Atheism is On the Rise

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Atheism is on the rise, according to Psychology Today.  I concur, according to my time in the blogosphere.  It seems people are fed up with biblical counsel and want to be the master of their own “destiny.”  Notice this excerpt concerning the deconversion of clergy,

The spiritual struggles of ministers and priests and rabbis remind us that, amid encroaching fundamentalism, atheism is also on the rise. The neo-atheist movement is fueled by outspoken academics and intellectuals including Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and others who bombard the airwaves and bestseller lists with their calls for deconversion. You can now send your kid to an atheist summer camp or get yourself certifiably “de-baptized.” (Britain’s national Secular Society offers the service: “Liberate yourself from the original mumbo jumbo that liberated you from the original sin you never had.”)   -Psychology Today Magazine, Jan/Feb 2008; Last Reviewed 29 Jan 2008, Article ID: 4493.

You don’t have to do much reading from Richard Dawkins before realizing he declares those who believe in God as deluded and must have a disease, a virus of the mind.  Those who follow his thinking are called “Brights” – which begs the question – are the rest of us “Dims”?  He is getting some backlash from his elitist position – note this article.

However, his belief is nothing new.  Throughout history people have had the choice to believe there is a God, or not.  In the Roman Age if one did not believe in the pantheon of Roman gods, h/she was declared an atheist.  That declaration put Jews and Christians in the same boat, and was cause for much persecution.  Wise King Solomon wrote that there is nothing new under the sun.

My concern is not the “new” thought of atheism, but the “encroaching fundamentalism” of the “new atheist” movement.  The elitist rhetoric is dividing – most of the world is considered “diseased” because of our belief in God.  The Church of Virus  and the Brights Movement  give some clue concerning their fundamental beliefs.

This whole topic brought to mind the verse, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”  Humanism is not the answer to one’s destiny, nor is any “path” that leads away from the One True God.  You may be sincere about your belief, and yet you may be sincerely wrong.  It “seems” right, but it leads to death.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.  Do you believe this?…I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Don’t follow a path that “seems” right, follow the path which leads to life.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.   Proverbs 3:5-6

For further reading, The Church of the Non-Believers – it’s quite telling.

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29 responses »

  1. Dennet coined the term bright for atheists and supers for theists. It sounds a little juvenile when you think about it (super stands for supernatural).

    They don’t considered theists diseased- deluded is the term they use. Dawkins just uses the term mind virus because he wrote the selfish gene and the idea of memes is a pet theory of his.

    It is logically impossible for someone to be a fundamentalist atheist. Atheism consists of a single lack of belief.

  2. Samuel: This term did not originate with me. However, I do NOT see the term being used anymore in its original sense. To agree to the fundamentals of a belief system would make one a fundamentalist. Yet, somehow it has become a bad word when coupled with the term Christian. How is it possible to preach the fundamentals of Christ and be so “wrong” when He was about love and righteousness?
    I’ve linked to wikipedia for more debate over the use of the term: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalism

    A quick google on “disease of the mind + mind virus” shows many people couple the term with a virus/meme of the mind. Look into the link I gave for the Church of Virus – seems fairly “fundamental” to me.

    Please note: I am not arguing “for” Christian fundamentalism as the term is used today.

  3. At first it was called a virus, then a year later I laughed when I saw what the doctor had written down. I kinda’ like my diagnosis. I have a medical condition called giddiness, not like silly, ha, ha. [Origin: bef. 1000; ME gidy, OE gidig mad (as var. of *gydig), deriv. of god God, presumably orig. “possessed by a divine being”] I take it as a positive thing nowadays. Who am I to argue the medical community, it says I am God-possessed. So be it! 😉

  4. This is great! I had to go look it up to be sure you weren’t pulling my leg.

    I like the way you see things – I need to adopt your view. Mine can get a bit heavy.

    Have you been talking to the trees today?! 😉

  5. Ric: I think you’re right about some being embarrassed by their spokespersons – as we are too. I added the link at the bottom to show that some within the realm of unbelief do not like the attitude they are hearing. We are all to blame for our lack of common decency, if we could just refrain from name-calling.

