Why I'm Debunking Christianity, Part II

Here is more on why I am debunking Christianity. I will append this page to my previous entry here. WarrenL has offered an intelligent and thoughtful response to what I wrote, so I’ll respond here.

WarrenL is in blue. I am in red.

Motivations are indeed multifaceted and I do agree with all those listed. But I have always believed that the heart of Christian apologetics is to provide an answer for the hope we have, as opposed to simply presenting an argument. That implies that a question needs to be posed first.

What's wrong with me providing a response to those Christians who provide an answer for the purported hope they have? If the Christian hope is true, then I should change my thinking and my lifestyle, according to them. So Christians are telling me I should change, and I respond by telling them I don't have to because the arguments are not there. Surely because of the claims of Christianity I should respond. At least I'm not just ignoring them. I'm giving them a response.

What I do notice is that Triablogue address a range of diverse topics; atheism, Islam, Mormonism, Roman Catholic theology etc. You on the other hand only address one, Christianity. Am I to assume that there is nothing else that grips your interest as much as Christianity? If not then for something that you have walked away from it sure dominates your life.

We merely have a specific limited topic here, to debunk Christianity. Triablogue's agenda is necessarily more general, because if they are correct, then every other religion must be wrong. We'll let them argue with every other religion. They can do that for us. All that's left for us to do is debunk Christianity.

Still, atheism by definition is in opposition to every Theistic religion regardless of what Christianity says about them. If your mission is successful and you ever manage to debunk Christianity will you then turn your attention to those other religions? I get the impression that in your mind perhaps the others are not worth debunking because they have no merit.

As a former Christian apologist I debunked all of the other religions that I had studied. I had previously rejected them as a Christian. Having already done that, the only thing left is to debunk Christianity.

There are many ideas out there that even you have to admit are at least as or even more dangerous than Christianity. Why aren’t you as passionate about those?

Militant Islam is presently far worse to me, although militant Christianity has been far worse at some periods of the past. I'm not as knowledgeable about Islam so I let others do it for me see here.

Surely you disagree with more in the world than just Christianity. Why is that your personal bug bear? It still seems that Christianity is the defining centrality to much of your existence.

It is a rejection of a past I spent far too long defending. It's my way of confirming what I believe, and at the same time helping others who suffer under its wings like I did for far too long.

I have tried to put myself in your position and I think that unlike you, if I ever lost my faith, my pursuits would be entirely different. I wouldn't want to waste anymore of my time in dissecting the Christian faith or trying to 'save' those pigheaded Christians. But then you and I are very different.

Yes we are. As a philosophy instructor I enjoy discussing and debating ideas, and I know the most about Christianity. Debating sharpens my mind. And just like the artist who looks as her finished painting and admires it, I like looking at what I’ve created too when I'm finished writing. I like looking at it and thinking to myself from time to time “Now that’s good.”

I will also have to disagree with your distinction between thoughts and actions. It’s true that one can think something and not actually do it. But thoughts do influence attitudes and actions. It’s funny how I always start disliking my house about the same time I stop watching HGTV, even though I have a great house. Think enough about sexy naked women and after a while your wife will pale by comparison.

I never said thoughts do not influence actions. But fantasy is just that, if recognized for what it is as a psychologically healthy adult. Besides, it's psychological harming to deny one his fantasies. Kids grow up pretending all the time. It's who we are as human beings. If you cannot fantasize about being rich you'll never be rich, for instance. And fantasizing about kicking the shit out of someone may be all the release a healthy individual needs, so long as he's a psychologically stable person. As a man, you struggle with lust, don't you? Sure, we must all contain our thought world, but I find no guilt in a lustful thought. And as a man, I do have them, just like every man does. Women may not understand it, and they may condemn it all they want to, but it’s biology baby. And I don’t have to feel guilty for this anymore. I just have to recognize it for what it is, fantasy, and leave it there, which I can easily do. Besides, "Most of our emotions and desires are involuntary and cannot be controlled, so to condemn them as wrong causes unnecessary guilt and psychological harm." --Michael Martin.

You are right though; Christians do struggle with their thoughts. To be honest I certainly don’t beat myself over inappropriate thoughts or actions. I know I am human and I know I’ll battle these for the rest of my life, BUT grace has been extended without me having to earn it. I do the things I do out of joyful obedience not to earn points. Ah, the freedom and joy of being forgiven. (loaded words I know.)

In my opinion Christianity is an extremely guilt producing faith, and I only realized it after I left it. Even though I knew it was by grace that I had been saved, I almost always felt guilty that I wasn’t doing enough in response to God’s love. Whether it was spending time in prayer, evangelizing, reading the Bible, tithing, forgiving someone who had done me wrong, or whether it was struggling with temptations of lust, pride, selfishness and laziness, I almost always felt guilty. It may just be because I was so passionate about Christianity that this was the case, and so it just might be my particular temperament. But I never could understand how Christian people could come to church every Sunday and never get involved much in the Church’s programs, because that’s what believers should want to do. To be quite frank here, if Christians really believed that the non-Christian was going to hell, and that God loved them enough to send his Son to die for them on the cross, then how would they behave? How many true believers are in the churches today? The bottom line is that a vast number of Christians do not experience freedom and a full life, in my opinion. The fear of God and hell can and does dominate their thinking, even if they may not fully realize this until after they leave it.

