Monday, April 23, 2012

Making the Most of Life, My Journey Part I

I was a dedicated, Bible-believing lover of Christ. I fully believed that God was in full control of my life, and that He cared fully and deeply about every single detail of my life. It was a comforting feeling.


A couple of years ago, my husband of over a decade starting questioning his belief about our God. He started being "critical" of the Bible and reading books and blogs by Atheists. I supported his search because I believed in my God fully and knew that if he was seeking truth he would find it. And since Truth = God, he would eventually come back to Christ.


The months turned into years, and I continued to pray for him. I held fast to the "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Pr22:6) and believed that he would return to the faith. He started tentatively asking "what if" questions of me. "What if" there were no virgin birth. I said "I would still believe. I can believe in my Christ, even if he was not born or a virgin." My husband had a harder time with this and I felt like my faith had been tested and I had passed. There were many more "what if" questions to come, and I held firm. My God had proven himself to me and I would believe in Him. I had "experienced God."

About this time, my brother started studying psychology. He had random ideas to discuss and random books lying around I would sometimes look over. One caught my attention: [Insert name of book here]. It talked about how we cannot trust our own memories. It made me uncomfortable to think this could be true, but apparently, our minds (as humans) are creative. When we access a memory, we pull it up in our minds-eye and "look" at it. Any pieces that may be missing (was it daytime? who was there? where were we exactly?) are filled in by our creative brains. When we "put the memory away" those details go with it. When we pull it up again to "look at it," those details have become facts and we see those as part of the memory. The MORE times we access a memory, the more chances our brain has to make changes, and the more inaccurate the memory becomes. It's like a great game of telephone. I could not help but apply this to my memories of experiences with Christ. Were they really what I remembered?


I also learned from a friend about confirmation bias. When someone believes something, their minds look for evidence to support that. In applying this to my faith, I realized every time I prayed for someone and they got better, I attributed that to God. But when they did NOT get better, I never thought to BLAME God. That just doesn't make sense. Either he IS in charge of my life and hears my prayers, or he is NOT in charge of my life and does not hear my prayers. But I cannot reasonable thank him for the good and "overlook" the evil, or non-good. So I realized how very many times I had confirmation bias. The same idea applies to placebo pills. If you believe you are given a drug, you act as if it is working. When you find out it is only a placebo, your mind is blown. Confirmation bias.


The final "What if" really got to me. "What if the original "Bible" or some of the first Codices (first bound books we now call the Bible) did not contain the resurrection story. What if they were added later?" This, I admitted to Brian, is a deal-breaker. Tell me more. Here is the Wiki article on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_16


Damn. Now it was time to get serious. If there was no resurrection, then let's face it, there is no Jesus=God. He's just a dead man in a grave. So, why would I believe there is a resurrection? Well, it's in the Bible. How do I know the Bible is true ... aha! This is what I need to study. I had SO MANY people tell me to "read my Bible" to find answers. This is ludicrous. This is what any brainwashed person would tell you. I needed to KNOW if I was brainwashing myself. So what does that look like? Well, if I believed something without reason, and even IN SPITE of reason. If it no longer makes sense, but I continued to hold to it ... so, I needed to KNOW. I became desparate to KNOW the TRUTH. It was very important to me, as we have 3 children and are indoctrinating them into the same beliefs we were raised with. We had them in private schools and churches and prayers at night and the answer to EVERYTHING was God. I needed to have answers.


So we began our journey down the field of textual criticism. Of course, Brian had read Misquoting Jesus by Ehrman. Ehrman went to seminary and studied the Bible more than I can ever claim. His book is eye-opening, but Ehrman learned under Metzger, who studied the same facts and reached a different conclusion. I wanted to read Metzger - I wanted to find the same guy who had the facts of the Bible but reached the conclusion I WANTED. So, we ordered the book.


In the meantime, I was observing. I observed Christians and non-Christians. I've always held to the Matthew 7:16 idea that we should "know them by their fruits" http://bible.cc/matthew/7-16.htm

In other words, Jesus' followers should be "fruitful" people (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). So, well - I have a Facebook account. I have many, many Christian friends. I have many that I would say were not Christians. So I watched. For about a year. I was looking for a general "happier" mood amongst my Christian friends. I was looking for "miracles." I believed in a God of power and a God who could literally move mountains. So, it stands to reason that when friends asked for prayer for their sick family, or for job interviews, or for dying friends/family, my Christian friends SHOULD be getting, on average, better "results" than my non-Christian friends.


That wasn't the case. Sadly. However, I noticed a strong trend to thank God when things went right and to say "well, it wasn't God's will" when they went wrong. It all started to look like BS to me. And I actually started getting annoyed. I'm still there. I find it highly annoying that intelligent people can't see through the bullshit. Sorry. I digress.


