Lessons From Bowflex

They are in our houses, lying under our beds, tucked away in our closets. They are in our lofts, or covered up with boxes in our garages and storage rooms. Being the born-and-bred packrats some of us are, we take them with us, laboriously moving them from house to house as we relocate through the years. We had a number of opportunities to sell them at garage sales, but we never did. We keep telling ourselves that we’ll get around to using them again one day, like that short month-and-a-half period just after we bought them, right before we quit using them and tossed them into that “I’m already bored as hell with this” pile of virtual paperweights we own. I’m talking about Bowflex machines and their knock-off competitors sold on TV from those annoying infomercials that perhaps caught us off guard one night, resulting in our making a bad investment [At this point in the article, Joe lowers his head in shame!]. What did we invest in? A piece of crap, that’s what…one that does nothing but remain unused and take up space in our houses.

When it comes to buying trinket-y, worthless gadgets, I am as guilty as a career woman in a shoe store on payday. I buy things, usually smaller items I can talk myself into buying on the spurt of the moment. I’ve got needless computer keyboards, pens, pencils, desktop items, flashlights, and office supplies all over my place, why? Because that tactile part of me, like a small red devil above my left shoulder, convinces me that making these senseless purchases will somehow make me feel more satisfied in accomplishing whatever purpose I bought the item for.

No pattern is more predictable than the cycles of satisfaction (or should I say, dissatisfaction); we want an item, then we want it really badly, so much so that it overcomes any doubts about whether or not we need it or can afford it. So we buy it, have brief fun with it, quickly get tired of it, and then think back on how wanting it was better than actually having it. In the end, we wish we hadn’t bought it at all! However long any satisfaction might have lasted us, it wasn’t long enough, all things considered.

It’s funny how something so vainglorious like Bowflex can teach us big-league lessons about life, religion, and human nature; you have those who seriously want to get in shape, and then you have those who are just toying with the idea. The small irony of it is, those who are no-nonsense about maintaining their bodies will likely not be interested in something as piddly as Bowflex. They would veritably have – lo and behold – a gym membership! But more germane to our subject, those who buy into the claims of Bowflex infomercials parallel those who buy into the assertions of religion, though not in every way.

For instance, you have those who buy into religion, and many of them remain satisfied with it, but with Bowflex, I don’t think I’ve known anyone who remained satisfied with it for long! Most of us buy it and then hate it. You have those like me, for instance, who buy the damn machine and soon get tired of it (those of us who were once religious and became disenchanted with it). Then you have those who never got duped into buying the blasted thing in the first place (those who were never taken in by the charm of religious appeal), and you have those who bought the piece of junk and got tired of it, more or less (those who have been religious and then grew weary of all organized and fundamentalist forms of religion, rejecting them for much more liberal and science-friendly versions). They too have seen for themselves how disappointing faith systems are when the elaborate euphoria of ecclesiasticism wears off, when the harm done by “born again” believers becomes apparent, when the false-alarm-sounding mentality of evangelicals comes to light.

Those who have experienced the flaws of faith are not impressed with hollow religious promises for quick fixes or miracle cures for society’s ills, nor are they ready to buy into dubious claims on how to make a better tomorrow—anymore than a smart consumer watching a Bowflex infomercial will be inclined to buy it because of those nicely tanned, washboard-abdominal-muscled models who are paid to show off the product. Not a one of those finely tuned human specimens got their illustrious bodies from using that machine, but the company wants you to think they did.

The smart shopper realizes that not only are these claims the products of deceitful advertising, but the machine will not feel as satisfying in its use as it appears it will from the view of the couch, watching TV. The device might be too cheaply made, perhaps, or not big enough, not sturdy enough, or just not as fun to work out on as it seems it will be (I have found this to be the case with every “as seen on TV” piece of garbage I ever purchased!). This is in contrast to the believer who looks with elation at Christianity and sees a system of belief that will be the perfect cure-all for a world longing for happiness and answers; stop AIDS by not being homosexual; stop rape and adultery by outlawing pornography and immodest dress; stop terrorist attacks like those of 911 by making abortion illegal so that God will be moved to providentially protect us again; stop school shootings by bringing prayer and the ten commandments back into classrooms; it all sounds so simple and effective to the pious mind, to those living in the black-and-white world of theism.

The wise consumer knows that if he really wants to get in shape, it won’t be through knickknack-y exercise machines, and cute, jazzy-looking equipment. It will be through hard work and the embracing of a healthy lifestyle—eating right and exercising regularly. It’s about life changes, not nifty products. When it comes to considering a smart, pragmatic view of life, healthy amounts of skepticism and cynicism are more than called for. A pious life of folded hands and bent knees is not the only way to go, I don’t care what some preacher or priest tells you.

Equivocally, adopting religious systems to live by will not solve the world’s major problems; they will not bring peace, will not answer questions, and will not improve the quality of life. Religions will not somehow Utopian-ize society as some expect it to. If it could, the world would have been a mostly peaceful and wonderful place since before recorded history, and still would be.

“When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7)

“But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (Psalm 37:11)

Uh…not quite! The Holy Land and surrounding areas – that area on Earth with the highest population of “righteous” men in any one place – is far from peaceful and leaves much to be desired, as any remotely westernized thinker must admit. Just look at Islam verses the different sects of Islam, Islam verses Judaism, Islam verses the west and Christianity, and we would be fatuous not to mention the feuding Irish Catholic and Protestant groups throughout the world who relish murdering one another on an incredibly wide scale. Incidentally, the Bible writers seemed to have quite a learning disability when it came to identifying peace. It was prophesied that Josiah would die “in peace,” and yet he died by a pagan king’s arrow in an unnecessary confrontation (2 Kings 22:20; 2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:23-24). A similar fate befell Zedekiah who was also promised by God through Jeremiah that he would die in peace, though it certainly did not happen (Jeremiah 34:4-5; 52:10-11). Well, if these are biblically “peaceful” ways to die, I don’t want to even try and think of violent ones!

