My Experience in an Atheist Community

I wrote an article on Monday about objections to Christianity.  As a part of that article, I went onto an atheist website called ExChristian.net (well, some there would say that they’re not atheists, but all of them were non-believers), and engaged the community for several days.  It was, to say the least, an eye-opening experience.

Rejection

As I went onto this website, I knew that I would be an outsider.  I was cordial at all times in my comments, and was engaging.  I also did not engage in name-calling of any kind, and tried to contribute to the discussion, as they requested on their website.  Here is the worldview that I encountered on ExChristian.net:

Christians are idiots.  A surprising amount of the comments directed at me were ugly and stinging.  There was one commenter that apologized for some of the others, saying,

What you and many Christians classify as just angry atheists can be explained if you want to listen.  How would you feel if you embraced a religion whole heartedly and practiced it for decades only to find later that this religion was a false religion.  Wouldn’t you be a little angry that you wasted so much of your precious time?  Wouldn’t you be angry if you found out that the doctrine and theology that you believed for so loing [sic] was not true? I think you would.

And that is why you see so many on this site reacting with some anger to your statements which they are aware of and know to be not true.  We are not angry people unless we are provoked.  And Christians which come to this site trying to reconvert us provokes us.

Atheists are morally superior to Christians.  Most of the atheists that I encountered did not believe that there is objective morality.  Several of them conceded that their morality came from within them, and some said that the government (or morality by majority) was better than a religious-based morality.  There were many that thought that an evolved ability to reason is what has led to a refined moral sense in humanity.  They said an atheist can lead a moral life just as a Christian can, and can be more moral, even.

God is evil.  Many of the people that I encountered on ExChristian.net left Christianity because they believe that God is immoral or evil, based upon how they read the Bible.  One commenter said, “the bible is inherently flawed and cannot be logically defended.  How can a just, perfect god break his own commandments?  How can a just, merciful, loving god callously kill millions of babies and children (the flood, the passover, etc)?  How can a loving, just, merciful, god order his followers to kill and condone rape and slavery?  It is irreconcilable.”  This is a topic that I intend to cover in a post that will be coming soon.

The Bible is a bunch of bunk.  A common theme in the comments on Ex-Christian is that the Bible is untrustworthy.  Visitors made comments about the Bible like:

  • The Bible was written by Neanderthals.
  • The Bible wasn’t written until 300 years after Christ’s death, so it cannot be reliable.
  • The Bible isn’t the oldest book ever written, so it can’t possibly chronicle the beginning of the world, or be more reliable than older books.
  • The Bible was created from the tribal myths prevalent at the time of its writing.
  • The Bible was written by human beings, not by God.

Anyone who would question non-belief is not wanted.  There are many religions in the world, and most religions are happy to accept objective criticism or debate, but the religion of non-religion is one that rejects any arguments that oppose them.  I found many used-to-be-Christians claimed that they had agonized over their leaving Christianity, but for many, they no longer wanted to talk about the issue.  It appears that the ExChristian site was only for people who wanted to affirm people in their unbelief.  At the end of my experience, one commenter said this:

Bob’s characterization of the role of the Holy Spirit is completely at odds with what the RCC and Eastern Orthodox churches have long taught.  It is a very alarming that Bob apparently believes the Holy Spirit guides him whilst allowing doctrinal error to flourish in churches that collectively have had billions of members since their beginnings some 2,000 years ago.  Talk about Bob being a special guy!!!

Methinks it is time for WebMDave to send this one packing.

There were many other commenters on the site that had no qualms about personal attacks and bad logic.  I tried to answer one of their questions about the Holy Spirit, and was ridiculed for, well, you see the comment above.  Notice the condescension at others’ beliefs, and even for logic itself?

(UPDATE: I need to make an update here.  Not ALL of the people on ExChristian.net were disjointed in their arguments.  There were a few who asked good questions in a rational way.  There was one commenter, Truth Seeker, who was especially helpful and asked some very insightful questions which leads me to…)

As a result of my experience, I learned a lot about who they are as people, and a little bit about what they believe, but their arguments seemed a little bit disjointed at best.  So, I will be introducing a new series on this blog called “Cross Examination: Is Debunking Christianity Possible?” in the next few weeks as a study of the perceived problems with Christianity.  I wanted to call the series “52 Weeks to Disproving Christianity,” and make it a year-long series, but I don’t know if I want to commit to only 52 weeks.  In this new series, I will delve into the questions about Christianity that both drive people from the church (as on ExChristian.net), and those questions that keep people from ever entering the church in the first place.

Questions: Is there something that’s always bothered you about Christianity?  About the Bible?  About Christian history?  Let me know, and I’ll make it a part of the series.  You can leave your comments and suggestions by clicking here.

  • Anonymous

    I, unfortunately, missed the debate on Exchristian.net. I find myself getting hot under the collar, because, again, I sense the arrogance, self righteous attitude of the christian. 

    We all have a right to belief, and non belief, and should respect everyone for that right. Simply because you think your belief system is correct, doesn’t mean it is so for others. Religion is an opinion, not a fact. 

    The title of your article, your choice of words, and portraying your self as an expert on those of us on the site is rather demeaning. It is a site where those of us who have come to believe what we feel is the truth about the god myth, go to vent, get angry, encouraged, or to hear the wisdom of those who have more experience in the truth of the bible myth. To call yourself an expert, is insulting. We are people with emotions, and a right to unbelief. There were over 100 comments on that article, yet your used only a couple, and ones that made non christians seem like ignorant fools. Many christians come onto the site thumping their bibles, and making it know that we’re horrible people, hell bound, stupid, never were christians. You should have done far more research reading the many articles available so you could get a better feel for the many intelligent, thinking, researching people we are. 

    I, of course, had the same arrogance as you have now. I was told christians were the only group in the whole of religion who actually can claim to know the truth, and the way to heaven. I believed that but always had questions. The first was, well, why so many religions then? Can’t god just pick one so we can all get along? I never got an answer to that one. 

    You were allowed to make your comments on the site. The moderator of the site believes that we’re all thinking adults, and can choose to read comments and come to our own conclusions. That’s not true on many christian sites. Many times posters from Exchristian.net have told stories of their comments being deleted. Christians, I being one for twenty years, are notorious for censorship. The faith of the sheep isn’t strong enough for disagreements or comments that might lead the sheep “astray”. 

    Our arguments are a “little bit disjointed at best”? Oh my, and you wonder why people reacted negatively to you. 

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Thanks for your comment.  I agree that you have the right to your beliefs; I’m not arguing against that.  This post was merely a reflection on the worldview that I encountered on your site.  And, I think, it’s not a disingenuous view.  Even comments on the site ABOUT this post confirm the worldview that I describe here.

