• Member Since 13th Dec, 2016
  • offline last seen Jul 20th, 2021

Doom Neigher


♂ | 28 | Atheist | Brony | JJBA Fan | Music-lover | Gamer

More Blog Posts4

  • 159 weeks
    Going Public: I'm No Longer a Christian, and Here's Why

    Within the last few weeks, I had a crisis of faith. I realized that some of the assertions on which I had based my faith weren't as reliable as I thought they were. After taking a closer look at what historians and textual critics had to say—and realizing that, contrary to what I may have once thought, they actually aren't just a bunch of God-hating reprobates intent on destroying

    Read More

    2 comments · 255 views
  • 273 weeks
    So I decided to try out Legends of Equestria

    And it actually runs on my computer!

    I haven't taken the time to figure out what I'm really supposed to do yet, but the game seems cute so far.

    5 comments · 237 views
  • 278 weeks
    So there's a cute new pony game in development...

    ... called Mane Quest.

    Read More

    1 comments · 203 views
  • 280 weeks
    So...

    I decided to make a "ponysona" in PonyTown today.

    I was forced to take some... liberties. There weren't really any shorter mane choices, and the closest I could get to hazel eyes was an ugly greenish-brown.

    But he's still cuter than I've ever been, so there's that.

    Behold:

    Read More

    0 comments · 176 views
Nov
11th
2019

Going Public: I'm No Longer a Christian, and Here's Why · 10:18pm Nov 11th, 2019

Within the last few weeks, I had a crisis of faith. I realized that some of the assertions on which I had based my faith weren't as reliable as I thought they were. After taking a closer look at what historians and textual critics had to say—and realizing that, contrary to what I may have once thought, they actually aren't just a bunch of God-hating reprobates intent on destroying religion, but rather genuine scholars who care as much about truth as any religious person does—I can no longer bring myself to place faith in the Judeo-Christian God as I did for almost 20 years.

I can't accept the Bible as divinely-inspired when evidence to the contrary, which includes internal conflicts, can be found within the text itself. For instance, it was somehow only recently that I noticed that Jeremiah 7:22 has God saying that he didn't establish a sacrificial system (i.e., Leviticus), which supports scholarly consensus that the Torah was redacted, embellished, and at least partially fabricated by priests during or after the Babylonian exile. Here is the verse:

For I did not speak with your ancestors, nor did I command them in the day of bringing them out from the land of Egypt, concerning the matter of burnt offering and sacrifice.

Some commentators try to explain this away by saying that God wasn't actually condemning sacrifices, but was simply saying that sacrifices were meaningless if the practitioners' hearts weren't right with God. Yet, that interpretation has no justification in this verse or in the surrounding context. This verse is plain and straightforward, and there is no reason why it shouldn't be taken at face value. If both the books of Jeremiah and Leviticus are God-inspired, then God is lying about something.

I can't overlook the external conflicts between the Bible and historical/scientific data. Historical evidence shows that events like the Exodus and the conquest of Canaan under Joshua never happened. Further, evidence suggests that the early Israelites were actually polytheistic, and that Yahweh was a second-tier storm god who was eventually syncretized (conceptually merged) with the Canaanite creator-god El and had attributes of other Canaanite deities ascribed to him. Israel was subsequently monolatrous (believing in multiple gods, but only worshipping one) until becoming monotheistic later on.

I can't bring myself to accept the paradoxical non-answers that Christianity provides for difficult questions. In particular, I can't ignore the logical gymnastics of trying to argue that God is all-loving, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient/prescient, but that he created the universe in the way that he did, foreknowing that the vast majority of those made in his image would burn forever (or whatever annihilation or suffering they are destined to experience; it doesn't really make a difference to my point). If those in heaven are going to have free-will yet also be perfectly obedient and incorruptible, why couldn't God have just created us that way in the first place? Why did he have to put us through earthly tests and trials knowing that most of us would fail, and knowing that many wouldn't even have a fair chance at accepting—let alone hearing—his Gospel message? At this point, the best answer that Christians can provide—something like, "God's ways and thoughts are higher than our own, so we can't expect to understand why he does what he does"—is nothing more than an excuse to ignore the fact that a God who could have prevented all suffering, but didn't, obviously cares about his own personal plans and designs more than he cares about the people he created that he claims to love. That doesn't exactly jive with the selfless, unconditional agape love that God is said to embody ("God is love," remember?), that he is said to have shown though Jesus' sacrifice, and that his people are called to emulate.

