My purpose is clearer now without God

April 11, 2007 at 5:11 pm 44 comments

DirectionAn anonymous poster asked this question on one of my blogs:

What do you think our purpose in life is then?

Many Christians believe there is no purpose without God. Of course, one of the most quoted Old Testament verse is:

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Who would not want to believe that the Creator of the universe cares enough about them to have a great plan for their life? In fact, when witnessing to a non-believer, one of the favorite phrases used is “God has a plan for your life.” Really now?

If you read further in Jeremiah 29, you will discover these verses:

17 yes, this is what the LORD Almighty says: “I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like poor figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth and an object of cursing and horror, of scorn and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them.

Ok. Does God have a good plan for my life or will he send the sword, famine and plagues against me?

In my opinion, this whole system of contradictions, uncertainty, condemnation, and schizophrenia really clouds one’s purpose in life. To have a clear mind helps me focus on who I would like to be. This brings me to a point of my challenge which I believe to be my purpose in life:

….to live my life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place.

This is so much easier to do when I’m not judging homosexuals or couples living together outside of marriage or the young girl who had an abortion. I can do my part to demonstrate kindness and compassion and in making the world a better place. And yes, I can do so clearer now without trying to somehow fit my life into the archaic superstitious rituals of a tribe of desert nomads who lived thousands of years ago.

– Agnostic Atheist

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Entry filed under: agnostic, agnostic atheism, agnostic atheist, atheism, atheist, Bible, christian, christianity, faith, freethinking, Religion, skeptic, skepticism, spirituality, theology.

Any recommendations on Atheist Community Groups & Events? Ok, if I want to believe in God, what’s next?

44 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jonfeatherstone  |  April 11, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Hi!
    Love your blog. I’m in a very similar category to you, having been a fire-breathing bible-quoting Christian for a number of years. One of my big gripes has been the use of the Bible as a multi-choice answer book, and your Jeremiah example above illustrates the point very well! I’m interested that you have opted for atheism rather than agnostocism.
    If you get a mo’, I’ve posted a question re: the centrality of the cross on my blog – I’d love to hear your take!
    Regards, Jon F

    Reply
  • 2. wind  |  April 11, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    maybe you should change the name of your blog to Antichristian Antibible. this blog’s focus seems to be solely against Christianity. If your an atheist, why don’t you deal with other religions as well? you hate Christ, the culture he came from and the books he revered. that much is clear.

    Reply
    • 3. ethan fitch  |  July 18, 2010 at 11:11 pm

      did you stop to think that the only belief system this person knows is christianity? so the only one he can possibly question is christianity. and as far as i can tell this cool cat doesnt seem to be angry or hateul. only confused and trying to work out his personel beliefs

      Reply
  • 4. unitedcats  |  April 11, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    Seems to me that finding your own purpose for living is going to be a lot clearer than adopting someone else’s. In fact I’m pretty sure God wants us to find our own way through the world, the whole annoying free will thing. The idea that God would even want people to form “God Clubs” with their own specific rules strikes me a real perversion of Jesus’ teaching.

    Reply
  • 5. Matthew Tenney  |  April 11, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Hi,

    “to live my life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place.”

    Why did you choose this? Wasn’t it because such thoughts make you feel good? You want to think of yourself as inherently loving, kind compassionate, merciful and tolerate and you want to help people because such thoughts are very pleasant. But I think your real purpose in life is actually to get good feelings. What is the physical source of these good feelings? It’s just chemicals. You think those noble, glorious things about yourself and you get a little shot of feel-good drugs. Evolution fixed you up with that little mechanism.

    Reply
  • 6. agnosticatheist  |  April 11, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    Jon F.,

    You didn’t leave a link to your blog. I opted for agnostic atheism because the one thing I was sure of is if God exists, the Abrahamic religions DO NOT accurately represent him/her. Jesus/Paul may have given it a good shot but it’s hard to filter out what they taught out of what we have as the N.T. I’ll blog more about this later.

    wind,

    maybe you should change the name of your blog to Antichristian Antibible. this blog’s focus seems to be solely against Christianity. If your an atheist, why don’t you deal with other religions as well? you hate Christ, the culture he came from and the books he revered. that much is clear.

    Believe it or not, we do not want this blog to be a rant against Christianity as I personally have good things to say about the philosophy of Christianity. However, I can only share what’s on my heart and I’ve spent many years in Christianity. The journey out is still something fresh on my mind and something I think about. This blog isn’t necessarily about atheism as it is the transition from Christianity to atheism or in some cases agnosticism.

    uc,

    Good thoughts.

