Christianity Miserably Fails The Outsider Test!

Here’s another explanation of the Outsider Test I have developed, which is based upon some hard sociological facts. People overwhelmingly adopt the religious faith of the culture they were raised in. Therefore, my challenge to believers everywhere is to test their faith just like they do the ones they reject, test your own faith as if you were an outsider. Investigate it with a healthy measure of skepticism. Agnosticism is the default position given the outsider test, and I further argue that agnosticism leads to atheism. For in rejecting the religion one was brought up with, many people become agnostics, and/or simply reject religion as a whole. Here's why: A believer in one specific religion has already rejected all other religions, so when he rejects the one he was brought up with he becomes an agnostic or atheist many times, like me.

Let me argue for this further:

You either admit the basis for the outsider test, or you don’t. If you do then you should treat your faith as if you were an outsider. Test your beliefs with a healthy measure of skepticism.

Let’s say you take the test. If you do then you ought to be an agnostic because no faith can survive that test in my opinion, although it should if there is a God who wants us to believe in his specific religion. If God exists and he doesn’t care which religion we accept, then that God might survive the outsider test, but we would end up believing in a nebulous God out there with no definable characteristics, perhaps a Deist God, the god of the philosophers. This God is far and away from any full blown Christianity or any specific religion though.

Let’s say you don’t think you should take the outsider test. At that point I can ask you why you apply a double standard here. Why do you treat your own specific faith differently than you do others? That’s a double standard. Why the double standard?

As I have said, the overwhelming reason why someone becomes an insider to a particular religious faith in the first place is because of when and where he or she was born. Start there for a minute. Do you deny this? Yes or no? Surely you cannot dispute that. The adherents of these faiths are just as intelligent as other people around the world too, and you could no more convince many of them they are wrong than they could convince many Christians. Even with the meager missionary efforts on both sides of the fence, a major factor in why people change is still because of the influence of a personal relationship with someone (a missionary?) they trust.

You might turn my own argument against me by claiming that I myself cannot think outside my own upbringing if what we believe is based to an overwhelming degree on when and where we are born, but that simply does not follow. It would only follow if I said it’s impossible to think outside one’s own upbringing, which I haven’t said.

I was once an insider to Christianity, having been brought up in a Christian culture, so I can argue that Christians should evaluate their faith as an outsider, since I have done so. You say that if I can do it then anyone can, but that too does not follow. I’m not so sure I did in fact do it. There were influences in my life that led me in the direction I am now going. I don't deny this. I am saying that to do so is the exception to the rule, and that you must explain the rule. The overwhelming numbers of people who examine their religious faith, perhaps myself included, follow the influences in their lives. No one knows for sure on such matters. Even so, just because there are some exceptions to the rule does not mean anyone can do it, if it can be done at all. And it does no good whatsoever to claim that because you did escape your upbringing that therefore you are right about what you believe, including me. I might be wrong.

I might be wrong that there is no God. He might exist. But I have put together a solid argument that a full blown Christianity is false, and as a former insider to the faith I had approached it with the presumption that it was correct, trying to fit the facts into my former Christian world-view. But even by approaching the Christian faith from an insider and with an insider’s perspective with the presumption of faith, it does not hold up under intellectual scrutiny, and I ask Christians to deal with the arguments I present here on this blog and in my book. I consider them to be solid, based upon what they themselves believe. To me it’s like believing in the inspiration of Homer to believe in the Bible.

Evangelical Christians must continually argue against all other non-evangelical brands of Christianity, for if any one of these brands are correct, they are wrong. I've said elsewhere, there are so many beliefs that evangelical Christians must believe in order for their faith to be true, that the more they believe the less likely it’s true. If they are wrong on just one of the following beliefs their faith is wrong. Here are a few of them: 1) They believe the Bible is the inspired and innerrant word of God (for the most part)as a collection of books which were continually edited until the time of canonization, and canonized by those believers who chose them out of the number of potential candidates because of their beliefs at the time. [Christians must continually defend the Bible from errors if they think inerrancy is dogma (Bart Ehrman stumbled over Mark 2 in which it was said that David did something when Abithar was the high priest, but II Sam. 21:1-6 tells us Ahimelech was the High priest at the time). Gleason Archer has a 450 plus page book defending these "Bible difficulties," but if one error is found in the Bible, inerrancy falls. What are the odds of that?] 2) Christians must believe there is a God with three persons (what's the likelihood of even one eternal God-person?) who never had a beginning and will never cease to exist (even though everything we experience has a beginning and an end). 3) Christians believe God is all-powerful and good (even though he shows no signs of helping while a child slowly burns to death). 4) Christians believe God did miracles in the ancient past (but we see no evidence he does so today, which is our only sure test for whether or not they happened in the past). 5) Christians believe that God substantiated his revelation in the Bible through miracles (and yet if he chose the historical past to reveal this message he chose a poor medium to do so, since practically anything can be rationally denied in history, even if it actually occurred). 6) Christians believe God became a man (although no Christian has yet ever made logical sense of this). 7) Christians believe Jesus atoned for our sins on a cross (even though there is no rationally coherent understanding of how this supposed God-man’s death does anything to eliminate sin). 8) Christians believe Jesus arose from the dead (even though the evidence is not there and what evidence we do have is based upon the superstitious claims in the past. Would YOU believe a report that someone was raised from the dead today? Wouldn't YOU demand to see for yourself? Doubting Thomas is not you. All we have is a report about what he saw, which I think is flawed). 9) Christians believe Jesus ascended into heaven (indicating an ancient three-tired universe which is rejected by modern science). 10)Christians believe Jesus is in heaven where the believers will join him (but does that mean the 2nd person of the Trinity is forever encapsulated in the body of the man Jesus, or was this body of Jesus discarded, or are there now two separate beings in heaven, the man Jesus and also the 2nd person of the Trinity? And what about free will in heaven for the believers? If they have free will and never sin then God didn't need to create this earthly existence with its pain and suffering and hell for the "many." He could just have created us in heaven in the first place. If there is the chance of rebellion in heaven then it could happen all over again, and no one is eternally safe). 11) Christians believe Jesus said he will return again “in this generation” from the sky heaven where “every eye will see” him (notice the three tired universe again, over a flat earth. Somany failed predictions of Jesus' return have caused Christians to adopt Preterism, since they cannot make sense of such a claim which never happened. Talk about scoffers who will arise in the last days...Christians are now the scoffers!). 12) Christians believe Jesus will judge all people of all lands (and yet those outside of Christ were simply born in the wrong place and the wrong time, as I argue with the basis for the Outsider Test).

