If you’re new to the party, HERE are the previous posts in this series. If you want to skip the history and prefer the twitter version, I’m having an ongoing conversation with a born-again atheist. When I say “born-again atheist” I mean he was a born again Christian, but is now an atheist.
Note: Below is AtypicalAtheist’s response to “conversations with a born-again atheist: Christianity buried so deep in religion, it’s almost impossible to find.”
I fondly refer to this as “the shotgun email” because it spread out and hit so many points at once, I couldn’t possibly address everything in one email response. wowza.
AtypicalAtheist: Hey Julie,
Do me a favor in your prayers… pray for God to open your heart and your mind as well – not just mine… Fair?
A couple of quick points and answers:
A – I didn’t really mention that in during my inquiry in my 30s, I did re-validate my findings with the King James version, as well as the New Standard Edition. All the verses I’ve sent you have been verified on biblegateway.com as well just so you know.
B – I really don’t mind having visited all these various churches actually. To me, it was part of free-inquiry – something a free thinker like myself should do.
C – I’d actually claim that the variety of churches forced me to read the bible. The churches didn’t warp my sense of things so much, I believe the bible did. The bible alone is responsible for my distaste of Christianity really, not all the churches. The churches made me think … huh … WTH (why the heck) 😉 does everyone demand something different if the source material is the same??? Reading the bible cleared it up for me. The inerrant word of God is filled with horrors, murders of children, rape, incest, and absurdities.
D – ** Danger – possibly inflammatory statements ahead… deep breath ** – You and I have both read plenty of apologetics on the subject of the bible I’m sure. One thing that should strike you though, and that’s the basic difference between reason and theology. Philosophy is committed to the discovery of truth – it is not required to defend any particular set of beliefs at any cost. On the other hand, theology is concerned with the defense of religion (Christianity in this case) regardless of the evidence. The theologian will never find a contradiction between faith and reason, because it’s the job of the theologian to interpret them away. As a theologian, a decision has been made that proposition of faith can be defended – defending those propositions is what theology is. So – through the prior assumption that belief in faith is true, the theologian *must* conclude that any conflict must be a mistake in transcription, or in translation somewhere, or that when the bible said “square”, it really meant circles aligned in a square. There literally is nothing that a theologian will accept as evidence of a contradiction because he can’t (or else surrender being a theologian). I don’t mean to be harsh with this statement, but it’s my conclusion (and others as well) based on reading many many books and apologist rationalizations.
E – ** Danger – more inflammatory statements ahead… putting on the fundamentalist hat here ** – Conflicting beliefs of Christians on the topic of Hell abound. In fact, many (often liberal Christians) simply choose to ignore that part of the New Testament because it’s hard to believe that a just and loving God would create a place of eternal torment and would cast people there to suffer for eternity. So the uncomfortable is often ignored which is simply anti-scriptural. An example of this is a quote from theological liberal Leslie Weatherhead:
“[… snip …] when Jesus is reported as consigning to everlasting torture those who displease him or do not “believe” what he says, I know in my heart that there is something wrong somewhere. Either he is mis-reported or misunderstood…. So I put this alleged saying in my mental drawer awaiting further light, or else I reject it out of hand. By the judgment of a court within my own breast … I reject such sayings”
This also relates to the closely held belief of some of the existence of an ‘age of accountability’ which is thoroughly unsupported by scripture. The doctrine of original sin (Genesis 8:21, Psalm 51:5, Ephesians 2:3, Proverbs 22:15, Ecclesiastes 9:3, Romans 3:23, and most importantly, Romans 5:12 ) and the teachings of the New Testament (John 14:6 and Acts 4:12) indicate clearly that all have sinned or are tainted by original sin, and salvation is an individual choice that must be assented to. Apologists and biblical gerrymanderers will try to twist the Gods law for the purpose of appearing to say what “seems right in our eyes”. It’s unbiblical and self-serving because it presupposes that sin must first be recognized as sin before it’s accountable. There is no scriptural basis for this. Romans 3:10 should clear that up somewhat.
Of course, as mentioned in ‘D’ above, I can easily find a less dogmatic view of the scripture that can ease ones mind – the more liberal “I know in my heart because the Lord is a just Lord” version. But the age of accountability is (without significant re-interpretation of scripture) unbiblical. And hence, if babies and those with mental retardation are to be cast into hell because they haven’t assented to the Lord’s word, then the whole concept is ridiculous and must be rejected out of hand as capricious, irrational, unjust, and unworthy of belief in any form or fashion. (wince … sorry for the harshness of the above)
F- Regarding your question on “God commanded the killing of children”, I have quite an impressive list for you – please, look them up using the links I’ve provided on biblegateway.com
Specific Mentions of Killing, Raping, or defiling Children – Asterisks (*) are God commanded or God performed
Deuteronomy 2:33-34 (not commanded by God, but God delivered them to be destroyed)
Deuteronomy 3:2-6 (not commanded by God, but God delivered them to be destroyed)
Joshua 6:16-21 (not commanded by God, but God hath given them the city to ravage)
Judges 21:10-12 (read the whole chapter for instructions on how to lurk in a vineyard and steal a woman)
2 Samuel 12:7-17 (God actually kills the kid for something the dad did.)
Mark 7:9-10 (Jesus)
So – these are specific mentions of horrible things done to children specifically calling out children or things like first-born. It doesn’t begin to scratch the surface though when you consider general murder by God including (but not limited to) numerous plagues that kill indiscriminately which presumably kill men, women, and children. If you really want chapter and verse all the horrors in the bible, I could literally spend hours compiling them if you wish. Even Jesus is known to order slayings (although most don’t admit it – read Luke 19:22-27).
G – Response to ” Irrelevant. What does all that have to do with CHRIST?’ … ‘ I mean that religion and doctrine have nothing to do with a relationship with Christ.
Well, Christ is part of the Christian religion which has a specific set of doctrines. To wrest Christ from the moorings of theism would be to render him meaningless. Indeed, without the doctrine of hell, what is the fuss about sin and saving me about then? The bible is the only remaining so-called authority for the historicity of Jesus Christ, and if it contains the fabulous and horrific, it should (in my opinion) be discarded as irrational and irrelevant … as well as any notion of Jesus. Put another way, we have not seen (in any time of enlightenment) nature going out of course. Things behave according to their nature, plain and simple. We have seen however, man tell lies – millions of them in that same time. So – what’s more probable? That nature go out of course (the dead suddenly rising / seas part mysteriously / Jesus walking on water), or that a man should lie? I submit that the latter rather than the former is millions to one more likely. I’m not trying to turn this into a debate, I’m just trying to convey my opinion on the matter, that’s all. No offense or intention to coerce intended – really. For this, I’ll quote David Hume:
“When any one tells me, that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable, that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact, which he relates, should really have happened. I weigh the one miracle against the other; and according to the superiority, which I discover, I pronounce my decision, and always reject the greater miracle. If the falsehood of his testimony would be more miraculous, than the event which he relates; then, and not till then, can he pretend to command my belief or opinion.”
Suffice it to say – I believe the bible alone is sufficient to smother out any notion of a loving God, and all conceptions of Jesus Christ. I’m content to let it choke itself out by its horrific and absurd content (sorry if this is resoundingly harsh – I edited this a few times and settled on these adjectives as the least inflammatory).
Click HERE to read the next post in this series, entitled: comparing belief in God to belief in Santa. and faires. and WibbleFoo.
NOTE: All comments will be held for approval. This blog is a no-hate zone.