Something I’d like to get out of the way immediately is that this post is going to be very honest. It’s a brief history of my religious upbringing, my crisis of faith and the final pushes to search for truth. Nothing I’ll say in this post is said out of anger or malice. It’s an honest portrayal of the extreme difficulty of leaving something you’d held to be truth for almost 30 years. I imagine that some of the topics and points will offend, but please read to the end.
One of the more frustrating things to come out of leaving religion is that so many theists think I haven’t thought this out. That I’m just going through a phase. I’d be willing to wager that I’ve gone much farther in my pursuit of truth than about any believer out there. I’ve put a staggering amount of time into this journey. So when people wave it away as I’m simply misunderstanding or I just need to hear the right words or verses it’s extremely insulting.
I hope that even if we never see eye to eye you’ll see how difficult this journey had been and how extremely hard I tried to make belief work. Here we go….
– My History –
I was raised inside a Southern Baptist family. My home church was Sunnyside Baptist in Hobart, IN. Both of my parents came from pretty terrible childhoods and they viewed religion and god as the thing that saved them. I don’t blame them for wanting that for me.
Being baptists things were pretty legalistic growing up. This is the bible and its truth can’t be debated. It is what it is.
At the age of 8 we left that church and ended up, after a long church hunt, at Liberty Bible Church in Valparaiso, IN. Coming from a small baptist church to LBC was pretty daunting at first. It was easily 10 times the size of where we came from. They had a flourishing youth program and my parents felt that it was the best fit for our family.
Most of my young life I was “that” religious kid. You know him. He’s awkward looking with coke bottle glasses and horrendous hair and triple hand me down clothes. I told random kids on the bus that I would pray for them and would be mocked in return. One time I even got jumped while fishing and once they started punching me I didn’t even fight back, “turn the other cheek” was being said in my mind over and over. I got the crap kicked out of me and several months of ridicule at school over getting such a beating.
I think the most embarrassing time for me was in 8th grade science class when one kid started calling me a “bible beater” while the teacher was out of the room. He then got the entire class to mock and laugh at me. It wasn’t fun. In fact, it sucked.
I think it was around 9th grade that my apathy for religion and god really started to set it. Being honest with myself I didn’t want to be the kid that got mocked anymore. I fought very hard with my parents to buy me some clothes that weren’t embarrassing to wear to school. It took me over a year for my dad to buy me wide leg jeans because he thought I was going to join a gang. He also fought me on buying a black Carhartt winter coat. “Black coats are what gangs wear,” he’d say. “Why don’t we get you a brown one?” Everything was a slippery slope to my dad.
It wasn’t an overnight transformation that made me the statue of sex appeal and muscles that you see cutting the grass or talking to his son in the store. It was a very slow process of trying to separate myself from what I was because who wants to be “that” kid anymore?
During high school there was another friend from church that had a pretty similar upbringing to me. He was also forced to do church and Sunday School, choir, bible study and at least one other church group (bible quizzing, IMPACT, etc). We’d become numb to god. We’d laugh at our peers that were so moved by the message told by the church leaders. We even had a motion we did that represented the message being spoken bouncing off of our bodies because it was meaningless. I can’t speak for him, but I never felt god. Never felt a presence or call. Everything I was seeing my peers do could easily be chalked up to a group or mob mentality. A psychological effect of emotions. Wanting to fit in and appear godly is cool right? Also, hormones are all over the place so trying to look godly for the girls there was a good way to become popular. I never bought into it.
– Doubt –
It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I discovered how much I loved philosophy and debating tough topics. I went to a private christian college at the behest of my parents and that school was Huntington University.
It was there that I started to have problems with religion. I had a small group of friends that I could sit around with for hours at a time and discuss really hard topics. Some of the larger ones that came to really bother me for years were:
– The fact that our purpose of living was the blow smoke up the skirt of a god that will damn us to hell.
– The thought that a god with a plan can’t/won’t/doesn’t listen to your prayers because if your prayer isn’t in line with his plan then it goes unheard or unanswered.
– God set up Adam and Eve for failure in the Garden of Eden. If he really didn’t want us to “fall from grace” then the tree never would have been there. He would’ve stopped the serpent from deceiving Adam and Eve. He would’ve equipped Adam and Eve with the knowledge of deceit so they could recognize when they’re being lied to.
– God would have either have had a direct hand in creating hell or allowing satan to create it with his knowledge.
– God created the rules by which people go to hell. He damns billions of people there. Is that love? Is that moral? Is that just?
– Anne Frank, a Jew, is in hell because she didn’t recognize Jesus as the Son of God, but Ted Bundy, a serial rapist and murderer, is in heaven because he accepted Jesus into his heart before dying on death row. Is that fair? Is that love? Is that moral? Is that just?
It was around this time that I started dating the girl that would become my future wife, Lori. These questions, and many others like them, would plague my thoughts constantly. Something just didn’t add up. It drove Lori nuts. “Don’t you understand that nobody can answer these questions?”
As you can imagine she was never a big fan of my problems with religion, but she never understood that I couldn’t just switch them off. Once you start realizing things in your beliefs don’t add up you can’t stop thinking about them. I’m an extremely practical person. If something is true I want to know and I can follow it. If it isn’t I shouldn’t waste my time with it.
I know many believers that have doubts and problems (I can’t tell you now how many people have told me they have since becoming an atheist.), but they never seem plagued by them. Where it actually impacts their mental well being.
It wasn’t until about 5 years ago when I approached the head pastor of my church with a snippet of my issues. I said, “What’s the point of it all? If me being a good person doesn’t matter if I don’t love Jesus, if God really gave birth to Himself and then killed Himself to save us from Himself and we exist to glorify Him, what’s the point? Doesn’t it weaken the story of God that He had it all laid out in a plan of brutal death so we can just glorify Him? It doesn’t make sense!”
His response was immediate, “Steve (a member of our church at that time) is training to run The Chicago Marathon. If Steve completes the marathon, does it make it any less amazing that he completed it if he trained for it?”
“No,” I said.
“It’s like that with God,” was the reply.
While I didn’t take the analogy as totally fair it did do a good job of shutting my mind down. I was just going to be okay not knowing. It’ll all make sense in the afterlife.
– Death and the Horrendous Pain –
On May 16th of 2012 my mom sent me this text while I was at work, “call me now.”
Sensing that something was wrong I called her and asked what was going on:
Me: What’s up?
Mom: Lori is coming to pick you up.
Me: What? Why?
Mom: She’ll be there soon to get you and bring you here.
Me: What’s wrong?!
Mom: Phil (my kid brother) was in a motorcycle accident.
Me: What?! (Thinking he’s seriously injured and at a hospital.) Well, where is he?!
Me: WHERE IS HE?!
Mom: …..he didn’t make it…..
Me: *unintelligible screaming*
I can’t put the pain to words.
A long time ago I’d read an interesting report about non verbal movements and what they mean. For example, putting your hand over your mouth when in shock or pain is the brain’s physical manifestation of trying to stop more bad information from coming to you.
From that moment my mom told me Phil was dead and for several months after I kept, involuntarily, shaking my head back and forth slightly. It reminded me of someone trying to wake themselves up from a dream. I guess it was my brain’s physical manifestation of trying to wake from a nightmare.
None of it seemed real.
Please allow me to be crystal clear when I say that Phil was my very best friend. We weren’t just brothers that got along pretty well. We purposefully shared a bunk bed until the day of my wedding at which he was the best man. Even after I got married Lori and I would spend Christmas Eve night at my parents house so me and Phil could keep the Christmas tradition of waking up early for presents alive.
The only two people on this earth whose deaths could’ve hurt me more would be my wife’s or my son’s. Phil was that important to me.
I was devastated, but I was okay. I was okay with accidents. A man cut Phil off and Phil hit him and he died. I wasn’t mad at god at all. I can accept that accidents happen. If anything I was thankful that it was immediate and, being a cop, that he didn’t get murdered.
I didn’t need the sky to split apart and have god tell me why it was necessary for him to call Phil home. I was okay in that sense.
