I'm a Christian on the Verge of Losing the Faith

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Mutorc S'yriah's picture
Hello helloworld.

Hello { Hello World. }

I'll come at this from another angle. Is hell real, and did Adam and Eve exist ???

We've absolutely no evidence of hell, and the Christian concept of what it is, (if it is real), has altered hugely over time.
If evolution is true, then Adam and Eve did not exist.

If Adam and Eve did not exist, then there is no original sin, and nothing for Jesus to save us from. Christianity then falls into a hole, (is redundant).

If there is no hell, (or if its innocuous), then there's nothing to avoid going to, so there is no point in Jesus saving us from it. Christianity then falls into a hole, (is redundant).

If there is no hell, and no sin, from which to be saved, the whole Jesus story becomes irrelevant, (redundant).

If you don't believe in hell, then you need not fear it, so don't - best wishes to you, { Hello World }.

Mutorc S'yriah

Hello World's picture
Well that objection works

Well that objection works quite well against most western understandings of Christianity--especially Reformed ones.

xenoview's picture
Welcome to AR!

Welcome to AR!

@Hello World
As an Atheist, I live free of the guilt of sin and the fear of Hell. Both of them are human constructs, designed to control people.

Becoming an Atheist can be scary at first, but it gets better as you travel down the road to Atheism.

Hello World's picture
Ohhh it's scary now, but wait

Ohhh it's scary now, but wait until you see the FIRES OF HELL! Then you'll be SCARED!

lol just kidding.

ksgm34's picture
Hello World, how are you

Hello World, how are you doing? I’m in a situation a little like yours but with lots of differences too and wondered how you are feeling?

Hello World's picture
To be honest, I feel

To be honest, I feel abandoned by God. If he's there, for some reason he won't give me the faith everyone else has. I'm tempted to just blindly continue in faith, but then I feel like I'm lying.

Either choice feels immoral. If I have faith I'm lying, if I do not have faith I'm rejecting God. I decided to just remain quiet. I'm trying to disprove Christianity atm, so if it is indeed false, let's hope I come to that conclusion quickly.

You must understand that I have built up a massively nuanced version of Christianity informed by history, science, philosophy and modern thinkers. The usually attacks such as "hell is immoral", "modern Christians are different from ancient ones", "gay is okay", "the Bible isn't 100% true" or even (*gasp* God forbid) "evolution is true" are ineffective. My faith has already incorporated all those truths into it...I hold to a version of Christianity only found among intellectuals and scholars. It is much more difficult to rid myself of the faith with these nuances in it.

Much of my time is spent studying theology--especially Christology and ecclesiology. I read early Christians regularly like Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine etc.

I take the view of Philo of Alexandria that the Old Testament is largely allegorical--including the genocides and the great flood.

And I must stress that from my perspective, this nuanced view is Christianity pure and simple, so I see the fundamentalists as perverting the faith. I see the fundamentalists as simpletons who can't handle the real thing. I think even if I rejected Christianity later in life I'd still believe this. Most atheists deal with the unfortunate histories of Christianity, not the most beautiful articulations of it.

New atheism doesn't attack nuanced Christianity...only the fundamentalists. Dan Barker, Richard Dawkins, and even Sam Harris don't do much to attack my faith. I'm currently trying to find non-Christians who rebut the more intellectual Christians. I'm starting to read Nietzche at least :D

Maybe God is making me into a next generation apologist. Or maybe I'll end up being that one atheist who can actually take down the big name nuanced Christians.

TLDR; I'm realizing that I've constructed a high-fullutent version of Christianity that it is nearly impossible for detractors of Christianity to interact with me. I decided I'll be my own detractor.

ksgm34's picture
I know what you mean about

I know what you mean about either choice feeling wrong. I think I’m at the stage where, when I’m able to think clearly and rationally, I don’t think Christianity is true. If I only had myself to think about I’d maintain this position. However, I worry about getting it wrong for my (very young) children. Unlike you, I’ve not really had positive personal experiences of Christianity in the past. There have been barriers to me embracing it for a long time and it’s held a lot of fear for me. I’ve had sustained bouts of this on and off for many many years and I’m in a particularly bad one currently.

You mention Gregory of Nyssa. Did you come to believe all will eventually be redeemed from hell? I read the books of some universalist Christian authors 10 years ago. These made me feel more hopeful but these are the reservations I have.

1) Whatever you think about hell (and I think the traditional and even some more recent interpretations of it are horrific), Christianity only works if you accept the doctrine of original sin, which I find pretty appalling. (I’m increasingly having moral and intellectual difficulties with the concept of Jesus’ blood atonement too).

