2013 New Year Reflections: How Integrity led me into and drove me out of Evangelical Christianity

love_unity_2013

An expression of my 2013 New  Year meme I found on Facebook.

My meme for the New Year is “Let 2013 be the Year of Love and Unity.” I coined this meme at the end of my New Year’s Eve article On Integrity as the Highest Value where I discussed the fundamental ontological unity of the concepts of love, unity, and integrity which is the basis of my moral theory described in The Logic of Love: A Natural Theory of Morality.

My recent reflections on the theme of integrity were sparked by a desire to answer the fallacious religious argument that there would be no objective morality without God and the equally fallacious secular response that there is no objective morality at all. My answer is that morality is fundamentally ontological in the sense that it derives naturally from what we mean for something (or someone) to be, to exist. That’s why the word integrity means both “to be complete, whole” and “to be morally upright.” Our language exposes the innate ontological relation between integrity and morality. And just as integrity is an objective fact, so also are moral values which are a measure of the integrity of our selves in relation to others.

One of my New Year’s projects was to update this blog to accurately reflect who I am and what I believe which has changed a lot in the last three years.  In the process of reorganizing it, I encountered some of my old articles which reminded me how this theme of integrity has dominated my life for a long time. Indeed, it was integrity that solidified my Christian faith, and integrity that drove me from it.

It is important to understand where I was coming from. My discovery of the Bible Wheel led to a rather fundamentalist interpretation since it suggested a true integrity of Scripture as a unified whole which is why I subtitled my book A Revelation of the Divine Unity of the Holy Bible. The seemingly supernatural integrity of the Bible, coupled with its mystical numinosity, “trumped” all the problems that make it impossible for most modern rational people to believe it could really be the “inspired Word of God”. I was not ignorant of all its errors, absurdities, contradictions, and the moral abominations it attributes to God, but I did have a reason to ignore them since they appeared relatively minor in light of what I firmly believed to be “overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible as a whole.” And my faith was not based on intellect alone – not by a long shot. I had many spiritual and/or psychological experiences in worship, prayer, dreams, and synchronicities that vivified the faith and made it very real to me personally and emotionally (see Why I became a Christian). The result was that for well over a decade I described myself as a “man saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” who was a “blood-bought Bible-believing Trinitarian Christian” holding to the “true faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (see Why I Quit Christianity). I was completely convinced that the Bible was “God’s Word” and was deeply devoted to Jesus Christ as my “personal Lord and Savior.”

But I was different than most evangelical Christians on two points.

First, I respected the Bible as “God’s Book.” I never thought it was “inerrant and infallible” because that struck me as obviously false, logically incoherent, and contrary to God’s own design. I was convinced that the Bible was “God’s Word” in the sense that it was exactly as he wanted it to be. If he had wanted to make an infallible book, why did he go to such lengths to make it appear to have errors and contradictions? And what good was the concept of inerrancy if each reader still had to choose amongst many contrary proposed solutions and so could never have certainty? We don’t have the original manuscripts and all existing manuscripts have differences, so we don’t even know specifically what the Bible originally said, let alone if it was inerrant. Neither do we have an inspired list telling us which books it should contain so Biblical fundamentalists are forced into the inconsistent position of appealing to tradition to justify their claim of Sola Scriptura. And who did these men think they were to limit God by their unfounded doctrines? It struck me as grossly arrogant and small-minded for mere humans to dictate how God must design his own book. And worst of all, the proposed solutions to the contradictions are often strained and unbelievable. Many are simply absurd. I saw a great irony – those who most strongly declared that the Bible was God’s Word seemed to be the least likely to admit what it actually said! They invent ludicrous “solutions” for the most blatant errors and contradictions as if God were some sort of idiot writing in crayon who needed to be “explained” by their sophistry. Their solutions directly contradicted their assumption that the Bible was anything like “God’s Word.”

Second, I differed from typical fundamentalists because the evidence of the Bible Wheel allowed me to hold Scripture with an open hand and open mind while maintaining that it truly was “God’s Book”. It also solved the question of Sola Scripture by proving which books belong in the Bible. I could allow for the problems because I was not holding to the fragile doctrine of “inerrancy and infallibility” that would shatter if a single error was discovered. This protected my integrity. It is why I have not had to retract any of the evidence I presented in the hundreds of articles on this website over the last decade. Sure, my interpretation of what the evidence implies has changed, but the evidence itself stands to the best of my knowledge. What it implies is now a mystery.

Thus it was my perception of the “supernatural integrity” of the Bible that solidified my Christian faith. I could not imagine it could ever be lost. But time heals all things, and little did I know that there was a gaping chasm in my personal integrity that required healing. I described the symptoms and the solution in my post Signs of Integrity Lost … and Integrity Found written on May 11, 2010 as follows:

INTEGRITY LOST

My wife Rose could testify to the litany of complaints I have been voicing for many years:

  • “I just don’t feel connected with anything.”
  • “The grass has lost its color.”
  • “I feel like I’m in a box.”
  • “There’s nothing to do and nowhere to go.”
  • “Nobody understands me.”
  • “I feel cut off from the world … it seems so far away.”
  • “There’s no meaning to life.”

These are the signs of integrity lost. I could extend the list indefinitely. These feelings were not always in the foreground – I would often have happy days, but the dark cloud was always in the background, like a shadow in my mind. Rose wanted to help, but did not know what to do. The problem began long before we met. I knew that these were classic symptoms of depression, but I did not believe that the answer was to be found in chemistry. And I thank God that I did not cover up those symptoms of my lost integrity with antidepressant drugs. I suspect it would have made the journey to wholeness much longer. Indeed, if the symptoms were buried I may never have recovered. Antidepressants can, of course, be lifesaving for others so I’m not speaking against them in any way. It’s just that they were not for me, and they are probably not a final solution for anyone. My fundamental problem was psychological in the most literal sense of psyche = soul. Simply stated, I had lost the integrity of my soul.

INTEGRITY FOUND

So how did I find my integrity? It has been a long process which I will be writing about over the next few weeks, but the turning point happened last December when Rose and I began a habit of spending hours talking around the campfire. Our one desire was to help each other speak truth with absolute freedom. Soon we began to discover what we really believe as opposed to what we thought we were supposed to believe. As the months went by, the truth began to be articulated with greater and greater clarity, and on May 3, 2010 I came to a fundamental realization that I had subjected myself to false ideas that I thought I was supposed to believe as a Christian. I consciously rejected sectarian Christianity and have retained only that which bears witness in my own conscience. That’s it. That’s freedom – perfect freedom. For the next three days I felt my soul expanding, opening, reviving. In nearly every conversation with Rose I would remind her that she had a transformed husband. And then this morning I awoke with an awareness that yet another layer of falsehood had “evaporated” over night. My soul is whole. I have integrity. I am a free man.

