I'm a Christian on the Verge of Losing the Faith
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@ arakish Exactly. If you try to prove the validity of any given religion (Xtianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Satanism, Pastafarianism, etc.), then you WON'T BE ABLE TO DO IT. That is because the burden of proof lies on religion. That is one of the main reasons why I'm an atheist.
A "natural theory" as opposed to a "supernatural theory." I admit it's an odd way to phrase the distinction.
I'm currently working on a methodology to better assess miracle claims in history. As it stands, I see no valid way to evaluate them. All methods either reject or arbitrarily accept miracles a priori.
Use my "miracle/phenomena" razor
Religious Logic for Miracles: I, [insert name], am incapable of understanding how [insert miracle] could have happened. Thus, [chosen deity] must have performed a miracle. — Arakish
And reworded to fit all phenomena…
Religious Logic for All Phenomena: I, [insert name], am incapable of understanding how [insert phenomena] could have happened. Thus, [chosen deity] must have performed a miracle. — Arakish
@ Hello World A "natural theory" is something that is permissable by the laws of nature. A "supernatural theory", however, is something that is obviously impossible given the laws of nature, but is asserted as fact anyway.
Your story reminds me so very much of mine. I was a devout Christian with every intention of spending the rest of my life in ministry. And then it all started falling apart when I started seeing the inconsistencies and asking the hard questions. When I was 19, I made a very similar choice to you. I was terrified that Christianity might not be true, but knew I couldn't just walk away, so I attended a Christian university to study theology, knowing that if I found it to be true, I would spend my life devoted to that truth. And if I didn't, I would move on.
It took about two years for me to finally admit to myself that Christianity just wasn't true. And I was initially devastated by that realization. Like, crying myself to sleep. I felt like my whole life had been a lie and that I didn't know what life would look like without God in it. But I'm so glad that I went through all of that. I don't have to play mental gymnastics to make things make sense anymore. It's brought a sort of freedom. I hope it ends up feeling that way for you too.
@Stone Jade I had a realization similar to yours, except that I just did research online and read the Bible from a now more-critical perspective a few months after I first started questioning, and only became an atheist after about 7 months after the seeds of doubt had first been planted in my mind by the questions and arguments I came across online in the months leading up to my deconversion. I resorted to reading the Bible because I didn't find any satisfactory answers to the many questions I had when I desperately looked for them online. Not one.
You have an interesting post from the heart.
I'm a theist and a Christian however, I don't believe in the literal Resurrection of Jesus. Nor do I believe in the convoluted doctrine of the Trinity. I think you might find that there are many such Christians especially among educated Christians but they don't wear it on their sleeve. I believe in God, and science. They are not mutually exclusive.
"abandoned ID for evolution" : - Many educated Theists and Christians believe in evolution. Its not a mutually exclusive either/or situation. What needs to be abandoned is a literal interpretation of the Bible, and this foolishness about the inerrancy of the Bible. God didn't dictate the Bible to scribes, it was written by fallible people. The Bible isn't a science book, nor a rational book, not a history book. Science is about how Gods universe works, the Bible isn't. Science is about understanding God's universe in a deeper way, it isn't about if God exists or doesn't exist. Once one abandons the Paper Pope as a source of infallible knowledge, one is free to see Evolution as a natural process that God created. Creation didn't happen in one fell swoop, its an ongoing process. the general veracity of Evolution doesn't disprove ID, evolution is the process by which ID is actualized. (see, for example, the book Personal Knowledge by Michael Polanyi. )
Mistakes in the Bible do not disprove Christianity, it disproves the inerrant and literal view of the Bible. It isn't a Paper Pope, its literature (stories, prose, poetry, symbolic writing) by fallible theists from which some people get inspiration (but not absolute truth).
If you lose faith in one world view, you have to replace it with faith in another world view. many Atheists, maybe all, claim explicitly or implicitly they don't have faith or belief in anything. that's either a lie or a delusion. There is no absolutely proven true worldview. So its one faith or another. All atheists have some worldview. Their claims to base their views in indubitably true evidentiary certitudes, and therefore can't be mistaken is a fraud. They have a faith, just like everybody else. your faith is not falling away; your faith in a worldview is melting in favor of faith in an alternate worldview. You always have faith, but what you have faith in can change. That shows maturity.
There is no natural/supernatural split. If you look up the word "supernatural" you might find it comes from the Middle Ages, more specifically it is derivative of the perspective of Thomas of Aquinas. Very influential, but flawed. God, the alleged supernatural being, does not inject himself into nature periodically. God created the process of nature, so when you find a natural explanation for something, you are discovering a process that God created.
