the pink elephants, these intrusive thoughts are right below the surface, waiting to pop in at an inconvenient time. I know exactly how this works - and guess what, the Bible (surprise surprise) does not take into account all the complexities of the human condition, especially mental health related problems. My only relief was leaving religion. I no longer had that monkey on my back priming me for an intrusive thought. Mentally speaking, I am in a better place now than I ever was as a Christian starting in 2003. Per religious dogma, how is that possible? How am I more at peace without Jesus than I ever was with Jesus? What, God did not want me in his family so he kept screwing with my head until I left? Good luck finding Biblical support for that idea. I will be honest, the fire of Hell does not hold a candle to the Hell I was living day in and day out while being a believer and suffering through the cycle of intrusive thoughts, then the following guilt and obsession for being forgiven. Since I left, my mind was able to rewire itself and I really do not have a problem anymore. I can think clearly for the first time in 17 years.
  10. I just noticed you said this a few years back and I wanted to comment on it: Maybe this is it, you are have not reached a point where you realize the Bible is not what Christians say it is. There is a book I would like you to read, it was the very first book I read when I was having serious doubts about the faith and the author had a very similar experience as me: Star Map: A Journey of Faith, Doubt, and Meaning by Lewis Vaughn. Vaughn describes his sincere search to find God and to interpret the Bible correctly, and not to reveal too much of the story, he realizes that it is impossible. The Bible is open to too many interpretations, but I would like for you to experience the book first hand. This book really resonated with me and I think it is important for someone who is struggling to make sense of Christianity to hear the journey other fundamentalist went through before losing faith. Time and again I find that the ranks of atheist are often filled with those who were the most ardent and sincere believers, and the reason we became atheist is because we never found any real answers....
  11. @SeaJay I doubt the original author had anything like that in mind. I looked at the NRSV and Dr. Price's interpretation in his Pre-Nicene New Testament. The entire context tells me that the unpardonable sin has to deal with claiming Jesus was not of God, but of a demonic spirit - hence the Beel-Zebul translated as "Lord of the Flies." Pharisees thought the presence of demons meant flies would accompany it. Everything leading up to the claim they committed an eternal sin has to deal with them stating Jesus had an unclean spirit. So no, I don't think you are even in the ballpark.
  12. LMAO - that is funny, but I get it. Breaking away from dogma is a long process. I had to retrain my mind NOT to read the Bible from a fundamentalist viewpoint. Takes a lot of practice and hearing opposing viewpoints. You can even head over to Mythvision on YouTube to hear Dr. Price give his reasoning for why he drew the tentative conclusions he did. I am not saying Dr. Price is the end all be all; I do not take everything he says as the gold standard. But he is very fair with the material, and he will state over and over again he is not dogmatic about his views. He is willing to change his mind based on the evidence provided. Personally, he is my favorite, but that is simply my personal preference.
  13. @SeaJay I am really glad to hear it. I think this is going to be a big step for you in the right direction. IMO, your anxiety leads to OCD, where you obsess about religion, EXACTLY like I did. I have told you before, I was constantly thinking about Hell, constantly praying, constantly asking for forgiveness, constantly trying to find reasons to keep believing. Jesus did not comfort me, he scared the shit out of me. All this talk of love ws just a mask for the absolute terror right behind it...well, I am going off topic here. Perhaps start out with General Anxiety and see where that leads you. I have full confidence the counselor will refer you to someone else if the believe your particular case is outside of their specialized domain.
  14. I had never heard of it until I was introduced to Dr. Robert Price and Dr. Richard Carrier I guess a couple years ago. I am not the expert on this and what I am going to say on it is vague because I do not have all the source material at hand, but generally speaking, there was this idea floating around that there were seven levels to the heavens. For example, when Paul writes about the Powers and Principalities controlling the world, he is referring to the archons, essentially fallen angels if I am not mistaken. They are at the first level of the heavens and these guys are really jacked up, they fight, bicker, boastful, the whole gambit. The seventh level of heaven is where God sits so everything is pristine and everyone has their act together. Each level had different beings and it got progressively worse as you went through the levels. In order to traverse these different levels, you had to have some knowledge, essentially a password, before you could get in and also head out. Dr. Price and Dr. Carrier argue that Paul's resurrection story never actually takes place on earth, but in the heavenly realm of the archons. Not that this is clearly stated, but essentially Jesus was able to navigate the different levels until he was found out and the archons crucified him at the first heaven or whichever it may have happened at. When I first heard it, I thought it was complete nonsense. I was telling myself there was no way, but I think a good argument could be made that this is what Paul had in mind. He did not know an earthly Jesus. All his talk of Jesus was in visions and he got his gospel straight from Christ, etc. There are places I thought would debunk this idea, like Romans 1:3 where Paul mentions Jesus was from the line of David, according to the flesh. In my head, I was like, "dude, it says right there 'Jesus came according to the flesh.'" Well, turns out that is a bit of a mistranslation and that actually says Jesus came from David's sperm (weird, I know). Remember in the OT whenever David was supposed to have an everlasting kingdom? An argument could be made that this is Midrash (retelling of stories from the OT) to actually state that God made Jesus out of "David's seed" and he continued the line of Davidic rule in a heavenly kingdom. Sounds crazy right? But I will tell you, it actually makes a lot of sense of different passages in the Bible. Recommending reading: On the Historicity of Jesus by Dr. Richard Carrier (also has a audiobook for this) The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man by Dr. Robert Price Definitely do not have to agree with anything these guys say, but they have some interesting points that really make you think twice about what these different passages mean.
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