It wasn’t until the day of the visitation of his body that the truth of the matter hit me. You see, it was believers that drove me insane with anger.
There I am. Not 10 feet from Phil’s body and person after person were telling me about how god has it in control. That we don’t know god’s will, but it is GOOD! I even had some family there that kept forming us into prayer circles to extol to unknowable and unfathomable plan of god and to thank him for his goodness to us!
Screw that! The rage these platitudes set off in me can’t properly be put to words.
What I saw in the visitation line disgusted me. I understand that people were saying what they thought would be good to hear and bring comfort, but all I saw was a bunch of scared people. Phil’s death didn’t make sense to them. It terrified them that someone so young and with so much promise could die so needlessly. How could this happen? They were terrified to think that the world may be uncaring for them and that someone wasn’t in control. So they cling to the idea that a god is looking out for them. It brings meaning to Phil’s death and comfort in the face of tragedy.
My anger still wasn’t focused on god, but the people that espoused him. Could this belief system really make sense? Could there really be a god that saw this coming and sat silently as it happened? Does this god actually care?
It was these believers and their responses to this death that brought back all my old problems with religion with an absolute vengeance. Now I had all the old doubts and a whole host of new ones:
– Is my god the real god?
– Is there a god?
– How do I know the bible is true?
These questions are vastly different than my original problems. You see, back in my doubting phase I was asking tough questions while being insulated in my religion. I was asking them from inside it. Almost any question you ask while inside the religion can be waved away as long as you have faith.
My new questions were independent of my beliefs. I was asking them without being shackled by the rose tinted glasses of religion I’d always worn. So I set out to be as honest with myself as I could. Even if that meant the ultimate end of non-belief.
– Into Atheism –
Please know that I tried the hardest that I could to objectively view the evidence about religion as just that. The religion. I wasn’t judging the religious. Just my beliefs and the bible. I didn’t want to taint my answers with feelings of anger at other believers. I wanted to see how my beliefs stacked up to logic, reason and evidence.
Early on in this section of my life, a little over a month after Phil died, I was stuck. I didn’t know who to talk to. I didn’t know what to read. I had nothing that could be a counterpoint to my belief. I was adrift in an ocean of doubt with nothing to propel me in any direction.
The first thing I did was that I started asking my strong theist friends out for beers and throwing my doubt to them to see how they handled it. Why did they believe what they believed? How do they handle those tough questions I had back in college?
Sadly, I couldn’t find one that could handle all or even a sliver of my doubts or problems. They didn’t have good answers. It just came down to believing by faith.
I even had a dear friend tell me he didn’t like to talk or think about these topics because the questions are hard. I was astounded at that! This is literally what our lives, money, friends and family revolve around and you don’t want to test it’s validity? Seemed like madness to me.
Back to faith. It was sad, but this is what I kept coming to with my friends. So I had to ask, what’s so good about faith? Faith is believing in something without evidence. Please, someone give me an example of that being a good thing to do. I’ve got a hug with your name on it if you can come up with a good reason to believe in something that has no evidence.
After I realized that my friends and church leaders had no good responses to anything I was saying I started searching for good apologist books on the internet. A good book about a good reason for belief.
I can’t effectively relay my shock at turning up nothing worth the paper it was printed on. It was like seeing the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. Everywhere I turned seemed to either say it was faith or some weak logic that could only ever get you to a deistic god (or a generic god that is in no way your particular god) or some ontological argument that relies on special pleading.
I’d heard through a friend that an old acquaintance from our youth group was now an agnostic. I reached out to this person on facebook to pick his brain about how he ended up at agnosticism after being such a well informed christian.
His reply was straight forward in that he’d realized that he’d gained nothing from trying to understand, follow and love god. Since it was bringing nothing positive to his life he left it behind. He shared that we’re all trained as kids in church that we have a god shaped hole in our hearts, but that it wasn’t true. Here he was, 11 years after leaving christianity, at the happiest and most content point of his life. He told me it was okay to doubt.
It was then that I started to get a bit more brave. I reached out to a local atheist friend for a good book to read for someone in a position like mine. That book that would ultimately be one of the most revolutionary books in my life was “50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God.”
It’s a book written by an atheist that treats belief with kindness. Some atheist books can be very direct and sound confrontational, but this book was written as a kind of kid glove look at why we believe. It changed my life.
You see the author doesn’t just look at the christian god, but any god. He takes 50 popular arguments for belief and just deconstructs them with logic, evidence and reason. Finally, this book had given me a place to feel safe. It gave me solid footing and a place to hang my hat. It all made so much sense. I wasn’t crazy.
I think I was about halfway through that book when I stopped believing in gods or anything supernatural. I can’t tell you how many people told me that I shouldn’t read something biased and I would just laugh. They didn’t seem to get that the bible and apologist books were biased. They were chastising me for being one sided when all I’d ever been for the previous 29 years was one sided. I was looking at what others had to say about religion and they had the gall to say I was being one sided? Crazy.
It wasn’t that I woke up one day and said, “Today! I’m an atheist!” It was a very slow and painful process of having my faith stripped away like a damn that was beginning to leak until, finally, the damn gives way and you realize you don’t have any reason for believing anymore.
I remember the exact spot I was at when the moment hit me. I was pulling out of a parking space in Target when I said, out loud, “I think god is made up by man because we’re afraid of things we don’t understand and we’re terrified of death.”
It was the most liberating moment of my life. I felt instant freedom! Like my mind was mine! That I didn’t have to cram reality into the small, misogynistic, racist and immoral thinking of bronze and iron age men.
Then, immediately following that, my mind was hit with terrible sadness. Everything I’d been told was wrong. Everything I’d believed was wrong. I knew nothing. And finally, my brother, Phil, was gone forever. I wept in the parking lot.
Was the horror and sadness of realizing that I’d never see Phil again enough to make me believe something I didn’t? No, or to put it as Carl Sagan did:
“It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”
I wouldn’t allow the pain of leaving religion to keep me from doing it if I really thought there were no gods.
The best analogy I’d come across about this phenomenon is like climbing a ladder your entire life and then realizing you’ve had the ladder against the wrong wall. Do you do the extremely difficult thing of climbing back down the ladder or jumping off? Or do you keep climbing because it’s easier than starting over?
It was in that parking lot that I stopped believing entirely. I realized that what I needed to do next was to educate myself on everything I’d been raised to think was wrong or demonic growing up: science, evolution, cosmology, astronomy, psychology, logic.
I can’t recall a time in my life where I wanted to learn more! I wanted to be informed in my atheism so I could defend myself from any argument that theists may throw at me to discredit my conclusion. Once I felt somewhat adequately prepared I sought out debates to see how easy (or hard) it was to deconstruct arguments for belief. I was actually stunned at how easy it was.
I’m now at a point where I’ve sought out so much conflict in the pursuit of knowledge that I don’t think there’s an argument I haven’t already heard.
– Life Now –
Now, I’m just thrilled to be able to talk about this openly and honestly with everyone!
Believers always think I’m full of it when I tell them that this is the most happy and content I’ve ever been in my life. I feel like for the first time I’m seeing the world as it really is. My mind is mine! I can think freely! I can love people wholeheartedly and accept them as they are!
Also, I’m much more at ease and calm in life. I don’t get as frustrated. I don’t have the big “WHY?” that was always clouding my mind. Why would god allow my mom to have been sick for so long? Why do bad people flourish and good suffer? Why did my brother die? Why are kids dying from cancer? Why are children around the world dying of malnutrition?
Some people have asked me what I have as purpose in this life now that I don’t have a god. It’s about the simplest thing ever: family and friends. I have an amazing wife and 2 amazing and healthy kids. I’ve got an excellent source of friends that I’m always looking to add to. I want to be surrounded by the people I love most and positively impact as many people as I can before I die. How could anything be more important or substantial? How could not believing in gods cheapen the glory of the life I live now?
Others have told me that I have no hope or that I have nothing to live for. Really? Is the sunset not breathtaking? Does music not have the power to move to tears? Does laughter have no meaning? Truthfully, I see the world as much more beautiful now than I ever did before.
