How to Persuade an Atheist to Become Christian

This article is almost too ridiculous to take responding to seriously, but what the hell? It might be fun. What is for sure is, that while some Christians might take this seriously as a reliable and serious guide, no educated, thinking atheist would. I won’t take the time or blog space to respond to the entire article, but a few choice selections should suffice. Glory!

Conversion to Christianity is a beautiful thing that requires that the person believes in God and in Jesus as the way to salvation.

Conversion to Christian faith is not at all a “beautiful thing”. It is a tragedy that often leads to years of totally unnecessary fear, guilt, shame and ignorance. Not to mention clinical depression often caused by needless fears over an imaginary religious concept called “sin” or over needless fears that one is not really “saved”, given the fact that there is no God and no such thing as “salvation”. Also, there is no such thing as “saved” or “lost”. That is a false distinction drawn by a demonstrably false religion.

Remember that Jesus doesn’t try to argue his way into an unwilling mind or soul. He simply loves unconditionally, forgiving sin of believers by God’s grace, through faith, not of works lest any should boast; it is the gift of God. Rather than trying to convert someone to religious beliefs, simply love them unconditionally, realizing Jesus said: “Neither do I condemn you — go and sin no more!” It’s that simple kind of concept that can introduce Jesus’ non-condemning approach to life. Then as you need to show Bible based good news to other people, here are some step-by-step approaches. Avoid working straight through a religious agenda.

Jesus loves unconditionally? Have you actually read your own damn holy book? Jesus introduced the morally reprehensible concept of Hell to scripture, he said that we must hate our families to be his true disciples (Luke 14:26), he commanded that those who refused to follow him be killed in front of him (Luke 19:27), and he advised us to hack off body parts that cause us to sin and piss God off (Matthew 5). According to the Book of Revelation, Jesus and his father (who are somehow magically Each Other while somehow magically being separate Persons at the same time, according to the doctrine of the Trinity) will someday murder billions of non-Christian people and then torment them in Hell forever. Hallelujah! There is not much good news to be found in the Bible, if you read it as it actually is, without Jesus Goggles firmly in place. It is impossible to discuss religion with the intent to proselytize someone without having a religious agenda!

Be ready to have your own faith challenged. You might get confronted with well-formulated factual arguments. Many atheists who are interested in Christianity will be able to explain Evolution, the Big Bang or other scientific theories in their stories and opinions. They might refer to certain scientific evidence and people to support these theories. Before starting a discussion, you must expect that they have a non-religious orthodoxy with their evidence aligned in their favor, as they see it, regarding origins from the vacuum of space, universe and life from a black hole, from nothing but (mindless) energy changing to matter by no plan, yet results so astonishing, with no design — matter “rattling around” to create all the orderly, interdependent processes — as the basis of theories of origins (unobservable stuff form into theories of what they believe) may be arguable, perhaps logical, but how so?

I can guarantee that if you talk to me about your faith, you will have it challenged. 🙂 What, exactly, is “non-religious orthodoxy”? Atheists have no gods, no creeds, no rituals, or anything else to be orthodox about! We do not “align” evidence. We simply accept the findings of science as they are, and most of us understand how the scientific method works. As is sadly and unfortunately common with Christians, whoever wrote this has little understanding of science or current scientific theories. We have very good evidence backing up our scientific theories such as the Big Bang (cosmic background radiation, for example) and overwhelming evidence in favor of theories such as biological evolution. There is no discernible divine plan governing our universe or our world, but the origin of the universe and our world and the diversity of life on this planet can all be explained quite well and quite coherently without referencing God or any religious texts, including the Bible. Hell, the Bible gets the origin of the universe and the earth completely wrong in the very first verse of Genesis and then degenerates rapidly down into two contradictory and absurd creation myths. Our current scientific theories are quite logical and can easily be explained logically, but the same cannot be said of irrational and illogical religious beliefs such as Christianity. The central message of Christianity is that “God had to sacrifice Himself to Himself to save us from Himself because a talking snake convinced two obviously mythical people living in an obviously mythical place to eat magic fruit from a magic tree”. How, exactly, is that logical?

Understand that the Bible presents “infallible” logic in Genesis 1, by presenting creation in several phases, clearly, understandable as simple to complex!

Infallible logic? Seriously? Genesis chapters 1 and 2 presents two contradictory and absurd creation myths that have absolutely no scientific basis and which both contradict known facts about how this planet and the diversity of life on it came to be. Chapter 3 of Genesis rapidly degenerates into an absurd story involving two obviously mythical people, an obviously mythical place, a talking snake, and magic fruit from magic trees. Modern, educated, thinking people are supposed to take these ancient myths seriously? I don’t think so…

Check whether you believe that the Bible is scientifically correct enough for you point of view, every time it mentions science, even though it isn’t a science text. In perspective, 3000 years ago, before Greek geometry or Arabic algebra, the writer of the oldest Bible texts said correctly, before science existed, that the universe was dark and void “in the beginning” (Genesis 1). The Bible prophet Isaiah stated that the Earth was round 2500 years before Columbus sailed westward, for the East Indies, speaking of “the circle of the Earth”, spheres are “round/circular”,[1] and, no, The Bible never said the Earth is flat.