So what happened on May 3, 2010? That was the day that I wrote my article Ergun Caner’s Crimes against God and the Global Community. Caner was your typical bombastic Baptist preachin’ man who lies as easily as he breathes. Shortly after 9/11 he began promoting himself as a former member of the “Islamic Youth Jihad” trained in Turkey who came to America in his teens “to do that which was done on 11 September.” He invented this false history to launch himself into national fame as an “inside expert on Islam.” And as would be expected, his lies were uncritically accepted and heralded by many of the most prominent leaders in evangelical Christianity. Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University, personally chose him to be the President and Dean of his Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. There was no question about the facts. He had posted his lies on his own website and proclaimed them in countless sermons. And what did the “Christian leadership” do? They conspired to cover it all up and slander anyone who spoke the truth. I followed the scandal for months, and was utterly dismayed to see the leadership of Liberty University, the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention, prominent apologists like Norm Geisler and John Ankerberg, and many evangelical Christian ministries covering up the lies and attacking anyone who would speak the truth. This was the final straw for me. The most fundamentalist Christians – those who proclaimed Christ with the most fervor – proved themselves to be active agents of both intellectual and moral corruption. Like the proverbial frog in boiling water, I had unconsciously assimilated many lies from my decade of Christian fellowship. You’ve gotta be careful about the company you keep. I needed a dose of ipecac, the emetic syrup used to induced vomiting after a poison has been ingested. And that’s what this scandal provided, as I explained in my post of May 22, 2010 called Ergun Emetico Caner: The Ipecac of God (Nuclear, Weaponized):

The Ipecac has its Intended Effect

Ergun Caner’s decade of deception, supported by months of cover-ups by Liberty University along with the backup choir of countless denials, diversions, and deceptions by “Christian” pastors, apologists, and laypeople distilled itself into an exceedingly potent dose of ipecac that caused me to vomit out last remnants of sectarian, exclusivist, polemical, political, fundamentalist Christianity from my soul. It was not, of course, their public display of coordinated corruption that caused my transformation, but it did play a central role by helping me take the final step to genuine spiritual freedom. There now is no ambiguity. My soul is whole, complete, and clean. I have nothing to do with these creatures of darkness. I have nothing to do with their lies or corruption. I have nothing to do with their false version of God and religion. I wrote a little about this transformation in my post Signs of Integrity Lost … and Integrity Found.

This is why I call it the “Ipecac of God.” The Bible says that God “works all things together for good” – and the effect of this ipecac is good for everyone – it brings people back to God by causing them to vomit out putrid lies. It is good for everyone, including Caner and his supporters who will find freedom only when they choose to repent and live lives transparently in the light of truth. Imagine what it must be like to be a public figure who needs to lie every day about something as simple as his childhood! Ergun needs freedom – he needs to take a dose of the ipecac God has prepared by distilling his life of lies into a dose so potent a single swallow is enough for anyone.

Why the Ipecac was Required

I needed to vomit because I had ingested poisonous lies masquerading as religious truth. I did not choose to “convert” to Christianity – I slowly “awoke” in 1992 to find that I believed in Christ after a long spiritual search and a few years of independently studying Scripture. But I had a strange anxiety – given that I had discovered, rather than chosen, faith in Christ I did not know what else I might “discover” and I feared that I might “become like Jerry Falwell” (my exact words) if I were not careful. And such is what began to happen over the next decade as I tried to “fit in” with other Christians. It was a subtle process that involved intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual forces. There is, of course, a strong social pressure to conform within Christianity since it is defined by conformation to a set of propositions. And internally, I felt a very intense sense of responsibility towards “God and Christianity” since I believed that he had given me the revelation of the Bible Wheel. I mistakenly thought the Bible Wheel validated traditional, conservative, fundamentalist Christian beliefs, and this led me to accept things that otherwise would have been repugnant to my soul. Furthermore, I was driven to look for fellowship from the conservative crowd because they were the only folks who would even consider the validity of the Bible Wheel – folks aligned with liberal Christianity dismissed it out of hand without a thought. Their irrational rejection really hurt my feelings and convinced me all the more that they simply hated God and his Word. So I was pushed away from the liberals and pulled in by the fundamentalists, and it was not long before I began to slide down that slippery slope into the cult of polemical fundamentalist exclusivist political Christianity such as that espoused by Jerry Falwell. It was the final remnants of these poisonous ideas that the ipecac helped me to spew out.

I began to see that fundamentalist religions in general, and evangelical Christianity in particular, tend to corrupt both the minds and the morals of believers. Morality, truth, and integrity stand or fall together. They are one. How was it possible for such corruption to become so pervasive? Only by the systematic disintegration of the intellectual integrity of believers. The arguments used to defend Caner came from the same mouths that defend evangelical Christianity. For years I had been following the arguments of the most prominent Christian apologists and found them often to be utterly absurd, self-contradictory, filled with special pleading, deliberate evasions, outright falsehoods, and countless other errors. This is the greatest of ironies since Christianity has but one claim to any value – the claim that it is true! By perverting truth to defend their false doctrines, Christian apologists have proven beyond all doubt that their religion is not only false, but exceedingly corrosive to moral and intellectual integrity. I documented a particularly revealing case in my article The Art of Rationalization: A Case Study of Christian Apologist Rich Deem which well represents the general character of this crowd.

The most egregious examples come from attempts to defend the moral abominations attributed to God, such as his command to kill every man, woman, and child of the Canaanites. William Lane Craig, one of the most respected philosophical apologists of our day, attempted to justify God by asserting that the death of the children was “actually their salvation” because they automatically go to heaven. By his logic, abortionists saved many people whom God himself would have damned if they had been allowed to grow up to be unrepentant sinners. How a philosopher could fail to see such an obviously incoherent implication is beyond me. His defense brought much deserved criticism from secular folk, yet he maintains his position to this day.

It would take a thousand posts to adequately review how evangelical Christianity destroys the minds and morals of believers. In a debate between atheist Hector Avalos and evangelist Keith Darrel titled Is the Bible a Moral Guide for Today?, only the atheist could affirm that it was immoral to commit genocide. The Christian refused to agree because he knew that God had commanded it in the Bible.

As a final example, consider Paul Copan’s book Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God. It has received the highest praise from many Christian apologists though it is truly an intellectual abomination. A sampling of the responses from the blogosphere include such titles as Paul Copan and the epic fail known as “apologetics” and This is your brain on apologetics. Thom Stark, a self-proclaimed Christian, painstakingly dissected it and exposed error after error in his 300 page critique Is God a Moral Compromiser?. Here is a snippet from his preface where he describes exactly the kind of problems I have been documenting:

Books like Copan’s will only take Christianity ten steps backwards. In the name of inerrancy, the truth is trampled. Contemporary popular apologists tend to look for any way to salvage the text, no matter how unlikely or untenable the argument. They’ll use scholarly sources selectively, or pounce on one scholar’s argument and run away with it, without any concern for the fact the vast majority of scholars haven’t been persuaded by it. They’re not interested in what’s plausible, only in what’s “possible,” if it serves their immediate purposes. They trade in eisegesis, wild speculation, and fanciful interpretations, reading into the text what isn’t there, indeed, what’s often contradicted by the very passages they cite—something Copan himself does not infrequently, as we’ll see.

But they seem oblivious to the real harm they’re doing. Not only are they giving permission for Christians to be dishonest with the material, they’re reinforcing delusions that disconnect well-meaning Christians from reality, blinding them to the destructive effects many of these horror texts continue to have upon Christian communities and in broader society. Those Christians who aren’t genuinely struggling with the horror texts will read pulp apologetics books like Copan’s just to have their presuppositions reinforced, accepting the apologist’s word uncritically, even though, in most cases, these apologists aren’t even properly trained in biblical studies.

And how did Copan deal with Stark’s devastating critique that exposed countless errors? He essentially ignored it and has not given a substantive response in the nearly two years since its publication. His excuse? He complained that Stark’s critique was “laden with sarcasm, distortions, and ad hominem attacks” which makes “genuine dialogue and cordial exchange — the stuff of genuine scholarship — become difficult, if not preempted.” Genuine scholarship? If Copan had practiced that in his book, Stark’s critique would never have been needed.

As a final note, here is one of Stark’s statements that Christian apologist Randal Rauser deemed to be “way too strong”:

I know not a few former-Christians-turned-atheists who expressly credit Christian apologists like Copan for their loss of faith. These Christians, who are genuinely struggling with these texts, see right through these hollow, ad hoc, incoherent and inconsistent “answers” and recognize these “answer men” for what they are. And this is why I’m so critical of apologists like Paul Copan – not just because their arguments are frequently absurd and usually, at the very least, untenable, but because they are doing real damage to real people.

This quote is anything but “too strong.” It is perfectly accurate and describes me to a tee. It seems impossible to overstate the problem. Christian apologists are to intellectual integrity what Ergun Caner is to moral integrity. Both are corrosive agents of corruption.

