If Jesus is the Word of God…

Christians consider Jesus to be the Word of God, based on at least two verses of scripture.

He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. (Rev. 19:13 ESV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 KJV)

And the Bible is considered to be the Word of God, so when you read the Bible you are reading Jesus! Glory!

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16 KJV)

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If Jesus is the Word of God and the Bible is Jesus in written form, then the Bible must be Perfect, right? And, indeed, Christians do believe the Bible to be inerrant and infallible. Believing that Jesus is the Word of God sounds great…until you consider the contents of the Bible. Let’s take a brief look at just a few troublesome verses.

It doesn’t take long to run into trouble. In fact, the very first verse of the Bible is wrong, and things just go rapidly downhill from there.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 KJV)

The universe was not created by a god, and billions of years separate the beginning of the universe from the formation of our solar system and the earth.

Genesis chapters 1 & 2 contain contradictory creation myths and the account degenerates rapidly into a ridiculous myth involving two obviously mythical people (Adam and Eve), a talking snake, and magic fruit from magic trees.

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If the Bible is the Word of God, shouldn’t it reflect reality as it actually is instead of containing ancient mythology? A real creation account from a real, existing omniscient God would make the fields of cosmology and astronomy and astrophysics superfluous because all of that knowledge would be there for us to simply read, courtesy of God in the Bible.

Christians believe that Isaiah 9:6 refers to Jesus, calling him the prince of peace.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 KJV)

Back in the late 1980’s, Twila Paris had a hit song entitled “Prince of Peace”, which I loved back in my Christian days.

But, if Jesus is the Prince of Peace, shouldn’t the Bible be a book of peace? Shouldn’t it promote love and tolerance and understanding toward all of mankind? What we find instead when we actually read it is a book absolutely loaded with shocking brutality and violence.

Jeremiah 19:9 – “And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.”

Hosea 13:16 – “Samaria will be held guilty, For she has rebelled against her God. They will fall by the sword, Their little ones will be dashed in pieces, And their pregnant women will be ripped open.”

Psalm 137:9 – “Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!”

Leviticus 26:29 – “And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.”

The Bible contains many shocking atrocities, too numerous to list here, many of them depicting God either ordering or directly committing mass murder or genocide. Relevant link:

http://infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/atrocity.html

The brutal beating that Jesus took while supposedly paying for our sins would be considered an act of brutality today, and if it was in any book other than the Bible, most people today would be repulsed by it.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 KJV)

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I wrote about the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, a barbaric idea by today’s standards, not too long ago. Relevant link:

http://religionisbullshit.me/doctrine-substitutionary-atonement/

I could go on, but I think this post is getting long enough, and I think I have made my point. Glory! 🙂

Christianity – A Clear and Present Danger

Christianity is not a benign or positive belief system. The reality is that it is a clear and present danger to everyone who encounters its teachings, and particularly to those who have the misfortune of getting sucked into the cult. Christianity is a toxic and harmful set of teachings, and the potential for significant psychological harm is great.

christianity defined

Christianity is an absurd and hilarious belief system, but it’s not so funny, considering the harm that it causes not just to individual believers, but to the world as a whole. On an individual level, Christianity causes all kinds of needless psychological suffering — a tremendous amount of fear, guilt, and shame — none of which has any basis in reality. Christianity is damaging to the world as a whole not just because of the psychological damage is causes, but because it teaches and promotes the hatred of entire groups of people (such as homosexuals), and it teaches that all non-Christians are destined for an eternity of endless suffering in a flaming Hell.

The core teaching of Christianity is that mankind has fallen from grace and needs a savior, and that savior is Jesus Christ. As the mythical story in Genesis relates it, God created mankind perfect and sinless, but because of the influence of a lying serpent (the devil), Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God, and their rebellion caused the spiritual deaths of all of mankind that would follow. A savior is promised in Genesis 3:15, and Christians believe that Jesus is that savior and that he was manifested to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

Christianity teaches that all men are born into sin and that without a savior we deserve to burn in Hell forever. As John 3:18 puts it (speaking of Jesus, of course):

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

And consider Isaiah 64:6:

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

With such a warped and false view of mankind — that we are filthy sinners deserving of Hell — how are believers supposed to develop a healthy sense of self-love? If, as a believer, I believe that I was born so bad that I deserve to burn in Hell forever, how am I supposed to feel good about myself? Or, as I asked myself in writing a few years ago:

With this kind of belief drilled into me for years, how can I be expected to honestly feel good about myself? How can I possibly really love myself and see myself as worthy of love with this kind of toxic garbage still infecting my thought processes and my sense of self-worth? How can I possibly have a healthy sense of self-esteem having believed this of myself for so long? I am fully aware now intellectually that “sin” is a religious concept with no basis in reality but after so many years of fearing and hating my supposed sinfulness and asking God often to forgive sins both of commission and omission and so often feeling judged and condemned and not forgiven and disregarded or forgotten by God, how do I overcome those toxic beliefs and find healing? How do I go from the “sin consciousness” that was drilled into me by the Christian cult to accepting and loving myself as I am – a flawed and imperfect but basically good and loving human being? Hmmm… I am indeed imperfect as everybody is, but am I really “flawed”? Such is the pervasiveness of toxic teachings, even after years away from the church.

Christianity is false and dangerous because it gets the basic facts about human nature horribly wrong. Contrary to what Christianity teaches, humans are not born evil or depraved, and we certainly are not born deserving to be barbecued forever in a flaming Hell. The truth is that, as a species, we are basically good. Most people in this world are good people who want what is best for themselves and for those that they love. Most people, given the opportunity, will enthusiastically do what they can to help others and do what they can to leave the world a better place than they found it. I have lived on this earth almost 50 years, and while I have encountered a few genuinely evil people, the vast majority of people I have encountered have been good, well-meaning folks.

From the tragic error regarding human nature, we get the doctrine of sin. Sin is usually defined simply as “missing the mark”, and in Christianity it means failing to live up to the supposed holiness and perfection of God. How much needless human suffering has this one religious concept caused? Christianity teaches that mankind is lost in sin and that our very nature is offensive to a holy God. Despite the fact that sin is a religious concept with no discernible basis in reality, millions of good human beings down through the ages have suffered needlessly from guilt and shame caused by this false and toxic teaching. How many genuinely good people have been trapped in mental religious prisons of guilt and shame from which they may never escape? Christians celebrate the freedom they supposedly enjoy in Jesus, but how free can you really be when you view your own basic nature through a warped religious lens and you spend your days constantly monitoring and censoring your thoughts and actions in an effort to please God? How happy can you be when your whole existence consists of trying desperately not to piss Jesus off? Christians spend their lives trapped in a tragic cycle of believing they have sinned and angered God and then having to ask forgiveness for that sin. What an awful way to live life! It is impossible to enjoy life when you live it constantly worried about pissing Jesus off!

