The Problem with Religion: It aggravates pre-existing intellectual and moral failings

It’s fascinating to be a former Christian with a blog that records my transition from believer to freethinker. I get a constant stream of comments that reveal how dogmatic religions tend to corrupt the minds and morals of believers. Such messages consistently confirm the validity of my choice to quit Christianity. I recently received a rather extreme example from one Norm Robichaud in response to my post Answers for Amber on Why I Quit Christianity:

First, to all Christians who read this: PRAY FOR MR. McGOUGH and his family! (I say we gang up on him) :)

Okay, now my rant.

I’m honestly not sure why I’m even bothering. I guess my suspicions have been confirmed and I have to say, I’m a little heartbroken. I’m not going to bother with logical arguments because that’s what got you into this mess in the first place. You need to drop logic and ‘smart-ness” and go direct with your heart rent open.

You can be pretty sure you are talking to a religious fundamentalist if they begin their argument with a rejection of “logic” and “smart-ness”. How is anyone supposed to discern between truth and falsehood without intelligence and rationality? Would they say the same thing to a Muslim or Mormon? Would they accept the burning in the bosom as sufficient “evidence” to justify a belief in Mormonism? Of course not. This is an obvious double standard, one of the primary signs of delusional thinking as described in detail in my article The Art of Rationalization: A Case Study of Christian Apologist Rich Deem. This is not only a psychological disorder: the chronic attempt to believe things that just aren’t true can lead to physical brain damage.

Norm’s comment continues:

The moment I came across your Bible-wheel – I immediately thought to myself, this is sort of similar to Kaballah in that it makes a geometric shape in respect to faith in God then wraps it in a bunch of logic. But I didn’t want to judge it, I really wanted to get my head around the thing as a possible study tool. I mean, it really does look cool.

Your fall from grace has saved me hours of investigating your wheel to confirm it is what it says it is or to expose it as more mystical-math garbage. Have you heard of Freemasonry? They’re into that stuff too. It’s a shame that not only are you lost, but that so many people have been misled by your Bible-wheel. I think that you, yourself were misled by your own invention. When the invention you created couldn’t stand up, you abandoned God because your ego just wouldn’t allow you to be wrong. No, everything else was wrong, not you.

Now we witness the fruit of Norm’s rejection of logic. My “fall from grace” has nothing to do with the truth or falsehood of the Bible Wheel. His assertion that it means he does not need to investigate its validity on its own merits is a textbook example of the genetic fallacy: the truth of a proposition does not depend on who said it or what they believe. It is also inconsistent because when I was a Christian, I asserted that the Bible Wheel proved the Bible was God’s Word, so by his logic he would have to reject the Bible along with the Bible Wheel. His comments are entirely inconsistent and illogical. He wrote nothing that would suggest he has the slightest interest in truth. This exemplifies the great irony of fundamentalist Christianity. Their central dogma says that Christ is the truth and yet the most fervent believers seem to utterly despise the truth.

Norm also commits the fallacy of association. The fact that the Freemasons are into things that might superficially appear similar to the Bible Wheel says nothing about its validity. The Freemasons are also into the Bible. Does that mean the Bible should be rejected? Norm gave no logical or evidential reason for his rejection of the Bible Wheel. He appears to be utterly ignorant of what it is and the evidence for it. His assertion that I have “misled” myself and others is just that – a mere assertion with no evidence of any kind supporting it. Again, he displays behavior typical of a arrogant, ignorant, deluded fundamentalist who explicitly rejects logical argumentation.

Norm then revealed the corrupt nature of his morals when he slandered me as quitting Christianity because my “ego” would not “allow” me to be wrong.  He has no way to know my motivation. Or what, is he a psychic psychologist? He presented no evidence of any kind. And worse, his assertion is blatantly absurd since I have explained the many compelling reasons for my choice and no Christian has been able to provide any rational response. On the contrary, Christians have proven time and time again that there is no rational defense by their grossly insane and twisted attempts to defend the Bible, as seen, for example, in my article 2000 Reasons to Believe Dr. Hugh Ross Might Not Be Entirely Credible. Norm’s attack is nothing but mindless calumny so typical of the deluded, small-minded religious fundamentalists. Truly pathetic.

Finally, there is a profound irony in his comment that I rejected Christianity because the Bible Wheel “couldn’t stand up.” Nothing could be more absurd. The reality is the precise opposite. The evidence for the Bible Wheel stands even though I reject the Bible! It remains as the strongest evidence for Christianity that I know of. It is a thousand times more convincing than the ludicrous arguments put forth by the “apologists” who pervert truth in service of their dogmas. I have written about this many times. I consider it a great mystery. For example,  shortly after quitting Christianity I wrote that the “evidence of some sort of ‘supernatural design’ seems as solid and incontrovertible to me now as it did when I was a Christian. And as far as I know, I am looking at the Bible Wheel with the same critical eye by which I judged the Bible itself to be full of errors, contradictions, logical absurdities, and moral abominations attributed to God. And as yet, not one person has ever – after years of debate on internet forums with fierce opponents – found anything like a systematic error or fundamental flaw in the evidence I have presented. But what does it all mean? That’s the mystery …” So once again, we see that Norm’s comments are as ignorant as they are absurd, and they are as rude as I have come to expect from religious fundamentalists. I did not quit Christianity because the Bible Wheel could not stand. On the contrary, the Bible Wheel consistently strengthened my faith. If anything contributed to my rejection of Christianity, it was the utterly mindless idiocy of internet Christians who rejected logic and facts and chose rather to insult and spew out moronic mockery when confronted with things they could not understand. One thing I learned after fifteen years of trying to reason with Christians is that dogmatic religion tends to corrupt the minds and morals of believers. Just look at his next comment:

How much money have you sucked out of gullible Christians who love God so much that they put money into what they thought was a valuable tool. How many wasted hours will they spend with your stupid wheel before they realize it does nothing, that there is no replacement for God’s Word?

