I found this website through your comments on Sean Carroll’s blog. After learning about The Bible Wheel (TBW), I must say that I am fascinated! What an interesting concept!
What I am really curious about, however, is this: why leave TBW website up? Are you happy knowing that Christians can still use it to defend their faith? Or, do you have a hard time pulling it down because you spent countless hours on it? Maybe you leave it up in hopes that people will find “version 3.0″ and leave the faith like you did? I am guessing reason #3 as you clearly go to great lengths to address all of the Christian comments that are clearly aimed at re-saving your soul. Maybe you are hoping to further introduce doubt?
Am I way off? Is there another reason?
Those are good guesses but yes, there are other reasons. The main reason is because it is a rare and highly detailed record of the process of deconversion. I began this site in 2001 when I was a fully convinced believer who described himself as a “a non-denominational blood-bought Bible-believing Trinitarian Christian” (see my old FAQ). My transformation, which was a slow process that spanned a few years, is recorded in thousands of articles and posts here on my site, blog, and forum (which began in 2007 and now has about 56,000 posts). It is a very rich resource for personal insight as well as the psychology of belief. I am particularly interested in the role cognitive biases play in the maintenance of unjustifiable beliefs. This has been the focus of many of my recent articles, see particularly The Art of Rationalization: A Case Study of Christian Apologist Rich Deem. Consistency is key to avoiding cognitive bias, so I try to apply the same standards to myself as those I criticize in my articles. Was I simply deluded as so many Christian apologists seem to be? This site provides a lot of raw data to help answer that question. I may, of course, find myself hung by my own petard. If so, so be it!
This leads to my second reason: the Bible Wheel remains a mystery. Most if not all of the evidence I collected over the span of fifteen years remains valid as far as I can tell. The only thing that has changed is my interpretation of it. When I review my old arguments they seem to be based on objective evidence and good logic. So I am mystified. I totally reject any interpretation of the Bible that attempts to justify the abominable and irrational behavior of Yahweh and I cannot believe that he is the “true God,” yet I cannot reject the evidence that there is some sort of “design” in the Bible that was not put there intentionally by the folks who put it together. So it demands an explanation. I have explored an evolutionary explanation based on a scribal selection process (which could have involved both conscious and unconscious elements) but I am not really satisfied with that solution. It seems promising because the Bible Wheel is not nearly as good as it could have been if it were designed out of whole cloth by an intelligent agent, yet it does appear to be optimal given the sixty-six books. This is similar to the kind of “design” we see in biological organisms that evolved but I don’t think it can account for all the evidence.
Another reason I leave it up is because I do a lot of online debating and it provides good evidence that I really was a Christian and I reference much of what I wrote when defending my reasons for rejecting the faith.
And another reason to leave it up is because it is a part of the “global mind.” It’s been thoroughly indexed by Google and so the information will remain in the public sphere no matter what I do. By keeping it up, I have a better chance of informing people of where I now stand, and why.
Finally, you asked “Are you happy knowing that Christians can still use it to defend their faith?” My answer is no, I am not happy about it but neither does it concern me. My book was based on logic and facts and I wrote it in the integrity of my heart and mind. If it catches on amongst Christians it may influence them to think in terms of integrity, evidence, logic, and facts and that is never a bad thing. So if it has any influence amongst believers, perhaps it will function as a logical “Trojan Horse,” causing them to accidentally think before they realize the danger that poses to their unjustified beliefs. There is no way to know the ultimate effects our intentions; the best can lead to horrible results, and vice-versa. And besides, there is nothing I can do about it anyway since the information is already out there. So the best thing to do is to accept who I was and roll with who I am in the integrity of my heart and mind. That’s what makes me happy.