      While not all people on the site may be (a) atheists and (b) fulfill ALL of these views, I think that it’s an accurate view of my interaction.  Here were my assertions about the commenters.  They believe:

      1. Christians are idiots.
      2. Atheists are morally superior to Christians.
      3. God is evil.
      4. The Bible is a bunch of bunk.
      5. Anyone who would question non-belief is not wanted.

      Would you disagree with any of these assertions?

      • Anonymous

        I’m getting angry, and I don’t like that. What do you think? Your using words that are inflammatory. I was a christian myself for twenty years. Do you really want my honest feelings and answers, or are you simply trying to prove your own opinion as to what you THINK non believers are. 

        1.  As a christian, I was taught not to disagree with what I was being taught. Others around me had studied the bible and knew it was truth. I didn’t dwell on the horrible verses in the bible, especially the old testament. I was meant to feel like a troublemaker, or unspiritual if I has questions that couldn’t be answered. Although I understand the “why” of your and other christians thought process, now it just seems unbelievable.

        2. That’s not what was said on the site. You came across as morally superior, and were treated accordingly. I read a book once whose title was, “Religion, the Root of All Evil?” There are times when religion is evil. When I was in church, we were constantly looking down on others that thought differently than us. Forget about Catholics, even fellow christians, if they believed differently, were looked at with caution. The, hate the sin, not the sinner attitude towards homosexuals is an example. I always wondered why there seemed to be only two issues that could bring us as a church to a frenzy. Abortion, and homosexual marriage. No other social issues, example, affordable housing, was ever discussed. 

        3. You again missed the point. Our belief for the most part, brought about through many, many years for most of us of heart wrenching searching and study, is that there is no god.

        4. Again you missed the point. Through heart wrenching searching and study, the bible is not the word of god. Since it’s not the word of god, it doesn’t get the reverence anymore from us that it once did.

        5. On the Exchristian.net site, the site is for those recovering from religion. There are forums for the purpose of debate between christians, and non believers. There are people that aren’t ready for that kind of debate and are still in the recovery phase, and do get angry when christians come onto the site with their own agenda.

        If your article above is an example of your “research”, then comments will be taken our of context, and you will only use what we write to bolster your already low opinion of us as “unbelievers”. You have your own agenda. I know this is an exercise in futility.

        • Anonymous

          eveningmeadows ,

          Did you really believe this guy would be objective re. our website?  Also, consider his background with an education in sacred music.  He is a lightweight.  We have many members of exchristian.net with a vastly superior educational background re. Christendom.  These folks simply will not accept the possibility that any true Christian would walk away from Christianity.  It is contrary to their statement of doctrine (I posted a link to it on the ex-christian.net site).  Arguing with them is futile.

          • Anonymous

            “These folks simply will not accept the possibility that any true Christian would walk away from Christianity.” ~ Sid 

            Yes, once a True Christian, always a True Christian. 

            So much for that “freewill” stuff, eh?

      • Anonymous

        “Here were my assertions about the commenters[at Ex christian dot net].  They believe:

        1. Christians are idiots.
        2. Atheists are morally superior to Christians.
        3. God is evil.
        4. The Bible is a bunch of bunk.
        5. Anyone who would question non-belief is not wanted.

        Would you disagree with any of these assertions?” ~ Robert Ewoldt

        1. Many different actions can constitute a person being an “idiot”, depending on the person(s) making the charge. To me, Christians who come onto a site clearly labeled “Ex-christian” and who immediately take to proselytizing and dismissing our personal experiences, without first having a look around, are, yes… idiots. This, however, is not saying that Christians, as a whole group, are idiots. So, you’ve made a hasty and erroneous generalization, right off the bat. 

        2. To my knowledge, no one on Ex-Christian ever said,  “(all)Atheists are morally superior to (all) Christians”. Thus, you’ve made another faulty argument, probably because it looks more damaging the way you portray it, and also, because it’s easier for you to “refute”. IOW,  you’ve errected a  strawman.

        3.  No. We’re saying the “God” that you believe in is non-existent. Maybe there is a “God” who is actually “all-loving” and would never commit any act that we would think of as “evil”.  Fantastic. In the meantime, the Christian “God”, as portrayed in the bible, is NOT that “God”. IOW, we, on Ex-christian, say biblegod qualifies as “evil”, assuming it actually exists for sake of argument. You really should learn your interlocutor’s position, instead of portraying them as you see fit, namely, in a way that looks ridiculous, and thus, easier for you to “refute”. It really makes you look dishonest.

        4. Yes, most if not all of the former Christians on the Ex-christian site believe that the bible is precisely that, “bunk”, and personally, I make no apologies for saying so.

        5. If that were the case, the Webmaster could’ve just made it an exclusive, “sign up and register”, site.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Comments from Ex-C regarding Point #1:

          “you and your bible aren’t the moral authority you suppose yourself to be.”

          “An atheist thus has a sound foundation for his morality. No horrible God
          with his Hell required.”

          “There is just so much absurdity in the bible”

          “This is pretty clear that you are to kill infidels who don’t believe the
          same as you. Kill your own parents and children and friends without pity.”

          “A believer’s “emotional reaction” is to actually hide from anything that
          might prove him or her wrong in their belief.”

          “One of the things that I find Christians generally completely overlook is
          the inconsistency of their god”

          “Trolls this magnitude get the tiger in me wanting to eat up their stupid
          brains”

          “Why let reason, logic and critical thinking get in the way of a good
          myth!?!”

          “Christianity never made sense and no one — no parent, priest, nun,
          preacher, author, nor anyone else — could ever answer my questions
          logically”

          “Bob has generally been polite, but I think we have a lightweight from a
          fringe church in our midst”

          “Bob, I feel that you are a special category of delusional”

          “I believe if xtianity engaged in full disclosure, their ranks would be
          thinned out and they KNOW IT!!!”

          “Where do these Fu(ktards come from????”

          “S-C-A-R-Y D-E-L-U-S-I-O-N-A-L”

          • Anonymous

            And yet, not one that says……and I quote your point 1:  

            “1. Christians are idiots”

             In context, or out of context, the implication is that ALL Christians are “idiots”, and nothing on your little laundry list, above,  says such a thing. Pick out the most insulting, and still, at most, it refers to the Christians who navigate onto the Ex-christian site, not “Christians”, as a whole.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Comments from Ex-C regarding Point # 3:

          “The bible has been used to hurt every woman in my family”

          “God is still an intolerant, abusive, angry entity, but Jesus helps”

          “The bible is massively offensive to me as a woman, and as a female who has
          been sexually abused.”

          “This is god telling them to kill EVERYTHING. How does killing infants show
          god’s mercy and righteousness?”

          “So all the Hebrew men got a little girl to keep for themselves. Sounds
          like it is not only condoning rape but also pedophilia.”

          “God thinks it is a fin idea to sell your daughter as a sex slave.”

          “So god thinks it is a perfectly good idea to sentence the rape victim to a
          lifetime of rape with a violent man?”