It started to look like many of my friends were lying to themselves. And the answer I got a lot was that "Christianity makes me happy." I don't argue with them, or anyone else about it for that matter. I won't share my knowledge on the subject unless asked. And I am completely willing to admit that I might be wrong.


On that note - Pascal's Wager. Everyone has heard of it. Wiki has this: "since the existence of God cannot be proved or disproved through reason, and there is much to be gained from wagering that God exists and little to be gained from wagering that God doesn’t exist, a rational person should simply wager that God exists and live accordingly." In short: If Christians are wrong, they have lost nothing [by believing], however if they are right, atheists have lost everything [by not believing]. This is an argument that deserves attention. Is there anything lost by believing in the God of the Bible?


Now that I have gone through the process of changing my beleifs, and have seen many other people "deconvert," I've seen many negative issues related to a belief in God. I know this is something that many Christians do NOT want to hear, but Brian and I had some serious issues in our life directly related to the Bible's view of lust and sex. We were personally and strongly and negatively affected by this aspect of our belief-system for our entire married life until we moved away from our beliefs and began tenderly asking each other what WE LIKED. It has been refreshing.


Another problem with Christianity and a literal translation of the Bible is that if you follow it, you'll do some horrible things in the name of Christ. For instance, [here are a few! http://www.evilbible.com/]


And the overwhelming guilt. I have never felt so free as I do now. I was never able to pray enough ... never had enough faith ... never converted enough people ... never grateful enough to God ... I had guilt when I did not go to church, guilt when I did not pray before a meal, guilt that I wasn't a missionary in a foreign country. There was guilt!


Here's another thing about Pascal's Wager. Is there really nothin lost by believeing in Christianity? What happened when I realized that I did NOT believe? Every. Single. Day. Is. Worth. Savoring. For the first time, there is no afterlife! This is it!!! These relationships! This night sky. This unbelievably complex, gorgeous universe! Wow! Humans cherish things more when there is a possibility of losing it. Now I know it can all be gone in an instant, so I cherish every single second. I hug more, especially my kids and family. I am faster to forgive and just let everyone live there own life! I was tired of fighting the devil at every turn, what a waste that turned out being. Now I live every moment in awe of its beauty and the fact that it doesNOT get better. There are no streets of gold and mansions for everyone. This gorgeous reality is it. Of course at first this was a little depressing, but now it's awe-inspiring and beautiful. I almost lost this by believing that I'd see everyone after we died, and that the after-life was so much better than this life.


Another negative trend in Christian circles is LGBT bias. Christians lean toward legislating AGAINST LGBT freedoms, while telling me and everyone else that they treat homosexuals exactly like they treat everyone else. Again, I began calling BS (my own way of saying they are lying to themselves and everyone else). They would ask me: how can you ignore what the Bible says about homosexuals? I began to have very strong feelings about the subject, which is unlike me. I pride myself in my analytical, critical thinking side ... and I often distance myself from any emotions (from an admittedly erroneous belief that showing emotions makes me weak). However, I began to feel that there was an injustice here. That there was a very large group of people (Christians) that were denying rights to a much smaller group of people (LGBT). I began to want to help the smaller group because they were being wronged. This led me to distance myself from those who called themselves "Christians" or those who believed the Bible is the infallible word of God.


I also began to feel like I was doing mental gymnastics to defend my belief in the Bible and God.

... to be continued

71 comments:

  1. 12:03pm
    I read your blog and I love it. I find it truly amazing to understand the evolution of religious beliefs as a whole, for example, ancient Greeks believed in many gods, Rome conquered Greece and took their religion and changed it a bit and demonized the Greeks. Then, take a look at the Sumerians who lived in Mesopotamia, currently the Middle East, during the first Babylonian Dynasty (predating Christianity and Judaism). They were also polytheistic, as the ancient Greeks and Romans (who centered much of their religion on the cosmos. They had a similar creation story as Genesis (written by the Hebrews): creation from chaos then has the deity creating life through words (sound familiar?...let there be light) with a similar flood myth to Christianity. http://halexandria.org/dward179.htm .The Sumerians also shared similar icons, the snake and the tree, however the snake was not evil until the Hebrews wrote their creation story, to demonize the Sumerians. And you are all too familiar, how the Christians demonize the Jews, in the Story of Noah’s ark and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As you can see, throughout history, the great powers often borrow from older beliefs so that it is a smoother transition for society to adapt to these “new” beliefs, they often find small ways to demonize the past religion so that they can shun the believers of the previous religion. As the great powers conquer other civilizations, they can always find common ground in gaining loyal subjects through religion. People in general find comfort in religion especially during times of stress! I have seen accounts of modern geologist have studied the area (Mesopotamia) to try and find the truth if any in the story of the Garden Of Eden, as if to find the location according to the Bible. We know that Mesopotamia is the Fertile Crescent (right around the Tigris and Euphrates) or holy land that is still being fought for between the Hebrews and the Muslims. According to the Bible, the Garden of Eden was located where 4 rivers meet the Tigris, The Euphrates, the Pishon and the Gihon. They have confirmed that those rivers did in fact exist until a flood that is now the modern day Persian Gulf!!! Back in those days Man was made up of hunter gather tribes and their whole world was basically as far as they could walk… Man soon realized that they could cultivate their own food and started planting crops closer to home, to be more efficient. Then BOOM a flood came (which I think was due to glaciers melting in the North and sea levels rose) , many thought that this was punishment from God for acting as a god instead of letting seeds fall as they may. I think that when this area flooded they really thought the entire Earth flooded! Or at least that is how the story was told! I just like to see how history influences religion and it’s amazing to see the natural progression. I am just amazed that Christianity has held water in our society for so long when it is so far behind the times and defies all logic and current science!!!