Now you are terrified. Of course. that's how these things work. You have your entire identity wrapped up in your worldview. You'd be terrified of losing your standing, and your friends and associates. I have Christian friends who are not aware I have abandoned central beliefs in favor of other beliefs. That's because I haven't told them. I don't want to alienate them, and I appreciate the support they offer from time to time. Occasionally I give them little hints about what I think to see their response. It isn't necessary to get into a big theological fight with people you no longer agree with especially if they are decent people. Too, I know atheists who were Christians and and never told some important people in their life about switching to an atheist oriented faith. There is no real hypocrisy in that, it is just a desire to not alienate some important people. The point is, be careful about who you confide in, until you have a better idea of where you are going.
All the best.
@ Hello World
You would do well to NEVER listen to this person.
Respectfully, I would disagree, arakish. I think it’s critical that his sort of diatribe be listened to and then examined, questioned, and challenged.
I stand corrected and proudly admit it.
I guess I should have worded it:
You would do well to NEVER believe what this person has to say.
Thank you for the correction Me Lady.
***tree does a flourishing bow***
Yeah, like Cyber said, by all means let theists like Apollo say their piece. It actually makes me smile a little bit inside to see theists like him hee-haw around and duck and dodge and twist things the way they do in their futile attempts to validate their respective religions. Matter of fact, I have even told a couple of them before, "Thank you for helping to confirm for me that I made the right choice." *chuckle* So, sure, in my opinion, guys like that actually help us in an indirect sort of way. lol
"Thank you for helping to confirm for me that I made the right choice."
LMAO! Love it. Mind if I steal it?
Of course you can! Help yourself! *grin*
RE: "You would do well to NEVER listen to this person. " AND THIS IS WHY
1. Not only is he not believing in the God of the bible but he has simply invented a 21st Century New Age God that has nothing to do with the God of Abraham. Let's begin by throwing out the teachings of the bible. Isn't that what the Mormons Did? Isn't that what L. Ron Hubbard did? Isn't that what Heaven's Gate did? So what he has is an un-grounded modern version of pantheism. That alone demonstrates that he should not be listened to.
2. Evolution doesn't disprove ID,
This is one of the stupidest assertions I have ever heard. Evolution has nothing to do with ID. Evolution explains the random mutation of species over time and it does so eloquently. It has nothing to do with God or Gods. NOTHING. If ID wants to be taken seriously, IT MUST PROVE ITSELF. You do not get to a god by saying stupid shit like "Evolution does not disprove god." At most this is a horrible attempt at a Straw-man fallacy.
3. " Mistakes in the Bible do not disprove Christianity," I will disagree with the provision that we identify MISTAKES as anything that is not provable.
ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE IS EVIDENCE OF ABSENCE.
The OP already admitted that he threw out the bible so any mistakes would be irrelevant. I will not dwell on them but we will set them all aside as non-evidence. If we can throw them away, they do not matter.
Now, how does science prove non-existence? Well, let's imagine there is a cave in the mountains and all the people in the village below the cave insist that there is a bear living in the cave. Now we want to go in the cave and explore but we can not go into it if there is a bear in the cave. We explore the mountain and discover that there is only one entrance to the cave. We throw rocks in the cave and nothing happens. We yell and scream at the cave and nothing happens. But the bear might be out. We put meat and berries in front of the cave but they just rot away. We build a fire and blow smoke into the cave but still no bear. We search for bear tracks but find none. We set up cameras with motion detectors but detect nothing. We sprinkle the ground with flour and still find no prints/ And we do all of this for a year. Guess what!!! There is no frigging bear in that cave. Do I know it for sure. NO. But I am confident enough to bet my life on it and venture into the cave. Now, Imagine that we have been looking at this same cave for 6000 years with the exact same results. I think it is fair to say Science has proved non-existence. HOWEVER: Science never proves non-existence. Science has never proved the non-existence of anything. All science says about religion is that it is non-falsifiable. It is an idea that can not be falsified. Theology is a null hypothesis. This goes for the God of the Bible and the silly New Age Amorphous BS being asserted by Apollo.
4. "If you lose faith in one world view, you have to replace it with faith in another world view. many Atheists, maybe all, claim explicitly or implicitly they don't have faith or belief in anything."
