December 16, 2018, 11:19:51 AM

A new thread

Started by DavidMcClean, December 07, 2018, 11:51:41 AM

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DavidMcClean

Hello there,

Dirth of activity, but I thought I'd actually post something. I don't come here much as I have become an atheist 2 years ago but *occasionally* I drop by for a couple of mins every few weeks.

Cheers

Dave

Bryan

Hi David, I haven't visited much either, but for separate reasons.

Why did you leave "the faith"? If you don't mind me asking
All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us.  He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

DavidMcClean

December 08, 2018, 03:38:22 AM #2 Last Edit: December 08, 2018, 09:33:39 AM by DavidMcClean
Hey Bryan,

Not at all - let's see long story or short one. I'll go for the "medium" one :). Please note anything I say is not designed to offend, it's merely my opinion.

Basically two years ago my wife's health really took a nose dive. Her fibromyalgia got really bad and she was off work for six months. Constant head to toe pain 24 hours a day. Then I lost my job in terrible circumstances, and shortly afterwards Andrea was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. We have come through the last year in a blur of chemo, radio, operations, hair loss etc.

Thankfully she is now in the clear - albeit with a 35% chance of it returning - definitely NOT the odds I would like to bet on.

Through the course of this 2 years of living hell I just found the words in the bible just ringing more and more hollow. We both became sick to the back teeth of relatives saying they were "praying for us". A pastor even visited our home one day and told us that even if the worst happened and Andrea died, that we could still praise God because she would have received her "ultimate healing".

I nearly hit him.

I love Madalyn Murray O'Hairs quote - "Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer."

I appreciate that there could be other Christians whose faith would be strengthened during this time. Not my wife's and not mine.

So that started my own journey of enquiry. I read a lot. I watched a lot. I studied a lot. I did what religion says we're not allowed to do.....I questioned and I reasoned. I used the grey matter between my ears instead of impressions "in my spirit".

People like Seth Andrews, Matt Dillahunty, John Compere, Dan Barker were people I discovered who blew my mind. People who had been deeply "in the faith" but for various reasons no longer believed. What they said made sense, real sense. (People like Hitchens or Dawkins don't resonate as much with me because they were never IN the faith. It's a completely different perspective reasoning about something you have no first hand knowledge of...)

I started reading my bible not through the lens of faith and a pre-disposition that what I was reading was by definition "the truth" but of reason and intellect. My eyes were opened - things I'd never seen before just leaped off the page....

Hate the practice of female genital mutilation? Check. But Yaweh thinks male genital mutilation is just great. It's not - it's child abuse.
Hate the idea that a rape victim is forced to marry her rapist? Check. But Yaweh thinks that's also fine and dandy.
Hate the idea of owning other people as slaves in certain circumstances? Check. But Yaweh's pretty cool with that as well.
Son misbehaving and cheeking back? No problem - don't train or teach him. Don't EDUCATE him - just take him out and stone him to death.
Kids cold on the Sabbath and you want to make a bit of a fire to keep them warm? That's a stoning for you right there.
Think that destroying entire nations in a genocidal ethnic cleansing exercise is terrible....along with killing all the babies and children? Check. But Yaweh thinks that's a great idea as well.

(Now I realise the great get out of jail free card for God here is that "this is old covenant and doesn't apply any more". Well....no. If I used to beat and abuse my children up until 12, then after 12 I treat them differently....does that excuse the wrongs I did before? No it doesn't. Ever. Imagine I'm standing in front of a judge and I've killed some homosexuals twenty years ago and my defence is that "I was operating under a different agreement than I am now" - would I be allowed to walk free? No). On a side note if it's decided that the Old Testament doesn't apply then we have to throw out the creationist argument, original sin, the ten commandments, the origins of evil, Satan, any "prophecies" of a messiah and about 1000 other underlying essentials of the basis of the Christian faith, not to mention Judaism and the concept of Yaweh's chosen people.

Then the New Testament introduces the doctrine of hell in a new and even more lurid way. A method of punishment that makes the pains of Auschwitz look like a sunny day picnic. It beggars belief.....and is even more dreadful that this is taught to children. Gentle Jesus meek and mild, the loving Saviour who gives a choice "Do it my way or I'll burn you alive forever".

I could go on Bryan. But as I read the Bible for the first time in 50 years with a fresh pair of eyes I was appalled. Utterly appalled.

So....a journey of suffering, a book that I realised was the most immoral blood drenched, misogynistic and murderous document I've read and then other things began to make sense -

(1) The sanctification of believers - I honestly can say in 50 years in church circles that I've NEVER met a radically transformed person who is living the book they claim to. Every Christian is just as flawed, broken and twisted as anyone else. If the proof of the pudding is in the eating...then it simply does not work. (Case in point - the last church we were members of had 2 pastors. Shortly after they baptised my wife one of them admitted to the church that he had been sleeping with the other pastors wife...the church closed, many people were devastated and lost their faith....some sanctified life eh?). Please note that with hindsight I put myself in this category as well. I used to think I was the most "close to God" person alive...I actually READ my bible, I fasted, I prayed for 2 hours every day before I went to work. Years ago I was a charismatic youth pastor in the church I attended with my first wife along with being on the bible teaching rota. I ran a cell group in our home and led a lot of the young people on our estate "to Christ". Yet even when I look back at some of the holier than thou posts I've made on this site....appalling stuff. I was as petty, defensive, insecure, nasty and more of an idiot than the people I was arguing with....it didn't even work for ME lol  :police:

(In case you were in any doubt I think I took a pop at you as well - this was at the start of Andrea's cancer journey and my faith had essentially gone at that point, although I could still load the shotgun with bullets and fire them point blank, even though I didn't really believe any more....). Even when following the faith, I wasn't becoming more "Christ like" on a daily basis. I just became better at hiding the secret mental sins in hindsight....but put me in the wrong situation and the same old errors surfaced.

