I would like to welcome Reynard T, soon to be ex-Christian, to atheism!

Devout Christian reader Reynard T had this to say in response to my religion/myth book section photo:

It just shows the ignorance and misinformation that people have about the reliability of the Bible. The history section perhaps but the Bible is the most reliable book in history and the message in it is the ONLY one that gives hope to mankind!

Rolf (another poster)… you just show your ignorance of the reliability of the Bible. I have studied history, science etc. and it is reliable right from page 1.

Here… when you get your own Nobel prize for Physics maybe you can argue….

“If I had no other data than the early chapters of Genesis, some of the Psalms and other passages of Scripture, I would have arrived at essentially the same picture of the origin of the universe, as is indicated by the scientific data.” Nobel Prize-winning physicist Arno Penzias (Big Bang Theorist)

I really get sick of people telling me about the Bible and it’s reliability and they have never studied it! C.S. Lewis, Alister McGrath, Lee Stroebel and John Polkinghorne all looked at the evidence and became Christians and proclaim the Gospel! When you have investigative reporters that started the work as an insult or world renowned Quantum Physcists that become Anglican priests and high school drop out saying it doesn’t make sense…I think I will go with the professors!

Analysis time!

The Bible is the most reliable book in history? It is reliable from page 1? That’s quite a set of accomplishments. But what about the Adam and Eve story, or 6 day Creationism, or the age of the Earth, or dinosaurs, or how having cows look at striped object does not actually give them stripes? Do these events count?

It’s the only message that gives mankind hope? That’s kind of ignorant. What about all the other religious texts who people derive hope from? What about the means for developing wisdom, self-awareness, transcendence of many mundane and social concerns, and compassion that Buddhist practices and philosophy offer? From reading Buddhist philosophy and practicing mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy, I have achieved a great source of hope and optimism. Does that not count? And what about how Christianity has divided humans from another over time and has been a great source of war and oppression? What about how after 2000 years of its existence and propagation to become the world’s most populous religion, the world still has many many serious problems?

Alright. Conversion time.

Reynard, you finished of your post by saying that you were going to listen to the professors. Well, the professors have spoken. See here and here. As you will see by following these links, a highly-cited large-sample survey study of the members of the National Academy of Science, America’s most prestigious assembly of scientists, found that ONLY 7% OF AMERICA’S TOP SCIENTISTS BELIEVE IN A DIETY! 72.2% declare a personal disbelieve, while the remaining 20.8% describe themselves as doubtful or agnostic. This study is highly trustworthy. It had a sample of 517 scientists, the response rate was over 50% (which is very high for survey research), and the study was published in Nature, which may be the world’s most highly esteemed science publication.

In a similar study of a random sample of 1000 American scientists (participation rate: 60%–very high) conducted 2 years prior, disbelief or doubt registered at 61%. Looking at the links above you will see that similar results have been found in early generations. There are a few trends. Firstly, throughout the 20th and 21st centuries American scientists have overwhelmingly disbelieved in or doubted the existence of a deity. Secondly, the more elite scientists were even more likely to disbelieve or doubt the existence of a God. And thirdly, disbelief and doubt have consistently increased across time. While the general pattern is the same now as it was in 1914, the level of disbelief and doubt is far higher today.

Now Reynard, you said that you were going to go with the professors. You also said that you studied science. In the social sciences one of the elementary rules is that a well-conducted large-sample opinion study of a representative sample of a population will almost always provide more accurate and trustworthy information than the cherry-picking of a desirable quote or two. As a person who has studied science and said that he’s going to go with the professors, it seems that you might want to reconsider Christianity; neither science nor the scientists support it.

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3 Responses to “I would like to welcome Reynard T, soon to be ex-Christian, to atheism!”
  1. Mark says:

    Hi Reynard,

    Regarding the book A Case For Christ by Lee Strobel, this book is so often mentioned by Christians I speak to that I have seriously considered creating a website to deal with this book directly. The book is largely interviews from prominent Christian apologists. The book begins by trying to establish the reliability of the New Testament and how it was accurately transmitted down to us, and then tries to assert that the case for Christ is justified by the scriptures. Leave textual criticism to the experts. Read Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman.

    I also recommend this website: http://www.bidstrup.com/apologetics.htm which deals thoroughly with Strobel’s book (hence I feel no urgency to make my own site).

    Regarding C.S. Lewis, he was hardly an ex-atheist, he was merely a Christian who said he was an atheist. In Surprised by Joy (partial autobiography published by Lewis in 1955), where Lewis describes his conversion to Christianity, he describes his young atheism as being paradoxically “very angry with God for not existing”. An atheist angry with God? Very interesting indeed. Furthermore, my problem with Lewis is his ridicule of religious skepticism, precisely the type of dogma that I believe is wrong. His attacks on religious skepticism are motivated by religious passion, not by intellect and reason. Furthermore, there is nothing special about his conversion which gives credit to his claims. There are plenty of examples of Christians turning atheist too. For example, there is Dan Barker who wrote the book “Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist”. Unlike C.S. Lewis’ unsupported, although generally accepted, claim to ex-atheist, Barker actually was a devout fundamentalist evangelical minister and missionary, and converted to strong and confident atheist.