I love harder and cherish time with friends and family. Since I see this as my only life, I want to squeeze every drop out of it that I can. The only heaven I believe in is living as an excellent memory to my kids. How could that be an unworthy cause?
– Conclusion –
I hope that if you made it this far you understand that I’m still me. I’m still Nate Pratt. The only thing that’s changed about me is what I believe happens after I die.
Please know that I truly love you all and consider myself lucky to have such excellent friends and family. I know a handful of atheists that have paid very dearly for losing faith in gods and I count myself extremely blessed to not be one of them.
I’m always open to talking about religion, as I still love a good dialogue, so feel free to comment on this blog with problems you may have or send me a private message on facebook or email. I’d love to hear your thoughts or maybe some areas you have struggled in belief. Possibly even share why you still believe after a particularly intense spout of doubt.
One last note, feel free to be as religious around me as you would be around others. I’m happy to sit quietly while you pray or listen intently and respectfully when you talk about god. But please understand that if you come at me with condescension or a jerk mentality in the conclusions I’ve come to, then please prepare yourself for an informed and thought out response that will leave no question about what I believe and why.
Other than that I’m sure we’ll all get along just as swimmingly as when I believed in god.
About Guest Contributor
Nathan Pratt blogs at nathan pratt, a blog that covers a number of topics from religion and skepticism to video games and music. Our new friendship sprang out of our mutual love for discussing philosophical issues with great civility. Nate is a father of 2 kids that have him wrapped around their fingers and a husband to a woman that is, according to him, way out of his league. He is an open, honest and amazingly genuine person.
This post first appeared at Nate’s blog: My Journey to Atheism: Some of Nate’s posts that I found so worthy of reading and ponderingare Lunch With Your Brother’s Killer, and I’m Not Mad At God.
86 thoughts on “Nathan Pratt: My Journey to Atheism”
Nate, thank you for sharing such a personal story with so many strangers. You are obviously a courageous man, as your story shows. I can relate to so very much of it: my sister died too young, I was raised in multiple religions (even Southern Baptist for awhile), forced to participate in many church functions in addition to Sunday worship, my family was devout and questioning the existence of God was not allowed. Well, I persisted, and Mom always said that anything I ever needed to know was in the Bible. I would find answers to all my questions there. *sigh*
What I can relate to most fiercely is how painful it is to go through the process of honestly questioning religion when raised inside of it. At the age of 30 I walked away too, and ever since then have felt like an honest, genuine person. And no, my parents never respected that decision, and most of my family is baffled. What theists may not realize is how hard it is to continue being true to yourself in the face of derision by members of your own family. No one raised Christian turns Atheist out of boredom, or on a whim, because it takes a powerful integrity to follow through.
I love your “Life Now” section. I, too, find many reasons to be joyous, to work hard, to love my family and my neighbors, to teach my daughter tolerance and patience and humility and love, love, love. I don’t need the Bible to tell me that stuff. I think if we all had the courage to do it, we could find the inspiration to be wonderful people already within us. And some people would call that “God” and some people wouldn’t, and they would all be right.
Your mom is partially right.
I humbly submit that the Bible is the only book in the whole world with a complete road map to God’s final self-revelation in the kind of death Jesus suffered, a.k.a., “the faithful witness, the first-born from the dead” among many bothers, which is now forgotten in Christian tradition.
We are still counting our loss. Aren’t we?
Your point is well-taken. As long as you seek your own truth from multiple areas, you will find better answers.
My intent, however, was not to debate the value of the Good Book, only to point out that it is not supportive evidence to an unbeliever, and my mother didn’t realize that. It’s value holds only when it is cherished. If one thinks of it as an interesting history book, then it’s nearly worthless as an argument about faith.
Crystal, thanks for your comment.
Seriously, the time is already here for the Bible to concede final authority to the vision of God’s personal self-revelation @ the little heeded announcement: “it is finished”.
You humble me with your kinds words. It’s amazing how much strength we can find in numbers once we realize many have gone through a similar process as we have. In the beginning what I remember most was the feeling of being alone in my own head. Nobody understood and nobody cared to.
I was out of the closet, but not vocal about atheism until I had a few people come to me with their hurt and doubts. Once I saw that I might be able to help more people by being vocal, I started blogging.
Thanks for sharing some of your story and for your ability to empathize.
I hope our paths cross more in the future.
I’m sorry for your loss.
“I realized that what I needed to do next was to educate myself on everything I’d been raised to think was wrong or demonic growing up: science, evolution, cosmology, astronomy, psychology, logic.”
It seems that churches that teach this are filling the ranks of atheists at an alarming rate. If you do a search for atheism on the word press blogs I think you will find at least 90% of the atheists closest connection to a church was one with a fundamentalist bent. It seems to me its a mistake to link Christ’s teachings to science evolution cosmology astronomy or psychology. And it’s certainly a mistake to think “The Logos” was against logic.
“I can’t recall a time in my life where I wanted to learn more! I wanted to be informed in my atheism so I could defend myself from any argument that theists may throw at me to discredit my conclusion.”
We are all free to do what we want but I would recommend posting and learning just for the learning of it. Don’t worry about defending a position but do try to make sure your position is properly understood so you get proper feedback. Put your trust in being rational and if someone has an argument or view that is different than what you thought, but is still compelling, then count yourself lucky to have learned something. So long as your goal is to defend a position as opposed to expressing your views and gaining wisdom you will always be wearing blinders. Part of being rational is putting emotions aside and allowing your brain to work without artificial distractions.
That “50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God.” is a caricature. Try something like this, Nate (yes, I wrote it — if you can’t afford, let me know and I’ll buy it for you): http://www.amazon.com/What-Atheist-Professor-Doesnt-Should-ebook/dp/B0084Y3Q14
There is enough evidence ( or utter lack thereof) that the consensus among almost all scholars, including Rabbis, and scientists ( archaeologists) that the Pentateuch is a work of fiction; Moses did not exist other than as a narrative construct, the Exodus and conquest of Canaan as described in the bible is nothing but a work of fiction.
See Profs. Israel Finkelstein, and Zeev Herzog.
Not a single CAUSE in science, or politics or spiritual knowledge has ever been fought and won under the banner “I stand for consensus”.
For the record, MOSES, a.k.a., a prodigy of immortality, was observed witnessing in person about the demo of “the God of the living, not of the dead” in “the way Jesus would fulfill God’s purpose by dying in Jerusalem”. (Luke 9: 28-36)
Really? The consensus consider Neil Armstrong went to the moon and I’d say this was a won cause.
I would not trust a damn written by ‘Luke”. He considered Nazareth a ‘city’, and they have yet to find any evidence it even existed during the time of the character Jesus of Nazareth. Even Bagatti found zip.
Is this the same Moses who ”wrote” the Pentateuch? Smile…if you say so.
I shall leave all that preceded Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon to better knowledgeable sources than me.
By far, the greater interest is the cause of Moses’ landing in Paradise, a.k.a., “the God of the living, not of the dead”, who is independently and constantly self-revealing by means of the death of Jesus Christ.
More obfuscation. Sheesh, can’t you theists ever do straight forward?
The character Jesus of Nazareth is also a narrative construct.
This character mentions Moses, ergo, he was unaware of Jewish history or he was simply a fraud.
There was certainly nothing divine about his nature, that you can be assured of.
Now, perhaps to strengthen your case you need to research history? hen afterwards maybe start with a Reader Primer just so you can convey your thoughts in more intelligible language?
Pitch it about my level….Cromagnum.
If scientists treated unknown but knowable phenomenon the way you rush into false conclusions about Moses and Jesus, i.e., without seriously considering their characteristics, the world would not have advanced further than, say, the Middle Ages.
I was always under the impression Scientists rely on evidence.
This is not a prerequisite for faith. In fart, according to Eusebius, it was okay to lie if it furthered the cause of the church.
You have still to make a salient point, rather dancing around the issue.
Let me help you out…There is no evidence for the character Moses, or the Exodus.