(2) The case of special pleading - "Jesus is the way, the truth and the life". But every other religion can site a book or set of beliefs or millions of utterly devoted followers all of whom make the same claim for their own chosen faith. So if there is a God then which God is it? Did Allah create the universe? How about Mithra? Maybe Thor? Possibly Kali? How about Ra? No one has ever demonstrated that their God is the correct one. Think for one moment as an example of all the devout Muslims in the world today (leaving out the suicide vest wearing idiots and the radicals). You must either conclude that they're deceived, or else deliberately following Allah when somehow they "know" that Jesus really is the one they should be following. I think the latter is impossible - so they're deceived or in error. Yaweh will either judge them and consign them to the lake of fire eventually, or else He'll take the attitude of "well they were following me with the light that they had received" and in that case they'll be ok. If this is the case then why didn't He adopt the similar attitude in previous times instead of obliterating the nations around Israel? Makes no sense to me. A completely devout follower of another deity gets eternally punished because they are following their faith with care and dedication - unfortunately they're born into the wrong culture and wrong time to get "the good news".

(3) The unreliability of scripture - this is a big one for me. My bibles were read cover to cover until they were falling apart. Yet when I read with fresh eyes of logical enquiry and not the "eyes of faith" it's just so inaccurate and jumbled on so many levels that I was literally dumbfounded.

(4) Lack of agreement in Christianity - take two Christians in the same pew. They will have different views on a myriad of topics. Hats are fundamental, hair is a head covering....the gifts are for today, tongues are from the devil....the King James is the only true Bible, every version is the word of God...Adam and Eve are real people, Adam and Eve are a nice story to illustrate a principle....Jesus is coming before the tribulation, Jesus is coming after the tribulation....women are to keep silent in church and not teach or have authority over a man, women are ok to teach and be leaders - that's just the culture of the time and we can safely ignore it. And we could go on ad-infinitum...yet every believer will tell you that they hear from God, are right in what they believe and are walking in the truth. But the perfect word of God and the very spirit of the living God never seems to get a bunch to set aside differences and agree. If I lay this at God's door, then isn't it about time he did something to correct all the baloney and set things out clearly once and for all? If the Bible is the best document that a God could produce to set out clearly the Divine Plan then it's a pretty poor attempt.

I came to realise that faith is the excuse people make for believing in something for which they have no proof. Even the Bible says this - "Faith is the substance of things not seen, the evidence of things hoped for". The burden of proof is on those making the claim, not the burden on the atheist to disprove in the existence of a God. If I have proof then I don't need faith. Faith is the complete absence of any proof.

I finally "came out" to my family a month ago. I've brethren elderly parents, a charismatic aunt and uncle, one sister who is a church elder and another who is a lay preacher. I have a cousin who was the head of the Presbyterian church in Northern Ireland. My first wife was a tongue talking charismatic (as I was as well).

Needless to say my revelation was met with horror, then silence and indifference. If I was the black sheep of the family before, then I'm now the goat with horns and a pitchfork. Not one of the extended born again family has contacted me in the last month to find out how I am. You're the first person - a veritable stranger - who has had the basic kindness to ask "why did you leave?". (Thanks for asking by the way - it may be a difficult read by this point, but at least you've made more of an effort than my "family" so on that one you get my thanks! :) ).

My position now is that of "Atheist / Anti-Theist". That's to say I am ready, willing and able to believe and follow a God if that God proves to me that he / she / they / it exists in a measurable and testable way. What proof do I need? No idea...but any God should know what I need to be convinced and if that proof is not forthcoming then I assume that God either doesn't exist or doesn't care. However if the "God of the Bible" does exist then by choice I will not follow as I believe that being to be a moral monster. I will choose hell, knowing that I am morally superior to the being sending me there as I never have at any point in my life advocated for slavery, stoning, male genital mutilation, genocide, animal slaughter and sacrifice, eternal torture etc etc).

That's my story and I hope that by sharing it we won't get into arguments - this is my experience and my process. If you're happy in your faith then I'm happy for you (as long as your faith is a private one and doesn't try and to make converts, dictate social policy, education, laws, a mothers right to determine what happens to her own body or a person's sexual preferences!).

If my post has come across with any anger then that's not my intention. It's difficult for me to articulate these things as I *DO* feel angry at being misled for my whole life. Apparently that's normal and part of the coming out process. Most atheists that come from a religion go through a "blazing with anger" phase, then settle down, eat fruit and keep calm :)

Thanks & Regards
Dave








jiminpa

You are not morally superior to the God of the Bible, and He is not obligated to prove Himself to you, me or anyone, especially if they are dead-set against His existence. The fact is that He could prove Himself to you, explicitly, and you would stick your fingers in your ears, close your eyes and demand that He go away, then because He did go away you would feel self-satisfied and justified in your criticisms of Him because He did what you demanded.