Like many other well done paid advertisements, a strongly promoted product becomes a sensation where a less promoted product loses out. The biggest and most successful businesses advertise heavily, from Apple Computers to Yahoo. Advertisers target one of two things—need or want (sometimes both). By doing a great job reminding their viewers that a nice, hot, muscular body is the best kind to have (with the proper lighting, stage presentation, camera work, and tanned, pumped-up, oiled-up bodies), Bowflex fosters the want behind the sale and is thus able to move these machines by the thousands each year.

Proponents of Christianity play up the need angle; man is a sinner, depraved and wicked to the core, and he is spiritually stupid too, unable to use his natural mind to appropriately and humanely conduct himself, and life is such that it’s hard to find happiness amidst all the depression anyway. So what is the cure? Religion, of course—always each particular preacher’s own version of it. Mankind needs help from the next world. Mankind needs the gospel. But like the wise consumer, the astute freethinker sees through all such lies. He realizes man is fully capable of producing goodness, dignity, and happiness all by himself. In the case of religion, people are being convinced that they have a need for an invisible product; Christianity comes along, says mankind has a “sin problem” (one we would not know exists except for Christianity telling us about it), and then gives the solution to it. As Dan Barker put it, “Would you be thankful to a person who cut you with a knife in order to sell you a bandage?”

Scam artists are kept alive and in business by bad consumers who make bad financial decisions. The world needs smarter consumers, but it also needs a smarter populace, one that won’t so easily buy into the claims of creationists, pseudo-scientists, and religious idealists, like hatemonger preachers and fascist religionist politicians. But the road to improvement is a long one to travel, and it doesn’t look as though many want to arrive at that destination.

(JH)

48 comments:

live-n-grace said...

You can do all you want but you'll never find pleasure without God. Why do you think rich people are never satisfied? Or what about Solomon? He had everything he could ever want on earth. Money, power, women, children, friends, wealth, land, and everything else under the sun. Yet still he was unhappy and was still in search of that thing that gave him complete happiness. Until finally he found God. I find that bowflex is a great example. People without God go from one thing to another to another in search of pleasure.

"Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." - C.S. Lewis

We are too easily pleased but that pleasure in earthly things never lasts long.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Joe E. Holman, you really are blind. You're points and ideas are complete idiocy and it really show the difference between those who are in the light and in the dark. I want to have a peaceful discussion, but after reading that, I'm like, this guy has really got something against Christianity.

"But the road to improvement is a long one to travel, and it doesn’t look as though many want to arrive at that destination."


Are you talking about the road to hopelessness, are you saying all the troubles in the world are due to religion? Wow, basically, I'm speechless.

Joe E. Holman said...

You haven't learned to find pleasure, live-n-grace. You are on a psychological drug that gives you pleasure. it's a false pleasure at that.

If you became an infidel tomorrow, you'd find a way to be happy again, just like I have, and every other atheist who finds life after religion.

Please quit preaching and start thinking. Many people go our route and realize that as is the case after a death in the family, once the illusions of religion are painfully shattered, one can rebuild. It's just a matter of time.

People turn to religion because they are "unchurched" and don't know how to balance their hedonism, but some of us do know how. We come away from religion because we realize happiness is within one's own power to achieve.

Believe me when I tell you, I'm happier now with my infidelic integrity than in the last four years of lying to myself as a believer. And in most ways, I'm happier now than the five years before that when I was a full-faith Christian.

(JH)

Joe E. Holman said...

Anonymous said...

"Wow, Joe E. Holman, you really are blind. You're points and ideas are complete idiocy and it really show the difference between those who are in the light and in the dark. I want to have a peaceful discussion, but after reading that, I'm like, this guy has really got something against Christianity.

"But the road to improvement is a long one to travel, and it doesn’t look as though many want to arrive at that destination."


Are you talking about the road to hopelessness, are you saying all the troubles in the world are due to religion? Wow, basically, I'm speechless."


My reply...

If you don't agree with the points I make, that's fine, but if you don't know what I "got" against Christianity, you might try clicking on my profile and viewing my website. Here it is for you...

www.ministerturnsatheist.org

You might learn something. And no, nowhere did I say "all" the world's troubles were because of religion. I'd try reading a little more carefully next time.

And I can't help it if you believe having knowledge of falsehoods and seeing through religious delusions is "the road to hopelessness." I call it "the road to sanity, to peace, to intellectual honesty, and to a healthy self-identity." Sorry we disagree.

(JH)

live-n-grace said...

If you are happy where you are at now, then I truly feel sorry for you. I would recommend rereading the C.S. Lewis quote.

One Wave said...

Joe, you give substance to the "angry athiest" perception.

If you are happier now, you must have been absolutely miserable as a religious person. Why are you so filled with discontent and anger?

Joe E. Holman said...

live-n-grace said...

"If you are happy where you are at now, then I truly feel sorry for you. I would recommend rereading the C.S. Lewis quote."


My reply...

I feel sorry for you.

Regarding Lewis, remember I was a minister. I've read him, never was that impressed even as a minister. So please don't insult my intelligence.

(JH)

Joe E. Holman said...

One Wave said...

"Joe, you give substance to the "angry athiest" perception.

If you are happier now, you must have been absolutely miserable as a religious person. Why are you so filled with discontent and anger?"


My reply...


Tisk, tisk! This is a PRIME example of the Christian projection of the pitifully preconceived notion of all atheists being "old goats" who are grumpy, mean-spirited, and bitter.

I assure you, from the bottom of my heart, that this worn out old stereotype is bogus and in no way reflects who I am.

You don't even know me, and yet you display incredible arrogance in assuming you've got me figured out. You act like we're roommates or something.