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  2. Very interesting! I think your post shows that 'non believers' actually put thought into their decisions to not believe. Dare I say that 'non belief' is our species positively evolving from blind belief in dogma?

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    1. That is exactly right I would say!

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    2. No, that is satan working in this world, and this world embracing sin.

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    3. Damn Satan and his making us think awfulness. Do you even see how ridiculous you sound?

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    4. No, what's ridiculous is I can't even let my kids ride their bikes to the street corner without watching them. 50+% of marriages end in divorce. Homosexuality is celebrated and forced on everyone. Turn back the clock in this country prior to the push to pull God out of everything and our country was as solid as a rock. Look where we are now......and you want to celebrate this as evolving?

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  4. Fantastic post, Michele! My inner geek is doing the happy dance like crazy that you started a blog ;)

    Can't wait for the next entry.

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  5. I need to update the Mark 16 debate. I had misread it originally. It contains an empty tomb and an angel, but nothing about seeing a resurrected Christ. Or anything after verse 8. Just needed to clarify... I am looking into this. I have a hard time reconciling the gospels. The resurrection stories are all different; the passover feasts happened at very different times, and the final words of Christ are all different. My husband finally started a spreadsheet to try to make sense of it ... it's very difficult to try to make all the stories work :-S

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    1. Resurrected Jesus was seen 12 times. The resurrection stories are written by multiple people, so there are minor variations, but they do not impact the truth of the story.

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    2. How do you know how many times resurrected Jesus was seen when all we have is a book written well after the alleged resurrection and without any eyewitness testimony? (not that even eye witness testimony would be enough to warrant the belief that it actually happened)

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    3. Historians have agreed that the eyewitness testimony about the life and death of Jesus Christ would stand up in a court today. But I know they aren't as smart as you Mozza.

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  6. Next blog on my Journey ... "What About the Kids?" (we have 3)

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    1. Take your condescending passive aggressive bullshit elsewhere.

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    2. It's not passive aggressive, I have, and continue to pray for them. I thought you were done with me, what's up?

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  7. Hey Michele,

    mad respect for you! I can't even imagine how difficult this must be in such a religious country. Thankfully I live in a country where it's a non-issue and I don't have to cope with these things atheists have to in the USA.

    I came here via JT's blog, just to say, you have the support of many people all over the world. from the Netherlands for starters. :)

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    1. There is nothing difficult about being an atheist in our "religious" country. Our country is working hard to appease the atheists at every turn. Why would it be difficult? Is it personal guilt? If there isn't accountability then why worry about it? It's really not a big deal.

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    2. You should do more research Random. There are thousands, possibly millions, of atheists in the closet in this country because of the feared repercussions of "coming out" so to speak. Many people have lost their jobs and been shunned by their families simply for admitting that they do not share the religious beliefs of their family and the majority of their communities. This is to say nothing of what seems the constant battle to stop Christians from using the government to force their religious version of morality on everybody else whether they be a believer of a different creed or non believer. It is certainly extremely difficult to be an atheist in this country, albeit much more difficult in certain regions than in others. This personal guilt you speak of? What would be the source of such guilt? Who says there isn't accountability? As I already pointed out to you in a post below we all have accountability to our communities, our families, and most of all ourselves. Bigotry and intolerance towards you simply because you do not believe in a certain deity may not be a big deal to you but it is to the people on the wrong end of it.

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    3. Why do you care about what your families or communities think? Isn't it all about whatever makes you happy? Surely you can leave these things that upset you behind and make a new happy life without them? Don't let these things hold you back.

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    4. Thank you Tom! I am having a harder time with it than I thought I would. I have been surprised at the number of people who have privately messaged me with their atheist beliefs but they cannot admit to them for fear of losing their jobs, their spouses, or their kids being teased or bullied. So, they remain closet atheists.