          “If the bible condones certain actions such as “murder” and “rape”, it is
          implicit that said actions are deemed “moral” by “God”, since said document
          is supposedly the written “Word of God”.”

          “How can a just, perfect god break his own commandments? How can a just,
          merciful, loving god callously kill millions of babies and children (the
          flood, the passover, etc)? How can a loving, just, merciful, god order his
          followers to kill and condone rape and slavery?”

          “god commanded his chosen people to go in and utterly destroy all men,
          women, children, and infants of the people of Canaan”

          • Anonymous

            “Comments from Ex-C regarding Point # 3: 

            ‘The bible has been used to hurt every woman in my family’.”

            Robert Ewoldt’s “point 3″…i.e…his assertion of what the members of Ex-christian dot net are proposing….

            “God is evil”

             compared to…..

            “The bible has been used to hurt every woman in my family” ~ former Christian

            That a book has been used to hurt people, doesn’t a)  necessarily say any character in the book actually exists, nor b) necessarily say that any character in the book is  “evil”.

            “God is evil”, compared to….. 

            “God is still an intolerant, abusive, angry entity, but Jesus helps” ~ former Christian 

            The person is making a comparison of OT “God” to NT “God”(Jesus)

            “God is evil”, compared to…..

            “The bible is massively offensive to me as a woman, and as a female who has 
            been sexually abused.”  ~ former Christian

            Nothing about “God”. The contents of a book are offensive to this person.

            “God is evil”, compared to…..

            “This is god telling them to kill EVERYTHING. How does killing infants show god’s mercy and righteousness?”  ~ former Christian

            Arguing under the pretense that the Christian “God” exists, then asking a rhetorical question, NOT asserting anything.

            “God is evil”, compared to….. 

            “So all the Hebrew men got a little girl to keep for themselves. Sounds 
            like it is not only condoning rape but also pedophilia.” ~ former Christian

            This person uses the word “it”, not “He” or “Him”, which means he or she is talking about a biblical passage. Perhaps he or she thinks the men who wrote the bible are “evil”?  I do.

            “God is evil”, compared to….. 

            “God thinks it is a [fine] idea to sell your daughter as a sex slave.” ~ former Christian 

            Arguing under the pretense that “God” wrote the bible to make a rhetorical point. It’s not exactly unheard of, and you should know this, having engaged non-believers.

            “God is evil”, compared to…..

             “If the bible condones certain actions such as ‘murder’ and ‘rape’, it is 
            implicit that said actions are deemed ‘moral’ by ‘God’, since said document is supposedly the written ‘Word of God’.”  ~ former Christian

            Self-explanatory. The word “supposedly” says it all.

            “God is evil”, compared to…..

            “How can a just, perfect god break his own commandments? How can a just, 
            merciful, loving god callously kill millions of babies and children (the 
            flood, the passover, etc)? How can a loving, just, merciful, god order his 
            followers to kill and condone rape and slavery?”  ~ former Christian

            Again, the person is asking questions to make a rhetorical point. If this person was convinced that the Xian “God” existed, then yes, he or she would probably say “God is evil”. But guess what? They don’t believe it, and he or she merely engages people like you to hopefully get through to you.

            “God is evil”, compared to…..

            “god commanded his chosen people to go in and utterly destroy all men, 
            women, children, and infants of the people of Canaan”

            Making a rhetorical point by pointing out the immoral behavior of the bible character, “Yahweh”, in an attempt to get you to entertain the possibility that you are wrong(which I’m beginning to believe is impossible)

          • Anonymous

            boomSLANG,

            You are arguing with someone whose doctrine openly declares a belief in the creation of the Earth and the firmament of the universe in 6 literal days.  Do you really believe these folks are capable of being objective and open-minded when considering their doctrine flies in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of a much older universe?

            <<>>

            BTW, I did tell Bob that I would not visit this blog again.  What I should have said is that I would not directly engage him on this blog.  However, I will gladly engage you and other ex-christian regulars here. 

          • Anonymous

            No, Sid, I do not believe the two christians here are capable of being objective. They must defend their religious convictions at all costs, even if that means equivocation and other forms of dishonesty. 

          • Anonymous

            boomSLANG,

            I have a feeling that a typical church service with some of these folks is akin to this one…  ;->

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Comments from Ex-C regarding Point # 2:

          “I posit that our government (with all its flaws) is more moral than
          biblegod”

          “Do you perhaps see that 1) we have arrived at a sound basis for morality
          without invoking any deity, and 2) a society interacting on the basis of
          such pragmatically formed morality has a better chance for incorporating the
          cooperative behaviors enhancing the welfare and survival of the group?”

          • Anonymous

            Comments from Ex-C regarding Point # 2: 
            ‘I posit that our government (with all its flaws) is more moral than biblegod’

             
            Roberts Ewoldt’s “Point 2”..i.e.. his assertion of what the members of Ex-christian dot net are proposing….”2.

            Atheists are morally superior to Christians”And again, the blatant dishonesty is appalling. For one, “our government” is not made up of all Atheists. In fact, there are probably more Christians in our government than anything else, in which case, the person is implicitly saying that there are CHRISTIANS who are “more moral than biblegod”. The irony stings.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            This comment, by atheistnurse, is that his/her morality is based upon what
            the government (or the collective) says. And she’s saying, outright, that
            what she believes is more moral than what Christians believe.

            Furthermore, all of the people that write that “biblegod” condones things
            that are immoral in their eyes are saying that the morality that they’ve
            come to endorse (whereever they derive that from) is superior to the one
            that they left behind. Being ex-Christians, I assume that they’re going
            from a Christianity-based morality to an other-based morality.

            Who among those on ExChristian.net believes that they’re going from a
            superior morality to a inferior morality? That doesn’t make sense. Most of
            the comments that dealt with morality and the morality of the Bible gave me
            the impression that they believed that the morality of the Bible was
            inferior to the morality that they currently have.

            If you disagree, and you think that the morality that’s described by the
            Bible is equally as moral your own view of morality, then I apologize for
            lumping you in with the others on Ex-C.

          • Anonymous

            Recently, Robert Ewoldt: “[Atheistnurse] is saying, outright, that what she believes is more moral than what Christians believe.”

            compared to your previous interpretation of she said……

            “2. Atheists are morally superior to Christians” ~ Robert Ewoldt

            ‘ See the difference? Really, your equivocation is astounding.

            Here, again, is what Atheistnurse actually said….

            “I posit that our government (with all its flaws) is more moral than biblegod”

            When you say she is saying “Atheists are morally superior to Christians”, that statement patently suggests that ALL Atheists ACT  “morally superior” to ALL Christians.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I’ll let my statements stand for themselves.  Other people can decide if they think that my statements are “equivocation.”  I think that they will see that you are trying to make a distinction (and then call it equivocation) that cannot be drawn by any sincere person.  I think that we’ve debated semantics enough.

            The only question left to answer is this: do you believe that atheists have a more solid moral foundation than Christians do?

