Dealing with Doubt

September 11, 2009 at 12:55 pm 36 comments

Part 5 of My journey into and, later, out of Christianity

It was my sister’s turn to ride in the front seat, so I climbed into the back. I wasn’t in the mood to talk, but that wasn’t unusual, so I sat quietly as mom backed the station wagon out of the driveway.

I was thinking about the doctrine of the virgin birth, that it was simply impossible for Mary to get pregnant without “knowing a man.” I wasn’t stupid, after all. I had read the booklet that my mother gave me about the sperm and eggs joining to form a zygote; I had taken health class in seventh grade. I’d already known everything in the booklet that Mom had given me, but I hadn’t told her that. She was trying to be a good mother, it wasn’t my place to tell her that she was too late to teach me about the birds and the bees. And health class came even later, when I couldn’t think of even one kid in my class who didn’t already know the material that we were taught. We may have been immature, giggling and blushing behind our text books, but we already knew where babies came from. So now, sitting in the back seat of the car, I couldn’t stop thinking that it was impossible for Jesus to have been born of a virgin, it just didn’t make sense. But how could I be doubting such a basic Bible story, one I’d been taught for my entire life, the single fact that was considered true in every church I’d ever attended? I’d known about sex for years, yet I’d never had a problem believing in this miracle before.

My head hurt from the frown on my face, my clenched teeth, and the intense concentration of my mind. I could not come up with an answer but I knew I didn’t want to doubt. I wanted to have faith, even faith as small as a seed that could grow into a tree. If I could only muster up a tiny bit of faith…. but no. The doubt, the science of reproduction, was prevailing over my thoughts. My heart started pounding in my chest, and my breathing got faster and faster. In a few minutes, tears started flowing down my face. I tried to cry quietly so my mother and sister wouldn’t hear me. But they were used to my emotional outbursts by then and probably would have ignored me anyway, after asking what was wrong and getting no response.

Inside my head I began chanting, “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief!” I couldn’t talk; my nose was completely stuffed up from the crying.

I felt like Thomas, who needed to see Jesus in the flesh after the resurrection. Thomas needed to touch the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side in order to believe. But God wanted us to believe without seeing. That was the whole point of faith, wasn’t it? If I couldn’t believe that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus, if I couldn’t believe that Jonah was actually swallowed by a huge fish and then vomited up alive several days later, if I couldn’t believe that God had created the earth in six twenty-four hour days just by speaking, how could I possibly believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and that he had the power to forgive my sins? How could I even be saved if I doubted something so fundamental? Maybe I was starting to slip away from the Lord, maybe I was going to backslide.

“I love you, Lord.” I kept praying, trying to catch my breath and to stop the scenes of doubt from replaying in my head every few seconds, “Please, please don’t let me backslide.”

Slowly, the panic started to fade and the crisis passed; I stopped crying, pulled a tissue out of my purse, and blew my nose. I pushed the doubt and fear into the back of my mind. Somehow I would force myself to believe. I had to.

I loved comic books. Batman and Robin, Superman, Archie, and Christian comics by Jack Chick. Uncle Albie gave me most of the comics after he read them, but the Chick tracts came from church or the Christian bookstore. My mother was concerned that some of Uncle Albie’s comics might be too scary for my sister and me when we were younger but it was the Chick books that were truly chilling.

I knew that Superman, Jughead, and the Joker were make-believe but the Christian comics made real life into a nightmare. The drawing style was disturbing, making even normal people look slightly deformed and nauseating, and the messages were terrifying. Evil was waiting at every door and “spells, astrology, occultic jewelry and rock music” were all traps that had to be avoided. The “Crusaders” were the superheroes in these Christian comics. Everyday people were the villains.

According to Jack Chick the Catholic Church—where Grandma went—was satanic. Mary and the saints were idols; the Catholic church was behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln; the Communist Party and the Third Reich were both formed by Jesuit priests led by Satan; and all Roman Catholics were going to burn in hell.