    Matthew,

    I do agree with your post. However, I chose this because it is the Christianity I followed in my final step out of Christianity. I focused on what I considered to be the basic teachings of Christ without the mysticism. It seemed liked a good way to live then and still does now. Guess I caught up with evolution 🙂

    aA

    Reply
  • 7. agnosticatheist  |  April 11, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    BTW Matthew, I’ve read your comments on several blogs. Do you have a blog of your own?

    Reply
  • […] 11th, 2007 In my previous blog, “My purpose is clearer now without God,” I mentioned what I view as my purpose in life: ….to live my life with love, kindness, […]

    Reply
  • 9. truthbear  |  April 12, 2007 at 12:00 am

    Do you know why God created you?

    Do you understand what your purpose is for being here?

    Do you know where you would be without God? Your answer is nearer than you think….

    Do you feel that it is cool calling your self an atheist?

    How do you feel about extreme heat?

    You have two choices my friend, Heaven or hell, “Oh, and you have free will to choose”….Choose wisely!

    Reply
  • 10. Matthew Tenney  |  April 12, 2007 at 5:14 am

    Dear aA,

    I do not have a blog. I have not the slightest clue as to how to set one up. That should tell you something about my technical skills.

    I am surprised that you say you agree with my post. If evolution is the source of purpose in life and for morality, then we are slaves of a mindless process that has trained us to think in certain ways much as we would train an animal. An evolutionary provided mechanism gives us a shot of feel-good drugs when we think certain thoughts. We deceive ourselves into thinking we’re compassionate and loving but we’re really just looking for our next high. I find that picture very disturbing. It might be accurate, but still very disturbing.

    I think that it is slave mentality to willingly and even happily go along with an evolution-provided, drug-enabled, behavior training program.

    Matt

    Reply
    • 11. Emisu2  |  October 26, 2011 at 8:01 pm

      I find this to be liberating. Thank you for your perspective!

      Reply
  • 12. agnosticatheist  |  April 12, 2007 at 6:25 am

    truthbear,

    Even within the context of Christianity, your idea of “extreme heat” is a gross misinterpretation of the Bible. See A Case Against Hell written from a Christian perspective. You blog states that you’re out to expose “false preachers, false teachers, false prophets, and false doctrine.” Start with exposing yourself and this doctrine that reduces Christianity to a fear based religion and really hurts your religion overall.

    aA

    Reply
  • 13. agnosticatheist  |  April 12, 2007 at 6:35 am

    Matt,

    Whether you believe “God” placed that mechanism in us or the evolutionary process, my point was that I agree that it’s there. As I stated earlier, for me, it was my belief in God, that helped me on this path. However, I discovered later that the God I believed in was nothing like the true God of the Bible and for that, I am very happy.

    What difference does it make if our Creator is a being that man creates to satisfy our own needs or the evolutionary process?

    aA

    p.s. If you’d like to blog, let me know and I’ll help you get one set up. It’s pretty simple actually.

    Reply
  • 14. unitedcats  |  April 12, 2007 at 7:51 am

    Please, God gave us an infinite amount of choices. “believe as I say or go to Hell” isn’t a choice presented by God, it’s a choice presented by people who are so unsure of their own faith that they have to threaten people to get them on board. Satan does his finest work in the name of the Lord.

    Reply
  • 15. truthbear  |  April 12, 2007 at 9:13 am

    atheist;

    I understand that you do not believe what the word of God says…It is not what I say, but what the word of God says….I simply asked you if you liked extreme heat, however, you become defensive…You can deny what man says, but you cannot deny what the word of God says….

    Being you call your self an atheist, then you do believe something…There will be no misinterpretation when the Lord comes to judge the people of the world…”ALL” workers of iniquity will burn in hell forever and ever, and that’s not my word, but the word of God

    Believe it or not, it’s your choice, it’s your own free will…I have been called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to every creature…It is not God’s will that any should parish,but to come unto Repentance…I come not to threaten, but to preach the gospel…

    Give yourself over to God before it is to late…

    HAVE A BLESSED DAY;
    TRUTHBEAR

    Reply
  • 16. mysteryofiniquity  |  April 12, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Truthbear,
    Can you prove that the bible is the “word” of God without quoting from the bible?

