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nontheistpilgrim

Why perpetuate dishonesty

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I have recently completed a re-write of a sort of autobiography, detailing my pilgrimage from fundamentalism to nontheism (helped by Hole-In-My-Heart, thanks). If I had known the stuff I now know, when I was a minister,....well, I have no idea how I would have reacted. Of recent discovery (thanks to Citsonga) is that Jesus was not the first to be born of a virgin, killed and risen again - he was at least the fifth of such stories. I had already come to believe that Jesus, as portrayed in the New Testment, did not exist - but this?!


I continue to find the journey in nontheism to be joyful and exciting.


If there is any interest here, what do people think about preachers (most of them) preaching stuff that is just not true? The virgin birth, resurrection, heaven & hell, trans-substantiation and so on. And Christians sing all sorts of ridiculous stuff so, presumably, they believe it (they are taught it). They recite the creeds which contain so much rubbish. Why? I suppose ministers have a vested interest. Preachers get paid to do it and if they preached the truth they'd be out of a job. I will admit that some ministers love the church and are more concerned about social action than they are about doctrine: I know some ministers who are agnostic. I will admit that some (many?) Christians attend church because they enjoy the togetherness and so on; it's like a club and that's OK by me.


Why perpetuate myths and dishonesty? In the end, I believe it is likely to be counterproductive as the myths and dishonesty is exposed by modern scholarship and thinking. I will be happy about exposure of the falsehoods but less happy about the demise of an institution that, at its best, meets the human need for friendship and support to one another.


See: Citsonga and 'Letter to my Christian Parents: perhaps a kind host could add a link to the letter?

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On 11/22/2019 at 5:44 AM, nontheistpilgrim said:

Why perpetuate myths and dishonesty? In the end, I believe it is likely to be counterproductive as the myths and dishonesty is exposed by modern scholarship and thinking. I will be happy about exposure of the falsehoods but less happy about the demise of an institution that, at its best, meets the human need for friendship and support to one another.

 

I wouldn't worry too much. Change is afoot, but change is also very gradual. Church attendance has been steady in decline. And I think you have to look at it through entire generations. Family superstitions are waning all over the place. Kids and grand kids aren't as gullible on large scale as they once were.

 

It would be really hard to firm up the numbers of non believers in any literal sense. I don't think that we ever get a true sense of the agnostic and atheist populations through polls. And that the numbers that we do see are most likely on the conservative end. A lot of people get on fine without church, religion and theistic belief. Whether they pronounce it or not. And a lot of it goes on under the radar to speak. 

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Church is a constant shell-game of promise and deflection. Many of us started believing because we were promised that God loved us and had a wonderful plan for our lives. Several folks I knew came in through 12-step programs for eating or other issues, and their "sponsor" was a believer intent on evangelism. Once we bite the bait, we slowly learned the stories of the bible and the miracles, then through church attendance we got the Old Testament mixed in. Meanwhile, our social circle changed to mostly believers. For me, any time the doors were open I was there doing the sound system and socializing with people (something new to me at the time). There were clues that it was a tower of lies, but the other benefits of salvation and friends were plenty to keep me hooked. On one hand they'd tell me not to trust my feelings, but then when I had real questions about the faith that made it seem sour, they'd say "just trust the love you've already felt". Shell-game. Or if they didn't like the question, I could be accused of being "contentious", that is, not following blindly and making them feel uncomfortable. 

 

So bit by bit after taking the initial bait, we were fed the tribal taboos and myths and accepted them as truth because we'd already trusted that the Bible was the word of God. When god acted like a narcissistic asshole in the bible, we were taught that we deserved it because of sin. When Israel committed genocide after genocide (Holocausts) of people groups as they traveled, and kept the young girls as sex slaves after just watching their families slaughtered, and god blessed that and commanded that, that became a good thing instead of shockingly horrifying. We were conditioned to think a certain way, and god always got a pass because otherwise he might hurt us and we'd deserve it because he's "holy". I finally figured out that we were the abused wife in a domestic relationship to our god who only ever gets good press from the leadership. I wrote this article about that discovery

 

So when we repeated the lies to others, it came from years of mental and emotional conditioning to see myth as real and a despicable bloodthirsty god as the definition of Love. It all started with that initial bait and hook.