Almost every time — if not every single time — the Bible mentions science, it gets it completely and often hilariously wrong! The biblical universe as described in Genesis 1 (small, three-tiered, and featuring a solid dome firmament with the stars fixed in it and a flat earth) bears little if any resemblance to the real universe as we know it to be today. The Bible prophet Isaiah did no such thing. The verse being referenced here is Isaiah 40:22 which states, “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” This verse clearly teaches a flat earth since people would only appear “as grasshoppers” if seen from a great height and, generally speaking, you spread out a tent on a flat surface! The Bible indeed never explicitly states that the earth is flat, but it teaches that quite clearly, and not just in Isaiah 40:22. See also Daniel 4:11 and Matthew 4:8, both of which clearly teach that the earth is flat and which, in fact, require it to be flat if they are to be taken literally as true.

Be knowledgeable about Christianity. If you are a Christian and you believe that the Bible is the direct word of God, then have you read most of it and the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? If not, you may find the person you are trying to convert is better versed in the Bible than you. Remember that atheists live in a world that is mostly religious. They may have hardened their beliefs more than a Christian who lives in a mostly Christian society.

If you are a Christian and you want to remain one, this is very bad advice! Actually reading the Bible is one of the fastest ways I personally know of to become an atheist! Most atheists do indeed generally know much more about the Bible and the origins and contents of it than most Christians do. That’s a big reason why many of us who used to be Christian believers are now atheists! It is impossible to be aware of the contents of the Bible — the myths, the fables, the contradictions, the absurdities, the atrocities, the forgeries, the known bad “history”, etc. — and still take it seriously as the “word” of a god.

Familiarize yourself with some atheist arguments. If you’re going to present an argument for your beliefs, research how Christians answer what atheists have said about your arguments in the past. This will help meet the interest in the other person’s thoughts and time. You might see some atheist opinion, and hardened views online.

Another piece of very bad advice for Christian believers who want to remain believers! Research atheist arguments, and you are virtually guaranteed to find them much more reasonable and rational and fact-based than Christian arguments!

Be honest if feel your Christianity is being mocked. Give respect to an atheist, but also insist on respect for yourself. Discussion need not turn to an angry, harsh argument or put-downs. Don’t accept something said in a mean spirit without letting the person know how it makes you feel. However, realize that while you deserve respect, your ideas should stand on their own merit. Don’t be thin-skinned when your beliefs are challenged. Also, what you consider mockery might have a serious point that can be explicitly addressed. Don’t just assume that someone’s rebuttals are mean-spirited. Before reacting, make sure you understand the point made and keep a cool (and compassionate) attitude.

PEOPLE deserve respect. The same cannot be said for beliefs. Beliefs that are ridiculous or absurd can and should be openly mocked without apology! If Christians can keep their cool while their ridiculous mythological beliefs are being mocked, then awesome. If not, then that’s fine too. There’s not much that is more entertaining in an online debate/discussion than a supposedly “Spirit-filled” Christian losing their divinely-inspired cool and becoming very un-Christlike in a hell of a hurry when their silly beliefs are challenged or mocked. Glory!

Establish a common language. You will not convince an atheist that your belief has merit, if you use assumptions that the atheist does not agree are valid. You have to establish a common definition for terms and try to play with semantics to gloss over a point. When you have a discussion, it is best to speak the same language. This means that you will have to back up and use secular reasoning to establish your theological ideas.

There is no such thing as a common language that can be established between an atheist dealing with reality as it actually is and a Christian believer trapped in a religious fantasy world which has no discernible basis in reality. It is impossible to use “secular reasoning” to establish theological ideas which have no discernible or demonstrable basis in reality.

Ask why your friend is Atheist. Has your friend always felt that there is no (caring) creator? Has something happened to cause this person pain in life, or feel that religious leaders are hypocritical? Or does he or she simply choose to base a belief system on scientific proof? Whatever the reason is, you need to get to the core of your friend’s beliefs.

Do not assume to know anything about why. Ask whether he doesn’t believe because God made him mad. It’s a sensible question, and won’t hinder your discussion.

If I am asked, I will be more than happy to explain why I am an atheist, why I don’t believe in God, why I don’t consider the God of the Bible worthy of worship, and why I find it impossible to take the Bible seriously as the “word” of a God. The same can be said of most atheists. If asked, we will be more than happy to explain our position(s). I personally am not an atheist because I’m mad at a being that I don’t believe exists. I am an atheist because I see absolutely zero evidence that a god of any kind actually exists. God never thinks, says, or does anything at all in the real world except in the minds of believers, and that is a huge clue to his actual nonexistence. I do, however, object to acts that God is said to have committed in the Bible. I find mass murder and genocide (which God is recorded as either ordering or directly committing repeatedly in the Old Testament) morally objectionable, and I also find the concept of Hell, which Jesus allegedly introduced to scripture, to be morally reprehensible.