Evolution was almost as threatening to Jack Chick as Catholicism. According to Chick, there were no valid discoveries of transitory fossils. The comic Primal Man listed only a few fossil discoveries of early hominids, and claimed that all were faked, flawed, or fossils of modern humans. Evolution wasn’t real science, the comic declared. It was a misleading theory—an elaborate hoax—intended to disprove the Bible.

The characters in the tracts seemed insane. Teachers screamed and threw things at their students; everyone was frowning and crying except for the Christian Crusaders; and people changed their minds about important issues after five-minute conversations.

Jack Chick was over the top in his portrayal of the secular world, and I knew it. I went to school and brought my Bible with me. I put it on top of my textbooks on my desk because I didn’t want anyone to think I was ashamed of my faith. My science teachers never screamed at me or threatened to throw me out of class when I asked questions. I’d gone to the Catholic church. There were no sacrifices to Satan there. And Grandma certainly didn’t seem to me like she was being used by the devil.

I wasn’t sure why Chick was so angry and afraid or why he took the Bible so literally. I thought the Bible was the infallible Word of God, sure; but I didn’t see why God couldn’t have uses evolution to create the diverse life forms I saw at the Bronx Zoo. I didn’t believe the six days of creation were twenty-four hours each; the sun and moon weren’t even created until the fourth “day,” so how could the days be literal?

I didn’t actually think about the information in the Christian comics too much. I read them and put them in the pile with my old Archie and Superman books. I figured I could look things up at the library if I ever became interested enough to care that much. When I finally did, years later, I found the details surprisingly easy to refute. I discovered that the tracts were full of distortions of science and history, misinformation, and flat-out lies. What did that have to say about everything else I’d learned in church?

I always enjoyed Bible study classes, so much so that I went to Bible School instead of college. After I graduated from the one-year school, I continued to read the Bible on my own and I frequented the local Christian bookstore, searching for study guides to enhance my own reading of the scriptures. At some point I picked up a guide to Ephesians, a New Testament book I was already quite familiar with. The pages of my own Bible were marked with green and yellow highlights and with red, orange, and blue underlines, with notes in the margins near my favorite verses.

The book I’d purchased went through Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus chapter by chapter, verse by verse. When I got to the middle of chapter 5, I read:

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Nothing in Ephesians chapter 5 was highlighted or underlined in my Bible. Well, I wasn’t a wife, so this didn’t apply to me, did it? I guessed it probably would in the future, but I’d never paid much attention to these verses before. Yet now I became curious about the other passages about women in the New Testament. It turned out that Paul had quite a bit to say about women, some of which was underlined in my Bible, including I Timothy 2, verses 9 through 12:

9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

I didn’t see Paul’s admonitions being practiced—or even preached—in the churches I attended. We women all spent a lot of time fixing our hair. We also wore jewelry and fancy dresses to church. Our “Sunday best” was modest all right, but not necessarily inexpensive. Married and single women were preaching, leading praise and worship, and teaching Bible classes. As I went through all of Paul’s letters to find what he had to say about women, I decided that I simply did not agree with him. This made me nervous. Was I in rebellion against God because I disagreed with something in the Bible?

It turns out that Paul himself let me off the hook when he noted twice in I Corinthians 7 that he was giving his own opinion, not God’s law. “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord,” and, “I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment…” he wrote, specifically when giving advice to women (about whom he knew nothing, being single and allegedly celibate). Paul’s words, I saw, weren’t necessarily God’s words. Some things in the Bible were just opinions. Something cracked open in a back corner of my mind.

Years later, after many more encounters with scripture and struggles with doubt, I came to see everything in the Bible as the opinion of one author or another. Each book was written by a different person, each of whom had a different message or agenda to promote. I realized that the Bible is the same as any other book or anthology. Some things I agree with, others I don’t. Some things are factually accurate, others are riddled with errors. Some authors are good writers, others are not. Some passages are beautifully inspiring, others are revolting. Some advice and commandments are worthy of emulation, others deserve ridicule and scorn.

