Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How did this happen?

It seems strange that people like my wife and me with our upbringing and levels of participation in the church would just up and leave the faith, doesn’t it? Usually when I’d heard about other people leaving their faith it’s around the time they leave home for the first time and go off to college or get out on their own. It’s not usually people in their mid-thirties who’ve gotten married, settled into a career and had kids. This, of course, has only served to increase the level of shock that people close to us have felt.

It wasn’t something we went looking for. There was no tragic event that made us angry with God. There was no immoral behavior we wanted to engage in and needed to find a way out so we could quiet our guilty consciences and happily pursue it. There were no religious leaders in our church engaged in hypocritical behavior that made us sour to Christianity. This has made it really hard for people to categorize our apostasy. Several still continue to offer their unsolicited guesses about our motives, fearing the obvious: that we simply found the claims of Christianity to be false.

This process did not happen overnight. I’ve had a fair amount of interest in Christian apologetics since college. Indeed it was the comforting reassurances of apologists like Norm Geisler and Josh McDowell that helped me push through periods of doubt while being presented with evidences against Christianity in those years as a student of History and Philosophy. When that didn’t always work it was sometimes Christian philosophers like Kierkegaard, Pascal or Aquinas.  When those failed it was pure fideism and an unflinching willingness to hold on to the faith no matter what.

Later, as my wife and I began to become more serious about Christianity, we moved more toward Reformed theology. In that transition, I discovered the presuppositional apologetic approaches of people like CorneliusVan Til, Greg Bahnsen and Gordon Clark and found much comfort and reassurance in their writings. These people seemed willing to acknowledge what I already suspected. Namely that the evidentialist techniques of people like Norm Giesler or the classical Thomistic arguments of Christian philosophy and natural theology would ultimately fail in the face of serious scrutiny coupled with “naturalistic presuppositions.” It was only beginning with believing the proposition that the Bible is the word of God that one could provide a comprehensive worldview that was capable of accounting for things like logic, induction and morality. It was asserted that unbelievers could not adequately account for these things, therefore Christianity must be true. Stated simply, Christianity is true because the Bible says it’s true and the Bible is the word of God and God is always true. Yeah, I knew it was circular, but then I would’ve also argued that any epistemology ultimately is.

That circular mind trick, appeal to consequences and argument from ignorance worked for quite some time. Eventually it failed when it became increasingly clear that Christianity and its foundational text are internally inconsistent and to no small degree either. For me this was, to borrow Alvin Plantinga’s terminology, a defeater for Christianity and suggested this belief may not have “warrant” after all. I could only hear someone interpret a Biblical text in a way that is so obviously contrary to what the text appears to be saying so many times before I began to get the sense that something’s not quite right. I could only hear the answer “mystery” so many times when asking rather obvious questions about why certain things don’t seem to make sense before I began to think that maybe this worldview doesn’t really provide as many solid answers or account for as many things about reality as was originally thought. If I did not constantly and willfully ignore, forget or distract from these things, eventually the dissonance piled up and the critical thinking portion of my brain would not let it go.

As I studied the Bible more and more and examined opposing viewpoints within Christianity itself about the Bible’s nature and interpretation, it seemed as though often many of the points of contention raised on all sides were very solid points. For example, when it came to the Bible, Catholics seemed to have some very solid criticisms about Protestant doctrines like Sola Scriptura, and likewise Protestants had some really good criticisms of Catholic doctrines surrounding things like papal and magisterial infallibility. It was similar with other groups within Christianity and their differing viewpoints about doctrine. Eventually the thought occurred to me that they might all be right in their criticisms of each others' positions, but wrong in their conclusions. Since most of their positions were mutually exclusive they couldn’t all be right, but they could all be wrong. So what if all of them were wrong? That’s when the protective mental veneer came off and I began studying the Bible and Christian doctrine without ruling out the undesirable conclusions from the outset.