Of course, your type of bigot is not new to me. I get contacted by the likes of you all the time, thinking they are enlightened.

I'd advise you to keep in mind that this is a blog on debunking Christianity, and that is what we do. The bloggers here share this interest, so when we write, naturally, that is what we write about. It is not as though I ran up to you, yelling out my sentiments in a supermarket with a red face and pointed finger. If I had done that, you would be easily justified in accusing me of speaking out in discontent and anger.

So please spare us your shallow-minded prejudices and stubborn stereotypes.

And for your information, I was VERY happy as a minister. I assure you, if my faith had not faultered, I would still be preaching today.

(JH)

Anonymous said...

I'm coming out of "comments retirement" for this one. Joe, if you don't want people to perceive you as angry, why promote that image? If you don't feel you project an image of anger, then how do you define that emotion? You send a mixed message with your writing that provokes that concept. I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but 'provoke and deny' is one of the patterns of abusiveness that people can get infected with. I'm not impressed by it. Thanks!

Anon 1035

Anonymous said...

Edit to my last comment: it should read: how do you express anger? and; I'm not intimidated by it.

Thanks!

Anon 1035

elwedriddsche said...

I never was a theist and thus lack the experience of consigning religious belief to the dustbin.

The angry atheist stereotype is grating on me, though. It seems the default posture of too many religious believers in response to outspoken atheists.

One Wave said...

Joe,
My comments are based solely on your comments like these:

A piece of crap, that’s what…one that does nothing but remain unused and take up space in our houses.


Most of us buy it and then hate it. You have those like me, for instance, who buy the damn machine and soon get tired of it (those of us who were once religious and became disenchanted with it).

...piece of garbage I ever purchased!). This is in contrast to the believer who looks with elation at Christianity and sees a system of belief that will be the perfect cure-all for a world longing for happiness and answers; stop AIDS by not being homosexual; stop rape and adultery by outlawing pornography and immodest dress; stop terrorist attacks like those of 911 by making abortion illegal so that God will be moved to providentially protect us again; stop school shootings by bringing prayer and the ten commandments back into classrooms; it all sounds so simple and effective to the pious mind, to those living in the black-and-white world of theism.

(me: This is not the faith I practice, are you generalizing according to your experiences?)

Believe me when I tell you, I'm happier now with my infidelic integrity than in the last four years of lying to myself as a believer. And in most ways, I'm happier now than the five years before that when I was a full-faith Christian.

You might learn something. And no, nowhere did I say "all" the world's troubles were because of religion. I'd try reading a little more carefully next time.

Of course, your type of bigot is not new to me. I get contacted by the likes of you all the time, thinking they are enlightened.


Me:
Am I bigoted for asking why you are angry? Did I make a sweeping generalization by observing that your post had an angry tone?

I don't talk to people about, nor have I ever heard (except on here) that athiests are perceived as angry and bitter. The reason I am here is to think through these things by asking questions and to understand the position of athiests/agnostics for myself instead of relying on the opinion of others.

Would you suggest that I not practice my constitutional right of freedom of speech and refrain from asking honest questions?

I am not passing a value judgment on you. When you say this:

...And for your information, I was VERY happy as a minister. I assure you, if my faith had not faultered, I would still be preaching today.

after having said this:

...Believe me when I tell you, I'm happier now with my infidelic integrity than in the last four years of lying to myself as a believer. And in most ways, I'm happier now than the five years before that when I was a full-faith Christian.

it's a little bit confusing.

One Wave said...

Maybe a better point would be to ask why you find it neccessary use words like hell and damn and other inflamitory words to make your point with many exclamation points along the way.

If I wrote this:
"This damn computer keeps coming up with new quirks and I'm tired as hell of it."

Wouldn't I be conveying my annoyance and disatisfaction with it in an angry way?

The same sentence could be much more intelligent if said this way:

"I'm frustrated about quirks in my computer and I'm tired of having to tinker with it." Or whatever other choice of words work.

My observation is that you seem to enjoy using an inflammatory tone with some "curse" words thrown in. What's the point?

I wasn't going to respond to your post, I usually don't because your posts are always emotionally charged, but my husband read what you wrote before I did and said, "This guy is angry".

Joe E. Holman said...

One Wave, don't confuse pungent and exceptionally descriptive sentences as anger or discontent. Naturally, being a former minister, I will have a strong take on things, and being a writer, I can use words potently. It is good to write like we talk, and cursing is an excellent way at times to convey casual emphasis, not necessarily anger. But the only reason you infer anger and discontent is because of your aforementioned religious preconception. Don't worry though, you are not the first who has been guilty of making this assumption.

And thank you for assigning the term "emotionally charged" to my articles. That is a compliment! It is every bit my intention to take my naturalism and "bring it home" to the cozy worlds of the average Joe or Jane.

If all a writer can do is throw out scholarly quotes and make tasteless comparisons between schools of philosophical thought and doctrinal positions, they will not go far. Writing is about mastering the human experience, and that is what I am about.

(JH)

live-n-grace said...

Joe:

I understand that no matter what I say, what I write, or what I show will ever change your viewpoint, or convert you back to Christianity. But don’t you think there is more to life? That there is more to this life than eating, sleeping, and satisfying yourself? We were made for more than this. We were made for more than lying, cheating, stealing, and living for ourselves.

I think the best place to start is at the beginning.

So, there was nothing. Emptyness, nada, no matter, nothing to be found. Suddenly, BOOM, a monstrous explosion comes from nowhere, and suddenly the universe is made. Mind you, that must have been one big explosion, to create the entire universe. So, out of this explosion, planets are formed, and these planets coincide perfectly around a sun. They circle it perfectly, without error, always the same. Oh, and also gravity, the thing that mystifies us all, is formed. Now on this one planet, water is formed. Don’t ask me how, just 2 H and an O form together, being held together by only space. Well, nevermind, not one molecule is formed, but entire oceans, and it covers most of the planet. Next, out of nowhere, comes life. This single celled organism suddenly has working mechanics and organelles inside of it, working together perfectly in tune. Then, from this cell, other life is formed. It begins to transform itself into other beings, and finally into a fish. Now this fish suddenly is able to change itself and walk on land, and turns into a monkey. Finally and lastly, this monkey transforms into a human and that is where we are at today.

