A Very Common Message

Atheism, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism

A Deconversion Story

These kinds of messages have become cliché, but I find the need to write it anyway. Mostly this is an attempt to communicate to my friends and family as succinctly but thoroughly as possible the what and the why of my deconversion from Christianity. This is also for those of you readers who have had doubts and have struggled to keep them contained.

What I am

I am no longer a Christian. In the summer of 2015 after it became increasing more difficult to hold my beliefs against surmounting evidence to the contrary I admitted to myself I no longer believed. I was a Christian for approximately 27 years, until the Jenga tower of contradiction between belief and facts came crashing down. I could no longer sustain the mental effort it required to maintain belief against the overwhelming lack of evidence for that belief.

I am an atheist. Others, wiser than I, have pointed out that this does not tell you very much about me. To say that I am not something is not very descriptive. The list of things I am not is infinite. But I am not afraid of this moniker. I am not a theist. This means I do not believe in God or gods. I do not believe in the supernatural of any kind. The natural is more than sufficient.

I am a humanist. This means that I believe humanity is the most precious existence in the cosmos. It means that loving people trumps ideology. Julia Sweeny said it better than I can. In “Letting Go of God” after tentatively putting on the “Not believing in God glasses” she says:

And I thought wait a minute, wait a minute, what about all those people who are unjustifiably jailed? … There is no god hearing their pleas and I guess this goes for the really poor people too and really oppressed people who I had this vague idea that they had a god to comfort them and then an even vaguer idea that god had orchestrated their lives for some unknowable grand design. I walked around and thought oh, no one is minding the store! … And slowly I began to see the world differently.

We are responsible for each other there is no one else minding the store. Being acutely aware that this is the only life we get to live sharpens and focuses one’s sense of how precious our time together really is. There is no after life where we get a do over. This is it. We need to take care of each other. My time with my family and friends is the most important part of my life.

To say that I am a former theist is significant in that I have rejected Christianity not out of ignorance but from having lived it and found it wanting. It also means that I am not hostile towards my friends and family who are still believers. I have been there. I still respect and love those of you who are believers. Having said that, I acknowledge off the top that my rejection of Christianity and statement of unbelief necessarily implies a particular opinion about your beliefs. I cannot change this. I still love and care for you.

I am the same person I have always been though I am no longer a Christian. My morality did not disappear the moment I admitted to myself that I no longer believed. For my friends and family I hope to continue our relationship with each other. I have lost no love for you. If you choose, we can enter into a new conversation with one another. If you choose to pick up stones … well, there is a saying I can quote you.

A few things I am not

I have learned that there are a number of common, shall we say, embellishments that Christians tell each other about atheists that turn out to be untrue much of the time. And I am no exception.

I am not angry.
I am not hurt.
I am not depressed. My life is actually unbelievably wonderful.
I am not running away from anything.
I am not throwing away my morality to live a “sinful” life.
I am not ignorant of the Bible or the teachings of Christianity. My unbelief is because of this knowledge not in spite of it.

I am also not interested in arguing with you about your belief. I will say only this if you are having doubts try trusting your doubts.

The Why

Answering the why question will be the ongoing project of this blog but here are some of the highlights.

The Search For Truth

In a word: Science. The scientific method has proven over and over to be a reliable way to determine truth. A hypothesis is made. Evidence is gathered. If the evidence supports the hypothesis it may become a theory. Others test the hypothesis to find its weaknesses. If the evidence does not support the hypothesis then it is discarded.

David Deutsch in “The Beginning of Infinity” posits that for most of human history we have had “bad explanations” for things. If the weather was bad the gods did it. If the weather was good the gods did it. He describes this as highly variable. Which god?  Any god will do. How? Magic? He points out we did not begin to have good (non varying) explanations until the scientific method came along and we as humans began to discard bad explanations.

In science theories are falsifiable. Meaning if evidence is found against the theory it has been falsified and thus will be discarded. What is important to understand is that scientific theories may be dependent on one another. If one dependent theory was in fact false subsequent theories would find falsifying evidence.

