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Comments (184)

Bravo Chris. 

So interesting the comments about the willful blindness and selective memory that goes along with simply accepting religion as true.  So interesting how the proof of false messaging would cause a deepening of faith—(i.e., the magical spell didn’t work, thus, we must believe more).  The lie is insidious isn’t it.  That manipulation that starts while you are an imaginative child has deep roots that can take a while to untangle. 

I heard a friend tell a story about his child once.  His child was engaged in a project.  The father, an engineer, attempted to intervene and help the child see a different (a better way to do something).  The child said in effect, thanks Dad for your input, but I’m just going to listen to my own brain on this one.  That’s exactly it isn’t it?  Just listen to your own brain.  Not the voices that others try to insert in there.  Not the voices you imagine would tell you x or y.  What does your own brain tell you is happening around you? 

Score:  Brain 1; Mormanism 0.

posted on July 5, 2011
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‘Stop wanting to be right and start wanting the truth”

Hallelujah brother

posted on July 6, 2011
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Well done mate - inspirational stuff

posted on July 7, 2011
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Exceptional and definitely inspiring.  There are many people that could fully benefit from this simple video.  Welcome to the real world, the one without superstition, bias, and the BOOGEY MAN !

posted on July 8, 2011
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Sounds like when I starting leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses. You’re right Chris. It gets WAY better.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Very honest and open story. I live to hear these kind of stories. It only makes me wonder what its like to still live in ignorant bliss.

posted on July 11, 2011
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This is so inspiring to me.  I left the LDS church at a much younger age, I can’t imagine how hard it would be after you had already served a mission and been married in the temple.  Many of my family members are still LDS, I hope that one day that they will apply logic to their beliefs…

posted on July 11, 2011
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I grew up with mormons and fundamentalists as friends, teachers, community. I was taken to catholic church. They were all good people who were honest and worked hard to make a good life for themselves and their community.

I played backetball at the mormon gym, and one of my grade school teachers who was a mormon elder was a friend my whole life. One best friend went to Biola College when he grew up.

They all knew that I never had any belief in gods and devils or heavens or hells at all. And it did not matter then.

Today there is much more judging, it seems and people have to have their own camp to hold to and not accept others because they believe or don’t believe something. Too bad.

Many TV shows and books and political speeches talk about how fear is the worst motivator of the bad things the people and governments do. I would not say that. Faith is the worst because it makes people so blind and closed off.

posted on July 11, 2011
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What an absolutely glorious video.
I used to think I was missing out on something that faithful people had because they could close their eyes and live in their own world. Now I see that assumption was wrong, and it’s a wonderful thing to be wrong about.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Religion - the greatest con. It really is so unfortunate. It is also astounding how many seemingly intelligent people still buy into it.

Excellent video, Chris. So many good, honest, sincere, well meaning people are loyal to a faith. They really want it to be true - it is so comforting to them. Then, there are some who begin to test and question it. The good news is there are more and more of you each day.

Ultimately, turning away from faith and exploring life on its own terms is equally comforting. It’s a beautiful life filled with so many wonderful uncertainties. The only certainty is we don’t need faith in order to live ethical and moral lives.

posted on July 11, 2011
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11. Kathy Manzella

...I wanted to add that I LOVED your closing. It literally choked me up. lol. grin

Thanks.

posted on July 11, 2011
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great video - really inspiring, very brave

well done Chris

posted on July 11, 2011
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It takes an astounding level of courage to resolve cognitive dissonance by rejecting false beliefs especially if they are long held beliefs.

I had a group of students once play a ruse.  They came in one day and claimed scientists had discovered a whole number between 6 and 7.  It was “Bleam”. 

Distracted handing out papers, I played along and remarked how earthshaking such a discovery would be.  The whole class eventually was involved.  Some kids bought it whole-heartedly.  They could see the emperors new clothes.  I put seven tiles up on the overhead.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.  No bleam - see?  No whole tile between 6 and 7, but it was too late.  Several of the kids that bought in would not be swayed off of their new belief.  I wonder to this day if some of those kids still believe in bleam?

That’s cognitive dissonance - once you believe something, you refuse to believe that you could have been taken in.  With religious doctrines, you have to further accept that your fellow followers were taken in too.  That makes rejection of false ideas exponentially more difficult.  This is one of the reasons religion persists.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Your joy at realizing there was no satan is exactly what I felt when I stopped believing. It was the greatest feeling ever, as he was terrifying to me as a child and also as a 33-year-old woman. Also, the stifling guilt of endlessly disappointing god if ever I fell short of his command, no matter how slightly, in action or thought, was gone as well.

And I also felt the importance of life magnified, which was against what the church had told me was the case with non-believers. If this is it, I want to enjoy it and am even more driven to be good to everyone around me, because this is all they get too. I feel like I’m truly making every moment count for the first time in my life.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Bravo!  As an exmo myself I know how hard it can be to leave the church.  You have the fear that everybody you have ever known will cut you out of their life.  Most people will only pray and not examine other lines of evidence, but you had the courage to ask the tough questions regardless of where the answers may take you.  I hope others can be inpired by this and ask those questions for themselves.

posted on July 11, 2011
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I am an Ex Muslim. I testify, think and truly believe that everything Chris has mentioned in his video is true and that all religions are false. I want my testimony to be online for eternity.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Haven’t watched the video yet but I have to echo some of the thoughts on this thread. Life became so much richer for me when I walked away from the church. A new sense of purpose revealed itself when I knew that this was it.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Congratulations on turning your back on a superstition that convinced people in 2011 that they could come back from the dead.

Let’s hope America will escape this Catch-22 thinking one day holding them captive to blind faith and superstition

posted on July 11, 2011
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Awesome video! I often use the analogy of being in “The Matrix” when referring to pious individuals. Morpheus said it best when he said, “You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.” Glad to see you’ve been unplugged, welcome to the REAL world, that of reason.

posted on July 11, 2011
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20. Michael Caton

What an amazing story.  I could listen to these accounts all day long.  Thanks for sharing Chris (and Hassan and everyone else), I deeply admire you.  Please continue telling others honestly about your experiences.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Now I agree yet disagree at the same time. I believe that everyone should go live their own life completely and really find them but at the same time I believe in god, I don’t believe in any one doctrine or idiology, I believe in what I feel to be true, I still live life to the fullest and its very fullfilling. You don’t need a church to tell you how to live your life, but at the same time you don’t have to just up and abandon what you believe in because life is fullfilling enough. Just get up go do what you want to do, go see the world, write a book, a song, or a paragraph of beliefs on a comment strip where everyone is applauding people abandoning their faith. It is not my place to judge any single person or group, nor is it yours. It is not anyones place to look at a mormon christian athiest agnostic lts muslim wikken or any religion and tell them they are wrong, life is your own and thus their life is their own, so everyone keep your opinions to yourself, let people believe what they want to believe. Just because your life is more fullfilling now, doesn’t mean theirs will or won’t be.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Thank you for your courage and willingness to share your personal journey.

posted on July 11, 2011
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religion makes the most intelligent of human beings act insensitive and ridiculous in the name of faith!