Conclusion

Integrity is the highest value. Without it, we are disintegrated in a most literal sense. My perception of the integrity of Scripture displayed in the Bible Wheel solidified my belief that it was “God’s Word” and so led me into conservative evangelical Christianity, but when I got there the horrific lack of moral and intellectual integrity drove me out. I really had no choice if I wanted truth to reign in my soul.

The path to freedom and the restoration of integrity began in earnest in late 2009 with long conversations in which Rose and I explored what we really believed and why. We encouraged each other to speak with the greatest honesty and authenticity possible. Nothing was off limits. All questions were allowed. She describes one of her most significant turning points in her Progress Report on her blog, dated March 21, 2011. We “woke up” together – she after twenty-eight years as a Christian and me after fifteen. One of our earliest insights was the relation between laughter and truth, as described in my post After Much Laughter dated March 29, 2010:

Rose and Richard by fire

My wife Rose and myself by our campfire

Rose and I live on four acres in Eastern Washington. We spend a lot of time in conversation by our pond and fire pit. Our time together last night was particularly enjoyable. We made up this poem:

After much laughter,

My heart feels so fine,

I find myself seeking,

After laughter divine.

We recited this poem dozens of times while dancing around the campfire. We sang alternating lines to each other. We sang it like a country song, we sang it like blues. We sang it like a church hymn. And every time it seemed to open up to more insights into the nature of laughter and it made us laugh all the more. Mediation upon laughter – what evokes it and what inhibits it – became the center of our conversation.

My first insight was that laughter is a response to the “Aha!” moment of a sudden mental illumination. Rose immediately responded by saying “Right! It’s a “ha” moment – like a ha and a ha and a ha! Ahahaha!”

We both laughed – especially since the pun was (contrary to most) actually a pretty good one that captured the meaning in a memorable form. The “Aha!” moment is what happens when we “get” a joke.

Pond in Datime

Our pond and fire pit in the daytime

This led to the idea of freedom of thought and personal discovery as central to laughter. In as much as laughter is a response to the “Aha!” moment, a lack of laughter indicates a lack of freedom to think independently and to explore the world with childlike wonder. This is something Rose and I have been talking about a lot lately because we have seen that dogmatic religious and political organizations tend to inhibit free thought. A sure sign of a mind-controlling cult is a lack of authentic laughter that spontaneously bursts forth from a direct personal recognition of light and truth. The suppression of truth manifests as a lack of authentic enlightening laughter.

This then made me think of the Charismatic “Holy Laughter” movement which encourages people to mindlessly “laugh” without any reason whatsoever. This appears to be a psychological compensation for the absence of authentic laughter that can only burst forth upon a direct recognition of truth and light. It follows the primary Charismatic paradigm designed to excite the flesh to mimic the things of the Spirit. Is laughter missing? No problem! Just following me and say “Ha. Ha. Ha.” until the “Spirit” takes over. When there is no truth nor light they manufacture a hideously deformed false cackle and “drunkenness in the Spirit.” It is amazing to watch the audience pick up and obey the commands from the Christian teacher stage hypnotist. For example, immediately after Kenneth Hagen tells his audience that those filled with the Spirit at Pentecost must have been “acting like drunks” folks begin to put on “drunk faces” and slide off their chairs as if completely intoxicated on alcohol:

Wow. That demonstrates the power of suggestion. Let it warn everyone of the danger of opening your mind to the control of others.

Obviously, this is not the kind of “laughter divine” Rose and I find ourselves seeking. On the contrary, we do not seek the laughter for its own sake, but rather as the response of our souls to the direct perception of light and truth. And how do we seek the truth? That is another theme we have been following for months in circles around the campfire. The first condition to find truth is quite simple: Be still and know … (Psalm 46:10). When the heart and mind are made quiet, the truth swells up from your belly, and you know what you really feel. It might take hours, days or weeks to put into words, but there it is – the primal state of knowing comes first, then the words that helps us share it with each other.

Well, this is my first “stream of consciousness” post and I am very happy with it. I will be posting more under the category of “Thinking Freely.” Comments are most welcome.

Freedom of thought and personal discovery evoke deep laughter – the laughter of freedom. The laughter that breaks forth from your belly when you know the truth and are free from delusion. The laughter of an innocent child whose integrity is intact. This gives new meaning to the famous saying attributed to Christ:

Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

If the Kingdom of Heaven is to be found anywhere by anyone, it will be in the hearts of those who have the natural integrity of little children. Integrity, morality, truth, laughter, and love are all one.

You can’t go wrong with integrity, and you can’t go right without it.

Let 2013 be the Year of Love and Unity!

Posted in Losing My Religion, Thinking Freely Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
34 comments on “2013 New Year Reflections: How Integrity led me into and drove me out of Evangelical Christianity
  1. Elizabeth says:

    Hi, landed here by accident while trying to find images on a google search for a serpent (Adam and Eve’s) with hands. I’m thinking of a specific painting (Dutch? 16th century?). Anyway, I got to reading, quite intrigued by the wheel as well as your process and would just like to send you and Rose a big big interstellar hug. I love the idea of you two dancing around your fire and making up poems. Yep, that’s when life is good. And I love this idea of integrity. There are many ways to talk about it, or angles in, but the way you put it is really good. Ah, sigh!!! Yes, it’s so important!! I have sacrificed so much in my life to be able to maintain it. It’s been a very rough road.

  2. Hey there Elizabeth,

    This is why I love the web. Folks like you go looking for one thing and come dancing in here with wonderful words and a big smiling attitude.

    We accept your “galactic hug.” 🙂

    Don’t be shy to share your insights. Integrity is indeed of the highest importance and there are many angles to it. I’ve only touched the “fringe of its garment” in my posts.

    All the best,

    Richard

  3. Mystykal says:

    Just wanted to say I enjoy your thoughts and I too have found a path which is less travelled… And that has made all the difference in my life. May you continue to shine in the light of Truth and Love – For GOD IS LOVE!

    Peace out!

  4. Thanks for the good words Mystykal. As your name suggests, to know “God” is a fundamentally “mystical” experience. And as such, it differs dramatically from person to person. That’s something that institutional religions (which are really political power structures) just can’t deal with.

  5. John Robbins says:

    May I express myself with integrity and frankly I would say? Hopefully I’m not premature in my perception that you have lost your faith in that the God of the bible doesn’t exist??

    Let me say first off that I too have become tired in many ways of the “westernized” version of Christianity but have always thought freely and independently, enough so as to call people out who are supposed to be the “authority”. So I understand perfectly where you’re coming from regarding being “sick” of certain things in the “religious” community… but I’m not “religious”, I’m a Christian having the Holy Spirit and the bible as my guide, not man’s dogma.

    “Thus it was my perception of the “supernatural integrity” of the Bible that solidified my Christian faith.”

    This is the very problem from the start, you never had a relationship with God you simply “believed” in the words of a book. You never were changed by the power of God or endued with his spirit, he couldn’t have ever been real to you in the sense as if he were a person in the flesh. Once this happens it isn’t impossible to turn your back or walk away from him, but it is impossible to deny he is real. I’m sorry this happened to you this way and you have changed your “belief” because God truly is as real as any other thing you know as “real”.