          • Anonymous

            I’ll let my statements stand for themselves.  Other people can decide if they think that my statements are ‘equivocation’.”

            Fair enough. I’ll make it convenient for them:

            Your first interpretation….

            “Atheists are morally superior to Christians”

            Your second interpretation…

            “she is saying, outright, that what she believes is more moral than what Christians believe.”

            you continue….“I think that they will see that you are trying to make a distinction (and then call it equivocation) that cannot be drawn by any sincere person.”

            Ah, so not only am I “close-minded” because I find what you believe to be “evidence” for Christianity’s “Truth”, unconvincing, but now I am not “sincere” because I find inconsistency in your statements.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Comments from Ex-C regarding Point #5:

          “Have a nice day and don’t let the door hit you in the behind on the way
          out!”

          “I won’t visit your blog again. Please do the same and leave this website.”

          “There is no Truth in Christianity to fall away from. Why are we having
          this conversation on exC? Is any body else sick of it?”

          “Methinks it is time for WebMDave to send this one packing”

          “Send him packing”

          “I am surprised webmdave has not entered the fray.”

          • Anonymous

            “Comments from Ex-C regarding Point #5:” 

            Robert Ewoldt’s “point 5″…i.e..his assertion of what the members of Ex-christian dot net are proposing….
             
            “5. Anyone who would question non-belief is not wanted.”

            compared to…

             “Have a nice day and don’t let the door hit you in the behind on the way out!” -former Christian(ex Christian dot net)”I won’t visit your blog again.

            “Please do the same and leave this website. ”
             
            “There is no Truth in Christianity to fall away from. Why are we having this conversation on exC? Is any body else sick of it?”
             
            “Methinks it is time for WebMDave to send this one packing”

            “Send him packing” 

            “I am surprised webmdave has not entered the fray.”

            AFTER you completely ignored pointed questions directed at you and AFTER you pay lip service to wanting to correct yourself where you may be in error.

      • atheistnurse

        Bob,

        On Arguments for God: The Problems of Evil, you, yourself, wrote:

        “We look at the world around us, and see horrible evil:
        SlaveryForced prostitutionPovertyHungerMurderRape”

        Yet, you refuse to recognize that these “horrible evils” are condoned and ordered by your god.  And you never even attempt to address this fact.  Your avoidance of this issue speaks volumes.  It is impossible to explain why a perfect, loving, just, righteous, merciful god would order and condone “horrible evil.” 

        So when governments decide that slavery is inherently wrong (horribly evil is how you put it) then these governments are more moral than biblegod.  Not once in the bible does god suggest that slavery is wrong.  On the contrary, biblegod condones beating slaves within an inch of their lives, selling children, selling young girls to men who will sexually abuse them, separating families, mutilating slaves, etc.

        God also orders the his people to murder infants.  Which shouldn’t surprise anyone since biblegod kills millions of children on his own throughout the bible.

        You have never attempted to explain why this is ok.  You have no logical argument as to why a “loving” god would order and condone these “horrible evils.”

        When is it ok to kill children and infants?  Please just answer this one question.

        Also, if a perfect god wrote the bible and he is more moral than the laws of America today, then would you rather follow god’s laws or America’s laws?  If you say “god’s” then you are saying that you should kill all homosexuals, people who practice the occult, people who work on the sabbath, disobedient children, people of other religions, adulterers and a host of others.  Also we can buy and sell other people and order a rape victim to marry her rapist with no divorce allowed.  America doesn’t allow any of those atrocities, but god thought they were all good laws because he ORDERED them.  The creator of the universe thought they were just and fair.  HA!

        If we based morality and laws on the bible, we would live in a wicked society full of violence, murder, and injustice. 

        • atheistnurse

          Still waiting for a reply from any of the xtians out there.  Or you, Bob……..

          • atheistnurse

            Hmmmm.  Still no reply.  C’mon xtians!!  Stand up and defend your precious god!!  Or maybe you can’t without sounding like an idiot.

          • atheistnurse

            Just one little question:   When is it ok to kill infants and children????

            Hello??……………………………………**silence**……………………………………..anyone there?………….

            Your god thinks there are good reasons to kill infants and babies, so when do YOU think it is ok?

          • atheistnurse

            Yeah, thats what I thought.  You have no answers.  Your god is absurd.  The bible is a book of myths written by primitive men and the stories reflect the mindset of that time.  There is no mind-boggling wisdom that you might expect from an omniscient god, only brutality, violence, superstitious drivel, and the oppression of women and children.

            Oh, and an all-powerful, loving, perfect, merciful, righteous, all-knowing god who kills infants and children.

      • Formerchristianatheist

         My two cents on this discussion, and your five claims are as follows. I would agree with points 2 – 4. Points 1 and 5 I would disagree with.

        1. Christians are not idiots. An idiot is typically considered to be someone who is mentally deficient. It is further normally intended as a derogatory term, though technically it need not be. To claim that a large group of people are idiots (presumably of lower I.Q.) based on their religious beliefs is inaccurate and likely easy to disprove. I have met many highly intelligent Christians and many atheists of lower than average intelligence. What I would say about Christians, though sweeping generalizations are often inherently unfair, is that they are typically irrational, ignorant (often deliberately so), illogical, and very dogmatic, specifically when it comes to thinking about and discussing their religious beliefs. Unlike idiocy, none of those descriptions are derogatory. They are simply descriptions. But, in my pretty extensive experiences in relating to Christians and in having been one myself, I would state that the most accurate description of Christians is that they are typically not actually interested in discovery and truth, but rather in making any piece of information gathered to fit a preconceived conclusion and world view that they have decided from the outset will never fundamentally change.

        2. Yes, with a qualifier. I would say more accurately that atheism is morally superior to Christianity rather than comparing individuals. One need not delve into the darker parts of Yahweh’s character and instructions to decipher how horrendously evil his morality is. One need only think of the notion of teaching children about hell without a shred of evidence to support it.

        3. Yes, assuming that you are talking about the Biblical god Yahweh. God, of course, doesn’t exist as an entity, but the concept of him is horrifically evil, and his entire raison d’etre (within the Bible, not in reality) is to allow people to control other people. That in itself is an evil notion. I can’t imagine anyone reading the Bible with an open mind and coming to any other reasonable conclusion. If humans behaved in the way God condoned in the Bible, they would make Hitler look like a normal political leader.

        4. Without doubt. The Biblical contradictions with established science are astounding, sometimes amusingly so. The book was clearly written by men who had the knowledge you would expect of the times that it was written. Many events in the book are so physically impossible that they have to be taken as allegory by any rational human. Once you start taking the book as figuratively then you realize that they whole thing can be discarded as fiction. Further, the contradictions within the book itself make it completely unbelievable.