Discuss the tenets of Christianity. Remember: “People don’t light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to everyone.”(Matthew 5:15-16). Quoting the Bible at an opportunity isn’t counterproductive and saying “I thank God for [something]” is fine. Remember, an atheist does not agree, by default, that the Bible is a valid source of information. You would have to establish that.

Discuss the tenets of Christianity with any knowledgeable atheist, and you will find them rapidly and utterly dismantled and demolished. The Bible is not a valid source of accurate and reliable information, and that fact is easy to establish.

Explain why Christianity helps people to live better lives. It may also be useful to tell your friend about people you’ve met at church. When listing their good qualities, include that they are “religious, devout, etc. Their religious fervor is going to impress an atheist.

Create reasons for your faith that have everything to do with personal experience. An atheist may want definite evidence, not just a rehearsal of your faith. You’ll have to provide concrete facts and scientifically thought out arguments. Your beliefs based on faith, God’s love and joy of worship (all immaterial things) are not evidence to the unbeliever. In fact, a reliance on faith is evidence that you aren’t relying on facts. However, this will work in your favor as faith is, by its nature, non-corporeal (not material matters).

Lots of people think that their religious beliefs make their lives better. That is hardly exclusive to Christianity. But I have found that dealing with the real world as it actually is without reference to an imaginary God or gods or any religious or spiritual beliefs at all has greatly enhanced the quality of my life and the happiness and joy that I get out of living it. Religious fervor is not the slightest bit impressive to an atheist! 😆 🙄 There are no concrete facts or scientific arguments that favor belief in God or in the tenets of Christianity, so good luck with that!

Give practical advice from the Holy Book, such as from the book of Proverbs. Keep in mind that this may not be effective since arguing from the Bible expects him or her to acknowledge it. Don’t forget to point out the Scripture itself; that way, he or she will know that it’s not your own thinking.

Yes, I’d love to hear practical advice from the Christian holy book. Shall we derive happiness from bashing the heads of infants against rocks (Psalm 137:9)? Shall we stone disobedient children to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)? Shall we execute homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13)? Shall we piss Jesus off by wearing clothes made of mixed fabrics (Deuteronomy 22:11)? Shall we piss him off too by eating shellfish (Leviticus 11:12)? Any religious “thinking” is not going to be original thinking, but the thoughts of ignorant men who lived a very long time ago. As Dr. House (fictional TV doctor) is famous for having said, “if you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.” If Christians would just think for themselves and if they would just actually read their own damn holy book, they would not remain Christians!

Even if your friend feels uncomfortable with it, pray to the Father in Jesus’ name or pray to Jesus aloud. As your friend listens (or just allows you to pray), pray that God will bless your friend and draw closer. Remember, it is God’s work to draw people in as they learn the Gospel, the Holy Spirit who cleanses them — and Jesus who saves by grace, through faith, not of yourself, not by working, so no one may boast; it is the gift of God… as you are created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God prepared for us to do…

Sure, you talk to yourself and delude yourself into believing that you are addressing an Invisible Magically Undead Man who lives in the Sky, and I’ll think for you. I won’t be the least bit uncomfortable doing that, but I might have a hard time not laughing while you pray to an imaginary being and irrationally expect a nonexistent being to do magical things in my life.

This concludes my response to this ridiculous and, quite frankly, hilarious article. This response has been long enough, I think, and hopefully you have been as entertained reading it as I have been writing it. Glory!

From Atheism to Christianity – My Response

I recently published a six-part response to an article entitled From Atheism to Christianity. This post is simply to pull everything I wrote together into one post so that all six parts are easy to access. Hope you enjoy it and hope it helps to demonstrate how very weak the case for the alleged truth of Christianity actually is. Glory!

Part 1
http://religionisbullshit.me/atheism-christianity-review/

Part 2
http://religionisbullshit.me/atheism-christianity-review-part-2/

Part 3
http://religionisbullshit.me/atheism-christianity-review-part-3/

Part 4
http://religionisbullshit.me/atheism-christianity-review-part-4/

Part 5
http://religionisbullshit.me/atheism-christianity-review-part-5/

Part 6
http://religionisbullshit.me/atheism-christianity-review-part-6/

From Atheism to Christianity – A Review – Part 6

This is part 6 of my glorious response to this article.

