On the Couch with Psychoanalyst Terry Blanchard

Terry Blanchard is a long time reader who had a lot to say about my previous article Is God Trustworthy? The Root of Religious Delusion. His comments involve a lot of “psychoanalysis” of my motives, so I cast him in the role of a doctor.

The Doctor Begins: Am I just an impatient petulant child?

There is something missing from your analysis here. Readers of your forum with long memories will recall the two anecdotes you posted describing the two key events which led to your loss of faith. In the first, you were walking up a hill carrying your son, when you hurt your ankle. In pain, you prayed for immediate relief, but the pain did not cease in that moment as you requested. The second incident concerned your son and a stomach complaint, which again, was not instantly healed when you prayed for this to happen.

Out of interest, how is the ankle now? And your son? Hopefully both turned out fine. If so, then one might be tempted to suggest that your prayers were answered, but just not in the time-frame that you requested.

Wow Doc, you have a prodigious memory. As far as I know, I mentioned those two events only once in passing in a post on my forum three years ago. I can’t imagine where you got the idea that those were “key” events. I mentioned them in a reply to a member “CWH” who started a thread called Why Pray? They were meant as nothing but personal illustrations of the vanity of prayer. CWH, like many fundamentalist Christians, had been claiming that God was communicating his displeasure with America through weather patterns. He said that we should pray more to get back under God’s good graces. Here is how I answered: Read More »

Posted in Losing My Religion, Why Christianity is False | Leave a comment

Is God Trustworthy? The Root of Religious Delusion

Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool. ~ Mark Twain

Someone who is trustworthy in a small matter is also trustworthy in large ones, and someone who is dishonest in a small matter is also dishonest in large ones. ~ Luke 16:10

Christianity is founded upon the idea that God is trustworthy. That is its central claim. If God is not trustworthy then Christianity is false. But there is no proof that God even exists, let alone that he is trustworthy. So the first question is, what do Christians mean when they say that God is trustworthy? Here is a typical example from Christian artist and author Richard Gunther: Read More »

Posted in Why Christianity is False | 28 Responses

Debunking Dan Gleason, the “Jesus is a Circle” guy

The early Christian Sacred Geometers called a circle with a circumference of 888 units “the living Jesus” because the diameter of his circle is 282 units, which is the gematria value of the Greek word bios (BioV), meaning “earthly life.”

~ Daniel Gleason, www.jesus8880.com

The quote above typifies the raving lunacy Daniel Gleason publishes on his site. There is not one shred of evidence that any early Christians drew a circle with circumference of 888 units and called it “the living Jesus.” How then could he make such an assertion? The answer is simple; he believes his numerology proves that’s what they must have been doing. He has since changed his words to “may have called” in response to my email asking for his justification. He said he would restore the original assertion after his book with his numerological proofs is published, as if mere numerology, without any textual or historical evidence, could prove what early Christians actually did and said. Read More »

Posted in Debunking Bullshit | 370 Responses

The Isaiah-Bible Coincidence Debunked

MERE COINCIDENCE is the primary “evidence” that convinces most people of the truth of such religious beliefs as “God answers prayers” and “prophecies have been fulfilled” and “God designed the Bible.” Any random coincidence that “confirms” what one wants to believe is accepted as “evidence” while everything else is ignored. Years of habitual magical thinking, accepting mere coincidences as evidence, leads to strong delusions. That’s why people believe weird things like Astrology, Tarot, Numerology, and the Bible Wheel.

The Isaiah-Bible Correlation is another such coincidence that I presented as strong evidence that “confirmed” the exact order and content of the books of the Protestant Bible. Many Christians have noted that the 66 chapters of Isaiah naturally divide into groups of 39 and 27, just like the 66 books of the Bible naturally divide into 39 chapters of the Old Testament and 27 of the New. I independently noticed this in 1993. For more than a decade I made it a habit to always check for any correlation with Isaiah when studying the Bible. Over time, I accumulated enough “connections” to convince me that it could not have happened by chance. Did I have any actual statistical data? No. All I had was “intuition” based on “obvious connections” and, of course, the presupposition that the Bible was designed by God. Read More »

Posted in Bible Wheel, Debunking Myself | 11 Responses

Debunking Myself: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

We form our beliefs for a variety of subjective, personal, emotional, and psychological reasons in the context of environments created by family, friends, colleagues, culture, and society at large; after forming our beliefs we then defend, justify, and rationalize them with a host of intellectual reasons, cogent arguments, and rational explanations. Beliefs come first, explanations for beliefs follow.