    Reply
  • 17. agnosticatheist  |  April 12, 2007 at 9:33 am

    truthbear,

    Do you really believe that the Bible is “The Word of God?” Have you read the Bible? Here’s a good sample of the actions of your loving God. Of course, since you seem to be a hell-fire breathing fundie, you may give him a hi-five for these actions.

    Did you read the link on hell I posted in my previous post?

    BTW, what makes you think I’m a “worker of iniquity?” Iniquity is defined as “gross injustice or wickedness.” Last time I checked, I try to stay pretty much “iniquity free.” Do you?

    aA

    Reply
  • 18. agnosticatheist  |  April 12, 2007 at 9:38 am

    UC,

    Please, God gave us an infinite amount of choices. “believe as I say or go to Hell” isn’t a choice presented by God, it’s a choice presented by people who are so unsure of their own faith that they have to threaten people to get them on board. Satan does his finest work in the name of the Lord.

    Don’t you wish there was a way that you were not painted with the same stroke as “truthbear.” I remember in my final season as a Christian, I was so wishing I could find a different word to define myself.

    aA

    Reply
  • 19. unitedcats  |  April 12, 2007 at 10:00 am

    I call myself a Christian Witch, which pretty much instantly separates the wheat from the chaff when I meet another Christian. Real Christians aren’t fazed at all by the term and often have a lot of interesting questions, the Satan inspired (not that I really believe in an evil God, give me a break) fundies have coniptions de merde. Intellectually of course I am an agnostic, since the existence of a supernatural being by definition cannot be proved or disproved empirically.

    Reply
  • 20. agnosticatheist  |  April 12, 2007 at 10:51 am

    UC,

    I find it interesting that you believe that the Fundies are “Satan inspired.” If Satan is the representation of intolerance, bigotry, misogyny, etc. I would have to agree with you,

    aA

    Reply
  • 21. truthbear  |  April 13, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Atheist;

    I indeed have read the bible and more than once my friend….I want to thank you for calling me a hellfire breathing fundie…I believe that the bible is the inspired written word of God and all who follow the word of God shall live for an eternity in the kingdom of heaven, and all those who are in rebellion will perish and burn in hell forever and ever, then hell will be thrown into a lake-of-fire…

    mysteryofinquity;

    I do not claim to be a bible scholar, I am simply a man in love with Jesus Christ and his gospel and will follow him for the rest of my days because I am not ashamed of the gospel…Number 1# I have nothing to prove to you or anyone, God called me to preach his word and that’s what I will do… If that offends you, well, (S.A.Y.L) SORRY ABOUT YOUR LUCK…

    There is no need to prove God is real because the proof is right before your very eye’s each and everyday…You are living and breathing today, are you not? Your breathing the air that God created, your drinking the water that God created, your walking upon the earth that God created, and when you gaze up at the sky at night, you will see the moon and the stars that God created…

    Yeah, God is real! And you had better believe that the devil is real also, because he is waiting on people like you to come to his place in hell so he can torment you forever and ever….You do not have to except anything I say, you can deny what I say, but you cannot deny the truth (the word of God)…

    Atheist;

    God has given you choices, two choices, heaven or hell, God will not force you to live for him…Remember, you have free will….

    May you have a blessed day;

    Truthbear

    Reply
  • 22. Dan Barnett  |  April 21, 2007 at 8:37 am

    First, let me apologize to you for all those who will attack you for simply sharing your belief. They do not exemplify at all what being a Christian is. I am deeply embarassed to read some of the comments left on here by fellow Christians.
    That being said, You said you would live without judging homosexuals and girls who have abortions. That’s a great thing to do, but it appears that you see Christian as judging those people. WHen someone follows what Christ taught they don’t judge a person for what they did. They judge the action. I believe the homosexuality is a sin, yet they are no less of a person than I . I believe abortion is one of, if not the most dispicable sin one can sommit. It’s down right discusting and apalling. It is 1st-degree murder of an innocent life that can do nothing to defend itself, and the government see no obligation to protect it. However, my heart goes out to those who have had this done. God still loves them and longs to hold them.
    My purpose of this comment actually isn’t to write about that. If you are open to truth, whether your view is right or mine is, I would like to recommend a couple of authors to you. One is Lee Stroebel, and the other is Josh McDowell. Lee has written a series of books “The Case For…..” The one that is most helpful is “The Case for Faith.” Josh’s first book he ever wrote is one of the most beneficial he has ever wirtten, “The New Evidience That Demands a Verdict.” Take the time to read these and if you still disagree, so be it. I’ll still keep you in my prayers.
    On the whole Jeremiah thing, God’s ultimate goal in all he has ever done and will do is to bring glory to himself. There are may times in the Bible when it seems God has just thrown his people to the wolves. He allows these things t happen that his people will return to him and he will be glorified even more. I believe that God has good plans for you, but outside of him they will never be realized.