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But I can hardly get my head round why church leaders preach it, encourage it. OK a lot of it, maybe, is about self-preservation, but surely they know (deep inside) that they are telling a lie. I don't understand how they can live with that. I suppose it is possible to preach and lead without referring to the dodgy bits (that's nearly all of it!) but, sooner or later, things will catch up with them - for example at Christmas or Easter or in junior church or at the bedside of a dieing parishioner.

I think, in my case, I simply didn't read outside of evangelical / fundamentalist sources and didn't discuss with my radical Christian friends. Thus I had a closed mind and shrugged my shoulders at contrary views. Shame on me. But I knew no better.

Thank goodness I'm out of it.

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There are a lot of people working  in the pharmaceutical industry who have major problems with the pharmaceutical industry, and for the same reasons (dishonesty, greed, taking advantage of the poor/gullible, etc.).  I imsgine it's the same in some other industries, like healthcare, or automotive.  Bottom line, though, is the bottom line.  People gotta eat; and most just do what they have to do to get by.  It ain't fair; but that's the way the world works. 

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1 hour ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

. . . surely they know (deep inside) that they are telling a lie.

 

A certain number of them really, truly believe every word of the bible: the serpent in the garden, the tower of babel, the talking donkey, the sun standing still, the resurrection, everything.  They’re basically flat-earthers:  a lunatic fringe who are convinced that everyone else is deceived.  Remember pizzagate?  Some people will believe ANYTHING.  And we are sharing the planet with them . . . .

 

Of the clergy, there are others who don’t believe like this; some of them are undoubtedly foisting it on the gullible to make a living; but I think others, such as in the mainstream liberal denominations, have congregations that don’t really believe it either; to them, the bible is a kind of inspirational literature, and they go to church for family, tradition, a good feeling, etc.

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Christianity doesn’t have anywhere near the influence it did when I was growing up in the 50’s & 60’s. The internet has been a game changer IMO. The historical reality of the origins and evolution of both the Bible & the Christian faith are readily accessible all over the internet.

 

The truth about the Bible & the Christian faith is no longer a secret that can be hidden from the faithful & the general public. Religion continues to decline in numbers and influence with each new generation. 


 

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49 minutes ago, Geezer said:

Christianity doesn’t have anywhere near the influence it did when I was growing up

 

True that. I also recall the fight that Hugh Hefner put up in courts against the entrenched morality police, and won. But I still recall how "shocking" Three's Company was. And mom wasn't sure I should be watching "Love American Style". What a different culture we had! 

 

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1 hour ago, Geezer said:

Christianity doesn’t have anywhere near the influence it did when I was growing up in the 50’s & 60’s. The internet has been a game changer IMO. The historical reality of the origins and evolution of both the Bible & the Christian faith are readily accessible all over the internet.

 

The truth about the Bible & the Christian faith is no longer a secret that can be hidden from the faithful & the general public. Religion continues to decline in numbers and influence with each new generation. 


 

 

This!!!!!!!!!!

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On 11/22/2019 at 10:07 AM, nontheistpilgrim said:

But I can hardly get my head round why church leaders preach it, encourage it. OK a lot of it, maybe, is about self-preservation, but surely they know (deep inside) that they are telling a lie. I don't understand how they can live with that. I suppose it is possible to preach and lead without referring to the dodgy bits (that's nearly all of it!) but, sooner or later, things will catch up with them - for example at Christmas or Easter or in junior church or at the bedside of a dieing parishioner.

I think, in my case, I simply didn't read outside of evangelical / fundamentalist sources and didn't discuss with my radical Christian friends. Thus I had a closed mind and shrugged my shoulders at contrary views. Shame on me. But I knew no better.