        5. Certainly not. Questioning anything and everything is always a good idea. Though, in practice I’m not sure how you question non-belief in a phenomenon. A more logical approach is to question belief. I don’t believe in the tooth fairy, but I also don’t feel any need to question why I don’t believe in her. The question never has reason to enter my consciousness. If someone presented themselves to me as an honest believer in the tooth-fairy and presented some evidence in support, then I would examine the evidence and my position. Same with Christianity and God. But I have yet to see any evidence ever presented in support of the existence of the Biblical God.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Thanks for the comment; it seemed very well-thought-out.  One question for you… in my short amount of time studying these things (I’m trying to start with fundamental scientific questions about God and atheism and the existence of god before I delve into questions about Christianity more deeply), I’ve run into several strong points of evidence about the existence of a god (not necessarily about the Christian God).  How do you deal with these issues:

          1. The laws of nature: that nature obeys laws (and has regularities) is evidence that there is a God.
          2. The existence of the cosmos: that there exists any universe at all, and that it is fine-tuned for the existence of life, is evidence that there is a God.
          3. The presence of life: that there is life at all is evidence that there is a God.  Scientists Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe calculated in the early 1980s the probability of life forming, and placed the odds at one in 1040,000.
          4. Human consciousness: The existence of consciousness in humans is something that science cannot explain.

          The first three of those questions were things that Antony Flew cited as reasons he stopped being an atheist, after years of being a prominent atheist, and started believing in a god (deistic).  The last question is just one that I have tacked on, because it’s something that troubles me.

          These are things that I cannot yet reconcile with an atheistic viewpoint, and I wonder how you’ve answered them?

          • Formerchristianatheist

             Perhaps I can assume from your response that you accept that
            lack of evidence is a valid reason to reject the notion of deities, and your
            position is that there is evidence and therefore you accept the notion of a
            god. In response to your four points:

             

            1. I don’t see how the laws of nature are evidence that
            there is a god. Regularities occur in nature. There is gravity where there is
            mass. So what? Why does that mean there is a god?

             

            2. We know a lot about the origins of the universe, but we
            still know precious little about it compared to what remains to be known. Lack
            of understanding of the origins does not logically provide evidence that the
            origins were magic (see my comparisons below to phenomena that used to seem
            like magic to less knowledgeable humans).

             

            3. Hoyle’s numbers are widely rejected by mainstream
            science. Hoyle also believed that life did not originate on earth but came
            about by panspermia which is not scientifically supported. But even if you
            accept that the probability of life forming is slim, life did form. Therefore
            it must be both physically possible and statistically possible because we do
            know that it happened. Looking around us and saying that we’re so unlikely to
            exist that there must be a god who put us here is to go about it backwards. We
            are here, we know how life evolves given the right conditions, and therefore
            the probability is, by definition, within the realm of possibility.

             

            4. As with your first point, I fail to see how human
            consciousness is evidence for a god. I would disagree that science cannot
            explain it. Neuroscience has a lot to say about the nature of human
            consciousness, as does evolution. That we have self awareness, prior knowledge
            of our own death, language, etc., are all within the process of human
            evolution.

             

            Even if you don’t accept my explanations point
            by point, they can all also be dismissed outright since none of these issues is
            specific evidence for a god, they are simply problems some people have with the,
            as yet, partly unexplained. Two analogies to help explain what I mean. Firstly,
            if we were having this conversation several thousand years ago, similar points
            you might raise as evidence of a god could be: occasionally the earth moves
            uncontrollably and randomly; sometimes healthy people suddenly and randomly get
            sick and die; on some nights huge flashes of light shoot from the sky and
            destroy things on earth, therefore there must be a god. In other words, I
            perceive all four points as essentially the same argument: we can’t fully
            explain certain things yet, therefore there must be a god responsible for these
            things. Secondly, suppose I was having this conversation with someone who
            believed we are all living within a computer programme much like the movie The
            Matrix. They might logically try to use all the same four points in support of
            their belief. In other words, there is no specificity towards deities in your
            points. Not to mention narrowing it down to a specific god such as the
            Christian god.

          • Formerchristianatheist

            I’m not sure why my paragraphs were spread out like that. I prefer to write my comments in a word processing programme and then paste them, and that seems to cause this. 

  • http://exchristian.net The Truth Seeker

    Bob, I think you remember that we stated a number of times that this is a site for ex Christians who are trying to support others who have left Christianity.  We are not saying Christians should not come on the site, but you should respect our right to discuss the topics we feel are appropriate to us.  If you want to learn about what non-Christians think and believe, I thing you had ample opportunity to do that.  We would be glad to debate you on any issue, but you should adhere to the rules of debate.  I know this is hard for you to believe, but you come across to some of the members as arrogant and a know it all.  That sets them off.  I think if you want to debate a subject then you should tell us what it is and we will debate it with you.  Because some of our members are not as polite as others, that doesn’t mean we are all like that.  We have had many Christians come on our site and they have been very rude.  So that’s what most of us expect from new raiders.  I think you will find us reasonable and willing to discuss any subject if you and we follow the rules of debate and have polite discussions.  I think you will find that many of the ex-Christian members know a considerable amount about Christianity.  Many of us have spent decades studying religion, so we know as much as most Christians about theology, doctrine and beliefs of many Christian sects.  Again I would invite you to come back and list some discussion topics you want to talk about.  One against many sometimes gets one sided, but all of us are eager to get our two cents in the discussion.  We can come to your web site and get more Christian input to these discussions if you would like.

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Truth Seeker, I have updated my post to make a disclaimer that I don’t think that all of the people at ExChristian are irrational/disjointed.  I have to say, you were especially helpful and incisive with your questions.  You were right to say that I am not as well-read on this subject as I could/should be, and I am going to make a concerted effort in my new series to study these issues (the historicity of the Bible, the assertion that God condones violence, etc.).

      However, I don’t want to be the “raider” that many in your community think I am (which is why I’ve cut down on my comments on the site).  I will continue to be involved in the site through comments, but I don’t want to lob bombs and start a hugely heated debate in the comments section.

      • http://exchristian.net The Truth Seeker

        Thanks Bob, looking forward to reasoned discussions with you.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll ask, how long have you been in the born again religion? You say, you ask questions that expose your lack of knowledge about how the rest of the world apart from born againers think about morality? Are you pulling our leg in order to appear earnest? How could you not know how others think as someone apart from religion, unless you’ve been in the religion from birth? And then living in a very sheltered, christian environment, with no contact with anyone who didn’t think like you did?