Norm continues to reveal the profound corruption of his heart and mind. The Bible Wheel is not and never was intended as a “replacement for God’s Word”. That doesn’t even make any sense because the Bible Wheel is nothing but a simple representation of the traditional Protestant canon. His comment reveals his ignorance. He simply does not know what he is talking about and yet he feels free to spew out insults. It is particularly enlightening that his comment begins and ends with pious words – a call for prayer and a “God bless” – because in the middle he stuffs his insults and slander and ignorance. Such is the heart corrupted by dogmatic religion. And the great irony, of course, is that religious folks believe that there could be no morality without God! Ha! That is the precise opposite of the truth. Religion tends to corrupt the mind and morals of believers.

Who are you to push people (Christians, Jews, Muslims etc.) away from their faith? If you want to piss yours down the toilet, that’s a heart-breaker, but there’s no convincing you or anyone else who is without a genuine desire to love God back.

Now this is a curious position. Norm seems to think that any “faith” is better than none. The Muslim faith says that “God does not beget and is not begotten.” It directly contradicts that most fundamental dogma of Christianity. But Norm seems to think its better to believe a lie in the name of “faith” than to reject all “faiths” that are not supported by evidence and truth. Again, we see how religion corrupts the minds of the believers.

Inwardly, get off your high-horse (#4) and stop doing what the devil did in the Garden of Eden. Let’s review:

1. Cast doubt on God’s Word – “Did God really say…?”
2. Lie – “You won’t surely die…”
3. Offer Knowledge – “For you will know good and evil…”
4. Self-ascension/godhood – “and be like God.”

In your own way, you’ve done all four! Wake up! We love you. The door’s about to close. Remember, Peter was invited back and luckily he made the right choice, you can do the same. Repent. Take down the site.

God Bless.

That is one of the most entertaining delusions of Christianity. First, Norm begins with the assumption that the Bible is “God’s Word” even though there is no evidence supporting that idea. Indeed, the Bible does not even define which books belong in it so the idea of “the Bible” is itself unbiblical! And which Bible is supposed to be “God’s Word”? The one with or without the Apocrypha? The one with or without 1 John 5:7 or the long ending of Mark? The whole concept of a “Bible” is unbiblical and ill defined. But this is only the beginning of the absurdities of his comment. He is wrong on all four points:

  1. “God’s Word” is not a well-defined concept and the idea of calling any many made book “God’s Word” is unbiblical.
  2. According to Genesis, God said “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” This did not happen. It was God who lied, not the serpent. Indeed, God did not tell Adam that he would continue to live for nearly a thousand years, and that all his descendants would suffer grievously (some for eternity) if he ate of the fruit. Not only did God lie, but he also did not tell him the truth of the consequences of eating the
  3. Wrong again. The offer of knowledge was real. Genesis quotes God as saying “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.”
  4. Wrong again. Their eyes were opened, exactly as the serpent promised. It was the serpent who told the truth, and God who lied.

Of course, the Garden story is nothing but pagan style mythology. There never was an Adam and Eve. The earth is not 6000 years old. There was no flood that caused a mass extinction of all land animals in recent history. And the really curious fact is that there is almost no mention of any of the stories from Genesis chapters 2 through 11 anywhere in the Old Testament. I discuss this in my article Where’s Adam? The Mystery of the Missing Mythological Chapters of Genesis.

It would be wonderful if Norm would choose to engage me with logic and facts. It would give me an opportunity to correct his many misconceptions. But somehow I don’t expect that to happen. Oh well. I invite others to comment.

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22 Comments

  1. Posted June 23, 2013 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    Hi Richard:
    Well done! I think you are very close to the kingdom indeed! The logicical expressions, although I differ on the end solution, are spot on! I really hope someday to meet you in person! I would love to chat with you on these subtle twists and turns which really are the essence of rational thinking and the foundation of all truth. I hope that someday you will be able to disconnect your dislike of religion from your strong attachment to knowing the deep hidden mystery which IS the Word of GOD! The little black book is there to bring us closer the the Great Mystery… Not to make us irrational human beings.
    Well done, my friend – Well done!

    Namaste,

    Mystykal

  2. Posted June 23, 2013 at 4:03 am | Permalink

    Hi Richard:

    A Thought as to the phrase “Thou shalt surely die!” From a Hebrew rendition…

    When Jehovah issued the penalty for eating the fruit of the tree, He used terms that Adam could comprehend, lest the penalty be of no effect. While it is possible that Adam understood the concept of spiritual death (we do know that creation in the Divine image includes knowledge, righteousness, and holiness [Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24]—cf. Barnes, 1949, 6:127), it seems more likely that Adam better understood physical death. His entire existence had been in the presence of Jehovah, surrounded only by good. It is possible that he had witnessed the extermination of some plant or animal, but the abstract idea of spiritual death surely would have been difficult for him to grasp. Biblical commentator Matthew Henry took some exegetical license, and expanded upon the words “in that day shalt thou surely die,” when he wrote:

    Thou shalt become mortal and capable of dying; the grant of immortality shall be recalled, and that defence [sic] shall depart from thee; Thou shalt become obnoxious to death, like a condemned malefactor that is dead in law…nay, the harbingers and forerunners of death shall immediately seize thee and thy life, thenceforward, shall be a dying life: and this, surely; it is a settled rule, the soul that sinneth, it shall die (1706, 1:18).

