Answers for Kristina – Was I really a Believer?

I received a long list of questions from Kristina Biro in the comment stream under my post Answers for Amber on Why I Quit Christianity. Here are my answers:

I have yet to find anything on your site where you have declared Jesus as your Lord and Savior at anytime in your past.

Did you have an experience with Jesus? Did he call your name?

Hey there Kristina,

I’m rather mystified by your first question since my site is saturated with the answers you failed to find. And it’s not like they were hidden in a corner. On the contrary, the post that you commented on contained a link to my article “Why I Quit Christianity” which began with three examples of my own declaration that Christ was my Lord and Savior. Here is one example from my old “About” page:

I remain eternally grateful to my Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, for shedding His Light upon me and guiding my path – usually without my knowledge – and giving me both the burning desire and the ability to proclaim the neverending wonders of His Holy Word. Oh! The wonders of His Grace! Had He left me to myself, doubtless I’d be dead or wandering aimless and lost through this dark world. Thank you, my Lord!

And here is an example from my original home page:

To this end I labour, to glorify the Triune God; to glorify the Father Almighty, Creator of all, to glorify His Son Jesus Christ my Saviour and Hope, and to glorify the Giver of all divine gifts, my Comforter, Guide, Teacher and Friend, God the Holy Spirit. To You be the glory, thrice holy blessed God of Eternity! To You be the glory, now and forevermore. Amen. Amen. Amen.

The same may be said about my “experience with Jesus” – for many years I strongly believed I had had had many such encounters. For example, I believed he spoke directly to me when I was converted at a “Praise the Lord” festival in Vancouver Washington in 1979. I tell the story in my article “Why I became a Christian.”

What church were you connected to?

Who was your pastor?

I have been “connected” with many churches over the years, but I had always considered myself a “non-denominational Christian” as explained on my old FAQ in answer to the question “Are you a Christian? Protestant? Catholic?” –

Praise God, I am a man saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesian 2:8). I am a non-denominational blood-bought Bible-believing Trinitarian Christian. I believe that the true “faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3) is well stated in the early creeds of the church that Christ founded.

As you can see, I took my faith very seriously and believed it with my whole heart.

When did you repent/turn from your sins?

The first time was at the PTL festival I mentioned above. And then it became a daily practice for many years.

When did you get submerged in the baptismal waters as an outward sign of an inner work?

I was baptized by immersion at the First Christian Church in West Seattle where my stepmother worshiped. It was about a week after my conversion at the PTL festival.

Did you ask the Holy Spirit to give you your prayer language?

Yes, many times over the years because I tended to hang around with believers who said it was an important gift and that God would give it to me if only I asked. But it never happened to me no matter how much I prayed.

In reading your own biography you had an experience with LSD which led you deeper into the occult. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ of Nazareth has not begun yet. When were you re-born? Given a new start? New life? Date please?

It’s strange that you read that biography without seeing my answers to those questions. Please read the article again. I will be happy to answer more if you don’t find what you are looking for.

You started a relationship with demons who have used you to promote the ungodly one world religion by creating the bible wheel.

Ungodly? One world religion? Where did you get those ideas? The Bible Wheel is nothing but a simple two dimensional representation of the the traditional Protestant Bible. I was absolutely convinced that it was proof that God had designed the Bible and that the faith taught in its pages was true. I did not believe in any “one world religion.” Where did you get that idea?

The wheel became your God. Not the God of the Bible.

Your faith in the Bible was rooted in mystisysm and the occult. Not in the teachings of Jesus.

How do you justify such a judgment? Do you know my heart? Is there any evidence that I treated the “wheel” as if it were my God? Of course not. I believed the Bible was the Word of God and that he had designed it in the pattern of the wheel to reveal the glory of his wisdom and the truth of his Word. I believed that Jesus was the Living Word of God, and that the Bible was designed by him to reveal him. I based everything on the Bible. You might want to take your own advice and follow the teachings of Jesus concerning false accusations, self-righteousness, and unjust judgement.

How can you recant something that never actually happened?

I once believed in God, the Bible, and Jesus. Now I do not, and I can give good reasons for my rejection of those beliefs. Simple as that.

The God of the Bible wants to heal all of you (spiritual, emotional, and physical) and give you a sound mind. A new heart of love and compassion as well as understanding and insights you cannot imagine. He is waiting for you to yield your rational thinking to His ways. Which are not yours.