This is called an "Equivocation Error." Apollo wants you to believe that faith and belief are on par with one another. This is demonstrably false. Faith is what you have when you have no evidence at all. Atheists generally have no use for faith. Are all atheists free of faith? Well possibly not. But you can not confuse faith with hope, desire, confidence or effort to encourage. If I have faith that my son will win a competition, I don't mean that I am 100% certain that he will win. (The Theist meaning of faith.) Instead I am asserting that I really hope, I expect, I want, or I think he will win. Logically I know anything can happen in a competition. LOGIC - this is where faith breaks down. Belief is given in proportion to the evidence provided. I do not believe in string theory but, if it can be proved to be true it may be a unifying force for physics. No physicist actually Believes in it without sounding like an idiot among his peers. You will hear them qualify assertions with if, what if, it could be, etc...
I believe my wife loves me based on the evidence. She hugs me for no reason, cares for me when I am sick, she tells me she loves me, and a hundred other things that I try to do for her as well. No faith at all. Aside from all this, Atheist have all sorts of beliefs. Atheists are Republicans and Democrats. Atheists are Liberals and Conservatives/ Atheists are Communists, Socialists, and Capitalists. Atheists are Buddhists, Jews, astrologists, new age gurus, and other followers of inane beliefs that do not include Gods.
Apollo lives in La la land. You would do well not to listen to his Bullshit.
Thank you very much. Very good discussion showing the veracity of my first statement.
However, ultimately, I still think it is better to say we should NOT BELIEVE in anything he has to say. Listen to it so we can rip him a new ass showing how much of an ass he is.
Very well written. Kudos to you dude.
That was obvious in his post. I am a christian, but I don't follow the bible. Thus I bounce around between different feel-good beliefs and cherry-pick what I want. And if there is a problem,I blame it on god.
well roll me in teflon and deep fry me in silicone, you can't pin anything on me.
@David Killens Agreed. From all of the self-contradictory things they said, it can be safely assumed that Apollo is either awfully misguided or is just lying for Jesus. I have seen many other apologists use intellectually dishonest tactics very similar to Apollo's.
@Apollo's post for thread:
All right let's break this down. First this is not an attack on Apollo the person but instead an examination of the issues of his particular faith system: as well as a rebuttal to the points he makes about atheist "faith."
Good, it is great to see a christian realize some parts of their bible/faith/religion is fictional. It is also good that many christians do believe in science. However there is definitely some parts of science that is in direct conflict with "god" ideas. And no matter how much theist try to avoid it, they cannot "hand wave" it away. I will address some of these below.
Good. And they should, evolution has an enormous pool of evidence going for it, as well as supporting evidence from other scientific findings. However here is the first part where it goes into direct conflict with god/religion ideas, and the reason why many other theist challenge/deny evolution theory: Evolution only works well in a 14 billion year old galaxy scenario, with trillions upon trillions of stars. The problem here is: What has god been doing with all that time and space? Why would such a being that is 14 billion years old spend 99.99+ percent of the time doing absolutely nothing, and then suddenly take an interest on a small area of this planet out of trillions, 14 billion years later, even going so far to announce his presence (supposedly) tell humans about himself so they can tell others about, then disappear again for another 1000+ years. It makes zero sense unless you perceive in the lens of: "god" is a human created idea from ~2000 years ago (plagiarized from god ideas before that.)
Then what is it? Story time book? What makes the bible any more relevant then say, Aesop's fables? Why do so many humans attach so much significance to this book out of thousands of fictional books?
People have gotten inspiration from Mein Kampf
Faith no, almost by definition we do not have faith in something, that is in the realm of "theist" do we believe in something? Sure, we believe in all kinds of things, different things, we can even disagree among each other on what we believe in, read any political topic that comes up here and you will find both conservative and liberal atheists. Many of us believe in "evidence" as that is the most likely route for someone to be an atheist, like most things in life we do for survival, we examine the real world useful evidence to make a decision instead of putting it on "faith." Atheist by and large do not organize, or have a rule set upon joining etc. we are not united in a belief for anything, lots of theist try to categorize atheist into a particular group, and time and time again we try to patiently explain we are only the same in that we are not "theist" that's it. Just like there are stamp collectors (theist) and non stamp collectors (atheist) there is nothing more you can assign to the word "atheist" other then "not theist" Maybe something vague like: "well non stamp collectors frequently have less paper cuts then stamp collectors do."
Atheist certainly have a world view, but it not unified in anyway other then "not theist." World views can certainly change going from theist to atheist or vica versa, but again, their is no unified "atheist" world view, only a tiniest part of an atheist worldview is based on "not theist."