    As these and other authors have noted, God obviously intended a physical death for Adam and Eve. However, this is not to deny a spiritual death. The moment that man chose to follow his own desires—instead of God’s will—he cut himself off from God. Isaiah reminded us that our sin and iniquity have separated us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), and James taught that death is a separation (James 2:26). Without doubt, man perished spiritually on that day, but equally certain is the fact that God’s punishment for that sin was a physical death.

    But was it to be an immediate death, or the beginning of a long process of death? The phrases “surely” and “in that day” are matters of interest. The footnote accompanying Genesis 2:17 in the King James Version gives this alternate reading to “thou shalt surely die”: dying thou shalt die. The double emphasis in the Hebrew of the word “die” (mot), makes the marginal translation the more literal, and, together with the context, indicates the beginning of a process that eventually would terminate in Adam’s death (the immediate result of separation from the tree of life). “In that day” (the phrase that has caused so much confusion over the centuries) does not, of necessity, mean the very day that it happens; rather, it is an indication of the certainty of the command. Notice the comments of the following scholars regarding this difficult phrase:

    [B]It is just as naïve to insist that the phrase “in the day” means that on that very day death would occur. A little knowledge of the Hebrew idiom will relieve the tension here as well. For example, in 1 Kings 2:37 King Solomon warned a seditious Shimei, “The day you leave [Jerusalem] and cross the Kidron Valley [which is immediately outside the city walls on the east side of the city], you can be sure you will die.” Neither the 1 Kings nor the Genesis text implies immediacy of action on that very same day; instead they point to the certainty of the predicated consequence that would be set in motion by the act initiated on that day. Alternate wordings include at the time when, at that time, now when and the day [when] (see Gen. 5:1; Ex. 6:28; 10:28; 32:34) [Kaiser, et al., 1996, p. 92, emp. in orig.]. [B/]

    Hamilton, too, in commenting on Genesis 2:17, concluded by stating: “The verse is underscoring the certainty of death, not its chronology” (1990, 1:172).

    Scholarly commentary aside, the true meaning of Jehovah’s intended punishment can be discovered in the conclusion of the story itself. Man, shameful of his nakedness and sin, hid himself in the garden. God called out to Adam, who timidly answered. Jehovah questioned Adam and Eve as a loving Father questions his children, trying to elicit a confession of guilt. “What is this thou hast done?” Though both attempted to pass the blame to another, they eventually confessed their sin. Then the sentencing began.

    Unto the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy conception; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” And unto Adam he said, “Because thou hast harkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of they face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return….” Therefore, Jehovah God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from when he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life (Genesis 3:16-19, 23-24, emp. added).

    The consequences of the first sin were many, and its results were far-reaching. Notice this observation by Albert Barnes in his commentary on Romans (5:12, which refers back to the sin and death of Adam, and, antithetically to life in Christ): “The evident meaning is, that the word ‘death,’ as here used by the apostle, refers to the train of evils which have been introduced by sin. It does not mean simply temporal death, condemnation, and exposure to eternal death, which is the consequence of transgression” (1949, 5:127, emp. in orig.). The dust in which Adam toiled (and in which we today still toil), he would become. From that point on, humanity would return to the dust whence it came. And that, in fact, has been our fate ever since. On the day of Adam’s sin, he began to die.

    Exile from paradise, separation from the tree of life, the initiation of aging, and a severance from the very presence of God Almighty, were all consequences of our parents’ sin. That sin would have resulted in an eternal death, had it not been for the tender mercies of God. At some point, we all stand in the place of Adam and Eve—guilty of doing the exact opposite of what God has commanded. The inevitable result of our sin is likewise death—spiritual and eternal. Thanks be to God that, although we were dead in our trespasses, we have the opportunity to be made alive through His beloved Son (Ephesians 2:1ff.).

    REFERENCES
    Aalders, G.C. (1981), Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).

    Barnes, Albert (1949), Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

    Brantley, Garry (1995), “Questions and Answers,” Reason and Revelation, 15:23-24, March.

    Hamilton, Victor (1990), The Book of Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

    Harris, R. Laird, Gleason Archer Jr., and Bruce Waltke (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).

    Henry, Matthew (1706), Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (McLean, VA: MacDonald).

    Kaiser, Walter Jr., Peter Davids, F.F. Bruce, and Manfred Brauch (1996), Hard Sayings of the Bible, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).

    Lambdin, Thomas (1971), Introduction to Biblical Hebrew (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons).

    Leupold, H.C. (1942), Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

    Smick, Elmer (1980), “mut,” Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke (Chicago, IL: Moody Press), 1:496-497.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Namaste,

    Mystykal

  3. Posted June 23, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Hi Richard:
    Well done! I think you are very close to the kingdom indeed! The logicical expressions, although I differ on the end solution, are spot on! I really hope someday to meet you in person! I would love to chat with you on these subtle twists and turns which really are the essence of rational thinking and the foundation of all truth. I hope that someday you will be able to disconnect your dislike of religion from your strong attachment to knowing the deep hidden mystery which IS the Word of GOD! The little black book is there to bring us closer the the Great Mystery… Not to make us irrational human beings.
    Well done, my friend – Well done!

    Hey there Mystykal,

    Thanks for the kind words. It would indeed be nice to meet you in person.