A quick example. Einstein’s theories of General and Special Relativity predicted several phenomenon that were not testable at the time. Black holes were predicted by the theories but not discovered until 1971. The theories predict time dilation both at relative speed and near a gravity source. GPS would not work if it did not account for the time differences between the moving satellites in orbit and the receivers on earth. Lastly, gravitation waves in spacetime, a mind bending phenomenon, was not proven until one hundred years after the theory was introduced that predicted them. The LIGO lab detected these waves in 2016. Ultimately, studying gravitational waves will give us a better understanding of our universe.

The point is, if either of the theories were incorrect then none of these findings would have been possible. And if we found contradictory evidence the theories would be discarded. Better yet, if we find a better theory that more tightly explains the data (less variance in Deutsch’s words) even Einstein would be replaced. It is not personal, it is about the truth.

Contrast this with faith. Questioning and doubt are things to be avoided at best and sinful at worst. Adherence to dogma is considered a virtue. Faith is hoped for and unseen. Seeking evidence is seen as “testing” God and a sign of lack of faith. And I can see why.  The deeper I dug into my Christianity looking for evidence the shakier things became.

Which Faith?

I happened to grow up in the United States in a nominally Christian household. When I became a Christian in my late teens it was within the context of a culture soaked with Christian themes. But what if I had been born in Saudi Arabia? Wouldn’t I have become a Muslim? What about India? A Sikh or a Hindu? How can I honestly say I would have become a Christian if I had been raised in a different culture. The answer is I can’t.

People of faith have no problem not believing in other faiths’ gods. They do not believe that Zeus controls lightening. Nor do they believe in the literal thousands of gods worshiped throughout human history. Stephen F. Roberts famously responded to a believer with this quip:

I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

Even within Christianity we have a tremendous amount of disagreement. Catholics and Protestants. Evangelical and Main liners. There are something like 2000 different Christian sects alone. As an evangelical we call many of them cults. But how do we determine what is a cult and what is gospel?

How does one determine whether one faith is more right than another? If your answer is the bible re-read the line about 2000 different sects of Christianity. Most of them use the same Christian bible.

Even within a narrow group like Evangelicals , who or what decides between two contradictory beliefs? Is pre-destination correct or is it human choice? Is baptism submersion or will a sprinkling do?  Is it pure grace or good works that saves a person? I had strong opinions on each of these as do those who would have disagreed with me. But there is no way to determine which is true and which is false.

It comes down to cultural microcosms. If you were raised Baptist, then pre-destination is true. If you were raise Pentecostal then speaking in tongues is true. All the while both groups point to the other with disdain.

It was when I began to look at what my in-group considered to be cults trying to understand why a person would believe these “crazy” things, that it occurred to me that they saw my beliefs as just as crazy. And atheists thought we were all crazy.

You see, it is not enough to convince those who agree with you. If a belief or a theory is true it must convince even the hardest skeptic. John Loftus calls this the “outsider test for faith.” If someone outside your culture is unconvinced by your arguments, maybe it is time to re-evaluate your belief. Here is Hemant Mehta describing John Loftus’ “outsider test for faith:”

I believed that if faith was worth while it should stand up to scrutiny. Once I used the same basic scrutiny and incredulity on my own faith as I used for others, it did not hold up.

Reading the Bible

One of the factors leading to my deconversion was reading the bible through in a year. Seriously, have you read the bible lately? As believers (of all faiths) we have an amazing ability to cherry pick the bits of our ancient texts that suit us and be completely blind to the parts that are contradictory, horrifying and down right dangerous. The whole of the bible, including the parts often not read like Numbers and the prophets, and even the parts read often like Psalms, is dark, violent and hateful. Only through the rose colored glasses of blind faith can the whole of the bible be seen as a moral book about love.

Read the bible without the rose colored glasses of inerrancy or authority and a different picture of the holy book appears. Does the bible contradict itself? Try this yourself. Read the genealogies at the beginning of Matthew and Luke. Notice anything? They don’t match. If you say one is for Marry and one is for Joseph, isn’t God supposed to be Jesus’s father? Read the passion story in all four gospels and try and unify them. What events took place in which order? Who first saw Jesus after the resurrection? How many people/angels were at the tomb?