    So you discovered people lying and blamed it on the idea there is no God? How ridicules! As intelligent and learned as you “seem” to be, you can’t see through this? People of all walks can be wrong or deceived or proud enough to lie or at least give that impression by their words or actions, but that has nothing to do with the idea of there being a God… that is simply you imposing your own doubts and lack of faith into the matter at best. I was considered the “black sheep” at my original church for an association I had with a particular person, it was completely out of character for “Christian” people. It had no effect on my relationship with God who I know personally. Such things can’t destroy the faith of those who are born again because we don’t look to people to justify or demonstrate who God is. People are human, we are fallen and error and rebellion is in our nature. Even when we are born again we fail at best, usually by choice…

    “moral abominations”, Such a thing truly appears as such to us doesn’t it and maybe it is by any estimation, but if the character of God is as the bible says it is then there must be some reason he would suggest such a thing and in that case the good of it must have out weighed the evil. Who are we to judge things we cannot understand because we disagree with them? If someone killed their wife I would think it was horrible but if they did it to rid her of something even worse than death how does what I think matter? They were acting in her best interest. Besides, death to God is no thing hard to over come so there in he has the right and power and authority to do as he sees fit. As far as abortion goes, ( only for arguments sake ), it absolutely would be better to never be born and go to heaven than to live and go to hell, don’t you think? Maybe you don’t think so cause now you don’t “believe” in Hell I suppose? I am pro life by the way and I don’t understand why God does and allows the things he does, but I trust his judgement, not mine. You suggest you don’t like arrogant thinking, how arrogant is it to think we have better judgement than God?

    By the way, our “psyche” is our mind not our soul. Our soul is the life force with in us that is eternal. It shouldn’t be considered synonymous with mind or spirit which can be altered by experiences, the soul does not change.

    Also, I have discovered some very interesting info. here at your site so thank you for setting it up and maintaining it!!

    If I have misjudged things here then disregard my comments, but if not, don’t let people in their failures and rebellion stop you from reconsidering you position. Call on God and he will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you don’t know…

    Sincerely,

    John Robbins

  6. John Robbins says:

    Wow…! some integrity you have there Mr. McGough with the open minded, truthful thinking! I guess not… that must be something you reserve only for yourself and those who would pretend to agree with you. Censoring comments and not allowing the truth or any other perspective to be told is exactly what you complained about the “Evangelicals” doing, right?

    Where is my post? A little to much “free thought” for your taste? I’m not trying to be harsh but according to you people should be able to express themselves and still be heard by those in authority. If nothing else you have learned how to be a hypocrite from your “religious experimentation”…! I, like many others have much to offer here at your site but if people do not want to listen then what can you say. It seems to me from your response, or should I say lack of response, to my post, that it is you who wants to be on the podium receiving the worship like those you disdain so, maybe you just got jealous and that’s what drove you out…?

    Sincerely,

    John Robbins

  7. John Robbins says:

    How strange, my first post reappeared while I was responding to the fact that it wasn’t here. Well under the circumstances I should retract my comments in that most recent post and apologize to the fullest, my apologies Mr. McGough… hope you will accept!

    I do speak frankly on my perspectives and appreciate others doing the same… even if it induces a little pressure upon us.

    Sincerely,

    John Robbins

  8. Good morning John,

    Sorry for the delay in approving your previous post. You posted it at 11:38 PM last night after I had gone to bed so it was waiting patiently in the moderation queue. It’s now 7:53 AM here in Washington state and I have just begun my day with a cup of tea and your kind comments.

    I hope this minor misunderstanding will not deter you from entering into serious discourse with me.

    I will now respond to your other comments.

    All the best,

    Richard

  9. Good morning John,

    I most certainly accept your apology! Thanks! And I love “frank speech.” I understand that you thought I was being a hypocrite. And if that were the case, you would have every right to get angry. I would feel the same way myself.

    So, now that we got that cleared up, I’ll take a look at your post from last night.

    All the best,

    Richard

  10. Good morning again John,

    You wrote:

    May I express myself with integrity and frankly I would say? Hopefully I’m not premature in my perception that you have lost your faith in that the God of the bible doesn’t exist??

    Yes, I encourage you to speak as “frankly” as possible, with full integrity of what you believe is true. I consider that the “fast track to truth.”

    As for the “God of the Bible” – yes, you are correct. I do not believe the that such a God exists. In my estimation, an honest, informed, and intelligent reading of the Bible does not allow for that possibility.

    So I understand perfectly where you’re coming from regarding being “sick” of certain things in the “religious” community… but I’m not “religious”, I’m a Christian having the Holy Spirit and the bible as my guide, not man’s dogma.

    Your distinction between “religion” and “Christianity” is very common amongst evangelical Christians. But it doesn’t seem to have any real meaning because the fact is that your beliefs are dogmas of Christianity derived from the Bible. Take ten Christians who all claim they have only the “Holy Spirit and the bible” as their guide. They will often hold to radically different beliefs! For example, on my forum there are two people who claim that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God, but one is a Trinitarian who believes that Jesus is the Second Person of the Godhead whereas the other is an anti-Trinitarian who believes that doctrine is utterly fallacious. So if two Christians can’t agree about something as fundamental as that, we know that they both cannot be correct about being led by only the “Holy Spirit and the Bible.”

    This is the very problem from the start, you never had a relationship with God you simply “believed” in the words of a book. You never were changed by the power of God or endued with his spirit, he couldn’t have ever been real to you in the sense as if he were a person in the flesh. Once this happens it isn’t impossible to turn your back or walk away from him, but it is impossible to deny he is real. I’m sorry this happened to you this way and you have changed your “belief” because God truly is as real as any other thing you know as “real”.

    Wow – those are some pretty presumptuous judgments! How exactly do you think yourself qualified to tell me what I believed and experienced? I was absolutely indistinguishable from any other Bible-believer who claimed to be touched by God and “born again”. Your idea that God is as “real to you in the sense as if he were a person in the flesh” is typical empty words I’ve heard from countless Christians. If you have any self-awareness, then you know that God is not “real” in the way a person in the flesh is real. Sure, he is “real” to you as a subjective psychological experience, but he is most definitely not “real” in the way you say. Please think carefully about this. Folks in all the other religions that you reject, and even other Christians who believe what you believe, will say that God is “real” the way you say he is real, but then they say things about him directly contradict what others say so we know that the most likely explanation is that “God” is a subjective experience. A projection of our own thinking. This is why God cannot be TRUSTED to actually do anything.

    So you discovered people lying and blamed it on the idea there is no God? How ridicules! As intelligent and learned as you “seem” to be, you can’t see through this? People of all walks can be wrong or deceived or proud enough to lie or at least give that impression by their words or actions, but that has nothing to do with the idea of there being a God…

    I never said anything like that. I never “blamed God” for the bad things Christians do. It would indeed be absurd to deny truth merely because some bad people claimed to be following it. I reject the Bible as the “authoritative” Word of God because that is an impossibility. It contains too many errors, contradictions, confusions, and absurdities to function that way at all. That’s why no one can agree about what it really means. I explained my reasons in my article Why I Quit Christianity. It had nothing to do with the bad behavior of professing Christians.

    So why did I write about their bad behavior? Because it worked as a catalyst to help free me from false religious dogmas that had ensnared me. And it helps expose how profoundly absurd the Christian assertions really are. We’re not talking about a wayward believer here or there. We are talking about how the religion itself tends to corrupt both the minds and the morals of believers. How else could it be possible that liars like Ergun Caner and the leadership of Liberty University and the Southern Baptist Convention and apologists like Norm Geisler and John Ankerberg could continue LYING LYING LYING publicly year after year? It reveals how their false dogmatic religion has corrupted their souls in a most fundamental way.

    “moral abominations”, Such a thing truly appears as such to us doesn’t it and maybe it is by any estimation, but if the character of God is as the bible says it is then there must be some reason he would suggest such a thing and in that case the good of it must have out weighed the evil. Who are we to judge things we cannot understand because we disagree with them?

    Who are we to judge??? If we don’t judge, then why aren’t we Muslims or Hindus or Mormons?

    The problem is not that I don’t understand what the Bible says about God. The problem is that I understand all too well. The god of the Bible is the god of primitive people with primitive morals. Just look at my article The Inextricable Sexism of the Bible.

    Your assertion that “if the character of God is as the bible says it is then there must be some reason” is based upon the presumption that the Bible is true. So it’s circular reasoning.