Concerned friends have since asked me if I was looking for an excuse not to believe, thinking that I must have wanted to live in sin and I was searching for a way to justify my disobedience to God’s commandments. But they were wrong. For most of my life I desperately wanted to believe the Bible was the infallible Word of God. For long stretches of time, I did believe. And I did my best to suppress the doubts that occasionally cropped up for almost twenty years, pushing them down deep inside. In the end, however, I stopped running from my fears. After twenty years of struggling, I finally embraced my doubt and found that it was doubt that could finally set me free.

Today I don’t think the Bible is the infallible, or even the inspired, Word of God. “The Bible,” as John Shelby Spong states in his book Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, is “not a literal road map to reality, but a historic narrative of the journey our religious forebears made in the eternal human quest to understand life, the world, themselves, and God.” The Bible is the story of the early evolution of Jewish and Christian thought. The story is not finished, and it is not the only story worth listening to. Nor is it the greatest story ever told. Each of us must write that story for ourselves.

Previous Installments:

Entry filed under: writerdd. Tags: , , , .

Comfort for budding atheists (Ray Comfort that is) What can I know?

36 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brandt  |  September 12, 2009 at 4:33 am

    Nice post. I liked your little foray into the world of Chick tracts… I collect religious tracts for the entertainment value, and I’ve gotta say that Chick tracts are some of the most horribly demented ones I’ve ever read.

    You’re right, though, it seems pretty evident that the Bible is a collection of books that represent various authors with various (sometimes irreconcilable) opinions and ideas.

    “The story is not finished, and it is not the only story worth listening to. Nor is it the greatest story ever told. Each of us must write that story for ourselves.”

    Well said.

  • 2. Joe  |  September 14, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I’ve been a believer for appx. 35 years and have to say that the fist time I saw a Jack Chick tract, even though I was a new Christian, I knew something was “off” about them for sure. I found them to be an embarrassment. Do people really think Christians think this way? I found the tracts comical and strange to say the least.

    Especially when I saw a comic book about the Anti-Christ and his henchmen who were riding motorcycles with portable gulliotines on the backs of the bikes! LOL.

    I have never desired to use Jack Chick “tracts” as a way of explaining the Gospel message. I just thought I’d share that since the tracts were discussed in the above article. :>)

  • 3. writerdd  |  September 14, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    “Do people really think Christians think this way?”

    Some Christians really do think this way. The ones who write these tracts, for example. They also sell a ton of them so someone is reading them. When I went to church as a kid, I never heard anyone express any concern about the content of these comics or say that they were not an accurate representation of what we believed.

  • 4. Joshua  |  September 14, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Joe: “Do people really think Christians think this way?”

    writerdd: “Some Christians really do think this way.”

    Wow, *exactly* what I was going to say.

    Joe, why does every Christian I know compartmentalize every other Christian into categories: those who are ‘real’ Christians and everyone else? It’s like Christian does not mean anything anymore.

    I suppose we would all do good to remember the details mean very little to those who hold that the foundation is flawed.

  • 5. amy  |  September 14, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Great post; you’ve really captured the desire to believe in spite of all evidence to the contrary. And I’m glad you included the Spong quote. I need to start reading him again, I think.

  • 6. Joe  |  September 15, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Joe, why does every Christian I know compartmentalize every other Christian into categories: those who are ‘real’ Christians and everyone else? It’s like Christian does not mean anything anymore. (Josh #4)

    I apologize if I appear to be “compartmenalizing” anyone. I wasn’t saying that the people who read and pass out Chick tracts aren’t “real” Christians—-I was simply saying that I found the tracts when I read them embarrassing, and they wouldn’t be something I could comfortably hand out to anyone else. Christians do have “opinions” too. LOL


    I hear you. There are many who might use those tracts freely—but as I said I always found them to be strange—-their portrayal of demons etc. is very “cartoonish” and in my opinion defeats the purpose and cannot for the most part be taken seriously by those who read them.