~ The Believing Brain, by Michael Shermer

Having produced this website with thousands of pages promoting the Bible Wheel bullshit, it now is my pleasure, duty, and honor to debunk as much of its error as I am able. It’s not that everything I wrote was wrong. Not by a long shot. My errors were much more subtle than that. They were based on features common to the believing brain: a strong confirmation bias coupled with a habit of looking for meaning in coincidences. I began with a belief that the Bible was the “inspired Word of God” and was inclined to accept any pattern that seemed to confirm that presupposition. I had more than enough raw material to work with because the Bible is an exceedingly rich book filled with numinous symbols and a universal myth spanning Creation, the Fall, and the New Creation. Countless believers before me found their own idiosyncratic “patterns” that convinced them of its “divine design.” There are good reasons so many people find it seductive and compelling. It provides a framework to make sense of the world … so long as it’s not examined too closely in the light of logic and facts. Read More »

Posted in Bible Wheel, Debunking Myself, Losing My Religion | 41 Responses

The Bible Wheel: Patternicity on Steroids

Why do people see faces in nature, interpret window stains as human figures, hear voices in random sounds generated by electronic devices or find conspiracies in the daily news? A proximate cause is the priming effect, in which our brain and senses are prepared to interpret stimuli according to an expected model. UFOlogists see a face on Mars. Religionists see the Virgin Mary on the side of a building. Paranormalists hear dead people speaking to them through a radio receiver. Conspiracy theorists think 9/11 was an inside job by the Bush administration. Is there a deeper ultimate cause for why people believe such weird things? There is. I call it “patternicity,” or the tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise.

~ Patternicity: Finding Meaningful Patterns in Meaningless Noise,
by Michael Shermer (Scientific American, Dec 2008)

In my recent post If I am an Atheist, why have I kept the Bible Wheel site up? I answered that question as follows: Read More »

Posted in Bible Wheel, Bible Wheel Book, Debunking Myself, Losing My Religion | 2 Responses

Battle of the Bible Wheels: Catholic vs. Protestant

The spell is broken. I am awake. As discussed in yesterday’s post, Debunking Myself, I can now see, understand, and explain the psychological forces and cognitive errors that led to my false belief in the Bible Wheel. This leaves me with the informative and entertaining task of debunking all the outrageous claims I made during my years as a believer.

Today’s project is to debunk the Bible Wheel Challenge which I believed was invincible proof of my claims. Here is how I stated it: Read More »

Posted in Christianity, Debunking Myself, Losing My Religion | 12 Responses

Debunking Myself: What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
What a long, strange trip it’s been

Truckin’, by the Grateful Dead

For many years I felt “the light was all shining on me” through the patterns I saw in the Bible. They seemed so obvious and incontrovertible I could not help but describe them as “blazing like the noontime sun in a cloudless sky.” I had no shadow of doubt. I believed the Bible Wheel was literally “perfect” and could withstand any criticism. It was to me the “Divine Seal and Capstone of Holy Scripture” designed by God himself and that’s what I boldly declared on the banner of the original version of this site:

www.BibleWheel.com

That banner stood over about a thousand pages of “evidence” I had laboriously collected over a period of about fifteen years. It was all I could think about. It was all I talked about. It was my calling from God. I was a true believer. I thought the Bible Wheel fulfilled two passages from Zechariah which I called the Capstone Prophecies. Here are my opening words from that article:

Divine Revelation is True Light. When the Spirit of God illuminates His Word, we know His Truth with the same certainty a blind man would have if he received sight. Everything suddenly comes into focus with perfect clarity. We can walk without stumbling in the Daylight of God’s Word. All the pieces effortlessly fit together with supernatural grace when the vision of the Whole is received. Ten thousand witnesses lift their voices in unison to confirm God’s Word. There is no perplexing doubt, no confusion. Scripture super-abundantly conforms to its own reiterative command that “every word” must be established “in the mouth of two or three witnesses” (Deut 19:15, Mat 18:16, 2 Cor 13:1). There is nothing but light, Light, LIGHT that drives out any shadow of darkness. The Gates of Heaven are thrust open; the Divine Perfection of the Holy Word shines like the noontime sun in a cloudless sky for all to see. This is the overwhelming power of God’s prophetic Capstone. Enigmatic clouds that have shrouded the self-reflective prophecies of God’s Word given within the Word itself, such as Ezekiel’s Wheels and Zechariah’s Stone, simply evaporate in the light of its blazing glory.