I don’t really know what Christian circles you moved in but I have never been shunned for expressing doubts and I have had my fair share.

Translated: "I move in better Christian circles than you did (a standard type rebuttal which I have no privy information to assess its merits).

Are there any inherent dangers with atheistic views? May I suggest you ask the 30-50 million victims of Stalin and Pol Pot. Even the grossest estimates of the infamous Spanish Inquisition pale in comparison. See sometimes I also tend to paint in broad brush strokes. Now I know that you are not a that kind of atheist and that's not what atheism is about, so I’ll try refrain from lumping you in with Stalin et al as long as you distinguish between those with true Christian ideals and those who have hijacked a distorted view of Christianity for their own means.

But who speaks for Christianity? Who? There are at present 45,000 different denominations. To whom do I go to for information on what a Christian thinks and behaves and to find which political party and which social issues to support? Hijacking? Which ones? Amish people today would say that you’ve hijacked Christianity. There was a time when Christians argued from the Bible that they could own slaves as pieces of meat, and beat them within an inch of their lives. This would have been the overwhelming majority opinion of their day. If you believe what you do today, you would have been the outsider in their day. They would claim that you had hijacked Christianity.

I believe there are evil people who will use any ideology to their own sadistic ends. They come in all shapes and sizes, all colors, and all religions, or none at all. The question is which ones are used most by these evil people to justify their evil actions? Does atheism fare better or Christianity? I don't know. But my guess is that percentage-wise, atheists are better educated than others, and better educated people are usually better people toward others, even if there are exceptions to this. While I don't have a statistical study on this, this stands to reason. Better educated people know that violence breeds violence and that nothing much is solved by violence. They would also have a much greater tendency to rationally discuss the issues they wish to change, and to properly evaluate the reasons why they might seek to do someone harm. Nevertheless, there are people with Freudian "Death Wishes" everywhere, regardless of what they believe. They are suicidal by degrees. Some Christians feel they have committed the unpardonable sin, or that God cannot forgive them, so they no longer care what they do to others, or themselves.


When I think of one of the greatest secular failures of all time, the USSR, I can so easily apply the terms class struggles, homophobia, racism, mass neurosis, intolerance and environmental disasters. Please don’t tell me you honestly believe that these will be eliminated by getting rid of Christian (religious)influence. So just how does atheism address the natural tendency for self preservation and dominance?

In the first place, secularism didn't fail with the demise of the USSR. Leninism did. Lenin hijacked Marxism for his own powerseeking purposes. Lenin does not speak for the rest of us atheists today. Modern atheism addresses your worries through education and in understanding the different viewpoints of others. Once that is accomplished we can no longer say of someone that they are stupid and hate them merely because we have disagreements. Education fosters tolerance. And while no one can be tolerant of everything, we can be tolerant of different viewpoints, even while disagreeing with them. A heightened tolerance level on BOTH sides of the fence would go a long way to resolving differences around the world, between Jew and Muslim, between warring factions in Africa, and even between Christians and atheists. For instance, Christians think atheists cannot be trusted because they do not have a standard for “objective” morality. But once you live next to an atheist, study at his feet, and/or become her friend, you learn differently. Education means being exposed to different ideas and different experiences. Tolerance is the result. Atheists also promote laws that grant everyone the right to believe whatever they want to, which would exclude any kind of thecratic rule, be it Muslim, Jewish or Christian.

I would particularly like to see the ‘strong case’ that Christianity contains considerably more violence and destruction than that of the other major religions. Where’s the proof? I can similarly say that the history of a secular worldview contains more violence and destruction than most of the other major worldviews. Particularly if I lump in fascism, national socialism, communism and the like.

If you as a Christian have to even make the case that Christianity fares better than atheism, then you've already lost the debate, because it's not obvious. Here's why: The Christian is the only one who claims that God the Holy Spirit resides in him. And according to the Bible the Holy Spirit helps the Christian to understand the things of God, and also helps him to behave. But Christians do not act noticeably better than non-Christians, and it's partly because the Christian doesn't seem to understand what God purportedly wants him to do. Where was the Holy Spirit's guidance in the lives of the Christians during WWII, or during American Black Slavery, or the Crusades, or the Inquisitions and witch hunts and heresy killings? Hitler's Germany was a part of the Protestant Reformation. Germany was a Christian nation! And yet we know what happened during WWII. A Christian nation acted worse than non-Christian nations? You've already lost the debate, because as a Christian you must claim that you alone have a truly powerful God helping you to behave and think right. If Christianity makes people better why isn’t it obvious?

The Christian God was definitely not created in our image. What would motivate anyone to create a God other than one who caters to all our desires, wants and excesses? Why create a God that we have no hope of pleasing in the first place. Trust me if I was part of that committee we wouldn’t have ended up with the Christian God. Point in case - you spend most of your time trying to prove how repugnant he is. And we created him, all by ourselves? How? Why? To control; that can be done without religion. To highlight how weak and incapable we are. Right.