There are two religious concepts that Christianity teaches that are extremely toxic and harmful — the doctrine of the sinfulness of mankind and the doctrine of eternal conscious torment. The doctrine of of the sinfulness of mankind constitutes an egregious basic error concerning human nature. What Christianity teaches about human nature is diametrically opposed to the actual truth. The foundational lie that the Christian religion is based on is that mankind is basically evil, while the truth is that we are basically good.

Eternal conscious torment? That’s what Christianity teaches is in store for all non-Christians. Depending on denomination, Hell is either a flaming torture chamber of fire and brimstone or simply “separation from God” (not biblical, but proposed to make the concept of Hell more palatable to civilized, modern minds). It’s what Christians live in fear of for themselves and those that they love and what they believe we are born deserving. If there is a teaching more morally reprehensible and egregiously wrong than the doctrine of sin, this would be it. This has got to be the most evil and demented concept ever dreamed up by mankind. Religious belief warps the moral compasses of men beyond recognition. Can you imagine a future more awful for the billions of good, decent, loving, caring, compassionate, well-meaning people who have lived their lives as non-Christians? According to this teaching, every atheist, agnostic, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Muslim, and everyone else who failed to put their trust in Jesus as Savior is destined to be tormented consciously forever, without any hope of reprieve. I personally cannot think of a more heinously evil or morally reprehensible and repugnant teaching than that of the eternal conscious torment of nonbelievers.

So… in Christianity we have a religion that gets the basic facts about human nature egregiously wrong and a religion that locks believers into endless cycles of religious fear, guilt and shame (think you’ve sinned/repent, think you’ve sinned, repent, think you’ve sinned/repent, endlessly, always living with the fear that you have sinned and angered God), a religion that teaches that we are born deserving Hell, and a religion that teaches the eternal conscious torment of all nonbelievers. I can’t think of any religion that I would run the other way from faster than Christianity for my own mental health, peace, happiness, and sanity.

Two Adams, Two Myths…

I just posted this thought to Facebook and thought I would expand upon it here:

Somehow, I don’t think that rejecting the idea that the world is as it is because a talking snake convinced two obviously mythical people to eat magic fruit from a magic tree makes me a bad person or worthy of being tormented forever in a flaming hell. I also reject the idea that Jesus was the second Adam because, obviously, there never was a first Adam. The foundations of the Christian religion crumble under even the slightest rational scrutiny…
Rejecting such ridiculous stories/ideas makes me a thinking person and a citizen of the scientifically advanced 21st Century. Many of us have moved way beyond looking for answers in ancient holy books and ridiculous myths. We are waiting impatiently for the rest of the world to catch up and hoping that they do so before we destroy ourselves over whose Imaginary Friend is better or more powerful…

Obviously, rational thinking people don’t believe in talking snakes or in magic fruit from magic trees. But, what about Jesus? Plenty of people in our modern world revere Jesus either as God in the flesh or as a great moral teacher or…something along those lines. But, let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about who Jesus was and what his mission was. This is not going to be an in depth or deep theological piece. I just want to take a look at some basic claims and subject them to rational scrutiny.

There are two contradictory and absurd creation myths in Genesis that lay the foundations for the Christian religion as we know it today. Putting aside the contradictory accounts of when plants and animals were created, let’s focus on the story of Adam and Eve and the talking snake.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. (Genesis 2:7-9, 15-23)

For thousands of years, this creation myth seemed like a good explanation of how mankind came to be. But then, along came modern scientific knowledge. We now know that mankind was not magically created by a god some 6000 years ago. We evolved from a long line of hominid species over a period of millions of years. Modern scientific knowledge renders the biblical creation myth(s) ridiculous or just plain silly. No scientifically educated modern person can or should take these accounts seriously. The first Adam, presented to us in Genesis, is quite obviously a myth. Adam never actually lived and neither did Eve. And a talking snake? C’mon… get real…

What about the second Adam, Jesus Christ? Let’s look at a passage of scripture from Romans 5:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[e] because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass[f] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness[g] leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12-21 ESV)

And, also, Genesis 3:15 (commonly believed to be a Messianic prophecy) and 1 John 3:8.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15)

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)

According to Christian theology, the first Adam’s sin caused the spiritual death of all who lived after him. Jesus Christ, the second Adam, appeared to destroy the work of the devil (the talking snake), who was responsible for deceiving Adam and Eve and convincing them to eat the magic fruit from the magic tree, which if the story is to be believed, caused the spiritual death of all of mankind. The first Adam is a myth, and so is the second. Without a first Adam, there can be no second Adam. If the story about the first Adam isn’t true, then neither is the story about the second Adam. The foundations of Christianity crumble to dust with just the slightest critical scrutiny… Glory!

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Sister Lynn Prays for My Conversion

I have a chronic illness (bipolar disorder) that required a short hospital stay recently. I have been battling a bout of severe depression that sent me to the Providence Psych ER four nights in a row and then to an inpatient hospital for a couple days after that. I am much better now, and a couple of days ago or so I published this status update to Facebook:

Feeling well enough to publicly bash religion again. Not everybody will be happy about that, lol… but I am happy to still be here to be able to piss religious people off and, perhaps, get them to THINK too. Glory!

Sister Lynn, who is evidently unaware of my status an ex-Christian anti-theist atheist, replied with the following comment:

Well Jeff I’m keeping the faith & continue praying for your recovery. I will also pray for GOD to open your eyes and all other atheists. Without him the world would be a worse off place! Now that I know your atheist your name will be forever on our church’s pray list for you conversion! God Bless

My response to Sister Lynn was as follows:

I am not just an atheist. I am EX-Christian anti-theist atheist. I got sucked into the fundamentalist Christian cult when I was 19, and I didn’t FREE until I was 34. My suffering from then undiagnosed bipolar disorder was made much worse than it had to be by doctrines such as sin and trying to please an imaginary god who never gave me any feedback. I spent 15 years of my life worrying about pissing Jesus off and worrying that my family and friends might be going to Hell. NO WAY IN HELL will I EVER be returning to that kind of mental slavery to fear-based doctrines and ancient myths and lies.