Or, God created the heavens and the earth. Perfectly. From the tiniest atom and organelle in a cell, to the vastness of the universe, all perfect.

Now you can argue what God created it or how many, but I will get to that later. In fact that choice is even easier than the above choices. I think that’s the best and most fundamental way to start, that simply the universe and everything in it can NOT come from nothing, and work perfectly in order. In fact, one of the law of science is that everything tends towards chaos, and not towards order.

I hope you will see the sense in the above argument, and I will write later on the differences and choices between religions.

One Wave said...

Then more power to you, Joe.

I'm not sure what kind of life experience you are about but you seem to know what choir you are preaching to so I'll leave you alone.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Joe:
The fact is that there are times your vehemence and sardonic humor and satire do seem to be angry, but, if I may guess about someone who I don't know personally, I think it is not the type of anger you and the commentators are talking about.
I have no doubt that you are happy in your personal life, and I agree with your statements to Live-n-grace that he would be happier as well.
I think that the anger that sometimes seems to appear in your posts and comments is the 'anger of frustration' as you see so many people (especially people as likable as OneWave and Live-n-Grace) deliberately blinding themselves, not merely to 'the truth' (as we see it) but to the joy and freedom that we know that truth could bring them.

To use a very strained analogy, imagine there is an isolated island with a thousand people on it. The tradituion of the island is that you 'don't go in the water and anger the water gods.' You, and a dozen of your friends, have ignored this and have learned the pure joy of swimming.
When you are swimming, you are having nothing but fun, but when you are talking to the other islanders, you can get so frustrated that you roar, "But it IS fun, I am HAVING FUN, Damnit!"
That's the sort of anger I sometimes see in your comments.
(And I have to criticize one comment you did make. You've read OneWave's posts here -- and I have had the pleasure of starting a correspondence with her. I really think that 'bigot' is not a word I'd use in relation to her.)

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Live-n-grace:
I am sure Joe has his own answer to your questions, but let me give you mine.

Do I think that life is more than eating, sleeping, and satisfying ourselves. Of course, and so do most atheists, and most theists. Life is teaching and learning, exploring, making the Universe truly understandable, sharing, bringing pleasure to others, helping others, and yes, having a hell of a good time doing it. Pleasure and satisfying ourselves is a GOOD THING, a VERY good thing. (What is wrong is doing these at the expense of another, but pleasure and satisfaction are not 'zero-sum games.)
As for 'lying, cheating, and stealing,' those are not habits of mine, or of most atheists I know of. Some atheists do, and so do some theists. I'd argue at least as high a percentage of theists, or maybe much higher, but that is truly irrelevant.

As for your 'lecture' on cosmogyny and evolution -- did you even realize these are two different subjects -- I'd be glad to answer it in extreme detail if we were corresponding. (Just one thing, please. It is a demonstration of the height of ignorance to use the phrase "this monkey transforms into a human." No scientists have ever claimed this, any more than they would claim your third cousin transformed itself into you. Men and monkeys have a common ancestor many million years ago, in precisely the way that your third cousin and you have a common ancestor.) One thing to realize is that we are talking about a span of billions of years, but I -- and I'm not a specialist in this -- can describe how and why each of these steps took place, fill in the hundreds of gaps between the steps you mention, and more importantly show you the evidence that demonstrates that these things DID happen.)

As for your misstating of the idea of entropy, sorry, it is a misstatement. No, your description has neither sense in it nor any evidence that it did happen that way. The scientific view has provable evidence that you can only disregard by the argument that God is a liar that deliberately planted false evidence in the Universe for some ridiculous reason. (There was a book written in response to Darwin called OMPHALOS that made just this argument, and all the theologians who looked at it realized that this idea was even more dangerous to religion than were Darwin's.)
And, as I have pointed out repeatedly, evolution is not at all antithetical to theism. Most believers DO accept it, treat the 'creation story' as a myth or parable, and argue that evolution is merely God's way of bringing about his creation. I don't acept that, of course, but most theists and evolutionists have no problem with it.

live-n-grace said...

Prup

From your writings and posts I can tell you are not an idiot. But to say the world as we know it came from nothing is complete idiocy. Just a question: How do you think the earth came to be?

I will use one of my favorite quotes to your swimming analogy:

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

I wonder what you find more pleasurable than a Christian. I can tell you through my experiences, and many other peoples too, that God is the most pleasing thing there is. Why do people turn from drugs, drinking, and adultery? Because they find that it doesn't please them. There isn't a single dissatisfying thing I've had from following God. What am I missing out on? Going to late parties, having sex with whoever I want, hanging over the toilet, and having a hangover the next day. No thank you! Don't forget Solomon either, who had everything possible known to man to please him and none of them pleased him. He finally turned to God and found perfect pleasure.

And by the way, according to evolution humans did transform from monkeys. I just think it is complete foolishness to think that we came from monkeys. Why aren't there any half species out there? Why haven't there been any excavations of ANY half-species. Sorry don't include the mini-man. Of course evolution is real, we were made to adapt, to change, but to say that our "ancestors" were monkeys, I really think you're out of tune with reality.

One more thing, we were made for more than teaching and learning, and helping others. But right now this is as good as it will get for you. When I look at the world and at the people in it, wow. I'm sure glad this isn't my home. If you die tomorrow, then that's it. Kaput, finished, done.