For a list of contradictions see: http://bibviz.com/

Update: When I originally wrote this piece I was still learning. Though the above link has many real contradictions, they tend toward the trivial and easily dismissed.  For a much more scholarly and, therefore, all the more devastating look at contradictions see Steven DiMattei’s Contradictions In The Bible.


Apologetics is the defense of Christianity. Over many years I have read the best apologists Christianity has to offer: William Lane Craig of the Kalam cosmological argument fame and Guiermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards who wrote “The Privileged Planet”. As well as some that are not so great like Josh McDowell and Lee Stroble. The more I read the more doubt crept in. The arguments from these authors were bending over backwards requiring mental gymnastics to try and fit the supernatural into the frame work of the scientific understanding of the world and the cosmos. The more I dug the less convincing the arguments became particularly when pitted against established scientific knowledge like evolutionary biology, big bang cosmology and quantum physics.

We can argue over first causes or supposed missing links but the point is this is the “God of the gaps” or argument from ignorance. Throughout history science has been filling in those gaps overcoming ignorance with evidence. A couple of hundred years ago there was no germ theory.  Attributing sickness or healing to a god was the “best” explanation we had. Now we prescribe penicillin.

There will always be gaps in our knowledge but this is a prompt to explore and discover and not be satiated by “God did it.”

I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.
― Richard Feynman


A tautology is a circular argument. Here is an example:

Why do I believe in God? Because the bible tells me so.
Why do I believe the Bible is authoritative? Because God says it is.

Now you can throw a lot of elements into this tautology beyond just the bible: The known universe (“creation”), one’s subjective experience, stories from missionaries from far off lands, however each of these is interpreted based on the others. In a word tautological.


The most convincing argument for any believer is their own subjective experience.

You don’t understand, I know God exists! My relationship with God is special and real.

I do understand. I felt that way. I knew that same way. Until I didn’t.

The second I asked myself one simple question, “Could I find an objective non-tautological foundation for my faith in God?” That was the beginning of the end.

The invisible and the non-existent look an awful lot alike.

I could be wrong

This might sound like a strange thing to say. But it is extremely important to me. The scientific method leverages falsifiability and requires error correction. When new information is presented that contradicts a hypothesis it must be taken into account and either explained or the hypothesis needs to be changed or thrown out. It is error correction that leads to the accumulation of knowledge and truth.

This is what led me away from theism. But to be clear, everything I write about and hold as true is available for scrutiny up to and including my atheism. But before you come at me with your unassailable argument, keep in mind, I have read a number of well know apologists, I read and consume podcasts from theists all the time and I was once an apologist of sorts myself. I remain unconvinced by the arguments for theism. So, to change my mind I need objective evidence of the variety that skeptics accept not the kind that allows the faithful to entrench themselves.

Here is a video by @holykoolaid that nicely sums up the kind of evidence that would be required to convert an atheist like me:

Final Thought

This was not a choice. I did not wake up one day and decide I no longer wanted to believe in God. This was something that happened to me.

When Bart Campolo, Tony Campolo’s son, was asked when did he start to lose his faith he said:

About 15 minutes after I started to believe.

In a sense, that is true for me as well. I struggled with doubt throughout my Christian faith. I knew there were areas best left unexplored. If I asked too pointed of questions I might not like the answers. So I didn’t for a very long time.

But this masks the fact that I had very real very deep faith for more than twenty years. It makes it sound as if my faith was not the right kind of faith. If you find that argument convincing, more power to you.

Under scrutiny, I could no longer believe. Belief escaped me. The very foundations of my faith gave way. I no longer believed.

The emperor has no clothes.

To the extent that this happened in an instant, my exact thoughts where:

Oh, ____, what am I going to do?

The very search for truth that led me to Christianity led me away.