    I can sound like an alarmist at times – I’m sure it has something to do with my eschatological views. 😉

  6. Fundamentalism emerged in the early 1920s in the US as a backlash against the moderate forms of belief (the wishy washy stuff you are familiar with) and science, specifically evolution. It says that you can’t interpret the text ‘metaphorically’- basically taking the bible at its face value. The problem with this is that much of the bible flatly contradicts what we know about the universe- leading for fundamentalists to hold that faith is a greater virtue than what secular science can say. This is a problem because it leads to the devaluing of evidence, making conversation and cooperation increasingly difficult to impossible. How do you deal with a person who takes it as a given that they are right?

    For the record it doesn’t mean believing in the fundamentals of a belief system (For Christians that would be believing Christ was a prophet/son of god, and the bible records his words and deeds). Err… you recognized it in your statements… never mind.

    The meme theory and mind virus doesn’t refer to sanitizing you guys (theists are still the majority- all the presidential candidates are believers)- it refers to how it spreads and why it works the way it does. Lets use socialism as an example. In 1900 it had the characteristics for a compelling meme- it was simple, gave a purpose and answers, and not obviously wrong. It spread like wildfire with the number of the socialists growing almost exponentially until the first world war. Than it died down (especially during the 20s). The meme theory attempts to use an analogy to explain why it spread, how and the like. It has no arguments about the contents of said belief.

    Some “run of the mill” are embarrassed- many to most aren’t. While Christians may very over their Christianity, atheists are pretty consistent in atheism (it is only one lack of belief). So while no one can speak for all atheists, the can speak for atheism, a task that is comparably harder for Christians. If you actually compare the statements made, you will come to realize the most extreme statements by atheists don’t hold a candle to the most extreme statements of the faithful.

    Toning down rhetoric would be a tactical maneuver. Unfortunately this isn’t a political campaign- it is a clash between ideas. Tactics are rather useless- what matters in the end is which idea is right.

    George Orwell was dealing with communism and the betrayal of the revolution, not elitism. For example, Snowball, one of the good guys is a pig and part of the elite.

    Last I checked atheists aren’t doing that. Well, except for the EAC…
    Unless you are talking about the “new” atheists whose “hate and fear” are confined to telling people they are wrong and giving reasons.

    In the end that is all this boils down to- is theism (well, more specifically Protestant Christianity) true or is atheism? Is there a god or isn’t there?

  7. Thanks Michelle and Samuel.

    I had forgotten about poor ol Snowball. Oh well, high school was a few decades ago… One of the main themes had a manipulative, condescending intellectual class of “creatures” running over the “lesser” creatures. I remember not liking Orwell’s views because I fancied myself a benevolent intellectual.

    I like your closing Samuel. You pose THE question. This question cannot be answered. However, both theists and atheist feel strongly that it can indeed be answered. Which usually disintegrates quickly into each insulting the other. Especially if the “leaders” begin with insults. When a Christian leader does this it causes me embarrassment. When a book author does this, it causes me to question his/her motives.

  8. I appreciate Samuel’s comment. We need to tone down the rhetoric and hype. Unfortunately, rhetoric and hype is all that will make the news.

    I’m also with you Michelle… Not much new. George Orwell was dealing with elitism in Animal Farm.

    The church / theists needs to love more, fear less. Of course I could suggest the same for the “atheists” as well.

  9. Samuel:

    you said:
    “what matters in the end is which idea is right.”

    Exactly. That was the point of my post. To help make my point, read below a couple of paragraphs from the article I linked at the bottom, “The Church of Non-Believers.” The author is not a believer. He is an agnostic who interviewed Dawkins, Harris, and Dennett. The article is seven pages but worth the time. (I’ve boldened the sentences I want to comment about)

    “Dawkins rejected all these claims, but the last one – that science could never disprove God – provoked him to sarcasm. “There’s an infinite number of things that we can’t disprove,” he said. “You might say that because science can explain just about everything but not quite, it’s wrong to say therefore we don’t need God. It is also, I suppose, wrong to say we don’t need the Flying Spaghetti Monster, unicorns, Thor, Wotan, Jupiter, or fairies at the bottom of the garden. There’s an infinite number of things that some people at one time or another have believed in, and an infinite number of things that nobody has believed in. If there’s not the slightest reason to believe in any of those things, why bother? The onus is on somebody who says, I want to believe in God, Flying Spaghetti Monster, fairies, or whatever it is. It is not up to us to disprove it.”