    I have yet to hear anyone say “I became a Christian after reading a Jack Chick tract”. :>)

  • 7. writerdd  |  September 15, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Joe: I have yet to hear anyone say “I became a Christian after reading a Jack Chick tract”. :>)

    LOL. I’m quite sure I’ve never heard anyone say that either!

  • 8. LeoPardus  |  September 15, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    I have yet to hear anyone say “I became a Christian after reading a Jack Chick tract”

    If you ever do hear that, you can say, “Well then, you didn’t convert to Real Christianity.” 😀

  • 9. karaus  |  September 22, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    I don’t know how this hasn’t been linked yet… The Cthulhu chick tract a parody of Chick’s “work”

  • 10. John  |  September 23, 2009 at 4:12 am

    Doubt is allowed in God’s plan. In fact its essential. Im sorry but you never gave yourself to Christ. Dont be offended. I listened to you–listen to me.

    You built your case for Christ like it was an episode of Law and Order. You acquired facts, you built a case, and your faith was based on your list of clues.

    The problem. There was an amount of clues that put you over the top and once you lost something on your list you no longer had enough to convince yourself. Thats not faith–thats not how God supernaturally fills you with the Holy spirit. Thats manmade false conversion.

    There is reason why Jesus is not on CNN right now. So faith can be displayed.

    [B]Picture all humanity before God. Picture 2 doors. One to hell and one to heaven. God is fully know to these humans–no Doubt. Who would walk into the door to hell. NONE.[/B]

    Has faith or choice been displayed? NO. People have been coerced. You cant tell if people are really for God if all the facts are known. Humanity would follow the devil through the door to heaven–its not a real choice. So you allow doubt–maybe its true or maybe its not. Enough doubt so the people that are not for God will make up any excuse to deny it and the people who are for God to search for him.

    People look for every reason to deny God because they dont want authority over them and they dont want to be subject to judgment for sin. Christ was seen displaying the works of God and he was murdered. Thats how strong the need to escape God as their ruler is. Im not saying you did this–what you did is rely on your case–not on Christ. Your case fell apart because there IS reasonable doubt–there is suppose to be.

    People who are not for God will not call on Christ—why–because it deniable. If God was on CNN millions would try and walk through the door to heaven for no other reason than to escape judgment–not because of any love for God.

    There is plenty of proof to anyone who is For God–especially because God puts Christ as a fact in your mind once you accept him. Conversely there is plenty of doubt for unbelievers to con themselves into believing what their heart truly desires—no God or an imaginary god that is nothing more than Them sitting on their own throne.

    This time–forget everything. Ditch your list. I know you think you did this already but just give it a try.
    Ask God tonight, like a child, if Christ is real–and if he is you will follow Him. Tell him you’ve ditched that list and want to base your faith on what he supernaturally can put in your mind. Christ is imprinted on my mind and I could not unbelieve if I tried. I am no dummy. I have an IQ in the top 5 % in the world. But this is not about compiling facts. How can this be about compiling a witty case? What would people with below IQ’s do? A child can have faith. If you truly do that there is no way you dont end up a saved Christian. It may take a period of realization but its a certainty.

    Love ya

  • 11. Quester  |  September 23, 2009 at 10:31 am


    Your argument works equally well- and equally poorly- for Allah, Vishnu, Zoraster, Odin, Zeus, Santa, leprecauns and the Flying Spagetti Monster. Why don’t you forget everything you know about logic and the world, cast away your list of reasons, your high IQ, and submit yourself to each of them?

  • 12. LeoPardus  |  September 23, 2009 at 11:06 am


    If your IQ is so marvelous, why do you write so poorly? Just didn’t apply your awesome mind to learning to communicate?

  • 13. Joe  |  September 23, 2009 at 11:43 am

    John— (post #10)

    It took me a long time to realize that 95% of the people on this blog don’t “doubt” God’s existence. They REALLY do not believe he exists at all. They used to believe, but TRULY do not any more.