      Random? I'm not sure I know you IRL, but you are wrong on many points. However, I don't think it will help to take the time to argue them because I really don't think you want to know. It sounds like you have a very bigoted view of atheists (while you state that atheists are NOT prejudiced against - sadly ironic), and I don't think you are interested in opening your mind and getting to know a few. We are just people; humans cohabiting on this planet and I wish for a higher level of respect than what you are demonstrating.

      Mozza79 - I'm not sure if I know you IRL either, but your points are well-made and respectful. You come to my aid and you seem like a overall good person. Thank you :-)

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    5. I care about what my family think because I love my family and part of what makes me happy is making them happy. I care about what other people in general think because we live in societies where everything works better when people get along and help each other. It's not "all about" what makes me happy but yes ultimately we are always going to look out for ourselves first. And what makes most homo sapiens happy is feeling loved and accepted by our families and friends. Your intentionally trite tone isn't appreciated, especially when it comes from a place of such monumental ignorance, and when you had the gall to refer to my tone in the post below. Instead of making silly assertions that atheists only care about themselves and would find it easy to just break off all contact with the families and loved ones how about you ask questions instead? Or are you afraid you might actually learn something and your stereotypes will be blown to smithereens? This is what I was referring to when I said it seemed obvious to me that you were trolling and not genuinely interested in having a proper discussion.

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    6. Up2Late we don't know one another IRL I discovered your blog through JT. I've enjoyed what I've read so far and look forward to contributing further.

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  8. Michele, I'm from JT's blog as well. I was also raised in a fundamentalist/evangelical family (extended family too) and leaving it all was extremely difficult for me. I can understand much of what you're going through.

    I think leaving the guilt and the veiled hate behind was one of the best things I ever did and it has taken me on a journey where I've become a much happier person and nearly universally opposed to every view I held or was led to believe in the past.

    Thanks much for sharing!

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    1. Why were you all so unhappy? What was causing all the unhappiness? Just trying to understand, I find this very interesting, and a little sad. Not sad that you are no longer Christians, but sad that your life as a Christian was so oppressive.

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    2. Bean, Thank you for commenting. I am feeling very overwhelmed by the positive support you and others from JT's site have offered me.

      I agree that this has been a positive step (changing my beliefs to not include a deity). I'm not sure yet if it's the best thing I've ever done, but time will tell. I'm glad you've found some happiness in this life :-)

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  9. Something to remember about Pascal's Wager is that it only holds true if Christianity is the one, true religion. Once you add something else in there (such as Hinduism), it is no longer the case that Christians have nothing to lose by believing.

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    1. Absolutely! Very good point. Once you've "decided" to believe (if one can even do so), then you would still need to narrow it down to WHICH "one true religion" to believe in - which would not be an easy task!

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  10. Pascal's wager doesn't really hold true even if Christianity is the one true religion because it's based on the threat of hell. Ultimately believing something because you might get punished for not doing so is not a good reason. And that's without even getting in to the fundamentals of belief and whether it's even possible to choose to believe something or not.

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  11. Reading this it sounds like you were looking for a reason to stop being accountable for your actions, as do many of the supporting posts. If you admit there is a creator, then you are accountable to that creator, and many people don't like that idea. There are a lot of items you posted that if you were a Christian you should know the answers to. You can't judge God's existence or providence based on observations of other humans, this is a fallen world. You cannot base God's existence on answered or unanswered prayer. The resurrection of Christ is extremely well documented history, whether you choose to believe He was the Lord on earth is up to you. You throw out the resurrection rather quickly. There is more documented evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for Julius Caesar, yet no one questions his existence. I cherish every day I'm blessed with, each day is a gift from God. I do not feel I can never be "good enough" through volume of prayer etc. There isn't a scorecard. I'm sorry your Christian experience was so disappointing. God is Love, He wants what is best for you, and His ways are always best. Most likely at some point in your life you will realize this.

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    1. I have no idea where you get the idea that I was looking to not be held accountable for my actions. You obviously have not read anything I wrote. In short, and to state it more *ahem* simply ...
      My journey began when I set out to prove my husband wrong. I read the Bible, and read many books, articles, and finally webpages to find good (no, great) Christian arguments to counter the facts he was presenting. After a few months, I realized that the arguments I was coming up with were so ... well, random (lol) that I just realized it wasn't working. What in the world was I really defending? So I began to seek answers. ... and if you read the rest of my journey and keep up with my blog you can see where that led me. I'm not sure you're paying attention at all ?

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    2. The comments about psychology and confirmation bias, seriously? Consider the fact that the Bible is comprised of 66 Books written over a period of about 1,500 years by over 40 authors from all walks of life, with different kinds of personalities, and in all sorts of situations. It was written in three languages on three continents, and it covers hundreds of controversial subjects. Yet, it fits together into one cohesive story with an appropriate beginning, a logical ending, a central character, and a consistent theme. It all meshes perfectly! That's one heck of a game of telephone!