Twelve is a good superstitious number multiplying the four corners of the earth by the three vertical planes of hell, earth and heaven, so I'll stop here. [Seven is a superstitious number too, by adding them rather than multiplying them].

None of this makes rational sense. None of this has any good evidence for it. This faith is false if tested from the outside, or even from the inside as I have done. The only reason Christians believe it is because they were influenced to believe it by people they trust, by their parents, and by their culture.

The Evangelical Christian faith fails the outsider test miserably (as well as other brands).

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

John, if I understand correctly, you are observing the influences of a person's surroundings (whether it be geographical or otherwise) in shaping their lives/beliefs/actions. This is self evident.

Scripturally, it can be verified that Jesus also acknowledges this. I used to think God was biased and narrow minded because He addressed the churches according to their geographical location but God isn't narrow minded - that is the narrow path - all inclusive - but how is it we can honor that goal and remain human?

We are the ones that are territorial and often in ways that are very aggressively assertive and destructive towards others who do not conform to our standards or who pose a threat to our standard of living/survival. Sometimes even within our own alliances/tribes, there are power struggles and mistreatments.

Somewhere in scripture, one of the Apostles recognized that there are those who have not heard the gospel message but have it written on their hearts.

So, all religious alliances/divides put aside, exactly what does a believer or one with the gospel written on their hearts look like? How would that appear?

I won't keep writing because if I'm on the wrong track (and I can go there!), I don't want to get deleted or devote too much towards this but I want to add that I recognize your Outsider test to be one of a thoughtful and compassionate person. Thanks!

Anon 1035

John W. Loftus said...

Anon john 10:35(?), If God writes on our hearts then he has done so in invisible ink. Billions of people cannot read it.

Anonymous said...

John, I am going to try and put together my best description ever of what a believer would look like and perhaps you might start to see one in the mirror. It may take awhile, okay?

Anon 1035

live-n-grace said...

Man, I can't even go into this website anymore. It's like going into a different world. You guys wrap around yourself in "knowledge" and come here together to try and attack Christianity. The statements I hear continually just make me go what?... are we even living in the same world? There must be something to Christianity other than you guys just not liking it to attack it so. I would think that Buddhism or Islam would be far easier to attack, but than again, evil hates what is good.

I am sorry for this post. But I have tried to post here and hopefully change some minds, but no matter what I write or show it's like talking to a brick wall.

One thing I don't find on here, which is the center of Christianity, is God's love and our love. The love he has is amazing and never ending, but instead the discussion is always on philosophy and our own knowledge

Wake up! See that God loves you! See that Jesus died for you so that you might live!

exapologist said...

HI Live-n-grace,

I sympathize with the way you feel. Often when people from diametrically opposed positions come to discuss their views, it's hard not to become adversarial, when discussions should be more civil and gracious. As you no doubt know, I myself come off like a jackass and an arrogant jerk, because I get wrapped up in making a point at the cost of all else. I think it's easy to do this, because the goal of civil inquiry is hard to achieve in contexts like this. However, I hope you know that, when pushed, we all would say that we hold no ill will towards those who visit this blog. I suspect you can imagine what it's like to be passionate about something you take to be both true and fundamental. I ask that you would forgive me for any callous things that I may have said, and I wish you all the best, no matter where your views may end up when all is said and done. I respect you as a human being and wish you all the best for your life.

EA

Anonymous said...

That is really beautiful -

This is what I wanted to say about Outsiders tests - a lot of people practice life from inherited habitual and conditioned ways that cause their lives to shrink, but inside, long for something different and more expansive.

Some gratify their desire for expansiveness in aggressive and destructive ways, but a believer expresses life differently.

A believer is one that acknowledges and trusts that ownership of an infinitely diverse and intricate creation belongs to one who is equipped to care and nurture it beyond our limited and conditional confines .

A believer is one who relinquishes entitlement and participation in proprietary pursuits in light of a loving God to embrace and cultivate the practice of lovingkindness beyond territorial confines and embattlements.