Persuaded by Lewis of the reasonableness of the Christian message, I then examined the evidence for the historical truthfulness of the Gospel records in the New Testament. And once again closer scrutiny of the facts forced me to abandon my old prejudices against Christianity. The first thing I noticed was the internal evidence for the truthfulness of the Gospel accounts. Far from being self-serving propaganda, the Gospels faithfully record the weaknesses and failings of Jesus’ disciples, including their frequent inability to understand what He is talking about. Peter, to cite the most famous example, refuses to believe Jesus when He warns him of His impending arrest and execution, and is firmly rebuked for it. Later, at the Last Supper, he swears he will never abandon Jesus even if all the other disciples do, but then goes on to do precisely that, denying all connection with Him in the courtyard of the High Priest’s house after Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. The other disciples are revealed in a similarly poor light. On one occasion they are shown quarrelling about who amongst them will occupy the highest positions in Jesus’ Messianic Kingdom. At other times they, like Peter, are shown to be either unwilling or unable to accept Jesus’ teaching that He, the Messiah, must suffer and die “as a ransom for many”. Not surprisingly, they too abandon Jesus at the moment of supreme crisis in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Christian message is not reasonable. God sacrificing himself to himself to save us from himself is not reasonable, nor is the ridiculous mythological story that led up to the supposed need for God to sacrifice himself to himself — the talking snake, the two obviously mythical people, and the magic fruit from the magic tree affair detailed in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 2:4-3:24).

The truthfulness of the Gospels? They were all written anonymously decades after the events they purport to describe allegedly occurred, and they are riddled with myth, legend, and geographical errors. The Gospels also hopelessly contradict themselves. Take a look at Dan Barker’s Easter Challenge concerning the contradictory resurrection accounts. The Gospels are not only not true, they are not even in agreement on the most important alleged event in Christian history, which of course is the alleged resurrection of Jesus! I’ve pointed out the fact that the Gospels are myth and not history before, but that fact bears repeating again. I posted this glorious video from Dr. Richard Carrier before in a previous response, but here it is again.

Even more significantly, all the disciples are taken by surprise by the Resurrection, despite having been told in advance by Jesus, before His arrest, that He would come back from the dead. Indeed, this very fact, mirrored in their slowness to accept the testimony of their women and the evidence of their own eyes, offers powerful support both for the truthfulness and reliability of the Gospels as a whole, and for the reality of the Resurrection. And this brings me, finally, to the two most compelling and convincing reasons for believing in the truth of the Christian message and the story on which it is based: the undeniable fact of the Empty Tomb, and the subsequent careers and martyrdoms of Jesus’ closest followers.

If these two reasons are the most compelling and convincing reasons you can come up with for believing the Christian message, then the message is in real trouble and on very shaky ground indeed. The undeniable fact of the empty tomb? Sorry, but that’s a later development in the Christian myth. The earliest accounts of the resurrection contain no mention of an empty tomb. The evidence available to us shows that the earliest community of believers did not know where the tomb was. The modern locations for the alleged empty tomb have no historical basis. And, we can reliably sketch out the development of the empty tomb story. It is a legend and nothing more.

The alleged careers and martyrdoms of Jesus’ closest followers carries no weight at all for the supposed truth of the Christian message. People throughout human history have believed things that are not true strongly and they have died for myths and lies. That is going on right now in the modern world as militant Islamic terrorists blow themselves and others up for the glory of Allah, firmly believing that their reward will be Paradise. Of course, that is not true, but does the willingness of these Islamic fanatics to die for their beliefs and their god indicate that Islam is true? Of course not, and so of course the Biblical disciples of Jesus and their alleged careers and martyrdoms does nothing to indicate the supposed truth of the Christian message, even if the accounts we have of their lives and deaths are accurate, which is questionable at best.

As Frank Morison (originally a sceptic) argued long ago in his illuminating book, Who Moved The Stone? none of Jesus’ enemies and opponents of the newborn Christian Church could deny the disappearance of Jesus’ body from the tomb in which He had been buried by Joseph of Arimathea. Despite having every religious and political incentive to do so, neither the Jewish religious authorities who condemned Him, nor the Romans who crucified Him, were able to produce Jesus’ body, and by doing so, give the lie to the preaching of His resurrection by the disciples. If they had done so, Christianity would have been snuffed out instantly. But they didn’t because they couldn’t.

As has already been pointed out, the empty tomb is a myth, and for the record so is Joseph of Arimathea. Christianity started out as a very small and very persecuted sect that wasn’t even made legal in the Roman Empire until the year 313 A.D., and it was not much of a concern to Jewish or Roman authorities. Again, the Gospel stories are myths (historical fiction, at best) and not reliable historical accounts. The Jesus of the Gospels is a myth, and very little if anything accurate can be known of the real historical Jesus at this point in time. That includes knowing what happened to his body!

Secondly, only the fact of the Resurrection and the disciples’ encounter with the Risen Jesus can adequately explain the change that took place in them, and their subsequent careers. Having been a frightened, broken-hearted, and demoralised group of men, they emerged from hiding and became a band of joyful and heroic missionaries, boldly and fearlessly proclaiming the Christian gospel, in the teeth of persecution and suffering. What is more, all of them except John eventually suffered painful martyrdom for doing so. Three of them, including Peter, were crucified; two were stoned to death; another two were beheaded; Thomas was killed with arrows in India; Philip was hanged on a pillar in Phrygia; another disciple was beaten to death, and Bartholomew (Nathaniel) was skinned alive in Armenia. Is it likely, if the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body (as their enemies alleged), that they would have endured all this for something they knew to be a lie? Is it, in any case, psychologically credible to believe that these men, emotionally shattered by Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, would have had the will, motivation, strength, or courage to attempt to snatch away His dead body from under the noses of the soldiers guarding His tomb?