In the past I have walked on eggshells to try to avoid hurting your very easily triggered feelings, but you actually need someone to tell you that when you go to Hell it will not be because of your moral superiority but because of your absolute arrogance. You have been looking for an excuse to hate everything for a long time, and when you couldn't find one, you created one on your own. Congratulations! you are now your own god, and your god is a fool. One day you will face the real God, and you will know exactly how morally inferior you are, and still cling to your arrogance as it drags you to the abyss.
I used to worry and stress and strive to "do my part," never believing that I had done enough of "my part."  Now I see my part as casting it off on Him, doing what I believe He is giving me, and letting it just be His problem.  I don't have to fix everything, but I get to work along side of God.

DavidMcClean

December 08, 2018, 12:27:23 PM #4 Last Edit: December 08, 2018, 05:08:56 PM by DavidMcClean
Quote from: jiminpa on December 08, 2018, 12:17:55 PMYou are not morally superior to the God of the Bible, and He is not obligated to prove Himself to you, me or anyone, especially if they are dead-set against His existence. The fact is that He could prove Himself to you, explicitly, and you would stick your fingers in your ears, close your eyes and demand that He go away, then because He did go away you would feel self-satisfied and justified in your criticisms of Him because He did what you demanded.

In the past I have walked on eggshells to try to avoid hurting your very easily triggered feelings, but you actually need someone to tell you that when you go to Hell it will not be because of your moral superiority but because of your absolute arrogance. You have been looking for an excuse to hate everything for a long time, and when you couldn't find one you created one on your own. Congratulations! you are now your own god, and your god is a fool. One day you will face the real God, and your arrogance will crumble and you will know that you are morally inferior, and still cling to your arrogance as it drags you to the abyss.
Thanks for your post - I appreciate the time you've taken to consider and formulate a reply.

I spot at least three insults and swipes at my character in there, and not a word of enquiry or comfort about my wife. As I stated at the beginning of my post I did not intend offence, merely to explain the question I'd been asked. However you use the word "triggered feelings" and you certainly seem triggered. Especially since if you'd bothered to read my post closely you'd have seen I was directly replying to Bryan (hint : the use of the word Bryan a number of times might have been a subtle clue there). But YOU were so "triggered" that you leapt on the thread and spewed out some ad hominem attacks. Was ANY of my post directed towards you?

No - but you couldn't resist could you? I suggest a long hard look in the mirror and some managing of your emotions might be in order.

You've had swipes at me, so in the same spirit of reciprocation I have to say that over the years we have had dialogue (thankfully brief) I personally have found you to be defensive, immature, cold and judgemental. You seem to want to sit in the seat of knowledge and dole out semi literate biblical advice and take every opportunity to put forth YOUR view and YOUR opinion and YOUR interpretation on any scripture mentioned - let me be honest even if you aren't - you and I both know it feeds your ego and gives you the validation as a middle aged man that you're sadly lacking in other areas of your life. I see your posts on ChristianForums and they're exactly the same..... "come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you some much needed advice and O so wise biblical counsel". You're exactly the sort of mean spirited "professing Christian" that exudes the sort of negative qualities that would make we want to run a mile, and has all the tolerance, grace and love of a bucket of ice water.

You make sweeping value judgements about my failings yet you don't even know me. You have no idea about the abuse and rape I suffered as a child, the physical and sexual abuse at the hands of a "Christian" ex wife, my struggles with drugs and alcohol as a result of these things, nor coping with the death of my teenage daughter four years ago. You just loaded for bear and blasted me with all the attitude you could muster. So thanks for that - I really appreciate it. I'm sure Christ is relieved that He doesn't need to bother passing judgement since you've already done it for Him.

Out of interest - before you posted did you spend time on your knees weeping for my soul? Did you ask your God what message He wanted me to hear? Did you perchance ask what proof you could bring or in what way you could show His love or did you just jump on to your over developed sense of indignation and have a go at me?

(PS here's a wee piece of advice for free : If your God is indeed "God" - then He doesn't need YOU to feel outraged on His behalf. I'm sure He's well able to handle the responsibility of feeling offended and doling out punishment without help from yours truly).

O and by the way - I'm not excusing my failings. I am all too aware of them - I know I'm broken, I know I'm highly damaged goods and high maintenance. I have many many issues, and failings and I don't shy away from them. So I'm not blaming the past - it's a number of contributing factors and yes I have made MANY poor choices over the years. But - thanks for pointing my failings out again - much appreciated.

Instead of possibly entering into a good spirited and respectful discussion about my journey and some of the points I made that - you never know - could have made me consider further, you've just written me off. We could have talked through some of the points I raised about *my* journey and who knows - if you'd not been so full of pride you might have walked away having learned something. I might even have learned something myself. I'm sure Christ would be very pleased with the love you've shown today - well done! A shining example indeed of the transforming power that you "claim" (I use the term very advisedly) to follow. The irony is of course not lost on me - that you are living, breathing proof of the lack of sanctification that validates one of my earlier points. It's....almost as if I'd prayed and asked for a sign...and lo and behold you came and presented yourself to validate my argument. Thanks! If I have to do a presentation on the subject would you mind sending me an HD full length pic and I'll make a big cardboard 2D pop-up to take along as one my props?  :grin:

Pete - I responded as well as I could to Bryan's enquiry about my direction, but if this is sadly going to turn into more insults then please close the thread and remove my ability to login for good. I've stopped in the odd time over the last few years and certain people - one in particular - seems to take great delight at throwing around insults.

DavidMcClean

FYI I have sent a private message to Pete and asked him to close my account and ban my IP address.