    I have studied the Bible. I used to lead Bible studies, and I attended a Baptist church and was heavily involved. The first step in my walk from faith was being honest with myself when reading the Bible and realizing that it was not factual, and there were so many sections I couldn’t agree with.

    Reynard, does your belief in Christianity weigh solely on the validity of the history of the Bible being true?

    The Bible is a collection of documents written over a time span of more than 600 years, although some of the content of the Old Testament had circulated for centuries in earlier religious traditions. Every piece of the Bible existed in some form as an independent document before it found its way into the Holy Book. Pieces of text written at different times circulated separately from each other. Experts argued (and still do today) about which texts should be in and which ones should not. The canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures was left largely in the hands of Jewish scholars, while Christian authorities made decisions about the collection of writings that would eventually become the New Testament. Furthermore, many Old Testament stories and legal codes are inherited from cultures that inhabited the Middle East at the time that the tribes of the Hebrews emerged. For example, the story of the Great Flood appears in the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, an Akkadian religious text that pre-dates the time of Moses. Additionally, the creation story of Genesis parallels the creation myth of the ancient Babylonians.

    Furthermore, there is no “original” Bible, that is to say, there are no original copies of any of the books of the Bible, and the New Testament did not just show up shortly after Jesus’ death. What exists are thousands and thousands of differing copies of the texts, which in themselves are made from copies which no longer exist. In other words, we don’t have copies of the copies of the originals, or even copies of the copies of the copies. What we have are copies made much later, and in most instances, they are copies made many centuries later. Moreover, none of these copies is completely accurate, since the scribes who produced them inadvertently and/or intentionally changed them in places. There are more differences among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament. Most of these differences are completely immaterial and insignificant, but many are not. This is to say, that the Bible is full of human error, created by fallible humans. The Bible is a very human book.

    It is also known that much has been changed between the Bible we have today, and ancient copies of the scriptures. Textual critics spend a great deal of time trying to reconstruct the original texts. For example, it is known that the story of Jesus and the women taken in adultery (John 7:53-8:12), which is arguably the best-known story about Jesus in the Bible, was not originally part of any of the Gospels. In other words, it is not contained in any of the oldest and best copies of the Gospel of John. It was added much later by scribes. This story is the center of many church services, yet it was manufactured by scribes who copied the Bible, and became such a popular story that it is now included is most Bible translations. Listen to Misquoting Jesus to explore this topic further and more detailed examples.

    With so many changes and errors, how can one be sure any of it is true? We know what we know about Jesus, his life, teachings, and death because of what is written in the Bible. But the Bible is full of contradictions and errors, even regarding Jesus and his life, events, teachings, and death. So even about Jesus, the Bible is fallible. This is where faith steps in, but what drives the faith that the message about Jesus in the Bible is true if we aren’t even sure that Jesus’ teachings are accurate or true? Remember that the story of Jesus and the women taken in adultery was added at a much later time into the book of John. With so many changes, are the scribes that copied the Bible and made mistakes and changes subject to Revelation 22:18-19?
    NIV translation, Revelation 22:18-19: I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
    (in fact, many scribes added such statements to their work to deter copying scribes from changing the words)

    Given that we know there are errors and changes in the texts, believing the Bible was inspired by God raises many questions. If the scriptures were inspired by God, did God let his inspired word, which is the the foundation and only way to learn of his teachings, become a text full of errors which was eventually bundled as the Bible we know today? On the other hand, if portions of the Bible are not the inspired word of God, then how does one determine which scriptures are inspired and which are not? Are the churches which implement strict orderly rule and do not allow women to speak in Church better at following God’s Law and following an inspired scripture?
    NIV translation, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35: “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”
    What about NIV translation, 1 Timoth 2:11-14: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”
    One might argue that the above quoted verses are inspired, but we can’t interpret them because of our limitations in understanding. But there are some otherwise good church leaders who say they can understand these verses, and women shouldn’t teach or speak in church. They believe they are preaching the Word of God, and they are, if you believe what is written is the inspired word of God and you have interpreted his word correctly.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  2. moosicle says:

    No one who has seriously studied science can claim religion is scientific. Scientists that are religious use the scientific method to do their work, not the faith method.

    That’s why it’s based on f-a-i-t-h, and textbooks are based on facts and evidence. Creation science and other nonsense derived from the Bible has not bought a single achievement or application to the scientific world.

    Neither has its self proclaimed creationist theories bring upon a single prediction, like a proper scientific theory is supposed to. Einstein’s theories predicted that gravity would bend light, and it was proven later to do so.

  3. Rolf says:

    “Rolf… you just show your ignorance of the reliability of the Bible. I have studied history, science etc. and it is reliable right from page 1.”

    Reynard T, I lay my ignorance of the Bible before all to see; I have not, I repeat, not read the Bible, and have no desire to do so. As Richard Dawkins has suggested, one does not have to study Leprechauns in depth in order to disbelieve in them, so I feel no need to study the supposed words of a god that I do not believe in. I think I’ll go with the professor on this one.

    Besides, I thought the term for the correctness of the Bible was inerrancy, not reliability … or is that just my ignorance showing?

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