The ancients were fearful of death and they pondered the mysteries of their dreams. Life was dreadful and very demanding of them. People died young. There were battles to be fought with the beasts and with other nations. So they envisioned a God who was demanding. It's not that they wanted to create an ice cream and cake giving God; it was that life was scary, hard and demanding. There must be a dreadful, demanding, and hard God too. And in the hands of the producers of religion who offered acceptable answers to life (priests and prophets), it gave these producers power over the masses, for if the people disobeyed God's messenger or priest, they would face God's supposed wrath. It was all so quite convenient for the producers of religion who offered explanations of dreams and the mysteries of a lifeless body. They gained power, fame, and money over the consumers of religion (the masses). But if they created a religion that was merely ice cream and cake, the people would no longer fear the producers of religion, and the producers would not receive power, fame and money. Besides, ancient people would not have believed in an ice cream and cake giving God, anyway, since life was very hard, demanding, and scary. To read more on this whole topic, please take the time to read this

Actually I like being deluded (though obviously I don't think I am). Within my worldview I can explain most of what goes on in my world. So please don't try 'save' me and I'll try not to 'save' you. I'll try simply provide an answer for the hope that I have. Albeit rather poorly.

But then what do you have to say about the Bill Craig's in the world who argue that Christianity is correct, and I'll rot in hell if I don't believe? They're trying to "save" me, even if you're not. So long as people like that are out there I can argue against them all I want to. If that means you get caught up in the middle between us, preferring to be left alone and also preferring to leave people like me alone, I cannot control that. You don't have to listen in. You don't have to assume that what I write is about you, either. It's only directed at apologists like Bill Craig who think I'll rot in hell if I don't agree, and that's a charge that I must respond to, if for no other reason because my own life is at stake if he’s correct. He's claiming that if I disagree that's what will happen to me, and I object very strongly to such a challenge on behalf of everyone who reads that challenge, since it is so extremely guilt producing, and since many people don't know how to adequately respond to challenges like that. But I think I do, and so I speak out.

26 comments:

BlogIrony said...

You can debunk religion and religious precepts all you want. What you can't "debunk" is Jesus Christ, because He is the real thing, the Living Water, the Good Shepard, my Lord and Savior, the Alpha and the Omega. The Name above All Names. Whether you confess it now, or not, one day you will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Here is to the Return of the King!!!

warrenl said...

If anyone is interested in the entire exchange I am sure that John would be happy to provide it if asked. You can also request it at wamalo@comcast.net.

warrenl said...

I forgot to mention that it includes some additional follow-up responses on my part.

Tommykey said...

Blogirony, Jesus is never coming back because HE'S DEAD!

How many centuries have to pass without his return before you people finally concede and throw in the towel?

In fact, your window of opportunity is closing because in the coming decades humanity will be settling permanently in space, in stations orbiting the Earth, on the moon, and sometime in the 22nd century on Mars.

And where exactly is Jesus right now anyway?

Bahnsen Burner said...

Tommykey asks: "And where exactly is Jesus right now anyway?"

Jesus resides in the imagination of the believer, just as Daffy Duck resides in the cartoon world of make-believe.

Regards,
Dawson

Daniel said...

Here is to the Return of the King!!!

Well, I've never drank to a LOTR movie before, but I do love that old Gandalf! [tips back Gentleman's Jack Daniel Premium Whiskey(TM)]

Wait...is that what you meant? Or did you mean Jesus? I'm afraid the latter poor fellow's return flight has been delayed some 2000 years. I also fear it may be delayed indefinitely.

[hiccup]

What is it that differentiates that Jesus fellow from Gandalf, again?

eddie said...

What is it that differentiates that Jesus fellow from Gandalf, again?
A ton of "faith" I guess to make the story "work" just right ... oh the circular mindtrap of Christianity ...

BlogIrony said...

It takes a ton of faith to believe the dollar is valuable. It's just an IOU from the US Fed Govt. It has no intrinsic value of its own. But you all work for a living for dollars. Talk about "faith." It takes a ton of faith not to worry that the earth will be destroyed by a comet tomorrow. Talk about "faith". It takes faith to believe I'm not a computer. Talk about faith.

Jesus Christ will return. Here's to the return of the KING JESUS!!!

John W. Loftus said...

blogirony, are you saying that the faith required to spend money is that same as required to believe in God, or that Jesus will return? Sure we operate on faith everyday. But there is a huge difference between believing that money can buy us things from believing that Jesus will return. It's such a huge difference that many people don't think it requires any faith at all to spend money, when compared to believing Jesus will return.

BlogIrony said...

Yup. People tend to have faith in things that work. I have seen the power of Jesus heal people. I have seen lives changed by that power. I sense Jesus in my very being. He is real. And he will return in power to rule the earth. Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord!!!

Stardust said...

I have seen the power of Jesus heal people.

Why would he bother if the "ultimate goal" is heaven? Why do xians go to doctors when they are ill instead of Benny Hinn? Do you go to a medical doctor when you are ill blogirony, or do you just trust Jesus to do it?

People inevitably die at some point, regardless of "being healed" so the "healing" doesn't last very long. It is my opinion that christians are obsessed with death, afraid of death, and their whole religion is based on death. Why not just accept the inevitable facts of life with as much grace and dignity as we can?

BlogIrony said...

Being treated by a doctor is fine. God often heals people that way. Just not always.

Benny Hinn doesn't heal people. Jesus heals people.

I was at a healing seminar a few weeks ago and God gave someone with a fractured tooth a gold crown. It wasn't there one moment, and it was the next.

Jesus came to give us life, and to give it to us abundantly. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. It's not only about the afterlife. It's about the here and now.