    Did you not have contact with non christians as you were growing up? Did you spend all your time in church, christian schools, christian college, christian workplace? How could you not know how “atheists”, meaning real people without religion, we’re not monsters, develop their morals? Parents, family members, society, law, school, friends. Just like you did. In some religions, fundamentalist Mormons for example, believe marrying 12 years old girls is okay. They don’t see middle aged men marrying young girls as pedophilia. They learned that from their view of “god”. We’re lucky we live in a democratic society that doesn’t support the human right violations that say South Korea or backwards society’s that still think their outdated religious texts are the voice of god. I believe that cultures that allow violence against their people have been brought up to believe this is the right thing to do. Cultures without access to education, and a bigger worldview are more prone to this kind of closed minded thinking. I believe education, reading, studying, tolerance, an open minded world view is a good moral compass.
    Even among bornagainers, the adherents aren’t in unison. For example, we knew a Pentecostal couple who claimed to be born again, but didn’t think any church they went to preached their version of “the truth”. Other tongue speakers believed that since the conservative baptists in my church didn’t speak “in tongues”, we weren’t “filled with the spirit”, in other words, born again, but just barely. 

    Home schoolers believed they were doing god’s will and those of us that had our kids in public schools, thought our kids were being taught by heathens. Smoking was a sin, drinking, dancing, school activities on Sundays instead of church, on and on. There are many divisions in the church, and only being polite adults allows all to meet together in church.

  • http://agardeninthesun.blogspot.com/ renoliz

    Let me simply state that we are not out to deconvert Christians.  But Christians are deconverting in droves.  The Bible was not written by Neanderthals.  It was written by Bronze Age goat herders.  Christianity is an abusive concept in that people are born as worthless sinners, filthy rags, unworthy of life on this planet.  That’s foolishness.  Then, we are told that if we don’t believe correctly based on a book of fairy tales, we are going to roast in hell forever and ever and ever and ever.  You get my drift.

    The people at exC are not all atheists.  Your article showed a complete lack of empathy towards us.  And that makes me sad that I live in a nation filled with Christians that do not know how to connect on a basic human level with their fellow citizens.  

    I cannot tell you in one short paragraph the extent of the damage that has been done emotionally to your fellow humans by Christianity.  And you would add to that with your absurd assertions that we allow you to preach to us about your God.

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      I’m not asking to preach to you about my God; I’m asking that you be open to dissent.  Do you disagree with any of the assertions above about your worldview?

      1. Christians are idiots.2. Atheists are morally superior to Christians.3. God is evil.4. The Bible is a bunch of bunk.5. Anyone who would question non-belief is not wanted.

      • http://agardeninthesun.blogspot.com/ renoliz

        There is no real reason for the website or the people on the website to be open to dissent. We have read and studied what we want to about the Bible, Biblegod and Christianity. No one asked you to come to the website. You came to our website. The website is for people who no longer believe in Biblegod. Perhaps wife beaters should be allowed to go onto websites where their victims get to be told of the joys of wife beating? Now that just wouldn’t be right. Seems sort of like the same thing most of the Christians who come to our website do to us.

        1.  See  Ken Hamm Fred Phelps and Jim Jones and thousands of others.  Many Christians are not idiots but let’s face up the belief in Biblegod has definitely turned a bunch of brains into mush. 

         2.  Atheists are human beings that are not necessarily morally superior to Christians.  But neither are Christians morally superior to atheists because they follow a big book of Jewish farirytales. Atheists do not feel they are automatically forgiven for their trespasses by God which seems like a bad habit.  There is no one atheist viewpoint but then there are endless variations on Christian belief even though they all use the Bible and claim that the Holy Spirit is an influence on believers. 

        3.  Biblegod is evil as portrayed in his “Holy Book” that includes how to treat slaves and that rapists should marry their victims [that’s just two appalling items from many].  

        4.  The Bible was written by fallible humans and has a complex history.  It is filled with omissions, additions and just plain dumb stuff. 

        5.  Any one that comes to exChristian.net should be willing to understand that the site is not about deconverting people from Christianity.  The site is filled with different people at different stages in their recovery from their encounter with Christianity.  There are some very hurt people on that site.  The site isn’t really about debating the merits of Christianity with Christians.  It is about supporting deconverting and exChristians.  Also, the site is not designed to be a teaching tool about why Christianity isn’t the One Way, the One Truth or the One Life although a number of members would be quite willing to give you an earful on that topic. #5 is my take on exChristian.net and does not reflect how every single person feels.There are plenty of books and articles available that explain why people have left Christianity and I will suggest one from my personal favorites.  Why I Believed Reflections of a Former Missionary by Kenneth W. Daniels

      • Pious_Ted

        <<>>

        Are you seriously accusing us of unorthodoxy?  Seriously?  Can you not get it through your skull that the ex-christian website was created for a diverse group of people who once embraced Christianity in its different flavors and then decided they no longer believed?  People come from different backgrounds, and many were taught different versions of Christianity (Catholic, Orthodox, mainline Protestant, and non-denominational Christian churches etc.)  Surely you are honest enough with yourself to acknowledge that Christianity itself has been deeply divided for many centuries?  Accusing us of unorthodoxy is patently hypocritical… and ridiculous. 

        I do not know what your academic credentials are, but I am confident that many of the visitors to our website (including John W. Loftus etc.) have a knowledge of Christendom that is at least the equal of your own.  Friend, you are really coming across as being disingenuous to us and your followers.     

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Ted, I would agree with you that there are divisions within Christianity.
          But division doesn’t mean that they’re wrong. It might mean that SOME of
          them are wrong, or that MOST of them are wrong (because you can’t have
          mutually exclusive statements both being true).

          I wasn’t accusing anyone of unorthodoxy. I was writing down my
          observations. You don’t believe that the Bible is true. Unless you DO
          believe the Bible is true, then my statement was accurate. I’m unsure where
          you think I accused you of unorthodoxy.

          If you mean to say that I believe that you have beliefs that are different
          from mine, then you are speaking the truth. But that’s not an “accusation”
          of anything.

          • Pious_Ted

            Bob,

            You made a point to cite your observation that our points of view on ex-christian.net were “a little bit disjointed at best”.   That implies that we do not share a sense of uniformity with one another or employ any codification re. our beliefs as you and your church members apparently do.  “Unorthodoxy” is a fair term for me to use when characterizing your description of us.  However, let’s not quibble further on this point.

            Bob, let’s get right down to brass tacks.  It was pointed out to you during an exchange with a participant on our website that the Catholic Church does not recognize any Protestant Church as being a true Christian church at all.  That is a rather glaring difference between them and you.  I don’t know how much wider a gulf could exist than for them to openly declare that you are not a member of a true Christian church.  Are they wrong?  What reason(s) do you have to believe that your doctrine is correct and that theirs is wrong?  Could you list them? Please be specific.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Ted, I will put this “difference of doctrine” question in my list of topics
            to cover in my new series. Thanks for the suggestion.

          • Pious_Ted

            How about listing them for us right now?  It shouldn’t take too much of your time.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Why not right now? Because only you (and perhaps 2 other people) would see
            the answer, and you’ve already made up your mind (about something). If I
            take the time to write out a cohesive answer and make a post about it, then
            hundreds of people will see it. It’s all about opportunity cost (another
            thing I know something about).