    Science, after all, is an empirical endeavor that traffics in probabilities. The probability of God, Dawkins says, while not zero, is vanishingly small. He is confident that no Flying Spaghetti Monster exists. Why should the notion of some deity that we inherited from the Bronze Age get more respectful treatment?” (These paragraphs were on the first page, I believe.)

    While not zero…exactly! That’s my point, and Dawkins concurs. So why not believe God is in that small probability? That’s where either side (theist or atheist) takes a leap of faith. It might move some to sarcasm, but it is a legitimate question.

    “Last I checked atheists aren’t doing that. (being elitists) Well, except for the EAC…Unless you are talking about the “new” atheists whose “hate and fear” are confined to telling people they are wrong and giving reasons.”

    I am talking about the New Atheists. I have no problem with respectful discourse – I actually love it – but it is the demeaning, and yes, scary considerations of quarantine/containment, that I am trying to refute. We have seen where that thinking can lead from totalitarian regimes of the past…and some not so past.

  10. Michelle, what do you find threatening about the talk of the “spokespersons of atheism?” The self-proclaimed “Brights” are no more arrogant than the self-proclaimed “Saved” – I am sure that even you recognize the irony in your critique. As an agnostic, I find both sides arrogant, but I hardly speak in such fearful terms – that is, unless someone actually enforces, especially with force, their ideas on another without, especially with little dialogue. See comic on my bio page.

    As far as I am concerned, the works of many of the people named as “Brights” have been passionate, but hardly “militant” or representing a new sort of atheism. The rhetoric of the opposition to the “evangelical atheists” seems to be a little hollow, as if there is something wrong with ardently speaking up against the injustices and deceits of religion and those people should crawl back into their philosophical attics or, worse yet, be executed once again.

  11. Thinking Ape:

    Do you recall the post, “Fundamentalism: A Disease of the Mind?” A ways down the comment list, MOI linked to three other articles to show me she wasn’t the only one using this terminology. So I read them and felt more frustrated with the rhetoric because of the terms “innoculation” and “containment” being used. I did further research and saw this is an on-going debate concerning what to “do” with these “viruses” running rampant. I shared my feelings on the next post and LeoPardus responded:

    Michelle:

    “I’m seeing a parallel to the thinking of anti-semites who felt it appropriate to “quarantine” Jewish people because they felt the Jews were “sub-human.” ”

    BINGO! You got it exactly. Now if only some of the vehement atheist crowd would stop and look real hard at that. And see themselves.

    So, you see, I am not alone. When we start talking of some people being “better” by virtue of a belief and then talk of “sub-human”, evolving toward homo superious, and transhumanism, I’m seeing a slippery slope we don’t want to go down.

    We know what man’s inhumanity to man can do – and many times it starts with name-calling and comic strips (ie. Goebbels the Minister of Propoganda in Nazi Germany – I think…but you get the point)

  12. ThinkingApe, I am trying to reconcile your opening question and closing suggestion. I think the Brights and the Supers/Saved are talking about each other, which is not exactly a dialogue.

  13. Michelle, Many people are alarmed. I think it is early for any extreme views. However, your concerns about a group thinking themselves superior is unhealthy at best. Christians are not innocent in this area either. So I agree with your concerns about the direction this unhealthy discourse is heading.

  14. My 2nd sentence is not clear… try: However, you have a valid concern about a group thinking/believing themselves superior – a belief that is unhealthy at best…

  15. I agree, Ric, I don’t want to be an alarmist. Yet, I do think we need to be aware of how some thinking can get out of hand.