Both are narrative fictions.
The is nothing but hearsay accounts to support the historicity of the character Jesus of Nazareth and only a Christian believes in the nonsense about miracles and any claims of divinity, which can be shown to be Church constructs., just like the Trinity.
I hope this is clear enough for you?
True believers and scientists rely on observation of and obedience to the corresponding spiritual and physical laws governing the independently self-revealing Creator and the created universe, respectively.
The substance and evidence of faith today is found in the specific visions by people of the “Law of God”, i.e., Spirit-active, perfect and diacritical –a Law governing his creative self-revelation expressed in “the kind of death Jesus suffered”, viz.: the litmus test, rather than in any verbal claims by Jesus or by others about him (least of all by me).
FYI, the PRINCIPLE and PRACTICE are found in secondary sources of the Bible.
(Matt. 16: 13-28; 27: 50-56)
There is no such thing as a Law of God. All such claims are fallacious and based on man-made doctrine.
The bible/gospels is/are a fallacious collection of documents carefully selected to further the ideology of the Church.
Ignatius was the instigator of the number of gospels – four – and the rest were discarded and /or burned.
Or at least they attempted to burn them all.
Your approach to faith is neither enhanced or vindicated by this and cannot detract from the simple fact that your belief is based on man made doctrine and has zero basis in any claims of veracity pertaining to such characters as Yahweh, Moses, or the divinity of the narrative construct, Jesus of Nazareth.
If you wish to challenge this assertion I welcome any evidence you are prepared to put forward.
You have been forewarned about the LORD”S will. Obedience or disobedience is your responsibility. God bless you!
Ah…and now we sink o the basest level of inculcation.
Hide behind the doctrine and rant about your god’s will. Oh dear oh dear….
Why not simply be honest and state up front that what you believe is based solely on Faith.
I can understand this.
But please, if you are going to tacitly threaten me don’t do it by trying to interpret what you consider to be your god’s will. How arrogant can you be, for heaven’s sake?I am sure your god can fend for itself without relying on a puny human to cast judgement on its behalf.
I mean, we are talking about a deity that annihilated the earth besides one family who he forced to commit incest, merely because he got pissed off are we not?
Really, you need to study a little more otherwise such discussions might lead you to have an infarction.
Everything you said Ephrem makes sense to me. Maybe be careful who you reply to around blogs.
I read an article by Carey Kinsolving titled, “Why Did Jesus Say, “Don’t Cast Your Pearls Before Swine”?
The line comes from Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
He asked this question, “Why Did Jesus Say, “Don’t Cast Your Pearls Before Swine”? to some children and got some interesting answers.
Jennifer, age 10, said, “Jesus said don’t give your pearls to a pig because a pig is too dumb to understand what a pearl is worth.” But spiritual dumbness has nothing to do with one’s IQ Jennifer. You can be a certified genius yet be dumb as a rock in spiritual matters.
The warning here involves more than spiritual dumbness as in pigs trampling underfoot valuable pearls. There’s a parallel thought at the end of the verse that refers back to dogs.
What is this holy thing that causes dogs to turn on you and tear you to pieces? For the answer, we turn to Sarah, age 12: “Don’t try to give the gospel to people who have already rejected it.”
Jesus spoke of religious leaders who were offended by what he said: “Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14).
Don’t waste your time preaching to those who are obviously hardened and scornful.
The pearl of great value in the Gospel of Matthew is the messianic king and kingdom foretold by the ancient prophets.
Thank you for the encouragement!
Had some believers not wasted their time over an ex-Christian who was hardened and scornful of personally revealed truth, I would not be around today!
Every scrap of your belief is based on hearsay.
You wish to pander to such nonsense, so be it.
No nonsense at all!
MY JOURNEY TO FAITH began at make-believing based on hearsay, moved to doubt and denial, and finally settled on seeing the standard vision of Jesus Christ’s divine identity and absolute authority, as defined in “the kind of death he suffered”, viz.: Spirit-active, perfect and diacritical, although forgotten by Christian tradition in which some of us are born and grown up.
(John 19: 30-37)
I reiterate, what you believe is largely a product of the church, based on the foundation of the fictitious narrative that is the Pentateuch. It has no basis in fact.
Truly, it matters not how you couch your terms, or whether you consider you are being erudite.
The bottom line is simple. It is all fiction.
There was no such people as Jesus of Nazareth or Moses
That you continue with this fantasy is of no concern to me, providing you have the decency not to proselytize to children. Your religion is as welcome as an STD in a convent.
Outright denial of Jesus Christ’s declaration and demo of his absolute rights over death and life is suicidal. Ask Judas!
You seem unable to grasp the basic thrust of this dialogue.
I will reiterate once more. Please stop rushing to answer and think for a second.
The character Jesus of Nazareth is a narrative construct.
Please explain how denial of a fictitious person can be considered suicidal?
What could be suicidal is outright rejection of the novelty, i.e., the post-Incarnate and self-revealing divine being, a.k.a., “I Am Who I Am”, viz.: God’s life-giving Spirit, defined once and for all in “the kind of death Jesus suffered”.
Under applicable conditions, the exceedingly high stakes are worth more than all the efforts of checking out the novelty.
God bless you!
(Matt. 16: 13-28; 27: 50-56; Luke 17: 20-37; John 19: 30-37)
Gig’s up. You are making this stuff up and having a big fat wind up. LOL…
Only a complete dickhead would actually believe what you are writing.
You had me ( and others, by the looks of it) going for quite a while there.
I can now go in peace as I have honored your RIGHT TO KNOW the independently self-revealing God, as he really is, according to the terms, scope, seal and means in the “new covenant”.
Your continued use of the caps lock in some sort of feeble attempt to drive home a point which, by the way, is completely lost on me, suggests you ought to continue with the medication.
Your self – revealing god sounds like a bit of a pervert; one who stands by the bus-stop in a dirty raincoat and flashes old ladies as they walk by,
You need professional help…..seriously.
“Petra-phobia” is beyond professional help. You need prayer! (Matt. 26: 40-46)
May God forgive you.
And which god would that be, be exactly? There are so many, are there not?
” Eeeny, Meeny Minny Mo….”
You are a funny person…
I tried to warn you about this guy Ephrem. If someone he knows who died were to come back and tell him about heaven and hell he still would not believe it. Luke 16:19-31
In case you are not aware Ephrem, there are three standards we can use as proof to these types that Jesus was very real. There are historical records outside the Bible; Roman and Jewish historians. Basically we have:
1. Hostile Gentile Witnesses
2. Hostile Jewish Witnesses
3. Biblical Witnesses
We can list the sum of what these three witness types have to say about the person of Jesus then compare them to see if the Biblical witnesses match to those hostile to it’s message.
Here are a few sites about hostile historical witnesses to Jesus. The first one has a comparison chart.
For me, the fact that the men who lived with Jesus all died horrible deaths and never changed their stories about the man they knew as Christ the Messiah is extremely strong proof:
1. Peter was crucified head down in Rome in 66AD
2. Andrew was bound to death in 74AD
3. James, son of Zebedee, was beheaded in Jerusalem by the sword (Acts 12:1-9).
4. John was banished to the Isle of Patmos in 96AD (Rev. 1- 9).
5. Phillip was crucified at Heirapole, Phryga in 52AD
6. Bartholomew was beaten, crucified, then beheaded in 52AD
7. Thomas was run through by a lance at Corehandal, East Indies in 52AD
8. Matthew was slain by the sword in the city of Ethiopia in about 60AD
9. James son of Alphaeus, was thrown from a pinnacle, then beaten to death in 60AD
10. Thaddeus was shot to death by arrows in 72AD
11. Simon was crucified in Persia in 74AD
Why would they be motivated to tell an elaborate lie considering that each of them had nothing to gain from the lie itself? The power of the Biblical record is that the Biblical eyewitnesses had NO positive motive for their story except for the fact that it was TRUE. They gained no wealth, no comfortable lifestyle, and no assurance of a painless death. Witnesses without a positive motive other than truth are THE best witnesses in the world. When you see them suffering for their testimony, you can be sure you are hearing the truth.