You are welcome to pray for me and to put me on all of the prayer lists you care to. I can tell you right now that it will not do one bit of good. Prayer has no power whatsoever other than making the person doing the praying feel good.

You can pray for me all you like, but you are not likely to convince me again that the world is the way that it is because a talking snake convinced two obviously mythical people to eat magic fruit from the magic tree that god ordered them not to fuck with. I’m also not likely to believe again that god had to sacrifice himself to himself to save us from himself due to such a ridiculous alleged event.

There is not a shred of credible evidence that a god of any kind actually exists. God never says, thinks, or does anything at all in the real world, except in the minds of believers. To me, that is a huge clue to his actual nonexistence.

Religion is the greatest tragedy to ever afflict mankind. The world would be MUCH better off without it. Without religion, the world would not have the history that it does of Inquisitions, Crusades, religious wars, and religion-based terrorism (such as Christians bombing abortion clinics or Muslims bombing just about everybody). The world also would be much more scientifically and socially progressed if the tragedy of religion had not occurred, because there would not have been the religion-based resistance to social and scientific progress.

Atheists do not need to have their eyes opened. We already accept and deal with the world as it actually is. Religious people DO need their eyes opened, and they need and deserve the opportunity to be FREE from religion and religion-based fear, guilt, shame, and ignorance (the four driving forces behind fundamentalist religion).

Sorry if that’s not the friendly response you were hoping for. It’s nothing personal. I have had a very rough time lately and I’m really not in the mood to discuss religion or the associated ancient myths and legends in a very friendly manner at the moment.

What Freedom Means – Christians vs. Atheists

The aim of this glorious post is to contrast what freedom means to Christians vs. what it means to atheists. Of course, I think real freedom comes from being absolutely and totally free of religious beliefs and fears. But, let’s take a look at the different views.

John 8:36 says “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!”

The Christian Rock artist of the 1980’s and early 1990’s turned preacher now, Mylon LeFevre (of Mylon LeFevre & Broken Heart) had this to say at a concert back in the 1980’s:

The Word says that we can be free in Jesus. And we need to be free, man. Everybody wants to be free. There ain’t but one way to do it. You can’t be free in religion and you can’t be free in yourself. You can be free in Jesus. We have something that is real to celebrate. It is new life. New life in Christ. This new life didn’t come from our parents. I just read in the Word today that the life that comes from our parents will fade away someday. But this new life that comes from Christ is real and true and it lasts forever. … God is love, and his love lasts forever. This is freedom. Enjoy yours!

And here is his song titled “Freedom” that celebrates what he considers to be true freedom — the freedom supposedly found in belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and in surrendering your life to him. I still love the music, though I no longer believe the message.

I can’t help but like Mylon as a person, though I know that he is a typical big name Christian preacher and musician who has made a career out of religion, and he has made a ton of money from it. I disagree very strongly with his religious beliefs and with his definition of freedom now, but I saw him in concert a couple of times back in my Christian days, and once when I was backstage seeking counseling and prayer, I actually got to shake the man’s hand. I commented to him about the concert that “that was fun!”, and he said something in return agreeing that it had been. It was awesome actually getting to meet one of my Christian music idols of the time, brief though the encounter was. Glory! 🙂 Mylon came across as a genuinely nice guy, and I’m sure that he probably really is. And to me, he was the definition of a “cool Christian” back in those days. I may still have a bit of hero worship going on with him though I no longer agree with his message, lol…

Mylon’s definition of freedom I can no longer agree with. It’s impossible to be truly free when you are enslaved to a bunch of fear/ignorance-based ancient myths that make no sense to modern, educated minds and it’s impossible to be truly free when you are constantly worried about religious concepts such as sin and about pissing Jesus off. It’s impossible to be truly free when you are worried about Hell and about people you care about and love possibly going there. I didn’t find freedom in religion at all (and Christianity is a religion. This “it’s a relationship, not a religion” nonsense is just that — nonsense).

The truth will set you free, but first it might piss you off. – Anonymous

I didn’t find true freedom until I got totally free from religious belief and totally free from religious fears! TRUE FREEDOM is the ability to live life authentically and honestly without being wrapped up in endless cycles of fear, guilt, and shame caused by religious belief and indoctrination. TRUE FREEDOM is being able to BE YOUR REAL SELF, free of religious programming and religious fears. I am free to be ME now, warts and all! I am FREE to choose a life for myself now that makes ME happy and that hopefully serves others and makes them happy too. I am FREE to ENJOY LIFE, totally free of concerns that what I think, say or do might piss Jesus off. I am FREE to live my life just being ME, with no reference to God or religious or spiritual beliefs at all. I am a much better person now than I was when I was a Christian. I am no longer concerned with the belief or even in the possibility that there might be a God to fear or a Hell to fear. I am no longer concerned that I or anyone else might be headed for an eternity of torment in a flaming Hell. I left that fear-based religious nonsense behind long ago in favor of the real world. Now that I am FREE of religion and religion-based fear, guilt, and shame I am free to live life honestly and authentically as ME! I am free to love everybody, and that certainly includes people who happen to be gay. People that I would have condemned to Hell when I was a Christian I am good friends with now, though I personally am straight as an arrow. One of my most valued friends over at the ex-christian.net forums is bi-sexual with lesbian leanings, and she is in to BDSM. Does that bother me now? Hell no. Not one bit. She is an awesome person, and I really enjoy hanging out with her online. We have visited over Skype once, and it went really well. I don’t have to be into the same things she is or have the same sexual orientation that she does to enjoy an awesome friendship with her. Our differences simply don’t matter, and that’s one of the most awesome things about being free of religion is letting go of unnecessary and harmful and often hateful religion-based judgment. I really don’t give a shit now what sexual orientation people have. I don’t even really care what beliefs they hold, as long as they are not hurting themselves or others and as long as they are good PEOPLE. Now that I am free of religion, I am free to love PEOPLE exactly as they are, warts and all. I truly love just about everybody on the face of this planet as people. I think I can name the people in this world that I truly hate on one hand, and that’s after 48 years of life on this planet. That was certainly not true of me when I was a Christian. I was busy hating myself for being such a sinner and I was busy hating others because of their sexual orientation or because they held religious or political beliefs that were different from my own. Now, the differences don’t really matter. I happen to be a very liberal American Democrat and an atheist. But I am free to be good friends with anybody I choose to be friends with because I find them to be good people, regardless of what their religious or political beliefs might be. I have good friends who are conservative Republicans and Christians. I don’t agree with them on those subjects, but I am FREE to not discuss or really care about our differences, and that is awesome! I think I have made my point. REAL FREEDOM is amazing, and it is awesome, and I wish it for everybody in this world. Glory!