    At one time (don’t know if it’s still this way), fundamentalists, homeschoolers, David Koresh (sp?), neo-nazis, KKK, and home churches were put on the same list of oganizations that needed to be watched by the government. Because I chose to homeschool my children I am on the same list as neo-nazis? Then to say religious thinking is a disease?!?!

    It is unhealthy when people are marginalized…I read Sam Harris wants us all to be too embarrassed to admit we believe in God.

    Why can’t we all just get along? 😦

  16. Yes, but if you’re truly a fundamentalist, you’ll understand that humanity has already been around for 6000 years, so it’s time for that millenial reign! 😉

  17. “In the end that is all this boils down to- is theism (well, more specifically Protestant Christianity) true or is atheism? Is there a god or isn’t there?”

    Indeed that is the question, and I do believe it can be answered, although not scientifically/empirically. I concur with the Apostle Paul and the text of Romans 1 that says man is without excuse because of God’s revelation of himself in creation itself. In fact, I would defend the statement that there is no true atheist because all men know God exists, as scripture tells us. If there is a true atheist, it the one who has been totally abandoned by God as indicated in Rom 1:24-26, and that might be ‘iffy’. Why else would believers face such vitriol when merely speaking about God while not intending to ‘convert’ anyone? Might it be be that apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ, all are living in rebellion against the God we know exists because he put the knowledge of himself in every human being?

    Is it not the inner witness of the Holy Spirit that impresses in the believers heart the reality and truth of scripture? I think Calvin has a serious point when he suggests that the Christian who endeavors to persuade someone with argument of the reality of God and scriture is foolish because the inner witness of the Holy Spirit necessary. “Flesh is flesh and spirit is spirit.”

    Anyhow, just thought I would toss that out there. It’s nice to visit here, and I still have a real job I must get to.

  18. Sorry I have not responded, as duty has called elsewhere. I re-read my response and I realize my tone was not as I meant it to be, and I apologize for that.

    As I have read over those links once again, I cannot help but wonder who we are speaking about. Obviously the ex-Christian and prodigalsheep links have an axe to grind, as they are coming from people who feel they have obviously been deceived for the majority of their life. But I must press you on your response for one reason: what is your take on extremist cults? The other link is by a Jewish Interfaith magazine that is concerned with the cult-like tendencies of fundamentalism and has appropriated neuroscience to give a point (people in cults never think they are in a cult). I’m not here to excuse what was said on some of them, but I must wonder why you take such wording with more than a grain of salt. In comment 17 you made the point that you didn’t care much for being put on a government watchlist and compared to Nazis – fair enough, I wouldn’t like it either. But that watchlist is nothing compared to your comment 21:

    I know, I know people have been looking for Jesus to come since He left – but I really believe He will be coming soon. I pray He will be coming soon.

    Have you read the Gospel of Matthew? Have you read the Revelation of John? This is what you pray for? I mean, for some reason I would rather be put on some watchlist than wish and pray for the expediency of eternal damnation for everyone who doesn’t believe what you do – atheist, agnostic, buddhist, hindu, pre-Christian pagan, neo-pagan, Aboriginal traditions (African, American, Australian, etc.), Jews, and maybe some not-up-to-snuff Christians (perhaps catholics, certain watered down Protestants). I mean death camps are one thing, at least they end – the eternal suffering of your fellow human beings, that doesn’t end. Ever.

  19. Thinking Ape,

    Thanks for coming back over and commenting further. You asked:

    Have you read the Gospel of Matthew? Have you read the Revelation of John? This is what you pray for?

    These are very hard questions and please understand when I say I do not wish anyone to perish. I understand this is why He holds off – not wishing anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance. I also believe in His sovereignty and know He won’t allow my selfish desires for the suffering to end to outweigh His plan. I know He has a plan and we will see it unfold just as He has purposed.

    I do not hold to an ultra-dispensationalist view of scripture. I look around at the evil in the world and pray for the “groaning” to be over. When I see the suffering I desire an end. I don’t want to go through another Hitler or Stalin era, and wonder if we aren’t close with the Islamo-fascism the world is experiencing. I hope this is as bad as it gets – I want the Messiah to step down on earth and rule with truth and justice. I want a millenial reign with a Holy God ruling.