Having said that, Lord Jesus, save me from some of your "followers."

Death is inevitable. My faith is in a living Savior who has established a relationship with all of us, in this life. He will take a thousand steps if you take only one, toward Him.

warrenl said...

(JL) What's wrong with me providing a response to those who provide an answer for the purported hope they have? If the Christian hope is true, then I should change my thinking and lifestyle. So Christians are telling me I should change, and I respond by telling them I don't have to because the arguments are not there. Surely because the of claims of Christianity I should do that. At least I'm not just ignoring them. I'm giving them a response.

(WL) I don't believe that I have ever implied that you were wrong to provide a response to Christianity. In my opinion you are free to do as you please. My initial question was what motivates you to do so. This may surprise you but even if you were to agree that the Christian claims were valid (or at least partially valid) I really don't expect you to ascent and change your thinking and lifestyle. I wasn't attempting to present an argument to prove that you were wrong and dissuade you from doing what you do, I was simply commenting on my beliefs about Christian apologetics. Triablogue approach it from a different perspective. Their 'calling' is to not simply present an answer but to dismantle the counter-arguments.
I just find it interesting that in one sense your dominating thoughts and your intellectual pursuits center on the 'religion' you now despise. My beliefs are not defined by my response to atheism whereas it appears that your beliefs are defined by your response to Christianity. Any way you look at it Christianity will play the central role in your life.
I have tried to put myself in your position and I think that unlike you, if I ever lost my faith, my pursuits would be entirely different. I wouldn't want to waste anymore of my time in dissecting the Christian faith or trying to 'save' those pigheaded Christians. But then you and I are very different.


(JL) We merely have a specific limited topic, to Debunk Christianity. Triablogue's agenda is necessarily more general, because if they are correct then every other religion must be wrong. We'll let them argue with every other religion. They can do that for us. All that's left for us to do is Debunk Christianity.

(WL) Still, atheism by definition is in opposition to every Theistic religion regardless of what Christianity says about them. If your mission is successful and you ever manage to debunk Christianity will you then turn your attention to those other religions? I get the impression that in your mind perhaps the others are not worth spending the effort debunking.

(JL) Militant Islam is presently far worse to me, although militant Christianity has been far worse at some periods of the past. I'm not as knowledgeable about Islam so I let others do it for me, here: http://www.apostatesofislam.com/index.htm

(WL) Yes many atrocious things were done in the name of Christianity. Many atrocious things have been done in the name of just about every ideal. Does it mean that the essence of those ideals is ‘wrongheaded’?

(JL) Hmmmm. It is a rejection of a past I spent far too long defending. It's my way of confirming what I believe, and at the same time helping others who suffer under its wings like I did for way too long.

(WL) So is there an element of revenge then? I mean at being duped for so long.

(JL) I never said thoughts do not influence actions. But fantasy is just that, if recognized for what it is by psychologically healthy adults. Besides, it's psychological harming to deny one his fantasies. Kids grow up pretending all the time. It's who we are as human beings. If you cannot fantasize about being rich you'll never be rich, for instance. And fantasizing about kicking the shit out of someone, may be all the release a healthy individual needs, so long as he's a psychologically stable person. "Most of our emotions and desires are involuntary and cannot be controlled, so to condemn them as wrong causes unnecessary guilt and psychological harm." --Michael Martin. As a man, you struggle with lust, don't you? Sure we must all contain our thought world, but I find no guilt in an occassional lustful episode after not having sex for a few days.

(WL) But Christians aren’t denied fantasy. We just do it in a different way. I often think of what I’d do if won or earned a huge amount of money. I fantasize about what would happen if I could turn my hobbies into viable business opportunities. I fantasize about my wife. And if my fantasies get out of hand from a Christian perspective, I don’t cut myself up about them. I am a not a guilt ridden person.

In answer to your question, yes, I struggle with lust, but I can honestly say not as much as I used to. I used to indulge my fantasies so much more and started noticing that I grew indifferent to my wife. It began destroying our relationship. So in this instance being obedient to Christian precepts, to a large extent, ensures the health of my relationship with my wife. It’s not that I never look at another woman and say, ‘Wow she’s beautiful’. But less and less do I undress them and imagine making love to them.

(JL) There is no God for me to bring my thoughts into obedience to God.

(WL) But you rail against the ‘idea’ and prevailing thought that there is. So my point was that thoughts were not somehow irrelevant and separate to actions.

(JL) In my opinion Christianity is an extremely guilt producing faith, and I only realized it after I left it. Even though I knew it was by grace that I had been saved, I almost always felt guilty that I wasn’t doing enough in response to God’s love. Whether it was spending time in prayer, evangelizing, reading the Bible, tithing, forgiving someone who had done me wrong, or whether it was struggling with temptations of lust, pride, selfishness and laziness, I almost always felt guilty. It may just be because I was so passionate about Christianity that this was the case, and so it just might be my particular temperament.

(WL) For many Christians this is true. But for many it’s not true. So I disagree that this is the essence of Christianity and its natural outcome. I am passionate about Christianity but as I said I am not guilt ridden. Oh there are times when I feel guilty but it is hardly my dominant emotion or motivation for living the life I do. So as an atheist do you ever feel guilty? How do you explain the persistence of guilt then?