    I’m still a bit confused as to where you stand concerning the Bible. I visited your blog The Mystic Mind and most of the stuff seems focused on Zen, Tao, Yoga, etc. I only found one post that had anything to do with Christianity, called A Twist of Faith, that described your experience in a very extreme Christian school you called the “new Auschwitz”. I know you say that the Bible is not supposed to be taken “literally” but that seems to mean that anyone can make anything they want out of it. And more to the point, why call it the “Word of God”? What about all the other religious texts? Is the Koran the Word of God too? The Book of Mormon? The Bahais like to think that all religions are “true” but that’s meaningless to me. It would be cool if you started a thread in the forum where we could discuss this in depth.

    The article you copied from the Apologetic Press entitled Why did Adam not Die Immediately? appears to be a good example of how a book so filled with ambiguous words like the Bible can never lead to any certain knowledge since there is no way for anyone to know if their interpretation is correct or not. One group will interpret it to fit their presuppositions while another will interpret it to fit theirs. And worse, there are so many internal inconsistencies in the Bible that it forces everyone to come up with their own solutions and so contradictions between sincere believers are inevitable. It all devolves to nothing but a clash of words. To a large extent, what people see in the Bible is little more than a reflection of their own prejudices, hopes, and fears. It’s like a Rorschach ink blot or a “magic mirror” upon which they project their own thoughts and feelings.

    All the best,

    Richard

  4. Posted June 23, 2013 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Hi Richard:
    I want to respond in a way which does not confuse the issues but I guess it is true that we often see what we want to see in things… However as to the ideas of GOD and a Mystery Spirit/Intelligence,…

    I think the fact that so much of life and the personal experience of death and the “other side” contacts which are seen in all societies and cultures lend themselves to the notion that there is something “out there” which we can connect with in a tangible way. The issue of immortality lies at the foundation of all “religious” thought. The sacredness of any text, from my perspective, lies in the “hidden” features of the text itself. It is true that the Koran does hold some gematria features within its writings – and to that extent it may be “inspired” in the same sense as the Bible. However, the Old Testament as understood in the Hebrew tradition holds far more “secret” passages than any other “sacred” book known to man. It is this fact that causes me to lean on the information found in the Bible with some “bias” as it were as compared to other texts which are held by different religious groups. I do not think that you will find the holograms which you discuss, in the other so called sacred texts in any significant amount as you do in the make up of the Protestant 66 book arrangement. The 66 books are a human construct but the holograms themselves are something else.

    I believe that thoughts do not originate purely from the brain functioning. So that it is possible, as some theoretical phycisists believe, that we share a common Cosmic Consciousness “pool” of thoughts and we can dip into that experience at will.

    As someone who has studied zen, martial arts and eastern lifestyles for many years I have an appreciation for those things which cannot be explained in words. The real and the true can only be experienced! My friend Leo learned that the hard way.
    “Speak of Zen, and you lie. Don’t speak of Zen, and you fail to tell the truth!”

    Namaste,

    Mystykal

  5. Posted June 24, 2013 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    I think the fact that so much of life and the personal experience of death and the “other side” contacts which are seen in all societies and cultures lend themselves to the notion that there is something “out there” which we can connect with in a tangible way.

    Hey there Mystykal,

    It’s always fascinating how the same evidence can be seen in opposite ways, like a photographic negative, or a reversal of foreground and background. The fact that “all societies and cultures lend themselves to the notion that there is something out there” seems rather like the fact that all cultures have superstitions and silly religions that are obviously false but taken as objectively true facts. And your idea that the ubiquity of superstitions suggests that “we can connect with in a tangible way” with the “other side” makes no sense to me because the one thing we all know is that there is no objective tangible way to make that connection. If there were, there wouldn’t be any debate about the reality of it and we wouldn’t rely on speculation – we would have evidence.

    It is interesting you say that the “issue of immortality lies at the foundation of all religious thought.” That may be correct, and that’s another reason “religion” seem vain. The concept of non-physical “immortality” doesn’t make any sense to me because I am a physical being. Can you soul smell without a nose? See without eyes? Hear without ears? After thinking deeply on these questions I have come to the conclusion that the concept of an “immaterial soul” really doesn’t make any sense. As far as I can tell, consciousness is a product of brains. We can see it advance from an ant to a mouse to a cat to a chimp to a human. Do you think that there are “cat souls” that are the source of cat consciousness?

    The sacredness of any text, from my perspective, lies in the “hidden” features of the text itself. It is true that the Koran does hold some gematria features within its writings – and to that extent it may be “inspired” in the same sense as the Bible. However, the Old Testament as understood in the Hebrew tradition holds far more “secret” passages than any other “sacred” book known to man. It is this fact that causes me to lean on the information found in the Bible with some “bias” as it were as compared to other texts which are held by different religious groups. I do not think that you will find the holograms which you discuss, in the other so called sacred texts in any significant amount as you do in the make up of the Protestant 66 book arrangement. The 66 books are a human construct but the holograms themselves are something else.

    I think your use of the word “bias” was quite accurate. Every believer thinks their own holy text surpasses all others. I agree that the holographs are probably unique, but they are not the reason you have a bias towards the Christian Scriptures, are they? And as for the 66 books which form the Bible Wheel – why do you think they are any different than the holographs? Do you not see that the evidence of the Bible Wheel is of equal strength as the holographs?

    I believe that thoughts do not originate purely from the brain functioning. So that it is possible, as some theoretical phycisists believe, that we share a common Cosmic Consciousness “pool” of thoughts and we can dip into that experience at will.