13 thoughts on “A Very Common Message

  1. Wonderful work. I will recommend your blog to those that are seeking for the truth about Christianity. Perhaps we can help one another in the future as we share the same goals. Best wishes 🙂
    @apetivist on twitter

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for that. I like your title “A Very Common Message”, because I think it can feel very isolating leaving a life-long faith and community, and it’s encouraging to read the many accounts from others of similar experiences.

    Both in your article and in the Holy Koolaid video, there were significant sections which are surprisingly close to what I’ve felt and written about my experiences leaving Christianity. Not quite word for word, but certainly thought for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope you’re still around! I don’t know why I didn’t notice your blog until today, but I’m glad I did. I’ve read 1,000 deconversion blogs/articles/books over the last 5 years, but you’ve touched on a few truths I’ve not heard anywhere else…so thank you!

    At this moment, I just wanted to share one thought this led me to:

    To be an exclusivist* Christian, you have to be okay with INVALIDATING the personal experiences of the vast majority of people on the planet. I don’t mean you simply disagreeing with them, or contradicting them, or seeing things differently from them.. but straight-up gaslighting them. And you can’t simultaneously respect or accept someone and be gaslighting them.

    I say this because your blog and the video SO clearly lay out the assumptions our still-beliving friends and relatives maintain about those of us who have left the fold (You’re mad at God…You just want to sin…You CHOSE to walk away…etc), and often continue to maintain no matter how often you clarify.

    I realized still carry a deep emotional scar from being “No True Scotsmaned” by my closest “friend” three years ago.

    Yes, I knew she was still a devout Christian. But if any human knew the extreme measures I had taken for years to live and maintain my faith … the amount of trauma and loss I experienced when I lost it … it was her.

    She’d taken me into her home when I lost everything (divorcing my abusive pastor husband) and was diagnosed with C-PTSD. She clearly articulated I had suffered religious trauma. She supported my going into secular counseling. She even requested family not pray in my presencez to avoid “triggering” me. (She didn’t need to do that, BTW.)

    She helped me move what had been practically a religious library into her spare room. She was aware of the time I continued to spend studying religion Christian theology, and how important the topic remained to me even when God disappeared from my life, abandoning me.

    I spoke to her many times of my grief in losing faith, having tried so very hard to keep it. She mentioned several times in conversation that I knew more about Christianity and the Bible than she did (this was true).

    She jokingly called me her “token atheist,” and was very supportive when I joined a freethought group to make “atheist friends.”

    So I was completely blindsided one night when she announced, happily:”The Lord has shown me that sometime in the next few months, someone is coming into your life that will introduce you to the REAL Jesus!”

    I said, “Wait, what? I spent 30 years worshipping the wrong Jesus…? You’re saying that’s why all this happened?”

    “I don’t believe you were ever a Christian,” she informed me bluntly

    When she said that to me, I had the physical sensation that she was reaching into my soul and tearing my heart into shreds.

    I had been “No True Scotsmanned” in online debates with strangers, of course. But when I heard it from HER, it was as if she was erasing 20 years of my history It was like being told, “Guess what! Your real father abandoned you in an alley., and the lady who found you is your ‘mom,” or “FYI, your marriage was never legally valid because your husband was a bigamist.”

    In saying this, she was dismissing my own personal sacrifice and experiences, that my efforts had been so close and yet so far away, and that they had NEVER REALLY MATTERED. It was the ultimate invalidation of me as a human being. She added trauma to my trauma.

    Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only disturbing thing she said that night. She asked me to read Lee Stroebel’s “The Case For Christ,” since I’m a journalist. (I never told her this, but later, I actually did… and frankly was INSULTED she thought so little of my intelligence that she thought stupid Stroebel would be convinving to me.)

    She also told me that even though she knows that her mother is in hell (having died “unsaved”), she nevertheless found great joy and peace in Christ … and she hoped that someday, I would experience that same peace.

    I don’t WANT the sort of “peace” that would make it “okay” to believe my loved ones are in eternal torment. Frankly, I find that dissociative and sociopathic. It’s grotesque.