posted on July 11, 2011
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I wonder if the “It Gets Better” campaign could expand into stories like these. That’s such a great slogan that has resinated in the LGBT community and could do wonders in this community as well.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Great video, Chris, and a great series. I believe Chris’s brother is responsible for these “I Am an Ex-Mormon” videos and they are all excellent. And I’m thrilled to see Sam Harris put this out on his FB page. Mormonism is a very difficult faith to leave, and yet its truth claims are so vulnerable to scrutiny and reason. Definitely a religion the world would be better off without.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Dawkins writing to his daughter warned her to beware Tradition, Authority and Revelation. I’ve not found anything so inspiring to a young person. Well spoken Chris. This wake-up call will be so useful to others recognising that they are being conned.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Your message brings to mind my understanding of the Kalama Sutta ... “But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and then accept it and live up to it.”
Also, your use of water, “as a water- vessel is variously perceived by beings ... Nectar to celestials is for man plain drinking water ...”
My journey included a questioning of sin being defined as “missing the mark”, who or what defines the mark? 
While I have been away from the church for many years I still find that it’s principles as my family of origin absorbed them continue to color my understandings; I.e., the belief that my faith, my righteous intent will undo the permanency of death and grant me my selfish desire to no longer be punished by the guilt for not “meeting the mark” of faith.
May you find the comfort of peace within your journe

posted on July 11, 2011
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I love how you spoke about finding your genuine self after you left your faith. I am an ex-Christian and can relate to that feeling. My sense of self is getting stronger all of the time and it is wonderful! I haven’t attributed it to leaving Christianity before but now I am pondering if there is a connection. Thank you so much for sharing this. I really enjoyed listening to your story.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Congratulation!! The Truth has set you free!!

posted on July 11, 2011
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I’m an active (attend church weekly) mormon and related deeply to this story. Especially the bit about “stopped judging others” when you stopped believing. The change is palpable… I know just what you mean. I’d be curious to hear the rest of the story… your wife’s response, your children and extended family’s response, how exactly did you extricate yourself from what can be a life-encompassing web?

posted on July 11, 2011
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I relate to this story in many ways: it is my experience with LDS Mormonism as well.  I confess I am still stumbling around in the loneliness.  I have a hard time trusting institutions, and individual people whose primary relationship with me is institutional.  That said, I too felt really, really happy when I realized Satan was not a real being.  I love not having any moral imperative to go around judging people or holding opinions that don’t make sense (to me) because somebody else said to.

Thanks for sharing your story.

posted on July 11, 2011
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32. Chris Johnson

Good question Ryan, I am the one in the video, and I am assuming you are doubting your LDS faith? But now you are unsure of the consequences of leaving it? The hardest part for me was that of being judged and misunderstood by those closest to me. Looking back, my best advice is to go slowly and plant the seeds of “reason” in the hearts and minds of those closest to you BEFORE they discover you have figured it all out. Otherwise everything you say to them will be ignored and labeled “from the devil” or “from an apostate” etc. Go slowly and don’t force anyone to change. Give them the freedom and elbow room to grow out of the delusion naturally. If they (ie. your wife and family) discover the truth on their own, then you’re HOME FREE! Then you can take your family and get out of there wink

posted on July 11, 2011
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Yes… it’s taken the better part of two decades, but I haven’t believed for years now. Still sort of stuck though, for many of the same reasons you list in your video. In my case, geography also has a lot to do with the consequences of leaving. (I think you can guess what state I live in!). lol. But it’s good advice, to go slowly.. hope they can see it for themselves. Thanks. Great video. I already thought of asking certain people to watch it, so they might understand where I’m coming from.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Love your story, Chris.  I’ve lost my faith as well and it’s good.  Credulous no more, free to life fully!  Life is great!

posted on July 11, 2011
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35. John Caldwell

Thank you for sharing. When I resigned my membership, it was one of the most blissful days of my life. I don’t know what lies out there for me, but I am free of the muck!!

posted on July 11, 2011
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Amazing.  Watching this video of Chris describe his journey is so similar to my own experience it would almost feel eerie, except that this is basically the same story I hear, read, etc., from other adult ex-believers all of the time.  It is a long, excruciating journey that always begins with one question and inevitably ends with one answer.  But between the two is a myriad of confusion and questioning that causes one in the midst of it to think there may never be an end to the rabbit hole they’ve been led down. 

When some clarity is finally stumbled upon - and I say ‘stumbled’ because I believe that for most of us, it’s a truth we already pretty much knew but had not yet accepted - there are initial feelings of anger and resentment, but those are often quickly replaced by an overwhelming sense of calm and unimaginable relief.  The weight is lifted, the curtain is pulled back.  Suddenly, as Chris here describes, there really is no ‘boogeyman.’

While I am frequently (and recently) described by those who know me as a little too ‘cynical,’ I think that is often due to a misunderstanding of my spirituality or lack thereof.  I am truly hopeful despite past negative experiences, deeply optimistic despite evidence to the contrary, and most of all overwhelmingly grateful of every bit of life I’m fortunate enough to experience.  Life at times can truly suck – that really is the only fitting word to describe it.  But even life at it’s suckiest is often better than the alternative.  And, knowing that these moments are all we have instead of building up points to cash- in for some absurd version of eternity, causes me to try my best to appreciate every day to share that with everyone I encounter.  As I said I try, not that I always succeed.  wink

posted on July 11, 2011
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37. Gary Llewellyn

Wonderful presentation Chris.

  I’m truly sorry that you had to experience so much sorrow at so young an age to finally rediscover yourself.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Beautiful.  The last five minutes were incredible.  I have been through this myself and I understand exactly the process to go from unquestioning believer to a rational atheist.  Thank you for your story!

posted on July 11, 2011
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I also went through this myself, from Orthodox Judaism to rationality.  For me, the key observation that started the house of cards tumbling was that if I’d been born to different people, I would be just as certain of a completely different and contradictory set of beliefs.  I still for the life of me can’t understand why this isn’t more of a red flag to intelligent believers, of which there are a surprising number.

posted on July 11, 2011
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When the first con man met the first grieving man, then religion was born ...

posted on July 11, 2011
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I feel for you. I also left the LDS Church. For the most part, these are not bad people (can’t say the same about many other churches), Just want everyone to know that.

posted on July 11, 2011
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This is so similar to my experience of becoming an ex-Lutheran its eerie.  One of the hardest things to explain to Christians about my own transformation is how life is so much better now that I’m free of religion’s chains and how I actually care more about life and living and making the world a better place.  As a Christian you care more about the next life; as an ex-Christian its all about living now, for myself and for others.

posted on July 11, 2011
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Great video - though, as a canadian raised catholic who followed the thread of doubt out of the maze of myth in grade 9, I admit I was kind of surprised religion this ... raw ... was that widespread amongst adults.  Up here, it was always more of a metaphor-seasoned social club.

Regarding another comment:

“It is not anyones place to look at a mormon christian athiest agnostic lts muslim wikken or any religion and tell them they are wrong”

Yes it is.  Truth is better, no matter what. 

Because even if one person finds comfort in the lie, their kids might not appreciate the mental straightjacket, and it is literally slowing down the progress of civilisation.