The Journey from Christianity to Atheism

I have tried a number of times over the years to explain to people who have never walked the path from Christian –> ex-Christian –> Atheist what that journey is like and what it means to me and to others like me. It is not an easy path to travel at all. The journey from devout Christian religious belief back to the real world is one filled with doubts and questions and a great deal of strong emotion. As I explained it to my high school band director a couple of years ago or so:

My journey from devout religious belief to atheism has been a long and interesting one. I spent 15 years as a very devout fundamentalist Christian. I was the type who annoyed everybody. I wrote evangelistic letters to my family. I tried to convert my friends and co-workers. I handed out those ridiculous Chick tracts to convenience store clerks and toll booth operators. I was at church every time the doors opened, including early morning prayer meetings. I forced my beliefs on everybody all the time and though I meant well, I made a huge nuisance of myself. Despite all of that religious activity and belief, I still had questions that that seemed to have no good answers from my pastors or from the Christian apologists I read. Those questions finally built up to the point where I could no longer ignore them or write them off as coming from the devil.

In early 2000, I got on the Net as it existed back then and started researching my faith on both sides of the fence. I was absolutely stunned to find that the religious skeptics had far better answers than I had encountered from Christian apologists and I was also very surprised to see how easily they ripped my once cherished beliefs to shreds, not through ridicule but with facts. I started reading the skeptical side at www.infidels.org and went from there.

After I got over the shock of having my Christian worldview ripped out from under me, I became very very ANGRY! The fact that I was also very mentally ill at the time with not well controlled bipolar disorder didn’t help matters any. I felt foolish, used, and betrayed when I realized I had been intentionally lied to for 15 years and I had bought into it hook, line, and sinker.

Having doubts and questions about religious beliefs is normal if you are a reasonably intelligent thinking person, but in fundamentalist religion, doubting and questioning is strongly discouraged. Just pray about it and have more faith, we are told, and God will take care of it. Sounds nice, except for the fact that it isn’t true. For Christians who want answers to their questions, a whole industry of apologetics has come into being over the past few decades. For some Christians, the answers given by Christian apologists may be enough to keep them in the faith. For others like me, the answers were not satisfying. They did not resolve my doubts or my questions, so inevitably, I went looking elsewhere and found good answers that made sense to me from the place that I least expected it at the time — from the skeptical side of the fence.

I can’t speak for everyone who has made the journey from devout Christian belief to Atheism. But I can share my own personal story and what my journey was like.

I was raised United Methodist until I was ten years old. At that time, I asked my parents if I could stop attending church because I didn’t believe what they were teaching. Since we attended church mostly for social reasons anyway, they agreed. For reasons that I cannot recall now, I was back at that church when I was in my early teens for the Confirmation process. I didn’t think much about religion after that until we moved across town and I got into some interesting religious conversations with my new fundamentalist Christian neighbors. I was a teenager at the time, and Bob and Roxanne were nice people. I discussed religion with them a lot and even attended church with them at least once, but at the time religion just didn’t “take” with me. I became a typical teenage party animal and was totally turned off by religion. A few years later when I was in college, I met a guy named Mike who was a devout Christian. He shared his faith with me and I gradually became more receptive to it. Mike finally got me out to his car to read some Bible verses, and when we read Hebrews 4:12 I felt something stir inside of me, and I thought maybe there really was something to this “Jesus” stuff. Shortly after that, I went to a public showing of the Jesus Film put on by a local Baptist church. I was extremely moved by the movie, and I knew by the time that film was over that I wanted what this Jesus had to offer, and I became a Christian on March 7, 1985. My transformation from a typical teenage party animal to a devout fundamentalist Christian was rapid and dramatic. I stopped drinking and using drugs and threw myself totally and enthusiastically into my new-found faith. I made friends with the music director at the local Baptist church, and I hung out a lot with my friend Mike. We engaged in a whole lot of religious activity and talked about how wonderful and awesome Jesus was all the time. Mike introduced me tho the popular Christian music of the time, and I fell in love with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith and particularly with Keith Green. I loved Keith Green’s music and his strong and uncompromising approach to the Christian faith. I wanted to see him in concert badly, and when Mike informed me that he was dead (plane crash in 1982), I was devastated. Shortly after my conversion, my mother bought me a nice Bible and she arranged for me to attend East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, TX. I arrived there expecting a church-like atmosphere and students who were just as devout as I was. What I found was indeed a religious school, but my fellow students, for the most part, were just typical young adults who happened to have religious beliefs. That was, I suppose, the beginning of my disillusionment and questioning. While I was at ETBU, I began to have serious doubts about my faith. I can remember a friend of mine there using his wallet as an evangelism tool. He tried to assure me that Christianity was for real and that once I was saved that was a done deal that I could never lose.

We did not know it at that time, but I had bipolar disorder that was not diagnosed and so was untreated. What began at ETBU was a cycle of swings between devout religious belief and periods of doubt and unbelief featuring severe substance abuse that I would be trapped in for 15 years of my life. I had a great time at ETBU while I was religious. I was able to put my doubts and questions aside enough that I could keep the faith, at least for a while. I had a great time traveling across the border to Louisiana for Christian concerts featuring the stars of the time. I particularly remember seeing a band called Cruse 2 and Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart. Mylon’s music was awesome and I loved the sincerity with which he delivered his message. I jammed for Jesus to their music for years! Back home near Houston, TX I went with my friend Mike to see Michael W. Smith and Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart. I had some really fun times in my younger Christian days! Here’s just a sample of his music from back in those days. I still love the music, though I no longer believe the message.

I had my first bout of doubt and unbelief while I was at ETBU and I started drinking and using drugs again — at a Christian school! Needless to say, they were not happy with me, and they kicked me out after the first summer semester of 1986. If I remember correctly, it was officially an academic suspension because I was not doing well in my classes.