    Besides, death to God is no thing hard to over come so there in he has the right and power and authority to do as he sees fit. As far as abortion goes, ( only for arguments sake ), it absolutely would be better to never be born and go to heaven than to live and go to hell, don’t you think? Maybe you don’t think so cause now you don’t “believe” in Hell I suppose? I am pro life by the way and I don’t understand why God does and allows the things he does, but I trust his judgement, not mine. You suggest you don’t like arrogant thinking, how arrogant is it to think we have better judgement than God?

    Your assertion that you trust “God’s judgment” rather than your own is fallacious. You don’t know anything about “God’s judgment” and the only reason you think you do is because you have read some stuff in a book and had subjective experiences of the “Holy Spirit” confirming your own interpretation! Think about that. How could you tell if you were deluded or not?

    You judge God all the time. It’s just that you only allow yourself to make positive judgments – that he is good, and loving and righteous – because you have JUDGED that the Bible is true. But who are you to make such a judgment? Have you considered the consequences if you are wrong? If the Bible really is NOT entirely true then you could be blaspheming God when you say he killed all those kids. So we all must make judgments. You have chosen the easy path of believing what you’ve been told, that the Bible is true.

    If it would be better never to be born then why are you against abortion? That’s the problem with any attempt to justified the genocide.

    And you do believe in eternal conscious torment in hell? If that is true, then God is the author of an eternal evil. How do you reconcile that?

    By the way, our “psyche” is our mind not our soul. Our soul is the life force with in us that is eternal. It shouldn’t be considered synonymous with mind or spirit which can be altered by experiences, the soul does not change.

    Not true. The word “psyche” means “soul.” Of course, the Bible is very confused on this point. It does not consistently distinguish between mind, spirit, heart, and soul.

    Also, I have discovered some very interesting info. here at your site so thank you for setting it up and maintaining it!!

    You are welcome. I leave it up because I believe truth rules, and all the facts remain true as far as I can tell, only my interpretation of them has changed. And it’s a rare record of transformation since I began this site back in 2001 as a fervent believer.

    If I have misjudged things here then disregard my comments, but if not, don’t let people in their failures and rebellion stop you from reconsidering you position. Call on God and he will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you don’t know…

    As explained above, the failings of Christians have nothing to do with the truth or falsehood of the Bible as such. But they do help expose the falsehood of the religion known as “evangelical Christianity” which dominates and harms our nation in so many ways.

    Thanks for your frank comments. I really appreciate them.

    All the very best,

    Richard

  11. John says:

    As for the “God of the Bible” – yes, you are correct. I do not believe the that such a God exists. In my estimation, an honest, informed, and intelligent reading of the Bible does not allow for that possibility.

    Have to disagree because the perspective you suggest in your estimation doesn’t allow for any of the real world experiential evidences that exist within peoples lives, the miraculous and the like that occur today which agree with things recorded in the bible hundreds of years ago. Not to mention that an “intelligent” reading would allow for the possibility that the reader is not all knowing and therefore is disqualified from rendering such an opinion due to his own limited mental capacities. What would allow a reader to agree with your perspective is called doubt and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with intelligence. In fact it seems that intelligence would lean toward the possible and not be limited to what is known or observed, hence “creativity” is directly related to intelligence… not limited by it… that would only be arrogant pride.

    “”Your distinction between “religion” and “Christianity” is very common amongst evangelical Christians. But it doesn’t seem to have any real meaning because the fact is that your beliefs are dogmas of Christianity derived from the Bible.””

    This response seems to reserve “some pretty presumptuous judgments” since your response again ignores real life facts of experiences. There is a huge difference between belief because you have heard and belief because you know. All people are not parrots or robots repeating and mimicking what they’ve heard or seen from other people for the sake fitting in or agreeing with the crowd. Some of us who “know” know what we know because we have experienced it first hand whether the bible had said it or not, it just so happens that the bible agrees with the experiences “before” they happen to people. The people don’t have to know the biblical “dogmas” before they have the experiences, therefore our belief cannot be based on dogmas. These things have become dogmas because they are real world experiences that exist not the other way around. Just because the bible suggests certain things and we still observe those things at work today has nothing to do with the fact that the bible says those things, they are independent of each other, you are not being objective with the information.

    For arguments sake, your view is like assuming that because books of mathematics exist that is the reason we have mathematics! Sounds stupid right? Ok. Then, we understand those laws have been in existence before time was, which is exactly why we have religion and religious experiences. There are those types of forces at work whether people know or believe in them or not. It just so happens that people have recorded their experiences over time Christian or other wise. This does gender the question though, which one is right… I would say they can all be some what “right” having some “force” or power associated with them. The bible puts all this into perspective for us in that it defines what those powers are to some degree and describes that force which is “all powerful” as the person called Jehovah… so why associate whit a weaker power? Now whether we choose to believe or agree with the bible is up to each person. A relationship with God is just as provable as practicing math just some what less straight forward, you have to learn how to perceive the results so they can be appreciated. Look at it this way, math books describe what is or what can happen, like the bible or some other book, but it isn’t the cause of what is happening…

    “”So if two Christians can’t agree about something as fundamental as that, we know that they both cannot be correct about being led by only the “Holy Spirit and the Bible.””

    Another misjudgement on your part. What we can “know” is that there is a difference in what these persons “believe” or understand about what the bible says which goes back to the fallibility of people in general not necessarily the bible. It has absolutely nothing to do with knowing how these persons are led spiritually. As I suggested with my “presumptuous judgments” you have chosen to allow the thoughts and actions of others deter your own thoughts on the reality of God and the bible for what ever reason. Neither of these people are all knowing in their view or understanding of the bible so why would you attribute such authority to their comments regarding whether the bible is true or not? That makes no sense to me at all on any subject in question… In Rev. the bible suggests that no man knows the “word of God” except God himself.

    Rev. 19, 12 …and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.

    13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

    Obviously this could mean that we don’t know it like he does, “we see through a glass darkly” as Paul said hence all the denominational division and misrepresentation of scripture. For an intelligent person I don’t understand how you could be guided, or should I say misguided, by other peoples ignorance…

    “”We’re not talking about a wayward believer here or there. We are talking about how the religion itself tends to corrupt both the minds and the morals of believers.””

    Not only is this untrue in my uninformed “opinion”, but you can’t judge the majority of Christians on your small scale experience either, since you don’t know the majority of Christians or their individual beliefs.

    “”the Bible is very confused on this point. It does not consistently distinguish between mind, spirit, heart, and soul.””

    You’d be hilarious if it weren’t so sad! Because the bible isn’t written the way you think it should be or because it declares things that are confusing to you, you suggest it is confused!! This kind of comment verges on some form of insanity or vision of grandeur… do you realize that? This makes it hard to tolerate your thoughts… one foolish thing after another. The soul in the literal sense is the “life force”, thing that is within us without thought, action or emotion, not the mind or spirit used figuratively as you said, which describe these other faculties of a creature.

    “”I reject the Bible as the “authoritative” Word of God because that is an impossibility. It contains too many errors, contradictions, confusions, and absurdities to function that way at all.””

    Did you hear your self as you wrote those words? Once again you exhort your own fallibility as a human operating in your own arrogance and ignorance. How could you know what is possible or not in any regard? The most advanced science in the world doesn’t know what holds matter together how can you begin to imagine what is possible or not? These kinds of statements only serve to destroy any credibility of their speaker! They are ludicrous!! A man can’t even quote the whole bible verbatim, how could we possibly know God’s ultimate purpose of the bible and why it is written in the first place? So actually it boils down to your ignorance of what the bible is as God see’s it. Even to make such comments figuratively is foolish… everything you say is based on your tiny human knowledge, intellect and perspective. There is no wisdom in anything you have said so far!

    “”But they do help expose the falsehood of the religion known as “evangelical Christianity” which dominates and harms our nation in so many ways.””