    The question is not where “thoughts” arise. The question is what generates consciousness. I have always been inclined towards the idea of Consciousness as the Ground of Being, but the more I think about it, the less likely that seems to be true. It’s a wonderful thought, but I have no way to know if it is true, whereas I have good reason to believe that there is no consciousness without a brain.

    I too have an appreciation for things that cannot be explained in words, but such things do not justify believing in things without evidence like the Tooth Fairy or whatever.

    This is a great topic. I really enjoy discussing it with you.

    All the best,

    Richard

  6. Posted June 24, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Hi Richard:
    We definitley are covering alot of ground!… :)
    A couple things about immortality. You assume that I believe in “souls” like they live apart from a human physical body. I never said that! If you have ever read the Tao Te Ching or the Bible and the book of Jude you will notice that the concept of soul immortality is non-existent. So in order to live in the “next world” you need a physical body as you have now. This is the reas Michael came back to get the BODY of Moses. Job says. “Even after worms have eaten my body, yet in my FLESH I shall see GOD.” So your rant about cat souls is just way off base. I did not say that the immortal life is any different than the way you live life now. GOD is preparing a “New heavens and a new earth” according to the book of Revelation for the eternal kingdom where people live forever. NOT SOULS!

    You said. “The question is not where “thoughts” arise. The question is what generates consciousness.”
    In my opinion those are two different questions… The generation of thoughts is a mystery… The source of the shared intelligence between species is somewhat vauge as well. However the fact that we can share ideas indicates that the source is the same. Consciousness then is the same between living things. Just different levels of adaptation.

    Namaste,

    Mystykal

  7. Posted June 24, 2013 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    Hi Richard:
    I would like to comment on your other comments…

    You said, “After thinking deeply on these questions I have come to the conclusion that the concept of an “immaterial soul” really doesn’t make any sense. As far as I can tell, consciousness is a product of brains.”
    —————-
    I agree… with the brain part not the product part! You don’t know if the brain is creating the thought/consciousness or just perceiving it. The scientific evidence done at Bastyr University and other studies indicate that thoughts are shared by different brains simultaniously. So that would suggest that thoughts are NOT generated IN the brain itself but rather perceived by the brain. Making consciouness a “pool” of information outside of the physical structures of the body.
    ———-

    You saiid,”your idea that the ubiquity of superstitions suggests that “we can connect with in a tangible way” with the “other side” makes no sense to me because the one thing we all know is that there is no objective tangible way to make that connection. If there were, there wouldn’t be any debate about the reality of it and we wouldn’t rely on speculation – we would have evidence.”
    —————–
    This idea of yours about evidnece is a little off. First of all your “evidence” is not subjective and therefore you view faith as some sort of non-reality. That is a false standard. Maybe what is lacking in your statement is “personal observation”. I do believe that if you allow yourself to look you will find “evidence” in a tangible way to make the connection real. The “physics of breaking bricks is well established on one level. That is touching them with some part of your body and transfer of energy occurs breaking the bricks. What you call evidence, But what do you call it when a true Martial Art Master can do the same thing without “touching” the object physically and getting the same result? You call it “a trick”. So the problem is not the FACT that EVIDENCE is present for the “connection” to exist – you are just a “doubting Thomas” type of person! ok…

    There is in the world plenty of evidence to show that another world of enities and living “things” exist. It is silly to ignore these “ghosts hunter” type of occurrences and say they are ALL fake! Personal experience has taught me that not all things that go bump in the night are made in the immagination. But until it happens to you in a violent way you will not believe! ok…

    Have you really lived with the Shamanistic cultures and genuinely studied them? I have… And my take away is that much of what goes on is real and comes from an unexplainable source which is NOT human. I suggest that you go and experience it for yourself. But you must be sincere… Or the experience may be less than genuine for you.

    Namaste,

    Mystykal

  8. Posted June 25, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Hey there Mystykal,

    You said “I agree… with the brain part not the product part! You don’t know if the brain is creating the thought/consciousness or just perceiving it.” That doesn’t make any sense to me. Thoughts are not the same thing as consciousness. And if the brain is “perceiving” something then is it not conscious?

    It seems like you are confusing thoughts with consciousness. Or what, are you saying that a person cannot be conscious without having thoughts? That’s not very Zen, is it? I mean, what about the quiet mind, like a pond, totally conscious without thoughts?

    I don’t see why thoughts being shared by many brains would imply that brains are not the source of consciousness. It’s like radio waves are generated by a radio tower and picked up by many radios. It could all be physical. The real question seems to be about the origin of consciousness, not “thoughts.”

    As for “evidence” – I allow for subjective experience as evidence. For example, ten people in a 100 degree room would probably say it is hot, or at least pretty warm. If I got ten totally different opinions about the temperature, I would conclude that there was no “tangibly real” temperature, but just a bunch of opinions. Remember, you are the one who used the word “tangible” when speaking of things that are totally subjective. Why should I think ten thousand conflicting opinions indicate something “real” is going on? Wouldn’t it make more sense to think it’s all in their imaginations?

    The “physics of breaking bricks is well established on one level. That is touching them with some part of your body and transfer of energy occurs breaking the bricks. What you call evidence, But what do you call it when a true Martial Art Master can do the same thing without “touching” the object physically and getting the same result? You call it “a trick”. So the problem is not the FACT that EVIDENCE is present for the “connection” to exist – you are just a “doubting Thomas” type of person! ok…

    I very much doubt that any Master can really just “touch” a brick and make it break. If he could, he would be world famous because he could do it under laboratory conditions. If you have verifiable EVIDENCE then please present a link to it.

