We don't agree about everything and that's OK. What we do agree on is the need to carry on the discussion in a civil way.

Before you contribute to a discussion, familiarize yourself with logical fallacies. Ad hominem attacks will not be tolerated.

The goal here is for civil conversation so be nice; no profanity. Anyone who calls another person an idiot will be banned.

Lastly remember, when someone disagrees with your views it does not mean they like you less as a person. If you can't handle being disagreed with then go away.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why I no longer believe (Part 2)

The deconversion discussion continues in part two. I have already talked about my past as a true believer with a voracious appetite for learning about all things denominational. Moving forward my reasons for deconverting are a lot more logical - this is where I need you, gentle readers, to participate.

In recognition of good faith on your part as believers and to ensure intellectual honesty please close your Bible, put it out of arms reach and answer the following questions based on what you already know about what the Bible and Christianity teaches.

1) Who wrote the four gospels?
2) Which gospel was written first?
3) When was the last supper?
4) How many people did Jesus appear to after his resurrection?

Okay, clearly I set you up to fail a little bit ... by now you've realized (hopefully) that the Bible can't be 100% divinely inspired because there are contradictions. Don't believe me? Here are the answers to the above questions:

1 & 2) We are supposed to believe that the Gospels were written by the people they are named after - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But none of the gospel authors identify who they are. The most widely accepted hypothesis is called Markan priority - that Mark wrote his gospel first and Matthew and Luke borrowed from it (as well as the thus far unproven "Q source"). This seems to me the most logical conclusion based on the evidence. First because the grammar of Mark is rough, essentially unedited, so if one were to start copying some where (or using as "notes") you would clean up the grammar. Moreover, about 80 percent of Mark is found almost word for word in Matthew and and Luke. When Matthew and Luke aren't copying from Mark, they disagree with each other.

3) The last supper was right before Jesus was executed, but what I really mean is WHEN? Was Jesus eating a Passover Seder? The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) indicate that it was a Passover Seder. John on the other hand explicitly explains that the last supper was eaten before Passover, on the day of preparation for the Passover.

4) How many people did Jesus appear to after his resurrection? According to Matthew it's 13 - the disciples and the Mary's. According to Mark (at least the park that most scholars believe was added much later) 16 - the Marys, the disciples, Salome and two followers. According to Corinthian's more than 500 people.

Maybe you can harmonize all these things, saying each book is a unique person's testimony. We know the earliest any of these books were written were at least thirty years after the fact, and not a single one of them by eye witnesses. We have second hand stories passed down orally about the biggest event in man-kinds history. That seems like an awfully shaky foundation for an entire world-view and reason for judging other people.

Now, before I sign off I have one last argument to tackle, that will be the hardest, I know. It's the "I know it because I feel it" argument. This one kept me around the longest. I felt the love of Jesus when I prayed, I was slain in the spirit during revival meetings, no one could talk me out of that. But I ask you, in all sincerity to ask yourself how you can be so sure the people who know Islam, or Hinduism or Zorastiam are true are wrong.  You can't get inside their heads or their hearts to judge that, so why should your subjective experience be any reason to justify the gleeful condemnation to hell I see so many Christians guilty of?

This was my tipping point. I was incredibly overcome and emotional at a military event. God was never invoked, "two or more of us" were not gathered in His name, and I still had the same feeling I got from worship. That was when I said to myself "woah, am I worshiping Patriotism here, or have I just fallen prey to group think?" Upon reflection of the beliefs of others, I can confidently say, it was group think and self delusion.

A couple years ago I was given the great honor of meeting a reflection of my younger self. She was so in love with Jesus, he helped her straighten out her life and she wanted to share the good news with everyone, it was all she could talk about. In fact, she was so convinced and "on fire" that she nearly cried every time a Muslim woman walked past in her Burka. When I told her I had been exploring Buddhism, I think she went looking for Holy Water. She genuinely wanted to help these people find the truth, but the only reason she knew Christianity was the truth was because she felt it deep down, and "because the Bible tells me so." When I pushed her and asked how can you be sure the Muslims don't have the truth of it? They feel it to the core of their being - so much so that they walk around dressed like crazy people, and the Quran tells them so. All she could respond was that they were "deceived by the great deceiver."