One adult believing in Santa is an unemployable lunatic: a nation believing in Santa is a horrifying obscenity.

posted on July 11, 2011
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I’ll pass this gift of yours to others Chris.  There is an excellent book by Martha Beck, ‘Leaving the Saints’, an ex-academic who tried to work in the Brigham Young University and was confronted by the inconsistencies..  She then worked at unravelling the lies , as well as dealing with her own background, having come from Mormon aristocracy.  On her journey, she began to remember her childhood, an awful tale.  Her gift was writing the book, and continuing to live her life as a gift giver.

posted on July 11, 2011
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I’m sorry. I am so sorry. It’s obvious that the impact of losing your faith and loved ones are still there. A while ago my friend, whom is Christian, met a young man who had became an atheist the day before. When I found out I told him that I was sorry. My friend asked why I said I was sorry. I told him I was sorry he lost his faith. He was puzzled as to why I, an atheist, would say that. And I just told him ‘because it hurts’.

posted on July 11, 2011
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As an ex-Seven Day Adventist this testimony reflects the pain of deception I experienced. I wasn´t sad, I was ANGRY!... My life now as an atheist is full of gratitude, love, devotion, peace…something I never felt in religion… YES, LIFE GETS BETTER!

posted on July 12, 2011
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47. Craig Fairweather

That is fantastic Chris. thank you so much for your clarity, humanity and bravery. You story really speaks to my experience as an ex-christadelphian. ALL THE BEST TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

posted on July 12, 2011
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48. Richard Cook

This is an awesome video and I really resonated with the ideas.  My experience in leaving the Mormon Church was different as I was a convert of 5 years, but my faith was still strong, and my leaving still revolved around that truth test Chris talks about.  Truth was primary for me.  Thanks!

posted on July 12, 2011
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Dakota,

To quote a famous author, “Beliefs have consequences”.  Granted society should not jail or deny the freedom ‘believers’ enjoy, but in no way should you keep your opinions to yourself when others (believers) are in the public market shouting the importance of their belief.  Especially, when they are implying that any ‘other’ belief is wrong and will bring harm to you, especially atheism.

posted on July 12, 2011
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Wonderful stuff! It seems the entire edifice of Christianity (or any other belief system) is a giant defense mechanism against…what? Being a human animal subject to live and die as all other animals? A defense mechanism against death, when all is said and done. Even so, maybe there is a god, and maybe this is exactly god’s plan for all living things. But once we get over ourselves, and accept that we’re part of the wondrous richness of existence, and that this existence implies an eventual death, what need is there for belief in gods?

posted on July 12, 2011
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Can I ask why it is that those of you who have so courageously extricated yourselves report it being exceedingly difficult to explain why to members of family etc?

I mean there are hundreds of books detailing the very clear connections between credulity, hatred,  fear and cruelty etc. which constitute the volatile elixer of faith. The newspaper every day is largely a chronicle of the evil faith births the world over. Couldn’t one simply say, I have come to prefer morality to religion and go from there?

As a related question can I ask Chris, have you read Sam Harris’ The End of Faith? I’d love to know your reaction to it.

posted on July 12, 2011
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John - Nobody really likes the implication that they are axiomatically less moral because they believe (or don’t believe) in a religion. You may not be saying that explicitly, but you can imagine certain folks will take it that way.

posted on July 12, 2011
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Thanks for sharing that with us Chris, really inspiration stuff, you put a smile on my face today.

posted on July 12, 2011
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Before I give any comment I should confess that I am one of those deluded Christians you may have read about…

Although I have to commend you Chris for your courage to subject your beliefs to reasoned questioning, I would however want to suggest that in the end, it wasn’t the scientific method itself that proved conclusively that Mormonism is false. 

The scientific method, particularly the Popperian-esqe induction you describe, is very useful when determining water from acid, but I am not so sure that a scientific test exists that can tell anyone whether Mormonism, Atheism, or Christianity is true or not.  Science just doesn’t work that way.

And on the note about your mother believing Jesus spoke to her, I am not sure what it proves.  Maybe Jesus did speak to her and she did forget, how is that impossible?  Maybe in her grief she mistakingly thought she heard Jesus when she did not.  So what?

No person who believes in Jesus that I know of believes what they do exhaustively on the basis of such testimonials.  The Christians that I know are more prone to believe things about Jesus because the New Testament says things about Him.  Sometimes Christians such as myself listen to Sam Harris try to compare the gospel accounts about Jesus to say testimonials about Sathya Sai Baba and can only conclude that Sam Harris sadly has no idea what he is talking about…a point that Dr. Harris would probably take as a compliment!

In the Christian tradition one of our writers wrote “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  So that your discoveries and deliberations led to less fear for you, I think all Christians would say “Hallelujah!”.

posted on July 12, 2011
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CB:  First of all, my condolences in advance, as you’re likely to get a lot of not-so-positive feedback on your post!  Brave of you to post here….

My question to you is:  Why do you consider a bunch of 2000-year-old after-the-fact “testimonies” that have been translated, edited, and manhandled in various ways, such a golden standard of evidence that you’re willing to base your entire worldview on it?  Seems like it’s just as reasonable to believe in Zeus or Osiris.  The answer, I think, is safety in numbers, but as I’m sure you realize just because a lot of people believe something doesn’t make it true—I suspect you don’t believe Mohammed flew to heaven on a winged horse, even though over a billion people do believe this.

posted on July 12, 2011
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Ellen,

I believe the gospel accounts because I believe the Christian tradition when it says the gospels were written by eyewitnesses.  There are others, but I think Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History is a good place to start when defending such a claim.  I believe Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written by people who either knew Jesus directly or interviewed people who know Jesus (people think Luke’s gospel is based upon Jesus’ mother Mary’s testimony).

One thing that need to be rejected out of hand and immediately is any comparison to the Greek god Zeus or the Egyptian god Osiris.  This “comparison argument” has had several…equally flawed versions in atheist writings.  Whether it’s Bertrand Russell’s flying teapon, Richard Dawkin’s Flying Spaghetti Monster, or a comparison to Zeus or Osiris, the equivocation just simply doesn’t follow.  For one, they completely different god-concepts.  For all the comparisons Zeus and Jesus are different.  Osiris and Jesus are different.  You don’t have to actually believe in Zeus, Osiris, or Jesus to see that.

I also don’t think that just because any number of people hold a belief that that makes the belief true.  Billions may believe that Mohammed flew to heaven on a winged horse…but that fact alone doesn’t necessarily indicate or advocate evidentiary value at all.

So, I think my answer to your question would be that I believe what I do about Jesus largely because I believe that the gospel accounts were written by eyewitnesses who has a better vantage point to write about what Jesus did in history than probably you or I would.

posted on July 12, 2011
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You inspired me Chris! Superb.

posted on July 12, 2011
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CB:  Let me sum up your answer to my question—“I believe it because I believe it.”  Well of course that’s your right.  Just try to recognize there is no rationality there, just faith.  As long as you don’t try to impose it on me (by the various means the Christian right tries to use) it’s all fine with me.  Whatever gets you through the night, as John Lennon said.

posted on July 12, 2011
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No Ellen, I don’t “believe it because I believe it”.  I believe it because I think it’s true.  I think it’s true because I believe the gospels were written by eyewitnesses.  And of course you have every right to believe or not believe.

I think atheists need to differentiate between the rationality of a belief from the rationality or irrationality of a believer.  It isn’t rational to believe in married bachelors or square circles as beliefs.  I don’t understand how it is irrational to believe an event happened because someone wrote that it happened.  Granted just because someone writes that something happens, doesn’t mean that it actually did.  But I don’t see how merely believing something that maybe false means that the one believing is necessarily irrational or going contrary to reason in holding the belief that they do.