Thank goodness I'm out of it.

 

I'm one who questions the clergy when I have the chance. And I have found quite a lot of professing agnostic theist pastors, and church school administrators. Because they know that there are at least some problems with the way in which the bible is presented to the public.

 

That it's not 100% infallible. Because they are educated enough to at least have some understanding of the fact. But then again, I've seen those types go in front of everyone and ride the party line all the same. It was painful to go to my best friends Dad's funeral. He was an SDA school principle. I specifically knew that he did not believe that founder Ellen G White was inspired by god. He was only theistic in a vague, agnostic sense. But at the funeral the pastor went on and on about how devoted he was in life to the teachings of Ellen White, and the bible, and that was pure bullshit. I knew that he had not only spoken to the pastor about his doubts but that specifically made a stand about trying to get away from the Ellen G White material. He was teetering on the edge of heresy. The pastor knew that. And yet I sat there and watched him lie his ass off at the funeral. I was a little pissed off about it too. 

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On 11/22/2019 at 10:07 AM, nontheistpilgrim said:

But I can hardly get my head round why church leaders preach it, encourage it. OK a lot of it, maybe, is about self-preservation, but surely they know (deep inside) that they are telling a lie. I don't understand how they can live with that. I suppose it is possible to preach and lead without referring to the dodgy bits (that's nearly all of it!) but, sooner or later, things will catch up with them - for example at Christmas or Easter or in junior church or at the bedside of a dieing parishioner.

I think, in my case, I simply didn't read outside of evangelical / fundamentalist sources and didn't discuss with my radical Christian friends. Thus I had a closed mind and shrugged my shoulders at contrary views. Shame on me. But I knew no better.

Thank goodness I'm out of it.

 

22 hours ago, TEG said:

 

A certain number of them really, truly believe every word of the bible: the serpent in the garden, the tower of babel, the talking donkey, the sun standing still, the resurrection, everything.  They’re basically flat-earthers:  a lunatic fringe who are convinced that everyone else is deceived.  Remember pizzagate?  Some people will believe ANYTHING.  And we are sharing the planet with them . . . .

 

Of the clergy, there are others who don’t believe like this; some of them are undoubtedly foisting it on the gullible to make a living; but I think others, such as in the mainstream liberal denominations, have congregations that don’t really believe it either; to them, the bible is a kind of inspirational literature, and they go to church for family, tradition, a good feeling, etc.

 

I'm with TEG here. There's a broad spectrum with pastors and church leaders. On the two extremes are some who really do believe it's true and some who are full-fledged charlatans. In between there are others who don't believe but feel trapped because they don't have transferable skills, some who realize it's not totally true but think that religion is necessary for morality, etc. There's no one-size-fits-all.

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On 11/22/2019 at 11:15 AM, TEG said:

 but I think others, such as in the mainstream liberal denominations, have congregations that don’t really believe it either; to them, the bible is a kind of inspirational literature, and they go to church for family, tradition, a good feeling, etc.

9 hours ago, Citsonga said:

 

There's no one-size-fits-all.

 

 

True, and people generally believe what they want to believe.  Most of the Christians I know today are what I call "lukewarm," like what TEG says above. They go to church occasionally, don't study the Bible, and just follow the the preacher they like the most.  And I have noticed many are going to church less and less.  But are quick to attack atheist, agnostics, Gays, Muslims, Mexicans, anybody different than them.  Critical thinking and common sense is slipping away.  Makes me afraid for our country.

 

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Weezer: '....critical thinking and common sense ... is slipping away....'. Where there is critical thinking and common sense, I would argue that it is resulting in significant numbers leaving the church and faith. Apart from the fundamentalists (who leave their brains at the church door as they enter and their cash in the plate as they leave) denominations are in fast decline.