(JL) I never could understand how Christian people could come to church every Sunday but never get involved much in the Church’s programs, because that’s what believers should want to do. To be quite frank here, if Christians really believed that the non-Christian was going to hell, and that God loved them enough to send his Son to die for them on the cross, then how would they behave? How many true believers are in the churches today?

(WL) I’m right there with you and I ask the same question all the time. In the end I can’t answer for anyone else, just myself. So let me ask you this, are there any nominal weak atheists that embarrass you. Although a nominal uncommitted ‘worldly’ Christian does cause one to question the validity of Christianity that in no way invalidates Christianity. If that methodology were applied to any philosophy/worldview then we’d have to invalidate every single one. Why not look at those who are involved, and who do live like they are supposed to in order to draw your conclusions?

(JL) And.....to rephrase you, I have met many neurotic, paranoid CHRISTIANS, so If they are free from the burden of Christian imposed guilt why the neurosis and paranoia?

(WL) And I know many too. Some are family members and close friends. And I also know many who aren’t. But Christianity does not demand perfection on our part anyway.
However, the picture you painted implied that if one gave up Christianity and embraced atheism, guilt would be a thing of the past. I was just pointing out that is not so.

(JL) And a vast number of Christians do not experience freedom and a full life, in my opinion. The fear of God and hell can and does dominate their thinking.

(WL) Can you define ‘freedom’, full life’ in any objective way outside of your own paradigm? And can you even prove that is the case? Does ‘a vast number’ imply a majority? Locally or globally? There are two kinds of fear, servile and filial. You are obviously implying the former. Scripture prescribes the latter. From my personal experience those who ‘become’ Christians simply to avoid hell don’t seem to stay the course.

(JL) Translated: you move in better Christian circles than I did ( a standard type rebuttal which I have no privy information to assess its merits).

(WL) It is you who paints the picture that this is the common experience within the vast number of Christian circles. That doubters are somehow ostracized. I’m in no way trying to invalidate your experience. It is true in many cases but I was pointing out that it is not true in every case. Perhaps I was fortunate at that time in my life.

(JL) Translated: I actually tried to walk away from Christianity during my college years but my Christian friends wouldn't let me and with their friendship and concern they convinced you to stay.

(WL) My friends allowed me to vent, curse, let it all hang out. They listened most of the time without saying much. And no it wasn’t their friendship that convinced me stay. But I do know that if I had left the faith for good they would have remained my friends. I am currently part of a Christian community that is pretty open and honest about the way we feel. Our difficulties, our doubts, our ups and downs are expressed freely without fear of judgment. I guess you will just have to take my word on that.

(JL – Second Response) This is ridiculous! Who speaks for Christianity? Who? There are at present 45,000 different denominations. To whom do I go to for information on what a Christian thinks and behaves and to find which political party and which social issues to support? Hijacking? Which ones?

(WL) It’s easy to paint in broad strokes. So tell me who is the spokesperson for atheism? Who? Who do I go to to provide the ultimate answer on it's application sociologically, politically? Even I know that atheists disagree on many things and formulate their worldview differently. I’ve seen you and Sean of Gods4Suckers have at each other. Is he your spokesman? Is he the prime example of the life application of an atheistic philosophy? It is you who have painted the picture that religious beliefs are inherently dangerous. I was just pointing out that any idea or ideal, no matter how noble, can be applied in a way that leads to disastrous consequences. Atheism is not exempt from being inherently dangerous. Neither is Christianity. That does not negate Christianity’s tenets or make them inherently dangerous.

(JL) And what would they say about your views? There was a time when Christians argued from the Bible that they could own slaves as pieces of meat, and beat them within an inch of their lives. This would have been the overwhelming majority opinion of their day. You would have been the outsider. They could claim that you have hijacked Christianity.

(WL) I’m not denying that at one time and overwhelming majority of Christians argued that, but not all. Yes misguided Christians have done some dumb things throughout history. But there were many dissenters and it was Christians, not atheists, who initiated, fought for and died for change. At least admit that. Are you telling me that a non-Christian, agnostic or atheist never owned a slave? Are you also making the claim that every Christian slave owner treated their slaves with cruelty and indifference?
I probably would have been in the minority at that point in history. In fact in a way I was. I grew up in Apartheid South Africa and my father, a pastor, taught me differently to what the so-called “Christian” Nationalistic government prescribed, that is to repect and honor everyone I came into contact with. I was ostracized for befriending and hanging around with blacks my age. I and ‘a vast majority’ of Christians throughout history have never seen the subjugation of others mandated in scripture.

(JL) I believe there are evil people who will use any ideology to their own sadistic ends. They come in all shapes and sizes, all colors, and all religions or none at all. The only question is which ones are used by these evil people to justify their evil actions?

(WL) I couldn’t have put it better myself… “to justify THEIR evil actions”. MY POINT EXACTLY!!!

(JL) Does atheism fare better or Christianity? I don't know. But my guess is that atheists are better educated than others (and if I can find a study like that, I'd be interested in knowing of it), and better educated people are typically better people. (And while I don't have a statistical study on this, it stands to reason, since better educated people know that violence breeds violence and that nothing much is solved by violence.

(WL) Oh please. Why do we have the phrase “Evil Genius”? The Nazis were brilliant. You think they would have ever been able to accomplish what they did if they lacked intelligence or education. And I don’t believe that they were Christian in any way, shape or form and deal with that later on. If you ever find that (unbiased) study be sure to pass it on, though I won't be holding my breath.