    In a sense to bring in “doubt” is inferring they actually believe but are holding onto doubt as a way of not committing to belief. That is false. We as Christians WANT them to believe so badly that we simply refuse to accept the fact that they REALLY do not believe in God. We can’t seem to grasp that.

    As you may recall Hebrews 6 says “It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, if they fall away (apostasize) to renew them to repentance”. And why would it be impossible? Because THEY TRULY NO LONGER BELIEVE.

    For the longest time I could not accept this. I thought the people here really believed, but were angry with God, or just skeptical (but secretly held belief)—but it finally dawned on me one day that I was completely wrong. I had to accept the fact that they REALLY did not believe any more. That is hard for us as Christians to accept—it seems almost fantastic that it could be the case with them. But it truly is.

    once I realized this, any feeling of animosity, or desire to “argue my case with Scripture” simply left me. I realized that all the arguing in the world could not persuade someone who once accepted the same “dogma” and then rejected it, to accept it once again. It was simply impossible–and in fact stupid to even attempt.

    So now I mainly listen to the experiences of those who no longer believe, and realize it is very real. These are real people, with real feelings, who have experienced severe conflict in coming to their final acceptance of the fact that they cannot believe.

    They are not God-haters, or people simply angry at God, or people who have not “thought out” what they are stating. They truly have. There are some very intelligent people here—and though my Christian belief causes me to yearn from the heart that they would return to God—I also have come to accept that all of my “ranting” and “preaching” is quite useless.

    Though it is hard to accept, “doubt” is not really the issue at all. As I have mentioned before—-a 15 year old kid does not “doubt” the existence of Santa Claus. They KNOW there is no Santa Claus. All the calls to believe once again in Santa Claus will fall on deaf ears.

    In a similar manner, those here have come to the very real conclusion that there is no God. All the calls to return to a belief they now reject are futile.

  • 14. Brandt  |  September 23, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    @John (comment #10)

    Oh wow, I have never heard anyone explain God’s plan so compellingly and coherently before! God bless you for taking time out of your busy day to impart such valuable wisdom to us. I’m sure it must be heart-wrenchingly difficult to bear the burden of knowing that so many people (like us “de-converts,” for instance) are on their way to hell because they have misunderstood God’s plan.

    So, I know your comment was directed at writerdd, but I just wanted you to know that your brilliant argument had an inspiring effect on me. So inspiring, in fact, that I have decided to return to God once and for all!

    Yes! It makes so much sense! Of course doubt is an essential part of God’s plan! Of course I was never really a Christian in the first place!

    Would that all my fellow apostates could see the folly of their ways! But that won’t likely happen, as most of us do not have IQs in the top 5% of the world. I’m just thankful you took the time to use your God-given brilliance to inform us how we’ve erred.

    Tonight before I go to bed, I’m going to kneel down and ask Jesus to imprint my mind with that childlike, supernatural, doubt-defying, free-from-facts faith so I can be sure I’m going to heaven. I can’t wait!

    Praise God, brother!

  • 15. Blue  |  September 23, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Joe -(13)

    I have got to say, seeing your change in attitude and towards this site is heartwarming. Good on you.

  • 16. writerdd  |  September 23, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Thank you Joe.

    John, been there done that. You can’t tell anything about me really from reading just one post. But I know it’s difficult to comprehend from where you stand. I’ve been where you are. Can’t you respect my journey?

  • 17. Ubi Dubium  |  September 23, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    John, most of us here have been where you are. We’ve heard all that stuff already, and a fair number of us were once preachers. If sermons like yours were effective, we would never have left. But we did leave, so obviously something is lacking in all your doubletalk.

    Joe, I’m so impressed with your understanding of us now. If John were to hang around and actually read what we have written, he might gain that understanding too, but I fear he is just a drive-by preacher.

  • 18. Mystery Porcupine  |  September 24, 2009 at 12:42 am

    Joe, thank you for understanding comment.