I began to be more and more open to examining the claims of those critical toward Christianity and seeing what outsiders and those with more skeptical viewpoints had to say on a broad range of things and not just whatever theological bee I had in my bonnet at the time. What they said made sense and when I went to check what apologists said on the points they raised I was sorely disappointed. Unlike in college, however, I refused to tear myself away and suppress the dissonance. If Christianity was false I owed it to my children to find out and not drag them down the road I had been on. More importantly, if it was true, I wanted to be able to give them the answers to the very tough questions that they would eventually have, knowing that at some point they would have access to a wealth of alternative viewpoints via things like the internet. It occurs to me that it had been thoughts about my children that were the driving force behind another major theological shift I had experienced. It was the birth of our first child that had ultimately prompted me to seriously re-evaluate my views on baptism and eventually pushed me toward a move to Presbyterianism with its doctrine of recognizing the children of professing believers as members.

I began looking at the Pentateuch with particular interest in the specific laws supposedly given at Sinai.  I started in Exodus 21 just after the giving of the Ten Commandments, which I thought I was abundantly familiar with, and instead focused on the other stuff in Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Mostly out of boredom and lack of interest, I had before just kind of glossed over those things in my reading and not really paid much attention to them. After all, I believed most of that stuff didn’t really apply to the church anymore in the same way it did for the people of physical Israel. Why give it much attention? What I found upon close examination shocked me. Furthermore when I compared some of those laws with other ancient law codes like Hammurabi’s code I noticed that Yahweh’s laws were, in many cases, more cruel and unjust sounding than his. The more I looked carefully the less I liked what I found. Beyond the laws themselves, a few narrative passages like Numbers 31 really shook me up.

I pictured the scenario given there playing out. These thousands of Midianite women and boys had just witnessed the slaughter of their fathers and husbands, some of whom may have even laid down their arms in surrender only to be executed. They watched while the victorious, rampaging Israelites burned their villages and gathered their stuff to haul it away. Everything that had ever been a part of their lives and civilization was wiped out before their eyes as foreign invaders rounded them up and dragged them away as captive slaves, like so much plunder.

I wondered if the Midianite women had heard romantic tales from the old women about a courageous and handsome Israelite exile from Egypt who had stood up to some shepherds that were bullying the helpless daughters of one their own Midianite priests (Ex. 2:16-19). Perhaps they knew this man was now leading their captors and perhaps they thought he would take pity on them. I imagined their horror when they got to the enemy’s camp and this furious old man ordered that all the mothers and little boys had to be executed as well. Only the virgin girls could be spared.

Postulating about how exactly they went about determining which ones were virgins and which ones weren’t brought to mind some rather weird scenarios. Surely they couldn’t simply take the women’s word for it, right? The smart ones would’ve immediately proclaimed their virginity. For many of them we’re left with either some kind of divination or an invasive manual inspection of each female’s genitals for signs that their virginity was intact. I don’t get the impression that any were given the benefit of the doubt. This would have been a massive undertaking as we find out that there were 32,000 who were found to be virgins. Once the determination was made, however, the slaughter could commence.

I found myself wondering if the mothers had to watch their little sons’ throats slit as the women awaited their vaginal inspections or if the confused and terrified little boys got to watch their mothers slaughtered first. Maybe it was all just a random mish mash of brutal butchery, terror, horror, wailing and bloodletting. If I was to treat this account as history, one thing was likely: the little girls probably did get to witness their little brothers and mothers being gutted before they themselves were dragged off to be enslaved, systematically divided up and maybe even in some cases, raped. Perhaps Yahweh was merciful and they didn’t have to watch at all and were far enough away so that they barely even heard the blood curdling screams of their mothers and baby brothers until, at last, the thousands of wailing voices were finally silenced.