You will no longer with any luck have one of the sick people come here with the odd post (you know the people that Jesus said he came to call).

Now Jiminpa it will be just YOU and a couple of others.....the nice people. This is a great day for you - you'll no longer have to endure my "easily triggered feelings".

Good morning, good afternoon & goodnight.






jiminpa

I'd apologize for saying anything, but you won't see it.
I used to worry and stress and strive to "do my part," never believing that I had done enough of "my part."  Now I see my part as casting it off on Him, doing what I believe He is giving me, and letting it just be His problem.  I don't have to fix everything, but I get to work along side of God.

DavidMcClean

Quote from: jiminpa on December 08, 2018, 06:48:33 PMI'd apologize for saying anything, but you won't see it.
No I actually would. You misjudge me because you don't know me. A lot of the posts I recorded here where when I was in the darkest place in my life after my divorce. Then I took a break for a few years. I think you still see me as that black person instead of someone around your own age trying to make it through as best I can, albeit with a different perspective now. I never posted really about my life in the midst of Christianity before so you missed that part of my life. I think if I had then you'd maybe see me as a different person.

I did not want to cause confrontation, just explain the answer to the question I was asked. I appreciate that leaving the same faith that you're so committed to and not only that, explaining MY reasons may be offensive. But there's no need to be offended really. Wouldn't it be the best outcome if another atheist came here and saw a discussion that was interesting, challenging and respectful instead of shaking their head and walking away. Believe me I've seen it on other forums. An atheist or seeker posts a message and gets devoured, then walks away....

I spent about 2-3 hours revising my answer to try and not cause any offence. In hindsight I should have just said nothing. But remember you're dealing with the Irish....you have a pop at me and I'll have a pop back and throw in the kitchen sink as well :)

Anyways all the best

jiminpa

Okay, well have fun with that, (seriously, I figure like an Irish bar fight), but I'm not such a strong person in real life, so it's more than a little hypocritical for me to be a keyboard commando. I did once have someone I considered a very good friend because we had frothing at the mouth arguments every day at work, and he made a good case for his position. People at work expected us to come to blows, and that was the opposite of what was going on. We had learned to trust each other enough to go at it and know neither of us meant any harm. I remember it fondly. But I was an entirely different person then.

God is both incomprehensibly compassionate and fearsome. He is more moral than you or I can understand. He does not owe either of us an explanation, and we won't understand it if He gives it. If you want to think you are smart enough and moral enough to hold God accountable it won't work out well for you, and sooner or later you will find out that you are neither smart nor moral. That is not a shot, that is reality for us all. It's like when a 3 year old tries to explain justice to an "unfair" parent, only infinitely more so. It's not God who is unjust and doesn't understand, it's us. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament who walked as one of us and died a horrible death to raise us above our own evilness.

Will I rejoice if you continue on in your assumptions all the way to damnation? absolutely not! If you are determined to set yourself up as your own god all the way to Hell, the most compassionate thing I can do is confront you. I believe that what I said was accurate. I could have said it better, or not at all.
I used to worry and stress and strive to "do my part," never believing that I had done enough of "my part."  Now I see my part as casting it off on Him, doing what I believe He is giving me, and letting it just be His problem.  I don't have to fix everything, but I get to work along side of God.

DavidMcClean

December 08, 2018, 07:42:04 PM #9 Last Edit: December 08, 2018, 10:03:31 PM by DavidMcClean
Quote from: jiminpa on December 08, 2018, 07:35:21 PMOkay, well have fun with that, (seriously, I figure like an Irish bar fight), but I'm not such a strong person in real life, so it's more than a little hypocritical for me to be a keyboard commando. I did once have someone I considered a very good friend because we had frothing at the mouth arguments every day at work, and he made a good case for his position. People at work expected us to come to blows, and that was the opposite of what was going on. We had learned to trust each other enough to go at it and know neither of us meant any harm. I remember it fondly. But I was an entirely different person then.

God is both incomprehensibly compassionate and fearsome. He is more moral than you or I can understand. He does not owe either of us an explanation, and we won't understand it if He gives it. If you want to think you are smart enough and moral enough to hold God accountable it won't work out well for you, and sooner or later you will find out that you are neither smart nor moral. That is not a shot, that is reality for us all. It's like when a 3 year old tries to explain justice to an "unfair" parent, only infinitely more so. It's not God who is unjust and doesn't understand, it's us. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament who walked as one of us and died a horrible death to raise us above our own evilness.

Will I rejoice if you continue on in your assumptions all the way to damnation? absolutely not! If you are determined to set yourself up as your own god all the way to Hell, the most compassionate thing I can do is confront you. I believe that what I said was accurate. I could have said it better, or not at all.
I thought I was getting an apology?

Guess not. That's not a problem - I have big shoulders. Ok then I'll humour you - I will listen to your heartfelt apology - on which points would you like to hold your hands up and say that you either got it wrong or caused offence?

My struggle with substance abuse?
The death of my daughter?
My "emotional triggering"?

Please elucidate I'm all ears.....where did the Saviour restrict your compassion and understanding.

None? Ok then......I'll try and cope with the stress lol  :P

The most compassionate thing you can do is to confront me? Really? Strange I used to think the same way before I grew up. It's actually not - the most compassionate thing you can do is to first meet me where I'm at, understand it and go a mile in my shoes. That's the only way you will learn to rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with those that weep. Or....do you think you'll make some interstellar leap from ignorance to complete understanding without compassion or the investment of time?