A loving father who is passionately rescuing and protective in nature, Who is gracious and humble towards weakness and not condemning, accusing or demanding/ who encourages transparency and healing, who challenges us to expand our capacity to love is a universal longing/understanding that crosses cultural/geographical/religious divides. I believe that anyone who longs for this way will be attracted to Jesus when they recognize His spirit, whether they are Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Mormon, Southern Baptist, Catholic, etc. etc.

Faith and salvation are a process -While Jesus acknowledges the surrounding influences that were either shrinking or expanding the believers' capacity to care for others, He also tailored His expectations to the audience He was addressing. Not everyone is capable of practicing faith in complete trust and relinquishment and that is part and parcel of God's grace. Even though I suffer apart from Him, I love Him because He honored the fact that I need time to learn to trust and get acquainted with His ways.

Anon 1035

The Alpha said...

//I would think that Buddhism or Islam would be far easier to attack, but than again, evil hates what is good.//

No offense, but are you suggesting that those who post on this blog are somehow evil?

//But I have tried to post here and hopefully change some minds, but no matter what I write or show it's like talking to a brick wall.//

I don't visit blogs to change minds. I simply visit with an open mind. I don't come claiming to already know the truth. But in all honesty and I mean no disrespect by this, perhaps it isn't that you are talking to a brick wall. Perhaps your argument simply has no merit to it. If you come knowing that you bear the truth, more than likely your faith wont let you see the wholes in your own argument.

//Wake up! See that God loves you! See that Jesus died for you so that you might live!//

I am awake and I see no evidence for the existence of a supernatural deity let alone the Christian one. I am alive and enjoy this life.

Lindsey said...

Anon 1035,
"Some gratify their desire for expansiveness in aggressive and destructive ways, but a believer expresses life differently."

I think that really gets at the point of what makes a believer or a non-believer. When I talk to my non-believing friends about it, we all come to the consensus that everyone has a fundamental desire/longing in their lives. I call it the "God-hole" but you can call it what you will. It's the nagging feeling that there has to be more than *you* in this world. The desire to move beyond total self-interest to a more selfless life.

For some, this longing is filled with God, and they are satsified knowing that they serve the ulitmate being, and that the ultimate being is not themselves. For others, they fill the void with other things (be them destructive, like drugs/greed/**religiousness, or constructive, like family/academics/etc). The problem with relying on any earthly substitute is that it, by nature, is unstable. You can't fully rely on other people, because they won't always be around. That's the beauty with God, because He is always there.

This longing reaches across cultural lines. Those with ready hearts know their shephard, and they trust in the greastest being there is. So as for outsiders, they are only the ones who keep God on the outside of their hearts.

**Being zealous for religion is no substitute for God. The pharasees were religiously as high as you get, yet Jesus said the Father didn't know them. So as for being a Christian or a Hindu, it's neither here nor there, because either can fall prey to rejecting God and replacing him with religion. It matters where your heart's at.

Jesus to the Pharasees: "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts." (Luke 16:15)

live-n-grace said...

I thank you for the kindness exapologist.

I try to extend kindness and love to others on this blog but rarely is it returned. I thank you again exapologist and respect you for not dropping to name calling and being hypocritical.

"1Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"[a]made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken."[b]With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

John W. Loftus said...

I too apologize when I express my frustration or anger, but as I've said do not quote the Bible to me. To me it's like quoting Homer.

I don't say this because the Bible convicts me of any sin, which you may believe happens. I say this because it makes no sense to quote the Bible to someone who doesn't believe it. I don't. It takes up space here. If all you want to do is quote the Bible then you might enjoy moving on to a different Blog. It'd be less frustrating to you, and to us. You quoted Paul, for instance. Why should I believe what an ancient superstitious person believed and said? That's the question we deal with here. And I argued just now that when we test your beliefs they fail miserably. Deal with the argument. The Bible means nothing to me. If that's all you have then there is nothing to say between us. Period. Sorry, but that's the way I think, and I can no more change my mind than you can change yours.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Lindsey:
In a strange way, you have helped me answer the question OneWave asked in the next thread. One reason I 'preach atheism' is because I do have that 'feeling that there has to be more than *you* in this world.'
There is, a wonderful collection of 6 billion other people in the club called the human race.

But it is belief, I find, which leads towards the self-centered ignoring of that club. It is belief which says the only thing that matters is 'me and God.' Which tells me, 'love my neighbor' because God (YHWH, God the Father, Allah, Ahura Mazda) wants me to, even though, because they are 'all sinners' they don't really deserve my love.

I disagree. They deserve my love because they, like me, are wondrous beings that can discover the Universe, that can do great and noble things -- and yes, monstrous things as well -- or just because they make the world a great place to live in.

It is belief which tries to tell me that the ones not in my 'sub-club' that will suffer for all eternity, because they didn't 'get it right' when they read some book falsely attributed to a god. But I don't buy it.

It is belief that tries to tell me their 'god will always be there for me,' and robs me of time I could be spending enjoying the pleasure of those people and things that really ARE there.

It is belief that tells me lies about a good man like Joshua bar-Joseph by turning him into 'The Anointed One.' (Wrong in so many ways in his belief about the impending change that never happend, he was still a good and loving man, but then a man, Saul, who never met him tried to tell the world what he really had been saying.)

It is belief that tries to tell me that the wondrous pleasures of this world are somehow wrong or suspect, when I know they are good, but must be enjoyed responsibly and ethically. (And when you tell someone "Just say no" you can't tell them the proper ways of 'saying yes.')