It made me want to cry. However, regardless of how warped, twisted and disturbing all of that may have seemed, it was actually all morally right and good according to Divine Command Theory. Yahweh told the Israelites to do it. He’s the foundation of morality, so it must have been right and just and good. They deserved it. In fact, according to my theology at the time, those wicked idolaters had been burning in hell in torment for almost 3,500 years. This did not sit well, but my consolation came in reading the remainder of that chapter. A quick perusal of the numbers of animals that were said to have been among the plunder along with a search of some agriculture websites that gave figures for determining the land requirements for sustaining that much livestock quickly led me to believe that the whole thing may have just been a made up story after all.

I ran to the Gospels to try to salvage what was left of my Christianity, but the floodgates of my departure from the faith were open and intellectually I was not far removed from no longer being able to consider myself a Christian of any stripe. It was inevitable that with my background in History and Philosophy the collapse was imminent, especially now that the willful resistance to the uncomfortable truth was gone. Sometime later, I discussed these undesirable conclusions with my wife after letting it slip that I thought evolution was probably true. She was shaken, but we set the discussion of those matters aside for several months as she let me work through things. That all came to a head after she noticed that I avoided a question one of my children had asked about life after death. She confronted me that night and I laid it all out. I gave her space and later she asked me for a copy of my notes on the Pentateuch.

To my very pleasant surprise, she eventually came to agree that the Bible was not the word of any god and that the claims of Christianity were not true. We agreed that we could not fake our way through Christianity indefinitely if for no other reasons than for our own mental health and the impracticability of continuing to tell our children things we did not believe to be true. So we found ourselves in the uncomfortable position of having to withdraw from our church, tell our family members that we no longer believe as they do, risk losing valuable friendships, turn our lives upside down, and reevaluate a myriad of basic assumptions about the world around us. I don’t mind saying that at thirty-something that kind of sucks.

See where I answer some questions here.
It's driven me before and it seems to be the way
That everyone else get around
Lately I'm beginning to find that when I drive myself my light is found
Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there
With open arms and open eyes


  1. Hi there,

    Can I repost this in my deconversion series, with obvious links back to your blog?

    eg http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2013/03/23/real-deconversion-story-5-counter-apologist/

    1. Sure. That would be great. Thanks.

      By the way, I really enjoyed your nativity debate with Randal Rauser on the Reasonable Doubts podcast.

  2. Awesome! Thanks for the feedback there! I fancy doing one on free will at some point.

  3. What would you like me to call you? By name? Or The Apostate? If name, who?



  4. You can use my first name: Brian. My father's name was Naughtius Maximus. And, no, I am NOT the Messiah.

  5. You might want to check a couple of the comments going on there now!


    1. Yes. I see Andy's playing pigeon chess with your blog's resident troll.

  6. Hi Apostate, may I say Brian,

    I followed link to your story from Jonathan's blog on Skeptic Ink. He has a list of de-conversion stories which I find fascinating. It seems most people who turned atheist knew Bible well, they realized most of the Old Testament is bunch of war stories and such and decided it's probably all wrong.

    I'm Catholic so I get small "doses" of Bible once a week. Maybe that's why I'm still Catholic :)

    I would like to ask you, if the whole Bible is wrong in your opinion, should that mean there is no God? What if religious books are wrong or somewhat wrong and there is God?

    English is my second language, I must be missing something regarding your father's name and messiah comment.

    1. Hello Eugen,

      Yes, you may call me Brian.

      The comment I made about my father's name and not being the messiah was a reference to a comedy movie called The Life of Brian. Brian is the bastard child of a Roman soldier and a Jew. People in the movie mistakenly think he is the messiah.

      I do not think that just because the claims of the Bible are factually incorrect that it necessarily means there is no God. In fact, I wouldn't even go so far as to say there is no god or gods, but rather there probably is no god. I think it is possible that a god or gods exist. I just do not think the god of the Bible exists. Having said that, I see very little evidence that compels me to believe that a god or gods of any kind exist.

      If the religious books are wrong, but there is a God, then I suppose we have to go back to the first question I was asked in my Philosophy of Religion class: If an autonomous X exists, what are its attributes?