The Hypnotic Bible Wheel

The Bible Wheel, the Object of my Fascination

Those words accurately represented what I believed when I wrote them. At the time, I thought they were based on objective evidence. Now I see them as produced by a mind that had utterly hypnotized itself with an amazing “Alphabetic Wheel” of “God’s Word” – a kind of “decoder ring” on supernatural steroids, a coded set of circles within circles encompassing the entire Bible from Aleph to Tav, from beginning to end, in imitation of its own description of the Creator as the Alpha and Omega. It is hard to imagine a more mesmerizing object. It transfixed my mind for over a decade.

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I expressed the essence of my self-induced hypnotic fixation when I said “Everything suddenly comes into focus with perfect clarity. All the pieces effortlessly fit together with supernatural grace when the vision of the Whole is received.” That is how it felt to me. That is the subjective experience of a “true believer.” There is no room for doubt when all available attention is focused on The Pattern (and the carefully selected set of facts that confirm it). Read More »

Posted in Bible Wheel, Christianity, Losing My Religion | 143 Responses

Why I Quit Christianity: Part 2

I posted my first article Why I Quit Christianity on August 8, 2011, after nearly two decades as a convinced Bible believing Christian. A lot has happened since then and the comment stream under that post is full with over 350 comments, so it seemed like a good time to repost it. It is particularly relevant now because I have finally found an answer to the questions I posed at the end of the article:

In my next post, I will begin reviewing the Bible Wheel book to see what it looks like without my “blinders” on. I am very curious because as far as I know, all the evidence for the apparently “supernatural” design in the Bible remains true. This is the great mystery that now confronts me. The evidence for the Bible Wheel remains despite the obvious flaws in the Bible. So what does it mean? I don’t know yet, and before trying to come to a conclusion, I feel a need to critique my own book with the same honesty I have critiqued the Bible upon which it is based.

As it turns out, most of the “evidence” for the Bible Wheel was nothing but a massive collection of cherry picked “coincidences” that supported my preconceived conclusion of design. It is a textbook case of “confirmation bias.” This is the topic of my following article called Debunking Myself: What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been. Here now is my old article “Why I Quit Christianity”:


Read More »

Posted in Christianity, Losing My Religion | 32 Responses

Is the Genocide in the Bible Justified?

I recently received this response to my article Why I Quit Christianity published a few years ago (August 8, 2011). The writer identified himself as Timothy.

Richard,

I really appreciate your open heart on the subject of Christianity. What exactly does that mean? Christianity was identified as the culprit during the dark ages of Catholicism trying to stamp out Protestants who opposed the “True” Church with valid arguments against her (aren’t you glad you don’t live in that era). Personally I didn’t see that as “Christian.” Your arguments against the God you understand presented in the Bible have fallacies to them. The passage you have quoted attributing God to killing the men, women, and children, and requiring His chosen people to do this immoral dastardly deed, is taking it completely out of context. These same people in the promised land were given warnings prior to that time to change their ways. Their lives were totally all about satisfying their flesh, which took on all forms such as listed in the book of Galatians in the passage of the “works of the flesh.” The Amalekites and all the other “ties” are examples to us of the flesh, and is why Paul wrote that the flesh has to die (all of it) in order for the Spirit to live. It is a brutal thing, but necessary.

Hey there Timothy,

Yes, I am very glad I don’t live in an era when Religion rules and people like me could be freely killed for the “crime” of speaking freely. But your distinction between Catholics and Protestants is fallacious because both are known to have killed people deemed heretics. Take a look at this page entitled Protestants Have Killed Many More Catholics!. You slay yourself with the sword you raise against your religious adversaries.
Read More »

Posted in Biblical Issues | Tagged , | 75 Responses