A common "angle" I see from people that claim they are theist, and admit to some of the major flaws in their religions, a sort of "see, I am not crazy I know the Noah story is roughly akin to believing in santa claus!" However if we examine that definition: "god is nature" suddenly you find out the person is changing the definition of the word "god" on us to suit their argument from the commonly held and accepted definition of god. That claim of god is not god at all, and the definition if used gets so "broad" just about anything can fit the definition of god. The Sun is god, it created this planet, its gravity and energy makes life possible, exotic elements possible the energy to create compounds and so on. But is the sun a "god" you pray to? Write books about? Waste your sunday mornings on? Talk to? Care about us in any way? Ofcourse not. That's not "god" at all that is simply our star, aka the sun, 4.5 billion years old, and if it "farted" in our direction would send human civilization back to the stone age.
I agree with this, this is a good place (maintain your anonymity!) to chat about it, learn about it and get a better understanding of your new realizations. I have close religious family members of my own. They know I do not go to church, but beyond that I let them have their delusion unless I see them about to do something that could be of direct harm to themselves or others following that delusion.
Oops this ran long, I apologize, I hope this helps someone.
▮ I am an atheist that always likes a good debate. ▮
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THANK YOU! I had thought about doing that, but I've been too busy destroying him on two, or is three, different threads.
THANKS FOR THAT!
"I'm a theist and a Christian however, I don't believe in the literal Resurrection of Jesus. Nor do I believe in the convoluted doctrine of the Trinity. I think you might find that there are many such Christians especially among educated Christians but they don't wear it on their sleeve. I believe in God, and science. They are not mutually exclusive."
If you don't believe in zombie Yeshua (Jesus) then you are not a real Christian as defined by the creator of Christianity, the guy called Paul. The idea that Yeshua was literally resurrected from the dead is the foundation stone of the Christian religion. So anyone who does not believe in the literal resurrection of Yeshua is not an actual Christian but something else. For instance, muslims believe in Jesus but they don't believe that he was resurrected from the dead, although they do believe that he will return for Judgment Day. If you believe something like that then you are more of a muslim than you are a Christian.
BTW, which God do you believe in by name? There are thousands of the critters and they all have specific and unique personal names. God is just a title, it means nothing. Remember, when Moses was getting the stone tablets the Israelites were worshiping a God. Unfortunately it was an Egyptian God and Moses got pissed and killed thousands of them although they were God believers just like he was. Maybe you believe in Crepitus?
Do you believe Jesus "spiritually" rose from the dead--whatever that means?
@Apollo I find it funny that you previously said that it is possible to believe in both science and your God, but then proceeded to try and insert God into science, and asserting without any evidence that he created the laws of science and the universe... doesn't sound very scientific to me... Just so you know, science is where you gather facts and then draw a conclusion from just the data no matter how scary said conclusion might be. It is not science to try to cram in God or aliens or whatever view you really, really want to be true so that it makes you feel better.
Oh, and what you said about us atheists claiming that we "don't have faith or belief in anything"... that's straw. We have faith in humanity and ourselves (but really, it depends on what you define 'faith' as), and we believe that the truth is in science, logic, and reason. And contrary to your repeated assertion, science and the laws of nature do not necessarily require a divine creator... Occam's Razor.
And "atheist oriented faith"... Oh, I see... you're one of those people who are still convinced that we are just another religion... well, I've got news for you: we're a 'faith' just about as much as 'unemployed' is an 'occupation', or as much as 'abstinence' is a sex position. I'm tired of having to refute this stupid claim again and again.
Furthermore, I would also like to say something about you regarding other theists' loss of religious belief as being "because you didn't tell them"... One of the things that really turned ME into an atheist is what I had once heard my pastor say about the concept of Hell. Now, I was already all too familiar with this concept, but the service that I am describing took place after I had already started asking questions, which, of course, had no satisfactory answers, so it led me to view the Hell thing from a more critical stance, and got me thinking, "Hmm, that can't be right. You can be a good, loving person and still be punished eternally just for not believing in a particular God? Why would said God have to save people from what the same God will do to them if they don't believe in him?" And here's the real kicker: In a more recent sermon a few months after that, when I was starting to lose the last vestiges of my faith, my pastor attempted to address many of the problems and questions that people like myself had been asking, e.g. the Problem of Evil, the conflict with evolution, etc. However, as he did, I noticed that his responses to them were far from satisfactory; rather than actually trying to debunk them, he instead denied the very existence of the problems and inconsistencies, responding with:
1. an assertion that evolutionism and intelligent design are compatible, which I think is false given the sheer amount of problems and frequent defects that are present within the human body alone; what kind of sadist would 'intelligently design' us bodies that can very easily be compromised by chromosomal defects and are frequently destroyed by mutated tumor cells in the 100,000s each year, and make it so that we eat and breathe through the same hole (think of all the poor people who died from their food going down the wrong tube), that male humans urinate and make babies out of the same tube (thus increasing the risk of infections and/or prostate cancer), and I could just go on and on.