    It was well over a year before I was well enough to move out of her home. We never spoke on the topic again. But her “prophesy time frane” came and went, and no one “came into my life,” much less someone who would show me where to find that Jesus guy I’d been somehow unable to find.

    And it may be my imagination, but I felt things go really cold after that. I’d lost all my respect for her, even though I never verbalized it.

    And I wonder how she felt about her failed prophecy? I have always told everyone that MY door is open, if Jesus wants to come back. But he never did.

    My situation was that I was beholden to her, and also reeling from multiple traumas. I don’t feel the need to tell her how she made me feel, but reading this blog triggered a waterfall. …

    So even though you will never see this…How dare you, Heidi. How DARE you. Seriously: Fuck you.

    *By “exclusivist Christian,” I mean Fundamentalist, Evangelical and other Conservative Christians who strongly believe that only people in their denomination/church/group comprehend the Gospel correctly and will be saved by their faith … and that all OTHER Christians, people of other religions and no religion will be eternally damned. (And they’re usually fine with that!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tee,

      I am still around and thanks for this heartfelt response. I am very sorry it brought back the sense of betrayal you clearly felt from your friend.

      Your story has a number of recurring themes I see for those of us who are deconverts. One, in an irony our believing friends cannot appreciate, when they invalidate our former faith, we can feel a deep need to defend it. Which puts us in the bizarre scenario of defending how good and true a believer we used to be.

      Two, when you deconvert you quickly learn who your true friends are. A friend is someone who accepts you for you who you are not what they want you to be. Although it is not fair to expect the believers in our lives to understand, it is fair to expect them to continue to love and care for us. And when they don’t that feels like betrayal. That is betrayal.

      Third, our mere existence as deconverts is threatening to the believers in our lives. Our friends and loved ones knew us as believers. And like you many of us were well educated, outspoken, dedicated and evangelistic. If *we* can lose our faith, what would stop them from losing theirs? That is threatening and scary. We don’t need technical philosophical arguments, our lives demand a response. That response is often one based on fear. Deconverts are dangerous.

      I hope the blog and the podcast help you know you are not alone. If you are interested in being on the podcast, use the contact link and let me know.


  4. Hello Dave

    I like the name of the blog. And I do enjoy interacting with atheists especially if they are considerate reasonable and genuinely curious about why others believe what they do. I have run into plenty that fit that description and one of them has linked your blog.

    There are numerous areas where I tend to disagree with some of your reasoning. But I will just mention a few here and see what you think.
    You say:
    “You see, it is not enough to convince those who agree with you. If a belief or a theory is true it must convince even the hardest skeptic. John Loftus calls this the “outsider test for faith.””

    Do you really think that “If a belief or a theory is true it must convince even the hardest skeptic”? This seems pretty obviously false.

    I am not sure what the “it” is. Do you mean the argument I offer must convince the hardest skeptic of my conclusion? And if it doesn’t my conclusion can’t be true?

    I actually interacted a bit with Loftus and he ended up embracing a certain pragmatic relativism in trying to defend this view. Do you believe there is an objective truth based on an objective reality or do you think our ability to know something determines what reality is?

    According to one of your videos you also seem to take a dim view of hearsay. But I suspect if you actually thought about it you would realize the vast majority of beliefs you consider knowledge are based on hearsay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joe,

      First, thank you for taking the time to read the blog and to write in your very good questions. I’ll try and respond to your questions.

      “”Do you really think that “If a belief or a theory is true it must convince even the hardest skeptic”? This seems pretty obviously false.””

      If you will forgive me the hyperbole, yes, I do. I want to be clear, I am not talking about matters of opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. But I mean this in the scientific sense. One proposes a hypothesis, gathers data and tests the hypothesis. Crucially, then some else needs to independently (critically and skeptically) repeat the test to validate. In this sense, we want the person who is validating to be skeptical.

      “”I am not sure what the “it” is. Do you mean the argument I offer must convince the hardest skeptic of my conclusion? And if it doesn’t my conclusion can’t be true?””