I have to say it's interesting to see your tag - " I used to worry and stress and strive to "do my part," never believing that I had done enough of "my part."  Now I see my part as casting it off on Him, doing what I believe He is giving me, and letting it just be His problem.  I don't have to fix everything, but I get to work along side of God."

Seems to me that you throw it all at Jesus, and anything else that you screw up is His problem. By your own words you don't have to fix everything but you get to work alongside God? So presumably if God does nothing or tells you nothing then you as well do nothing? Sounds very like you mirror Jesus saying that "I do nothing but what I see the Father doing". It's one of those things that sounds so amazing until you ponder it and then think, "Jesus what arrogance"......"If he screws up then it's nothing to do with him, but it's all back on the Saviour". Seriously dude....have you considered the sanity of where your arguments come from? Christ tells you to do something then you do it, otherwise you do nothing.

I call BS. I refuse to believe you obey at all times....and again YOU and I KNOW this to be the case. You can try and fake it with smart words that may awe some of the younger folks here, but YOU and I are around the same age, we both know the reality of life, relationships, marriage, children, birth and death and the struggles that come with those things. You can bull$#@% kids but not people your own age....

I think the real heart of your issues, is a lack of forgiveness (that I pointed out in another thread but have had no response to), and also that I'm the one calling time on your pretence and you're having to face up to the fact that you're just maybe not the whole package that you've believed all along and like to project.

Until YOU and I can talk respectfully on the same wavelength then I'm done. When I see reality from you or this thread is removed then this is my position.

Perhaps Bryan will flame me as well, until then I have a genuine hope that he will actually have the maturity to read my response and reply with the respect that creates a meaningful conversation.

Dave


jiminpa

I can't apologize for posting what I know to be the truth. I do apologize for the tone.

If you're interested, I can expound.

I used to worry and stress and strive to "do my part," never believing that I had done enough of "my part."  Now I see my part as casting it off on Him, doing what I believe He is giving me, and letting it just be His problem.  I don't have to fix everything, but I get to work along side of God.

DavidMcClean

Quote from: jiminpa on December 08, 2018, 11:08:04 PMI can't apologize for posting what I know to be the truth. I do apologize for the tone.

If you're interested, I can expound.


Would that be a detailed retraction of the points you levelled against me without even knowing me?
Yes - I'd be interested to read that and I think it would be good for you to articulate it.
Thanking you in advance....

jiminpa

Quote from: DavidMcClean on December 09, 2018, 03:28:14 AMWould that be a detailed retraction of the points you levelled against me without even knowing me?
Yes - I'd be interested to read that and I think it would be good for you to articulate it.
Thanking you in advance....
I posted was based on what you said yourself. Again, i'm sorry for the tone, not for the truth. You say I don't know you, and that's mostly true. I know what you posted, in this thread, and it was radiating everything I said in my earlier post.

You make demands of God that He is under no obligation to meet, and you clearly would not accept it even He did. That's all in your post. I don't have to know you.  I can read what you posted.
I used to worry and stress and strive to "do my part," never believing that I had done enough of "my part."  Now I see my part as casting it off on Him, doing what I believe He is giving me, and letting it just be His problem.  I don't have to fix everything, but I get to work along side of God.

DavidMcClean

I find it hard to get my head around why you're so prickly and defensive - seriously you come across as so....angry and unwilling to have a reasonable conversation.

I think this thread has now run it's course as I have - like I said I've asked Pete to remove my account - hopefully he will do so.

I wrote my reply for Bryan and I've said all I have to say on the matter.

It's obvious that you're not interested in a meaningful conversation, just some bizarre form of spiritual ping pong in which you already believe you've won before the game has started.

I've better things to do with my time now, so ciao o/

jiminpa

Whether you believe it or not I wish you well in your life, and eternity, but if you reject God, and call yourself qualified to judge His morals, neither will go well for you, until you turn to Him.
I used to worry and stress and strive to "do my part," never believing that I had done enough of "my part."  Now I see my part as casting it off on Him, doing what I believe He is giving me, and letting it just be His problem.  I don't have to fix everything, but I get to work along side of God.

Pete

Um, wow.

So I've been away on vacation this past weekend and I'm just now checking in, so please forgive my delay in responding...

Dave, I think you've raised some interesting points, and in the interest of a peaceful discussion, I will be happy to respond to what you've said point by point. I'll need some time, but I didn't want you to think I was just ignoring you.

It's not wrong to question things. I am an intellectual, and I over analyze everything, so I understand where you're coming from. The things I believe now are very different from just a few years ago. It seems you and I have asked many of the same questions. We've come to very different conclusions, and I'll explain my journey to you, where I've been, where I'm at and how I got here. I'll respond fully in a few days, so please don't delete your post or leave. There is growth potential here for everyone involved if we approach this correctly.

O0
"There is no charge for awesomeness -- or attractiveness."

jiminpa

Thanks Pete. You'll probably handle this much better than I did. I just got all fired up about the immoral God thing.
I used to worry and stress and strive to "do my part," never believing that I had done enough of "my part."  Now I see my part as casting it off on Him, doing what I believe He is giving me, and letting it just be His problem.  I don't have to fix everything, but I get to work along side of God.

DavidMcClean

Quote from: jiminpa on December 11, 2018, 08:56:15 AMThanks Pete. You'll probably handle this much better than I did. I just got all fired up about the immoral God thing.
...which was why I stated that it was simply my opinion.