      How are we to answer this question? Do we even have any way to approach answering this question? The deists of the Enlightenment seemed to think we could look to Nature to answer the question. However, as science has advanced we have found more and more evidence to suggest that nearly every phenomenon we can see and detect does not require a super-powerful, sentient mind at its root.

      The god of the gaps gets smaller with each passing scientific discovery. At this point mostly all that's left is a first cause and abiogenesis and even those do not require a super-powerful mind to explain.

      I'll try to sum up my position. Given the fact of human and animal suffering, I see no reason to believe in the God of classical theism. That leaves maltheism (an evil trickster god), deism or panentheism (an impersonal or unknowable god) and pantheism (everything is god, which is redundant). Of those possibilities, none of them would have any impact on the way I go about my existence or how I make decisions. Thus, I remain agnostic and a practical atheist until some compelling evidence comes along.

    2. Oh yes I remember movie The Life of Brian, just the long Latin name didn't register right away. Monty Python made few really good movies.

      Thanks for your answer and also for not using complicated philosophical jargon. There is another blog I read where some commenters are using heavy philosophical terminology so I have a hard time understanding it. I basically skip them. Your style is very understandable , you may be a teacher if you are not maybe you should be :)

      Hmm, science actually brought me "back in line" when I had doubts. Our universe and reality is explainable to a high degree but I think "god of the gaps" list is little longer and issues on the list somewhat stubborn i.e. they are not going away. Instead issues are digging their heels in which should be disconcerting trend for atheists,imo.

      You already mentioned unexplained issue of (1) the first cause and (2) abiogenesis but I would like to add (3) mind - consciousness, (4) cosmological fine tuning, (5) nature of space-time, (6) some quantum mechanical phenomena, (7) information in DNA.

      I'm somewhat comfortable with all these topics but I mostly follow issues of astronomy-cosmology, related to fine tuning and of biology which is related to abiogenesis and the intra-cellular processes.

      I’m not sure how much you follow issues on the list I presented. Do you think issues are solvable with purely materialistic explanations? If yes which ones?

      I’m not interrogating you; rather value your answers and opinions. I don’t know any atheists personally except some people online. When I first looked at Skeptic Ink I was shocked and a little scared of the way atheist talk. I stopped reading it for a while but curiosity brought me back. Good thing is, while talking to atheists I evaluate my worldview, too. Maybe we religious people do understand some things wrong. I try not to have my religion get in the way of logic, science and intuition i.e. try to keep them separate. It’s not easy sometimes.

    3. Thank you for your compliments on my understandable style. I am trying to make my writing more understandable for a broader audience and always appreciate insight into how I can better do this. You may have noticed that I like to include hyperlinks when I use a term that I am not certain most people will be familiar with.

      I will admit that I have very little knowledge in the areas of astronomy, cosmology or biology. My high school science education consisted of “creation science” and focused almost exclusively on what creationists would call “operational science”. At university I chose earth sciences to fill the science component required for my History degree.

      I do occasionally follow some of the issues in the areas you mentioned, but I would not consider myself well-versed enough in any of them to address them in detail. Nevertheless I will make an attempt at answering your questions.

      Are those issues solvable with purely materialistic explanations? I really don’t know. There are limits to what we can detect, observe, imagine, etc. That doesn’t mean we have to insert a deity to solve the problems, but rather should just admit ignorance and acknowledge our limitations.

      Of the 7 you mentioned, numbers 1, 2, 5 & 6 may just reflect those limitations. I think mind-consciousness is steadily receding with modern neuroscience. I don’t find cosmological fine tuning to be particularly compelling as it seems to just be a matter of perspective. “Information” in DNA doesn’t seem to present much of a problem with existing information theories.