      By “it” I meant the theory or hypothesis. Again a bit of hyperbole, but the point is true things stand up to scrutiny. True things stand up to criticism. True things do not deconstruct.

      “”I actually interacted a bit with Loftus and he ended up embracing a certain pragmatic relativism in trying to defend this view. Do you believe there is an objective truth based on an objective reality or do you think our ability to know something determines what reality is?””

      This is a loaded question, one could write a book on the subject. But in the spirit of conversation, I will take a stab at it. First, read my leaning into my presuppositions [0] post to get a feel from where I am coming from. I think nature exists independent of our perception. So one could say “objectively.” I think the scientific method is the best way to discover nature’s reality. I do not believe in Platonic ideals in the ontological or existential sense. I do not think there is an Objective Truth (capitals intended) that exists independent of nature or transcendent to nature. So if you want to call that pragmatic relativism. Fine.

      Again, this answer does not do justice to the nuance that would be required to tackle such a broad question fraught with definitional pitfalls. So take it with a grain of salt.

      “”According to one of your videos you also seem to take a dim view of hearsay. But I suspect if you actually thought about it you would realize the vast majority of beliefs you consider knowledge are based on hearsay.””

      This is a great question. I could punt and just say I agree with Hume. I agree with you that we know less than we think we do. That is to be human. But, particularly since deconversion, I am much more aware when I am taking something on authority (even good authority: scientific consensus) and I am acutely aware when something is hearsay.

      I am not sure which video you refer to but as it pertains to the New Testament and the resurrection here are a few points. As an example, we do not have 500 witnesses as Paul claims. We have Paul *claiming* 500 witnesses. Then the gospels, regardless of how early or late they were written, are not written by eyewitnesses, and worse they are anonymous. So what the New Testament is evidence of is that a group of people *believed* Jesus rose from the dead and only circumstantial (at best) evidence for the resurrection itself. So when we are talking about the most significant event in history I need more than second or third-hand testimony.

      Finally, what is most important for you to understand is that I used to believe. I used to believe the evidence for the resurrection was solid. It wasn’t until I began to look hard at the evidence “objectively” that I realized it was not sufficient for such a spectacular claim for me to continue believing.

      I am open to having a real-time discussion if you are interested.


      [0] https://gracefulatheist.com/2018/09/14/leaning-into-my-presuppostions/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the response Dave.

        Sure I would be happy to talk about these issues real time some time.

        Just a couple of quick points:

        I have found that my commitment to objective truth and reality has often put me at odds with atheists. It is often where the difference of opinion lies. And often it just seems we have to agree to disagree on that. Let me offer my views and sort of explain why I believe them even if they may not be convince you to believe in objective truth.

        I think it was true that the earth orbited the sun even if Galileo couldn’t “convince the hardest skeptic”

        In fact I think it was true that earth orbited the sun before people walked the earth. The truth of the matter was in no way dependent on anyone believing it was verified. That is what I mean when I say the the truth is objective.

        I adhere to the traditional definition of truth. A claim is true if it accords with reality. So the truth is not dependent on what an ardent skeptic is (or is not) convinced of.

        We can redefine the word truth to be subjective but then I would want a new term for what I understand as “truth.” Lets say “truth” is now to be defined in the subjective way you and loftus want to define it. But then I want a new term “bluph.” “Bluph” is the term we use to describe a claim that accords with reality. I am no longer interested in “truth” as it is redefined. I am interested in “bluph” That is because I am more interested in reality itself than what people believe about reality.

        In the blog you link you seem ok with more of a subjective view of truth when you say:
        “Truth is that which can be tested and verified to conform to reality.”

        Verified by whom? Do you think that since evolution has not be verified by the most ardent skeptic it is not true?

        As far as hearsay probably 99% of what I know about science is based on hearsay. If I read a textbook or article by someone who did not themselves do the experiment they are talking about then what I am reading is hearsay. Pretty much all of the history we believe is based on hearsay. That was the point of the blog I linked to.

        Most of what we read in a history text book is not written by someone who was actually at the events. So if that is the criteria for rational belief then we can’t rationally believe very much.