So there it is, in a pretty long nutshell my main reasons for deconverting. I could give you more reasons, but those are the main ones.

I maintain a great sense of awe and wonder at everything in this great, amazing universe. I am so thankful for my life, for every second I get to be alive to enjoy it. I still feel a great sense of connection to some creator.
But I no longer accept that Jesus is the "way the truth and life." The Bible was written by fallible human men with political and social agendas to reinforce. They may have well genuinely believed it, but that doesn't make it any more true than Joseph Smith's tablets that founded Mormonism.

If you have a counter argument, I would love to hear it! Leave it in the comments. I'll probably address more of the things I have serious doubts about. What do you have doubts about? What are you convicted of? What would you say to an apostate like me to bring me back into the fold?


  1. Makes sense to me. For me, I grew up very confused. Being forced to go to church and wondering when Jesus would appear to me and let me know this was indeed what I was suppose to be doing. But then knowing in MY heart that the things I read and heard about (hell especially) just didn't feel right. And I've tried SO hard to fit into the Christian cookie cutter way of life, but it never works for me.
    Serious kudos to you for being brave enough to stand up and say you don't go with the flow.

    1. First, Sam, you did a lot of research on this as you grew up within Christianity, and looking for answers later in life...and did pretty good job organizing your thoughts in these posts. Mine won't be nearly as organized, but the bottom line that I read in your reasoning is that you want to, but can't find conclusive 'proof' that what you had been taught was fact.

      Which is understandable because, unfortunately, no matter what religion we decide is most-likely the closest to the truth, our decision cannot be stated as fact, like we all would want it to be. It is impossible. Our own theories on the world and universe, just like scientific theories, can be proven wrong...but the best that can happen for a theory is that they are NOT proven wrong. What a great life a theory lives!

      It is difficult to put our faith in anything we don't know, or don't see for ourselves. Whether it is God...Jesus...the belief that there is not a supreme being at all, and somehow things just started from absolutely nothing...being re-born...ghosts...UFOs. Religion is an important question that we all should really contemplate...though many do not, for simplicity's sake.

      Finally, on a specific issue that you have alluded to a couple of times in your writing...people make you feel judged when you're at church. While I firmly believe that each church (as well as every situation) varies on how 'bad' people are when it comes to judging people, they will still do it (including myself at times), wherever they are. I am quite sure that whatever the 'church,' especially a legitimately 'Christian' church, does not approve of it...while bars and book clubs with your friends are more likely to be fine with it ;0)

  2. I really should check back more frequenty ... sorry for the delay.

    You're right, I started this journey hoping that I could find significant reason to believe Christianity was at least mostly true. I accept that I can't have "proof" -- but for something as important as eternal reward or damnation, there should be at least a preponderance of evidence. Especially if the Christian religion is as based in logic and reason as many apologists claim.

    Anyone honestly seeking truth should be willing to disregard previously held beliefs if the evidence does not bear it our or, as I frequently ran into, flat out contradicts it. To begin this journey requires putting aside some deeply held beliefs and bracing yourself for somethings you may not like. It require seeking out sources from someone not concerned with continuing years of a tradition. It requires hearing both sides of the arguments, not simply "Christianity today."

    My own struggle has been the fact that I grew up in a fundamentalist religion where the Bible was THE TRUTH, every single word was written by God - he only used the hand of Man because he didn't have flesh. I resisted learning about other world religions for a really long time because I genuinely believed every other prayer, not directed to the Christian God (and more specifically, the Protestant God -- the Catholics could probably get through, but it was harder for God to hear them through the noise of their heresy on the way) was speaking to and interacting with the devil. The last thing I wanted to do was invite Satan in life by accident!

    I don't care if people judge me at church, I expect that. I judge people all the time, I get that. What bothers me is how heated the conversation has become in public life. The numbers of people who feel compelled to condemn other people to hell, to disparage the beliefs and choices of others, based on their own understanding of a text has divided the greatest minds for centuries. Maybe I'm just more aware of it now that I'm no longer in the majority - but I sure am sick of hearing people justify their opinions on everything from money to car choices based on the Bible.

    Years of conservative upbringing makes me cringe before I even type this, but it's true: as new age-y as it seems, I wish everyone could find "their truth" and just leave the rest of us alone to find our own truth.