A true God would never tell his followers to “yield their rational thinking” since that is the path to ignorance, delusion, and deception. It is what the cults teach. If there is a true God, he would delight in truth, not in ignorant blind belief which has misled so many throughout the sad history of religion on this planet.

I am praying daily for the salvation of your soul.

Why would you do that? If there is anything we know about God, it is that he cannot be trusted to answer any prayer. See my article Is God Trustworthy? The Root of Religious Delusion.

Great chatting! Thanks for the interesting questions. Please don’t hesitate with any followups.

Richard

Posted in Bible Wheel, Losing My Religion

Reader’s Questions: Is there a God? Who was Jesus?

I received these questions in a comment from “Skybreaker” under my article Debunking Myself: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Hi Richard,

It must be over 10 years since I bought your book and I am very surprised about your change of faith. Therefore Im also quite curious to what your current worldview looks like, so… if you`re able and willing, please let me know the following :

1.Is there a God?
2.Who do you think Jesus is / was? Or do you believe he didnt exist at all?

Please elaborate if possible.

Thanks.

Hey there Skybreaker,

I do not know if there is a God.  I’m open to the idea that there could be some sort of “mystical God” that is the Ground of Being, much like philosophical Idealism that posits Mind in that role. But such a God is nothing like the Gods of the mainstream religions invented by humans such as Allah, Krishna, Yahweh, and Zeus. Those God’s almost certainly do not exist since they have false and/or self-contradictory properties. For example, the God of Reformed Christianity is believed to have ordained “whatsoever comes to pass” and yet holds the creature, which had no freedom to choose otherwise, responsible for doing what was preordained. This is an incoherent doctrine. Likewise, they teach that God is good, loving and merciful, and yet that he created an infinite evil of eternal conscious torment in hell for those creatures he created with the intent of tormenting them forever. Such doctrines are obviously absurd. No such God could exist, because real beings cannot have self-contradictory properties.

I was always inclined towards the “mystical God” or just “Universal Consciousness” but I really don’t have a good reason to believe that is true. It seems unlikely given the apparent dependence of mind upon matter (brain), but I don’t rule it out entirely. And when I think about it, I wonder why it would matter anyway? What am I? Why would it matter if I continue to exist after this body dies? If I cease to exist, it obviously won’t bother me. And if it mattered and it was important that I knew there is a God, s/he would certainly have revealed it to us. But that has not happened, so I don’t worry about it.

As for the existence of Jesus, there’s not much to believe about him since even if he existed, it is impossible to separate the myth from the historical man. The one thing we can know with great certainty is that many of the Biblical statements about him are not true, because they are mutually contradictory.

Thanks for the questions. Sorry for the slow response. I’ve been distracted a lot lately. I look forward to discussing these topics with you.

Richard

 

 

 

Posted in Losing My Religion

The Times They Are A Changin’

The times continue their incessant change (both inside and out), as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 BC – 475 BC) famously observed. And while looking up that quote for this post, I learned that he also was responsible for “establishing the term Logos (λόγος) in Western philosophy as meaning both the source and fundamental order of the Cosmos.” I knew that John had based his theology on existing secular philosophy, but did not realize it had originated five centuries earlier.

The changes in the outer world are pretty much the same as they have been throughout record history – hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, senseless mass murder – though it’s probably safe to say that the intensity of the last few months has spiked a bit above average. Those without a sense of history take these latest perturbations as evidence that we have finally reached the “end times” that were promised to be “coming quickly” in the Bible two thousand years ago. It’s a pity that the fundamentalist mindset makes it impossible for them to see the irony of their position.

Meanwhile, my internal changes have continued on their relatively smooth trajectory towards a more settled sense of self. One of the big questions was “What should I do with this site?” I’ve neglected it quite a bit lately, busying myself with work and recreation. It took a lot of work to set everything up again after the crash, and with work and recreation, there wasn’t much time or energy left to write posts and answer questions. But that’s changing now. I have the site working better than before. I installed SSL for security and upgraded this blog to a new theme that is responsive for mobile clients. I have lots of new ideas for where I want to take it. But first I will begin by responding to a lot of unanswered comments in various threads.

The recreation has really helped me tremendously both physically and mentally. Rose and I typically ride over a hundred miles a week, and just last week I joined the Bearded Monkeys of Yakima for a 100 mile ride called Field 41 Century. It was excellent. I felt strong, healthy, and energetic. I finished the 100 miles in 5 hours 39 minutes, at an average pace of 17.7 mph. You can checkout the ride on my Strava page. Here I am with my bike just before the ride:

At the start of the Field 41 Century ride.