It is belief that tells you that God knows your heart, and then tries to tell you that it isn't the loving heart you know it is, but a heart so warped and twisted that you deserve eternal punishment for being fully and lovingly human.

It is belief that tells lies about the Pharisees, the imams, the other believers, and tells worse lies about those who wear the dog collar of the belief they want to convince you is the 'true' one -- and no, I am not talking about the many hypocrites in the clergy, but the fools who don't dare face the Universe because it doesn't fit into their own narrowed minds.

Anonymous said...

Because the people here are 'easy to love' one could almost begin to believe that we are capable of existing in a humanistic world, without belief in God. But now that I know God, I know we cannot.

Because of suffering and my growing love and dependency upon man's creation, I indicted God and erased Him - He was relegated to myth and impotent to me.

But the problem is that erasing God only caused me to erase myself. Discussing and ruminating over pain and suffering tends to objectify it when in fact it is immediate and personal, even when we are not consciously aware, ulterior engines of fear of rejection and fear of reproach often drive us where we do not anticipate. God already knows that we aren't always capable of making the right choices.

Pain and suffering and dependency on the seen world were governing my life instead of allowing me to embrace the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In whitewashing and medicating pain, I only succeeded in shrinking my capacity to know and love God and live fully - the weight of the world was on my shoulders. As long as I was focussing on the outside, I was able to avoid my inside when in fact, I was afraid of some of my feelings.

We were not created to shoulder the burden of caring for this universe, but for me, I didn't know that because as a child, I accepted that I had to carry what I now know to be adult-sized burdens. For me I had to be born into a new family and learn from a new father - the God of Easter.

Faith is not demonstrated in the face of ease - it is grown in the face of suffering and mistreatment. Although the destructiveness of some of our creations are surfacing and showcasing our lack of sensitivity and foresightedness, God did not punish me for the consequences I participated in creating - He didn't say "look what you've done to my creation you little jerk!". Not at all - He delivered me from the Kharma I helped perpetuate. He is glad and embracing that I no longer perish in vain pursuits.

Knowing how much slavery is hated here and the compassion extended towards those who are humble and offer peace, I do not for one minute believe that anyone here would have desired to crucify Jesus - on the contrary, I suspect a few here might have organized a movement or at the very least a logical argument to try and dissuade those from committing that act.

Okay, enough.

Anon 1035

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

And while I wrote the last comment, three more arose.

First, to live-n-grace: I hope you don't get too mad at John and others for asking you not to quote the Bible at us, because YOU do the exact same thing to us.. When we quote the Bible back at you, and show how it contradicts your interpretation, you hide and protest. When we show you that Paul is arguing what Jesus really meant and then quote the passages that show he never even met the man, when we show you the passages that show what Jesus really believed about the world ending in his lifetime, when we show you passages that accept slavery, or condemn people for acts like a wife rescuing her husband by grabbing the assailant by the balls -- see the end of my four-section post -- or forbid Christians as assuredly as Jews from eating blood (Acts 15:28-29), or when we put the verses and books into their real historical context, you protest and deny that these mean anything to you.

I would not, though, suggest you leave. Because I happen to think that you are capable of changing -- and you have changed a little since you have been here. You may be able to realize that we have had it with your asserting your faith -- we know that by now -- and you might start defending it, trying to show us not 'what Paul said' but why it should matter to us. In other words, to go outside the epistles and the gospels and defend them that way. (And, I am sure, you will fail, and in failing, begin to realize what we have discovered, how faulty a reed they are to lean on.)

And now to 1035. Why can you assert that we can't live in a world without (your) God, when you would certainly equally assert that we can live in a world without Allah, without Ahura Mazda, without Zeus and Odin and Ram?

I will tell you that erasing God does not mean we erase ourselves. (You said in another thread that you thought 'showing love to someone' meant -- pretending to -- agreeing with them. How selfish is that, because you don't accept the person's humanity and intelligence but instead think that the lie of pretending to agree with him is a sign of your love. Please, I want you to continue to believe what you do until and unless we can convince you we are wrong, but don't ever insult me through false agreement.)

Again, you show the selfishness of religion when you talk about having to bear the result of suffering on your own, when you have fled from your pain. But you AREN'T alone, seeking the help of a myth. You have 6 billion people here to help you -- no, some will not show you the right path, some will take advantage of you (as some of the preachers who spoke to you did), but you also have the wonderful mind that man has evolved to see them for what they are.

(It is, sadly, only the god-talk you have been victim of that has kept you insecure, has caused you to doubt your mind's wisdom, that has isolated you in the insecurity it teaches, that has made you think of pride and the self-love -- that you need to love others -- as sins instead of the virtues they are.

You too are a good man, you have shown this repeatedly. Stay, talk with us, but listen to us as well.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

As one of the few members here who WASN'T a minister, I'm not sure where my preachiness has come from this Sunday morning.

I'm saying what I believe to be true, yes, but if my pomposity gets too annoying, squirt me with a water pistol or throw a cream pie in my direction, please. It'll be for my own good as well as for the good of the other readers.

Anonymous said...

Hi Prup! Thanks for engaging again - You are exactly right about pretending to agree with people in order to show love - it is a form of selfishness and actually people who are pretentious are not practicing being in heaven (I think it's one of the disqualifiers for being there - although I never loved to lie - I hated it but was ensnared in it).