The Jesus Christ I know personally is the self-sufficient “source of life”, without any need even of Biblical witnesses, according to the terms and seal of the “new covenant”.
As confirmed on the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ ONE AND ONLY WITNESS is the work of the Holy Spirit, in “the kind of death he suffered”, conclusively revealing his divine identity and absolute authority.
Thanks for your backing anyway.
Almost every comment you make is like a bloody sermon.
If you have to resort to such lengthy diatribe to explain what essentially should be a simple matter then I have grave doubts that you even believe this tripe yourself,
How you ever expect to demonstrate any sort of veracity with the verbiage you always espouse is beyond normal human reasoning.You are, sir, essentially a misguided, heavily indoctrinated fool
I do,in fact, feel quite sorry for you, but more so those that are your immediate family.
You might need professional help, Roy. Seriously.
There are several things you wrote about that in my humble opinion, I think may well contribute to your current Atheism. Believers have to expect persecution to at least some extent, but experiencing it during teenage years can be extraordinarily difficult because of the “craziness” of those years. It seems that you were “indocrinated” into Christianity at a fairly young age, an age when rebellion to some extent, is normal. I can, to at least some extent, understand how your experiences with believers at your brother’s funeral would make you angry and upset but remember, just because someone is a Christian doesn’t mean they have all the right answers or responses. I suspect what you needed at your brother’s funeral were hugs from people and/or perhaps their quiet company but you received from them what made THEM feel better. (My sincere condolensences on the loss of your brother and best friend. I lost my brother when he was 38 and I was 36. We did not get along real well growing up but we indeed became friends as adults and I miss him a lot).
Believe me, because I am being very sincere and with absolutely no intention to be condescending, in that, personally, I find it very easy to believe that you are the happiest you have ever been because there is no “higher authority” to whom you have to answer and in a sense you are “free,” but really, I don’t think that is the case. I don’t know of one field of study or one line of work in which even just ONE person has all the correct answers to every question,and Christianity is no different…..I find it troubling that you have encountered many Theists that attempt to discredit your conclusions, as I think they should tell you what they believe and support it, as opposed to attacking your conclusions….
In my own spiritual journey, I grew up going to church about 3 out of every 4 or 5 Sundays, but I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t have any recollection of any conversations about God in my house, we didn’t say Grace, and I never saw anyone in my house pray. I didn’t know until I visited my mother about 15 years ago that we even had a Bible in the house. I developed a realtionship with God, or so I thought, in my mid 20’s. In a three year period I only missed church once, but the truth is I didn’t enjoy going to church; I did it out of obligation. Many things I did or refrained from doing I did to avoid God’s wrath…..
Long story short, about 6 or 7 years ago, I experienced a “mid-life” crisis so to speak; what was life about, why are we here, is it born, live, die, end of story…..At the time, I was PETRIFIED of death….I then began to think about God and although I never doubted God existed, I asked myself if Jesus the Messiah, was he God? As the cornerstone of Christianity is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, I began to investigate the proof, or lack therof, of this event, reading everything I could get my hands on, whether pro or anti-resurrection (interestingly enough, I always believed Jesus was raised from the dead but never investigated it, and until about 5 years ago, I was certain the Virgin Birth was a myth; that was impossible. How’s that for logic, that one miracle can happen but another can’t…..After approximately 100 hours of researching everything I could find on the bodily resurrection of Christ, it hit me HARD, but GOOD; the historical evidence for Jesus’ bodily resurrection is astounding….Since then, I have read AND studied the New Testament 5 times, and I am currently on the Old Testament for the third time. In addition to reading the Bible and the study notes in the Bible I use, I have spent well in excess of 3,000 hours researching various aspects of the Bible, the God of the Bible, Jesus, etc. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and he is in fact God!! (For what it’s worth I have been in law enforcement more than 31 years and I am not easily convinved of anything, particularly things of significance….). I will say, however, that all the evidence in the world will not change anyone’s mind unless their heart is truly open…..
Currently, my relationship with God has changed dramatically, as it is a DAILY realtionship, and I am far more interested in pleasing God than avoiding His wrath. I lean heavily on Hebrews 13:5 and Isaiah 55:9, as we are not God and we aren’t supposed to understand everything or there isn’t ANY need for faith (which is a confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of an idea, person, or thing). If we start saying He should have done this or He shouldn’t have done this, we are elevating ourselves to God’s level, making ourselves God when God’s ways are far higher than ours and thank God for that!
Also, keep in mind that God told Moses, “I will have compassion on whom I have compassion and mercy on whom I have mercy.” Although I am not looking to push it before it’s time, I truly look forward to death and I know where I am going when I die. I tend to analyze and overanalyze many things but I never do that about Heaven because I know it is far better than I could EVER imagine.
Pingback: A closer look at the journey to atheism of Nathan Pratt | Wintery Knight
I featured this post on my blog, and made some comments.
I wasn’t as nice as you were, because… well, read my post.
Sweet! What a classy way to have a civil discussion! Assume you know everything about me and my conclusions from a piece written not to convert people, but to explain to my family and friends how I came to be where I’m at.
Besides the jabbing that’s already taken place I’ll write 1 reply to your post and that’s it. I feel as if I’m already wasting my time as you’ve made it clear your incapable of having an open minded discussion about belief.
Be talking with you soon.
Also, give up the comment moderation. What are you afraid of?
The best word of encouragement you could offer might be to do a tutu and d a celebratory dance down the isle of your local church.
I feel confident Nathan would consider that a real doozy!
Or, maybe Nathan will send you a nice bouquet of flowers then?
He has stepped into the light and finally realised the whole shebang is bullshit. You scurrying after him whining while trying to grasp his coat tails is fruitless.
Besides, if he does feel the need to genuflect to anther deity, what makes you think he would want to do so to that meglomaniacal egotistical jealous son of a bitch you worship?
Your god offers zip, and is one capricious mother. Maybe you two were made for each other?
I fear you misunderstand, faith is the mind game played on people by irresponsible silly billies such as yourself. Nate has not lost his faith in Yahweh.
Nate has realised there simply is no such thing.
Either you read his piece and did not comprehend, or you read it and ignore what he says.
He breaks his story down into five sections, of which I feel can be summarized below…
My History: “Most of my young life I was “that” religious kid.”
Doubt: His idea of Gods nature.
Death and the Horrendous Pain: How he deals with the death of a loved one and a decision is made.
Into Atheism: His justification for rejecting faith in his God.
Conclusion: He clings to love and tolerance of others, even those with different ideas.
I was replying to your final paragraph; your summation. This seems to be a familiar Christian bleat, like the other one chestnut, “Oh, you were probably never really a Christian.”
Why should he wish to try to get back belief in something that really does not exist ?
Why should he once again put himself in a position that caused him so much distress?
Why should he have any desire whatsoever to remain attached to a worldview that produces intellectually barren people like yourself who go around trying to convince others how wonderful their god is when it should be painfully obvious to all but the most dense that the reason he turned his back on all that crap is because it is a philosophy based oi lies and sadly produces people who continue to perpetuate them.
He is happy. What right do you have to try to make him miserable again?
Are you an idiot or just cruel?
I am concerned for an ex-believer Ark and if I can present a word of encouragement I will do it, but in the end we each have our own choice to make. Some temper their attitude towards those of a different persuasion with tolerance and love (Nathan) and some lash out with hateful words to hurt and ridicule (yourself). I don’t have to love the things that come out of your mouth but I do love you. What you are trying to do with me won’t work.
Ask WHAT, Not WHY
Your three questions reformatted to move an ex-believer into a position to reclaim their faith.
you: Why should he wish to try to get back belief in something that really does not exist ?
me: What should I do to get back belief in something a lot of people believe to be real?
you: Why should he once again put himself in a position that caused him so much distress?
me: What could I learn to put myself into a position that will enable God to bless me with the happiness that only comes from knowing Him in a personal way?
you: Why should he have any desire whatsoever to remain attached to a worldview that produces intellectually barren people like yourself who go around trying to convince others how wonderful their god is when it should be painfully obvious to all but the most dense that the reason he turned his back on all that crap is because it is a philosophy based oi lies and sadly produces people who continue to perpetuate them.
me: I’ve made my decision – there is no God. What can I do to love and tolerate those people I encounter daily who still believe?
