Would I Ever Return to Christianity?

I’ve been interacting in the comments over at The BitterSweet End.  You can look around for my comments there (right now mainly under the more recent posts Doubt vs Faith and What Kind of Morality Is That?  Is God Evil?).  I think I also posted under his About page and a couple other places if you want to search around and even join in the discussions.

But the reason for this post is that I just wrote a reply and it really summed up well my thoughts about Christianity and why I would not likely ever return to it.  Sometimes it’s neat getting a bunch of thoughts down in one place – so I’m going to share my response here.  The other commentator had asked me to give God another chance.  This was my reply:

I want to tread lightly in my response to this because I know your faith is very important to you, but I also want to be honest and blunt about my views on this.  There are reasons that it’s not likely that I will return to ANY religion (the hiddenness of god, the problem of evil and suffering, etc.) but even if I did – it would not be to Christianity.  I left Christianity because I no longer trusted its claims but as time has passed I no longer even respect it.  I respect Christians – but not Christianity.  I don’t respect its basic storyline – I find it not only implausible but immoral (the need to appease a god through the sacrifice of a life, thought crime, punishment for being human to name a few).  I don’t respect its methods of discerning truth (faith, an error-prone ancient book, visions, prayer, etc.) or its use of fear (whether you believe in annihilation, separation from god, or a literal hell).

And I don’t see the need to search for god.  If he wants to talk to me he knows where to find me (and then I would ask him to reveal himself to everyone on the planet – not just me). I’ve never been convinced that there is a need for a god to remain hidden.  A parent is obvious to his children and yet they are still free to choose to love that parent or not.

And even if I was convinced there was a god – that would only be the beginning of the journey.  I would then have to figure out what this god was like and determine if he/it was worth paying attention to – never mind whether it deserved my worship and devotion.  Christians assume that if there is a god it is their type of god.  There are endless types of gods that could potentially exist.  Maybe god is an evil god or a god who doesn’t care much about us one way or the other … the list could go on.

If you or anyone else wants to understand my views and where I’m coming from on these issues then you can visit my website at www.leftchristianity.com

I can respect what your faith means to you and others and I hear the sincerity in your desire to explain the god that you know to others.  I was there for 20 years so I understand how it feels.  But it’s not likely I’ll ever return to Christianity.  It would have to change so much that it would be unrecognizable – it would be a different religion.

If anyone wants me to expand on some of these thoughts then ask away and I may even devote another post to doing that.

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22 thoughts on “Would I Ever Return to Christianity?

    • I did consider it when I was doubting although I’ve never had to articulate why I rejected it – so thanks for the chance.

      My first objection is that it uses fear to manipulate us. Be suspicious of any argument that uses fear as a tool! Arguments should be able to stand on their own merit – not fear or manipulation. Just like when someone’s arguments are failing and they start resorting to name calling. It’s a red flag for weak arguments.

      And can you respect a religion or argument that uses fear? Even if Christianity is 100% true – are you willing to be a part of a worldview that uses fear and punishment to keep people in line?

      And then the big question: Which god would you throw your dice in with? Whichever god you choose you are at risk of being wrong and suffering the wrath of the true god. Christians assume they are safe but they’re not. Maybe the true god values questioning and skepticism above all else and skeptics like me will be the only ones rewarded in the afterlife. Who knows? (hint: no one)

      But maybe belief in any god is acceptable. Really? That’s not what most religions claim (and esp not Christianity). There is a Maker of the Entire Universe and his only concern is that we believe he exists (even though he’s chosen to remain hidden). No other concerns for this god? He’s just created this grand puzzle for us to solve and there is only one important outcome – believe in god – any kind of god – no matter what the evidence to the contrary.

      And then there’s my question of how that would work. I have doubts – major doubts – and Pascal’s Wager tells me to shut my eyes and stick my fingers in my ears and pretend those doubts don’t exist. Is that possible? I guess – but I couldn’t do it.

      I remember the fear I felt when I considered leaving Christianity and Pascal’s Wager plays right into that. It took a LONG time for that to fade. As more time passed the Christian story made less and less sense to me and with it the idea that there is a god who will punish us for being human. So I threw my hat in with the atheists who at least didn’t ask me to twist my mind into a pretzel and certainly didn’t use fear to try to control me.

      I’d love to hear your thoughts.