      Even if these issues aren’t going away, I don’t see why it should be disconcerting for atheists (be careful not to conflate atheism with metaphysical naturalism). I could see why those things might be disconcerting for scientists in those fields, as it would mean that limits were perhaps being reached for the extent of the knowability of certain things. Unanswered questions will always remain and every time one question is answered, usually more present themselves as a result. That just seems to be the way things are. It seems to me the honest thing to say when we reach the limits of our knowledge and understanding is to say, “We don’t know” rather than to say, “There must be a god.”

      But let’s take it a step further and assume that all 7 of those issues you raised necessarily lead us to conclude that there must be some king of mind that was responsible for all of them. What then? We’re still left wondering what he/she/it/they expect from us if they want anything from us at all. We wouldn't know how many of them there are and whether or not they even still exist. Again, I’m not a gnostic atheist. I’m a practical one.

      As for the shocking way atheists talk, I would guess that much of that is a result of frustration. However, I think the internet in general often does not promote civil discourse and invites people to be mean and nasty. I can’t see you and only know you through your words so that makes it easier for me to forget that you are a human being with feelings and experiences similar to mine. The medium itself makes it more difficult for people to feel empathy and easier for people to dehumanize others.

      I’m glad you are continuing to seek understanding and evaluate your worldview, regardless of the conclusions you might reach. I hope I will do the same.

    4. Dear son of a Roman with questionable reputation,

      please accept my sincere compliments for your great (scientific) way of thinking, especially given the creationist background in education, it really is remarkable and yet humble and nuanced.

  7. ' It seems to me the honest thing to say when we reach the limits of our knowledge and understanding is to say, “We don’t know” rather than to say, “There must be a god.” "

    You gave a lots of material to think about. I selected that quote above because it's very important point and I mostly agree.

    For example, regarding the origin of the universe I would rather hear answer "We don't know at this time" then "Universes pop out of nothing" like Krauss and Dawkins are promoting lately.

    Issue of fine tuning is quite serious to cosmologists and it could be fundamental tipping point for some who are sitting on the fence between atheism and theism/deism. I do see activity by philosophers on Skeptic Ink who try to reduce the issue of fine tuning to not important. It's hard for me to evaluate their arguments because I look at the fine tuning only from the technical-practical side. It's a fact that universe is fine tuned but what is the value of it in a philosophical sense is up for debate.

    Back to Earth :)

    My field is work on automated (control) systems and I can tell you after studying of various intra cellular processes I realized they operate in a remarkable way akin to my automated systems. Bottom line is the simplest cell is an assemblage of chemical components-molecules which form nano machines which are in turn organized in a sophisticated hierarchical system. 100 years of science cannot be squeezed into few sentences but I can continue later if there is need.

    My thinking is there is an entity, a mind behind the creation of the universe and molecular machines. I can learn and understand how things work but I still don't know what is the purpose of it all. I hope you as a philosopher have more insights into that question.

  8. Don't you mean to say you would rather hear "We don't know" than Craig claiming it started, and the beginning to exist necessitated God, even though this is formed upon a misunderstanding of singularities, a circular use of neo-Lorentzian physics and other such scientific misappropriation!

  9. Hi Johnathan

    People on both sides of these discussions can be overconfident but in reality nobody is sure what's going on. In case of Craig I would also prefer to hear "we don't know but we propose solution blah blah..."

    I imagine a tall fence dividing two groups. People from both sides occasionally jump up and look what's going on on the other side. People closer to the fence can talk quieter, calmer, be heard and actually learn something. Others who are far from the fence must shout, they can't see what's going on and they get to annoy everyone.

  10. Here is how I tend to view the supposed problems you found with Christianity:

    I believe in the basics. Namely, that God created everything, Jesus was his son and was a sacrifice for sin, and that we are able to be reconciled through that sacrifice.

    I think many things have been muddled by translation problems and the spread of wrong doctrine. In fact, I think the technical method of salvation is largely lost on most people in the church. There are undoubtedly many items in the bible that are misunderstood by most christians. I have major, fundamental problems with the way "christians" live and teach.