    To you, I look like a “doubting Thomas” but in truth I’m just a healthy skeptic.
    To me, you look like a very gullible person who believes things without evidence.

    There is in the world plenty of evidence to show that another world of enities and living “things” exist. It is silly to ignore these “ghosts hunter” type of occurrences and say they are ALL fake! Personal experience has taught me that not all things that go bump in the night are made in the immagination. But until it happens to you in a violent way you will not believe! ok…

    They are not necessarily all deliberately “fake” – there are other explanations. The most common source of delusion is cognitive bias – something that all humans are subject to. It requires a lot of effort to keep oneself from falling into self-deception. I’ve thought about this a lot because cognitive biases are particularly prevalent amongst those interested in spirituality and religion. I see it everywhere and recognize it instantly. I’ve been studying it for years because I’ve had hundreds of volunteers coming to my forum and showing me how cognitive bias works. Read my article called The Art of Rationalization: A Case Study of Christian Apologist Rich Deem.

    But until it happens to you in a violent way you will not believe! ok…

    That’s how all “believers” talk. You don’t have any real evidence, so you depend upon a person having a non-repeatable non-verifiable “violent” subjective experience that convinces them. That’s not trustworthy since that method leads to “belief” in every crazy idea under the sun.

    Have you really lived with the Shamanistic cultures and genuinely studied them? I have… And my take away is that much of what goes on is real and comes from an unexplainable source which is NOT human. I suggest that you go and experience it for yourself. But you must be sincere… Or the experience may be less than genuine for you.

    As I’ve told you many times, I have no doubt that such experiences can seem very real – especially those induced by powerful hallucinogens like LSD, DMT, mushrooms. And such experiences may very well point to a spiritual reality. I’m not only open to that possibility, but inclined in that direction as I’ve told you many times. But now you need to consider the OBVIOUS fact that drugs are physical things put in physical brains that alter consciousness. This strongly suggests that consciousness itself is a product of the brain. This seems more likely, but I’m not convinced either way since the evidence is not in. It seems you are convinced without evidence.

    This is a fascinating topic. I’m very happy to be pursuing it with you.

    Shine on!

    Richard

  9. Posted June 26, 2013 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    Hi Richard:

    Maybe we are getting lost in terminology…
    You said, “Thoughts are not the same thing as consciousness. And if the brain is “perceiving” something then is it not conscious?
    It seems like you are confusing thoughts with consciousness. Or what, are you saying that a person cannot be conscious without having thoughts? That’s not very Zen, is it? I mean, what about the quiet mind, like a pond, totally conscious without thoughts?
    ———
    Well, let’s see… In a medical sense consciousness is akin to a level of brainwave activity not necessarily conscious thoughts. So in my view consciousness does involve a minimal amount of brain activity to manifest as “consciousness”. The “pool” of cosmic thoughts as it were are a part of shared consciousness and as such can be understood as thoughts once shared in the mind. I do not believe that the meditative mind is without “thoughts” and “empty” as many gurus like to explain the the awareness of Zazen – seated meditation. No grandmaster believes such rubbish either. I think that much of the misunderstanding of the meditative process comes from the limited vocabulary used in trying to explain an experience which has no words!. So that when a person is in a state of true relaxation their thoughts “flow” in and out without interference. It is this idea which is called “empty mind” or “no mind” – Zen reality.

    I said earlier and you mis-understood me…
    “But until it happens to you in a violent way you will not believe! ok…” === You responded…
    “That’s how all “believers” talk. You don’t have any real evidence, so you depend upon a person having a non-repeatable non-verifiable “violent” subjective experience that convinces them. That’s not trustworthy since that method leads to “belief” in every crazy idea under the sun. “…
    ————-
    What I meant was the “proof: you are looking for will never happen until you have a “Paul experience”. He was struck off his horse and had a light which blinded him and then he heard a voice which no one else heard… yada yada…. So that the issue is NOT that I do not have verifiable eveidence at my disposal it is that you act like everything must be like in a test-tube or “there is some other explanation. That is why I said you must experience it yourself! I can’t make you change your mind with evidence! That is not an excuse… that is just what I think you will need to believe in the reality of the unexplainable.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zn7R7ULzh7E
    This style of breaking when done by a Grandmaster does not need any touching of the bricks at all. Of course this demo still shows a clean break through two slates and only the third one is broken. It could be a fake video… But I personally have stood by the grandmaster and seen the no touch technique applied. So stop saying that I have no proof. I suggest you go and connect with a real master and observe the inner power techniques which are only demonstrated to the initiated. Say what you will – the facts are present if you know how to find them.
    I am not a stupid gullible person as you suggest. You don’t even know me or my training. My education speaks for itself. I only try and keep an open mind to the subtle changes which lead to the mysterious in life.
    ========
    You said, ” I have no doubt that such experiences can seem very real – especially those induced by powerful hallucinogens like LSD, DMT, mushrooms. And such experiences may very well point to a spiritual reality. I’m not only open to that possibility, but inclined in that direction as I’ve told you many times. But now you need to consider the OBVIOUS fact that drugs are physical things put in physical brains that alter consciousness.”
    ===========
    Shamans do not always use drugs to alter conscious thought experiences. Black Elk did not use any mushrooms or Peyote to gain his great visions. So I agree with you that these mind altering drugs can bring on strange spiritual like experiences – they do not explain the experience itself; especially when the experience is brought on without their use! A true Shaman does not NEED to use drugs to induce the experience of “thinning the veil” as it is often called. Once again until you have witnessed a yuwipi ceremony as I have, you will never believe in the profound mysteries found through these real-life experiences.