Sure I find pleasure in helping others and sharing, but that just doesn't do it for me. It just helps me realize how meaningless and fruitless life is without God.

I am a C.S. Lewis quote nut, so here are a few:

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

If He who in Himself can lack nothing chooses to need us, it is because we need to be needed.

Now is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It won't last forever. We must take it or leave it.

live-n-grace said...

Argh, I couldn't help myself:

[Christians] believe that the living, dynamic activity of love has been going on in God forever and has created everything else. And that, by the way, is perhaps the most important difference between Christianity and all other religions: that in Christianity God is not a static thing — not even a person — but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverant, a kind of dance.

Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently He thought it worth the risk.

Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside of the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

The Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good. They hope, by being good, to please God if there is one; or — if they think there is not — at least they hope to deserve approval from good men. But the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it.

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

[Said Aslan,] "But I cannot tell that to this old sinner, and I cannot comfort him either; he has made himself unable to hear my voice. [...] But I will give him the only gift he is able to receive. [...] Sleep and be separated for some few hours from all the torments you have devised for yourself."

You would not have called to me
unless I had been calling to you

It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true Word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him.

Nothing is yet in its true form

Sorry for the space. But I find that some people are wrong or don't even know of the simple truths of Christianity.

One is that Christianity being a religion. I find that it really isn't a religion, but rather a relationship. Religion is a man made thing or practice, and through this is corrupted or used for power. (i.e. catholic church)
NO! It is not that. It is living in Christ, Christ living in me. You are so blinded, that you diddle around with "knowledge" and debating, and miss the whole purpose of the gospel, of the bible, and that is the love of God. You have no excuse to say that God is unjust or unfair. You have decided to deny free love, and free eternal life, and that is that. Remember, it is by FAITH we have been SAVED through GRACE and this not of ourselves, it is THE GIFT OF GOD. Not by works so that no one can boast.

Sorry, I just had to take a huge step to get off that soapbox. :)

calvin said...

Mitochondrial DNA has been recovered and analyzed from 11 Neanderthal specimens. These 11 specimens span the entire geographical range of Neanderthals and a significant part of their historical span. This DNA collection shows little variation and no perceptible correlation with geographical location or their date. Neanderthal DNA remained remarkably constant throughout the species range and history. Geneticists have recovered mDNA from humans as old as 25,000 years ago. The range of diversity for human mDNA does not overlap the Neanderthals. This and the marked differences between Neanderthal and human mDNA, establishes beyond reasonable doubt that Neanderthals made no contribution to the human gene pool. They have been eliminated as possible ancestor for humans. Dates for H. erectus range from 1.8 to .5 million years ago with some evidence suggesting dates as recent as about 100,000 years ago. Given the rate at which DNA decays, these dates leave little room for hope for recovering H. erectus DNA that's pristine enough for meaningful comparisons with either Neanderthal or human DNA. Nevertheless, H. erectus fossils are sufficiently abundant for testing the Hominids role in the lineage of humanity. Ancient H. erectus fossils are indistinguishable from the most recent indicates that H. erectus remained static. Because H. erectus manifests morphological features radically different from humans or Neanderthals and because all three species experience no observable evolutionary change, it is highly unlikely that H. erectus could be the ancestor of Neanderthals, archaic H. sapiens, or modern humans. This and other evidence shows that hominids did not give rise to modern Humans.

Logismous Kathairountes said...

The main problem with this article is that it denounces the same things that Christianity denounces and it calls them Christianity. And the Christians get so mad about it they end up arguing against their own viewpoint. It's comedic gold!

Christianity does not promise to be able to fix social problems. It does not promise world peace. God does not offer you worldly happiness in exchange for moral uprightness - That's called paganism, and it's what Christ came to save us from, because in reality, it doesn't work, and then you die.

Christianity commands you to give up your possessions, your happiness, your rights, and even your life for the sake of Christ - "Take up your cross and follow Me."

Christians: We should be rooting for this guy when he denounces those who call themselves Christians when all they're after is a miraculous fix to social problems - And who don't seek the will of God. (That's not to say that social problems aren't important - That's what we're to give up our lives to help fix - But such things are of secondary importance next to eternal life)

We shouldn't root for him when he makes factually inaccurate claims about the Old Testament, effectively calling God a liar. Call him on that. The promise to Josiah was that he wouldn't live to see the fall of Judah - Which he didn't, it happened during the reign of his son - And we aren't given any information at all about how Zedekiah died. He probably died of old age, in captivity.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Live-n-grace: I would, to parallel your 'mud pie' example, compare you to someone who falls for one of the frequent "Nigerian scam" letters, y'know, the ones that claim to have millions of dollars waiting for someone like you to help them move them out of the country, and who sends thousands and thousands of dollars to the 'bank official' cheerfully counting the ways he will spend the money, and blissfully happy knowing that, as soon as a couple of more hurdles are passed, his financial worries will be at an end.

(I should say, btw, that while sex and ambition are both wonderful things that we should celebrate, I don't say the same about drink. I'm not a teetotaler, but I hate drunkenness, in myself and others.)

What do I enjoy? People first of all, in their wonderous diversity. (And every day I give thanks that I live in Brooklyn, the most diverse place in America.) Then cats, and even though I lost two (age 20 and 18) in the last year, I still have three left. Books, I have 3000 of them of all types, and have lost four other libraries in my life, so I've probably owned well over 10,000 in my life. Food, I love to cook and to eat (and made a chicken dish last night with peaches, steamed string beans and three different peppers, loved eating it and loved seeing my wife enjoy it). Television. Baseball. Music (from Greig to Van Morrison, from Gershwin and Brubeck to the magnificent sounds of Pakistani pop -- that's how I wound up on the Pakistani board, btw). A sunny day in the 70s, like today was. So many pleasures every day, including the chance to be here and to try and *ahem* knock some sense into some heads and remove some nonsense -- but also the pleasure of knowing people like you and OneWave as well as John, Joe, and exapologist.