2) You describe your nuanced view of Christianity as pure and simple. But how hard did you have to work to arrive at it? If it’s the truth then why isn’t it clear? Why does it have to be searched for? How do you know which parts of the bible to interpret metaphorically and which literally? There are numerous interpretations and hence numerous denominations. You can defend or condemn pretty much anything using the bible. Finding agreement in Christianity is virtually impossible. Why would God make it so difficult? He must’ve known the confusions and suffering that would arise. Why has he been silent towards you and I while we agonise?

As John Loftus discusses, the universe is religiously ambiguous. We can experience and interpret it religiously or naturalistically and both can appear valid. How are we meant to decide? If God is there and knowable then why hasn’t he given us conclusive evidence? In a human relationship withholding oneself like that would be game playing at best and abusive at worst.

I don’t think you can “disprove” Christianity or any other faith. I could believe that when I die I’m going to live in the land of pink unicorns and you can’t disprove that. Anything is possible. But to paraphrase Valerie Tarico, being mentally healthy means living in a world of probabilities not possibilities. All we can do is engage with the evidence.

I found this interesting on the lack of historical evidence for the resurrection. You can link to Torley’s full analysis at the end of the post.

http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2018/09/christian-apologist-vincen...

Please do share anything you think I might find useful too.

Best wishes to you.

Hello World's picture
After looking into the

After looking into the history of universalism in church history, it has become clear to be that it is the orthodox position (despite how many fear mongers tell you otherwise). All the best proto-orthodox Christians utilized universalism in attacks against early heretics. None of the early heresy hunters call universalism a heresy. And the very best early theologians have been universalists. It is clear to me that there are many universalistic statements in the NT and in early apocryphal writings. Any all this doesn't even mention the philosophical impossibility of reconciling an eternal hell with any conception of the Christian God (save the evil Calvinist account). What is most obvious to anyone willing to think about this is that the fear of hell is one hell-of-a-fear, so it is obvious that the imperialist church developing throughout the empire would utilize it to scare people into submission.

I mean really...if anyone is every thrown into eternal hell then God lied. Love would actually fail contrary to 1 Corinthians 13:8.

As to your point on original sin, I would suggest you look into eastern understandings of it. The west has fallen for a sort of "original guilt" which is absolutely nonsensical.

And yes, I worked very hard for my nuanced view of theology. There's a lot of crap out there in Christian theology and it takes hundreds if not thousands of hours to sort through all that shit.

And btw, I'm a fan of the simplicity of John Loftus' attacks on Christianity. The guy is such a no-nonsense person and I love it!

ksgm34's picture
I guess my question is why

I guess my question is why wouldn’t God make his message clear? Why not communicate clearly and unequivocally? He must have known the problems and the wars and the suffering that would ensue from the fact that the bible can be interpreted in so many ways. Why should theologians even have a job in a sense, surely anyone of any intellect and background should be able to open the bible and understand what God wants them to? Think of all the people over the centuries who have been so terribly frightened of hell and unsure whether or not they are safe from it. I have had huge fears about hell (and heaven) and the end times on and off for almost all my life and never have I felt any love or peace or comfort from God, no matter how hard or how much I’ve prayed.

Diotrephes's picture
ksgm34,

ksgm34,

"1) Whatever you think about hell (and I think the traditional and even some more recent interpretations of it are horrific), Christianity only works if you accept the doctrine of original sin, which I find pretty appalling."

As I've said before according to the biblical fairy tale when you die you go to one of three places: death, the sea, or to hell. The good news is that all three are temporary and you will make bail when you are resurrected on Judgment Day. And just because you were in hell you could still get into the golden cube if your works are good enough and if you can pass through one of the twelve gates dedicated to one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Then death and hell will be tossed into the lake of fire along with all who flunked the works requirement. The sea will disappear.

The interesting thing is that the fairy tale doesn't really say that women will get into the golden cube. It does say that there are no marriages in heaven.

It seems that you are more fearful of the Islamic version of hell than you should be of the biblical version of hell. In the Islamic version you simply stay dead until you are resurrected on Judgment Day. Then if you are a women could end up in a guy's personal paradise where you will be his sex slave for eternity. But in the Islamic version most of the people in hell are women where they are tortured in all kinds of horrific ways for eternity.

So don't sweat the biblical version of hell. It's only temporary. Of course you could be tossed into the lake of fire (the second death) but it would be all over and you won't end up as some guy's sex slave for eternity like in the Islamic version.