Back home in the Brazosport area of Texas, I soon found a really fun church — Church on the Rock in Brazoria, TX. It was located several miles out of town on Hwy 521. It was a very fun place as churches go. I made friends with the pastor and other leaders of the church, and loved the Charismatic-style praise and worship services, and for a while I participated in the praise and worship choir. I sang solos frequently, and when I could manage to drag my young body out of bed early enough, I attended the 6:00 am prayer meetings. At that time, I was engaging in a great deal of religious activity. I prayed a lot, I worshiped for hours daily, I read my Bible frequently, and I told everyone who would listen about Jesus. I also frequently handed out those Chick tracts, which I thought were an awesome evangelism tool at the time. But even with all of that religious activity, doubts were creeping in. I suppose I could never see the connection between my cherished religious beliefs and the real world, and I know now of course, that that is because there is no connection between religious belief and the real world. I never read anything in the Bible that made me question my beliefs because at that time I had not been exposed to much of the Old Testament, other than scripture that was supposed to be about Jesus. I remember at one early morning prayer meeting, I was so filled with doubt and unbelief that my friend Mike had to pray me through to belief again so that I could enjoy the rest of the prayer meeting. I guess I found it hard to believe in God at 6:00 am in the morning. 🙂 There was also a time during one particular praise and worship service that I was so filled with doubts about the reality of it all that I couldn’t enjoy the service, but everybody else was experiencing a “powerful move of God”, as if we were getting a small taste of what Heaven would be like. Everyone else was awed by how awesome God was, but I felt nothing. I remember testifying later in that service about how I had missed out on the blessing of the awesome worship service, but that God had blessed me anyway. I don’t remember now how I thought God had blessed me or what I said, though. That church was fun. We had slogans for each year such as “Storm the Gate in ’88” and “Draw the Line in ’89”. A few times, the pastor allowed me to spend the night at the church. I played Christian music through their awesome sound system and prayed and worshiped and sought God all night long. At the time, it was an awesome experience, and I was grateful that the pastor trusted me enough to leave me alone in his church all night.

By the time the early 1990’s rolled around, I was working for my mother at her travel agency in Lake Jackson, TX and I had found a new church that I also enjoyed — Brazosport Christian Center. I made friends with the pastor there too, and I sang solos there as well, though not as frequently as I had at Church on the Rock. I made many good friends at both churches, and we all had a great time hanging out together. In 1992, I had the opportunity to perform one of my favorite songs at the time, Dallas Holm’s “Rise Again” at the Brazosport College Follies. I still have the video of that performance:

The next several years I was still a believer, but I was not nearly as religious as I had been when I was a bit younger. But I still believed in God and I still believed that the Bible was His Word. But by early 2000, my doubts and questions had built up to the point that I could no longer write them off to tricks of the devil, and I was not getting good answers from Christian apologists. As I related earlier, I got on the Net as it existed in early 2000, and went looking for information that was critical of the Bible and the Christian religion. I honestly was not expecting to find much. After all, the Bible was the inerrant, infallible Word of God, so what could really be said against it that was valid? I stumbled across http://www.infidels.org and I quickly began to get an education. I found my cherished Christian religious beliefs brought into serious question and basically debunked not with ridicule or derision but with solid evidence and facts. I soon also discovered http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net and my education continued. The author of that site unemotionally but thoroughly debunked the Bible and showed it for what it really is — a collection of ancient religious mythology, most of which was written anonymously. I became aware for the first time that Adam and Eve were not real historical people but rather they were part of an ancient creation myth that makes no sense to modern minds when taken literally. I learned that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are pure mythology. I was exposed to parts of the Old Testament that I had never laid eyes on before, and I learned that on numerous occasions that God had either ordered or directly committed mass murder and genocide. I began to learn that the character of the God of the Bible is not loving as I had been taught. I learned about failed prophecy in the Bible, and that was a shocker at the time because I had been told that fulfilled prophecy was a proof that God had inspired the Bible and that Jesus was the Messiah. I learned many things that brought the beliefs that I had held as Christian into very serious doubt. When I looked into what Jews had to say about Jesus, I was shocked again at how easily they proved from their own scriptures and religious beliefs and traditions that Jesus was not their long-awaited Messiah. I learned also that the two contradictory creation myths found in the book of Genesis have no scientific basis, that the Noah’s Ark story was borrowed from the much earlier Epic of Gilgamesh, the Exodus event never happened, that the events depicted in the Tower of Babel story is not how different languages came into being, and much more. I learned about the hundreds of meaningful contradictions contained in the Bible, which are graphically illustrated here. I learned about the atrocities in the Bible and also about the absurdities in the Bible, many of which I now find hilarious. For example, the book of Leviticus makes the claim that insects have four legs (Leviticus 11:20) and Psalms makes the claim that snails melt (Psalm 58:8). The Bible also clearly teaches a flat earth (see Isaiah 40:22 and Daniel 4:11 and Matthew 4:8), and the first chapter of the book of Genesis depicts a solid dome firmament (Genesis 1:7) with the stars stuck in it covering our flat world, which is supported by pillars (I Sam. 2:8).

While I was discovering all of these things and processing this new knowledge, I had some strong emotions to deal with. I became very, very angry that I had been sold a pack of ancient myths and lies for 15 years of my life and that I had mistook them for Divine Truth. I was rapidly losing my belief in God and I was realizing that Jesus was not and could not have been God in the flesh. He did not rise from the dead and he was not alive forevermore in heaven. Losing religious faith is a very painful and very emotional process. I didn’t just wake up and decide one day that I no longer believed in God and that I was no longer a Christian. It was a process that took months, and once I was no longer a believer, processing the anger and rage and betrayal that I felt for having years of my younger life stolen from me by a cult took several years to process, and it was not helped by the fact that I was dealing with serious mental illness at the time. It took a lot of research and a lot of time and a lot of thought for me to make the journey from devout Christian religious belief to atheism and the real world.

Leaving the Christian faith and becoming an ex-Christian does not automatically mean becoming an atheist, though that’s what it meant for me. Many former Christians find other faiths that they are happy with. I no longer find the Bible believable as the “word” of a God and my beliefs about Jesus have changed from “He was and is God in the flesh” to the much more realistic and mainstream among serious Bible scholars “he was an ancient Jewish apocalyptic preacher” who was the historical person behind the myths we find about him in the Bible.