NONONONONO, evolution does NOT hold that man 'transformed from monkeys.' I defy you to show me one writer who claims this. Our ancestors were NOT monkeys, man and monkeys had a common ancestor. (I'll give you a good site that will answer all your questions if you wish, or some books that will show you not just what evolutionist believe, but why they do so.)

As for the second letter, no, this man did not 'talk as if he was God.' He talked as if he was a believing Jew, as he was. He did speak of God forgiving sins, yes. He speaks of God coming to judge the world, perhaps -- if he did it was because he was influenced by the Persians who had this idea. But he never claimed to be, nor is there the slightest credible evidence that he saw himself as anything more than a Prophet heralding the end of the world, which he thought, quite wrongly, would happen in his lifetime.

Paul added many ideas as did other writers, but what you see as the message of Jesus would have been viewed as horrible by him.

As for the idea of 'salvation by faith' how can you read the story of the Good Samaritan and hold that. The whole point of the story was that Samaritans were religious heretics, and despised by the Jews for their heresy. But it was the heretic, the one who didn't have faith, and not the believers, who your own Prophet made the hero -- and that might have been the single most shocking story he told.

One Wave said...

OK, Prup, I need that recipe:o)

Logismous, do I know you? You have a familiar voice.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

OneWave:
It's on its way.

Logismous: Welcome. We are going to have fun. I will enjoy you attempting to 'call me' on some of my own claims on the OT (and the New). Because I am not calling God -- who doesn't exist -- a liar, but arguing that men wrote their own ideas and put them in the mouth of God.

TRUECRISTIAN said...

don't see what George Bush has done wrong, he's destroying a bunch of people who shouldn't be in the 1st place. I say the Iraqis are just here to take up space on this planet. They're not doing anything to benifit us. George Bush is doing a great job where he is. I hope he sends a nuke to Iraq and just wipe that country out of the map. The only thing the Iraqis know how to do is terrorize countries, they're all terrorists.Ok, I'm going to say it, I think George Bush is good. He's one of the greatest president ever.. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! he attack Iraq and many Iraqis died.. so what? I hope he bombs Iraq again, I seriously don't give a crap if the Iraqis die, I hope bush kills them all, bomb the hell out of Iraq. serioulsy I think the Iraqis are nothing but terrorist and George Bush is doing the world a favour by bombing them and killing them. they just like to bomb the hell out of each other, so the Americans attacking Iraq doesn't really make that much of a difference, they're just speeding up the process. So I solute George Bush

Tone said...

De lurking...

live-in-grace:

You said: Or, God created the heavens and the earth. Perfectly. From the tiniest atom and organelle in a cell, to the vastness of the universe, all perfect.

Perfect... perfect... Seriously. What the hell is so perfect about dwarfism, cancer, diabetes? Um, ok. WTF ever.

Truecristian: I thought every life was sacred... Or was that sperm?

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I think (and desperately hope) that TRUECHRISTIAN is either a badly done satire or a troll. Whichever, I hope he is ignored, since if he is sincere he adds nothing to the debate, if satire, its insulting to the Christians here, and troll-feeding is always a waste of time.

In short, TC, go away!

nick said...

Joe, good post. Complaints about "angry atheists" are attempts to make the discussion about tone rather than substance. The bottom line is there just isn't any evidence to support Christianity. Religion won't solve the world's problems because believing in fantasy IS one of the world's problems, and as one of the above comments demonstrates, Christians don't have to make the world better, since to them it is just a temporary, disposable place.

John W. Loftus said...

For the record, I consider Joe a good friend. He's the resident "Bad Boy" here at DC and I like what he writes. There are so many Christian sites that blast us that he is tame by comparison. He's a great writer, and he can fend for himself.

live-n-grace said...

Prup:

I looked through what you enjoyed, and it's pretty near to myself. (Except for the God part, we are different on that.) None of those are sins, unless you center you're entire life on it, and you're whole purpose of life is on it. Christianity isn't about judgement and taking away, but rather freedom and giving. I'm no longer in chains from sin, I am not bound to it.

You were correct, that humans don't come directly from monkeys in evolution, but you get the gist I was getting at. I don't think I came from any bug, fish, mammal, bird, or monkeys.

Yes, Jesus said he was God, he said that "I and the father are one". He also came to show that the least will be the greatest and that possesions, words, and deeds would not give us salvation. Unlike the pharisees, who were hypocrites, and wouldn't even let Jesus heal a man because it was on the sabbath! But you must know, that only the Father knows when the end will be. Jesus doesn't know when it will be, but he only knows of the signs. (By the way, are you talking about the Good Samaritan parable, because I don't know what you are talking about. The whole point of the story was making oneself less in the help of others. Considering Jewish society and that taught by the Pharisees, this was true. I don't know what you mean by how he didn't have "faith" and the "believers did".)
I think the better idea is of those who touched Jesus' cloak and by faith were healed, because they believed they would be healed.

I must argue deeply that men did not create christianity. The best way to prove this is to see the differences between Islam and Christianity.

Also TrueChristian, I think George Bush is a good president and it was right to go into Iraq, but I wouldn't say that he should "bomb the hell out of Iraq" or kill all Iraqis. That really isn't a Christian view, I think you should read Romans 12, and on loving your enemy.

Tone: God created everything perfectly, and man by our own sin and free will, have screwed things up.

Nick: I don't see any evidence to not believe in a loving, merciful, and graceful God. You are right, religion will not make the world a better place, and that is why Christianity is different. It is not a religion, it is not about making a "Christian State" or a "Christian World" because it isn't about here and now, but about the future. Does that mean we don't try to make the world a better place? By no means! I don't want to see people fall into sin, and to be lost, but rather to have life, and eternal life at that.

Joe E. Holman said...