I appreciate honesty Nathan, but I read misconceptions in most every statement in regards to my God you make. Whether these are intentional or not I leave to the Judge.
1. “The fact that our purpose of living [is to] blow smoke up the skirt of a god that will damn us to hell.”
Within God’s Word are all things that pertain to life and to godliness. Everything to which there is an answer available to us is found in God’s Word – either living or written. If we are willing to look into what God has to say about things, we can find the answers to those questions which baffle our minds and hinder our ability to with God.
Ephesians 1:4-6 has to be one of the absolute greatest explanations of what our reason for being really is in the whole Bible. I can think of no more powerful verses which, when understood, unlock doors of understanding that enable a believer to finally ascend into the throne room of God, thus enjoying and exercising the rights and privileges that come with our position in Christ as sons of God.
From the King James Version, here is Ephesians 1:4-6:
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestined (foreordained) us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
As well, it seems there will be a stricter judgment for those who have rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ than those who have never heard.
And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity. (Psalm 9:8)
Before the LORD; for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with equity. (Psalm 98:9)
But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously, Who tries the feelings and the heart, Let me see Thy vengeance on them, For to Thee have I committed my cause. (Jeremiah 11:20)
But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; (Romans 2:5-7) godandscience.org/apologetics/neverheard.html#n01
2. “The thought that a god with a plan can’t/won’t/doesn’t listen to your prayers because if your prayer isn’t in line with his plan then it goes unheard or unanswered.”
The wordly materialistic man might think God is a waiter, waiting at our beck and call to serve us when in fact it us us who serve Him.
Prayer is an exercise in bringing pleasant thoughts into the mind? Is it a way of miraculously solving impossible situations? Is it a religious ritual by holy people on behalf of the rest of us? Is it the public recital of noble thoughts and ideals or the repetition of certain forms of words?
If you want to really know about prayer a good resource is christadelphia.org/pamphlet/prayer.htm
3. “God set up Adam and Eve for failure in the Garden of Eden.”
Another untruth and classic misinterpretation from an unbeliever. God did not tempt them, Satan tempted. God didn’t set them up for failure He created them with freewill.
God didn’t want to create beings that would worship Him mindlessly. He wanted for us to love Him because we choose to love Him. Freewill is His gift to us. If Adam and Eve had no choices in the garden, they would have been mere puppets. God had to set something apart that they could have a choice about. He gave them the choice of being obedient or not. The angels also have this choice. Satan and his demons were angels that chose not to love and obey God.
God was merciful, not merciless, in His behavior with Adam and Eve. God walked with them and shared with them. He gave them paradise and asked that they avoid only one thing. If He were merciless, He would have given them a pit to live in rather than a paradise. If He were merciless, He would have surrounded them with forbidden fruits. If He were merciless, He would have given them no choices and would have ruled them from above with an iron fist.
4. “God would have either have had a direct hand in creating hell or allowing Satan to create it with his knowledge.”
So what? Hell is a place of suffering originally prepared by God for the devil and his angels. Jesus said that hell was “prepared” for Satan and the demons (Matthew 25:41). It is a just punishment for the wicked one. Hell, or the lake of fire, will also be the destination for those who reject Christ.
5. “God created the rules by which people go to hell. He damns billions of people there. Is that love? Is that moral? Is that just?”
The first, and most prevalent, incorrect assumption is that a person who is destined for hell has been predestined for hell by God. This is false. People choose to go to hell rather than submit their lives to God. You have absolute free will within the confines of your personal ability. You can prove this to yourself. Determine two possible courses of action. They don’t have to be big decisions, just any two possible actions. Assign each action to either “heads” or “tails.” Flip the coin and do what whatever course chance decided. You can do this as many times as needed to determine that you do, indeed, have free will. Occasionally, do the opposite of what the coins tell you. Has God prevented you from doing anything? No!
6. You mention Anne Frank and Ted Bundy in reference to forgiveness. Forgiveness is central to Christian doctrine. Most of us pray for it daily from a prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4
Rage and anger over things beyond your control will poison your soul my friend. Twisting Scripture, Gods words and intent, is not a good thing to do.
I’d like to address another point you make Nathan, and that is your choice to reject “faith”. You state, “Please, someone give me an example of that [faith] being a good thing to do. I’ve got a hug with your name on it if you can come up with a good reason to believe in something that has no evidence.”
FIRST, it is often times important to define what is meant by “no factual evidence” or “logical coherence”. Because often times people use these terms, but in fact don’t have a lot of formal training on Philosophy, argumentation, and therefore mean something quite different.
Often times people really mean – “an argument that personally convinces ME and makes me WANT to believe in God” – which in reality, if the person is not open to the idea in the first place, or have already made a conscious choice to reject faith, it may take a totally unreasonable amount of evidence.
I’ve seen Atheists state that unless the almighty God personally comes down and convinces them, personally, that he exists — they will never believe.
SECONDLY.. something can be logical, but still in error. Philosophers call this “logical form” An argument can have a logical form – but still be wrong.
All girls like pink
Susy is a girl
Therefore Susy likes pink
This is quite logical, but totally in error since premise #1 is an over generalization and therefore not 100% correct.
But it is STILL a logical form because it contains premises and the conclusion is directly formed FROM the above premises. So one is justified, from a logical standpoint to hold this view, even if it is wrong.
THIRDLY.. “no factual evidence” — to be factual, something only has to be true and generally agreed upon. But by adding “evidence” to the mix, you introduce another criteria.
Evidence can be factual, but someone has to still “interpret” the evidence.
So here lies the rub. What if we both agree the evidence is factual, but we disagree on the interpretation of that data and come to two very different conclusions regarding something?
Who is right? In the absence of an arbitrary authority to settle the matter, it then becomes a matter of mere opinion.
So here’s a type of factual evidence…
The Kalam variant of the Cosmological Argument
Things which have a beginning, have a cause
The Universe had a beginning
Therefore the Universe had a cause
The Kalam can then be expanded to show that the best explanation for this cause is essentially God (a transcendent, metaphysical, eternal, mind of some sort)
Each premise is factual and pretty much undisputed by modern cosmologists. The bit that must be interpreted and further supported is whatever you conclude is the cause of the universe.
Believing is not exactly the same as faith. For belief to be faith, it must light on what is certainly true. Yet Scripture gives examples of situations where belief alone is required, even commanded. There’s no time for evidence collection, to wait, to hear, for certainty. Just believe. Like Peter walking on the water–don’t think, act! God even requires us to believe in him when, temporarily, the evidence looks bad: to trust. God requires belief and trust in moments of human weakness, but faith is what makes us strong. Faith is the state of being convinced about what we hope for.
You may have lost your faith in God but you can get it back. You have faith in other things so you can understand the concept of faith.
These sites can be a starting point in understanding faith in God and how to get it back. I wish you well brother, no matter what choice you finally settle on.
Based on the Biblical definition of the “substance/certainty” of faith, viz.: “sacred faith”, a.k.a., vision of God, it is clear that we are talking about ex-make-believers rather than ex-believers.
(John 19: 30-37; Heb. 11)
The former are common (I was one of them), but the latter hypothetical.
Hello Ephrem, Hebrews Chapter 11 is a good study on the subject of faith. and contains the word faith 24 times.
In verse 1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The key word in this verse is understanding faith is EVIDENCE. It is the belief that is the evidence and if you have true Christian faith, you do not need to search for the evidence—you already possess it.
Perhaps you are right, that “ex-believers” don’t exist, and that they were “make-believers” all along. Perhaps one does not so much “lose faith” but gives it up purposely.