Now usually, when people acknowledge or admonish one another for less than noble behavior (selfishness is a big one), it can feel shaming and like we're bad for being that way (condemning). But when God acknowledges the truth of our ways, it isn't to condemn or shame us but to say, "Wow! who convinced you you couldn't be honest?! Who stigmatized the truth? What a life shrinker! C'mon - let's get outta here ! You don't have to suffer like that!". And then He heals and supports me.

Prup, you once wrote of a scenario of a person going to an ordinarily public place to engage in a sexually orientated activity (SOA). Now, God would not condemn anyone from that - He does say some ways have a strong liklihood of mimicking His love and kidnapping us away from Him. But at any rate, God wouldn't condemn people - instead, He would say, "Don't go! The person you meet there doesn't yet have the capacity to love you and care for you the way I can.." That's the gospel- that's it. Now some folks will still justify and pursue that which is gratifying - but what is gratifying is not always the same thing as liberating.

Prup, I know you may have forgotten I'm not a guy, but perhaps my writing conveys a guy aura so it's understandable.

At any rate, Prup, I hope to intervene if anyone would throw a cream pie or water pistol at you, okay? okay! I love your preachiness!

Anon 1035

Anonymous said...

Prup - sorry! I wanted to add about other religions- I do not believe in controlling, manipulating or censorship other beliefs. I'm not well acquainted with doctrines of any religious system, but I know those who express their lives through Buddhism and Muslim, Mormon, Southern Baptist, Atheism, etc. etc. etc. etc.

Some who practice various religions, describe God to be somewhat diffuse, vague and noncommittal - which used to appeal to me. Conversely, others I know, tell me God requires that they do some things to prove themselves.

I never knew God didn't have any ulterior motive other than to express Himself and share Himself innocently until this God of Easter came. He likes us - I know it is a total overcoming to believe that in the face of so much suffering and pain, but I know it's true. I didn't understand grace so I thought He didn't exist when all along, I just didn't understand God's sensitivity and timing in intervention. If one desires and prays to hear from God I know He'll answer.

As always, 1035

Anonymous said...

I just noticed something - if someone apologizes and shows humility, God doesn't minimize that and go off on a preaching tangent. He runs and throws His arms around people and has a party - no other words necessary. Now I need to apologize (again) for being insensitive to the prior apology posts. If I claim to know God, it's my job to show how He responds to stuff like that. Shees! I'm sorry for posting and interferring with the reconciliatory process with Live-N.

1035

Jamie said...

As long as I was focussing on the outside, I was able to avoid my inside when in fact, I was afraid of some of my feelings.

Funny thing is, I can say the exact same thing about when I was Christian and looking to an outside God.

calvin said...

Live-in-Grace,

If you think it's bad here try- God is for Suckers. I think some people do it on purpose just to try to make you mad and cause you to act out. Then when someone does they turn arround and say, "man religion has really screwed your mind up" or things like "see christians aren't any different than anybody else"

Anonymous said...

Hi Jamie! That is exactly what Jesus meant when He said that people were often good on the outside but not-so-good on the inside. I'm glad you no longer are involved in that type of belief.

1035

live-n-grace said...

Yes Prup, Paul got what he knew from the SPIRIT, and not directly from Jesus. That is how we become believers and have faith in Jesus is not by the bible but by the spirit. The law is written on our hearts.

What Paul wrote is really how I feel, and since it is from God, I can learn from it. If you are too ignorant to read it than that is fine, because it will only hurt you.

The bible doesn't convict you of sin, but rather shows you the light, and the gospel, and the way to being saved.

First I see NO contradiction in the bible. Jesus didn't believe the world was going to end in his lifetime, for only the father knows.

Passages that accept slavery? Please show where it says: take a man, work him till he's almost dead, and feed him almost nothing. There is none. Slavery was a cultural thing, would you rather have had them kill captured enemies?

In some ways this blog has helped me. It has strengthened my faith, but it has also caused me some trouble, knowing that people actually believe what you believe. That no matter what I write or show you are stuck in your ways.

And now: my own little poem:

I am a man of faith,
A man who believes in what he can’t see.
I am like a tree planted by streams of water,
My leaves never wither and I produce fruit in all seasons.
I take the path of life, though it is narrow,
Not the path of destruction though it is wide.
I live a life of purpose,
Every breath is a gift, everyday is a joy,
Love is my best revenge.
My life is set on The Rock, firm and strong
Not on the sand, weak and shallow.
I am in the world, but not of the world,
This is not my home.
I am a free man, my chains have been broken,
From sin I am set free.
Through all this it is not I who am strong,
It is not in myself that I found salvation.
It is not in any deed of my doing
Or good life I’ve lived.
No, it is by His grace that I am saved.
For it is no longer I who live
But Jesus Christ in me!

Sometimes I get SOOO frustrated becuase love and truth is right in front of you, Jesus is knocking on your heart. But you deny it, and would rather go and depend on yourself, and your own knowledge.

LivingDust said...