2. He responded to the Problem of Evil with the Just World Hypothesis, which asserts that there is a 'balance' in between 'good' and 'evil' in the world. One reason why this fails is that 'good' and 'evil' are human perspectives; for instance, you probably see me as 'evil' and yourself as 'good'. However, I see your dogma as 'evil' and you as a good-hearted and well-meaning person at heart, while you on the other hand see your dogma as 'good' and probably see the idea that it is BS as 'evil'. There is a more detailed description of the just world hypothesis (and why it fails) in this Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_hypothesis
So in conclusion, I wouldn't say that the reason why people leave religion is because nobody from their religious community tries to stop them; if you'll actually see what a lot of the people on this very site have to say about how they lost their faith, you will find that on the contrary, not receiving sound and satisfactory answers to their questions is a big part of it.
@ Rohan (and any others who want it)
Here is an image I made about the very first Sunday Sermon I was forced to attend as a child. It is high resolution (300 dpi for printing) so it is kind of large.
You should be able to right-click and save as...
EDIT: Yep, right click works...
Welcome. I take it you live in the US? Not everyone on here is from the US, I'm from the UK, and the reason I ask is it's less of a deal in the UK to be an atheists, in fact it's rapidly becoming the norm.
A lot of people identify culturally as Christian, they basically don't believe in a deity, but cherry pick some of the ideas they find morally acceptable from that religion.
I suppose it's sort of a safety net for people who like yourself find their entire worldview falling away so quickly it causes them deep anxiety and fear.
I've not been in your situation really, as I am 53 and have been an atheist all my adult life, but I can reassure you there is nothing to fear from it at all. That anxiety will pass with a little time and perspective. If you are realising that you held or hold beliefs that you know view as irrational or implausible, you owe it to yourself to explore your own intellectual reasoning process objectively.
It's hard to imagine a deity that would punish anyone for objectively seeking the truth, wouldn't you agree?
Good luck anyway, and don't be put off by some of the exchanges you read on here, the atheists here are all reasonable people, and will listen to cogent arguments and give them careful consideration.
Try not to worry unduly.
>> It's hard to imagine a deity that would punish anyone for objectively seeking the truth, wouldn't you agree?
And yes I'm in the US Bible belt. I visited the UK and was astonished at how many people thought Christianity was nothing to worry about.
Hi World. I’ve never had any gods so am unable to relate to that part of your story. What I did garner from it is your willingness to think. Good for you. Keep at that...it will serve you well in the long run.
I was never as devout as you are/have been. I was indoctrinated earlier than I can remember into "going to church" on Sunday morning because that was what you did and my parents made me go. Fast forward over 55 years. I set out to determine scientific evidence for the existence of god. It didn't take long to discover the questionable validity of the evidence.
I then moved on to look at the origins of the idea of god in the region now known as The Holy Land and its historical development. May I suggest that you do the same regarding El, Yahweh, Ashera, Baal, etc. and the evolution of the idea of one god from a pantheon of gods. It casts the one god in a whole new light.
Hello World just keep being critical. You are exercising your brain, and that is always a good thing. Who knows where you will be in a year from now, but just enjoy the journey.
One big factor that drove me away from the christian faith was that I read the bible. Take your time, sit down and start reading.
I will do something a little different here. I will recommend a couple books. To the regulars here these will be cliche, but to you they may be very fresh and very refreshing.
On The Historicity of Jesus by Richard Carrier
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens
Godless by Dan Barker
This seems a lazy post, but really, if you read these books, especially the first, you will undoubtedly see things from a different and beautiful perspective. And you don't necessarily have to go out and buy them. You can listen to them on audible. That's what I do nowadays because I have little time to sit and read. I implore you, if you read only one make it the first. It will change your life. It's the results of a rigorous historical study based on mathematical reasoning. It is logically valid and sound.
And best of luck. You came to the right place for doubt. You can talk to any of these great people about anything. They will help and they will be happy to share with you. There is no us against them. What there is is people against bad ideas. If you think you might have a bad idea we can help point out why it is a bad idea and how to employ skepticism when presented with new ideas.
Skepticism is the gateway to freedom.
Verge of Losing the Faith
I shall address this part of your title.
Go ahead. Lose your faith. You won't be losing anything except the shackles on your ability to think clearly.