          • Pious_Ted

            Aw, Bob.  Even Billy Graham recognizes the value of reaching one person at a time.  

            http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=338

             
            I guess you are too important and too busy to condescend to me re. my simple request…
             

            New International Version (©1984)
            Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I’m sorry I’m not Billy Graham.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

            Your request will be answered…just not in time you seem to find acceptable. 

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

            Romans 14:1-18

             1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
             5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
             10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
               “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me;    every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]
             12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
             13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

          • Pious_Ted

            Deuteronomy 25:11-12
            New International Version (NIV)

             (11)  If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, (12) you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.

            Good thing we live under the “New Covenant”, right?

            Gird up your loins, Broc and Bob…

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

            I agree…I prefer the new covenant too…Thank the Lord

          • Anonymous

            “I prefer the new covenant too…Thank the Lord”

            Ah, ‘ prefers the “new” Absolute Truth, to the old Absolute Truth. 

            Good grief, how you people tell us this ‘stuff’ with a straight face, is beyond me.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            I could say the same thing about all Athiest

          • Anonymous

            “I could say the same thing about all Athiest”

            Yes, you could. However, if you want them to actually take you seriously, I would think that you’d at least take the time to spell “Atheist” correctly and make sure it’s plural when you address “all” Atheists

            But more importantly,  instead of “tit for tat”, I would think you’d offer some demonstrative evidence that they are in error, just as I’ve demonstrated the error in your above statement. If your argument is that the “old covenant” is outdated, outmoded, obsolete, “fulfilled”, no longer applies, not “preferred”….ANY of those, then obviously, the bible is not the Absolute, Objective “Truth” that Christians insist it is.

        • Anonymous

          “Friend, you are really coming across as being disingenuous to us and your followers.”

          His followers won’t see him in that light, I’m afraid.  Christian apologetics and the various bible-companion books aren’t meant to convince nonbelievers. No, they’re meant to keep the already-convinced, convinced. Par for the course.

  • Pious_Ted

    Bob,

    Do you know the definition of “sophistry”?  You have demonstrated it.  You might also consider taking a course in basic logic at your local community college.

    P.S.  ex-christian.net is not an “atheist website”.

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      I wasn’t making an argument in this post so, by definition, I cannot be
      using fallacious arguments. This post was about observations, not
      arguments. You can disagree with my assessment of your worldview, if you
      wish.

      Also, I made a disclaimer in the first paragraph of the post that said that
      not all people on Ex-C were atheists, but all were non-believers. Did I not
      go far enough in my disclaimer? If I did not, and you’re not an atheist, I
      apologize for lumping you in to an imprecise term.
      On Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 9:01 AM, Disqus <

      • Pious_Ted

        I didn’t claim your sophistry was confined to this specific post.  I have read everything you posted on the ex-christian website and on your previous thread, ‘Arguments for God: What’s Wrong With Christianity?’,  and my OBSERVATION of your conduct is just that.  Sophistry.  You can disagree with my assessment if you wish.

      • Anonymous

        “Also, I made a disclaimer in the first paragraph of the post that said that 
        not all people on Ex-C were atheists, but all were non-believers.“[emphasis added]

        Which is not true. There are quite a few “people on Ex-C”  who are Deists, and thus, technically qualify as “believers”, namely, believing in a supreme being of some sort.  If you’re going to come to our site and then scurry back here to make a report, I would think you’d want to report as concisely and accurately as possible. But that’s just me.

  • Anonymous

    You know Bob, today when I was driving to work, I seem to think better driving, I had a couple of thoughts. I was a former christian. Many people on the Exchristian site were former christians. You had a comment in your list of questions that said we believe christians are idiots. We come from a unique perspective. If I believe christians are wrong for shutting their brains off and following the fairy tale, then I speak to myself also. Been there, done that. 

    As bornagainers, I don’t sense any of god’s love from you or your buddy. Or for that matter, from the other christians that come to the site. God should be giving you some kind of ideas as to how to relate to us, and you’ve just succeeded in just making us angry, and turning us off to your thinking. When I was in the church, I saw the same thing. None of us were really any different than anyone else. We weren’t “new creatures in christ”. We all tried real hard to be nice, polite and accepting of others, but it was all an act. I spent time with women, and there was the same backbiting, gossiping, jealously, hate, that is common with women everywhere. I asked that question in a bible study once, and was told that now we have the holy spirit who lets us know what sin is, and we have a choice to sin or not. That made no sense. We had no power NOT to sin. We were still the same people we always were. Gobbility goop.

    Bob, you talk to us like robots. I don’t like that, and I’m done with this. I don’t believe you have those nagging doubts that I or others had. You don’t have the questions with no answers. You’ll walk away from all this with the discovery that your faith has been bolstered. This is just dumb and a waste of time. I haven’t been able to squash all the frustration and anger that I have towards religion that others have been able to do. This is just upsetting. I’ll leave the debating to others. 

  • Anonymous

    Interesting:

    Robert Ewoldt’s dossier:

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/ewoldtre

    2001 – 2006
    Moody Bible Institute
    BMus, Sacred Music
    IT Director of Grace Church of DuPage

    He is the 2nd from the bottom in this photos on this link:

    http://www.gracechurchofdupage.org/staff.html

    Grace Church of DuPage
    27W344 Galusha Ave.
    Warrenville, IL 60555

    Office Phone: (630) 393-7344
    Office Fax: (630) 393-4738
    Office Hours: M-F 8:30AM-5:00PM

    bob@gracedupage.org

  • Pingback: Cross Examination: A New Series | Brevis from Bob Ewoldt()

  • Die 2 Self

    In the spirit of truth and honesty, given the volume of posts on Exchristian.com, I don’t think even after having followed the site for nearly 2 years that I could make this kind of generalization about the people there.  It is a complex mix of people there, and to categorize them as angry, bitter (insert your adjective here) nonbelievers is a bit broad.  We all have non-belief about some things.  I’m fairly sure you don’t believe in any of the thousands of God concepts from other religions as I do not either, so the word is more of a perjorative than any kind of useful descriptor. 

    I have found people there who are probably not permanently divorced from Christianity but have decided to be a bit open-minded and feel they are done with it, and I’ve found people who are the kind of people who I always thought Christians were like when I was coming up as a young man.  I’ve also seen people there who are very close to a full blown non-dual enlightenment that see this whole play as a necessary foolishness and find it all quite humerous and necessary that such dramas happen in life.

    Your article was fine except that in my estimation it presumes to make a judgement that would be difficult to make from a casual thumbing through the site for a few weeks or months.  Try going there and interacting with people in the community in a way that isn’t conceptually confrontational (as in just drop all the concepts and beliefs for a bit and talk to them as if you’re interested in forming a true friendship).  You may find that it isn’t much different than any Church or community you’ve ever been to sans god-talk. 

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Thanks for the advice. I plan to continue to be involved on the site, and I
      will do as you suggest.