    Reply
  • 23. Dan Barnett  |  April 22, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Truthbear, you do more harm than good. learn when to be quiet. You type before you think. All you do by your comments is make yourself look like a cocky fool. Please just be quiet until you have something of substance to say. This is from a fellow believer. Stop!

    Reply
  • 24. MTran  |  April 22, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    If your an atheist, why don’t you deal with other religions as well?

    Most of the people posting and reading here probably come from a European ancestry and culture with Christianity as the main or sole religious experience.

    Few people have in depth knowledge outside the areas of their own experience or study. There is no reason, for example, to expect someone who was not raised Hindu and has not lived in a Hindu culture to be able or interested in addressing the details of that faith.

    aA’s experience has been in the Christian religion and culture so it is natural and understandable that aA would focus on that religion.

    Why do you even bother posting on a site that does not interest you? Why don’t you go to sites that question the Hindu faith or the Sihk faith or any other faith you don’t like?

    Reply
  • 25. mysteryofiniquity  |  April 23, 2007 at 7:51 am

    Truthbear,

    Oh, I’m not offended anymore by Christians like you. I pity you and feel sorry for you. I hope your “loving” spirit for the Lord will be a shining example for all to see.

    Reply
  • 26. Karen  |  April 23, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Dan:
    I am deeply embarassed to read some of the comments left on here by fellow Christians.

    Dan, why is it, do you think, that so many Christians can be boorish and embarrassing even to their fellow believers? The bible promises that believers will manifest the “fruit of the spirit” – i.e., peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, love, joy, et al.

    Do they not have the power of the Holy Spirit guiding them? If so, why do they often behave in such a nasty, offensive manner as we see on this thread? I’d go so far as to say that I don’t see online Christians in general behaving one iota better than atheists, Muslims, Jews or any other group.

    Is that “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” promise another bible verse that sounds good but doesn’t come true in daily reality? Or do you have another explanation, if you’ve thought about it? This was a big question for me as I parted company with religion.

    Reply
  • 27. Dan Barnett  |  April 23, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    Karen, you raise a good and troubling question. My personal belief is that these failures on the church’s behalf play a big part in many walking away from Christianity all together. I’m deeply saddened at this reality.
    The Bible, from my understanding,doesn not promise that we will always expound in the fruits of the spirit. It commands us to live that way. One thing that I am noticing is that we want Christians to be perfect like God, and we try to explain God as if he is as low as humans. When you put an impossible expectation on someone, they will fail you every time. I do believe that Christians have the Holy Spirit inside them, yet at times we choose(against what we know to be right) to act according to our flesh and not the Spirit. Paul addressed this issue directly with the church in Corinth. If I may ask, what Christian denominatio/background did you come out of? I think that some of the more charismatic take the Bible completely out of context and put extra-biblical ordinances and practices into Christianity.
    What is the most troubling to me is the ginormous lack of true discipleship in the church. Jesus last words in Matthew 28 were to go and make disciples of all nations…..teaching them observe all that he had commanded. Christians get so wrapped up in trying to persuade unbelievers and ‘save’ them, that we miss the point he was making. The Bible says it is the Holy Spirit that convicts and saves. We cannot do that. I cannot ‘save’ you. I can teach and share my beliefs, but my job is to spread the word and teach those who will listen. Sure I am frustrated and embarassed by these failures in the church abroad, but I see it as a problem to address and not walk away from. I really do appreciate your question. I think you ask that on behalf of many more people than you think.

    Reply
  • 28. unitedcats  |  April 23, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    Why would Christians as a group behave better than any other large diverse group? We’re all made in God’s image.

    Reply
  • 29. MTran  |  April 24, 2007 at 1:38 am

    One thing that I am noticing is that we want Christians to be perfect like God, and we try to explain God as if he is as low as humans. When you put an impossible expectation on someone, they will fail you every time.

    I think Dan Barnett is onto something here. When I was a young believer, we were told that god was impossible to describe or understand, then people would do their best — or weakest — to anthropomorphize god.