    Namaste,

    Mystykal….

    .

    , “

  10. Posted June 29, 2013 at 3:25 am | Permalink

    Hi Richard:

    You want proof? What do you make of this? You think this is fake too? You think this is just “cognitive bias?” This shytt happened…Believe it! Or Not!
    The Conjuring –
    http://youtu.be/WFDXlIKPHFo#aid=P6tVWvbNEoA

    Namaste,

    Mystykal

  11. Posted July 21, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Hi Richard:
    You never responded to my last question…. Still giving it some thought? I hope so. Maybe you will just say that I am one of those illogical people who cannot be reasoned with… I don’t think I am. But I do hold that true faith – saving faith does exist and that faith does not always come packaged with the “evidence” we all like to see before we “believe” in the experience presented. This thing called faith is at the foundation of all correct understanding and interpretation of Scripture inside or outside the “Christian” Bible itself. The foundation for understanding saving faith must have a platform from which to work. And that grounding is an experiential understanding of Spirit and the spiritual aspects of the mysterious “other side” of life. “When the student is ready, the Master appears.”

    Namaste,

    Mystykal

  12. Taunya
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 3:31 am | Permalink

    Richard,

    first, i want to say that i found The Bible Wheel well written and insightful. your profound intelligence and articulate nature amazes me. i am analytical by nature and have gone back and forth in my spirituality. i am saddened by your choice to leave Christianity; although, i must admit for my own selfish reason as i was hoping that another book (on a similar topic) would be in the works.

    i recently started perusing your site, and i must admit that i have spent way too much time reading the blogs and comments. i am intrigued by the variety of views i have encountered. i am appalled by the lack of compassion on the part of some (not all) self proclaimed Christians who choose to spew incoherent bile instead of living the life they were called to live. i am not saying that i am anti-christian. One love people!

    i may have missed this question if it has already been expounded upon. Q: i believe in the past you stated that you were going to critique your book as you did the Bible (i am paraphrasing here), and i was wondering if you have accomplished that? if so, what if anything did you determine?

    Have a wonderful day!

    Blessed Be,

    taunya

  13. Posted August 2, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Hey there Taunya,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I started my self-critical review of the Bible Wheel book back in 2011. I decided it was pointless after completing the reviews of chapter 1 and chapter 2. I knew I had written the book with the full integrity of my heart and mind, and after ten years of debate on the internet with the most virulent opponents none had ever been able to demonstrate any fundamental flaw or systematic error in my work. The only thing to criticize are matters of opinion such as the conclusions I drew from the facts, but that’s not particularly relevant since I’ve already rejected many of them.

    All the best,

    Richard

  14. Posted August 7, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Once could get a simple view of my mind when looking at my Web site (especially the section Tools>Research Links).

    With that said, the idea that Gematria, Numerology and Symbology is a Key-Hole into the Mind of God will most likely cause problems for the intellectual… it is dangerous ground. Consider the Jewish Kaballah.

    The Kaballah, at best, is only a simple example of how God “might” think. The Kaballah has never been proven; it is not Biblical. It is simply a form of geometry and math that keeps the mind searching for reason in this world of confusion. The pitfall, as you well know, is that “final answer” is always out of reach because our wisdom is finite.

    I have been on the precipice of disbelief before, I understand at some level, why you “left the faith”. Your problem is that you took your eyes off the ball! You put your faith in your intellect… which, btw, is more than sufficient as demonstrated in your book.

    I ordered your book and then I found that I sent money to a fake… an athiest! Once can not know about real Salvation and then turn their back on it… at least not forever, but only for a “moment”. Somehow, you have come to a point of worldly confusion. You have mingled man’s “wisdom” with His Truth. And guess what: the two don’t mix!

    You will never find happiness and this book will haunt you the rest of your days… that is until you decide to turn your Face to God… if it ever was towards Him in the first place.

    As I write, I wonder…
    “Will this upset you?”

    “Will this get him to reconsider his views… do these short little blurbs from his visitors pull at his Soul?”

    “Does his Soul, in some dark corner somewhere, always question his choice to reject Jesus?… Does his Soul still tremble at the thought of a Righteous and Absolute God?”

    “Is there still a chance that Jesus want’s to give mercy for your blatant blasphemy?”

    “If you can boldly reject your Salvation, then what kind of faith can a logical wife and children have in you?”

    I hope that the Good Lord will “smack you around” like He has done to me several times during my distracted yet rewarding walk with Him. You surely must know that the longer you wait, the colder His heart towards you. I hope that you find that spark again… that fire for the Lord that was once a Good Work in Faith and that you give Him -all-… which you obviously have yet to do. Had you not -faked it-, your blessings would be real instead of this idle, humanistic mind-numbing chattter.

    The truth be know: I hope you do find peace in Him again. Remember this: you lost your faith in Him because your “brilliant” mind was chasing Circular Logic rather than Godly Reason and Truth! God does not reveal -all- things… this is the test of real Faith.

    Anyway, thanks for your time and God Bless (if you allow).
    Tim F.

  15. Paul
    Posted August 10, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    You said:

    You can be pretty sure you are talking to a religious fundamentalist if they begin their argument with a rejection of “logic” and “smart-ness”.