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A mega large Presbyterian Church in our area notes that folks will never hear the word sin coming from their pulpit. They are all about grace, love, & forgiveness. Their emphasis is on helping others and those in need. They have somewhere around 12,000 members. This is the new focus because they realize the old hell, fire, and brimstone isn’t working anymore. 
 

People want church to be entertaining and fun now. That’s why mega church services are essentially Christian rock concerts these days. Church has learned marketing is their key to survival.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Geezer said:

A mega large Presbyterian Church in our area notes that folks will never hear the word sin coming from their pulpit. They are all about grace, love, & forgiveness. Their emphasis is on helping others and those in need. They have somewhere around 12,000 members. This is the new focus because they realize the old hell, fire, and brimstone isn’t working anymore. 
 

People want church to be entertaining and fun now. That’s why mega church services are essentially Christian rock concerts these days. Church has learned marketing is their key to survival.

 

 

 

Yes! And the music dulls the mind? I find it hard to believe that such a large congregation is cemented by social action.

 

And doesn't forgiveness by god rely on sin? 😀

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48 minutes ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

 

Yes! And the music dulls the mind? I find it hard to believe that such a large congregation is cemented by social action.

 

And doesn't forgiveness by god rely on sin? 😀


Yes, but preaching about sin and sinners is a real downer. People don’t want to hear that kind of stuff, except, of course, for the fundies.  They seem to thrive on preaching about sin & sinners. They hunt for sin like there’s a reward for it. 

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On 11/24/2019 at 9:01 AM, nontheistpilgrim said:

 Where there is critical thinking and common sense, I would argue that it is resulting in significant numbers leaving the church and faith.

 

That could be the case with some, but the one's I know are getting older, tired of the music and glitz, and are gradually getting more apathetic about religion.  Just slowly fading away.  But my circle of friends are getting older and smaller.  I just don't think the entertainment factor will last.

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2 hours ago, Weezer said:

 

That could be the case with some, but the one's I know are getting older, tired of the music and glitz, and are gradually getting more apathetic about religion.  Just slowly fading away.  But my circle of friends are getting older and smaller.  I just don't think the entertainment factor will last.

Part of my point is that critical thinking often is absent.

But you are right. I think the history of churches in, say, the last 50 years in UK, is of constant change on the 'charismatic' front. New churches .... they die .... new churches slightly different flavour .... they die .... new churches slightly different flavour again .... and so on. A common factor is the glitz. Certainly in the black majority churches it can be described as 'fission and fusion' (as I have heard)... and there's plenty of glitz.

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On 11/23/2019 at 8:58 PM, Weezer said:

 

And I have noticed many are going to church less and less.  

 

 

I hope this means they are giving less and less money to their churches. Starve the beast!

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2 hours ago, ficino said:

 

I hope this means they are giving less and less money to their churches. Starve the beast!

 

Yeah,  I am hoping this, as well. Starve 'em out!

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I think younger preachers in fundamentalist denominations are starting to learn more. In the past they went to a "Bible college" (or no college at all -- just interned under an older preacher), and they studied writings almost exclusively from within their denomination. I was raised in the "non-institutional" Churches of Christ in the US. They were (and still are, mostly) separated from the mainline Churches of Christ, but the younger generation doesn't know the history. And the funny thing is, a lot of mainline CoC folks are joining NI churches and don't really know the differences.

But anyway, these younger preachers are learning things. They'll get advanced degrees from Harding and Pepperdine that are closer to actual seminary degrees than before. I still attend a NI-CoC (as a semi-closeted atheist), and the youngish preacher (about 35?) a couple of weeks ago mentioned how Matthew basically cribbed some older language about Julius Caesar when writing about Jesus. He knows! There has to be a lot of cognitive dissonance going on.

 

These guys are going to have a really hard time when they eventually deconvert, having trained to do nothing else in their lives. And I'm almost positive that a whole, whole bunch of them will deconvert in the next 10 years. There's just too much information available for them to be able to stay in their bubbles!

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