Rather than have a mutually respectful intelligent discussion, there then followed an exhausting back and forth that got personal. I was tempted to ask at one point "so since you've not picked up ANY of the points I've made does that mean you agree with them all?". Strange if you disagreed why you didn't want to enter into a discussion, you seemed instead to take the immoral position of attacking me personally.

The sad thing is that when I was in the faith I adopted exactly the same approach, taking the hard line of truth and loading for bear. I believed I was serving God by taking this line.
Now that I'm not in the faith, I see how unloving, judgemental and hard it is and how absolutely off-putting for anyone on the receiving end.

Pete I'm fine for you to close this thread, at the end of the day I'm very happy and content with my position now - indeed I'm happier than I've been for 30 years and have no regrets as to where my journey of enquiry has led me. Indeed every time I come across another believer who deals with me in this sort of manner, it just re-enforces the fact that I'm on the right path and that religion really does take away from our humanity, not add to it.

For the record I do wish it to be clearly understood that I'd have been fine with no-one ever asking for my opinion, I'd have been fine coming here once every few months and posting the odd "hello". But I certainly won't tolerate personal attacks and a lack of respect, especially from those that claim to be living a transformed life.

If we can all behave ourselves and act respectfully towards each other I'm more than happy to discuss anything we want, but not with attitude, flaming or emotion...after all we're all supposed to be grown men :)

Thanks again o/

flaglady

Geeze! For a moment there, I thought I'd gone back in time and was in CF!  Thanks for the memory, guys!  Not very nice but illuminating!

Pete

Quote from: DavidMcClean on December 08, 2018, 03:38:22 AMHey Bryan,

Not at all - let's see long story or short one. I'll go for the "medium" one :). Please note anything I say is not designed to offend, it's merely my opinion.

Basically two years ago my wife's health really took a nose dive. Her fibromyalgia got really bad and she was off work for six months. Constant head to toe pain 24 hours a day. Then I lost my job in terrible circumstances, and shortly afterwards Andrea was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. We have come through the last year in a blur of chemo, radio, operations, hair loss etc.

Thankfully she is now in the clear - albeit with a 35% chance of it returning - definitely NOT the odds I would like to bet on.

Before I begin my response, I want to say how sorry I am that you have had to deal with this. I cannot imagine the pain and suffering you've had to endure.

Quote from: DavidMcClean on December 08, 2018, 03:38:22 AMThrough the course of this 2 years of living hell I just found the words in the bible just ringing more and more hollow. We both became sick to the back teeth of relatives saying they were "praying for us". A pastor even visited our home one day and told us that even if the worst happened and Andrea died, that we could still praise God because she would have received her "ultimate healing".

I nearly hit him.

I love Madalyn Murray O'Hairs quote - "Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer."

Oftentimes Christians will say things like they're praying for someone as if that is the only thing they are called to do. However, I would not take it so far as to say prayer is ineffective or meaningless. I would, however, say that prayer in the absence of corresponding action is dead. James says that our faith without corresponding action is dead. So simply saying, "We'll pray for you" is, IMHO, often an empty platitude.

Quote from: DavidMcClean on December 08, 2018, 03:38:22 AMI appreciate that there could be other Christians whose faith would be strengthened during this time. Not my wife's and not mine.

So that started my own journey of enquiry. I read a lot. I watched a lot. I studied a lot. I did what religion says we're not allowed to do.....I questioned and I reasoned. I used the grey matter between my ears instead of impressions "in my spirit".

As I said in my first post, I am very much an intellectual and I tend to over analyze things. I have no issue with anyone asking questions and reasoning about anything. I know not all Christians feel that way, but I believe that we've been given a mind and intellect for a reason and we should absolutely use them.

Quote from: DavidMcClean on December 08, 2018, 03:38:22 AMPeople like Seth Andrews, Matt Dillahunty, John Compere, Dan Barker were people I discovered who blew my mind. People who had been deeply "in the faith" but for various reasons no longer believed. What they said made sense, real sense. (People like Hitchens or Dawkins don't resonate as much with me because they were never IN the faith. It's a completely different perspective reasoning about something you have no first hand knowledge of...)

I started reading my bible not through the lens of faith and a pre-disposition that what I was reading was by definition "the truth" but of reason and intellect. My eyes were opened - things I'd never seen before just leaped off the page....

I don't know any of those names, but I would say that ALL of us read things through "lenses". For Christians, that lens tends to be the lens of faith. For those who don't believe, it's a "lens" of doubt or unbelief. Confirmation bias affects ALL of us. What I'm saying is that when we think we're being "objective", many times we're just looking at something through a different "lens". It's important to remember that correlation does not imply causation. However, the tendency is very high for us to seek confirmation for what we already believe. This is why people stick to certain news channels, websites and authors. I'm not saying that's what you've done, but it's something worth considering. I evaluate myself all the time. Am I really seeking "truth", or am I seeking to validate what I think is true? Everyone is guilty of this and it is as likely to happen to us when we change "lenses" as when we were looking through the original lens.