    “and though my Christian belief causes me to yearn from the heart that they would return to God”

    Even in my unbelief, I often yearn from the heart that I would return to God. But I literally can’t believe anymore. It’s like wishing I could go back to tenth grade, go back to a time before I understood physical pain, or go back to a time before I experienced the death of a loved-one and understood what death was like.

    It is funny to see so many Christians saying things like atheists never knew God or they just love sin. I was SO in love with God…preaching Jesus to friends on the playground, in public high school, in college, in our living room…. I would have never thought I would end up here. No one in my life would have either. Losing that belief was a gradual and painful process that I will never fully explain to anyone except my spouse. It is very personal – and those who think they are so faithful or so especially called that they could never lose their faith can only misunderstand. In a way, I hope they never understand. But I do wish they would try, for the sake of kindness and even a little humility.

  • 19. Joshua  |  September 24, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Joe, thanks for your comment, although I have to point this one thing out:

    ““It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, if they fall away (apostasize) to renew them to repentance”. And why would it be impossible? Because THEY TRULY NO LONGER BELIEVE.”

    The passage makes it really clear the reason why a person cannot be restored to repentance – and it doesn’t have to do directly with a lack of belief – per se (although that is a part of it). It has to do with sacrifices.

    (After all, if a person has tasted the Holy Spirit how can they then turn away from it and no longer believe? They can reject, but I can’t imagine how a person could actually taste the Holy Spirit and genuinely stop believing it… except to commit the sin of the Pharisees and attribute it to demonic powers.)

    Hebrews’ authors followed up by explaining this concept. In the OT a person could continually sacrifice new animals over and over. With Christ, though, they recognized that there was only one sacrifice. Ergo? Christ can only be sacrificed once on your behalf – so if you miss it the first time and publicly declare Christ your Lord and then reject Him you can’t be saved again. This would “obviously” require Christ to be sacrificed again.

    I just want to point this out for other readers that there is a fairly logical explanation as to why the authors of Hebrews reached the conclusion they did and why.

    The problem that now has to be explained is this: the authors of Hebrews followed up by comparing two fields. The first was *always* barren and never bore fruit. The second did. Joe, some of us *did* bear fruit in keeping with repentance the first time and we rejected it. So how in the world can that be explained?

    Well, with a little understanding of psychology it becomes clear. If a person believes something – really believes it – their actions will follow. So we really did believe and we therefore “bore fruit” in keeping with those beliefs. Unfortunately, the authors of Hebrews missed this particular group of people (us) and instead tried to simplify it into “never bore fruit at all” or “bore fruit”. The authors of Hebrews committed a fallacy of a false dilemma. They did make a mistake.

    Joe, how do you explain the third field… the field that bears fruit and then stops bearing it? Many of us were more committed to Christ than our peers… yet our peers still believe and we do not. I could tell you stories of the behavior of Christians I have seen which should be considered bearing of “thistles” yet somehow they are to enter heaven and we are not?

    Maybe being a good person and “bearing fruit” (in a Biblical sense) has absolutely nothing to do with the indwelling Holy Spiirt, just as presents from Santa Clause have nothing to do with Santa Clause?

    And Joe, I do somewhat disagree with others here on this blog – while I appreciate your attitude, I also realize it seems so ingenuine. I don’t understand why you would want to hang out with people who:

    A) Can never escape the hell your God created

    and then choose to:

    B) Daily worship that God

    You are best friends with our worst enemy.

    You love us more than your God does. You are better than your God.

    I apologize for being so “hard hitting” – I wish I could just sit here and be thankful for your attitude and shake hands and all that, but I can’t help but escape this eerie feeling that you want to love us but feel like you are restricted in doing so and that that restriction comes from the God who is supposed to be the source of love.

  • 20. Joe  |  September 24, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Joshua (#19)—

    Your “eerie feeling” is your own and I really can’t do anything about that at all. I do appreciate your being entirely candid–perhaps you feel I am being ingenuine—-again, can’t do anything about that. All I can do is state what truly has happened since I have been on the board (over a year). I really don’t expect you to want to “shake hands”, as you put it.