    My desire is selfish for I feel the suffering daily and I want it to end. I apologize for not seeing the bigger picture. With the rise of antisemitism worldwide (Hamas went into a seminary and murdered young rabbi students – it’s gut wrenching!), I was sharing my feelings at dinner last night and my son quickly said, “No, not yet. We still have work to do.” I knew he was thinking of people at school he wants to see turn to Jesus. I felt convicted for my mind had not even gone to the eternal consequences – only to my yearning for relief. I long to see Jesus, but I do not desire the eternal separation anyone will endure. In that whole dichotomy my only peace is that the God who will judge is patient, loving and merciful.

    I have my moments of despair, but then a scripture will come to mind that reminds me of the whole. I hope you can hear my heart. I do believe He will not lose anyone who will come.

  20. The Question can be answered: you forget that. The framework we answer it with (external reality, logic, etc) can’t be proven- it is only a theory (although one of the best verified). However working off of that we can answer. Actually we don’t need the framework- God comes with his own framework.

    None of the quarentine logic is from atheists- the new atheists and antitheists want to nullify it, not exterminate believers (well.. might happen if cultists got out of control- say gas attacks and the like that occured in Japan or terror attacks like those done by Muslims).

    Uh… having jewish ancestary is inate. Believing in god isn’t. Why can’t we treat god belief like other ideologies? After all people who are racist aren’t quarentined- and we hold their beliefs in more contempt than theism.

    Believing in god is embarrising. You believe that you have a magic book that tells the secrets of the universe.. oh and it has a talking mule. And if you ask questions about the book you burn for eternity. And… you get the idea.

  21. Samuel:

    I’m not sure to whom you were addressing your comment, but I will make an attempt at a response.

    The quarantine (containment) suggestion did come from an atheist. If you will look at the links given in #14, you may go to their sights and let them know their suggestion is immoral.

    “Uh… having jewish ancestary is inate. Believing in god isn’t. Why can’t we treat god belief like other ideologies? After all people who are racist aren’t quarentined- and we hold their beliefs in more contempt than theism.”

    I’m not sure what this means. No one here is calling for quarantine for any persons. I believe in a free exchange of ideas but once we begin belittling eachother, the exchange has become an attack.

    “Believing in god is embarrising. You believe that you have a magic book that tells the secrets of the universe.. oh and it has a talking mule. And if you ask questions about the book you burn for eternity. And… you get the idea.”

    I am sorry you feel this way. I am not at all embarrassed by my belief, only the wrong done in the name of Christ. All who take on the name Christian are not always followers of Christ. And questioning the book sends you to hell? Where is that written, I don’t recall such a command.

    And hey!…I happen to like the talking mule story! 😉

  22. “Believing in god is embarrising…A magic book that tells the secrets of the universe…And it has a talking mule. And if you ask questions about the book you burn for eternity. And… you get the idea.”

    Actually, No. I don’t. I don’t get the “idea.” I don’t get whatever idea it is you have about my faith or Christianity or Christ because I never found the “secrets of the universe” in the Bible. And I was never told that if I “ask[ed] questions about the book [then I’ll] burn for eternity.” Quite the contrary, in fact. Because during a class he was teaching the congregation on the history of Christianity, my pastor said, “God is not insecure about your questions. Or your doubts.” As for the talking mule…I have two dogs. They’re very good at communicating–especially when it is time for them to eat or poop or play or when I’m sad; they just don’t speak English. So I really don’t see that it’s much of a stretch to imagine that a mule would move when its life, and the life of its rider, were in danger. As for belief in God being “embarissing…” Well…you might want to check your spelling.

    Take care.

  23. “God is not insecure about your questions. Or your doubts.”

    That is an excellent point. If these skeptics would actually read the book, they would find that God asks and answers many of the classically “tough” questions: Where is God where it hurts? Why do good things happen to bad people and vice verse? Etc.