As a human being I use all five senses and quickly determine that an all-knowing, powerful, creative, single being must have masterminded the complex universal environment inwhich I find myself. Observing that powerful forces govern my enviroment, I know that this single being must be powerful beyond my imagination, wild, dangerous, yet determining and ditating order and adherence to laws, some of which I can grasp and explain by my careful observations. The natural order of the environment is obvious for all to see. The single being, and I say single, because there is no division in the order that I observe. It is repeatable, ongoing, predictable and unpredictable, yet still falling within the sure confines of the laws that govern my environment. When I study my environment and consider its complexity, diversity and order I know deep in my innermost being that all of this is no accident, no mere occurence, no random act. To think othewise would pure folly, a denial of the obvious, a rejection of evidence and misuse of the intelligence given me by the single being, the Creator of all that I observe. Only a fool would deny the testimony of his spirit and reject the Creator. I FEAR this mighty, powerful and dangerous Creator. I desire peace with the single being, because obviously to face him as an advesary would be certain destruction.

elwedriddsche said...

live-n-grace: "(you) would rather go and depend on yourself, and your own knowledge."

You make it sound like that's a bad thing. I much prefer to depend on myself, my own knowledge, and my own life experience than on the grandiose promises of a man-made religion.

LivingDust: "As a human being I use all five senses and quickly determine that an all-knowing, powerful, creative, single being must have masterminded the complex universal environment inwhich I find myself."

"Scepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer ..."

--George Santayana

LivingDust said...

elwedriddsche

and your conclusion to what you observe with your five senses is what?

elwedriddsche said...

"and your conclusion to what you observe with your five senses is what?"

Insufficient grounds to postulate "an all-knowing, powerful, creative, single being (that) masterminded the complex universal environment inwhich I find myself".

Even if the universe was created, it does not follow that this creation is due to anything but a yet unknown naturalistic process. Even if the universe was deliberately created, it does not follow that such a creator is still extant or that such a creator has the slightest interest in humankind. For all you know, we're some minor contamination of a petri dish.

Until all the scientific evidence is in, why would I abandon the only intellectually honest position of being agnostic about the universe's origin (if is has one)?

jay said...

Regarding the "outsider test", as a former outsider, I can tell you there is only one question: "Is God?"

And the answer to all the rest is "If God is, then all else is possible".

Obviously there's more to it than that, but all questions afterward revolve around the nature and will of God, not His existence. Once the possibility of God is confirmed, "God can't do that" should no longer qualify as a definitive answer in debunking any claims about Him.

I was an agnostic from childhood through most of college. My family culture was anti-church, suspicious of organized religion, and totally blindly trusting of modern science (I'm still a big science fan, but now assume a more healthy skepticism to everything I hear) Yet when He made Himself known there was no denying it, and my attempts to rationalize Him back out of my life were futile and rediculous. However He didn't make himself known until I emotionally dropped the cynicism and pride that clouded my judgement.

Approaching Christ as an agnostic is not the same as approaching it with an open mind. Agnosticism pre-assumes you cannot know God. An open mind leaves that question up to Him if He is around to answer it.

Sometimes I think trying to approach the subject with the baggage of past religious experience and theology can be more difficult than approaching with a fresh pair of eyes as was my experience.

Having never grown up with the kind of simple childhood faith and cultural religion that so often gets rocked in one's early 20s, 30s, etc, I can't imagine what it must be like to "drop out from the pressure of evidence" so-to-speak, but from what I've seen in my 8 years as a christian, it seems a productive, and almost necessary step to go through a period of serious doubt before you can really own your faith in maturity. Many christians go their entire lives without ever really maturing beyond the pat answers that you rightfully loathe.

I will assume that, given you've devoted so much time and a blog to the subject, and the fact that you seem very sincere and honest in your writing, that your heart has not become hardened to God, only to the excessive dogma and religious posturing that seems to sit between Him and "outsiders" (to borrow your term). In that we both agree, as did Christ.

Also, in regard to the suggestion that because most come to Christ through relational means that somehow negates His power to effect change troubles me. Clearly the movement of Jesus was intended from its inception to be a relational movement. Jesus chose disciples to disciple others and spread the word by individual hands. I have never heard anyone use the Great Commission as proof that God is inadequate to do the work Himself. I don't see how that makes any sense. There are enough cases of people coming to Christ in absence of a christian community to show that God is not limited by relational methods, but chooses them whenever possible. The Chinese church full of examples of modern miracles and people coming to faith in isolation (ensured by threat of imprisonment).

I am sorry for your experience (whatever it may have been) with 'the church'. Just as the church has reformed several times throughout history to correct wrong paths, I believe it is in the midst of a modern reformation to correct certain inadequacies in the way we as a culture "do church". You will be seeing a major sea change (hopefully within your lifetime) from an evangelical church focused on growing the church, meddling in politics, and keeping its members happy, to a church focused on being "doers of the word". Many of your criticisms seem to be more about christian culture than Christ. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised as many of those criticisms will be put to rest as the "institution" that has trapped so many in a culture of christian consumerism devoid of actual life change begins to more reflect the person of Christ - through useful and meaninful positive action.

But I would hope nobody would ever let Christians get in the way of Christ. A great book on that subject, from the perspective of an "insider" pastor, is "The Jesus Of Suburbia" by Mike Erre.

As far as "Debunking Christianity" is concerned, be my guest, the religion that christianity has become could probably use a little reality check. However I don't think you'll have as much success if you try to debunk Christ.

LivingDust said...

elwedriddsche

you didn't offer a conclusion, just some opinions and questions.

btw, a "naturalistic process" must have a first cause and facts are not dependent on "scientific evidence".

Robin said...

