Quote: Richard Carrier on Christianity

I’m sorry to say that, after 35 years as a Christian, yes, this is what we believe.

Definition of Christianity #1: Fundamentalist Version:

The belief that some cosmic Jewish zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

~ Richard Carrier, Lecture “Are Christians Delusional?”, Skepticon 3

Definition of Christianity #2: Liberal Version:

All that Eve stuff is baloney. But I still have an imaginary friend who manipulates the world for me, and he also magically impregnated a woman two thousand years ago, and she bore him a son who underwent an ancient ritual of blood sacrifice in order to dispel a curse laid upon me, thus ensuring that I will be immortal (although I’ve never seen this work for anyone else before).

~ Richard Carrier, Lecture “Are Christians Delusional?”, Skepticon 3

Jesus’ Atonement:

God needs blood to fix the universe, but only his own blood has enough magical power to do it, so he gave himself a body and killed it.

~ Richard Carrier, Lecture “Are Christians Delusional?”, Skepticon 3

Quote: Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell

Daniel Dennett, at the Second World Conference...

Daniel Dennett, at the Second World Conference on the Future of Science, in Venice, 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is an asymmetry: atheists in general welcome the most intensive and objective examination of their views, practices, and reasons. (In fact, their incessant demand for self-examination can become quite tedious.) The religious, in contrast, often bristle at the impertinence, the lack of respect, the sacrilege, implied by anybody who wants to investigate their views.

~ Dennett, Daniel C. (2006-02-02). Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (pp. 16-17)

In my own limited personal experience, I can attest that this quote resonates with reality. Not everyone bristles, of course, though some do. I think maybe the bristling is saved for outsiders, and I was an insider.

Some of my friends have simply acted uncomfortable. A number have flatly not wanted to hear or know anything about my investigation. Yet several have actually thought even my very attempt at examination was foolhardy… I wish I could count the number of times I’ve been told that the project of investigating the claims of Christianity simply cannot be transacted, that is flatly impossible, and that it lies beyond critical inquiry. There is a pretending that our faith is made of “faith stuff” that never touches earth, a pretending that Christianity does not make claims about history that can be checked.

We Christians claim a trove of knowledge. Human knowledge can be checked, can be examined, and can be disconfirmed. There are no grand exemptions. Just as Christians would say that Islam is objectively wrong, and could provide reasons why this is so, likewise our own views can be examined under the same cold light of inquiry. We have enjoyed our own proclaimed asymmetry far too long. And we are increasingly being called on it.

Dennett argues that we should conduct such inquiry for religion in general, and with vigor. I agree.

Christian Agnosticism & Touching Earth

English: Arabic Question mark 한국어: 아랍어에서 사용하는 물음표

I have recognized a repeating pattern from my past conversations, both in person and online, which I believe lies at the very bedrock of believer’s objections to investigative discussions regarding belief, Christianity, and the Bible. Once evidential discussions have run their course, and once a retreat is beaten from that battlefield, believers will very often default to the inner keep of last resorts:

You cannot evaluate the truth of Christianity with analysis or reason or rational argument: you must either believe it on faith or not at all. It is about belief. It requires faith.

I have come to call this a “retreat to grey”, the falling back to a proposition that faith knowledge is different by category from other knowledge – as different as living organisms and dead stones. Things of the spirit cannot be interrogated by the same means as other truth claims. At bottom is an agnostic claim: we simply cannot “know” things in this realm, nor prove them, and certainly not disprove them, by any path of critical thinking or evidence.

But why do we think this? [Read more…]

Reading the Wrong People

Table of Major Written WorksSome friends have considered that my departure from Christianity must be due to a misplaced emphasis of the sources that I have consulted. That is, perhaps I spent too much time reading “the wrong people”, and so came to bamboozlement. This is a legitimate concern, and I suspect that it may be more broadly held than I would hope. It struck me as incorrect on first blush, but I did go back and actually catalogue my sources by worldview.

Taking only the major written works that I read (a few dozen), the statistics sum as shown in the first chart. As can be seen, theist sources dominate the atheist/agnostic sources by 3 to 1. Neutral sources included generic information without direct bias or commentary on Christianity one way or another, while the mixed category denotes resources like “multi-view” type books.

Table of All SourcesIf the net is cast more broadly and extended to include all resource types – including shorter articles, book reviews, Wikipedia entries, and the many debates and lectures that I have watched – the percentages shift as shown in the second pie chart (130+ total).

For myself, I can find no intrinsic indictment in these statistics, nor a visible dereliction of duty, nor an inundation of dreaded atheistic slant. Rather, the collection represents a range of viewpoints, and it favors Christian-biased sources more heavily than any other segment.

Yes, I must maintain, it is possible to become convinced that Judaism and Christianity face intractable problems as a result of a well-rounded, detailed, and broad-based research effort. My conclusions have not been for lack of consulting Christian scholarship. After all, that was my fortress of first retreat. But the vanguard within those walls sadly could not answer…

See the Review of Sources and the Bibliography for detailed lists.

Bringing the argument home to the apologists

As an engineer, I have considered that illustrations would be of great benefit in clarifying the various issues surrounding the Bible and adverse evidence. This illustration was absolutely spot on per my own observations from the past year’s study.

One of my critiques of Plantinga‘s “Where the Conflict Really Lies” was that he made a project of defending a streamlined and generic theism, only to leap to a conclusion that Christianity was therefore more reasonable than non-belief. This illustration depicts precisely the downfall of the entire book. And such conflations abound everywhere.

As I have posted elsewhere, theism or deism may possibly be true, but that does not save Christianity. The Bible’s credibility collapses on the great weight of disconfirming evidences and the many textual ascription crises.

deconversion

The good news is that today’s apologists find their own core belief indefensible. This is leading to an attempt to draw the debate away from the many core logical absurdities found in the “gospel”, and to a focus on arguments absent from what has lead most of them to their faith. These are just a decoy. Any proposal of a spherical cube of gold can be immediately dismissed due to the impossibility of a spherical cube, evidence of gold not withstanding. In like manner, any proposal of the logically impossible Christian god can be dismissed based on the impossibility of that god, in spite of proffered evidence of “changed lives” or “fine tuning” or perceived weaknesses in evolutionary theory or the need for “objective purpose”. Whatever gods may exist, the logically impossible god of the Bible is disqualified as a candidate due to his logical incoherence. Let’s avoid the intentional…

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Three years ago…

Three years ago on Passover, I explained to my congregation that according to archeologists, there was no reliable evidence that the Exodus took place–and that it almost certainly did not take place the way the Bible recounts it. Finally, I emphasized: It didn’t matter.

~ Rabbi David Wolpe
http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Judaism/2004/12/Did-The-Exodus-Really-Happen.aspx

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My freedom from spiritual abuse happened when I walked away from the abusers. My healing and recovery from the complex trauma of spiritual abusers, spiritually abusive faith and toxic religion happened while I was still a Christian and continues to this day. My deconversion came later after many many years of studying the Bible, Christian apologetics, cults and spiritual abuse. When I realized that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God, the only honest thing I could do was to stop calling myself a Christian. What I write here, may be very different from what I’ve written in the past. It might also be repeats of the past themes. ~ Zoe

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