    I have read numerous criticisms, such as this blog, that offer reasons why christianity cannot be true, but I have never found them to be a reason to stop belief in the basics (referenced above).

    I tend to go back to two people, Jesus and Paul. Both had such a thorough and unshakable understanding of the scriptures and God that they could not be stumped. These people shook the accepted religion of the day and challenged it. I see very little, if any, of that level of understanding today, and I think that is because it depends on divine revelation. Most of us rely on our own understanding, which will eventually fail.

    I am not trying to be condescending, because I do not have a total understanding of it all. But I rely on faith that there is a good reason for everything to be the way that it is. That logically makes sense to me because there are examples of others who did seem to have that firm conviction that comes from a working knowledge of God's power and nature.

    I am not necessarily trying to "argue you back to the faith," but I am suggesting that a reasonable, rational, intelligent person can logically believe in core christianity despite the intellectual onslaughts you mention in this post. In fact, a thought just occurred to me that a person like you may be exactly what the church needs to clear out the stuff that doesn't make sense.

    This was an off-the-cuff post, so I welcome the chance to address any points I am missing.

    Dan P

    1. Dan,

      Those items that you mention as the basics or core Christianity still need to be unpacked. Just in the creedal statement you provided: “God created everything, Jesus was his son and was a sacrifice for sin, and that we are able to be reconciled through that sacrifice” we would need definitions and explanations for quite a few things before we can really know what those basics are.

      What is meant by “God”; i.e. what are its properties, characteristics, etc.? Without that information we might be imagining and believing in the wrong god (idol worship). Different groups of Christians give different answers to this question and all of them base their answers on their interpretations of the Bible. Which ones are worshipping an idol of the making of their own imaginations and which ones are worshiping the one true god?

      What does it mean that Jesus was his son? Christians have been arguing about that since the beginning of Christianity. All of them use the Bible to buttress their position, and yet the answers still vary.

      What is the nature of this sacrifice for sin that Jesus performed? You mention that because of it “we are able to be reconciled through that sacrifice.” If that’s the case, how does one appropriate it? Different groups provide different answers. All of them are based on their interpretations of the Bible. Others say that sacrifice didn’t just make us able to be reconciled but rather actually accomplished reconciliation for either some or all of mankind. They too use the Bible to back up these assertions.

      My point is no matter what you define as the basics, those things are still going to require explanation. Once you begin doing that you’re going to run into disagreement among people who consider themselves followers of Christ and believe the Bible to be the word of God. Nearly all are convinced that God is not the author of confusion and nearly all believe he clearly communicates who he is and what he wants from mankind. Yet many seem to disagree on the answers to those questions about “the basics.”

      As for Jesus and Paul, nearly all of what we are told comes from ardent followers or, in the case of Paul, from his own hand. I’m sure you have to see how those things might skew perceptions about whether or not they could be stumped and how well they actually understood scripture. Much of what they are reported to have said does not necessarily show they understood the Old Testament well. Nor do they even always give good advice. ,The Sermon on the Mount comes to mind as source of some really bad advice, for example.

      Regardless of whether or not Jesus or Paul are accurately portrayed in the New Testament writings as having a “thorough and unshakable understanding of the scriptures and God that they could not be stumped”; their firm conviction and their shaking of accepted religion of the day are not evidence that they were right any more than the firm conviction and shaking of accepted religion of their day by Charles Manson, L Ron Hubbard, Joseph Smith, William Miller, Mary Baker Eddy, Amy Semple McPherson, et al are evidences that they were anything other than delusional or otherwise mistaken.

      I agree that a reasonable, rational, intelligent person can believe in “core Christianity” (depending on how one defines it) despite intellectual onslaughts. I just think that in order to do so, that person has to often unknowingly engage in informal fallacies and cognitive biases to maintain that belief.