I agree with Sam Harris as he put it in Letter to a Christian Nation, one side (atheism or Christianity) is really going to win and one side is really going to lose.  On of the great things about being a Christian of course is to know that I am on the winning side! wink

posted on July 12, 2011
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CB:  FYI, it’s not Ellen, ellenberg is my last name.  But I guess I can answer to Ellen!

When I said “believe it because I believe it” I was actually just editing your actual words—you believe in the “eyewitness” accounts of miracles because you believe they were eyewitnesses who wrote what they witnessed.  If this isn’t “I believe it because I believe it” I guess I don’t know what is.

It is definitely irrational to believe some of the most amazing claims in history based on extremely flimsy evidence (actually I feel like I’m being very charitable calling it “evidence” given the total non-existence of a chain of evidence for the bible.) One of the main bases of rationality is the presence of a healthy BS detector.  Biblical claims wouldn’t even survive the most minimal of BS detectors from any objective mind.  Hence my belief that it is irrational.  Unless you consider the effects of extensive brainwashing from the earliest of ages confers rationality, which I guess is a point of view I can understand.

posted on July 12, 2011
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Ellenberg:

I think it is difficult to see the difference between saying a “believes something because they believe it” and fideism. 

When you write that “Biblical claims wouldn’t survive the most minimal BS detector from any objective mind”, I guess I am not sure exactly which claims you mean by “objective mind” or which Biblical claims you are referring to.

For Christians, I think the miracle par excellence is Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  The Christian claim is that God raised Jesus from the dead.  If however, one rules out God’s existence a priori then Jesus’ resurrection wouldn’t necessarily be irrational, just impossible because there would be no God to do the resurrecting.  The problem for the atheist is that no atheist can show by reason alone that there is in fact no God. 

Also when I say I believe Jesus’ rose from the dead because of eyewitness testimony, I of course am implying something about the eyewitnesses (ie they are credible).  I don’t think that saying eyewitnesses are credible is to itself merely repeat what the witnesses witnessed.  Those are two separate claim.  So I believe that Jesus rose from the dead, because I believe eyewitness testimony to that effect is credible.  And again that I believe the testimony credible is not on the face of it at all a product of the belief that Jesus rose from the dead.

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There is no “proving atheism”. There is a failure to prove, or persuasively argue for any of the thousands of gods which our (comparatively) ignorant ancestors made up. “Atheism” is open to any new evidence that arises. It is the theist making fantastic claims who better have some marvelous evidence for such astounding and improbable claims. Were waiting with bated breath CB…

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CB:  I guess I view the distinction you draw as just begging the question “why do you think the eyewitnesses are credible?”  So why do you?

Again, the irrationality is in deciding to use unbelievably flimsy “evidence” to support your most deeply-held beliefs.  Do you dispute that you are doing this?  If so, again, why do you consider your evidence so credible?  Do you really expect me to believe it’s not your faith, but reason?  If so, what am I to make of the billions of non-Christians—are they all irrational?  What do you have (for evidence) that they don’t have?  I could go on and on but I won’t.  grin

As to atheists being unable to show by reason that there is no God (which God, by the way—are we responsible for disproving each and every one of them?)—I agree with you, and every atheist I know of would agree with you.  It is, as you must be aware since you seem to be pretty cogent, not up to the unbeliever to disprove an assertion, it is up to the person making the assertion to prove it.  The reason for this is that it’s impossible to disprove a bulletproof hypothesis, which is common to all religions.  Disprove Scientology please.  Or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  Or Santa Claus.

This all goes back to the video we’re commenting on, Chris does a wonderful job of explaining the process of breaking out of the circular self-supporting reasoning of religion that eventually comes down to “it’s true because it claims to be true.”

posted on July 12, 2011
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Fantastic, Chris.  You’re a warm, intelligent, and brave man, and I’m proud of and happy for you.

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Man- If it was this hard coming out as an athiest, imagine how hard it’ll be when he comes out as gay. Thats a lot to cope with!

Good luck and god speed, brother!

posted on July 13, 2011
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He learned about confirmation bias. Bravo.

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Legion:

Thank you for bringing up confirmation bias.  Although I know what it is, you have sparked my interest in the principle once again.  Essentially, everyone with a personal belief can be said to have confirmation bias.  We as humans aren’t immune to our own ego’s, but most of us would like to pretend to be naive to this very fact.  Bravo

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John:  I think that if the atheist says to a Christian that believing in miracles is irrational because a priori there is no God, then the atheist does have a burden to show why a priori there is no God.  An atheist might say it is silly to believe in miracles for other reasons (ie the accounts of the miracles are obviously bogus or incorrect), but that is different than ruling out divine agency from the start.  I think everyone makes amazing claims, Atheists do, Scientologists do, Tibetan Buddhists do, and Christians do.  I think what everyone is really interested in is which claims are true and how do you know that they are true.  I myself am a Christian after actually being a Zen Buddhist and a Scientologist and have to say that comparisons between these belief systems is like comparing apples to oranges, ie the apostle Paul’s beheading under Caesar Nero is not the same as L. Ron Hubbard running from the Feds in a cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

Ellenburg:  I wouldn’t say non Christians are irrational for not believing in the gospel accounts.  I think the noetic category called “irrationally held beliefs” extends to thing that are by definition incoherent, ie square circles or married bachelors.  If a person were to claim that they met a married bachelor I would have to think that their belief is by definition irrational or at the very least incoherent.

I do not for a moment think that Christian theism is such a category, partly because the claims Christianity makes are total in nature.  (The same could be said for any other major world view, atheism included).  One question I would have is have you actually read any of the gospels in the Christian New Testament?  And if you have and found them to be “flimsy” evidence, on what basis do you derive your finding?  Even if it is granted that the gospel accounts are flimsy, that has no bearing on the question as to whether the events described in the gospels in fact happened.  It would speak more, I think to the evidentiary standards of the one relying on the gospel accounts as evidence for their belief. 

But as to why I believe the gospel accounts, I do because I don’t have any good reason to think they the writers are intentionally being deceptive or that the writers are prone to flights of fancy.  It should be noted that the history of Christianity theology is littered with folks who believed the gospel accounts to be true history, but ultimately held what would become heretical beliefs based on the same “evidence”. 

My point for Chris is that the science didn’t cause him to reject Mormonism, but rather the disparity between Mormon claims about Nephites and DNA and the plagiarizing of the King James Bible are what changed him mind.  I don’t see how those things are exclusively scientific.  Science may have provided the fruit of DNA evidence, but that is not to say that Chris’ new disbelieving about Mormonism was itself a product of scientific thought.

posted on July 13, 2011
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No CB, atheism is not a complete airtight system like scientology or christianity, it is merely the state of the evidence as it is. It is perpetually open to what is true, and certainly does not have anything like complete knowledge. (you seem not to have read anything by any..)

You mention not having any reason to suspect that the writers of the gospels could have motive for making things up.. THINK HARDER. This amounts to your finding that one out of millions of accounts of miracles is true because it seems to you more likely than that once again, humans made up myths which satisfied there ideas and aims at the time. Get this man some David Hume!

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John,

Although I am certainly open to discussing Hume, I think Thomas Reid and Kant did a pretty good job at dismantling the kind of skepticism he advocated.  Far be it from me to presume to add to them!

I guess I find no evidence to warrant the suspicion you seem to hold John.  It may be the case that the gospel writers had alterior motives, but there is no evidence they were trying to be deceptive or were attempting to write myths.