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  12. Wow Random. You have some pretty eccentric notions on what constitutes documented history. There is no contemporaneous account of the resurrection outside of the bible. Not one. There is ample contemporaneous and historical evidence including physical evidence for the existence of Julius Caeser. You don't strike me as someone who is interested in learning anything from anybody who doesn't share your views, only in perpetuating the fallacies that you have morphed into truth inside your own head. The "you're only an atheist because you don't want to be accountable to God" argument is one of the oldest and crappest arguments ever made by the way. We are accountable to one another and most of all to ourselves.

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    1. Completely false again Mozza. More information has survived about Jesus Christ than most other ancient figures. Yet few historical persons have ever had their existence as questioned and as researched. One result of all that research is that information about Christ, from sources other than the Bible, is readily accessible by the common person for nearly the first time in history.

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    2. I'm afraid it's you who's being completely false and seemingly intentionally so. Where is all this information of which you speak and pray tell how can i get my hands on it? There is very very little outside of the Bible that speaks of Jesus' existence. This is a fact. Tacitus and Josephus and that's about it and neither were contemporaneous.

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  13. Interesting comments. Who do you think Christ was? How do you think He died? Why do we mark time by His life? All just coincidence? Somebody must have thought He was pretty important. Any possibility any of these people were smarter than you? I've made some simple statements, obviously you don't like them from the tone of your response. I'm merely offering some views from the other side, no need to get upset.

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    1. Jesus of Nazareth was one of many Christ figures at the time. He is the protagonist in a book called the Bible. According to this book, he was killed on a tree. The Emperor of Rome decided he was a pretty special fella (whether he actually believed he was a deity or he just liked the nice story) and started counting the years soon after his death.

      You have made some simple statements. Thank you for trying :-) You seem like you really believe what you say, and so I know you say them to me because you are trying to convert me/us and that means you care. So, for that, thank you.

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    2. One of many Christ figures at the time? Were they all going around performing miracles and claiming to be the Son of God? Did they all perfectly fulfill prophecy from the old testament?

      Peter Stoner and Robert Newman wrote a book entitled Science Speaks. The book was based on the science of probability and was vouched for by the American Scientific Affiliation. It set out the odds of any one man in all of history fulfilling only eight of the 60 major prophecies fulfilled by the life of Christ. The probability that Jesus of Nazareth could fulfill even eight such prophecies is 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. That has been compared to covering the state of Texas in silver dollars to a depth of two feet, dropping someone in the center of the state, and having them pick the exact coin on the first try. And remember, those are the odds on only fulfilling 8 of the 60 prophecies Jesus fulfilled. It is statistically impossible for Him to have fulfilled as many as He did. It takes major FAITH to be an atheist.

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    3. "One of many Christ figures at the time?"

      Yes there were MANY claimed messiahs of the period, there was one for example that was even proclaimed by several Jewish leaders as being a valid messiah (at the time) all he needed to do was lead a rebellion to free the people to fulfill the messiah prophecy. He failed. Amazingly after this the messiah fulfillment requirements became more stringent.

      "Were they all going around performing miracles and claiming to be the Son of God?"

      There were several reported messiahs that were reported to be doing miracle healing etc. and the son of God was NEVER a requirement of Prophecy. It was simply a claim that could have just as easily been a mans claim that we are ALL the sons and daughters of god and then twisted to be his claim HE was the son of god.

      "Did they all perfectly fulfill prophecy from the old testament?"

      No and Neither did Jesus, there were several Messiah Prophecies never fulfilled by the Jesus figure. But you Christians tend to ignore those, along with anything else that doesn't fit your beliefs.

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    4. Please list for me the Christ figures that rose from the dead.

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  14. Just to be clear, I agree it is very sad if anyone's family forces them to follow a specific religion or be shunned from the family. If that is the stance of the family there are bigger issues at play. I would never attempt to force my beliefs on anyone. Is presenting an opposing point of view not welcome?

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  15. Who do I think Christ was? I have no idea as the only contemporaneous accounts of him existing are in the bible and as we know that's been changed numerous times. How do I think he died? Again if I was to assume he actually existed and assume the account of his death in the bible is true, both assumptions I wouldn't make by the way, then I would also then assume he was crucified. We mark time by his alleged life because the Roman Empire decided to do it after converting to Christianity. Is all what coincidence? What people are you talking about that may have been smarter than me and what on earth does intelligence have to do with any of it? I readily concede that there have been and are believers in the world that are smarter than me, intelligence has little to do with religious belief. They're equally as unable to provide evidence for their god as people who are not as smart as me but they tend to use more superficially sophisticated apologetics. You've made some factually incorrect statements and no I don't like factually incorrect statements. You're not merely offering some views from the other side, you're peddling outright falsehoods as if they are facts. Now I don't know if you're doing this intentionally or you really do think we have as much evidence for the existence of the Roman emperor Julius Caesar as we have for Jesus rising from the dead. If you're doing it intentionally then I would suggest you stop so as not to waste the any more time. Both yours and ours. If you really do believe your statement to be true then I suggest reading up on the historicity of both Julius Caesar and Jesus. I'm not upset at all so don't worry about that.