      • That was my same gripe with Pascal’s Wager…Which God? Of course it’s easy to say christianity cause we live in a christian society. however. However if Pascal’s Wager took into account picking the wrong religion/god, than I think that would make it more logically sound.

    • Bible Reader:

      I like this advice as opposed to Pascal’s Wager:

      “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

      Marcus Aurelius

      [I have 11 pages of my favourite atheist-type quotes – most of which came from a book called The Quotable Atheist by Jack Huberman. Those quotes comforted me – reminded me that I wasn’t crazy and that others had the same problems with religion that I did.]

    • It seems you are familiar with the argument of inconsistent revelations and you, probably, are familiar with the argument of inauthentic belief. However, I like my own personal take on this:

      Would the god of Pascal’s Wager have any moral authority? Reason, despite what Pascal thinks, suggests god doesn’t exist. It is fear that suggests he does exist. Fear of death and eternal punishment. Reason claims no man can come back to life after he has died. Religion claims he can. So, if god bestowed reason on humans it was only to deceive them into believing he doesn’t exist. A god–even if he did exist–who would trick me and then punish me for being tricked is morally bankrupt and, certainly, isn’t deserving of worship.

      • Thanks for the comment!

        I’m trying to see your argument from a Christian’s perspective and they certainly wouldn’t agree that reason suggests god doesn’t exist. But they would have to admit, I think, that god has hidden himself enough that some people will use their reason and come to the conclusion that he doesn’t exist. So this god, whether you see it as tricking or not, has at the very least hidden himself enough so that some people will not even know he exists. I think this is cruel and immoral. What kind of god would put us in a world with so many questions and so much suffering, etc and then leave even his existence open to debate?

        I remember being very distraught at one point in my struggle because I didn’t understand why god would expect me to figure it all out (all those endless doubts and issues that were coming up – from the trustworthiness of the bible to all the intellectual arguments for and against the existence of god and then even if there was a god – was it the christian god? etc.) And if I didn’t figure it all out (and quick!) I’d be punished for eternity (I believed in a literal hell but annihilation or a separation from god are punishments as well). Fortunately at some point I realized that even if god did exist – leaving us here with no clear information or answers was cruel (he knew many people would experience anguish over all these questions) and that maybe this god (again – if he did exist) wasn’t a god I could respect never mind worship. And if he did exist I didn’t think it would be reasonable of him to expect us to figure it all out and therefore he likely wouldn’t be punishing us for being what he made us to be – human.

        I may have sidetracked your argument a bit (but I think it all ties in) because it led me to one of my biggest issues which is the hiddennes of god. I think it has been the biggest issue that has kept me pretty confident in my atheism. And when I consider that maybe a god does exist, I’m left questioning his morality and whether I could follow such a god. And not just because of Old Testament atrocities, etc but because of the basic immorality of a god who would set the world up the way he did. My passion lately is to have Christians question the fundamental storyline of their religion. Is this really a reasonable way for a god to have set up the world?

        Here are some videos that helped me with these issues:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JF_lK7BxmNU&lr=1 (NonBelief and Peek-a-Boo)

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnBESfXsnjk&feature=relmfu (Freewill and Lazy Deities)

        (I always want to add to his freewill argument that the parent-child relationship shows that you can have full knowledge of someone and still choose to love or not love that being. Also – I like how in the first video he ends by saying this god is either evil or ficticious because I think the issues he brings up were the biggest ones that led to my atheism and it brings up the point that even if this god does exist – he’s immoral.)

        I’m including all this info here not so much for you Persto – but for others who might be reading our discussion and struggling with these questions.

        I welcome your thoughts.

      • I agree with you. However, even from a Christian’s perspective, they can’t reasonably justify the existence of their god. In fact, they have made being willfully ignorant a virtue.

      • Are you saying that they can’t justify their god’s existence because that god remains hidden? Because a Christian would tell you that even though their god is invisible, there is still plenty of reason to come to the conclusion that he exists (nature, the bible, visions, prayer, logical arguments, etc.) They see this type of reasoning as being on an equal level as the type of reasoning we use to figure out other things about the world.

      • I am saying they can only justify their god’s existence in a religious, supernatural context. You don’t have Christianity without the Resurrection.

        Christians can’t justify god’s existence with the laws of physics and pure reason. They need the supernatural to explain why their god exists and why his word is the truth.

        I just don’t find any religious argument reasonable because the premise is unreasonable.