    What they help do is demonstrate the reasons why we need God in the first place. It isn’t the falsehood of religion it is the fallibility of humanity, that is why God sent his son to begin with and he will return to end all this stupidity we are perpetrating on a daily basis with our arrogant doubt and intellectual philosophy. The precepts taught in the bible are what our nation is based on in “so many ways” and offer nothing but good to anyone who will practice those things.

    “”It reveals how their false dogmatic religion has corrupted their souls in a most fundamental way””

    Wrong perspective again… all these types of actions demonstrate are based on the individual not their religion. They are personal choices to depart from what scripture teaches just like every other action which is in opposition to it’s teaching. Christianity has been misuesed through history and is probably the greatest reason why people have departed just as you have, but all it does is prove man kind is exactly the way the bible describes us to be. I might never be able to understand how people view religion, to use your terminology, in such a way that it stops them from seeing God and his son the way the bible says they are other than to believe they are bitter toward certain people or circumstances and have become blinded to who God is because they never knew him to begin with. The church is sewn with tares don’t you realize that? So when you see actions that don’t agree with what the bible teaches you either have a weak or failing “true” christian who will eventually take responsibility for their actions or a tare who will continue to justify their actions… Jimmy Swaggart for example, I’m not saying he is perfect, obviously Jesus Christ is our example, he just demonstrated his repentance publicly. It can always be argued that something is not genuine but that just goes back to our own ignorance, distrust and doubt for what ever reason… as you have done toward the God of the bible.

    “”this is based upon the presumption that the Bible is true.””

    The assumption that the sun will shine tomorrow is circular reasoning based on the observation that it shined today so everything we think we know is based on experience so it is all circular reasoning. This is the base problem that you and those who agree with you have… you have chosen to believe the bible isn’t true based on your experience. It wouldn’t matter how it was written you would still question its authority with endless human reasoning, it is in our rebellious nature. Because of my experience, not my assumption, through my relationship with God regarding various aspects of what the bible teaches which I know now to be true demonstrates to me that it can be trusted in the other things it says. The bible offers answers for almost every problem we encounter in our lives but it does not go on with copious ramblings to satisfy your every thought of belief or doubt. It is through the Holy Spirit’s witness with your spirit and the scripture that we can experience the truth as necessary, the rest is faith because of the former.

    Well speaking of copious ramblings…! I guess I have done enough of that. I;m sure I haven’t touched on every point, which is hard to do if you type as slowly as I do. Hopefully I haven’t been offensive in my comments, I have the tendency to be pretty combative but I assure you I mean no harm…

    Sincerely,

    John Robbins

  12. Good evening John,

    I really appreciate your “copious ramblings.” It helps clarify our differences and the reasons for them. And don’t worry – I don’t take any offense at your plain speech. On the contrary, I relish it and will speak in kind.

    Have to disagree because the perspective you suggest in your estimation doesn’t allow for any of the real world experiential evidences that exist within peoples lives, the miraculous and the like that occur today which agree with things recorded in the bible hundreds of years ago.

    I think there has been a misunderstanding. I do not deny “real world experiential evidences” that folks find convincing. The experiences are “real” to the individual having them, but that says nothing about their objective validity. Would you accept a Mormon’s “burning of the bosom” as sufficient proof of the truth of Mormonism? I presume not. Likewise, the primary boast of Scientology is that “It Works.” But does it? Only in the minds of believers. I do not deny that they have subjective experiences that convince them of the truth of their beliefs. My point is that such subjective experiences are unreliable as guides to truth.

    During my 15 years as a Christian I had many experiences that I interpreted as confirming Christianity. But integrity compelled to admit that I also had many experiences that disconfirm it. The typical Christian response is “Don’t rely on your feelings!!!” …. unless of course if they confirm your bias. That’s the key problem – the subjective experiences you appeal to would lead you out of your faith as easily as into it if you did not have a confirmation bias.

    Not to mention that an “intelligent” reading would allow for the possibility that the reader is not all knowing and therefore is disqualified from rendering such an opinion due to his own limited mental capacities. What would allow a reader to agree with your perspective is called doubt and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with intelligence. In fact it seems that intelligence would lean toward the possible and not be limited to what is known or observed, hence “creativity” is directly related to intelligence… not limited by it… that would only be arrogant pride.

    Are you saying that you can’t reject Islam, Scientology, or Momonism because you are not “all knowing”? If that is your standard, then you can’t claim anything about anything. We are all in the same boat. We all make judgments without being “all knowing.” That’s the human condition. It cannot be fixed by asserting that the Bible is “God’s Word” because the fallible interpreters are not be able to interpret it infallibly (as history abundantly demonstrates).

    Doubt (i.e. skepticism) is the antiseptic of the mind. It’s the only way any of us can have any confidence that we are not deluded. Christians are every bit as skeptical as any atheist when it comes to anything that contradicts their personal beliefs. For example, Christians are often extremely skeptical of science because of things like evolution and the age of the earth.

    Your suggestion that doubt “doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with intelligence” may be true in the sense that people can be both intelligent and closed minded, but I wasn’t talking about the intelligence of a person. I was talking about the intelligence of a religious dogma, that is, whether it is justifiable and based on logic and facts.

    I agree that “intelligence would lean toward the possible” but it makes no sense to contrast that with the limitations imposed by “what is known or observed.” The things we know and observe are the foundation of all our knowledge. Or what? Are you saying there is no truth? It’s all a matter of subjective experience? It seems like you have broken the connection between reality and “what we know and observe.” I take them as inseparable.

    This response seems to reserve “some pretty presumptuous judgments” since your response again ignores real life facts of experiences. There is a huge difference between belief because you have heard and belief because you know. All people are not parrots or robots repeating and mimicking what they’ve heard or seen from other people for the sake fitting in or agreeing with the crowd. Some of us who “know” know what we know because we have experienced it first hand whether the bible had said it or not, it just so happens that the bible agrees with the experiences “before” they happen to people. The people don’t have to know the biblical “dogmas” before they have the experiences, therefore our belief cannot be based on dogmas.

    There is no “presumption” in my judgments. Your appeal to subjective experiences as “proof” is simply fallacious. It appears that you have a double standard, since I very much doubt that you would accept such subjective experiences as evidence of the truth of Islam or Scientology.

    These things have become dogmas because they are real world experiences that exist not the other way around. Just because the bible suggests certain things and we still observe those things at work today has nothing to do with the fact that the bible says those things, they are independent of each other, you are not being objective with the information.

    My judgments are objective. It is you who appeals to subjective experiences as evidence for your religious beliefs. And it is fine if your experiences have led you to personal beliefs, but it is fallacious for you to present it as evidence to another person since that other person has no way to objectively verify your subjective experiences.

    Another misjudgement on your part. What we can “know” is that there is a difference in what these persons “believe” or understand about what the bible says which goes back to the fallibility of people in general not necessarily the bible. It has absolutely nothing to do with knowing how these persons are led spiritually. As I suggested with my “presumptuous judgments” you have chosen to allow the thoughts and actions of others deter your own thoughts on the reality of God and the bible for what ever reason. Neither of these people are all knowing in their view or understanding of the bible so why would you attribute such authority to their comments regarding whether the bible is true or not? That makes no sense to me at all on any subject in question… In Rev. the bible suggests that no man knows the “word of God” except God himself.

    Since no one is “all knowing” why do you begin with the presupposition that the Bible is “The Word of God”? You don’t know that is true. It’s just a dogma taught by highly biased and deeply fallible religious fundamentalists. The Bible does not even define itself. You don’t even know what books it should contain, and worse, you do not know if God claims to be its author. Therefore, your dogmas run the risk of blasphemously attributing the errors and falsehoods to God which in effect is calling him a liar. It is this false dogma that destroys the minds of believers who try to defend the Bible.