Quote from: DavidMcClean on December 08, 2018, 03:38:22 AMHate the practice of female genital mutilation? Check. But Yaweh thinks male genital mutilation is just great. It's not - it's child abuse.
Hate the idea that a rape victim is forced to marry her rapist? Check. But Yaweh thinks that's also fine and dandy.
Hate the idea of owning other people as slaves in certain circumstances? Check. But Yaweh's pretty cool with that as well.
Son misbehaving and cheeking back? No problem - don't train or teach him. Don't EDUCATE him - just take him out and stone him to death.
Kids cold on the Sabbath and you want to make a bit of a fire to keep them warm? That's a stoning for you right there.
Think that destroying entire nations in a genocidal ethnic cleansing exercise is terrible....along with killing all the babies and children? Check. But Yaweh thinks that's a great idea as well.

(Now I realise the great get out of jail free card for God here is that "this is old covenant and doesn't apply any more". Well....no. If I used to beat and abuse my children up until 12, then after 12 I treat them differently....does that excuse the wrongs I did before? No it doesn't. Ever. Imagine I'm standing in front of a judge and I've killed some homosexuals twenty years ago and my defence is that "I was operating under a different agreement than I am now" - would I be allowed to walk free? No). On a side note if it's decided that the Old Testament doesn't apply then we have to throw out the creationist argument, original sin, the ten commandments, the origins of evil, Satan, any "prophecies" of a messiah and about 1000 other underlying essentials of the basis of the Christian faith, not to mention Judaism and the concept of Yaweh's chosen people.

Then the New Testament introduces the doctrine of hell in a new and even more lurid way. A method of punishment that makes the pains of Auschwitz look like a sunny day picnic. It beggars belief.....and is even more dreadful that this is taught to children. Gentle Jesus meek and mild, the loving Saviour who gives a choice "Do it my way or I'll burn you alive forever".

I could go on Bryan. But as I read the Bible for the first time in 50 years with a fresh pair of eyes I was appalled. Utterly appalled.

So....a journey of suffering, a book that I realised was the most immoral blood drenched, misogynistic and murderous document I've read and then other things began to make sense -

I will freely admit that there are many things in scripture that I don't understand, so I won't even pretend that I have an answer for the points you've raised here.

Quote from: DavidMcClean on December 08, 2018, 03:38:22 AM(1) The sanctification of believers - I honestly can say in 50 years in church circles that I've NEVER met a radically transformed person who is living the book they claim to. Every Christian is just as flawed, broken and twisted as anyone else. If the proof of the pudding is in the eating...then it simply does not work. (Case in point - the last church we were members of had 2 pastors. Shortly after they baptised my wife one of them admitted to the church that he had been sleeping with the other pastors wife...the church closed, many people were devastated and lost their faith....some sanctified life eh?). Please note that with hindsight I put myself in this category as well. I used to think I was the most "close to God" person alive...I actually READ my bible, I fasted, I prayed for 2 hours every day before I went to work. Years ago I was a charismatic youth pastor in the church I attended with my first wife along with being on the bible teaching rota. I ran a cell group in our home and led a lot of the young people on our estate "to Christ". Yet even when I look back at some of the holier than thou posts I've made on this site....appalling stuff. I was as petty, defensive, insecure, nasty and more of an idiot than the people I was arguing with....it didn't even work for ME lol  :police:

This is a REALLY good point. In today's age of social media, hypocrisy is on full display for all to see. We're all flawed, but there are too many people who are far too worried about other people's sins instead of worrying about themselves. People only love or forgive right up until the moment you go against whatever agenda it is they hold dear. Then there are reasons it's OK for them to be offended. I read a book this past year by Brant Hansen called Unoffendable that I highly recommend to everyone.

Quote from: DavidMcClean on December 08, 2018, 03:38:22 AM(2) The case of special pleading - "Jesus is the way, the truth and the life". But every other religion can site a book or set of beliefs or millions of utterly devoted followers all of whom make the same claim for their own chosen faith. So if there is a God then which God is it? Did Allah create the universe? How about Mithra? Maybe Thor? Possibly Kali? How about Ra? No one has ever demonstrated that their God is the correct one. Think for one moment as an example of all the devout Muslims in the world today (leaving out the suicide vest wearing idiots and the radicals). You must either conclude that they're deceived, or else deliberately following Allah when somehow they "know" that Jesus really is the one they should be following. I think the latter is impossible - so they're deceived or in error. Yaweh will either judge them and consign them to the lake of fire eventually, or else He'll take the attitude of "well they were following me with the light that they had received" and in that case they'll be ok. If this is the case then why didn't He adopt the similar attitude in previous times instead of obliterating the nations around Israel? Makes no sense to me. A completely devout follower of another deity gets eternally punished because they are following their faith with care and dedication - unfortunately they're born into the wrong culture and wrong time to get "the good news".

In logic, this is circular reasoning. It's also the definition of our faith. So as an intellectual, this is somewhat difficult for me. There is not a "logical" explanation for our faith in God. It is based solely on belief.

Quote from: DavidMcClean on December 08, 2018, 03:38:22 AM(3) The unreliability of scripture - this is a big one for me. My bibles were read cover to cover until they were falling apart. Yet when I read with fresh eyes of logical enquiry and not the "eyes of faith" it's just so inaccurate and jumbled on so many levels that I was literally dumbfounded.

This is also true. There are many seeming contradictions throughout scripture. Repeating what I said above, I don't have all the answers to the questions I have. However I do know that over the years my understanding of scriptures has changed and morphed. This demonstrates to me that while I do not understand everything now or just because something seems contradictory to me, it doesn't mean it's not true.