      • Christians would say that there are other ways than science to know things. Logical arguments are one example I can think of. The sense that I’m getting from Christians lately is that it’s not one type of proof exclusively – but a combination of many different types (even if each of those is not necessarily proof in itself). For example, it’s the historical proof of jesus + the truths in the bible + visions + miracles + nature + an inner knowledge (planted there by god I suppose) … etc.

        You’re preaching to the choir with me obviously – lol. I’m just trying to see it from their perspective so that we can better argue our position.

      • I see where you are coming from. I agree that atheists should dispute theism from different premises outside the scientific realm.

        However, theism, in no configuration, is a logical argument. For you to believe in a theistic conception of god you must accede to a miracle or some supernatural event. All theistic arguments advocate supernatural explanations and superstition. So, if, for instance, you are a christian you must attempt to reconcile the supernatural events of the bible with how the natural world operates. Logical arguments and supernatural arguments are mutually exclusive. However, theists, by necessity, must incorporate supernatural explanations in their flawed and sad attempts at logical arguments of validity.

        None of the combination of arguments utilized by theists are logical, scientific, or historically accurate. In fact, they are all infused with the supernatural. And that is my point. Every theistic argument is, by requirement, illogical.

  1. Maybe our takes on this approaches are too far apart. Is it correct to say that you seem to find it troubling that none of the alleged evidence for God is obvious? Leibniz comes to my mind. Newton regarded gravity as God’s continued activity in the world (for why else would two particles know of eachothers position – of course we know nowadays that particles don’t have to know this at all). This was objectionable for Leibniz, because this God was too much like a bungler to him, like somebody who constantly had to rewind his watch. In this respect Leibniz was like the medieval natural philosophers, who allowed an autonomous natural order that they believed was made to be intelligible by God. This intelligibility remains a great mystery in natural science.

    • Yes – since I left Christianity no one has ever given me a reason that I can accept as to why god needs to remain hidden. It’s only one issue for me – but a big one that affects how I see many other issues relating to religous belief.

    • And even if you could convince me that there was an acceptable reason for his hiddenness – you’d then be hard pressed to convince me that he also expects us to know all sorts of things about him and that he will judge us on believing a certain set of propositions about him and the nature of the universe before we die.

  2. To the christian- It is completely REASONABLE to believe in a GOD
    To the christian- IT is completely REASONABLE to believe that the only God that exist and is real; is their own
    To the christian- It is completely Unreasonable for someone to say that there is no god.

    This is Reason to the average christian

    • This is one reason I appreciate having been drawin into these discussions lately BibleReader because it has brought some things into focus for me.

      If you read Nate’s story he doesn’t say that he was unreasonable before and now he is reasonable. What he says is that the sources he was using as the basis for his reasoning changed. Once he no longer trusted the bible as a reliable source for finding truth then the other things that he saw as reasonable in Christianity fell like dominoes (my wording not his).

      So I think where you are in your search is critical. It’s definitely about whether you can trust the bible as a source for truth – especially when it claims to have such vast knowledge about invisible, supernatural things that apparently are of eternal importance.

      It is hard to keep that in isolation though – I’m sure you must find yourself questioning other things other than just the bible. Your search won’t always take you in a straight line.

      • Ur absolutely right, it is kinda taking me in a straight line.

        For example: I’m working on a post of Is God Perfect, that led me to the issue of Discrepancy in scriptures on if God’s Law is perfect. Some of these things are starting to build upon themselves.

        And in all honesty, I’m not sure if I can even call it doubt any more, I think I’m going into the non-believe phase.

      • One thing I wanted to mention to you is that there is no rush to have this all figured out. I know a lot of realizations can happen suddenly and I know I wanted to have it all figured out quickly. And I know that the Christian part of your brain might be telling you it’s urgent because you could go to hell if you don’t make the right choice, right now. But when you can, take a breath and know that life will go on whatever your decision. The essence of who you are is the same and you’ll figure out where you stand on religious issues as time goes on.

        I remember an exChristian friend who I went to during my struggle reminded me that we are free to change our minds as many times as we want. Our life is our journey and nothing is set in stone, I know Christianity sees it differently, but his reminder helped me to get out of the mindset that I was making some eternal choice just with my thoughts.

        Sorry if I’m getting too personal – just wanted to encourage you because I remember what it felt like to be where you are.

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