    Wrong perspective again… all these types of actions demonstrate are based on the individual not their religion. They are personal choices to depart from what scripture teaches just like every other action which is in opposition to it’s teaching. Christianity has been misuesed through history and is probably the greatest reason why people have departed just as you have, but all it does is prove man kind is exactly the way the bible describes us to be.

    I’m not talking about people who “depart from what Scripture teaches.” I was talking about the people who pervert truth to defend their religion. Take a look at my article The Art of Rationalization: A Case Study of Christian Apologist Rich Deem to see why I came tto the conclusion that dogmatic religions like Evangelical Christianity tend to corrupt both the minds and the morals of believers. I’m not talking about people like Jimmy Swaggart who got caught in a moral peccadillo. I’m talking about prominent Christian leaders and apologists who pervert truth in their effort to defend their religion. I’m talking about the hoards of hundreds of thousands of mindless believers who flocked to the Lakeland Revival with the absurd company of clown “apostles” led by blatant liar Todd Bentley. I’m talking about how dogmatic religions in general destroy both the minds and morals of believers.

    The assumption that the sun will shine tomorrow is circular reasoning based on the observation that it shined today so everything we think we know is based on experience so it is all circular reasoning. This is the base problem that you and those who agree with you have… you have chosen to believe the bible isn’t true based on your experience. It wouldn’t matter how it was written you would still question its authority with endless human reasoning, it is in our rebellious nature

    First, to believe the sun will rise tomorrow is inductive reasoning from past experience. It is not “circular reasoning.” Circular reasoning is when you presume the truth of what you are trying to prove. This is what you are doing when you say that the Bible is God’s Word because the Bible says it is God’s Word.

    Second, I have not “chosen” to believe the Bible is false. I concluded that from reading what it says. And yes it would make a difference if the Bible did not present God as a primitive Bronze-age tribal war god who sees violence as a solution to all problems.

    Now it is important to understand that the Bible could be some sort of “divine message” for all I know. But there is one thing it cannot be, and that is the “inerrant and infallible Word of God” as taught by evangelical fundamentalists.

    Well speaking of copious ramblings…! I guess I have done enough of that. I;m sure I haven’t touched on every point, which is hard to do if you type as slowly as I do. Hopefully I haven’t been offensive in my comments, I have the tendency to be pretty combative but I assure you I mean no harm…

    Again, I really appreciate your comments. And like you, I barely touched on the points you raised. The problem is that too many points were brought up, and it would take a post many times this size to address them all. If you want to continue this discourse, we should probably try to narrow down the conversation to one topic at a time in the hope of coming to a mutual understanding. If we are both reasonable men, then our differences will lie mostly in our presuppositions.

    Great chatting!

    Richard

  13. Mystykal says:

    Oh my!
    Richard I applaude you and your thoughtful answers to the above gentleman! I admire your sincere approach to all things spiritual. I do have a question and an observation. My question is, What role does faith, as definded in the Bible, play in an individual’s life, if any? Since faith and GOD are inseperable (without faith it is impossible to please GOD) does the fact that faith does tend to have a practical application on life in general – does that beg the question as to the nature of GOD itself.?

    My observation is I take it that you also do not believe in a Devil or Satan… So do you think evil as defined as the antagonist to good (GOD) really exists apart from the human mind experience?

    Namaste

    Mystykal

  14. Good morning Mystykal,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    What role does faith, as defined in the Bible, play in an individual’s life? Well, it’s not actually “defined” in the Bible. There are two fundamentally distinct concepts of faith:

    1) Belief in a proposition, like “Jesus died for your sins.”

    2) Trust and trustworthiness, like “I have faith in my wife to be faithful.”

    These two kinds of faith can be quite antithetical. The first is “anti-knowledge” – it is believing something that you don’t know to be true, whereas the second is based fundamentally on knowledge. I wouldn’t trust someone I don’t know!

    Religious control over others is based on the first kind of “faith.” The sheep are taught to believe what they are told, and in the “good old days” they were threatened with both physical death and eternal torment in hell if they thought for themselves. This is why the verse you quoted is so dangerous. It makes perfect sense to say that “without faith it is impossible to please God” if we use the second definition, but the context clearly shows that the first definition was implied:

    Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

    The belief that the specific God of Christianity “exists” is a belief in a proposition learned from a book written and interpreted by fallible humans who have ruled over humans for nearly two millennia. Why should we believe anything they say? Under the guise of “believing God” they are really telling us that we must believe them. They have always sought to rule over the lives and minds of others. The Bible has been their tool. It must be examined with open eyes. There is no reason anyone should accept is as “God’s authoritative Word.”

    Now I do think that “faith” (in the sense of INTEGRITY) would be required to “know God” (if such exists) because integrity is the key to existence. But that’s a far cry from what is being taught in the Bible.

    As for Satan – I think that is a product of primitive minds that believed all sorts of superstitions to explain things they didn’t understand. E.g. disease = demon possession, things like that.

    Thanks for the thoughtful questions! They really help me think through my transition from believer to free thinker.

    All the best,

    Richard

  15. Mystykal says:

    Hi Richard:

    I almost fell off my chair! I was very glad to hear from you. I enjoyed your comments and observations very much. I really appreciate that you took the time to explain your perspective. You should PREACH! hehe… That was a sermon worth hearing!

    Thanks so much!

    Mystykal

  16. Mystykal says:

    Hi Richard:

    Pardon me for maybe taking this idea into the “weeds” of theological rubbish…

    1) Belief in a proposition, like “Jesus died for your sins.”

    2) Trust and trustworthiness, like “I have faith in my wife to be faithful.”

    These two kinds of faith can be quite antithetical. The first is “anti-knowledge” – it is believing something that you don’t know to be true, whereas the second is based fundamentally on knowledge. I wouldn’t trust someone I don’t know!
    ==============================

    You siad about faith that their are two kinds. Understood… I am wondering how do you trust in something like love or peace? They clearly fall under the first definition of faith – Do thay not?

    You may feel “loved” by your wife but that is only your propositional belief which could change in an instant based on the current percieved emotional interaction at the moment. A little like a religious “awakening” or what is called “satori” realization awareness.

    Perhaps, is there some exstensencial phenom which can be understood to be real? In the sense that it – the exoerience – qualifies as a cat. 1 faith experience yet have the qualities of a cat. 2 faith reality?

    Ok.
    I look forward to hearing from you !

    All the Best!

    Namaste,

    Mystykal

  17. Mystykal says:

    Hi Richard:

    Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

    The belief that the specific God of Christianity “exists” is a belief in a proposition learned from a book written and interpreted by fallible humans who have ruled over humans for nearly two millennia. Why should we believe anything they say? Under the guise of “believing God” they are really telling us that we must believe them.
    =======================
    Just wondering… Would any non-specific “GOD exist as a posibility for you? Non-Christian/Jewish/Pagan etc…. just GOD – the Great Mystery….

    I ask because of the probability factors in the Wheel theory. The very fact that such a intricate process exists which seems to suggest a greater “intelligence” than the writers of the Bible ever had – must be rooted in some “first Cause” – or at least some SOURCE point? I am thinking that it isn’t easy to fathom a first Principle which is “past finding out”. To say GOD does not exist simply because the Bible writers or any seers/clairvoyants are poor transmitters of the experience and hence wrote down less than accurate data – would seem to be overridden by the internal number sequences which clearly exist. Pointing to the possibility of a true path to the Absolute.

    Just a thought.

    Namaste,

    Mystykal

  18. Mystykal says:

    Hi Richard:

    One last thought. Considering what “GOD” had to work with – a bunch of stone age wack jobs – Does it not seem reasonable that in order to preserve the True Way a disguise must be woven around the facts which are hiding the jewel of Truth?

    “There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end of it is death!”

    “The Truth, although hidden, is knowable.”