  24. We need to pray that God will open hearts, ears, and eyes to see His truth. I am reminded of the Pharisees who KNEW only God could heal the sick, multiply loaves and fishes and raise someone from the dead. They SAW yet did not believe. Before the Holy Spirit moves in a sinner’s heart that sinner is totally spiritually dead (Ephesians). Dead men can’t see, hear, or choose anything spiritual.

    You are right. the answers are really in the Book!

  25. Michelle, my apologize again with the delayed response.

    I look around at the evil in the world and pray for the “groaning” to be over.

    “The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.” Those words were said by a man who obviously had no love for Christianity, but they reek of truth. What makes you think that your next life will be any better? Because there will be none of the faithful and righteous? History has found the faithful and [self] righteous to be the greatest perpetrators of pain and suffering in this world. How then will paradise be any different? Do you believe that Jerry Falwell will suddenly be induced with the Holy Spirit so much that he won’t cause so much mental angst amongst his fellow New Jerusalemites?

    I don’t want to go through another Hitler or Stalin era, and wonder if we aren’t close with the Islamo-fascism the world is experiencing. I hope this is as bad as it gets – I want the Messiah to step down on earth and rule with truth and justice. I want a millenial reign with a Holy God ruling.

    How has God dealt any differently than Hitler or Stalin with the enemies of the Israelites? The ancient ethnic cleansing of the land of Palestine was, according to the Bible, the will of God – for his reasons. Hitler had his reasons too – he would take over Europe and especially Russia as a place of paradise for the Aryan people. I hate to compare Yahweh to Hitler, but if the shoe fits… it’s in your Bible. Personally, I can believe in a God, but it is not that one.

    My desire is selfish for I feel the suffering daily and I want it to end

    I should refer you back then to the Nietzsche quote I started with. Those who chose to see joy and life-making will do so. Those who chose to wallow in pity and suffering will also do so. The best way we can alleviate suffering is to help those who are suffering, not wait for God to come down and send the majority of us to hell (a fate worse than concentration camps, I am sure you agree). Once again, I must question how you think this wll change in paradise. How will there be no suffering? What is suffering the result of? Is it not, as according to current Christian theology, the result of free will? Is that not how Christians answer the question of suffering? Will God then strip us of our free will upon arrival at St. Peter’s gates?

    TheNorEaster,

    Personally, I don’t think so. I have always believed that God takes us as we are, warts and all, because He wants our love so much.

    You are free to believe this, but that ain’t the God of the Bible my friend. That is the God of 20th century watered down American evangelicalism, devoid of any Biblical substantiation or developed theology. It is a feel good religion that has nothing to do with historical Christianity of any denomination, Catholic or Protestant.

    After all, a toddler who sees a colorfully red-hot burner on a stove does not yet know that he, or she, will get burned if touched with a bare hand.

    Could you explain what you meant by this? Where is this analogy leading? I am not one for riddles.

  26. “The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.”

    What?! The world was ugly and bad long before Christianity came on the scene. I think the explanation of the “ugliness of the world” began in the story of Creation. Because of God’s love for us He allowed us to choose our own way, resulting in this sin-sick world. We chose separation from God and have been reaping the results of our choice ever since.

    It’s very difficult to respond to your comments since we have such a radically diverse understanding of God. I can continue to say He is good and you can continue to call Him a “Hitler” and we will neither one ever understand the other. I see the Bible as an amazing story of God’s plan from beginning to end – the end being a restoration of all that went wrong in the beginning. You seem to believe it is fantasy at best, or a cruel hoax at worst. Without going step-by-step through the Bible, together, sitting across from one another so we can read “expressions” and hear eachother’s tone, I fear this is a worthless effort.

    I am sorry you seem to have determined I would prefer to wallow in suffering and self-pity instead of getting out there and making the world a better place. Since you have no clue of my circumstances, I will leave you in your ignorance. (For those who have read my most recent post and have determined I’m not very nice – sorry – sometimes it just don’t work!)

  27. Michelle,

    What?! The world was ugly and bad long before Christianity came on the scene.

    Very true, and Christianity has done absolutely nothing to solve suffering. In fact, it has even done much to destroy life and joy in its search for perfection in another life.

    think the explanation of the “ugliness of the world” began in the story of Creation.