Your friend Bart made a good point about the discrepancy between Mark 2:26 and I Sam 22:20, so here's a quote from Insight on the Scriptures, Volume I, published by Jehovah's Witnesses.
"...most translations have Jesus saying that David went into the house of God and ate the showbread 'when Abiathar was high priest.'...., such translation would result in a historical error. It is noteworthy that a number of early manuscripts omit the above phrase, and it is not found in the corresponding passages at Matthew 12:4 and Luke 6:4. However a similar Greek structure occurs at Mark 12:26 and Luke 20:37, and here many translations use the phrase 'in the passage about.' (RS;AT;JB) So, it appears that Mark 2:26 properly allows for the translation given in the New World Translation, which reads: 'How he entered into the house of God in the account about Abiathar the chief priest.' Since the account of the first exploits of Abiathar begins immediately following the record of David's entering the house of God to eat the showbread, and since Abiathar did later become Israel's high priest in David's reign, this translation maintains the historical accuracy of the record."

elwedriddsche said...

LivingDust,

"you didn't offer a conclusion, just some opinions and questions."

I did offer a conclusion -- namely, that I don't see a rational basis to jump to the same conclusions you have and that I'm agnostic about the universe's origin (if any) until the scientific evidence is in.

You have a made a number of bold claims and the burden of proof rests on you. I have pointed out a few blindingly obvious problems with your claims, which you have not answered.

"btw, a "naturalistic process" must have a first cause"

Why? And what caused your creator?

LivingDust said...

elwedriddsche

Hate to disappoint you but NOBODY will ever have "scientific evidence" regarding the origins of the universe.

elwedriddsche said...

LivingDust,

"Hate to disappoint you but NOBODY will ever have "scientific evidence" regarding the origins of the universe."

Your use of "scientific evidence" as opposed to scientific evidence doesn't endear you to me and neither does the phrase hate to disappoint you. It comes across as transparently insincere.

I'm not bothered by the expectation that a number of interesting question aren't likely to be answered during my lifetime, if ever.

I note that you've repeatedly eschewed a substantive answer to some simple objections to your claims. So be it.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Jay: If you read my introduction, you will see that I, at least, had no 'bad experiences with religion.' I simply thought about it and realized that God cannot and does not exist. I have no problem with religion, in fact it seems only sensible that if the God of the Bible DID exist, he would not just throw ideas out to be picked up willy-nilly, but that he would create some sort of organization to protect his word.

The trouble is that Christianity has no relationship to what Jesus actually taught, since he was a believing Jew all his life, somewhat radical but never outside the mainstream of the Judaism of his time. as well as being a 'failed eschatological prophet' who really believed that he was in the 'end times.' (As seen in Jewish eyes, not through the eyes of the misreadings and misunderstandings of Daniel and the Revelation of John and other Apocalyptic literature, which were not 'prophecies' but commentary on the events of the then-current day political situation.)

You totally misunderstand us if you think we are anticlerical, anti-religious or 'unchurched' Christians, or consider us as some form of crypto-Christians who 'really' have Christ in our hearts but are unwilling to admit it.

Misunderstand us, and I for one consider such a view as condescending and unwittingly insulting -- precisely as I consider the view of a Muslim who asserts we are all 'born Muslim' and who talks of people 'reverting' to Islam rather than 'converting.'

'Our experience' for the most part is that we are ex-ministers -- I am an exception -- who studied Christianity in order to better do our jobs of preaching its truth, and instead became convinced of its falsity.

As for debunking Christ, since 'Christ' is, for the most part a construct of Paul -- who never met Jesus and after his experience on the road to Damascus, still proudly avoided those who had actually known him (see Galatians 1-2 when he states how little he had to do with the 'Church in Jerusalem') that is easy.

Jason Pratt said...

Anyone who might be curious to know what John is replying to with this post (...it doesn't look like a reply? Well, John calls it that anyway...), can check in here. There are links to previous portions of this discussion there, too, including on John's DB site.

JRP

Anonymous said...

Looks like "Doubting" John Loftus is promoting his discredited "outsider test" again. You see, he's asking the wrong question. We shouldn't ask, "Why do I believe what I believe?" or "What would an 'outsider' think of my beliefs?" but "Is what I believe true?"

More simply, John's "outsider test" is useless when it comes to answering the truly important questions about our own world view.

John W. Loftus said...

Anonymous, is what you believe true? How do you know, when religious proliferation is separated geographically around the world based on when and where a person was born, all having defenders who claim theirs is correct? Any number of them could have written what you just did!

I'm saying that how one approaches any religious faith, including one's own, should be subject to the same exact standards of doubt--no double standards.

Why are you afraid of this? If what you believe is true, there shouldn't be a problem.

Anonymous said...

The message of the cross is foolishness to outsiders but to us insiders it is the power of God.

The outsider test fails the test of the Word of God and therefore is debunked.

John W. Loftus said...

anonymous, what exactly are you proposing here?...That we should believe that which is foolish? Surely not!

Think instead about this: For the outsider test to fail the test of the Bible you must first establish the trustworthiness of the Bible to tell us the truth. I'm proposing a test to see if the Bible should be trusted in the first place. How do YOU propose we test it? Could you please explain to me why you might use double-standards when testing it against other religious books?

Otherwise, let's pick the most foolish belief system we can find, and live it.

Anonymous said...

The fool has said in his heart there is no God.

Loftus has faled the test

elwedriddsche said...

"The outsider test fails the test of the Word of God and therefore is debunked."

Begging the question...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, is what you believe true? How do you know, when religious proliferation is separated geographically around the world based on when and where a person was born, all having defenders who claim theirs is correct?