    Namaste

    Mystykal

  19. Many Christian apologists try to explain the problems in the Bible by saying that God was “accommodating” their primitive morals and understanding. I don’t think that is a good solution because a truly wise God could have done a much better job. The Bible bears all the marks of being produced by primitive people and incorporating their myths and superstitions. Of course, this doesn’t mean there could not be many “hidden jewels of truth” – and there could be a “divine mind” behind it all. But it’s nothing like what fundamentalist Christians think. If it is anything, it is much more mysterious than that.

  20. Just wondering… Would any non-specific “GOD exist as a posibility for you? Non-Christian/Jewish/Pagan etc…. just GOD – the Great Mystery….

    Yes, I have no problem with the idea of some sort of “God” in the sense of a mystical “Ground of Being” or “Cosmic Mind” underlying all reality. My problem is with the “apotheosis of ego” that we see in the theistic style gods such as Allah, Apollo, Yahweh, and Zeus.

    I ask because of the probability factors in the Wheel theory. The very fact that such a intricate process exists which seems to suggest a greater “intelligence” than the writers of the Bible ever had – must be rooted in some “first Cause” – or at least some SOURCE point? I am thinking that it isn’t easy to fathom a first Principle which is “past finding out”. To say GOD does not exist simply because the Bible writers or any seers/clairvoyants are poor transmitters of the experience and hence wrote down less than accurate data – would seem to be overridden by the internal number sequences which clearly exist. Pointing to the possibility of a true path to the Absolute.

    Again, I do not say that there is no “God” of any kind. I simply don’t have knowledge about such things. But I do reject all theistic style gods that humans have produced.

    As for the “Ultimate Answer” – such answers are always speculative because they go beyond what we currently know. And there is good reason to doubt the validity of any “guesses” because history shows that such guesses are almost always wrong. For example, look at the history of physics and medicine. Before science, all our guesses about what was “really” going on were wrong.

  21. Mystykal says:

    Hi Richard:
    I see your point. It is well taken. Thank you!

    Regards,

    Mystykal

  22. garry says:

    I agree Richard… Mystakal, “..a bunch of stone age wack jobs”? I am not so sure, despite all mankind’s current tech know how, that we are much more “advanced” then those earlier versions of our current selves. We are, mankind as a whole, “a bunch of tech age wack jobs.” Man is man. What God did in allowing man to write about him in the collection of writings that we refer to as the “bible” is to hide truths about Him, and about us, without the writer even knowing what God’s message was. Moses is the very best example of this. Moses was an example of what NOT to be like. He is an example of the dangers of following a man blindly simply because God may have used him in some supernatural way at one time. Jesus’ biggest offence with the fundamentalist of his day was what he said about Moses. It engraged them to the point of imitating Moses… murderously so. Jesus was “the word of God,” that is, the “utterence of God.” Actions speak louder then words… It was God himself saying to all the world, “THIS is what I am REALLY like!!!” He came, not as man has always represented God, a fierce preditor, or a mighty and powerful bull, etc., but rather as a helpless, lamb. God chose to identify himself with the victims of this world, not the victimizers. He declaired that, if we beleived that God wanted sacrafice, then, “Here, if you have to kill something/someone, kill ME!!! instead!” Don’t kill your children, don’t kill each other, don’t even kill your livestock to please me! When Jesus said, “The days come when men will kill you thinking that they do God service,” I do not believe that he was talking about the Jews; I don’t believe that he was talking about his disciples or Christians. I believe that he was talking about ANYONE who killed ANYONE and thought that they were serving God in so doing.

    Ok, ok, I’m done! lol

    How can you say, “God paid the price for us…” and too that, “God forgives us.” Which is it? I mean, forgiveness means no price was paid. And if the price was paid, then what need is there for forgiveness? If you forgive a “debt” then it is gone WITHOUT haveing been “paid.” And if you pay a debt, then there is debt remaining to “forgive.” All such thinking is a result of religion, of eatting from trees whose fruit is a dictation of how you should live “to please God”; to “avoid Hell”; to… any number of things. For several thousand years, mankind “served” God by brutilizing, murdering, controling, other men. Then, for Jesus’ days of preaching, NO ONE died at his hands, at his comand, AT ALL. In fact, t he exact oppisite, he raised them from the dead. Then, the book of Acts shows us Peter starting the new “Christian” religion… and people start dying all over again (Anonias and Sephira, sp?)

  23. garry says:

    groan… just reread what I wrote… Talking about rambling!!! MERCY! So sorry, I just hope that perhaps you all can glean somewhat the sense of what I wanted to say… all several directions of it! lol

  24. Claire says:

    You are just so sad.

  25. Mystykal says:

    Hi garry:
    I dunno if I should comment or not… I understand your ramblings quite well. I guess you are a “Christian”… I have a real problem with “Christians” in general and their notions of theology. My take on why most people leave “the Church” is quite basic. Its called hypocricy. It’s the realization that people are so far from the real truth that they have to conjur up ideas and systems of thought to pawn off to the masses. Science does it. Religious institutions thrive on it, Almost all government entities have been molded from this type of thinking. Once you screw the terms and the meaning of the terms being used well – you have a new religion!
    The real answer is to go deep into the stillness of “mind-no mind” Zazen – the meditative state and realize the state of true being. It is then and only then that we can begin to understand the true way. The way which leads to the reality of endless bliss. “Be still and know…”

    Namaste

    Mystykal

  26. john son of john says:

    sacrifice can contain peace

    the Bible is God’s word given and promulgated by and to the church
    you can not be your church

    please do not give up on holy God he died for and is alive ready to give you life

    God bless You hope you find and are blessed by holy God and His true peace

  27. james says:

    I grew up in a “church going” family. But it always left me dry, boring, boring, boring! I lost all integrity when I was in my teens and early twenties. I was at the point of totally loosing it mentally when the glorified Jesus Christ shown His light directly in my face with an “eyes wide open vision”. Never been the same since. But it was a slow recovery. Reading scripture helped. Church services never worked for me. Direct revelation is the best. Something that the Lord told me a couple of years ago, “take what I have to give you and leave the rest”. I can only truly hold onto that which comes from within and is revealed without. I have also been shown that “Christianity” in America is going to get hammered! Good thing you got out. james.

  28. Phil E. from Germany says:

    Dear Richard!

    Thank you for writing an amazing book. As a Logician I love numbers.
    Thank you also for this amazing laughter video. It was joy watching it.

    Shalom

  29. here says:

    He is an example of the dangers of following a man blindly simply because God may have used him in some supernatural way at one time. Jesus’ biggest offence with the fundamentalist of his day was what he said about Moses. It engraged them to the point of imitating Moses… murderously so. Jesus was “the word of God,” that is, the “utterence of God.” Actions speak louder then words… It was God himself saying to all the world, “THIS is what I am REALLY like!!!” He came, not as man has always represented God, a fierce preditor, or a mighty and powerful bull, etc., but rather as a helpless, lamb. God chose to identify himself with the victims of this world, not the victimizers. He declaired that, if we beleived that God wanted sacrafice, then, “Here, if you have to kill something/someone, kill ME!!! instead!” Don’t kill your children, don’t kill each other, don’t even kill your livestock to please me! When Jesus said, “The days come when men will kill you thinking that they do God service,

  30. Simeon says:

    I just had one of the biggest revelations of my life while reading this article! It is a life changing aspect for me, since i too struggle with a lost sence of integrity! The Spirit of our Lord has guided me so well to this article, and I thank thee for your obedience towards God.

  31. Just desire to say your article is as surprising.
    The clarity in your post is just excellent and i
    could assume you’re an expert on this subject.
    Fine with your permission allow me to grab your feed
    to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying
    work.

  32. How many smart people here. Engrossed.

  33. Something that the Lord told me a couple of years ago, “take what I have to give you and leave the rest”. I can only truly hold onto that which comes from within and is revealed without.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*