    Perhaps there are few easy ways to describe something that is inexplicable, and the churches I attended were better than many others in this regard, but the god of the bible generally comes across as no different from any other ancient god, or as they used to say on the tv “Legends of Hercules”, petty and cruel. Or simply unpredictable and unstable.

    With that as the anthropomorphized godly “ideal,” it might then be easy for already less than ideal followers to emulate the harshest, nastiest traits.

    Or perhaps it is the (sub)population of believers who are themselves rather angry and spiteful that tend to interpret god in that same mold, as a way of vindicating their own bad behaviors. If enough like-spirited believers gather together, they can perpetuate harmful ideas cloaked in pious phrases.

    I dunno, I’m no psychologist but if I were, I think it would be an interesting area of research.

    Reply
  • 30. MTran  |  April 24, 2007 at 1:54 am

    We’re all made in God’s image.

    Now this is a phrase that I think is terribly abused, often by those who are enraged by the idea that humans “evolved” from an earlier primate ancestor. They don’t think god’s image should look like any primate other than a modern human, therefor they “can’t” be the descendent of some icky ape like creature.

    Isn’t this silly?

    What is an “image”? It’s something that captures, at best, a superficial resemblance to another thing. Rather like the image in a photograph or reflections in a mirror. And since god is incapable of being described in physical terms, how could any visible “image” reflect god’s appearance?

    Now some denominations take this language in a very metaphorical sense, which seems much more reasonable and more explicable. But there are those who stick with the notion that human beings have pretty much the physical appearance of god.

    They may say they don’t think humans look like god, but when they claim that non-human primates can’t possibly be our ancestors because god doesn’t look like those primitive creatures, I think they are totally confused about the meaning of the word “image”, the implications of evolution, and their understanding of literary metaphor.

    Reply
  • 31. Robin  |  April 28, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Karen & Dan…

    I see Athiestagnostic’s departure in a different light. I see that he is actually leaving the religion of Babylon for a real relationship with God. When Christianity became a state religion, it borrowed much from paganism – the church being an actual building, instead of a metaphorical body of people, each taught by God, and the priest hierarchy system. More and more people are leaving Babylon to walk in Truth before their god, taught by the Spirit, not what scholars and priests say… people are becoming the real bride of Christ, their hearts truly on fire for God – not for judging others, but letting god perfect their own spirit.. Amen! For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God:

    “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

    Don’t it just give ya chills?

    Reply
  • 32. Dan Barnett  |  April 28, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    Robin,
    Though I appreciate your enthusiasm, I think you’re totally missing what Aa has said he believes.
    You say since Christianity became a state religion…. I can think of one country who holds Christianity as a state religion, and that is all. True in history rulers have tried to make it a mandatory religion. Jesus told Peter that on him, he would build his church. The true church is not a building. I don’t know if you’re stating it is or saying that it has become that to too many. The Catholic church practices this preist hierarchy not the Christian church. There are some denominations that have alter boys, and things of the such, but they are not a rank as in the Catholic church. There is a set order of leadership in a local church, but as laid out in Paul’s letters. It isn’t a hierarchy at all. There are leaders(pastors, elders, overseers, bishops) who are put in their “offices” by the church, but they are done so as the Bible teaches.
    Now, you say that people such as Aa are leaving the church and becoming the true brides of Christ. I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but from what is discussed here by Aa and his peers you can’t be farther from the truth on that. You cannot be the bride of Christ if you deny who he is. The Bible makes it very clear that there is one way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ. If you deny that he is God, I mean come on.
    Secondly how can you follow God by rejecting him as many on here show that they have. Aa doesn’t believe that the devil exists. People on here don’t believe Heaven and Hell exist. Many on here believe God is no greater or better of a being than Hitler.
    SO, to say that their departure from the church is actually what God wants is ridiculous. Maybe leaving a certain local body is healthy, but the church is called the Bride of Christ. If you leave the church how does that make you the bride?

    Reply
  • 33. Thinking Ape  |  April 29, 2007 at 3:58 am

    “Many on here believe God is no greater or better of a being than Hitler.”

    Ah, Godwin’s Law never ceases to fail. Dan, they make such comparisons for a reason and by not acknowledging this you commit the stereotypical fallacy that everyone attributes to Christians and politicians: you either attack the person or take the weakest interpretation of the argument and argue against that.