    Anyone who has studied logic formally within philosophy or an allied branch will point out that logic itself can only give you answers consistent with the concepts that underlie that branch of logic, nothing more. The rejection of logic may take many forms, but is not in itself indicative of ‘religious fundamentalism’ although it may appear that way. Having discovered that your own reasons for your faith appear unsound,
    it is tempting to externalise this onto others and the circumstances we find ourselves in, namely deep conflict. Resolution will not be achieved by artificially trying to hasten the process by some rationalisation or adopting ‘tools’ from other disciplines that were not designed for the job. There are many great scholars who have laboured to prove that you can prove G-d exists logically or some other philosophical tool. Despite this, it has not changed anything. The reason is simple. We cannot see past the choices we make. It is a journey whereby each has to explore and evaluate where they are and where they are going or wish to go. We have a tendency to assume that e know where we are going and which direction is best for us, spiritually or otherwise. Life, however, has a tendency to correct that assumption, often painfully.
    Even those who use the same tools may produce very different results, like a craftsman. It is also a question of vision and imagination, including reading a text. When 3D patterns first made their appearance on the market, many enjoyed the pleasure of being able to see a flat 2D page transform itself into a 3D image. Many, however, could not. They were both staring at the same page. For whatever reason some could master the technique, others could not. The difference between them is that one saw a random meaningless series of dots, the other, the emergence of a fully delineated 3D image. That is the difference between all of us at the end of the day. Apply this to Torah, and it begins to make sense.

  16. Posted August 16, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Hey there Paul,

    I agree that “rejection of logic” is not “in itself indicative of ‘religious fundamentalism’” as if it followed as a logical necessity. It was just an observation that generally holds true. Words should not be used as traps. I’m pretty sure most people could discern I was not speaking of absolute logical implications.

    I appreciate your analogy of 3D images. I was one of the people who really enjoyed looking at them. But I don’t think it applies to Torah, since that would require assuming that it is a precisely designed, analogous to the mathematically precise placement of the dots which only appear to be randomly arranged. I see no foundation for that assumption. How could it be tested? Why would anyone believe it? And why apply it just to the Torah? Maybe everything is designed that way, from the Book of Mormon to the Sunday Comics. Such speculations seem entirely unfounded, and based on religious bias. Each religion tends to think they Scriptures were designed by their deity. It’s just a superstition.

  17. William
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Richard, good to see you are back from your holiday. I’m looking forward to your response to all the messages I wrote to you since June on your blog titled ‘Why I Quit Christianity’.

  18. David
    Posted October 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Hi Richard, wow things have definitely changed around here! Last time I visited was about 5 or 6 years ago. Didn’t see that coming. :)

    I used to correspond with you on occasion and bought your book. I was very interested in the similarities between Isaiah and the Bible back in 2002-2003, and your passion for math and pure bible study resonated with me.

    I actually find your new ideas refreshing and fun to read about. I grew up as an atheist, so despite my biblical beliefs, I am culturally an atheist and I’m pretty turned off by the sort of heavy right wing bias of the religious world. Wow, time definitely flies though … I need to pay more attention to life or something. :)

    Great to read your latest thoughts – I hope you’re having a great time!

  19. Posted December 11, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Paul,
    Where did you get the analogy of the Torah or the Bible as a 3D picture? Did you read that somewhere and if so where. Or did you just think it up? I am curious so I can look into to it more.

    Richard,
    Amazing…I saw this post here AFTER I emailed you about the 3D picture analogy of the Bible. I am anxious to see where Paul’s idea came from as I haven’t heard that anywhere else. To try and answer your reasoning for doubting this possibility:

    “I see not foundation for that assumption”
    I really don’t know how the dots (words of the Bible) could be placed precisely where they need to be mathematically to create a 3D picture, but do we really need to know how they got that way. Look at the Bible wheel, precisely mathematically placed books/words/gematria to create the wheel you discovered. Do you know how it was created? (sorry if you have already answered that somewhere else). Maybe the sentences (dots) placed to create the 3D picture of the Bible would be a similar concept.

    “How could it be tested?” I agree it would be very difficult. Those that cannot see the 3D image cannot change their focal point no matter how you tell them do it. It is a matter of of vision and focal point. But depending on the picture you could point out specific “shapes” that hint towards the picture. I have one I bought many years ago, and you can see outlines of the picture but you would have to separate all the lines that make it scrambled to even see a resemblance to what it really is. But if you don’t know which lines to ignore you would not be able to do it. Again, you are right it would be hard to prove without a doubt.

    “why would anyone believe it?”
    Well the Bible seems to be a scrambled up mess of words that contradict each other, yet it hard to deny there is something in there and to it al. There is a start. If someone was actually able to see a picture within the words, they would believe it. But that still would not make others believe it.

    “why apply it to just the Torah?” Well if we all studied other great works of literature like we do the Bible, maybe we would discover it does apply to other literature works of art. Not all art is pretty but that does not make it any less priceless (i.e. the Mona Lisa). Who are we to judge what is pretty or right? I ask that knowing that we all judge things in this world as right or wrong. There are grey areas, but we are all guilty of judging. Why did Nostradamus write his prophesies in the Green Language or Code. I think that was intentional, I’m not sure about the Bible.

    Willa

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  21. Posted June 22, 2014 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Scholarly commentary aside, the true meaning of Jehovah’s intended punishment can be discovered in the conclusion of the story itself. Man, shameful of his nakedness and sin, hid himself in the garden. God called out to Adam, who timidly answered. Jehovah questioned Adam and Eve as a loving Father questions his children, trying to elicit a confession of guilt. “What is this thou hast done?” Though both attempted to pass the blame to another, they eventually confessed their sin. Then the sentencing began.

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