The problem with using Hume’s logic is that it cuts both ways on any claim.  By Hume’s lights I am just as much right to be skeptical that mythmaking caused the gospels to be written as you would be that they were.  But at the end of the day, because you don’t have any actual evidence to that effect, all skeptics such as yourself can do is shout “mythmaking!”.  My reply is “where is the evidence that the gospels are myths?”.  But then again, why would oneTHINK HARDER when one knows how to THINK SMARTER to greater effect?  wink

posted on July 13, 2011
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What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.

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Kevin would you include your own assertion in that statement?  If so then it can be dismissed without proof right? wink

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There certainly is evidence that the gospel writers were writing myths, (have you attempted to find any of this out?) It may be that they weren’t attempting to(as I’m sure there are followers of Sai Baba who are sincere, so what? sincerity does got guarantee veracity) but they certainly did. You should read some of the scholars who don’t begin with the conclusion that christianity is true, for example Strauss,Robertson, Drews, Bauer, Kaltoff, many others…

Here is a tiny sample, G A Wells discussing why it is that the epistels of Paul do not relate details of Christs supposedly earthly life, Virgin birth, miracle working, Sanhedrin trial etc “Since, then, these later epistles do give biographical references to Jesus, it cannot be argued that epistles writers generally were disinterested in his biography, and it becomes necessary to explain why only the earlier ones (and not only Paul) give the historical Jesus such short shrift. The change in the manner of referring to him after AD 90 becomes intelligible if we accept that his earthly life in first century Palestine was invented late in the first century. But it remains very puzzling if we take his existence then for historical fact.”

“The evangelists made Jesus say and do what they expected-from their knowledge of the Old Testament-that the Messiah would say and do; and many passages that in fact make no reference to the Messiah were nevertheless taken as messianic prophecies. thus, “then shall the eyes of the blind be opened” (Isa. 35) expresses the joy of Jewish exiles in Babylon at the prospect of release from captivity, but was understood by the evangelists as prophesying that the Messiah would cure blindness, which they accordingly make Jesus do.”—there is David Strauss writing in1835. Many scholars today are much more doubtful than the above quotes auger. I encourage you check some of it out, here is another short sample which will point you in the right direction:

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/g_a_wells/earliest.html

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John,

I have to confess that I am a skeptic of just about anything thing that called itself scholarship that came out of 19th century Germany. 

I agree with you that sincerity does not entail veracity (or even accuracy).  But that does not mean that a testimony can be factually true and intentionally sincere.  I think John’s gospel when he writes that “these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is *the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”  I think John is telling us why he wrote what he did.  That he wrote so that his reader would believer things does not in itself provide any demonstration that his account of things is inaccurate let along contrived.

Of course I reject almost everything in the Well’s quote because I do not believe anything in the New Testament was written after 90AD.  The German higher critical methods fail for the same reason that that country lost WW2…they convinced themselves of their own propaganda.  Why do we have to believe that some Germans writing in the 19th century had a better grasp of events that happened in first century Israel then authors who actually lived in the first century?  I believe the gospels because I think the authors really are reporting events that they either directly experienced or are reporting the accounts of others who would be equally qualified to speak to the events in question.  And I think that that is something anyone can do…no Hegelian idealism required! wink

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“Why do we have to believe that some Germans writing in the 19th century had a better grasp of events that happened in first century Israel then authors who actually lived in the first century?”  You must be joking. Because they used the methods of the historian; free inquiry, evaluation of sources, evidence based argument etc etc. rather than faith and superstitious hearsay. It’s something like the difference between Gordon Wood and Michelle Bachman for a start…

I can only note with dissapointment that you launch an ad hominem on one of the scholars I mention(there are many more modern ones who go further..) and ignore the evidence they spell out. These are only two sample quotes to induce you to read them at length. But alas, you can lead a horse to water..

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CB:  I really don’t get how someone as erudite as yourself can keep going without answering the simple question “why do you believe these fantastical 2000-year-old accounts?”  Let’s say I’m walking down the street and find two pieces of paper laying on the ground.  One is a receipt from my local grocery store, and the other is the written statement “I just saw a dead person brought back to life”, perhaps signed and dated by someone.  Do you think it is rational to treat both of these pieces of evidence the same?  Is this “evidence” of a true resurrection equal to the evidence that someone just bought something at the grocery store?  Sorry, I’ll believe the latter evidence, but not the former.  That’s what I mean by the irrationality of believing fantastic claims based on flimsy evidence, and I truly don’t see the difference between New Testament accounts and the piece of paper I just described.  There is not an iota of confirming historical evidence for either of them, just someone’s eyewitness statement.

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John,

An ad hominem is when you attack the person whose argument you think if false, rather than evaluating the actual premises of an argument and showing how the conclusion is wrong because of a fault found in one of the premises.  That’s what I did with Wells. 

The second of your quotes is I think most telling when he writes ““The evangelists made Jesus say and do what they expected-from their knowledge of the Old Testament-that the Messiah would say and do; and many passages that in fact make no reference to the Messiah were nevertheless taken as messianic prophecies. ”—Where does he get that?  How does he or anyone know what the evangelists did when they wrote their account?  Answer: he doesn’t infact know.  Instead he is offering a conjecture of his own which he then reads into the New Testament materials.  What Well’s is offering you isn’t an objective reading of the text…what he’s offering you is his own conjecture as if it were fact.

I also reject the notion that the gospel writers were doing something other than history when they composed their accounts.  There is in your comments I think, the implication that the gospel writers were not doing real history, that the did not employ free inquiry or evaluate their sources, (I don’t think whether they are crafting evidence based arguments is itself relevant because the gospels by my lights present themselves are more historical than polemical),  but where is your evidence that that is the case?  How do you know that Luke did not employ some stripe of free inquiry when he wrote to Theophius?  Tradition has it that Mark’s gospel is based on Peter’s account of things, how is that not evaluating sources?

I fail to want to drink the water to which you seem to want to lead because at the end of the day it leads to German idealists being German idealists…much like the circularity Chris freed himself from.  wink

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Ellenberg:

I think that in the scenario you described of finding two pieces of paper one about a person rising from dead and the other about grocery list you did not say why exactly you would reject the one about a person rising from the dead.

I think that there is a tendency to think that the receipt is evidence of an event that likely happened (ie you bought groceries), but I do not know why this has to be the case.  Again, I think if you believe that a priori there is no God, then no amount of written testimony will persuade you that God rose Jesus from the dead.
But here is it your a priori claim (ie that there is no God) that is itself being held on faith.

Atheists I think overlook the necessity of the point that their system is as totalitarian as any other.  While the scientific method may be enjoy open inquiry, atheism by definition, at least on the God question does not.  If you are an atheist, you have by definition closed, at least in your own mind, the question as to whether or not God exists. 

As to why I believe the gospels are true history, I want to just say, the end for believing the gospels is not to simply believe the gospels.  For Christians the gospels point to a Person who is quite formidable.  When Jesus says things like “Blessed are you when you are persecuted for My name’s sake”...that on the face of it is amazing claim.  But again, there isn’t a shred of evidence that the gospel writers were lying, were fabricating or myth making.  Those charges, I believe are made by skeptics and atheists out of a convenience and fantasy of their own.  The atheist doesn’t want a Jesus who said the things he did because it could imply the reality of an ultimate accountability they are simply not prepared to face up to.