      • Die 2 Self

        Hi Bob,

        If you’d ever like to talk I’d be glad to.  This isn’t the easiest subject, and people invest a lot in their thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and personality. I am not a “nonbeliever”.  Just a guy who came up against some huge stumbling blocks in Christianity while seeking the source of my existence.  I tried and failed to find anyone in the religion who could answer my deepest questions, but I stayed faithful out of fear for too long.  In retrospect it is hard for me to be angry about Christianity or my fellow Christians, but at the time I never felt more alone and inadequate among people who I couldn’t relate to.  So, if you find people to be a bit turned off, I can’t help but think they’ve gone through some of this experience of feeling like “the ‘wrong’ child”.  For what it is worth, it is something of a “blessing” to feel at ease with your beliefs regardless of what they are, but to have beliefs that don’t agree with you imposed upon you will never let a man rest adequately.  There will come a choice, seperate from the status quo and see what happens for good or ill, or just be silent and suffer the consequences of not disturbing the paradigm you live in.

        Jeff 

    • Pious_Ted

      Die 2 Self,

      That was well spoken.  I have been an active  participant on the ex-christian.net website for nearly two years.  I was a passive lurker for a number of months before I joined the forum.  I have seen many Christian apologists come to the site to engage various members during that time.  Some are accepted well.  Others are not.  One common thread re. those who are not accepted well is the perception they seem to embrace that the members of ex-christian.net lack a basic grasp of the fundamentals of Christianity.  In reality, some of the most knowledgeable people I have ever met re. the history and practice of Christianity have been active members of the forum.  If someone wants to participate in the forum and learn from the members, the better approach would be to come in a spirit of kinship rather than a spirit of confrontation.  Guests on the site should be reminded that many of us were sincere in our beliefs and practice of Christianity.  Some Christian apologists do not accept the notion that true Christians can fall away from their faith.  I am not here to debate the soundness of the “theology” behind that sentiment, but that notion is very insulting to people who once believed but no longer believe.  Leaving Christianity was very painful for many of us, and the idea that we must have been hurt by the church in some fashion as a catalyst to leave is also quite insulting.  Many of us earnestly considered the “evidence” that Christianity presents and decided we could no longer believe.  If guests want to openly engage members of ex-christian.net and learn from them, I would suggest not waving those particular flags in our faces.  You will likely get the door slammed in your face.  Otherwise, we welcome a dialogue with those who wish to engage in open and honest discussion… and without preaching to us.  ;->

      • Anonymous

        “Some Christian apologists do not accept the notion that true Christians can fall away from their faith. I am not here to debate the soundness of the ‘theology’ behind that sentiment, but that notion is very insulting to people who once believed but no longer believe.” ~ Pious_Ted

        Yes, VERY insulting, not-to-mention, plain ridiculous. If a “True Believer” lacks the freedom to decide that he or she no longer believes, then any sane, intelligent person can see that those people are not free agents. This is a quagmire that rests squarely in the lap of the “True Believer”. Yet, Christians, both here, and those who come to Ex-Christian dot net., would love to make this the nonbeliever’s problem. BTW, I was a fence-sitting, silent lurker on said site for many months, weighing the evidence and logic of the comments from both sides. I used my supposed “God-given freewill” to decide that intellectual honesty must trump “faith”.

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  • Nude0007

    Interesting.  I know I posted a comment here, but it is gone now. I didn’t even say anything nearly as provocative as most of the others.  Is it my name?

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      No. I don’t remember seeing your comment, and I did not delete any. Can
      you repost it?

  • Formerchristianatheist

    I will make another comment here in general response in addition to my previous comment specifically addressing your five points. It is unfortunate when people lose patience in discussions and resort to name calling etc. In discussions with Christians I have at various times been called a wanker, an idiot, evil, immoral, homosexual, and had my life threatened. So in my experience the things you experiences in your discussions, while less than ideal and not condonable, are probably less intentionally hurtful than a lot of what is said by people throughout the religious spectrum.

    Though ex-Christian is not an atheist site, the general common theme among those of us on the site is one of accepting that Christianity is not true. This is not a belief system but rather an acceptance, often taken reluctantly over many years of thought and study, that the Bible and Christianity are not true. For myself, one of the main reasons I am an atheist is because there is no evidence to support the notion of deities. Once I started to look at the world objectively, once I started to really understand science and nature, and once I formed my conclusions based on the evidence rather than trying to make the evidence fit my conclusions, I had no alternative but to accept that there is no god. I understand firsthand the difficulty in accepting this. It involves, initially, stepping outside of one’s comfort zone (particularly with respect to death) and taking what seems like a large risk. Once done so, of course, one realizes that there is no risk at all. It is simply a process of accepting reality, no matter how harsh and unfair it might seem at first.

    In any case, when your point of view is that you are right no matter what, and when you are by definition unable to provide evidence to support any of the claims of Christianity, people who have had to go through the process of examining the evidence in order to get to their current position, which is an evidence-based  position, are likely to become frustrated when they perceive stubbornness or an unwillingness on your part to step outside your comfort zone and examine the evidence.

    If you really want to understand how an atheist feels in conversation with a Christian, you have to first think of something that you do not believe because the evidence does not support it (say a flat earth, the Easter Bunny, or unicorns).  Then, picture someone coming along and making the claim that you don’t believe. When you offer to examine the evidence, they brush aside the bits that are inconvenient to their belief, and force other bits to fit their preconceived belief. Then, to top it all off, they accuse you of being close minded despite the fact that your lack of belief in, say, unicorns is based on the fact that there is no evidence for unicorns. No matter what you say, you know for a fact that they will never give up their belief in unicorns. You, on the other hand, since your position is evidence based, would accept unicorns as real if some evidence were presented in support of them.

    For added fun, toss in statements that if you don’t force yourself to believe in unicorns despite the lack of evidence, you will spend an eternity in torture. Also imagine that the country you live in has in its government only one politician who openly accepts that unicorns do not exist, and many of the rest of the politicians think that the way of the unicorn should be taught in schools, and should be the basis for the country’s laws.

    If you truly visualize and understand this scenario, then you’ll have
    some idea of how atheists feel when they engage in conversations with Christians.

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  • Rkaufman5

    Bob, I appreciated the tone and the character of your article.  My experience, gathered over many years and from many settings, leads me to agree with your findings.  I believe they tend to dismiss out of hand an argument for Christianity rather than debate the facts.

    • boomSLANG

      “I believe [Atheists] tend to dismiss out of hand an argument for Christianity rather than debate the facts.”

      The problem with this observation is that there isn’t agreement on what “the facts” are. For instance, as an Atheist, I agree that, in fact, the bible exists. On the other hand, I do not agree that it is a fact that the bible is “The Inspired Word of the Creator of the Universe”. When/if a Christian can proffer credible evidence that his or her bible is such an inspired document, then perhaps we can debate whether said creator should be worshiped, revered, loved, etc.