(JL) They would also have a much greater tendency to rationally discuss the issues they wish to change, and to properly evaluate the reasons why they might seek to do someone harm).

(WL) I am sure that Stalin and Pol Pot and a host of others rationally discussed and properly evaluated the reasons why they sought to do harm to so many.

(JL) There are people with Freudian "Death Wishes" everywhere. They are suicidal. They are everywhere, regardless of what they believe. Some Christians feel they have committed the unpardonable sin, or that God cannot forgive them, so they no longer care what they do to others

(WL) And some atheists feel that the evil they do to others has no great impact on the survivability of the species.

(JL) Agreed, except that I will fight for my right to have the freedom not to have a religion. Are you okay with that?

(WL) Sure!

(JL) Through education, and understanding the different viewpoints of others. Once that is accomplished we can no longer say of someone that they are stupid and hate them merely because we have disagreements. Education fosters tolerance.
And while no one can be tolerant of everything, we can be tolerant of different religious viewpoints, even while disagreeing with them. A heightened tolerance level on BOTH sides of the fence would go a long way to resolving differences around the world, between Jew and Muslim, between warring factions in Africa, and even between Christians and atheists. But Christians in America shove their religion and their politics down our throats and walk all over us because they can ignore what we think. We are intolerant of that, because they are first intolerant of our views.

(WL) Are you serious? Education fosters tolerance. You really believe that? To prove your point you would first of all have to prove that unbiased and neutral education is possible. Good luck. So you are actually proposing that if atheism controlled all education that religious expression, intelligent design, all views on the sanctity of life and biblically defined marriage would be tolerated? Please…Oh and let me say.. But Christians atheists in America shove their religion philosophy and their politics down our throats and walk all over us because they can ignore what we think. We are intolerant of that, because they are first intolerant of our views. Ah the get out of jail card…I’ll only be tolerant of you if you are tolerant of me.

(JL – Second Response) If you as a Christian have to even make the case that Christianity fares better than atheism, then you've already lost the debate, because it's not obvious.

(WL – Second Response) So you have no proof to confirm Kimball’s statement? Actually it is you who keeps implying that atheism is a better proposition. I’m answering you on your own terms.

(JL) Here's why: The Christian is the only one who claims that God the Holy Spirit resides in him. And according to the Bible the Holy Spirit helps the Christian to understand the things of God, and also helps him to behave. But Christians do not act noticeably better than non-Christians, and it's partly because the Christian doesn't seem to understand what God purportedly wants him to do, either.

(WL) Assertions that can never be proved one way or the other.

(JL) Where was the Holy Spirit's guidance in the lives of the Christians during WWII,

(WL) Heard of Corrie Ten Boom? There were thousands of Christians who lost their lives for hiding Jews and opposing the Nazis. Dietrich Bonhoeffer ring a bell?

(JL) or during American Black Slavery,

(WL) I’m sure if you honestly studied history you will find it littered with the names of many Christians who opposed slavery. Not sure about slavery in America, but slavery in England was abolished because of the work of William Wilberforce. He was no atheist.

(JL) or the Crusades, or the Inquisitions and witch hunts and heresy killings?

(WL) Many Christians opposed all of these. Still all of these atrocities (and they were) over 20 centuries pale in comparison to the millions killed by secular endeavors. Hey I can make my own assertions too and like you I do not have the exact numbers. Does any unbiased person?) I’m sure you decry the 2500+ soldiers and a large number of civilians killed in Iraq. I am grieved by every one, but I’m also grieved by every one of the 1.3 million babies aborted in the US each year. Yet it is you who says that atheism is a much better proposition. Sorry it is even less obvious to me.

(JL) Hitler's Germany was a part of the Protestant Reformation.

(WL) Even though the events were separated by a few centuries?

(JL) Germany was a Christian nation! And yet we know what happened during WWII. A Christian nation acting worse than non-Christian nations?

(WL) Show me one honest historian who actually proposes that Hitler and the Nazis did what they did due to their interpretation of the bible. It is a well documented fact that Hitler and the SS were steeped in the occult. The sin of the German Christians in general was cowardice and indifference. But thousands of German Christians opposed the Nazis and died because of it.

(JL) You've already lost the debate, because as a Christian you must claim you have a truly powerful God helping you to behave and think right.

(WL) I believe I’ve already answered.

(JL) Again, who speaks for Christianity? What is there in the Bible, or in the lack of the Holy Spirit's influence that leads people to misapply Christianity? What is there in the Koran which leads many Muslims to believe they must kill Americans? Either God was not clear in the Bible, the Holy Spirit doesn't exist or doesn't help the Christian, or God does not exist. (there are other options....choose one).

(WL) Again who speaks for atheism and its application – Lenin? Stalin? I choose the option you have already presented … “to justify THEIR evil actions”

(JL) Oh come on here. The ancients were fearful of death and the mysteries of dreams. Life was fearful for them. So they envisioned a God who was demanding. It's not that they wanted to create a ice cream giving God, it was that life was scarry, and so there must be a scarry God too. And in the hands of the producers of religion, it gave them power over the masses. For if they disobey God's messenger or priest, they would face their wrath too. It was all so quite convenient for the producers of religion who offered explainations of dreams and the mysteries of a lifeless body. They gained power, fame and money over the consumers of religion. But if they created a religion that was ice cream and cake, the people who not have to fear the producers of answers to the questions of life. Besides, these people would have believed them, since life was very hard and scarry.