    “There is a set order of leadership in a local church, but as laid out in Paul’s letters. It isn’t a hierarchy at all. There are leaders(pastors, elders, overseers, bishops) who are put in their “offices” by the church, but they are done so as the Bible teaches.”

    I am not sure what aA meant, but I know that for any ex-fundamentlist easily sees the unspoken yet extremely powerful hierarchies in the Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist churches. This isn’t about pastors, deacons, and elders. This is about the institutions that have been created within the church as a whole. Look at the influence that people like Swindoll and Dobson have. Look at the examples you yourself gave: Stroebol and McDowell are practically quoted by every good high-school apologist around north america.These people are not scholars, they are charismatic leaders, the top of the food chain, bestowing their many wisdoms on the less analytical evangelical layperson.

    Reply
  • 34. Dan Barnett  |  April 29, 2007 at 8:06 am

    TA,
    HOw have I committed a fallacy. I was responding to a woman who seems to think that most on here believe in Christ but choose to follow him outside the church. I am not stereotyping anyone. Almost every pesron I have conversed with on this site refers to God as genecidal. That is the comparison to Hitler. I’m simply showing her through observation and discussion on here that she seems to be misunderstood. I am not attacking anyone at all. Her whole argument was based on this, so it isn’t the weakest part, by the way it wasn’t the only part of her comment I addressed.
    On the leadership, I wasn’t referring to Aa in anyway. I was referring to Robin’s comment:
    “- the church being an actual building, instead of a metaphorical body of people, each taught by God, and the priest hierarchy system”
    I was saying that the protestant church, typically, doesn’t accept this priest hierarchy as the Catholic church does. The he CC lifts these men up as holy as if they are a step closer to God. Stroebel and McDowell, are not seen as high ranking in the Church. They are scholars. And, people quote those whot hey respect and have learned from. Stroebel is a journalist who set out to get everyside of the argument he could. McDowell had just received his MA qand decided after achallenge to set out and find evidence to disprove Christianity. Both men found Christ through the process.
    Dobson, also a scholar, is not a ranking member in the church. He may hold a leadership position in his local body, but we don’t see him as a final authority. He is a psychologist who runs his own organization to help families grow closer to each other and Chist. These men are seen by the church as no different than anyone else but in their education and wisdom. They are not seen as a step closer to God. They are also not seen as authority over the evang. church.
    ” Look at the influence that people like Swindoll and Dobson have.”
    No one has said influence is bad. This just means they have lived in a way and displayed a wisdom that many respect. This just shows they are wise and good men.

    Reply
  • 35. Karen  |  April 29, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Why would Christians as a group behave better than any other large diverse group?

    Ummm … because they’re supposed to have the holy spirit indwelling them and endowing them with the fruits of that indwelling? There are many biblical promises about followers of Christ being united, loving and standing out from the crowd.

    In real life, it doesn’t happen, so Christians beat themselves up, believing they personally are not measuring up – when actually it’s the bible and the theology itself that doesn’t make sense.

    People are just people, it’s not their fault that they’re just human. Unfortunately, they want so badly to believe in a discredited theology that they take the guilt on themselves, which makes for a lot of unhappy, insecure religious folks. That’s my agnostic atheist take on it, anyway.

    Reply
  • 36. Karen  |  April 29, 2007 at 11:58 am

    My personal belief is that these failures on the church’s behalf play a big part in many walking away from Christianity all together. I’m deeply saddened at this reality.

    Dan, this seems to be a very common belief among Christians who are confronted with the uncomfortable spectre of people like myself who have left Christian belief (indeed, god-belief in general) behind.

    I really do not think it is true. I’ve worked with an online support group for people leaving fundamentalism for a couple of years now and I’ve read many, many stories of how and why people walk away from their churches. It almost NEVER is about “failures on the church’s behalf” or being treated badly by other believers.

    I’m sure aA and others here can comment also, but the catalyst for leaving Christian belief tends to be a very personal thing and tends to begin internally, rather than externally. Someone may have had doubts or questions for many years and successfully repressed them, then a life crisis occurs that forces all those questions to be re-examined. From there, it tends to be primarily an intellectual process, involving addressing (rather than repressing) questions, doing research and finally coming to some painful conclusions.

    So please do not be sad on behalf of the church, your fellow believers, or even for ex-Christians. For the most part, walking away is a highly personal journey that leads to much greater fulfillment, freedom and happiness in the long run.