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Why then does Paul and his contemporaries not know any of the astounding “facts” about Jesus? I think Wells conjecture the best explanation I’ve heard, but ‘m sure yours will be edifying. And why do you strain so hard to believe one set out of millions of (similar) claims about the suspension of the laws of nature both before and after Christianity? why in one case work to twist yourself into such contortions and casuistry? 

.. One way to know that Luke did not employ (some stripe of?) free inquiry is the spectacularly stupid conclusions he settled upon when so much better explanations beckoned..

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“While the scientific method may be enjoy open inquiry, atheism by definition, at least on the God question does not.  If you are an atheist, you have by definition closed, at least in your own mind, the question as to whether or not God exists.” This is of course, false. If persuasive evidence comes to light that there is a god, I will helplessly believe that it exists. You are right that I am relieved that there is none for Yaweh(so far), as he is such an evil monster, and I will indeed be stymied in his presence if called to account for why I sat camplacently by, failing to urge lapidation while my neighbors worked on the sabbath, and many other heinous crimes that Yaweh decrees.

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CB,

What a strange place for you to try to trumpet the credibility of “eyewitness” testimony in the Bible.  Pretty damn goofy actually.  I note that you write that you “believe” that the gospels are either eyewitness testimony or based upon eyewitness testimony.  And based on that, you just determine that it’s credible.  So called “eyewitness testimony” that is then recounted by someone else generally is referred to as “hearsay,” a kind of evidence that is almost always determined not to be sufficiently credible to be believed.  “I heard a man tell a story about how he witnessed a bearded dude raise a man from the dead.”  That’s what you’re talking about.  Furthermore, people who say they “believe” an “eyewitness account” usually have had the luxury of hearing that “eyewitness’s” account told first-hand.  That experience obviously comes with the crucial benefits of being able to observe the person giving the supposed “eyewitness” testimony, their demeanor, and such other lovely truth-supporting attributes like that the witness actually exists to give such testimony.  You have had none of these benefits. 

Furthermore, I was raised Catholic, and never once heard anybody detail exactly how it could be determined that what is written in the Bible actually is based on anything any real person actually witnessed.  What exactly makes you think anything in any of the gospels is actually a recording of “eyewitness testimony”?  What makes you think that anything in the Bible is actually a contemporaneous account of anything that actually happened?  Don’t point me to another “eyewitness” you believe saw some evidence.

Your argument is a “faith” argument.  It’s absolutely no different from anyone saying they believe the Bible as an act of faith.  You have just displaced your faith from the truth of the account to the reliability of the supposed witnesses. 

While you might not be a person who would mistake the menu for the meal, you might instead be a person who would try to devour the waiter’s oral account of the attributes of today’s specials.

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CB:  I think I’ll end my part in this discussion with this comment, as we’re not getting anywhere. 

I want to observe that you still did not answer the basic question of why you believe these fantastic claims.  Apparently if you found the piece of paper that I described you would actually lend it credence, which I find hard to believe but is your prerogative.  I will continue to find this irrational.

And as for atheists making claims and being closed-minded, that’s patently ridiculous.  I make no claims whatsoever about things I can’t possibly know about.  I am totally open to new evidence for a deity, and can think of a near-infinite number of things that could happen in the next 10 seconds that would cause me to instantly believe.  Can you say the same—can you name even one single piece of new evidence that would cause you to stop believing?  If the answer is “no”, then it is clear who is the closed-minded one.

Cheers!

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I guess while we’re at it, CB, you have cited no basis for your determination that the “witnesses” of Jesus are any more genuine or worthy of belief in their supposed accounts than any other so called “witness” of any other mystical tradition from the beginning of time.  For example, many of the inhabitants of ancient Egypt could claim to have seen with their own eyes a living god in whatever Pharoah reigned during their lifetimes.  Do you have any reason to disbelieve the account of any of those potential eyewitnesses?  If not, why then do you not believe in Horus, Nut, Geb, Osiris, Seth, Isis, Re and so on?

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Fabulous story, Chris.  I’m an ex-Baptist myself.  After I started questioning about 8 years ago, one of my Mormon friends told me what Mormonism was all about.  I thought it was so bizarre and silly.  Then I realized that every religion is bizarre and silly when you take a step back and look at the big picture.  It was then that my bubble burst, I was able to look at faith objectively, and I realized that I didn’t need to believe anymore.  I also got so excited when I realized there was no devil.  How freeing!

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Wow.  Lots of love from the atheists…

Let me try to answer these one at a time.

To John:  Let me try to address your objections by topic.  Namely Paul’s letters as providing (or not providing) biographical information about Jesus, One in a million again Nature’s Law, and Luke’s stupid obstinacy when other options beckoned.

First off, no one in the Christian tradition that I know claims that Paul’s letters to the various churches or to individuals (such as Timothy or Titus) were intended to provide exhaustive biographical information about Jesus.  One book I would recommend on the development of Christianity is Justo Gonzalez’s Story of Christianity.  What you will find there is the claim that Christianity was a larger than life phenomena in its day.  People from all walks of life, from slaves to merchants to Roman soldiers had actually seen Jesus of Nazareth do miracles and actually heard him teach. 

What Wells is doing is saying essentially that because Paul’s letters were written before the four canonical gospels they should’ve provided more biographical information than they do.  But why should they?  Christian history says that before Paul was Paul, he was Saul.  He wasn’t one of the early apostles or even a member of the early church.  Instead Saul was a convert well after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.  So if one can suspend judgement as to whether or not the resurrection even occurred, it is not at all difficult to understand why there would’t be as much biographical information in Paul’s epistles.  But for the record, some commentators think that Paul had some connection to Luke’s gospel.  If that is the case, then that might explain why Paul chose not to provide more biographical depictions than he did.

As to your second issue about why a person would believe gospel miracles accounts in the face of a million other miracle accounts, I guess I would have to know more about the particulars of the other alleged miracles.  But even if alleged million of other miracles did happen that doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on whether the gospel miracles happened.

I still maintain that if you are an atheist you have, be definition closed the question about God’s existence (that is not at all to say that an atheist is wholly closed minded)/  Of course as a Christian the question of God’s existence is closed for me too.  I just happen to think that there is a God.

As for these claims that Yahweh is a moral monster of somekind, you might want to take a look at Paul Copan’s book “Is God a moral monster?”.  It should be noted that Christians do not view the Torah as something we need to keep in order to satisfy our God.  Christians believe that Jesus kept the Torah perfect and offered Himself as an atonement.  If a person simply believes in Jesus’ atoning work they will be saved and spared from the wrath of God.

I don’t think you will be able to get any theist to charge Yahweh with committing any “crime” per se without it leading to a sort Euthyphro-esqe separation of the good from the right.

To Mike:
I guess I believe the gospels for the same reason I believe your self-report about being raised Catholic.  I don’t know you.  Have never met you.  So I have to take on faith what you tell me.  Why can’t a person do the same thing with say Matthew’s gospel?  I have never met Matthew.  I don’t know Matthew personally.  But that doesn’t mean I have good reason to think that my trust in Matthew’s account of things is spurious or wrong headed in some way. 

Finally to Ellenburg:

Because I think the claim that God exists is a more fantastic claim than the claim that miracles happened in first century Israel, I would just have to say I think it would have to be shown the God exists before it could be shown that God acted (ie as in a miracle).