(WL) Absolutely. Why religion worked (and still works) and why power could be exercised over the masses was due to the promise that if a standard was met or certain rituals were observed the gods would be appeased. Christianity says that you cannot meet God’s standard and that even if you observed all of the rituals you still don’t make the grade. Why would that be a prevalent theme?

(JL) Marxist ideas are false, but they've never been tried. What we say instead was Leninism.

(WL) You can say that but Marx was still one of Lenin’s primary influences.

(JL) Weak people, according to Nietzsche, were people who needed someone to tell them what to do, rather than decide for themselves how they will live life.

(WL) I know that is how Nietzsche defined weak. But I hardly define a Christian martyr as being weak. So what about all the weak atheists who rely on science or the secular state to tell them what to believe and how to live?

(JL) These are Sartre's words. I am not an existentialist in a pure sense.

(WL) It was you who used his quote to bolster your position.


(JL) But then what do you have to say about the Bill Craig's in the world who argue that Christianity is correct, and I'll rot in hell if I don't believe? They're trying to "save" me, even if you're not. So long as people like that are out there I can argue against them all I want ot. If that means you get caught up in the middle between us, preferring to be left alone and also preferring to leave people like me alone, I cannot control that. You don't have to listen in. You don't have to assume that what I write is about you, either. It's only directed at those like Bill Craig (and lesser apologists) who think I'll rot in hell if I don't agree, and that's a charge that I must respond to, if for no other reason because my own life is at stake. He's claiming that if I disagree that's what will happen to me, and I object very strongly to such a challenge on behalf of everyone who reads that challenge, since it is so extremely guilt producing, and since many people don't know how to adequately respond to challenges like that. But I do, and so I speak out

(WL) I guess my initial response would be, “So what! Why do you care what they say?” You are educated. You don’t believe in hell or religious imposed guilt and you have the smarts to articulate and argue why. Every day I am bombarded by hundreds of messages that say I will be a better person if I use this product or shop at that store. I ignore them. You think I’m deluded and stupid for believing in God. So what? I read and think about what you say and if I still disagree I move on. I had Sean and his friends at Gods4Suckers calling me all sorts of things. It really didn’t bother me. (Just for the record they never actually answered the question I posed.)

I am curious as to what you meant by your own life being at stake.

Just for the record, I am not a quiet Christian. I always try witness by the life that I lead and where necessary I’ll use words. I disagree with you but I don’t hate you. I don’t think that you are stupid or dumb. Foolish maybe :o) Hey, if you feel the need to respond to every one who says you are going to hell, go ahead. If you see yourself as a champion of the inadequate and weak that’s entirely up to you.

DBULL said...

Many of the things done throughout history and blamed on christianity can be traced to people who claimed to be disciples of the true God, but were they really? I doubt it. Why do I doubt it? we know a tree by the fruit it bears....The bottom line with Chrsitianity is it boils down to faith, which by the Lord's design thwarts any attempt to "prove" Christianity is right for anyone. The Lord said we are saved by faith and this idea of faith would be utter nonsense to the "wise men and scholars" of our time.

1 Corinthians 1:20
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
Indeed He has.....

The Lord told us how it would be, and so it is. Anything a man can be argued into, he can also be argued out of. It's much more difficult to argue a man out of things he has experienced, one such thing is true faith. As a 36 year old man, I can look back on 36 years of loving faithfulness from my God to me. That's my personal experience. I can understand the point of view you proceed from, and I commend you for writing with more love than the vast majority of people who claim to be christians but who I believe are not. The Lord has'nt given up on you yet, even though for now, you have given up on Him.
:-)

Cheers~brotherD

John W. Loftus said...

See
here and here.

eddie said...

I was at a healing seminar a few weeks ago and God gave someone with a fractured tooth a gold crown. It wasn't there one moment, and it was the next.
Priceless! Hey, I have a fractured tooth, please tell me where I can sign up to get mine filled with gold? With the price of gold as it is, could I please have my whole mouth done?

Daniel said...

I was at a healing seminar a few weeks ago and God gave someone with a fractured tooth a gold crown. It wasn't there one moment, and it was the next.

Well, I suppose the dentists that Jeebus "used" to give most people their gold crowns were busy at the moment, so he "poofed" one in there for him.

I'm just pissed cause all I got was this shitty enamel and not a mouth full of platinum from birth. I could've done so much more in life if Jeebus had only given me my heart's desire [to be a rap star].

Rich said...

Now as a christian I ask myself why would this person be given a gold crown as opposed to restoring the tooth? Is healing a broken tooth only accomplished by crowning it? I look at my ddentist a little different now, I would say a couple of the assistants could certainly be angels! Sarcastically speaking I have a hard time figuring out why people think of religious as fantastical thinking.

Anonymous said...

hey! lovet his blog!

lawlady said...

John,
Accidentally came across your blog. You write about organized, physical churches and their flaws and you are correct on all counts. Physical churches on this earth are composed of humans with their human nature components, so churches will always be rife with trouble. Also, various denominations put their own spin on what a Christian should be and make their "rules" accordingly.