    I'm glad you agree that it would be sad to discriminate or ostracise someone based on their religious belief or lack of it. I disagree that there are bigger issues at play when people are specifically citing religious reasons for doing what they're doing. When your religion teaches you atheists are evil and of the devil and you then act on these teachings then "bigger issues" are not at play, religion is. I'm also glad you'd never attempt to force your beliefs on anyone, neither would I. Presenting an opposing view is completely welcome, is responding to that view not welcome?

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  16. I'm not trying to convert anyone, I fully believe this is a free country, and everyone is welcome to have their own beliefs. In my mind it is a lot easier to believe there is an intelligent designer that created our Earth vs the thought that random chance created everything and we are related to plants. There is a degree of faith in either viewpoint. The original Bible as translated has not changed. There are different translations to make it easier to read, but nothing has been added or taken away. some religions such as Mormon and Jehovah's Witness have changed the Bible, and that is clearly wrong. The Bible is also excellent history. You can put any of it to the test. I am interested to hear why some felt so oppressed living as a Christian? Best of luck on your journey to find truth.

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  17. You write: "I'm not trying to convert anyone, I fully believe this is a free country, and everyone is welcome to have their own beliefs."

    Awesome. We are in complete agreement about that.

    You write: "In my mind it is a lot easier to believe there is an intelligent designer that created our Earth vs the thought that random chance created everything and we are related to plants."

    Fair enough. I would suggest to you that it's easier to believe such because that is either what you were raised to believe or what you want to believe (or both) and that such belief is based on either ignoring the available evidence to the contrary or not being aware of it. It is a fact that we share lots of our DNA with plants. Also "random chance" is a bit of a misnomer and a gross simplification when speaking about the formation of the universe and everything in it.

    You write: "There is a degree of faith in either viewpoint."

    Not really. Not the same kind of faith anyway. One is based on the observable evidence and the other is based on assertions in a book for which there is no evidence. There is a difference between faith as it's used in a religious sense and trust in the scientific method.

    You write: "The original Bible as translated has not changed."

    What original bible? Again I think you need to do a little research on how and when what we now know as the bible was compiled.

    You write: "The Bible is also excellent history. You can put any of it to the test."

    Really? Any of it? Adam and Eve? Noah's Ark? The exodus from Egypt complete with the parting of the Red Sea? The virgin birth? All of Jesus' alleged miracles? The resurrection? I could go on. These can be put too the test? Many of these claims such as Adam and Eve and the flood can and have been put to the test and have been found to be false. The others, such as the NT miracles, are impossible to test. The only parts of the bible you can put to the test are things like place names and yes sure places mentioned in the bible have been found to have existed or still exist today. To say that this then makes the rest of it true is akin to saying Spiderman is real because New York City exists. Which as I'm sure you will agree is absurd.

    You write: "I am interested to hear why some felt so oppressed living as a Christian? Best of luck on your journey to find truth."

    Didn't I outline some of this above? People felt oppressed when they were an atheist unable to be open about their beliefs and so continued pretending to be a Christian. Also in extremely fundamentalist families/communities the role of women can be very oppressive indeed whether they are believers or not. The pressure to conform is immense.

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  18. Mozza, the fact that you write from an authoritative point of view doesn't make any of it correct. There isn't any observable evidence for evolution. For the past 150+ years the most brilliant minds in science have tried to replicate life from what they consider to be the foundations of life and they haven't been able to replicate anything, period. It can't be done. There are no fossils to show one species becoming another. The more science discovers today, the more it points to the accuracy of the bible. To suggest that science can explain all of creation is grossly ignorant, even they will tell you so. It's clear you believe you know everything, good for you. I'm not afraid to admit I don't know everything. I have an open mind, but you need to provide some type of reasonable information, which you haven't.

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  19. You clearly know nothing about how evolution works and the mountains of evidence we have for it. If you're interested I suggest you go to www.talkorigins.net but I've wasted quite enough time on you.

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    1. Mozza, I know plenty about how evolution works, it doesn't.

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    2. The world of science and medicine disagrees with you. And so does anyone who has studied the evidence with an open mind.