    A theological fable that began in the 4th century CE with Augustine. Jesus nor Paul (nor the many Jews before or after) believed in such a depraved idea of humanity.

    We chose separation from God and have been reaping the results of our choice ever since.

    A literal reading of Genesis will only give us a choice made out of ignorance and deception with a hint of disobedience. Hardly reason to condemn us all to hell – again, another Augustinian invention.

    It’s very difficult to respond to your comments since we have such a radically diverse understanding of God.

    I was once an evangelical seminarian in the Anabaptist tradition. I know exactly who your God is. I compared God to Hitler with substantiation, not because I want to see God as evil and corrupt. The proof is in the text. You chose not to reply to the horrific actions of your God, according to the Bible, because you cannot. You only wish to criticize that which you can barely understand without even bothering to actually look into the ramifications of your own text. What if, for just one sincere moment in your life, you asked yourself, what if the Bible was a deception from Satan himself? A mishevious, impish, powerful little deceiver could surely concoct a fable that could trick so many of us for so long. I am not saying this is the case, but it should be something that you need to honestly ask yourself. Swallowing everything you are told whole can be dangerous to your health, whether from a “Christian” or a nonbeliever.

    I am sorry you seem to have determined I would prefer to wallow in suffering and self-pity instead of getting out there and making the world a better place. Since you have no clue of my circumstances, I will leave you in your ignorance.

    I was obviously not speaking about any individual, I was speaking about the Christian adherence to Augustinian depravity that you yourself spout. Christianity was already given an empire once and squandered it on bloodshed and empire building – no better than their Roman predecessors (just less sex!).

    But this is hardly what I am speaking to. I am speaking to the everyday lives that believers and unbelievers live. Not the Charlemagnes and Stalins – I mean the you and I’s, the Pat Robertsons and Richard Dawkins of the world. You see your life and my life as ultimately hopeless and destitute without God. I see your life as having intrinsic life-fulfilling value regardless. You believe I am lost, ignorant, and depraved and probably destined for hell. Maybe you aren’t living in your own self-pity, maybe you simply take pleasure in a belief-system that interprets another’s life as pitiful and possibly even evil. You can’t have it both ways.

  28. TA: I will attempt one more time, but am not sure you will ever hear my heart. I am afraid you are projecting upon me many other attempts at discussion. We do not know one another well enough for you to have any idea where I am coming from – or how much study, life experience, joy or pain I have endured – or vice versa. I feel in your response a desire to “put me in my place” and not have honest dialogue from the scripture. Let’s see…

    “A theological fable that began in the 4th century CE with Augustine. Jesus nor Paul (nor the many Jews before or after) believed in such a depraved idea of humanity.”

    My orthodox Jewish friends would not agree. A few verses in explanation:

    “He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat.” Gen.3:11

    “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth…the earth is filled with violence because of them…” Gen. 6:5, 12, 13.

    “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth…” Gen. 8:21

    “For I know my transgression, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51: 3-7

    The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” Jer. 17:9-10

    “And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: I desire compassion, and not sacrifice, for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matt. 9:4-13

    “For even though they knew God, they did not honot Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Rom. 1:21

    “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Rom. 3:23

    “And you are dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Eph. 2:1-3

    These words I quote I believe to be God’s spoken through the Patriarchs and Prophets, Jesus and Paul. Augustine did not write any of that, and I must admit my ignorance, I have never read any of Augustine’s books. This idea of depravity comes directly from scripture which is how I’ve chosen to get to know God, inductively, not deductively.

    “You believe I am lost, ignorant, and depraved and probably destined for hell.”

    I believe we are all lost, ignorant, depraved and will end up in hell if we do not turn to God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – for our salvation. He is our only source, the only way. I AM the way, I AM the truth, I AM the life.

    I have chosen to respond with verses for it is not man’s interpretation I spout. I do believe in the inerrant word of God and will continue to declare it on my soapbox – my blog.

    Thanks for stopping by…I have no wisdom on my own, all I will continue to offer are His words of Life.

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