There are five stages of grief that are generally recognized as valid, and I had to go through every single one of them as a part of losing my religious faith. I wrote about it recently on the http://www.ex-christian.net forums and I’ll re-post it here for your consideration. I apologize for the overlap and repeat of some of what I have already had to say.

The first stage of loss/grief is Denial and Isolation. I can’t really say I was in denial for very long about there being serious problems with my faith, but when I first started looking for information that was critical of the Bible, I honestly didn’t expect to find much! After all, the Bible was the Word of God, so what could unbelievers really have to say about it that would mean anything? I seriously roll my eyes now that I was once so uneducated and so naive, but I guess we all have to start somewhere. I believed that the Bible was the “inerrant, infallible Word of God” for many years because I was told that it was by people that I trusted at the time to tell me the truth. I had never actually read the vast majority of the Bible for myself, but the inerrancy of scripture was a major doctrine and for a long time I accepted it with little, if any, questioning. I was even quite impressed at the time with apologists such as Grant Jeffrey, whom I thought did a glorious job of defending the Bible as God’s Word. Anyway, when I came across sites such as www.infidels.org and www.rejectionofpascalswager.net I was shocked to discover how easily the Bible and my once-cherished Christian beliefs were ripped to shreds, and it was done not through ridicule, but with good evidence, the latest biblical scholarship, and verifiable facts. I can’t say that I was in much denial about what I was discovering because what I was discovering about the Bible I was also discovering that Christians couldn’t logically or rationally or factually refute, but I did isolate myself a lot. I spent hours on the internet with my glorious 56k modem connection, reading and researching and learning everything I could that was true and factual about the Bible and the Christian religion.

The second stage of loss/grief is Anger. After I got over the initial shock of discovering that the Bible was absolutely not inerrant or infallible, that it contained many ancient myths, and that it was definitely not authored by God, I became very, very ANGRY. All I could feel for quite a while when I thought about religion was ANGER and BLISTERING RAGE!!! Back around 2002, I put my first “Religion is Bullshit” website online, and with webmaster Dave’s glorious suggestion to turn it into a blog (those were new at the time), it ended up becoming quite popular. I ran that site until August of 2004, and much of what I posted reflected the DEEP RAGE that I felt for being lied to, brainwashed, indoctrinated, and severely psychologically damaged for 15 years of my life. I was ANGRY that I had wasted so many of my younger years trying to please a nonexistent god who never gave me any feedback, and that I had wasted so much time and emotional energy worrying about sin and worrying about whether I was really saved or not, and about my family and friends going to hell. And, once I realized the morally reprehensible nature of the concept of Hell, I was shocked with myself that I had ever bought in to such a demented and evil concept as being for real and that I had thought my loving God would send anyone there, much less my family and friends, all of whom were and are good people. The flip side of my anger about Hell was anger and deep disappointment that Heaven was not for real. I was so mentally ill at the time and I was so looking forward to that wonderful place where God would wipe away all of my suffering and tears, and I would live forever with Him in eternal joy, happiness, and total bliss. And then… I realized that it was all just an ancient myth. That realization was extremely difficult to accept, and I stayed angry about it for a long time. And, of course, letting go of belief in God was extremely difficult too. I was very ANGRY that God was not actually real and that I had spent so many years of my life loving and worshiping a nonexistent being. Then, once I became aware of the many atrocities in the Old Testament that portray God repeatedly ordering or directly committing mass murder and genocide, I was ANGRY that I had been taught that God was Love, and that I had believed it so strongly for so long. There is no way now that I can accept the God of the Bible as loving, given what I know about the Old Testament, and even how he is portrayed in the New Testament. In Acts 5, God murders two people simply for lying to him about their finances, and if the book of Revelation were to come true in our modern world, billions of non-Christian people would die horribly and then be sent to an eternal hell to be tormented endlessly without any hope of reprieve, forever. This is a loving God? I don’t think so… And what about Jesus? I trusted him as my loving Lord and Savior for years! I never once thought about the fact that it was him who introduced the morally reprehensible concept of Hell to scripture, and I never once heard in church about how Jesus said we had to literally hate our families to truly be his disciples (Luke 14:26), and I certainly never heard that he ordered those who refused to follow him to be killed in front of him (Luke 19:27). And what about hacking off body parts that cause you to sin (Matthew 5)? Sure, I read that many times, but with my Jesus Goggles firmly in place, and I never gave it much, if any, critical thought.

The third stage of loss/grief is Bargaining. I can’t really say that I did a lot of bargaining, but I did still desperately want God to real and for Jesus to really be real and Alive in Heaven forevermore. I am sure that I did some bargaining in the form of prayer, asking God to prove Himself to me in a way that would be undeniable. Of course, he never did…

The fourth stage of loss/grief is Depression. I did indeed experience a great deal of depression when I realized that the Bible was mostly ancient myth and legend, that there is no God and that the God depicted within the pages of the Bible was not good or loving, and that there was no heaven wonderful beyond description waiting for me after I died. Depression and anger, at least for me, were two sides of the same coin, and I spent years flipping between them. Some of that, of course, was due to my bipolar illness, but a lot of it was a normal part of working through the loss of my God and my once-cherished religious beliefs.

The fifth and final stage of loss/grief is Acceptance. This is largely where I am now, and I bless the Lard mightily for it! Glory! When I write about religion here or on my glorious website or on Facebook, I do still often write with great passion and emotion, and sometimes I take trips back to the Anger phase of loss/grief, but I always end up coming back pretty quickly to Acceptance once I had done my writing and had my say. I have come to accept the fact that there very likely is no God and that there very likely is no afterlife waiting for us after we die. We just simply cease to exist, in all likelihood, and I am at peace with that probable reality now. Knowing that life is incredible and amazing and fun — but TEMPORARY — has given me reason to wring every last bit of happiness and joy and fun out of it that I can in the HERE and NOW! It has given me reason to show my loved ones how much I care about them NOW! I enjoy my life IMMENSELY with no religious or spiritual beliefs and no reference to God. It took me many years to work through the stages of loss/grief to finally arrive at Acceptance. I stayed ANGRY for years. But now, I am completely and gloriously FREE of religion! I am absolutely FREE of all religious fears! I am free to be ME and to enjoy the one life I have on this earth FULLY, with nothing held back and with no worries about pissing Jesus off or angering his father (who is also somehow magically Him). I don’t have much money and right now I am just beginning to work on building my health coaching career, but I am HAPPY, and I feel extremely grateful to webmaster Dave for creating this glorious site (his blog and these glorious forums), and I feel extremely grateful to have so many online friends here who share the bond of having left religious belief behind in favor of the REAL WORLD and who love me and accept me exactly as I am!