A paragraph of nonsense and suppositions about stories that I have already pointed out are suspect at best as far as their historical accuracy goes. There are various legends about how Jesus’ disciples died, but that’s all they are is legends! I have already pointed out that people throughout human history have lived and died for myths and lies! They are still doing so right now in our modern world! That Jesus’ disciples did the same according to ancient stories and legends is nothing remarkable.

My former scepticism about the Resurrection was further challenged by the undeniable and highly significant fact that St. Paul, the great ‘Apostle to the Gentiles’, had originally been the fiercest opponent and persecutor of the Early Church. Here was a man who had been passionately convinced that the Christian claims about Jesus were dangerous blasphemy, and that those who believed them deserved imprisonment, beatings and death. Then, suddenly, this same man changed a hundred and eighty degrees and became the greatest and most widely travelled evangelist of the fledgling Christian Church, a transformation, moreover, which began during an anti-Christian heresy-hunting missionary journey! What else, other than his encounter with the Risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, could possibly explain Paul’s dramatic conversion? This conclusion is further reinforced by the telling references in one of Paul’s pastoral letters to the many different witnesses to whom Jesus appeared after His resurrection, most of whom, Paul declared, were still alive at the time he was writing (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-10). Would he have dared to say all this, implicitly challenging sceptics to interrogate these living witnesses, if Jesus had not risen from the dead? And would he, like the other apostles, have endured beatings, imprisonment, stoning by hostile crowds and eventual beheading, for a message he knew to be false?

The great Apostle Paul couldn’t even get the story of his own alleged conversion straight! There are three contradictory accounts of it given in the Book of Acts. See this link for a lengthy discussion of Paul and the development of his theology, which by the way, was quite different from what Jesus himself allegedly taught in the Gospels. The Book of Acts, which details Paul’s missionary journeys and the supposed growth of the Christian church is historical fiction as Dr. Richard Carrier demonstrates in this glorious video:

In addition, this glorious book makes it clear that the Book of Acts is fiction, not history.

What do alleged witnesses to an alleged event that never happened matter? It’s religious FICTION! Jesus never rose from the dead and never appeared to anybody!

Finally, the last nail was hammered into the coffin of my former atheism by the realisation that there was very good external evidence for the authenticity and truthfulness of the Gospels. There are first of all significant corroborating references to Jesus’ existence and execution in the writings of Roman historians like Tacitus and Suetonius, as well as in those of the first century historian, Thallus. There is similarly corroborating evidence about some of the details of Jesus’ life and death in other non-Christian sources like the Jewish Talmud. To quote one of these, the first century Jewish historian, Josephus, writing in about AD 93: “At this time [the time of Pilate] there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.” (Antiquities of the Jews)

Nonsense. Although Josephus did mention Jesus twice in his writings, the Testimonium Flavianum referenced here is known to be a later Christian interpolation. Parts of it are original to Josephus, but parts of it were added later by Christian scribes. Most, if not all, of the supposed extra-biblical references to Jesus can be dismissed as hearsay. Further discussion of the Jesus and Josephus question can be found here, though it is buried in a response to David Fitzgerald’s book entitled “Nailed”. Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah, as Orthodox Jews can easily prove. They maintain a number of “anti-missionary” sites on the Net, and they can prove conclusively that Jesus did not fulfill the requirements necessary to be their Messiah.

In addition to all this, the manuscript evidence for the authenticity and reliability of the Gospel texts is earlier and more plentiful than that for any other document of ancient times. In particular, the historical reliability of Luke’s Gospel and its sequel, the Acts of the Apostles, which is full of explicit political, legal, medical, cultural and topographical details, is confirmed by a lot of archaeological evidence as well as by plentiful documentary evidence from non-Christian sources. According, for instance, to classical scholar and historian, Colin Hemer, in his study, The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, 84 separate facts in the last sixteen chapters of the Acts of the Apostles have been confirmed by archaeological and historical research.

The manuscript evidence we have for scripture, including the Gospels, is actually not very impressive. As has already been pointed out earlier, the Book of Acts is historical fiction and not a reliable account of actual historical events. Even if it’s true that there are some facts that can be verified in Acts, that does not make the accounts it relates historically accurate and true. The TV show Star Trek makes references to some stars that actually exist. Does that make Star Trek true and for real? Of course not.

So, confronted by all these facts and arguments – philosophical, scientific, and historical – I surrendered my sword of unbelief to God, and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my life during the hot, dry summer of 1976. In the years that have followed, I have never regretted that decision, despite many ups and downs and trials of my faith. Through prayer, worship, and the company of other Christians, I feel I have begun to know Jesus personally and to understand something of the breadth and height and depth of His love for me and for all His creation. If, therefore, my journey from atheism to faith has helped in any way to persuade you of the truth of Christianity, I can only hope and pray that you too will experience the joy of reconnecting with your Creator by asking Jesus to forgive your sins and come into your own life. He longs for you and is only waiting for you to make the first move.