Don't you feel better knowing that?

ksgm34's picture
Well there are a number of

Well there are a number of different Christian interpretations/ understandings of what hell is and I’m not sure all would subscribe to yours - I agree if it was “all over” then that’s less terrifying

Rohan M.'s picture
There was once a time when I

There was once a time when I was a lot like you. In the months leading up to my actual deconversion, I also had lots of conflict within me as to whether or not the Bible is true. Now that your view on it has somewhat changed, I’d suggest that you read it again, from cover to cover. That is exactly what I did when I had previously been questioning and doubting (in short, the two things a good Christian isn’t EVER supposed to do); I read the Bible again, and it’s what really caused me to completely lose my faith a couple of months after that. Let us know how it turns out in a little while... it’s only a matter of time until you deconvert, although that usually takes a long time to happen.- especially when you have been taught that you might spend the rest of eternity in a lake of fire for asking questions and critically examining your scripture... I mean, it took me almost a YEAR to overcome religion.

Dan Morris's picture
Hello world,

Hello world,

The kind of brainwashing religions do is hard to overcome. Those of us that deconverted after years of indoctrination had to go through a similar experience as you are going through. There are six ways to sunday on how people have made this change.

Don't let fear and anxiety stop you from admitting what is so obvious. When you finally decide, the freedom will be exhilarating!

Welcome to AR! Lots of good info.

Hello World's picture
I already have a foretasted

I already have a foretasted of that freedom by no longer giving a shit lol

Diotrephes's picture
Hello World,

Hello World,

"But then the other day I did some brushing up on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. And something bothered me. For the first time in my life, I saw that Jesus *might* not have raised from the dead. Like I saw it only as a possibility. I rated it at like a 1-5% chance when I played it out in my head."

What did Paul, the creator of Christianity, say about the resurrection?

He said in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 that it was a story that he preached and that the local yokels believed. He also said that if there is no resurrection of the dead that Christ is not risen and that he was full of BS and that the people's faith was worthless. His test was that if the dead do not rise then Christ is not risen (1 Corinthians 15:16).

Now, outside of zombie movies have you or anyone you have known ever seen an actually dead person ever come back to life? Are people popping out of their graves and visiting their buddies? I have never seen that or know anyone who has. So from the point of reality the story of the resurrection must be BS because the dead do not return to life. I think that the original committee who wrote the Bible included that little gem to show that the story was just BS. There are tons of other clues spread throughout the Bible that support that opinion.

Bonus question: Would you be comfortable seeing a stinking rotting zombie standing at your front door even if was someone you had known and loved? If so then this creature wouldn't frighten you one bit =

Revelation 13:1-2 (NLT) = "Then I saw a beast rising up out of the sea. It had seven heads and ten horns, with ten crowns on its horns. And written on each head were names that blasphemed God. 2 This beast looked like a leopard, but it had the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion! And the dragon gave the beast his own power and throne and great authority."

Hello World's picture
I think you don't understand

I think you don't understand the Jewish idea of the resurrection of the dead. Paul was referring to that concept of how all the dead will rise at the end of time, not to the idea that people generally come back to life from time to time.

Jesus' supposed resurrection was monumental in the first Jewish Christian's mind because Jesus was jumping the gun, so to speak. The resurrection was supposed to happen at the very end of time, so how did he raise before then?

Diotrephes's picture
Hello World,

Hello World,

"I think you don't understand the Jewish idea of the resurrection of the dead. Paul was referring to that concept of how all the dead will rise at the end of time, not to the idea that people generally come back to life from time to time."

Paul, the creator of Christianity according to the fairy tale, plainly said that if the dead do not rise (not at the end of time but right now) then Jesus didn't rise and he was full of bull shit. Christianity is nothing without zombies.

1 Corinthians 15:11-20 =
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1corinthians15:11-20&versio...

Sean toner's picture
The famous thinker David hume

The famous thinker David hume said you should only believe in a miracle if it would be more of a miracle for it not to be true. Which is more likely, that jesus literally rose from the dead, or that the story was made up? Believing the gospels when it talks about miracles is exactly the same as believing me if I said that I rose from the dead yesterday. You obviously know that I didnt so why should you believe that jesus did, if he ever even existed at all.

Hello World's picture
This is what is bothering me

This is what is bothering me the most. The more I study the NT, the more I see possibilities for natural explanations.

On an unrelated note, I'm a fan of Bart Ehrman's take on the resurrection, and think Richard Carrier's Hail Mary of Jesus-never-existed-so-take-that-Christians is weak. I think the fact that Paul seems to have clearly referred to James as an actual brother of Jesus in Galatians should end the discussion.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ Hello World

@ Hello World

You are making several assumptions. The most telling is that "Paul" actually existed as a single author. If you examine Acts and the first three epistles (the only ones that can be attributed to a single (anonymous) author) you will quickly see they seem to be describing two different people.