        I don’t doubt that you believed what you say you believed about the resurrection. And of course now it is not convincing for you. But whether you find evidence convincing or not is subjective. It is a matter of opinion whether evidence is convincing to someone. Some people who are biased to believe something may set the bar lower and those who are biased against belief will set the bar higher. But how they set the bar has nothing to do with the truth of the matter.




      2. Joe,

        I have taken a few days to carefully consider my response. On the one hand, I am glad to get your feedback. As I have stated over and over again, I want constructive criticism and even better to be shown where my thinking may be faulty. The other positive is seeing my work through your eyes. Which is to say through the eyes of a skeptic. That has been really valuable.

        However, it is important that the criticism be constructive and at minimum from a steel man perspective. In this and several other comment posts you have taken the most literal and least charitable interpretation my work. You have very successfully defeated these straw man positions that have little to nothing to do with my actual positions. So I am not sure how constructive this interaction is likely to be. In the comments on this post alone, we are basically saying the same thing. I was careful in my initial response to point out there were definitional pitfalls and nuance. But in your response you were arguing against a position I do not hold.

        When I speak to apologists, I like to establish the fact that we disagree is a given. You do not need to tell me you think I am wrong. That goes without saying and is not that interesting. What is interesting is finding where we agree.

        We both appear to care about truth. We both appear to care about honesty. We both appear to care about consistency. That is actually quite a lot to work with. If you are really interested in an honest interaction, I need you to do better. I do not have the time to clarify my position over and over. Show me you understand my argument before telling me how you think it is wrong. Keep in mind, you came to me, not the other way around.

        I did read your hearsay post so for what it is worth, here is my criticism. Anything that lowers the standard of evidence is unlikely to move the conversation forward particularly when you are trying to convince a skeptic. You may find that convincing, but I suspect you don’t apply it consistently when religious claims outside of Christianity are concerned. If you are going to argue that methodological naturalism (the standard I use) does not apply, then you need to explain to me the standard you use that confirms the resurrection of Jesus Christ and denies all other religious claims. Otherwise, it is just special pleading.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Dave

        I think it may be worthwhile to talk in real time about this. You can email me at joemccarron@msn.com and we can set up a time or you can offer your email and I can contact you.

        Here is the Stanford encyclopedia on the correspondence view of Truth.

        I am not trying to get bogged down in unnecessary theory about it that the article goes into. But I am just saying if you add to the definition of truth that not only does the claim need to “accord with reality,” but also the claim is only true if it can be verified (especially if you require verification from objective evidence) then you are going to run into problems. I don’t want to go into those problems if that is not what you believe that is why I am asking.

        I would also point out that I think people can reasonably believe things they do not know. I may reasonably believe the worst pro NFL team would beat the Best College football team. But I wouldn’t say I “know” that. It seems to me knowledge requires a bit more support than beliefs that can be “reasonably” held. I think reasonable/rational people can believe different conclusions even when they are shown the same evidence. I think my experience as a trial lawyer may have exposed me to different ways of viewing these issues than someone who is involved in programing or science. That is not to say one way of thinking is better than the other but I think we can see which view we actually apply in other areas of our lives so that we do not use double standards.

        Also on the other miracle claims from other religions. I think I have explained how I would evaluate religious claims of other religions in this blog.

        I am saying the historical criteria is one important component. That blog lists out the historical criteria Bart Ehrman says he uses to determine historical facts.

        Here they are I would apply this same criteria to any miracle claims of any other religion:
        1) Multiple sources
        2) Preferably Independent sources
        3) Non biased sources
        4) Contextual credibility
        5) Close in time to the events
        6) No contradictions/internally consistent

        Ehrman and likely your guests do not apply that criteria to miracle claims for philosophical reasons. It is not the case that the resurrection doesn’t meet these historical criteria. They are saying they don’t apply them to miracle claims. (I strongly suspect that is the case with your guests but I haven’t listened to the podcast in question.)