Human beings accept knowledge that they have received through the five senses—seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting. These senses all involve physical information—physical knowledge. The mind receives and processes this information in order to draw conclusions about circumstances, things and events taking place around it. Faith is spiritual, not physical. It is a confident assurance, which comes from the Spirit of God in the mind of a converted human being.
For those interested, two good free studies about faith can be found at
Sorry, I’ve been gone during this discussion. Replying from my phone is a headache. I’ll reply with more tomorrow, but in short you’ve just illustrated 2 great problems in my opinion.
1 – The No True Scotsmen Fallacy. Since anyone that REALLY understands god and his desires for us (which is funny because god has always been above my comprehension according to believers) couldn’t possibly reject hislove or tthe claims of the bible. Since you (me) reject him, you were obviously never really a believer to begin with.
I’m afraid that I’ve run across this many, many times and when I ask for what a really real believer is I get the same vague answers every time.
2 – The arguments you’re making about faith can be used to believe in any gods. Or the celestial teapot. Or Brian The God Eating Magical Penguin.
You can think you know, but you have no more grounds to stand on than the man sure it’s Helios pulling the sun across the sky.
I’ll respond more tomorrow, but thanks for what you’ve put so far.
I agree one cannot be too careful!
On the other hand, one has no choice except to joyfully submit and enjoy the complete and sustainable transformation of life when encountering the vision of God’s independent and unique self-revelations, a.k.a., “I am Who I Am”, i.e., source of life, excluding all possible counterfeits.
God is real and great!
You make two points…
1. First, no one is perfect, no one lives a perfect life 100% of the time. If we ask a question such as, “What qualifications does a “real believer” in God possess?”, we may list dozens of things, but do we know a person who is a 100% perfect believer? No. So, real believers live there lives knowing they ARE NOT perfect. Real believers live by faith that through grace the can know God and through this personal relationship grow in humility to one day be perfect in His presence. Perfection will not culminate until we are reunited with the source of our existence.
2. All readers here understand which God we are talking about, it’s the same God you were taught as a youth. “Faith cometh by hearing.” Sometimes faith has come into men’s minds by hearing the simple statement of the gospel. It isn’t me or my words that changes the hearts of another, it is Gods words.
C.H. Spurgeon wrote a great sermon about this in 1872,
“In many, I do not doubt, faith has come through hearing of the condescending pity and the melting love of Jesus. Oh, that we dwelt more on this; that he loved his enemies, that he died for the ungodly, that his heart yearns over the lost sheep, that he is willing to receive prodigal sons, for he is full of grace and truth.
“His heart is made of tenderness,
His bowels melt with love.”
When such texts as the following have been preached on:—”This man receiveth sinners.” “Come unto me all ye that labor.” “Ho, every one that thirsteth,” etc. “All manner of sin and transgression shall be forgiven unto men.” “Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely.” “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out,” that melting strain has touched the heart, and led the most hardened to believe in a Savior so kind to the undeserving. Men have found it impossible not to believe in a friend so self-sacrificing, a Redeemer so altogether lovely. The sweet love of Jesus has an omnipotence in it to win souls. They yield “by mighty love subdued,” unable to resist its charms, and as if they could hold out no longer, they throw themselves by an act of faith into the Savior’s arms. I can well understand their singing, “I do believe, I must believe in such a friend as this.” Faith comes by hearing of the free forgiveness procured by the agony, the stripes, the wounds, the death of Jesus, the lover of our souls.” spurgeon.org/sermons/1031.htm
Sorry, I beg to differ in the strongest terms possible.
“To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see” means there is certainty and evidence underlying faith rather than faith itself is evidence.
Although lost in Christian tradition, the ESSENCE that defines the “substance” and “certainty” of faith is the vision of God’s self-revelations as
• Cross-referenced to the lives of the O.T. characters in Faith’s Hall of Fame (Heb. 11);
• Promised, developed and “finished” by Jesus Christ in his training of disciples (John 1: 51-52; 19: 30-37); and
• Recalled by the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews (10: 19-25).
This was really helpful to read. It challenges me as Christian. Thank you for posting it Prayson.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read it. If nothing else I just hope it helps believers understanding where some nonbelievers are coming from.
secondratecyclist, I find your concern ridiculous to say the least. I know you’re likely to tell me you weren’t addressing me, that’s ok. You seem to want to be protected from doubt as if faith is a thing to be proud of. I don’t agree with most of what Prayson writes on this blog and I still once in a while read them.
If the only reason you find his blog useful is because he sings the same song as your pastor, there is an easier solution, don’t read blogs such as these. They may disturb your faith and we don’t want that.
Good post, you are a good story teller
Thanks so much for the kind words and for reading. I enjoyed your comment to seconratecyclist. Summed up my feelings pretty well.
You write well. Read a post on your blog which I liked too. Whoever that person is, why would they want insulation from dissenting voices?
I may not agree with Prayson a lot but I think he tries to hear what others are saying even if he doesn’t act on it.
Mr. Pratt, I’m glad to see your interfaith dialog here. I have been hungry for conversation with a respectful, civil freethinker who doesn’t shut off the conversation or run it astray. You may be one of those people!
Haha I don’t know whether to be flattered or worried, but I appreciate the kind words.
Full disclosure: while I do love a good dialogue, my patience does run thin when I’m in a discussion and we’re unable to move beyond a point of contention or disagreement. I’m happy to agree to disagree and move on to other avenues of discussion, but when someone makes me feel more like a “project” than a person I tend not to hang around long.
Thanks for reading and for the kind words.
So sad but so predictable. Legalism in not Christianity. Legalism broke Bart Ehrman’s back and that of many others! Real Christianity rests in “I can’t do it!, in fact I can’t do anything, so God must.” Not “The Bible says it therefore I must.”
Real Christianity rests in a form of self loathing which you described perfectly in your response. I’m garbage without god. I’m worthless without god.
I used to never see it that way myself, but I do now. Thanks for reading.
Real Christianity is not self loathing. Real Christianity involves self love but not in an egocentric way. Real Christianity involves self denial.
Although I too was bothered by questions like those your college friends and you discussed, like you I was even more shaken by the death of someone dear to me (my wife) and by the responses of others to it. I’ve described my experience at http://opentheism.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/o-god-why-did-you-let-esther-die/.
Well written post Bob. The passing of a loved one is hard to bear and it leaves us stunned. You quote the eighth chapter of Romans and it will do us well to study it. If the Spirit be in us, Christ is in us. He dwells in the heart by faith. Grace in the soul is its new nature; the soul is alive to God, and has begun its holy happiness which shall endure for ever.
Chock up one more for Fundamentalism and it’s horrendous legacy. If shallow, sentimental Evangelicalism has slain it’s thousands, Fundamentalism has slain it’s ten-thousands.
You’re not as smart as you think you are. You may think you have exhausted the resources of reason, but I urge you to tuck this away for perhaps a better time in your life: Consider Christ, not the deterministic traditions that shaped you far more than you recognize.
1 Samuel 18:7 – “As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”
I don’t claim to have all the answers or the arrogance to think myself a wise man. I’ve long pondered the effect my legalistic upbringing has had on me in the long run. You’re not the first (and you def won’t be the last) to claim that there’s better answers out there, but it all stems from different interpretations of the same scripture. Reading “Letters From a Skeptic” was supremely frustrating to me as there seemed to be no leaps in interpretation the author couldn’t make. It just made the bible feel less inspired by a god and more flexible than I’d ever originally thought.
30,000 denominations from the same book. I find taking any one of them much more seriously than the other a seriously troubling and difficult thing to do. Could I find some version of it more appealing? Sure. Do I think it’s truth? No. What I will do is always be open to a good dialogue on the topic and try and keep an open mind.
Thanks for reading and replying.