    Reply
  • 37. Dan Barnett  |  April 29, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Karen,
    I’m not going to argue about this because you and I can go back and forth and get no where, simply because(atleast as I’ve observed, correct me if I’m wrong) I see God as holy and worth following and you don’t. Therefore we will nevr agree based on what lens we are looking through. I do welcome further discussion, but I fear it will get us nowhere. I appreciate your openness and straight-forwardness. I’ve learned a lot taking part in discussion here and will continue to. I’m learning more about what I could do better in my own life to show God’s love and reach to people with similar beliefs as you. So for that I thank you. Now, I do want to say something about your comment #33:

    “In real life, it doesn’t happen, so Christians beat themselves up, believing they personally are not measuring up – when actually it’s the bible and the theology itself that doesn’t make sense.”
    You are right that it doesn’t always happen in real life, and we do believe that we don’t measure up. The Bible clearly says that in Romans and elsewhere. It seems that many perceive the Christian faith as one where you do it all, and if you don’t you’re doomed. When the Bible teaches the contrary. Christ said clearly that we can do nothing apart from him. It is the grace of God that makes up for our short-comings. If a Christian is beating him/herself up, it is because he/she doesn’t have a clear understanding of how God views them.

    Reply
  • 38. Robin  |  April 29, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    Dan, what I meant about being adopted as a state religion, I meant back in the year 300 by the Romans. Christianity was co-opted almost immediately by paganism.

    I am not worried about the salvation of any of the people here. I know it is god calling them out of Babylon. Questioning everything is the first step to building a real relationship with god, not on what other people say. You cannot live on a borrowed revelation. Not if you are a true seeker. I tried this and that, and nothing felt right. I wanted so much for it to. I tried what my friends did, what my family did – people I admired, but I still felt like something was missing. Then after a personal experience with the Pentecostal movement, I had what I like to call a spiritual bankrputcy. I said to God “Look, I don’t know if you exist… I think you do, but I’m not taking anything for granted. I’m not going to chase after you any more. If you want me, you will have to come and get me, because I do not want to take any more left turns.” And I left it alone. I did not read the bible, I did not pray, I just stopped. Then a couple of years later I took a philosophy class and was able to examine the questions of existence without all the emotionally manipulative language of religion. It was then that I was able to listen to that still voice in my heart, as to what was right or wrong. FOR ME. I found that god WAS talking to me, God WAS leading me… and this faith was REAL and unshakable. No longer was I praying every night asking God if I was good enough that day to go to heaven. Then I happened across some writings by a guy named Ray Prinzing – one book in particular called “Whispers of the Mysteries” and something happened that had never happened to me before. I felt the quickening of the spirit. Not agreeing rationally, but it felt like Truth I knew once and was being reminded of… deep in my spirit, tingling down my limbs. Then I went back to the bible and reread it, and it was as if the scales had fallen from my eyes. All the condemnation I had once seen with my religious eyes was gone. I saw God’s love, god’s majesty, God being ALL IN ALL. I was so full of joy. I knew then I had to test the spirit… I went to my beloeved and respcted and once feared grandmother who knew the bible inside and out. I felt for the first time we were sisters, not grandmother and grandaughter. Then I went to a Pentecostal meeting with a friend and I watched as people prayed in tonues and prophesied (all false, now that it is 20 years later and none came to pas!). I spoke up and gave my opinion, and they wanted me to sit in the middle of a prayer circle, I wanted to do it to test my new faith. They laid hands on me and I felt very warm and good, and the leader held my jaw and told me I had intellectual demons, and tried to exorcize them from me… she wanted me to pray in tongues as well. I let my jaw go slack and kept praying in my heart “Lord, let thy will be done, let THY will be done” In my heart, I just kept hearing God say to me “It’s my way or man’s way, my way or man’s way” and then it was over. I was so full of joy… they thought it was their prayers, but it was finally having my own relationship with God that no man can pull asunder.

    I know without a doubt that God loves every soul he has created and that every knee shall bend and every tongue shall swear, but it will be each man in his own order. So, I bless people who are genuinely seeking God’s voice. So what if they wander in the desert for awhile, it’s all part of the journey.

    I hope that helps you to see where I am coming from.

    Reply
  • 39. Dan Barnett  |  April 29, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    It does somewhat, but I think you showed the difference i on a lot of things. When people like the PEnt. church make it about us seeking God, it breaks down, because it is not us who seeks him, but he who calls us to him.