Logismous Kathairountes said...

"We shouldn't root for him when he makes factually inaccurate claims about the Old Testament, effectively calling God a liar. Call him on that. The promise to Josiah was that he wouldn't live to see the fall of Judah - Which he didn't, it happened during the reign of his son - And we aren't given any information at all about how Zedekiah died. He probably died of old age, in captivity."


My reply...

OK, now this is worth replying to! The intellectual dishonesty in this segment of the post alone surpasses every other comment mentioned here from the believer's camp, even the absurdity of Live-n-graces' sentiments.

First, a casual reading of the verses I cited show that God promised deaths "in peace." Yes, Josiah was spared from seeing the fall of Judah, but words say what they say.

2 Kings 22:20: "Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again."

If what you say is true, and this only referred to the fall of Judah, why not leave out the first segment of the verse? I have no doubt that these words were recorded from the standpoint of not knowing Josiah's ultimate fate. So if I am to be expected to read these verses with any sort of accountability, I must find a problem here; maybe Josiah didn't die in the throws of Judah's fall, but he died at war = the opposite of peace.

But in the spirit of generosity, I can grant this one explained away for the sake of argument.

The more agregious absurdity you mention is in saying that Zedekiah probably died an old man in captivity in peace! This has to be one of the most desparate explanations I've ever heard; (a) he died in the clutches of a ravaging enemy power, (b) his sons were slain before him, and (c) he was blinded. (d) he remained in captivity until the day of his death (so he couldn't have died in peace)...

Jer 52:11: "Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death."

Your only out here is to play this as an opposite of the Jonah-story, where God promised these men peaceful deaths, but because they later sinned in some way, he changed his mind (the opposite of what God did for Nineveh)! That's the best you can do!

(JH)

Tommy said...

Well, if there is one lesson to be learned from all of this, it is that you should not spend a whole lotta money on a gym membership or exercise equipment in the home unless you can commit to exercising without equipment for at least a month on a consistent basis. By that, I mean doing push-ups, sit-ups, callisthenics, light jogging and so forth.

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that if they spend the money on the gym membership or the equipment that it will serve to motivate them to get into ship. In most cases, it does not.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Live-n-grace:
Like most people who discuss it, you misunderstand the parable of the Good Samaritan, because you don't know who the Samaritans were, or how they were viewed by the Jews who were Jesus' audience.

The Samaritans were heretics from Judaism, who had a different temple, and different rites, and, by some accounts were so Hellenized that they had rededicated their temple to a greek God. Read John 4:9 to get an idea of how they were viewed. (It is, in fact, almost impoissible to get a picture of the repulsion they inspired in 'good Jews.' The closest analogy I can come up with is for you to imagine that Jesus was preaching on the streets of New York in November 2001 and one, and instead of the term "Samaritan" he talked about a Pakistani Muslim as the one who acted properly. Not that the Samaritans had ever attacked the Jews, but the hatred is the same.)

So what Jesus was saying was that the 'true neighbor' was not the one who 'believed correctly' but the one who 'acted properly.' This alone makes the doctrine of 'justification by faith' possibly Pauline but not an accurate representation of what Jesus actually taught.

As for the Pharisees, you might learn more about them than you will find in the Gospels. They were very close to today's Constitutional liberals -- a group I am proud to be part of. Maybe better the liberals of the New Deal and the Warren Court.

In both cases they were strong believers in The Law, but they also realized a document from the past had to be venerated, but also had to be reinterpreted in the light of changing circumstances. This is why the idea that they were in some way violently opposed to Jesus seems to me to be likely to be a myth. His positions were not theirs, certainly, but they were not extremely radical, certainly nothing like the Essenes, or the ultra-Conservative Sadducees. (Perhaps the only thing he is quoted as saying in his sermons that would have horrified them was in fact the story of the Good Samaritain.)

nick said...

live-n-grace:

You don't have any evidence, if you did you would have mentioned it. Notice I said evidence to SUPPORT Christianity. If I say I believe in something unprovable, like aliens living in the Andromeda galaxy, and you can't prove I'm wrong, does that make it true? Debating the meaning of Bible verses is all well and good, but if there isn't any evidence to corroborate the Bible, then it makes no sense to assume its true.

live-n-grace said...

Prup, sorry to be cruel, but you got it all wrong, and also how do you know I don't know who the Samaritans were?

He asked who is my neighbor! Jesus gave an example of a Samaritan, one of the worst in Jews' eyes, and a half dead man. It doesn't matter who your neighbor is or what he does, but love him and have mercy on him! This was the point. I can't believe you have stooped so low and so far to just try and find wrongs in the bible. It also didn't have anything to do with believing.

Just a liberal slam :) : If one of the democratics running for president became president, and Iran had a nuke and either threatened or did nuke Isreal, he would not attack or retaliate until the polls said he could. So many are like thin cardboard which blow this way and that to try and please everyone, and will not stand up for everything. (Sorry, just had to get a jab in. By the way, many republican leaders are just as bad.)

Nick: Every waking hour is evidence, every breath is evidence, every time I talk with God is evidence, every time I ask for forgiveness is evidence.
But you also have to remember that it is by faith, not by sight or by research, that I believe.

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

No, live-in-grace, reread the story. The questioner asked 'who is my neighbor?' Jesus told the parable which showed that the 'true neighbor' was not trhe one who 'believed rightly' but the one who 'acted properly' that is, the one who had mercy. THAT was the one Jesus said should be loved, that the man's beliefs did not matter, what mattered were his actions.

Logismous Kathairountes said...

Joe said:

"he remained in captivity until the day of his death (so he couldn't have died in peace)"

I say:

It seems to me that if you're captured, and you die in captivity, at the very least it means that you didn't die in battle. Did you die in peace? You say no, I say I don't know. What's the reference on the prophecy about him, by the way?