I learned long ago that earthly churches' "rules" do not apply to me. Rather, I believe in the heavenly church of Jesus Christ and that is the only one that applies to me. I do not answer to any human being, be that priest, minister, or church members; my church is not on this earth. I believe in the love of God the Father, His son, Jesus Christ, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

I also know our minds are earthly and do not concern myself when less than pure thoughts come to mind as that surely happens all the time; it's no big deal. I am a woman but I know men are visual creatures by nature and you guys are going to see women naked in your minds all the time; God made you that way so the earth would be populated. I've tried to visualize men naked but it's no turn-on for me, okay? I am free to drink alcohol if I want, dance all night, and have a good time. Because I am intelligent, think, and have good sense, I choose not to commit acts which are extremely harmful to my body; I would be this way, religion or not. I don't drive at ridiculously high speeds because I might kill myself or someone else, not because of religion.

If one reads about the "heroes" of the Bible, they were all human and screwed up royally at one time or another, but were still part of God's plan and still God's chosen to perform whatever task was theirs.

Determining what is a "sin", is up to the individual and based on his/her relationship with Jesus/God. No mortal person can determine that for another person. Neither can one determine whether another person is "saved" or not.

My relationship with Jesus/God frees me rather than restricts me. I face whatever comes in this life knowing I have the love of God to support me. I do not believe in living in a box, being afraid of living in case someone might say something. No one should live like that and God did not intend for us to be intimidated by others' belief systems.

1st John: 4:16: "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him."

DavidD said...

A pox on both your houses.

That being said, I am grateful to atheists for having been so relentless in attacking religion. Sites that list every objection to the Bible they could compile are amazing. As a liberal Christian, I agree with maybe 90% of them. So when I want to make the point that the Bible is wrong I can hit the examples I care about, where Genesis is contradicted by science, that disease is not caused by sin, and a couple of others, leaving the comprehensive job to atheists, since they want to spend their time that way. I don't.

But I do also owe literalists my faith and my understanding that the Spirit does live in me. I sense that in many ways, and know that most Christians don't have this. It's obvious from what people say and do. Anyone can ridicule that, but he or she is missing something powerful in being so superficial to do that.

There is so much ego involved in missing what is real about religion, instead saying it's all junk or that tradition has it just right. Maybe in 500 years people will have sorted the wheat from the chaff, but then again maybe those who are so fierce about saying they're right and nothing on the other side is right can keep that up forever.

Like Mercutio, I do get stabbed from time to time, though so far those have been merely flesh wounds. Boys, if you want to fight so persistently, I guess you will, but could you leave a codicil to your will that after you die, your children are free to just let God declare Himself or not to he or she who cares to notice? I don't find that God has it in for people who just can't hear Him. Religion is wrong about its need to declare that. Maybe in 500 years there will be good role models for this. Maybe that's the key.

Anonymous said...

Hi I skimmed this post and several others... and am not sure where to find what I am looking for.

What I am wondering is this:

1) What do you make of all your years as a Xtn? Do you feel like you wasted your life? Is it one big huge regret? An embarrasment?

You describe Xtns as being deluded. Would you describe yourself as having been under a big delusion? and how do you cope with that?

2) What guarantee is there that 5 years from now you will not back to preaching? How do you know that you may not read books X,Y, and Z or have a weird "mystical"(?) experience of some sort and become an Xtn again? I have heard of people returning to vigorous religious belief also after a deconversion.

I'm not sure if this is the appropriate place to post this so sorry if there is another place where I should have done this. There is so much out here that it takes a bit of time to find your way around.

Ciao!

General Tempest said...

While researching for a paper on prejudice against atheists in the USA, I stumbled across this blog, among many others, and was amazed - and horrified - at the feud between Mr. John W Loftus and Mr. Frank Walton. Both sides have their valid points, I'll admit, but surely there can be some common ground between the two of you. As an atheist, I have come under abuse and harrasment from Christians, but at the same time, many of my close friends are of the Christian faith. While some atheists can be disrepectful towards theists, and some theists can be disrespectful towards atheists, there are many people, both religious and nonreligious, that just want to get along and live in peace. Instead of trying to completely destroy eachother, surely you should try to find some common ground, do a little bit of give and take, and end this feud before things get really out if hand.

The world, in the poverty, war and crime abundant state that it is in, surely doesn't need more squabbling and bickering than it already has, but rather people trying to work together, reguardless of race, sexuality and beliefs, to make the world a peaceful and kind place to live - a place where everyone is accepted and equal.

You may be thinking "what a load of hippy talk!", or something along similar lines, but believe me, if steps are taken to make a world such as I described, then you wouldn't have to spend so much time and energy complaining about what the other has posted about your beliefs on an internet blog.

Thank you to anyone who has taken the time to read this, even as it may appear to be long winded.

Take care, all!

Anonymous said...

1982 years later and he still hasn't came back. Yeah, I believe man.

Anonymous said...

Was Criss Angel there? Hint: did you hear him whisper, "Are you ready?"

Anonymous said...

(WL) Again who speaks for atheism and its application – Lenin? Stalin? I choose the option you have already presented … “to justify THEIR evil actions”

No one, we don't have a book of guidelines or an all powerful being. Btw, you can find a picture of a catholic priest in Germany saluting hitler. Also, look up christian attrocities, it will be on christian attrocities dot com or something like that. Its very bold compared to Lenin and Stalin. Lmfao. What a moron.