    Reply
  • 40. Thinking Ape  |  April 30, 2007 at 12:49 am

    Dan,
    A genocide, by definition, is the deliberate killing of a large number of people. Whether this is justified or not by a divine or human being is not a qualifier in the definition. Unless you completely deny the account of God’s spirit directly snuffing the life of every Egyptian firstborn, then God must be labeled as such. The discussion is not whether God is what we humans call genocidal or not, because “he” is, it is whether it is okay for “him” to do so.
    The logical fallacy, however, comes not from your apparent denial of a genocidal God, like I said, but by your comparison as though it meant something meaningful. You did not bring up Stalin, Milosovich, or Pol Pot, you chose Hitler. Why do you suppose you chose Hitler?

    As for the hierarchy, your introduction to Strobel, Dobson, and McDowell barely do these men justice. Many evangelicals, including myself, grew up on the words of these men and men like these. You appear to believe that because Protestantism lacks the episcopate that it does not have a de facto hierarchy. My entire point, which you completely ignored, was that the hierarchy takes a very different form – but it is still a hierarchy with even more power, constriction and bondage than the Catholic hierarchy. And what better force to do so than to set into place bondages with a books called the “Bondage Breaker” (N. Anderson) and “Right From Wrong” (McDowell).

    Reply
  • 41. Robin  |  April 30, 2007 at 6:51 am

    Dan agreed! HE is the Author and Finisher of our faith and all the way in between… it is God who wills. That is why I don’t feel any particular need to offer any correction – there is none needed. It’s all good…Think about the metaphor of leaving Egypt for the Promised Land, wandering in the wilderness, depending on manna, only enough to get you through the rest of the day…

    Reply
  • 42. Dan Barnett  |  May 3, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    TA,
    Sorry I’ve taken so long to get back to you.

    “The discussion is not whether God is what we humans call genocidal or not, because “he” is, it is whether it is okay for “him” to do so…”

    My point was that you seem to see him as no better than Hitler. I saw no need to bring up more people like Stalin. It was merely an explanation for the person I was responding to.

    “As for the hierarchy, your introduction to Strobel, Dobson, and McDowell barely do these men justice. Many evangelicals, including myself, grew up on the words of these men and men like these. You appear to believe that because Protestantism lacks the episcopate that it does not have a de facto hierarchy. My entire point, which you completely ignored, was that the hierarchy takes a very different form – but it is still a hierarchy with even more power, constriction and bondage than the Catholic hierarchy. And what better force to do so than to set into place bondages with a books called the “Bondage Breaker” (N. Anderson) and “Right From Wrong” (McDowell).”

    First I am not trying to do anyone justice. I don’t need to build them up to make my point. The point with them is that they are men of influence. They are not constricting, bondage-forming leaders who dictate how Christians live their lives. Christians live their lives by what Scripture teaches. Books by these men and others are tools to help utilize the Bible. I do not live my life based on what any of these men or any other author say. Their books help me identify where I am in my life, but my life is directed by God and what he says. Since when is it bad to use an influencial book other than the Bible to gain practical insights on life?
    “Bondage-Breaker” is a book for people struggling to feel free from sin. It is a tool that gives Biblical steps to break the bondage of sin. How does this set up constrictions for Christians?
    “Right From Wrong” is a book written to help Christians find absolute truths and hold to them, and it helps parents pass their beliefs to their children. How does this practial biblical insight and advice give restriction or bondage to me as a Christian?
    I didn’t ignore your point of hierarchy. I told you this hierarchy that you claim is more powerful than the Catholic version does not exist. This is just simply false. We have associations in certain denominations, but local churches are autonomous and use the associations and conventions for tools and resources. Do some of the groups try to dictate things? Yes at times. This doesn’t make them a constricting hierarchy, churches who do not 100% comply with what they try to “dictate” are not kicked out. Show me he evidence of such a powerful hierarchy other than a couple of books who seem to sound like they may be bad but aren’t.

    Reply
  • 43. Kelsey K  |  January 14, 2009 at 4:41 am

    MY BELIEFS EXACTLY.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  • 44. Gil Lederman  |  September 7, 2009 at 3:18 am

    Off topic – need help with email settings
    How do I change Gmails SMTP settings?
    Dr Gil Lederman
    Gil Lederman
    Gil Lederman MD

    Reply

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Agnostic Atheism Wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God, you will be judged on your merits and not just on whether or not you ignored the lack of evidence of his/her existence and blindly believed.

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