It seems to me that we don't know either when he died or how he died. Was he executed, or did he die of natural causes? He was 32 when he was captured - How long was he in captivity before he reached 'the day of his death'? Was it a decade or six days? Do you know? Does it say anywhere? "until the day of his death" suggests old age to me - But I guess it doesn't say so explicitly.

I just think there's not enough information to say for sure that he didn't die in peace. If you've got a really good source that says exactly how he did die, I'd like to see it. Anyway, I feel like I should strongly stress the following:

God does not trade worldly prosperity for moral uprightness. The belief that He does so is not Christian, even if lots of people who think they're Christians think so.

I'm not asking you atheists to try to figure out which of us who call ourselves Christians really are Christians: I want to ask those of you who are Christians, or those of you who don't know, to find out what Jesus meant when He told us to take up our crosses and follow Him.

If we act like we can get worldly prosperity or cures to social problems from God by means of our moral uprightness, then it's right for people to denounce us - We're being Pharisees and hypocrites.

richdurrant said...

I have to agree with Prup here, you know, actions speak louder than words. Belief does nothiing for you unless you act upon those beliefs. To believe we should be a good neighbor is usless unless we are a good neighbor. And to be sure this is the biggest problem for those who don't believe, is that those who do don't pratice what we preach.

nick said...

live-n-grace said

Every waking hour is evidence, every breath is evidence, every time I talk with God is evidence, every time I ask for forgiveness is evidence.

live-n-grace, that's just evidence that you have a strong belief in an imaginary friend. Its not evidence that your imaginary friend actually exists.

live-n-grace said...

Well it must be some "imaginary friend" to change lives 360, and so real that I have no doubt, not one, that he is real. To feel true love, true forgiveness, tere is nothing like it.

Please Prup, he asked Jesus who is my neighbor, and Jesus told a parable. At the end, Jesus asked him who was the neighbor. The man replied,the one who had mercy. Jesus then says go and do likewise.

The whole point of the parable is to have mercy on those around you not mattering who. It wouldn't matter to me if instead of samaritan Jesus said a Pakistani Muslim. The parable had nothing to do with believing rightly, but rather acting rightly.

Heather said...

Live-n-grace,

You're agreeing with Prup here **. The parable had nothing to do with believing rightly, but rather acting rightly.** What Prup is trying to say is that the parable calls into question the justification by faith/grace alone, which leads into one can only be saved if one has the right beliefs -- as in, justification in grace/faith alone. However, in the parable, those who had the right belief did nothing, while the heretic was the good neighbor. Jesus praised the one who acted rightly, even though the Samaratain had the wrong beliefs.

nick said...

live-n-grace said:

Well it must be some "imaginary friend" to change lives...

That's evidence that religion can function as a support mechanism for people with problems (although usually it's trading one addiction for another,) or as a comforting philosophy. Its not evidence that a god exists.

live-n-grace said...

Bring me you tired and weary laden, and I shall give you rest.

The point of Christianity is not for comforting, unlike other religions, but God is there to comfort us when we go through tough times.
Since we were just in Luke 10, I would like to bring up something else.

Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

Even those who saw Jesus, his miracles, and his teachings still didn't believe him. I think for you nick, that there is almost nothing that could convince you that God exists.

Matthew 28:

16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

John 14:

5Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
8Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."

15"If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

25"All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I hope these verses will help you nick. We are now the temples for God's glory, his holy spirit is within us.

db said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
db said...

I know this is a few months late, but I have to give my testimony in response to living_in_grace:

You can do all you want but you'll never find pleasure without God. ...and all subsequent reiterations and expandations (hehe) of that idea.

Finding pleasure. Happiness. Simple enjoyment of life, family, things. That was a dream. Not much to ask. Certainly the promise of Christianity. Even if it couldn't deliver healing, or abundance, or keep more marriages together than among the heathen, we had the promise of joy through all the chaos everyone was experiencing. Right?

That was not my experience. After 20 years of being in the ministry, I lived in such chronic depression that I could enjoy nothing. Sadly my ever supportive, long-suffering and very pious parents could not enjoy anytime with me or my family, due to the depression, and they took it personally.

One day the depression magically disappeared. I had hope. Happiness. A future. And for the first time in years could enjoying hanging out and being normal to my parents.

That was the day I realized God/YHWH/Jehovah/Elohim/The Father does not exist (nor does his little son Jesus).

There is no anger or rage or rebellion associated with it. Just a profound sense of liberty. Like a man unchained. It isn't just being free to do what I want (no one can do that) it is free to do anything without guilt, or fear.

I know you cannot help but reject these notions and experiences, since they do not fit with what you have been told and what you believe you have experienced (one experiences what one is told they will experience, if they want to experience it, and if one doesn't experience it or experience it when they really really need it, there is an explanation - not enough faith, or not God's will). And you must agree that this experience of pleasure is the same for both of us. Mine from the recognition of a God who isn't there and yours from the belief in a God who is invisible, and exists in your experience only in the mental images, feelings and internal sounds created by the words and meanings passed down in a book. One billion Muslims prove that providing you with an alternate book and accompanying authoritative interpreters at the formative times in your life produces the same internal certainty of the Islamic god. I'm not saying that it would be very easy for you to be less certain and extend the possibility that another view and value system may be right, I just know what I know, and I find pleasure in that.

Steve said...

I LOVE my Bowflex. Geez. I'm even buying a bigger Bowflex now because I'm so darn powerful. Not nearly as powerful as the smell of crap around here though. Phew.

Religion sure is great for those who need it, but it sure is going to be forever in the face of those who don't. At least it gives them excuses to flex their vocabularies and "relevant" quotation skills.

JohnnyGurl said...

hey, i cant read through all the comments and replies, way to many, so im just gonna ask.

you were a minister, and you say that if your faith didnt falter you would still be preaching. so why did your faith falter?