    I still have a lot to learn. I really don’t feel “restricted” by anything Joshua. I still come here simply to try to understand. Many here have come to a place where they simply cannot believe. I coudn’t accept that at first, but understand it far more now. What intrigues me I guess is that I am the opposite case—I cannot NOT believe. Though I have actually tried. :>)

    You did say one thing that is hard for me to understand though:

    “You are best friends with our worst enemy”

    You are basically contradicting the conclusion I have come to regarding most here—they are not angry at God, or “God-haters”. How can someone be your “enemy” who you believe doesn’t exist? Can you explain that better to me? Just curious.

    As far as the “Hebrews” interpretation, I have to say that I really don’t know. There are many interpretations regarding Hebrews 6:4-6. All I understand by it is that there are a group of people who become enlightened, turn away, and it is “impossible” to bring back to repentance. I have seen that as the inability due to having come to a place of total unbelief. My interpretation can, of course, be totally wrong.

    Again though, I come to the board to hear the conversations coming from many intelligent people. i don’t have to agree with everyone—but I can still enjoy all the input. :>)

  • 21. Joe  |  September 24, 2009 at 11:32 am

    By the way is the word “ingenunine” or “disingenuine”? :>)

  • 22. Joe  |  September 24, 2009 at 11:51 am

    LOL—the word is actually “disingenuous”—-both “ingenuine” and “disingenuine” are not in the dictionary.

  • 23. Joshua  |  September 24, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Appreciate it Joe.

    “You are best friends with our worst enemy”

    If this being actually exists. The truth is that you believe this being exists, and all I am trying to do is point out that – at least to me – all Christian attempts to befriend me seem quite… weird… eerie… internally contradictory given the things they claim to believe.

    If it is true:

    a) We are going to hell
    b) Your God is sending us there
    c) We are enemies of your God
    d) The wrath of your God abides on us
    e) You are supposed to imitate the holiness of your God
    f) We cannot be saved and are therefore:
    g) Eternal enemies of your God

    What the hell are you doing interacting with us like we are chums? If your deity exists, it just doesn’t make sense. However, your actions make sense if your deity does not exist, because it shows that your human desire to befriend and care about people – regardless of their beliefs, etc. – trumps the beliefs which you claim.

    And personally, I don’t have a problem with the latter at all 🙂 However, if the former is true, I just don’t get how we can be such dire enemies of your God and yet such good friends with you. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe that is just me.

    As far as the “eerie” feeling… I hope you can imagine how my confusion produces that.

  • 24. Joshua  |  September 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    And damn it, ingenuine should be a word! 🙂

  • 25. Joshua  |  September 24, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Hmmm, but you know. On second thought I suppose it should be possible – from a secular perspective – that a person could not not be able to believe.

    Guess I’ve really never thought about that much before…

  • 26. Joshua  |  September 24, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Joe, I might add something else.

    You can’t make yourself not believe something.

    Here’s how my understanding of it works:

    A person receives information. This information informs their understanding. The mind creates as coherant of a worldview from this information as it can in an attempt to reduce contradictions and potential threats.

    Now then, new information enters the persons worldview. If this new information contradicts the current worldview but does not include a threat, then it may do nothing. However, if this new information includes a potential threat, then it causes doubt – potentially threatening contradiction – with the current worldview. The mind will work endlessly to resolve this contradiction and to get rid of the threat.

    Your inability to stop believing is… to me… just a sign that you have not encountered any new information that you consider threatening to your current worldview. Therefore nothing you are encountering on this site is genuinely going to produce doubt in your mind.

    In fact, you can hold numerous contradictory concepts in your mind at once because you have not seen how they contradict other information which you also hold – or if they do, you resolve it by removing any potential threat.

    Simple version? You cannot stop believing because you do perceive any information which could cause you to doubt by implying a potentially new threat.