At the start of the Field 41 Century ride.

And here I am near the finish line:

At the finish of the Field 41 Century ride.

At the finish of the Field 41 Century ride.

Rose and I also get out for an intense hike once a week. They typically take up most of our Saturdays. Last week we conquered the 3350 foot climb up to Goat Peak. It was only a six mile round trip, so the average grade was about 20%. Here’s a panorama from the top:

View from the top of Goat Peak

View from the top of Goat Peak

We would have been very hesitant to stress our middle aged knees on such a descent if not for the amazing assistance provided by our Nordic Walking Poles which also gives a full body workout. They are the best hiking innovation since the invention of the shoe. We call them our “magic sticks” because they have totally transformed our hiking experience, giving us an aerobic upper body workout while easily doubling our endurance and reducing knee strain to almost nothing.

On top of Goat Peak

On top of Goat Peak

 

And on that note … it’s time for Rose and I to head out for our Saturday hike. Today we are going to head north on the Pacific Crest Trail from Chinook Pass.

 

Posted in Thinking Freely

The forum is back up now

The image is something I drew on the cover page of my journal I wrote while hitch-hiking around the country back in 1987. It captures the essence of the human condition. We are made of “dust” – all that we do and all that we are is destined to crumble to nothing. But on the other hand, being trapped forever in our current condition would be quite hellish. So we are dancing on the razor’s edge between existence and the abyss. Not a bad place to be when you think about it. Indeed, it seems to be the only place we could be!

The impermanence of life became quite vivid recently. This site has been online since February 11, 2001. I’ve put countless hours into it, first as a convinced Bible believing Christian, then as a skeptical mystic, and finally as an atheist. It records my changes and the reasons for them, the questions I struggled with, and the many answers my fine friends have contributed along the way. Then on February 17, 2017 the server hosting this site crashed. The company which had been hosting it for the last sixteen years was not been able to provide any backups, claiming they all had mysteriously become corrupted through some mechanical failure. It seems  more likely that they simply failed to configure the backups correctly. In any case, I had, fortunately, made my own backup a couple years ago and so have been able to recover about 80% of the posts (62,624)  spanning the time from when the forum opened in June 7, 2007 to October 25, 2014.

This experience really brings home the fact that nothing is permanent. Our lives and our work are like footprints in the sand, destined to be washed away by wind and rain no matter what we do. On the upside, it also means that things we wish were not on the internet are also destined to pass. The new “old adage” that “once on the internet, always on the internet” is not really true. There are literally thousands of posts that were published on my site for many years that already have vanished because Google and Bing clear their cache frequently. I was hoping I could automate a Google search to find the old posts and reinsert them in my database, but they simply don’t exist anywhere any more as far as I can tell.

It’s not the same with this blog though. As it turns out, the Wayback Machine (Internet Archive) took snapshots of all my blog articles, so I will be able to retrieve them and their comment streams. I don’t know why they do this for WordPress blogs but not vBulletin forums.

I look forward to continuing our many conversations. Here’s the link to the forum.

Posted in What's New?

As you can see, the site is no longer down. ;)

The server for this site crashed a couple weeks ago and the the company hosting it said all their backups were corrupted, so it has taken some time for me to reconstruct it from my personal backups. I moved to a new host and have restored full functionality to the Full Text Bible Database (the most popular feature of this site) and most of the articles relating to my old research on the Bible Wheel.  I also have gotten this blog up and running (obviously) though I’ve lost the posts written after 2014 and many of the graphics in the articles are missing. I have yet to restore the forum. My latest backup contains all the posts up to November 2014. I hope to restore it tomorrow.

Please leave a comment if you encounter any errors so I can fix them.

Thank you for your patience!

Posted in Bible Wheel

On the Couch with Psychoanalyst Terry Blanchard

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Losing My Religion, Why Christianity is False

Is God Trustworthy? The Root of Religious Delusion

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

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

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

Posted in Why Christianity is False

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

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

~ Daniel Gleason, www.jesus8880.com

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

Posted in Debunking Bullshit

The Isaiah-Bible Coincidence Debunked

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

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

Posted in Bible Wheel, Debunking Myself

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

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

~ The Believing Brain, by Michael Shermer

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

Posted in Bible Wheel, Debunking Myself, Losing My Religion