I am not really that angry about the years that I spent as a Christian believer now. Yes, I wish that things could have been different, but I think we all have some regrets in life once we have lived long enough. I am quite happy now as an ex-Christian atheist, and I firmly believe that the best approach to life is facing the real world exactly as it is — as brutal as that can be at times — instead of hiding from it through religious belief. Even the hardest blows in life, such as the deaths of loved ones — should be faced head on. There very likely is no afterlife waiting on us after we die. When people die, they really die and are gone forever. That’s why it is so important to spend as much time as we can with those we love and to grab every moment of life where we are here to enjoy it!

I apologize if this post has seemed rambling and somewhat disjointed. That’s a natural result of trying to cover thirty years of life and changing beliefs and thought and research in one post that is reasonable in length. But I hope I have conveyed at least to some extent what it is like to travel the road from Christianity –> ex-Christian –> Atheist, and to some extent why I am no longer a Christian believer..

For those who may be interested, I wrote a book in 2013 on my experiences with religion and bipolar disorder. I am happy to make it freely available to my readers.

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

I hope this post has been helpful to those who have not been in our shoes to make the journey from Christianity to Atheism. It can be hard to understand the life experiences of people who have lived through things that you have never had to experience. Trying to explain mental illness is difficult to relate to someone who has never had experience with it. In the same way, explaining the journey from religious belief to the lack of it can be difficult to relate, but I hope I have succeeded here at least to some degree.

I am extremely happy now and I enjoy life immensely with no reference to God or to any religious or spiritual beliefs whatsoever. I find the real world exactly as it really is interesting, exciting, and enthralling. Life is amazing and fun and very enjoyable indeed, but it is not permanent. It is a very precious thing because it is temporary and impermanent. Enjoy this life while you have it. There is no good evidence that there is another one waiting for us on the other side of the grave.

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!

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…

From Atheism to Christianity – A Review – Part 5

This is Part 5 of this glorious series responding to this article.

As Lewis puts it in Mere Christianity, the difficulty we face as fallen human beings, whether we realise it or not, is that we are alienated from our Creator because the moral imperfection we have inherited from our rebellious ancestors – our wrong thoughts and motives, as well as our bad behaviour – inevitably separates us from God. This may seem unjust, extreme, and hard to believe, since we are accustomed to being a mixture of good and bad (‘nobody’s perfect!’ we say), and cannot, in our fallen state, altogether help being imperfect. But the problem is that our Creator God is not only Love, but Goodness and Justice personified, and therefore infinitely ‘holy’ – to use the language of the Bible. This means that He cannot overlook our moral failings and be united to us in love, since His perfect character is repelled by our sinfulness. His justice demands that the human race should bear the full destructive consequences of turning away from Him and flouting His will. We personally may not have rebelled against God at the dawn of history, but like all human beings since that time, we have been morally and spiritually damaged by the severance of that spiritual umbilical cord between God and Man which used to exist in the Garden of Eden. God’s love and goodness and joy can no longer flow unimpeded through us, because our human nature has been corrupted and we have become broken vessels that cannot retain the water of divine life. That is to look at our situation from God’s point of view. If we examine it from our own human perspective, the problem doesn’t get any easier. In order to be reconciled to God, the debt owed to Him by our wrong-doing must be paid, but we are morally and spiritually bankrupt. Reconciliation with God also requires perfect repentance, but it takes a good person to repent since repentance involves not only eating humble pie and saying sorry to God, but also surrendering our lives to Him. If we want to reconnect with our Creator, we must abandon our self-centredness, but the problem is that the worse we are, and the prouder we are, the harder it is for us to do this.

An entire paragraph of religious nonsense written by a man clearly unfamiliar with the Old Testament or even with the unpleasant and brutal parts of the New Testament. As I have pointed out before, the God of the Bible is not loving and he is certainly not moral or holy. He is a murderous, genocidal maniac who makes Hitler look like an awesome guy by comparison. Goodness, Love, and Justice personified would not order or directly commit mass murder and genocide on multiple occasions. Goodness, Love, and Justice personified would not kill billions of people in very unpleasant ways (see the book of Revelation, if it were to come true in today’s modern world) simply for failing to believe the right things about the correct god in the correct way. Goodness, Love, and Justice would not send even a single human being to a place where they would be tormented endlessly without any hope of reprieve, forever, for ANY reason.

Fallen human beings? That myth is based on an absurd ancient creation myth involving two obviously mythical people, a talking snake, magic trees, and magic fruit! Mankind is not “fallen”. We simply are what we are as a result of millions of years of biological evolution, and like every other creature on this planet, we have evolved to be suited to our environment. Otherwise, we would not be capable of surviving. We are not perfect, but there never was a time when we were! Human nature is not broken or corrupted. I have been on this earth for 48 years now, and yes I have met some bad people in my time, but the vast majority of the people I have met have been good, whether they were religious or not. And, it just so happens that I have many friends online at http://www.ex-christian.net who, like me, used to Christians. We are not bad people because we don’t believe in God and we don’t believe in Jesus anymore. The people I know over there are all good, kind, decent, moral, loving, caring and compassionate. And they almost all are now atheists! Glory!

Given this dilemma, what did God have to do to resolve it? How could He reconcile His justice with His mercy? How could He save the human beings He had created in love from the consequences they had brought upon themselves by the misuse of their free will? How, in other words, could God save us from death and separation from Him in eternity? And let’s be clear what this involves, however upsetting it may be. To be separated from God in eternity, means to be consciously and forever separated from the source of all life, all love, all joy, all truth, and all beauty. That is an indescribably terrible fate, about which Jesus spoke with real horror in the Gospels, but it is what we all risk if we refuse to accept God’s rescue plan for ourselves. So what, then, is God’s rescue plan? How can we be reconnected with our Creator?