But your question in so far as why a person should believe one text to be accurate over another is too general to be answered.  A better question I think would be to ask why believe Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life over say the account in the gospel of Barnabas?  That question has good answers for it, where as a generic question about why one should trust one arbitrary text over another is too generic to be adequately addressed.

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Mike,

I think I dealt with the “comparison argument/objection” above.  In short I would say, if you want me or anyone else to consider claims about “Horus, Nut, Geb, Osiris, Seth, Isis, Re and so on” you would have to provide me with a specific claim to consider.  All you have given me so far is hypothetical sources.  In contrast, I would commend to you not hypothetical sources, but actual sources, namely Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John when considering Christianity’s claims about Jesus. 

It’s not the strongest argument in the world, but I think that the survival of the Jewish people can be used as an argument for God’s existence.  Christians after all are not proposing the arrival of some new deity, but the supremacy of Israel’s God over all others.  Why is that if “Horus, Nut, Geb, Osiris, Seth, Isis, Re” are really gods that their followers can no longer be found?

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CB,

That was a totally pathetic response, which merely affirms that your position is a recasting of the same, tired blind faith argument every proponent of Jesus has to retire to when they realize their claims to truth have no genuine evidentiary basis.

Since you are already crediting me for everything I write, I now emplore you that the only “faithful” way to operate your car is to throw away the key, sit inside and heartfully pray to God that the car deliver you to your desired location.  You should do this because I heard a story told about a really holy guy, who some say was the second coming of Jesus, who said “he who throws away the keys to his worldly conveyances, and commits his faith that the Lord our God will deliver him to Denny’s for a Grand Slam, will not only receive the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, but will also dine on the Eternal Grand Slam at the table of God.” 

Bet you don’t throw your keys away though, do you?

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It is uncanny how close this story is to my own experience—at least in terms of why/how I tried so hard to “make it work.” Not to mention seeing other people leave the church only to be ostracized or even disowned by their families is very discouraging.

(I always found it hypocritical when, in an effort to show how good the Mormon church is and how bad other churches can be, some would share similar stories of people joining the Mormon church and go through the same kind of lack of support by their Catholic or Protestant families. Mormons are notoriously blind to two-way streets).

I went on a mission to post-communist Eastern Europe at the end of 2000, believing that I would finally get that “testimony” I had heard so much about. When I came home more knowledgeable, yet no more convinced than when I had left, I found my BYU experience to be awkward. However, because of certain events and pressures from family (and a lot of denial on my part) I STILL stayed with it until about a year after I graduated (incidentally, I was the Sunday School President for my ward). Regretfully, I wasn’t open about it with my family until a couple years later when my little sister told my mother she had become an atheist.

I agree that it does get better, but it still wasn’t easy for me. The hardest thing to swallow is that my mother seems to take personal offense to the fact that my sister and I don’t go to church, as if we are betraying or abandoning our enormous family. She will never fully understand my point of view and will continually try to save us until the day she dies.

On a lighter note, because of my job, I still live within the BYU “bubble,” which is loads of fun… lol

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Mike,

How is appealing to the gospel accounts not an appeal to evidence? 

Blind faith would be to say “Just believe” and that would be the end of it.  I am saying read a gospel or two first and then adjudicate the issue. 

As far as your car joke, I guess my reply would be: so what?  So a person has to use their car key to start their car and drive somewhere…I would submit to you that it’s because the universe has the ordering and regularity given by God that your objection has any basis to it at all.

posted on July 13, 2011
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CB,

On your witnesses, you have delivered nobody.  There’s nothing to prove that any of these supposed witnesses actually existed.  You refer to the Bible as proof of the value and truth of the Bible.  It’s circular nonsense.  Identify any contemporaneous record of Jesus that isn’t the Bible. 

There are countless records of the belief of Egyptians in their own gods.  Visit a museum and or Egypt.  You might encounter some of these records, and temples in the form of, I don’t know, the Great Pyramids.  But seriously, there are countelss, contemporaneous, scientifically dateable, verifiable records of ancient Egyptians documenting what to them were miracles of their own religious belief in the death and burial of Pharoah, and transition of the Pharoah into the afterlife.  You can literally go from one archaelogical site to another on both sides of the Nile and find entire kingly courts of people who were burried alive with their Pharoah because they literally believed that they were all going to the next world with their living god, who WAS Horus.  Do you need more of an “eyewitness” account than that to support the genuineness of the alleged observation or belief of the witness?  Because that’s what you claim is your reason for believing Matthew—his genuineness and the lack of a motive to lie.  I’m quite sure you will never find an example of a deeper commitment of the believer in the literal truth of his faith than existed through the type of “suttee” tradition demonstrated during Dynasties I through III in Egypt, yet you don’t credit any of it. 

Why do we not find any present day believers in Horus?  Well let’s start with the fact that ancient Egyptian religious mythology is nearly three thousand years older than Christianity, and let’s also not turn our backs completely on the historical record that actually can be demonstrated.  Egypt’s mythology subsequently was supplanted in its dominance as a mythical tradition by the “younger” myth and civilizations that came after it.  This has happened time and time again throughout history and the literal evolution of mythical traditions can be traced along with the evolution of human civilations from hunting, to agricultural, to the advent of the hieratic city state, where you first see the appearance in some places of the types of monotheistic traditions, which correspond to a need for societal leaders to draw governmental authority from some soure other than the people, i.e., a devine source.  The only reason Christianity persists today is because no other myth has been developed to replace it.  The other major religions that people practice are older than Christianity. 

The fact that the Jewish people exist is evidence of nothing.  Japanese, Chinese, and Southeast Asian people exist.  Is that evidence of Buddah?  Indians exist.  Is that evidence of Brahman?  Moreover, the Egyptian people persist, despite the demise of Horus, the Greek people persist despite the demise of Zeus.  So what is that evidence of—perhaps that their gods had nothing to do with their existence or persistance on this planet? 

Your aguments simply have no basis, not even in rhetorical devices.

posted on July 13, 2011
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What car joke.  What I said is literally true.  What reason do you have to disbelieve me?

posted on July 13, 2011
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As Christopher Hitchens said the fun thing about arguing with theists is that you never know what they’ll come up with next…

“no one in the Christian tradition that I know claims that Paul’s letters to the various churches or to individuals (such as Timothy or Titus) were intended to provide exhaustive biographical information about Jesus.” exhaustive? ha! mentioning that someone was born of a virgin and performed miracles rates top billing in the most cursory biographical sketch wouldn’t you say? I would hope my advocates knew to mention it. 

“As to your second issue about why a person would believe gospel miracles accounts in the face of a million other miracle accounts, I guess I would have to know more about the particulars of the other alleged miracles.”  Not much more. After all, you are aware that there is a figure named mathew, that he made spectacular claims, and since you don’t feel he had a reason to lie, lickety split you believe it! By that standard you should have no problem with other invisible skypeople. You should look into some of Mikes suggestions, they’re right up your alley.

“I still maintain that if you are an atheist you have, be definition closed the question about God’s existence” uh… ok, as you like it. yay!