        Now to be clear historical criteria is not the *only* basis we use to say whether something happened in the past. We also use philosophical or religious views. So even if Ehrman or you said yes it passes historical muster but I do not believe in God for strong philosophical reasons so even though if the same
        non-miraculous event were equally supported I would believe it happened but I view miracles differently on other grounds – that is fine. I am not going to say that is unreasonable.

        Likewise if I look at all the evidence and say well the evidence for christian miracles is stronger than the evidence for say Miracles of a roman Emperorer. Then I have to ask myself does it make sense that the God who revealed himself to Christ by working miracles in that way also revealed himself to the other emperor? If not then the miracles for Christianity count against the miracle claims of Emperors and vice versa.

        If I believed the historical criteria supported Islamic miracles better than it supported Christian miracles then that would be a good reason to switch to Islam. I believe Christian miracles are indeed better supported when the historical criteria is applied.

        Just to be clear I am not saying historical criteria is the only reason to believe in a religion. There are also pragmatic considerations. But I do think the historical evidence is very important.

        If all of a sudden people started performing miracles According to the divinity to some emperor or Zeus, yes that would be evidence in favor of that divinity and against Christianity. You keep saying we never compare the evidence for other religions but that is simply not true. I do not have an infinite amount of time to explore every religion but if you think a religion has better historical evidence of miracles than Christianity I will read and consider what you are saying.

        If you did a podcast with these phd candidates I will give it a listen. I think I may already subscribe to their podcast. I would love to have a podcast where we discuss this issue with them or others in the field.

        Here is a blog I wrote about Ehrman’s views of miracles and my disappointment that he never even tries to use historical criteria:

        I would be happy to discuss this issue with any phd candidates – assuming they are willing. I think Dr. Ehrman is very dismissive of anyone who holds a different view on this than his own and I suspect many history departments would not be inclined to hire someone that was actually willing to apply the historical criteria to miracle claims.

        Not applying the historical criteria to miracle claims is different than applying the criteria and saying it doesn’t pass. But again I would love to have this discussion because I think it is very important.


  5. Dave

    If I have misrepresented your view then let me know. I am not interested in misrepresenting anyone.

    I am quoting you as to what you believe truth is:
    “Truth is that which can be tested and verified to conform to reality.”

    If you think I am trying to give this definition a weird spin then tell me why. Because I am honestly understanding that this definition of truth requires it to be verified to conform to reality. That is an additional condition that is not present in the traditional “correspondence theory” of truth that simply says the claim must conform with reality.

    Traditional view is this:
    A claim is true if it conforms with reality.

    Your view is:
    A claim is true:
    1) if it conforms with reality AND
    2) You can test and verify that it conforms with reality.

    Am I misstating your view? If so let me know.

    As far as hearsay I think if you are honest you will see you are the one with the double standard. If you are honest you will admit you did not yourself do all the scientific experiments you read about but instead just took some writers word for it. For example you believe information regarding the testing of Einstein’s theory of relativity not because you performed the tests with your own eyes but instead because you read an article written by someone that didn’t do the test themselves that claims the tests were done. For example here is a wiki article:

    We learn about most of the science we know based on such hearsay articles. I do not think there is anything wrong with this. Maybe we should read a few hearsay articles from other sources but just because something is multiply attested does not mean it is no longer hearsay.

    I can only say that if you think I am going through this because I am trying to trick you into being a Christian you are mistaken. What is” truth” and how do we justify our beliefs are foundational beliefs that interest me regardless of your religious views.


  6. Dave
    I offered my email to you if you wanted to talk. I don’t see my comment now so I assume you blocked the entire comment. I don’t think I was disrespectful but I realize some people can be very sensitive about these topics. Moreover yours may not be a blog where you want to engage any differing views but rather just go on the assumption your are correct to reject Christianity and help people who think the same as you.

    If your suggestion that we talk was genuine, I would just say let me know here that you emailed me because that email address I gave is by and large a junk email that I don’t check that often. If you post a reply to this letting me know you responded I will be able to check that email around the date you post here and see your contact information. If you just send an email there and not let me know by posting a reply here, I probably wont see it because it is full of spam.


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