Quote from: DavidMcClean on December 08, 2018, 03:38:22 AM(4) Lack of agreement in Christianity - take two Christians in the same pew. They will have different views on a myriad of topics. Hats are fundamental, hair is a head covering....the gifts are for today, tongues are from the devil....the King James is the only true Bible, every version is the word of God...Adam and Eve are real people, Adam and Eve are a nice story to illustrate a principle....Jesus is coming before the tribulation, Jesus is coming after the tribulation....women are to keep silent in church and not teach or have authority over a man, women are ok to teach and be leaders - that's just the culture of the time and we can safely ignore it. And we could go on ad-infinitum...yet every believer will tell you that they hear from God, are right in what they believe and are walking in the truth. But the perfect word of God and the very spirit of the living God never seems to get a bunch to set aside differences and agree. If I lay this at God's door, then isn't it about time he did something to correct all the baloney and set things out clearly once and for all? If the Bible is the best document that a God could produce to set out clearly the Divine Plan then it's a pretty poor attempt.

But I wonder sometimes if that isn't the point. All of the stuff you mentioned above that people hold such dogmatic beliefs and opinions about are tangential at best. Of course we all believe what we believe is true. We wouldn't believe it otherwise. But you'll find that I'm open to the idea that what I believe on one of these topics is incomplete, misguided, or even flat wrong. Perhaps it's more important to Love one another and make allowances for one another. That is how Jesus said we would be known as His followers. Not because our doctrines are 100% accurate, but because we Love one another.

Quote from: DavidMcClean on December 08, 2018, 03:38:22 AMI came to realise that faith is the excuse people make for believing in something for which they have no proof. Even the Bible says this - "Faith is the substance of things not seen, the evidence of things hoped for". The burden of proof is on those making the claim, not the burden on the atheist to disprove in the existence of a God. If I have proof then I don't need faith. Faith is the complete absence of any proof.

Correct, and you'll get no argument from me on this. I will freely admit that I believe in God, and I cannot "prove" it to you.

Quote from: DavidMcClean on December 08, 2018, 03:38:22 AMI finally "came out" to my family a month ago. I've brethren elderly parents, a charismatic aunt and uncle, one sister who is a church elder and another who is a lay preacher. I have a cousin who was the head of the Presbyterian church in Northern Ireland. My first wife was a tongue talking charismatic (as I was as well).

Needless to say my revelation was met with horror, then silence and indifference. If I was the black sheep of the family before, then I'm now the goat with horns and a pitchfork. Not one of the extended born again family has contacted me in the last month to find out how I am. You're the first person - a veritable stranger - who has had the basic kindness to ask "why did you leave?". (Thanks for asking by the way - it may be a difficult read by this point, but at least you've made more of an effort than my "family" so on that one you get my thanks! :) ).

My position now is that of "Atheist / Anti-Theist". That's to say I am ready, willing and able to believe and follow a God if that God proves to me that he / she / they / it exists in a measurable and testable way. What proof do I need? No idea...but any God should know what I need to be convinced and if that proof is not forthcoming then I assume that God either doesn't exist or doesn't care. However if the "God of the Bible" does exist then by choice I will not follow as I believe that being to be a moral monster. I will choose hell, knowing that I am morally superior to the being sending me there as I never have at any point in my life advocated for slavery, stoning, male genital mutilation, genocide, animal slaughter and sacrifice, eternal torture etc etc).

That's my story and I hope that by sharing it we won't get into arguments - this is my experience and my process. If you're happy in your faith then I'm happy for you (as long as your faith is a private one and doesn't try and to make converts, dictate social policy, education, laws, a mothers right to determine what happens to her own body or a person's sexual preferences!).

If my post has come across with any anger then that's not my intention. It's difficult for me to articulate these things as I *DO* feel angry at being misled for my whole life. Apparently that's normal and part of the coming out process. Most atheists that come from a religion go through a "blazing with anger" phase, then settle down, eat fruit and keep calm :)

Thanks & Regards
Dave

So as I originally said, you and I have asked many of the same questions, but we've come to radically different conclusions.

For me, I begin with the belief that God is good. Can I "prove" that? No. Is there scriptural evidence that you can provide that would seemingly demonstrably refute that belief? Sure. But still, I choose to believe in a God that is good, even when it may not seem that way to me. I know that our time here on this earth is fleeting and while I absolutely don't understand all of the suffering that goes on in this world, I choose to hold fast to a hope that God is good and He loves us. Sure, I could share testimonies of how I believe God has worked in my life, but as I said earlier, correlation does not imply causation. So just because I have a testimony of God's provision/healing/presence/etc., I can't "prove" it.

On the other hand, you begin with the belief that your logic and reasoning is paramount. But I just don't trust myself enough. I know the hypocrisies I've had, the leaps of logic I've made, the poor judgments and decisions I've made based on my reasoning, logic and circumstances. And while we'd all like to believe that we're being objective in our assessments of ourselves and our beliefs, we're all looking through some kind of a "lens".

You said as much in sharing your story. Your pain and suffering caused you to re-evaluate and look at it with "fresh eyes". But really all you did was switch lenses. I don't say that to be judgmental. I do the same thing. My last few years have been very good and I'm certain that influences what and how I believe. But even when things are not so good, I don't rely on what I know is my flawed logic. I rest in a belief that even though I cannot provide the answers to all of my questions, God is good.

Anyway, I'm not trying to "convert" you or argue. I'm just sharing a different perspective.

 :afro:
"There is no charge for awesomeness -- or attractiveness."

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