Questionable “facts” and arguments that are easily refuted? Yeah, real convincing stuff you have there… you can’t have a real relationship with someone who does not actually exist, and that includes Jesus. There is no Creator to have a relationship with. Sin is a religious concept with no demonstrable basis in reality. And, I thought Jesus made the first move by sacrificing himself to himself to save me from himself? I sincerely gave my heart and my life to Jesus on March 7, 1985 when I was 19 years old. That was after extensive “witnessing” by a Christian friend (who remains a hardcore believer to this day) and after seeing the Jesus Film. I have lived to deeply regret that decision, as have many other ex-Christians, many of whom are now atheists, just as I am.

On the other hand, if you are still unconvinced by my testimony but are willing to explore these issues further, I invite you to read I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, (Crossway, USA, 2004). It is a very readable yet scholarly book which sets out, in massive and very interesting detail, the philosophical and scientific evidence for the existence of God, as well as the historical and archaeological evidence for the reliability and truthfulness of the New Testament. Get hold of it and see whether it can resolve your doubts or answer your objections and questions.

It takes absolutely zero faith to be an atheist. And Christian apologetics by people like Norman Geisler? Gimme a fucking break and pardon me while I enjoy a good belly laugh. I haven’t bothered to read Christian apologetics in years, and the one time I tried recently, I had to stop reading when the author of the book (William Lane Craig) started blaming shit on Satan. Again, give me a fucking break…. I’m supposed to take an author and a book seriously that blames shit on an obviously mythical being who likes to appear as a talking snake in mythical Bible stories? And this book was supposed to convince me that Christianity is a religion that makes sense for modern, thinking people to embrace. 😆 🙄

This concludes my response to the article “From Atheism to Christianity”. I hope it’s been helpful and that it has demonstrated the many problems that exist with taking the Bible and the Christian religion seriously and as being believable by educated people living in the modern world. Glory!

Bipolar Disorder and My Religious Experience

I wrote a book last year about my struggles with bipolar disorder and my religious experience. I would like to offer it for free to my readers here on this glorious site. I have experienced several thankfully short-lived but very intense returns to religious belief during bipolar manic episodes, but other than those, I have been an atheist for 14 years now, and I plan on staying that way! Glory!

Bipolar Religiosity – Bipolar Disorder and My Religious Experience

http://alaskanatheist.me/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Bipolar-Religiosity-Bipolar-Disorder-and-My-Religious-Experience.pdf

Has the Christian Doctrine of Hell Become an Awkward Liability?

Hell is a morally reprehensible concept that cannot be reconciled with a belief in a loving God. Here, my friend Valerie Tarico shares her thoughts:

Three years ago, my sister, who had long struggled with mental illness, hit her limit and jumped off a freeway bridge. She lived.

She was rushed to the county trauma center, and by the time I arrived from Seattle she was hooked up to an array of life support technologies and monitors. Brain trauma made it hard to know how much she understood of her situation or our conversations, and to know whether she would survive.

One night, while she was in this state, I said to her, “Katha, I don’t know if you can hear me, but we all want for you whatever you want for yourself. If you want to fight this thing and try again, we want that. If you are sick of fighting and ready to be done, that’s ok too.” While I spoke to her, a nurse was doing record keeping at a computer terminal near the foot of her bed. Some time later when I got up to leave, he approached me and said, “You know, if your sister dies right now she will go to hell.”

I was too flabbergasted to respond—incredulous that he would say this to me in a public taxpayer-funded hospital; even more incredulous that he would say it where she could hear, if she could hear. I thanked him for his concern and left.

The Lake of Fire, Everlasting Punishment, Perdition, Gehenna, the Inferno, the Abyss, Outer Darkness Where There Shall be Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth . . . . Hell has many names and conjures many images—all of them aimed at triggering a sense of horror. Some of these names and descriptions arguably can be found in the Bible—the Christian New Testament at least—and threats of eternal torture used to be a fine way for Christian ministers and missionaries to win converts or keep “the faithful” faithful.

Famed Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards (“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”) waxed eloquent on the topic, elaborating why simple annihilation was insufficient punishment to satisfy the demands of divine justice. Two hundred years later, Billy Graham drove tent revivals across America by pounding pulpits about the threat. Anglican author C.S. Lewis, beloved of modern Evangelicals, said, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next” (Mere Christianity).

Read the article in its entirety here:

http://awaypoint.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/has-the-christian-doctrine-of-hell-become-an-awkward-liability/

Glory!

Awe, With and Without the Gods

A friend of mine sent me this glorious article, and the Spook of Kryasst who is also somehow magically Him magically inspired me to share it. And, of course, it is possible to experience awe without a belief in God. I experience awe at the incredible beauty of nature every time I hike out in the Alaskan wilderness.

In a 2006 article for the Los Angeles Times, Sam Harris identified 10 myths about atheism, among them the idea that “atheists are closed to spiritual experience.”