What bearing does geography have on truth? If Christianity is true then it's true regardless of where I was born or what I was taught to believe.

I also note you're desperately reaching for an appeal to diversity. If diversity is a problem then nobody can know anything and you refute your own position.

I'm saying that how one approaches any religious faith, including one's own, should be subject to the same exact standards of doubt--no double standards.

I reject doubt as the default position simply because it's an illogical place to start. If doubt is the default position then by your test, I should doubt the position of doubt (and we wouldn't want a double standard now, would we?). It's self-defeating.

I think it's better to approach any claim worth investigating with an open mind and to form conclusions only after the evidence has been examined.

Why are you afraid of this? If what you believe is true, there shouldn't be a problem.

I'm not afraid to critically analyze my own world view. I simply question whether there's any point in trying to frame one's investigation from the perspective of an "outsider" (by which you really mean "one who has already made up his mind to reject the claim in question before even looking at the evidence").

John W. Loftus said...

What bearing does geography have on truth?

If you were born in a differnet place (or time) you would be defending different ideas as truth, silly. I have not known one person yet who didn't think he was right when he proclaimed something he thought was true, you included.

If diversity is a problem then nobody can know anything and you refute your own position.

My position is not a deductive argument wherby the conclusion follows with certainty from the premises. It's an inductive argument. It strongly suggests we should doubt what we believe. I do. Do you?

If doubt is the default position then by your test, I should doubt the position of doubt (and we wouldn't want a double standard now, would we?). It's self-defeating.

This is too easy. It is not self-defeating to say we should doubt our beliefs. It is not self-defeating to say the odds are that we are wrong. After all, we're talking about the odds.

I think it's better to approach any claim worth investigating with an open mind and to form conclusions only after the evidence has been examined.

An overwhelming number of people do not do that. This is why I'm proposing the outsider test in the first place. We adopt a belief system before we've fully investigated it. Answer me this, at what point can one say he has fully investigated the claims of Christianity in comparison to the claims of other religions? Does one need a Ph.D. in several religions? Many Ph.D.'s reject religion after fully examining thier faith, you know.

I'm not afraid to critically analyze my own world view.

Good. How do you do that? I'd like to know. Surely the way you write here is that you know what you believe and that's that. Is that how one truly invesigates anything else? Surely a more scientific approach is to look even-handedly at all arguments and give them equal weight (for the most part). Do you do this? Of course you can claim that you do all day long. But I have every reason to doubt such a claim given the way you write here.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

And now to Living Dust:
I will have a much longer reply to you later in the day, but right now I just want to -- yet again -- deal with the 'Creationist Fallacy.'

"The Universe proclaims the existence of a Creator. Therefore it proves that MY God is true." No.

Even if you accept the premise -- which I do not, but that's for another comment -- the conclusion does not follow. There are at least four more steps you have to demonstrate.

A: That the Creator is Theistic -- that he chooses to interact with his creation -- rather than Deistic -- that he chooses to start things in motion and watch them play out. (If we are 'made in His Image' this could argue for the Deistic, since how many of us have created a long domino-chain, pushed the first one, and enjoyed the result.)

B: That in a Universe of a billion galaxies of a billion stars each, with probably millions of types of sentient beings, that we are the focal point (or even a focal point) of his creation. (Why not argue that the Universe was created not as a 'home for man' but as a home for the inhabitants of Ursa Majores 47-5?)

C: That if we ARE the 'reason for Creation' and that the Creator wishes to manifest himself to us and has a message for us, that he has already done so. (Isn't it as logical to assume he would wait until man came up with not just printing, but with the Internet before he delived this message, so it wouldn't be lost, confused, corrupted or miscopied?)

D: That if he has already conveyed his message, that he did it through the Testaments, and not the Avesta, the Qur'an, or any other sacred-text or vision accepted by any other Earthly religion.

I would be very curious to see your arguments defending any of these positions, but until you make them, your Creationism does NOTHING to buttress your religion.

Anonymous said...

I think any religious organization that promotes the creation of marginalized community is not from Christ, but an extension of human nature. Christ gathered up people to be set free from the system that rejected and marginalized them. But He also sought out the marginalizers so they wouldn't miss out on meeting the very people they were hating. But it is an invitation and with Christ, people have the choice to self-marginalize.

Anon 1035

Anonymous said...

If you were born in a differnet place (or time) you would be defending different ideas as truth, silly. I have not known one person yet who didn't think he was right when he proclaimed something he thought was true, you included.

And how does address my question about what bearing geography has on truth? I say again, if Christianity is true then it's true regardless of where I was born or what I was taught to believe. That you apparently disagree with this statement exposes some flaws in your thinking.

It is not self-defeating to say we should doubt our beliefs.

So do you doubt your belief that we should doubt our beliefs? I doubt it. ;)

An overwhelming number of people do not do that. This is why I'm proposing the outsider test in the first place.

That's all well and good... except for the fact that your hypothetical "outsider" presumes the truth of a contrary position. Not exactly the most unbiased approach one could take, is it?

Good. How do you do that? I'd like to know.

By first seeing if my world view is internally consistent and then seeing if it correlates with reality.

John W. Loftus said...

Anonymous...if Christianity is true then it's true regardless of where I was born or what I was taught to believe.

Sure, truth is the truth no matter what we think. But whether or not we know the truth is the question here.