Yes, good reply. Determinism is a paralysis impossible to overcome with human strength and whatever tools of reason and logic we have at our disposal. We can get so far, and then we are restrained by the unselfconscious confines of our limitations, mentally, spiritually, philosophically. Neutrality is a myth. We are hard-wired deep inside and objectivity is only theoretical. So I urge you, tuck the possibility of a Logos-centricity to all things as something you may bow to at a certain point, perhaps when you least expect it. Historicity exists, and dog-gonnit, something huge occurred on that cross way back when. Doesn’t matter how we’ve corrupted the vision. Let God be true, though every man a liar. Hubris happens, though we clothe it in ostensible layers of doubt, humility, and reasonabilty. Unfortunately the evidedentialist vein of apologetic methodology has trapped us up in a hasty, demanding tit-for-tat with naturalism. Truth is, they both engage in circular reasoning. They both merely unpack their presuppositions. Truth is not something we capture, but rather, it captures us.
You may one day be surprised. I hope so.
I appreciate the honesty and sincerety of your post. I have a somewhat similar testimony, but with a different result. There are obviously some deep issues you have struggled with, many that hold deep emotional charge. However, I would encourage you to refrain from giving up completely on your faith. I think there are answers although it may require new interpretations. For instance, it is impossible to know what is in a person’s heart before they die. I am convinced that there will be people in heaven that we never expected to be there. Keep searching. I think there are deeper answers to be found. But I most appreciate your loving spirit. That is something that both the faithful and faithless can agree.
Love from your Theistic Christian friend,
Have you posted the story of your own journey somewhere on this blog ? I would love to hear it.
Thanks for posting. It gives a real face to the kind of vague, impersonal stories we hear in the news about the suffering of strangers. For people of any faith or lack thereof, this should at the very least give us some motivation to reach out, love, and listen to others whose struggles have been tremendously worse than my own.
Though I disagree quite strongly with the misperception of the trinity as God “sacrificing Himself to Himself” and the like, I appreciate your willingness to relate your experience with civility.
Thank you James for being here. I have not posted a complete journey but a little here: https://withalliamgod.wordpress.com/aboutblog/behind-the-blog-my-daughter-wife-and-i/
I am very poor at talking about myself 🙂
“To be sure of the things we hope for and be certain of the things we cannot see” (Heb. 11:1), requires visions and revelations which, although basic to the Scriptures, are not taught by the churches (all misnomers) for their own ulterior motives.
I am immensely over-privileged to personally testify that, according to the Scriptures, God is independently self-revealing from the beginning in Genesis to an expected end in Genesis –full circle! Sustainable faith is based on visions and revelations of directly and personally revealed God according to the terms and seal of the “new covenant”. (See below)
The most liberating moment of my life has been the instant I saw unexpectedly the vision of Jesus Christ, in the kind of death he suffered, a.k.a., “the first-born from the dead”; and have grown ever since in his grace and knowledge completely independent of church, Christians and Christianity.
At stake is the enjoyment of the highest possible quality of life on earth which has no substitute.
PRAISE THE LORD!
Your point in posting this? The straight answer, not some philosophical crap.
Well, I met Prayson last week on my blog where I was attacking the Problem of Evil from a moral standpoint. We had a wonderfully civil dialogue over the next couple days about our thoughts on the topic.
He read my deconversion story and asked if he could repost it on his blog to encourage reflection among believers and non-believers. I was both honored that he’d ask and humbled because I know this is a pretty different opinion than what’s typically on this blog.
The wonderful thing about Prayson is that he understands a good dialogue and examining other points of view. That to become lazy and comfortable in our thinking and never challenge ourselves is a great way for our brains to stagnate. Even though we differ wildly in our conclusions, there’s still much to be gained from examining other thoughts on the topic.
If you read the full post I’d like to say thanks for putting in the time as I know it’s a bit wordy. It was something I originally wrote as a way to explain my loss of faith to all of my family and friends.
My question was to Prayson on why he re-posted this on his blog. I understand showing points of view, but without his input, he is giving you a platform. Again, my question was to him. Sorry for the confusion.
Nate’s story helped me understand the hard journey many genuine and honest people take as they walk away from the worldview of their upbringing. I forgot how hard it was for me to walk away. Nate’s story awakes in me the hunger to be there for those who have walked away, shoulder to shoulder, trying to first and foremost understand.
The point I asked Nate to share his story is for us to sit down and listen.
Is it giving Nate platform without any input of my own? I think it does not matter. My aim is for Christians to stop and listen. To understand before agreeing or disagreeing.
I really understand the idea, but you gave him a platform to all of your followers and those who might read your blog for the first time. Great, he’s brave for turning his back on God and the way his family raised him. By the way, God is His name and Bible is the name of a book ,and they are both capitalized, whether you believe in anything or not. I do my best to defend our faith and listen to others viewpoints and have discussion, but I will not promote their beliefs. There is no “hunger” in his message. It was pride in blowing “smoke up the skirt of a god that will damn us to hell.”
I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts, but this I don’t understand at all.
I totally understand and share your concern. I am honored and flattered that you enjoy my posts. It is my joy to attempt to explain why I asked Nate to share his story.
The aim of my blog is to stir critical thinking and to help young Christian know what they believe, why they believe and how they believe. A story from Nate is to awake in them a sense of thinking, and if Christian, thinking for the Glory of God and joy of His people.
Nate’s story is similar but much more than mine. I walked that path.
I have lost followers because of this post. I do not regret because I do not wish for followers to follow or are here to agree with me, but followers who are here to think critically, and if Christians, for the glory and honor of the One who gave them that mind.
I hope you understood a little. I would love to explain more, if thou wish. Thank you for your concern. I do treasure it.
It’s your blog. I just have a HUGE concern with a person who is new in the faith to read this and stumble or doubt, because you gave no rebuttal . . . and how in the world does Nate’s story “awake a sense of thinking for the Glory of God and the joy of His people”? Again, you gave a person who mocks God a platform on which to do it.
Sadly I mock God each day. My mouth honors God but my actions in my daily life often mocks Him. I stand condemned with Nate, the only hope that I have is in Christ.
It is the hope that I have in Sovereign God that I am not concerned about them.I believe God is much greater and He is the one who keeps His people from stumbling (Jude 1:24) and interceding for those who doubt (Luke 22:31–32).
I believe that Christ Jesus is much greater and His promise: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27–28) is true. Nothing can snatch those God gave Christ. No doubt, failure &c.,
I believe that the God who began the good work in His people will bring it to completion “at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6) and the fight that His people fight “is God who works in [them], both to will and to work for his good pleasure”(Philippians 2:13).
These are reasons I am not concerned. I am not worried a leaf because it is God who justified them and it is he who will also glorified them (Romans 8:30).
If Christianity is true, it will stand the test of doubt. I think it is. That is why I am not concerned.
The more I know about God, the more I rest secured. The less I knew about Him the easier I doubted.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns. I dare not brash them away as they are valuable than gold.
secondratecyclist… god is not capitalised. Your Christian god is just one of tens of thousands of gods. Do we capitalise “cars,” “chairs,” or “pots”? Of course not. The same applies here. Your particular god has a name, Yhwh: which is capitalised.
Hope this clears things up a bit.
I wasn’t speaking to you.
It’s a public forum, and I was just helping you out regarding correct English usage. A simple “thank you” would be fine.
Well said, John.
Tremendously moving story, and your honesty is beyond admirable. I truly do feel for the people (like yourself) in the deeply superstitious pockets of the US who have to go through such an emotionally difficult, and I’m sure terrifying, journey to free yourself of the religious nonsense. As an Australian (where religion simply isn’t a big thing) i experienced none of this and so in many ways can’t even begin to understand what you had to go through. Stories like this help me (and others from around the world) understand, and that’s important. Thanks.
Thanks so much for the kind words. The support from other atheists in my early stages of unbelief was a huge help to me. You wouldn’t believe the turmoil losing belief created for me in the beginning with friends and family, but having weathered the storm I’ve come to a wonderful peace in my life I never had before.
I concur with John. The type of inculcation you were subject to is almost beyond belief.That it is not an isolated case by any means is just as worrying, and the vitriol from secondratecyclist amplifies why such stories should highlight why religion’s demise cannot come quick enough.
Such tales remind me of Cissy Spacek’s religiously deranged mother in the movie, Carrie.
Kudos for Prayson for posting this.
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