Harris explained: “There is nothing that prevents an atheist from experiencing love, ecstasy, rapture and awe; atheists can value these experiences and seek them regularly.”

And in a post last week, my fellow 13.7 commentator Barbara J. King also wrote about atheism and awe. “Atheists feel awe, too. Everyone does. That wondrous sense needn’t be described by invoking the sacred.”

Yet the idea that atheism and awe are at odds is a common one. In a 2013 interview, for example, Oprah Winfrey refused to accept a woman’s self-ascribed atheism after the woman shared powerful experiences of awe and a love of humanity. Winfrey controversially responded: “Well, I don’t call you an atheist then. I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder and the mystery, then that is what God is.”

Of course, “the awe and the wonder and the mystery” could just as well describe what motivates many scientists, whether or not they believe in God.

So why the persistent idea that awe is inextricably linked to theism? And are “scientific awe” and “religious awe” fundamentally different, or deep down one and the same?

To be sure, awe is a multifaceted emotion, and one that’s only recently become the target of systematic psychological research. In an influential 2003 paper, psychologists Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt argued that awe is characterized by two central features: vastness and accommodation. Vastness describes the experience of something larger than the self, whether that vastness is a matter of physical size or of metaphorical size, such as great power. Accommodation refers to the need to modify one’s current mental structures to make sense of the experience — whether or not such modification is actually enacted or succeeds.

These features of awe can help us understand how science and religion both elicit awe, and also how either theism or atheism could ensue.

The full article is here:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2014/09/08/346746891/awe-with-and-without-the-gods

Glory!

The Harsh Reality and Finality of Death

I was a hardcore very religious Christian believer for 15 years of my life. I firmly believed in God, and in the Bible as His Word, and in a Heaven wonderful beyond description waiting for us after we die. Back when I was suffering so badly from the then undiagnosed bipolar disorder, I desperately wished for death so that I could be embraced by the loving God that I believed in so strongly, and have all of my tears and suffering wiped away, and enjoy an awesome afterlife in Heaven worshiping the God I loved with all of my heart forever!

But now.. I am very much aware that, as pleasant and wonderful as that all sounds… it’s just ancient myth with no discernible basis in reality whatsoever.

When I lost my faith 14 year ago and walked away from hardcore religious belief, one of the toughest things I had to come to terms with other than the nonexistence of the God that I had once loved so much, was the harsh reality and absolute finality of death.

I am old enough now to have had to face the deaths of loved ones several times. And, of course, it’s been agonizingly difficult to deal with every time. My grandparents have all been dead now for several years, and I still miss them terribly when I think about them. They were all wonderful, fun, loving people who loved life and loved living it. My Granddaddy Shelley suffered for many years from serious heart problems caused by the rheumatic fever he had as a child. He discovered his condition when he volunteered for military service during World War II. He was not expected to live more than about another ten years, and I could very well have never known the man. But medical advances came along that saved his life. He was one of the first people to have open heart surgery, and because of modern medicine, I got to love and enjoy my grandfather for the first 27 years of my life. He never let his health problems get him down. He had to swallow a lot of pills every single day just to stay alive. But he worked hard and still managed to laugh a lot and really enjoyed life. One of the last things he did when he lying in his hospital bed in late 1994, very close to death, was to invite friends over to the house for pie. He was very ill, but still wanted very much to live! He was a great man with incredible strength of character. But he has been dead and gone now for 20 years, and as much as I loved him and would love to be reunited with him someday, I never expect that to happen. Death is brutally final, and my grandfather is as nonexistent now as he was before he was born. It’s a brutal reality that is not easy to face at all, but that is reality as it actually is.

My grandmother Shelley was wonderful as well. She was kind and loving. She too laughed a lot and thoroughly enjoyed living. She loved me dearly, and we had great fun hanging out together. I still remember well visiting her in the assisted living home that she stayed in after her inoperable aortic aneurysm was discovered. She was still very happy, and we often drank Diet Coke and some kind of sweet snack while we visited. She died in 2002 at the age of 84 when that aneurysm finally ruptured. I still miss her very much when I think about her, but her too I never expect to see again. I will never again hear her voice or her laughter or know her love. She too is as nonexistent now as she was before she was born. Once again, the brutally harsh reality and finality of death. Not easy to face at all.

My Granddaddy Reid was the first to leave this wonderful world. He died in 1993 at the age of 85, peacefully, and hopefully with little pain or suffering. He was watching TV and was getting up to go eat a meal after my grandmother called him to come eat. He fell back down into his chair dead, probably of a sudden and fatal heart attack or stroke. He too was a very kind and loving man, and 21 years after his death, I still remember the awesome bear hugs he greeted me with every time I came to their house for a visit. He enjoyed a long and healthy life, and he too loved life and loved living it. He was active until the day he died. I loved him dearly and still miss him much when I think about him. But he too is dead and gone forever. I don’t ever expect to see him or to know his love ever again. He too is as nonexistent now as he was before he was born. The brutal and harsh finality and reality of death…