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    3. The world of science (smartest people in the world at the time) also fully believed and taught that the world was flat. Were you on board with that too?

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    4. "The world of science (smartest people in the world at the time) also fully believed and taught that the world was flat. Were you on board with that too?"

      At what time are you referring to in this statement? I mean because that is a very open ended statement. If you are referring to the time of Columbus. then your statement is false it was widely know that the earth was round. In fact the learned and scholarly people of ANCIENT GREECE had already proven this with a simple experiment BEFORE the time of 'Jesus'. Performed by Ptolemy in the 5th Century BCE. it slowly over time became the accepted conclusion until by the middle ages was the ruling geo sciences conclusion.

      you are comparing also a time period of learned individuals vastly different from today where access to information is far easier and great then it was just 100 years ago.

      Please consider these things before just spouting off 'facts' because it is much like an assumption when you do it this was. You know what assuming gets you.

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    5. Is it a not fact that at one time the smartest people in the world thought the world was flat? I don't care about the time frame, the point is, you can't blindly rely on science, just because they say it is so.

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  20. You will get plenty of support from the world. Going along with the crowd is easy, setting yourself apart is difficult.

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  21. The 'crowd' is largely religious. Setting yourself apart is what atheists do by refusing to believe things for no good reason.

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  22. Oh Mozza, bless your heart, haven't you wasted enough time on me already? You are quite silly, spouting unproven drivel like it is proven fact. I'm guessing you love president obama and believe everything he says too?

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  23. Random,

    "You will get plenty of support from the world. Going along with the crowd is easy, setting yourself apart is difficult."
    Stats show that the "crowd" is largely religious... so setting myself apart as a atheist HAS been quite difficult. And I am pleased with the support I've been getting :-)

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    1. Stats show that the majority of people who proclaim to be Christians never even attend church, much less accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It's fine to pretend that the crowd is religious, but it's simply not true. I have friends that are atheists, doesn't bother me one bit. Do I pray that one day they will see the truth? Absolutely. Do I treat them any differently because we share different views, not at all. If your friends and family are treating you differently because you've decided to become an atheist you need to question those relationships. Yes, that will be hard, particularly if it's family, but if they don't respect your beliefs that's their issue. My posts here merely point out truths that you and others are intentionally falsifying. Intentionally leading others astray by spreading falsehoods says a lot about your character.

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  24. Random,
    I am shocked that Mozz has spent so much time debating you, because it seems like you are not truly up for a debate - real facts, real stats, real answers. You are spouting whatever you have heard without actually having any evidence to back it up. So, yes, thank you Mozza79 for taking the time to *try* to inform the mis-informed.

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    1. I have not posted anything that is not a real fact, real stat, or real answer. If you can identify anything I've posted that you can prove to be false I would love to see it. There isn't any need for me to falsify anything, because I speak from the side of Truth. You and Mozza however post comments such as, there is no historical evidence for the life of Christ outside the bible, and that is a flat out lie. I'd imagine since you figured out how to post a blog, you can figure out how to use Google to find this information for yourself.

      It is clear from your posts that you and Mozza do not want to hear a viewpoint other than your own. Unfortunately it's also clear you have very little knowledge of the Bible or a relationship with Jesus Christ, based on your "facebook test". Seriously, watching facebook to see if Christian friends received better prayer results than non Christians helped you determine your faith? And the comments about the Bible's oppressive view of lust and sex? If you are wanting sex outside marriage or homosexual sex, then yes, the Bible frowns on that. Within marriage sex is a beautiful thing and there aren't Biblical restrictions on marital sex.

      Honestly you come across as a spoiled child who wants what she wants, when she wants it, and does not want to be held accountable to anyone. It doesn't even have to do with God or Atheism, it's about what you want. The greatest opening sentence to any book I've read would be good for you to learn, "It's not about you."

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    2. "there is no historical evidence for the life of Christ outside the bible, and that is a flat out lie."

      Wow, you really can't help yourself can you. It is not a lie it is a fact. If I'm lying please provide the CONTEMPORANEOUS evidence for the existence of Jesus existing outside of the bible. Go on, I dare you. You can't. Do you know why? Because it doesn't exist that's why. There is not one mention of Jesus in any books written at the time of his alleged existence. I'm not saying that he definitely didn't exist by the way, only that his existence is nowhere near established historical fact like you seem to think it is. You'd think one of the many historians around at the time would have written about this dude going around performing miracles like we take a piss wouldn't you? And all those zombies supposedly roaming the streets of Jerusalem at the time of his resurrection, nobody thought this worth a mention either. Must have been a common occurrence back then. You are embarrassing yourself on this blog with your bald faced assertions based in nothing other than either your ignorance or your willful dishonesty. Stop.

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    3. The earth ain't flat brother!

      Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Suetonius, Lucian, Josephus, The Talmud, just to name a few. Sorry there isn't a social security card on file to help with your skepticism.

      I'm certain your pride will not allow you to believe these, but there is plenty of history available.

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    4. Pliny the younger (61 CE – ca. 112 CE)
      Suetonius (ca. 69/72 CE – after 130 CE)
      Lucian (125 CE – after 180 CE)
      Flavius Josephus (37 CE– c. 100 CE)

      (courtesy of wikipedia)

      I note that none of these people were contemporaries of Jesus, unless you want to imply that he didn't die in the early 30s CE.

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    5. So your argument is because they weren't contemporaries of Jesus then Jesus did not exist, brilliant.

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  26. Historical Figures.....

    Some of the earliest manuscript fragments of the New Testament are the John Rylands Fragment, Chester Beatty Papyrus and the Bodmer Papyrus which were written between 50-100AD. Copies of these papyri were reproduced in 125-200AD, meaning that the time span between the originals and the copies still in existence today is 29 years to 130 years, putting all these manuscripts being written anywhere from 50-100 years after the death of Jesus Christ. Now some may object and say “Hold on! These manuscripts were written years after Jesus died. There’s no way they could be reliable!” But any expert on ancient documents would disagree.

    Let’s look at some of the more famous and universally accepted historical documents and see how they match up with the Bible:
    Plato — Plato wrote his works from 427-347 BC. The earliest manuscript copy of Plato’s writing in existence today was written in 900 AD. That is 1,200 years after Plato’s death! And there are only 2 copies of these manuscripts in existence.

    Julius Caesar — One of the most celebrated and trusted historical figures. Caesar lived from 100-44 BC and the earliest manuscript copy of his writings dates back to 900 AD, putting our best evidence of Caesar ever existing 1,000 years after his death. And there are 10 copies of ancient manuscripts of Caesar’s Gallic Wars.

    So if you question the Bible based on when it was written, being “translated so many times” (it was not – we still have the same Greek manuscripts today) and still question whether Jesus existed, then you must also be really sure that Julius Caesar and Plato were completely fictional characters and never really existed.

    Homer — Homer, who historians are not even sure ever really existed even today, is credited with writing the Iliad in ca 900 BC. The earliest manuscript copy of the Iliad dates to 400 BC. Meaning the only proof of Homer or the Iliad being accurate is from 500 years after the death of Homer. Additionally there are 643 copies of ancient manuscripts of the Iliad written over the centuries that when compared against each other by experts have a 95.3 consistency and accuracy, making it one of the most reliable and proven documents of antiquity.

    That is of course, until you compare it to the New Testament. The New Testament manuscripts date to less than 100 years after the death of Christ. Additionally there are over 5,600 ancient manuscript copies of the New Testament giving it more copies to a degree that dwarfs any other figure of ancient history. And they have a 99% accuracy when compared to each other. The evidence is not even comparable. And it all points to Jesus Christ. The record of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has more evidence and proof than any other person from antiquity.

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    1. Are you saying that Caesar's own writing is the only way we knew he existed? You mean the multitude of contemporary letters referencing his works, the coins, the statues, the artifacts dated from his lifetime depicting him....nah, they don't count.

      Gaius Julius Caesar changed the world in a way that if you just removed him from the timeline history would not make sense.

      The same cannot be said for Jesus, nor Arthur, nor any mythical person. Whether Jesus actually existed would have had no bearing on the formation of Christianity and more than it has on Arthurian legend. Time to grow up, Random.

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    2. You are right, if you removed Jesus from the world it would not change a single thing...except you might have a different #1 selling book of all time. The ignorance of this statement is pointed out by your own argument on the formation of Christianity, isn't Christianity based on Christ? By the way, if you removed Jesus from history what year would it be?

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    3. Well, according to the Hebrew calendar, it's the 17th of Iyyar, in the year 5772. In Thailand, they go by Buddha's birthday, not Jesus's, so it's the year 2556 over there. And in the Muslim world, the calendar starts with Mohammed's emigration from Mecca to Medina, making it the year 1433.

      It turns out that you don't have to number your years starting with the birth of Jesus in order to have a calendar system. You weren't already aware of this fact?

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  27. Anybody notice how the darkness hates the light?

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  28. Since you don't accept that Jesus was a real person on this earth, I'd love to hear your views on how the complexities of our world were created by random chance over millions of years, that would be awesome!

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  29. I am so blessed to know that I could not be happier or more fulfilled than I am right now in the hands of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It sounds like you all are still on that search, and maybe some day you will find it.

    In obedience to Matthew 7:6 I will not be posting here anymore:
    "Don't waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don't throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you."

    Trampling and attacking seem to be high in your skill set.

    Also, I'm sure Michelle is familiar with Hebrews 6:4

    "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace."

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