      You’ve been very cordial in your comments on my blog so please don’t understand the above to be a personal attack. Not long ago I thought much as you do so I have a fair amount of empathy regarding your position. I just don’t see things that way anymore for some of the reasons I’ve outlined above. There are many others which should become more apparent in other posts on this blog.

  11. I get the sense that we have somewhat similar approaches and thought processes, although I admit I am not equipped to debate at your level of knowledge. I do not blindly accept church teaching, but I do respect several local leaders (particularly my pastor) who I believe have a reasonable, logical view of Christianity and who listen to my concerns. I am not afraid to confront all the arguments on your site, and I am not dismissing them as unimportant, but it would probably take nearly a lifetime to address them all in the depth they deserve.

    As for comments on my "basics," I don't have specific answers, and I was not trying to give them. I acknowledge my lack of definition, but I would include rational variations within them. I also don't view my list as comprehensive - it's more just to establish some baseline for discussion on my personal feelings.

    I believe in God as a supremely powerful being, and I think there is room for debate within that realm. Taking a view of "God" as, for example, some sort of naturalistic force would run contrary to what I see as the logical position of an intentional creation.

    Likewise, Jesus' exact nature as "God's Son" is not clear to me, and I don't know if we can conclusively say what that means. I would at a minimum acknowledge a divine conception and Jesus' status as at least in some part divine.

    And for the reconciliation, I intentionally left out the specific criteria and mechanism because that is something I have been trying to figure out recently. I think the church has been less than precise in this regard. (As both an engineer and an attorney, I like to see precision when appropriate, and I think it is appropriate here.)

    I fully recognize that there is disagreement within the church on these points, and I don't assert that those disagreements are all inconsequential. There are uncertainties, and there are probably doctrines that the church in general teaches that are wrong in some respects. I hope to refine my understanding as I study more.

    I would also expect some amount of confusion can be logically attributed to demonic forces and man's ineptitude, so I think divine revelation is required to rightly understand certain areas. I realize that creates proof problems to the skeptic and requires a certain amount of faith from the believer.

    My general acceptance of Paul and the Bible as a whole is supported by the way things seem to "fit" logically. In my mind, that is what separates Paul from the others you mention. I don't think their views can withstand scrutiny the way I think Paul's writings can. I think that was missing from my "steadfastness" claim.

    I read your link on the Sermon on the Mount, and I did not find anything convincing from the author(s) there.

    Dan P

  12. I just found you today via "godless in Dixie". I was also shocked when coming across The Code of Hammurabi the first time. I also left because I just plain found out that I don't think it is true.

  13. Survival and propagation of the wandering Jewish tribe under a naturalistic world view would expect them to supersede the Midianites. Why are the means of their survival being called into question as morally objectionable? What better way to expedite generations of healthy offspring, than by acquiring thousands of disease-free virgins? And if a fictitious Jewish god commanded it; why does this bother you as being morally evil? On what basis are we making a moral argument?

    1. It bothers me because I possess basic human empathy and am not a psychopath.

      What are you expecting me to say? “Gee. I didn’t think of that? I guess we need some source of morality that’s both objective and divinely granted to make such an argument. It must’ve been implanted inside me by the Triune God of Christianity. Wow. Thanks for pointing this out, CS Lewis. I’ll be back in church on Sunday.”

      I think you may misunderstand the reason why I brought up that particular example. I did not bring it up as an external critique from some other moral basis outside of the paradigm I had at the time. It’s an internal one. Whether or not some alternate and well-defined basis can be found elsewhere is irrelevant. Furthermore, the kind of morality that can justify such atrocities is certainly no better than whatever morality it is you seem think a “naturalistic world view” necessitates. The point of bringing it up was to give an example of something that was jarring enough to call the whole system into question to begin with. It’s a single source of cognitive dissonance. If you think my rejection of Christianity rests solely on this point, think again. I invite you to avail yourself of any of the other 50+ articles on this blog.