My Grandmother Reid also, of course, was a wonderful woman. Kind and loving and giving and wonderful to be around. And wow, could that woman cook! I will never forget her awesome meals or her delicious chocolate pies! She adored me and I still remember the fun times we had together when I was a very young child. She lived to be 87 and died in 2003. Tragically, by the time she died, she had completely lost her ability to form memories. She could not carry on a conversation or watch TV or read a book because she would so quickly forget what had just been said or what had just happened in any book she tried to read. That is no way to live, and in my opinion, death was merciful. She was very religious for all of her adult life, as far as I know. She firmly believed in God and firmly believed that she would go to Heaven when she died. I wish for her sake that her strongly held and cherished religious beliefs could have been true. But the harsh reality is that she is dead and gone forever. I will never see her smile or hear or voice or know her love ever again. And, she did not get the Heaven she so looked forward to when she died. She too is as nonexistent now as she was before she was born. No God, no Heaven, no peaceful and awesome afterlife. Just eternal nonexistence. Once again, the brutally harsh reality and finality of death.

My parents are still alive and well in their 70’s. They are healthy for their age, and my mother still works hard and is very active. My father does not take nearly as good care of himself, but considering the crap he constantly eats, he is reasonably healthy and is still able to work. But I know their time is coming, and I can’t imagine them not being around anymore. But someday relatively soon, I will have to face their deaths, and I won’t have the comfort of believing that they are in a “better place” enjoying a happy afterlife. I will be left with nothing but the brutally harsh reality that they are dead and gone forever, and that I will never again see them or know their love and support.

I am an outspoken atheist, but I am not a heartless asshole when I see my religious friends post on Facebook about their losses of loved ones or when they post about wanting prayers for sick loved ones or friends. I often don’t say much when I see such posts. What can I really say? I have nothing but the brutally harsh reality of the world as it actually is to offer them, and when people are grieving the loss of a loved one, that’s not the time to jump in and inform them that their religious beliefs have no basis in reality and that their loved ones are gone forever. But I do often share sympathy and well wishes. When people post asking for prayers for sick family or friends, I will often post that I am sending positive thoughts so that they know that I care and that I am thinking about them. But, of course, I am well aware of the reality that prayer has no power whatsoever other than making the person doing the praying feel good about accomplishing absolutely nothing.

Was there a Historical Jesus?

I am not as familiar and up with the times on historical Jesus or Josephus scholarship as I would like to be. I have a lot to learn, if I can ever find the time and desire to do so. But, I have read a couple of books on the theory that there was no historical Jesus. One was Earl Doherty’s book “The Jesus Puzzle” and the other was David Fitzgerald’s book “Nailed”. Both books are easy to find on Amazon. A friend of mine shared with me a critical review of “Nailed”, which is available here:

http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/2011/05/nailed-ten-christian-myths-that-show.html?m=1

Fitzgerald’s response is here:

http://davefitzgerald.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/nailed-completely-brilliant-or-tragic.html

The critical reviewer, Tim O’Neill’s response to Fitzgerald again:

http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/the-jesus-myth-theory-reponse-to-david.html

I came away much more impressed with O’Neill.

At this point in time, I think it’s likely that a real historical Jesus did live 2000 years ago and that there was a real man at the core of the gospel Jesus stories. But, the Jesus of the Gospels is myth. That is well known and obvious, and only fundamentalists would be in denial of that fact now. The Jesus depicted in the Bible indeed never existed. But a real itinerant Jewish apocalyptic preacher, about whom little that is reliable can now be known, probably did.
I don’t really care if a historical Jesus lived or not. If he did, he is long dead. Thinking about the issue is fun and interesting, but it’s sort of like debating about whether Star Trek or Star Wars is the more awesome science fiction franchise. I think it’s Star Trek quite clearly. I have been a hardcore Trekkie since I was 13 years old, but Star Wars is cool too.

We do know and can know very little, if anything, that is reliable about a real historical Jesus, if he did live. The Gospel stories about him are myth and show a great deal of mythical and legendary development, and they all were written decades after Jesus died by anonymous authors, and they were writing religious propaganda, not history. The Gospels are basically long religious tracts, sort of like a Chick tract today but without the cartoon illustrations.
Anyway, my 2 cents… The Jesus of the Gospels is a myth and Christianity is easy to debunk and disprove. So I’m not that worried about whether a real historical Jesus lived or not…

Bible – Historical Document?

From my friend Richard’s blog:

A lot of Christians like to see the bible as a historic document. Even though most of it is hearsay, they argue that many of our historical documents are also hearsay, but we still refer to them as historical documents. Well sorry, but if a so-called historical document is chocka-block full of absurd things like talking donkeys, men being swallowed by giant fish and surviving, angel visitations, demon possessions, people turning into pillars of salt, men building arks and loading them with every species of animal, the world being created only 7000 years ago by magic, then you’ll have to excuse me if I scoff at the claim of it being a historical document.

Read the full article here:

http://reckersworld.jimdo.com/religion/bible-historical-document/

Glory!