You also seem to have forgotten the bible is the claim not the proof.

It is likely that a James ( Ya'quov, Iakobos) was in charge of the Temple in Jerusalem at some time in the first century, but that is all we can guess from the later accounts. It does not prove the truth of anything else.

I have an open mind on an historical jesus, but I do know there is no contemporary evidence for the existence of such a figure as described in the gospels.

The authors you say inspire you were writing some 200 and more years after the alleged events described in the gospels. They are proof of nothing but the ascendancy of one sect of Christianity amidst the rise of others. Some of them were great writers, inspiring amongst the mores of their day and the colossus of the Roman Empire.

Hello World's picture
Do you doubt that Paul wrote

Do you doubt that Paul wrote Galatians? If you do, I can only suggest you actually read NT scholarship. Nobody doubts that Paul wrote Galatians.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ hELLO wORLD

@ hELLO wORLD

Read my comment. I did not say "Paul" did not write Galatians. You are trying to set up a straw man. Nobody knows who "paul" was. Certainly not the person described in Acts.

Most scholars agree that the same anonymous writer is responsible for Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon, even though at least two of those are considered conglomerations of writings over a period.

Three epistles are very doubtful to have come from the same author viz: Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians

Much later forgeries are :1-2 Timothy, Titus.

Please read my comments, if they are unclear to you I am happy to expand.

The point I was making is that the author of these epistles is anonymous, at least 6 are not by the same hand so to rely one line from any of them as "evidence" is a fools journey.

The bible is the claim not the evidence . You need independent corroboration to claim what you did, i.e that one line in the bible validates the gospels. That claim is puerile, facile circular nonsense.

Hello World's picture
Well I certainly agree with

Well I certainly agree with you that Paul did not write epistles such as 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Colossians, etc. But I do not understand why you would not give the title "Paul" to the author of Galatians. If there is to be a historic Paul, the writer of Galatians is certainly him.

As a side note, I'd ask you to please be careful in how you word things. By saying I'm "trying to set up a straw man" you seem to accuse me of mal-intent. I'm assuming you didn't mean it that way though.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ HW

@ HW

Look up logical fallacies...for Straw Man. You don't need to be harbouring and bad intentions to be doing it.

And I am not interested in a "Paul/Saul" or Timothy O'Grady...the author of the certainly the first three epistles is anonymous, however granting the monicker "paul" seems to excite some folk who then take that as a starting point for some far fetched arguments.

Diotrephes's picture
Old man shouts ...,

Old man shouts ...,

"the author of the certainly the first three epistles is anonymous,"

Of course the writers are anonymous becase all of the books of the Bible were written by guys on a committee within a very short time span in the late 7th Century. "Paul" gets credit for a lot of books but they were written by different committee members, which is why they are slightly different.

Nyarlathotep's picture
mailman - If it helps Dr.

mailman - If it helps Dr. Habermas almost became a Buddhist to refute Christianity.

Someone's notion that becoming a Buddhist would somehow refute Christianity (or anything else), should be enough to make you extremely skeptical of anything else that person has to say on the matter.

My question is: is this craziness from Dr. Habermas himself, or is this you inadvertently damaging his reputation by putting words into his mouth?

mailman's picture
Nyarlathotep - What craziness

Nyarlathotep - What craziness are you referring to? Please be more specific.

Also - on a side note, how do you quote someone else in the response like you did with me above?

Nyarlathotep's picture
mailman - ...how do you quote

mailman - ...how do you quote someone else in the response like you did with me above?

blockquote is the tag you asked about, read about it here.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

mailman - What craziness are you referring to? Please be more specific.

I thought I was already: Dr. Habermas's (or perhaps your) notion that becoming a Buddhist would somehow refute Christianity is crazy. I mean with that logic, Christianity has been refuted, since there are people who have become Buddhists: joining religion X does not refute religion Y.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
/e BTW: are we ever going to get that retraction you promised us?

mailman's picture
Nyarlathotep,

Nyarlathotep,

Early in his career Dr. Habermas was almost going to become a Buddhist, but when doing his dissertation on evidence for the resurrection he became absolutely convinced (based on his research) that Jesus did rise. He received his doctorate from a panel of people that were mostly non-christians. He must have made some pretty convincing arguments. My point is that Dr. Habermas was not a fundamentalist Christian before he started his research. He went info it with a very skeptical, yet objective, eye.

Here is information about Dr. Habermas: http://www.garyhabermas.com/vitainnuce.htm

arakish's picture
Do you think they can use a

Do you think they can use a smaller font so we can't read it?

rmfr

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