“I don’t think you will be able to get any theist to charge Yahweh with committing any “crime” per se without it leading to a sort Euthyphro-esqe separation of the good from the right.”  Yes you’re right. This is one of the worst consequences of believing that things are only right because god wills it so. It is why devout Muslims believe a girl who is raped, should be comforted by being stoned. It is why christians(when they had the power to) covered people in lard and cooked them slowly for doubting christian doctrine. etc etc and on it goes…

posted on July 13, 2011
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Some interesting feedback here.

Mike,

I hope you reread what I wrote, because if you do I think you have a better chance of seeing that referring to the Bible or more specifically the gospel of Matthew is in no way, shape, or form a circular argument.  A circular argument is where you assume or smuggle in the conclusion into the premises of your argument.  Saying that I believe that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead because Matthew’s appears to have credibility is not an argument that invokes circular reasoning. 

And as to why I don’t believe in any of the Egyptian deities I would have to first reject the equivocation you make between Matthew’s gospel and whatever evidence there may (or may not) be in Egypt.  I think there are really only two major tracks by which you can contest my objection.  You can either propose an a priori metaphysical objection (ie there ain’t no God and there ain’t no Horus, etc) or you can propose an a posteriori objection (Matthew account of things isn’t as credible as Horus’ followers, for example). 

Because I defending the claims of Christian theism I think the short answer is that I think Horus’ followers or Pharoah’s followers were simply wrong.  But you aren’t offering me an eyewitness account to consider.  Instead all you are doing is citing artifacts that in themselves argue nothing. 

But again, this is, because you don’t yourself believe in any of the Egyptian gods purely a hypothetical objection (as opposed to an actual one because I could ask you why you don’t believe in them, either).

To John,

Why would Paul have to mention the virgin birth or any other details of Jesus’ life?  Just because Paul didn’t write of them, didn’t mean that Paul didn’t know of them or that he invented some.  Paul’s letters were written by a Christian to other Christians…if you aren’t a Christian they weren’t written for you anyway…

Also, because I believe in Matthew’s account of Jesus’s life, that doesn’t mean would just accept a proposition without good evidence. 

Plato’s Euthyphro doesn’t let the atheist off the hook eitherby the way.  If you say that something is right because it leads to a greater quality of life or greater pleasure you still will need some basis to make even that statement.  For Christians, our conception of the good is rooted in God’s nature, as opposed to God’s actions.  Rape is wrong because it is not in God’s nature to rape.  Those actions that are in harmony with the Divine nature are classed good, and those that are opposed are classed evil.

posted on July 13, 2011
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CB,
Now you’re just being ridiculous.  Matthew’s account in the Bible is an eyewitness account because it’s a written, serially republished text as opposed to an actual artifact of contemporaneous age with its supposed subject?  Egyptian artifacts also include texts telling the tales of their gods—the authors of which generally can be found buried with their “books”.  You can’t say that about your Bible. You can’t identify even an artifact of common existence along side Jesus.

You are the one who’s argued that Matthew is a credible eyewitness and your sole reason is that you have no reason to disbelieve him.  I merely argue that there are thousands of eyewitnesses of any mythic tradition for whom you also have no reason for disbelief.  You offer none. 

Obviously, I don’t believe in Horus or Jesus.  The evidence of the actual existence of either one is equally vacuous.  The existence of the mythology is, however, evident everywhere you look—and I think it tells us that Jesus is Horus, is Zarathusta, is Buddah, is the bear god of the early peoples of the arctic circle—that is they are all the same story told by all people from the beginning of time and they are all true in one sense—as myth.
I was wrong before, however.  You clearly are the type of person who would eat the menu mistaking it for the meal.

posted on July 13, 2011
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CB,

This is circular:  You only know the story that Jesus rose from the dead because it is written in the Bible, and you refer to the Bible itself as proof that the story of Jesus rising from the dead is true.

By that same logic, I know that there was once a great hero named Beowulf who tore the arm off of a giant monster with his superhuman strength.  I also know that it is literally true, because I read an eyewitness account of the events in the story called Beowulf.  Same guy swam in the ocean and fought like half a dozen sea monsters.  Didn’t walk on the water though. 

I also know that particularly devout believers in the “force” can move things with their feelings.  I know that it is true because I saw a video about it when I watched Star Wars.  The force thing is really, really true because there were like five more videos about it.  Some of the videos told more of the story that happened after Star Wars, and then some of the other videos told more of the story that came before the Star Wars video.  Thus, it’s pretty thoroughly documented.

And there you go. 

Thanks,

posted on July 13, 2011
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Mike,

I think in order to understand my argument would you have to accept the following premises.

1. At the level of content the information about Jesus is different than the information about other gods.  Certainly the Jesus story is different than Santa Clause, Horus, etc.  You don’t have to be a Christian to admit that.

2. The origin of our information about these different gods is different.  Ie.  Matthew writing his gospel is different than anonymous hieroglyphs about Horus.  Again, you don’t have to believe anything special about the origin of Christian beliefs to admit this.

3. These differences between both story content and information origin are such that the veracity of the claims have to evaluated on a case by case basis rather than painting with too broad of a brush.

4. Atheism has its stories and its origins of information too.  The premise that matter just sprang into existence and then just magically assembled itself is itself a story that needs to be subjected to the same tests of credulity.

I think if you really consider my premises the best you can claim is that I am being unfair in not giving stories about Horus or Beowulf equal footing as Matthew’s gospel…but you haven’t yourself shown why anyone should not believe Matthew’s gospel and it seems to me you have a burden to do so if you are going to lump Matthew’s story into the same category as Horus and Beowulf.  In short if you think Matthew’s gospel is a myth you have a burden yourself to explain why that should be. 

I did not at any point say that believing Matthew’s gospel is something that everyone must do or should do…evidence doesn’t always persuade people the same way…Matthew’s gospel persuades me because he was by most accounts an actual eyewitness.  Again there is nothing at all circular or irrational about that.  Making judgements about the actual happenings of events based upon eyewitness testimony is something people do all the time.  Why should it be any different when considering the gospel accounts about Jesus of Nazareth?

posted on July 13, 2011
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If rape is not in gods nature, why then did he recommend it to his followers? I suppose slavery is in yahwehs nature as well since neither he nor his kid ever mentioned any qualms about it?

posted on July 13, 2011
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John,

Where does God recommend rape to His followers?  Also, if you are referring to the provisions relating to slavery as found in the Torah, those were commands given to a specific people (ie Jews) in a specific place (ie Israel).  In Christian New Testament you might be interested to read the book of Philemon.  That book is written by Paul to a slave owner essentially advocating that his slave be treated well and be released.  You may also again want to take a look at Paul Copan’s book “Is God a Moral Monster?” as he goes into a much more thorough reckoning than I do here.

posted on July 13, 2011
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We don’t need that book of apologetics, we can consult the bible.

You are right, the Torah is a message for certain people, namely, slave-owning god intoxicated Palestinians. Why didn’t god command: “cease owning other people and institute democracy immediately you illiterate retards”?  Maybe something about germs as well…

posted on July 13, 2011
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John,

I am sure you are aware that when the Torah was written there were no “Palestinians” per se.  That title was a Roman way of calling Israel “Philistia”...it is actually a simultaneously an insult as well as a historical inaccuracy.  A person could speculate all day long, why God didn’t say things in Scripture.  But why not consider the things God did say and live your life on that basis?  You may want to change your mind and reconsider taking a look at Paul Copan’s book because it consults the Bible too…with a little more precision I might add than you did in your comments.  wink

posted on July 14, 2011
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