Back when I believed I could be certain that Jesus was raised from the dead, I was willing to overlook the flaws and problems with the Bible and Christianity, and even to make excuses for them when necessary (and now that I see just how tall of an order that is, I realize I must have been far more devoted to my faith than some of my actions and "sinful" private habits would have indicated). But now that I see no compelling reason to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was anything more than an apocalyptic Jewish preacher from Galilee—who was deified by followers who thought they saw him alive after his death (an interesting parallel incident happened with a pagan preacher named Apollonius, who lived close to the same time, but reports of his alleged miracles and resurrection never gained much traction) and subsequently started a religion that came to dominate the world for centuries because a Roman Emperor had a dream about Jesus that "came true"—I can now see the Bible and Judeo-Christian history through theologically-unbiased eyes. I can now acknowledge the now-obvious religious, political, and personal motives behind much of what was written. I no longer need an excuse for the difficulties my (former) belief system presents, because the history, textual criticism, science, and logic that I once shunned have given me the answer for all of those difficulties: Christianity is no less man-made than any other religion in the history of the world.

There is no objective proof that any one religion is more or less true than any other. But what about Pascal's Wager? Pascal's Wager is useless, because it doesn't take into account the variety of religions (and sects of those religions) that each preach damnation for non-adherents. What is presented as a 50/50 better-safe-than-sorry wager is actually a roulette where there is a hopelessly high statistical probability of making the wrong choice and being damned anyway. Did you pick the Christian version of Yahweh (as opposed to the Jewish YHVH)? Then you'd better hope Allah isn't the true god, or you're still going to hell despite your faith in the work of Christ and your faithful devotion to him! If this is the best kind of argument we have in the absence of any proof that any religion is correct, then I think this adequately demonstrates the absurdity of all religion.

To sum all of this up, I am no longer a Christian. In principle, I'm agnostic. In practice, atheist.

For those who want sources for things I've said, my response is this: read some books. Here are a few suggestions (with links to the Kindle versions on Amazon):

How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee by Dr. Bart Ehrman, a former Christian
God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question--Why We Suffer also by Dr. Ehrman
Four Disturbing Questions with One Simple Answer: Breaking the Spell of Christian Belief by former evangelical pastor Tim Sledge
Outgrowing God: A Beginner's Guide by Richard Dawkins

These last two are longer and more scholarly-oriented, but worth a read if you've got the time and patience:
The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel by Mark S. Smith
The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Sacred Texts by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman

Comments ( 2 )

If those in heaven are going to have free-will yet also be perfectly obedient and incorruptible, why couldn't God have just created us that way in the first place? Why did he have to put us through earthly tests and trials knowing that most of us would fail, and knowing that many wouldn't even have a fair chance at accepting—let alone hearing—his Gospel message?

Because God gives us weaknesses so we can grow through experience. There wouldn't be any point to our existence if we were already at the highest point. We can grow and develop, and do it in the way we want to. It also helps us be humble and call on God for easing our trials, and in doing so, realize just how much we depend on the being who's given us everything. And when we do ask him to give us hope, he'll make weak things become strong unto us.

I probably won't sway your opinion, though. I respect your choice. Your life is your own, and if this is what will bring you happiness, you go ahead.

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My problem with that explanation is that it has God knowingly (though albeit perhaps indirectly) condemning most people just so some can experience growth. It implies that the growth experience of a relative few is worth the damnation of the rest in God's eyes. He may not have directly forced the outcome, but he foresaw it and created things the way he did in spite of what he foresaw, meaning that he is ultimately responsible for it. Can a God like that truly be said to love everyone, or does he really only love the few?
And what I have said thus far ignores the fact that some people, by fate, die very young and never even have a chance to experience any sort of free-willed spiritual growth. If spiritual growth was the purpose of free will, then it stands to reason that God would ensure that all those to whom he has given free will would also be given an opportunity to use it as intended. In cases where people are murdered at a very young age, this would imply that God values the free will of the killer more than the free will of the victim. In other words, God refuses to restrict free will and its consequences merely for the sake of free will itself (much like the Deist clock-maker God who steps back and refuses to intervene in his creation), and not for the sake of the people free will is supposed to benefit. This contradicts the notion that free will is designed for a constructive purpose, but rather renders it an arbitrary rule established by God that calls his love for all people into question. What good is free will as a constructive tool if it hurts more people than it helps?
Ultimately, God can either be all-loving but limited in ability to act on his love, or he can be all-powerful but only love a select number of people. He cannot be both all-loving and all-powerful, or else there would be no evil or suffering.

I apologize if the way I wrote my blog post implies that I am "happy" about my decision. Sure, I consider not having to live by certain "moral" restrictions a potential positive, but it's no solace for no longer being able to believe in a supreme, all-powerful being that loves me and gave something very special and dear to him to show me how much he loves me. I may actually miss him more than I ever really loved him. It's not that I don't want to believe in him; it's that I can't. The process of leaving one's faith behind is a rough and painful one that ought to be based on a pursuit of truth, and it is by no means a reason to be "happy." This isn't to say that I'm unhappy, but it will take some time for me to truly move on and adjust to and fully appreciate my new worldview. In any case, your kindness in respecting my decision is much appreciated.

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