The God of the Bible is not just and he is not merciful. God did not create us. Like all other living creatures on this planet, we are the product of millions of years of biological evolution. If I remember correctly, the earliest hominid species is approximately two billion years old, but don’t quote me on that… Consequences because two obviously mythical people ate magic fruit from a magic tree because a lying talking snake talked them into it? Gimme a fucking break… The God of the Bible is not life, love, joy, truth, or beauty. READ YOUR OWN DAMN HOLY BOOK and rip those damn Jesus Goggles off when you do it, and you will see that for yourself! The words which Jesus allegedly spoke were put into his mouth decades after he allegedly lived and died by anonymous authors who most certainly were not eyewitnesses of the events portrayed in the Gospels. It’s been a while since I actually read any of the Gospels, but I’m pretty sure it was Jesus who introduced the morally reprehensible concept of Hell to scripture. If he would send me or any other human being there for ANY reason at all, then he is not good, loving, or holy and he is not worthy of worship. God’s rescue plan was to sacrifice Himself to Himself to save us from Himself, which is absurd!

According to Lewis, God could only save us by becoming a human being and dying on our behalf, because only in this way could He enable us to go through that process of dying to self without which true repentance and reconnection with Him is impossible. Just as we are enabled to think because God created our minds and nurtures our intelligence, so, argues Lewis, we can now repent of our sins and give ourselves to God, because the capacity to die to self is now part of God’s divine nature in Jesus, and can therefore be communicated to us through our union with Him. Our ability, if we choose, to be reunited with God, was also won for us by Jesus because, as Man, and therefore our representative, His death on the cross paid the debt owed to God’s justice by human sin. Like a judge who imposes a fine on his guilty son and then takes off his judge’s robe and pays that fine himself, so Jesus, God the Son Incarnate, suffered the penalty of sin in our place. But since He was and is divine as well as human, He overcame death and rose from the grave on our behalf, having torn down the barrier separating fallen human beings from their Creator. That is the meaning of the Atonement and the Resurrection.

Stories of dying and rising gods were around long before the time in which Jesus supposedly lived and died. This is yet another paragraph of mythological and ridiculous religious nonsense. God did not create our minds and he does not nurture our intelligence. Our brains and our minds evolved over a period of several million years, as did our intelligence. Vicarious substitutionary atonement is a barbaric doctrine that has no place in our modern civilized world, yet it is embedded within our common Western psyche as being something good and holy. I wrote recently on the subject, and here’s the link:

http://religionisbullshit.me/doctrine-substitutionary-atonement/

This video from Christopher Hitchens on the same subject is also good:

This concludes Part 5 of this glorious series. Part 6 is coming soon! Glory!

An Observation made by a Christian

My Christian friend Jeremy posted this observation on his Facebook page a couple of weeks ago or so.

Don’t take this the wrong way, just making an observation: It’s pretty cool when you study the authenticity of scripture and the bible that… yup, it’s not just a bunch of “stories”, but also very historic. And this is widely agreed upon worldwide … not that I ever doubted it, but it’s fun to put the pieces together for my own eyes!
I’ve heard people say ignorant things like “Jesus wasn’t real”…
Jesus was very real and actually religions that may ‘not’ call him God almighty in flesh, like I believe, agree on the fact he was real lol and even testify of his power!

My response:

What authenticity of scripture? We don’t even know who wrote most of it, and that includes the Gospels, which are the only records we have of the life of Jesus, aside from a few disputed extra-biblical references. The Bible absolutely is, for the most part, “just a bunch of stories” that ancient men made up. The Bible contains a great deal of myth and legend. In fact, the first eleven chapters of Genesis, including the two contradictory and absurd creation myths (two obviously mythical people, an omniscient God who clearly is not all-knowing, a talking snake, magic trees, and magic fruit! Gimme a fucking break…Oh, and let’s not forget the magical flaming sword meant to keep the two obviously mythical people out of the obviously mythical Garden of Eden..), are known to be myth. The Bible also contains hundreds of meaningful contradictions (see http://bibviz.com/ for a graphical representation of them that conveniently ties them all together), many atrocious accounts of God either ordering or directly committing mass murder and genocide (for examples click here and here, and much known bad alleged history. The Bible does not fare well when it reports history, and it’s actually this fact that is now widely agreed upon worldwide. Even the Gospels are now known not to be history and they are certainly not eyewitness accounts. All four Gospels were written decades after the events that they purport to portray allegedly took place, and they were all written anonymously. The Gospels are now known to be myth, as Dr. Richard Carrier explains clearly and brilliantly in this video:

People who claim that Jesus wasn’t or isn’t real are not being ignorant. They are going with the best evidence and biblical scholarship currently available and are telling you the truth. There may well have been a historical Jesus who was an itinerant apocalyptic Jewish preacher. But the only accounts that we have of his alleged life are the four canonical Gospels, and they are so loaded down with myth and legendary development that little, if anything, remains that can be known of the historical man. Stories of dying and rising gods were around thousands of years before Jesus allegedly lived, and several events in the alleged life of Jesus are closely and strikingly similar (see http://www.pocm.info/ for more info on this fact). Jesus as depicted in the Gospels (though he is presented very differently in each gospel) also ranks very high on Lord Raglan’s Hero scale, which is a huge clue that the Gospel stories about him are myth rather than history.

Two books that I highly recommend that make a very good case for the “Jesus Myth” theory are:

Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All
http://www.amazon.com/Nailed-Christian-Myths-Jesus-Existed-ebook/dp/B007GPG290/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411345656&sr=1-1

The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ?
http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Puzzle-Christianity-Challenging-Historical/dp/096892591X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411345764&sr=1-1

This is my review of “Nailed”: http://religionisbullshit.me/nailed/. I was quite impressed with the book. For a much more critical review of it, please see http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/2011/05/nailed-ten-christian-myths-that-show.html?m=1.

Jesus as he is depicted in the Gospels quite clearly was not and is not real. If the historical man did indeed exist, he most certainly was not divine and not God in the flesh. Most major world religions may indeed agree that Jesus lived in history, but they do not “testify to his power.” Orthodox Jews, in fact, maintain several well known “anti-missionary” sites that thoroughly debunk Christian claims about what they call the Old Testament (Jews call it the Torah or Tanakh) and they make it quite clear that Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah. Here is just one example of what Jews have to say about Jesus.

You are free to make public any observation you wish to about your imaginary god or your mythical Jesus. Just don’t expect those of us who know better to remain silent on the issue. 😉 For the record, I saw your post the other day claiming that the name of Jesus is powerful and that it is the name above every name. I’m here to tell you that the name of Jesus has no power whatsoever in the real world, magical or otherwise. The Jesus of the Bible is a myth, and there is nothing that you can say or do to change that fact. Glory!