    However, I want to know how do you deal with this:

    A person can think they believe something, but how are you supposed to know whether you actually believe enough?

    Joe, how do you know that you believe Christianity enough? How do you know you are believing the right things? How do you know that you are not one of those who only thinks they are saved but are not? How do you know this beyond a shadow of a doubt? And if you do not, does this not mean that you could end up in hell anyway?

    These were the types of questions I struggled with that eventually lead me to leave. I’m just so curious how anyone could resolve – or ignore – them.

  • 27. Joe  |  September 24, 2009 at 1:20 pm


    Actually, not here to be “chums” with anyone actually. :<) I am not here to befriend anyone. I originally came to the board out of pure curiosity, and since that time have actually learned quite a bit.

    As for your A-G list all I can say is that God alone is judge (I state this from my position of belief–of course you may not believe in God at all). If someone once believed will they go to hell? How can I make that determination? I really can't.

    Getting into a doctrinal discussion is really useless. Scripture vs. Scripture, God vs. no-God—after a year on the board I see the utter futility of all of that. I am basically interested in hearing the deconversion journey—the beginning of unbelief, the conflicts, the challenges. I am just very interested in it—what else can I say? I'm here like a fly on the wall most of the time—just listening in—don't really want to force an opinion or belief on anyone—trying to understand the process everyone here went through.

  • 28. Joe  |  September 24, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    used actually twice in first sentence—that’s actually not a very good sentence.

  • 29. Joshua  |  September 24, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    If someone once believed will they go to hell? How can I make that determination? I really can’t.

    You cannot disagree with it lest you disagree with the authors of Hebrews themselves:

    If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

    Why sidestep it? If what you believe is true, you must believe we are going to hell.

    If you don’t want to believe that, I question the genuineness of your faith.

  • 30. Joshua  |  September 24, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    used actually twice in first sentence—that’s actually not a very good sentence.

    Actually it could be somewhat poetic, if poetic somewhat is your goal actually.

  • 31. Joe  |  September 24, 2009 at 1:32 pm


    When I say I tried “not to believe” I really don’t know how to define that. What I mean is that I have been assailed with doubts many times. I’ve asked myself all of the questions you have, but for some reason with different results. I think that is what I am trying to say. I’m not saying I sat in a corner repeating “I don’t believe, I don’t believe” and it didn’t take. :>)

  • 32. Joe  |  September 24, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Why sidestep it? If what you believe is true, you must believe we are going to hell. (#29)

    Again, I cannot make that determination. But seriously, what I believe is not really important on this board. How you came to not believe is what the board is actually all about. We could argue scripture until the cows come home, but in the end it will end in futility. You don’t believe the scripture you are using, and I am fanatically using scripture to try to prove a point—–that is what is called “insanity” in my book. :>)

  • 33. Joshua  |  September 24, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    But seriously, what I believe is not really important on this board. How you came to not believe is what the board is actually all about.

    Then equally how you came to not believe is important as well – at least to me. I am curious primarily because I cannot comprehend how certain things do *not* bother you.

    You don’t believe the scripture you are using, and I am fanatically using scripture to try to prove a point—–that is what is called “insanity” in my book.

    Using this reasoning, you are never allowed to use the Koran when discussing things with a Muslim 🙂

  • 34. Joe  |  September 24, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Using this reasoning, you are never allowed to use the Koran when discussing things with a Muslim (#33)

    Actually I think you have the reasoning mixed up. What I was saying for example would be a Christian using the Koran (which the Christian doesn’t believe in) to make arguments with a fanatical Muslim trying to convert the Christian back to Islam using the same book. It’s utterly futile. The argument in both directions is falling on deaf ears.

  • 35. Joshua  |  September 24, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Haha, ok. Except I don’t think it is completely futile or else I would not still be trying 🙂

  • 36. Joe  |  September 24, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Very true! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Today’s Featured Link

Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion 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 reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.



Blog Stats

  • 2,163,101 hits since March 2007