Thank you for reading my book. Based on all that I have presented here, I believe that I have made a conclusive case for the following.
1) The Bible is not infallible and inerrant. It contains huge internal discrepancies and contradictions, scientific and historical errors, unfulfilled and failed prophecies, atrocities by God and his followers too barbaric and monstrous to be of an all-loving all-wise deity, and other errors that make it obviously the creation of fallible humans. Even if those who wrote the Bible did encounter supernatural beings or forces, at best what they wrote only represents their interpretation of God.
2) Christianity’s theology, doctrines, and dogmas evolved over time with the people and society who shaped and influenced it. They were not a direct divine revelation from God that has remained the same for all time.
Therefore, based on the above two conclusions, I also conclude the following:
3) The teaching that we are all sinners and going to hell unless we believe that Jesus died for us is a fear control mechanism contrived by humans, not by God.
4) The Bible is not the ultimate authority that we must all submit to. It is not the sole representative of God’s word, will and message to mankind. It is not the only way to God or to true wholesome spirituality, and neither is Jesus.
For some pamphlets that outline similar summaries, see the following:
A Lawyer's Open Letter to Dr. Billy Graham
Dennis McKinsey's pamphlets
My Anti-Evangelism Tract
My Summary Response to Two Christian Missionaries
Darryl Sloan, one of the most intelligent speakers on YouTube, has many brilliant videos where he dissects Christianity with masterful critical thinking, which struggling Christians will find validating and consoling. I highly recommend them. His channel can be found at http://www.youtube.com/darrylsloan
I also strongly recommend Sloan’s book Reality Check. It is a thought-provoking masterpiece of balanced critical thinking and introspection on religion, secularism, spirituality, and the search for meaning, without any assumptions or preaching. In it, he describes the painstaking struggle he endured as he swung back and forth on a pendulum between Christian faith and disbelief, and how he eventually overcame it through the power of reason to begin his truth-seeking journey. The quality of thought in it is on a level I’ve rarely encountered. It’s the kind of book that once you start, will be very hard to put down. You can get it in paperback or ebook format at http://www.darrylsloan.com.
The first 9 pages are available for preview. Check it out. It's sure to be a truth seeker's delight.
Now, I realize that to some my arguments and statements in this book may sound a bit one-sided. Therefore, I want to clarify that I am not arguing that everything in the Bible is completely false and worthless. I never advocate black and white thinking of any kind. Unlike fundamentalist Christians, I do not see it as being all trustworthy or all false. On the contrary, I do not believe that the Bible can be described or summed up with just one statement or idea. I do not even see it as one book, since it is composed of 66 books by over 40 different authors from different times and places. Therefore, there is too much complexity for generalization. Each portion of it should be addressed separately to get into any detailed discussion about it.
If I was to take the Bible as a whole though, I would say that I believe it contains many words of wisdom, preaches high morality, courageous tales and fables, and parables with a good lesson. However, it also contains savage laws, barbaric ways, immoral atrocities, closed-minded narrow viewpoints, extreme teachings, and other flaws. Such is to be expected from a book written by humans. The book basically represents human nature throughout history, demonstrating the best and the worst of it. And it can be appreciated that way. One does not have to believe in the doctrine of inerrancy to appreciate the Bible. In fact, I think that every good book or religion contributes to our understanding of human nature and reality. Therefore, we do not need to have any dogmatic or fundamentalist views about any book or belief system. I believe that all literary works and religions have value. They show the process of humanity’s quest to understand themselves, their purpose in life, and their search for meaning.
This does not mean though, that just because a book represents human nature, that there is nothing divine about it. On the contrary, I believe that one facet of human nature is our spiritual nature, which connects us to a cosmic consciousness or mystical reality that is beyond words, which can be personal or impersonal. And this aspect of our spiritual human nature has manifested in the Bible through its spiritual teachings and wisdom as well, which is why the religious people who follow it have been known to have spiritual or divine experiences. I don’t deny the possibility that the Bible writers or the figures in its stories may have indeed had spiritual or mystical revelations. However, that would still only represent their interpretation of their encounter with the divine. The mistakes, fallacies, and savage nature of much of it attests to that. Personally, I think that’s the best and most accurate way to view the Bible.
Throughout time, things have been in a constant state of flux and change. All of us, along with everything that exists, are evolving in some unknown direction for some unknown reason. In that sense, the Bible can be seen as a stepping stone in one’s path of spiritual evolution. For those new to religion/spirituality, the structure that the dogmas and creeds of organized religion provide may be what they need. They do so by organizing the nature of divine realities into simpler terms for them to understand. However, we do not need to limit ourselves to the teaching of any organized religion. Organized religion should be a path or stepping stone, not a limit or cap on spiritual growth or discoveries. It is not an end point, but a path to get us started on a journey. That is why no one organized religion suits everyone. Such is simply not possible.
However, organized religion tends to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it unifies groups of people who share the same beliefs. And as we all know, collective entities are more powerful in achieving their objectives than single entities. In other words, in certain conditions, people are stronger as a group than as individuals. It also gives some people the structure they need to be religious or spiritual, in terms they can understand. Since some are at a stage where they need that, I therefore do not condemn them for it, since I myself was at that stage before too. That is one reason why I said I do not expect this book to persuade the devout happy Christian believer to change his/her beliefs (not that it would anyway). However, it may help those in transition, wanting to evolve further but not sure how, or those wishing to leave their dogmatic faith but too fearful to do so, as well as researchers and truth-seekers who wish to know the arguments against Christian fundamentalist teaching.
But on the other hand, organized religion has some downsides as well. It tends to oversimplify spirituality and close people’s minds into a set system of dogmas and doctrines. Also, it tends to make their follower’s spiritual lives more about conforming with the beliefs of the church or group, rather than on each person finding his/her own spiritual path. And of course, in every organization there are always politics and egos that come into play.
We are all each at different stages and types of evolution levels, but in order to get along we must all respect each other’s beliefs. However, some religions such as Christian fundamentalism make that difficult due to their extreme teachings/doctrines, claim to exclusivity, and intolerance of other religions and belief systems. And that is the problem that non-Christians often have with devout believers. However, each religion has its pros and cons, and as mentioned before, Christianity can give one a strong sense of purpose, structure, and confidence, while closing that person’s mind substantially, instigating fanatical beliefs in them, and even going so far as making them deny themselves. Its extreme nature is one reason why Christianity tends to be so controversial, and why it tends to make people either love it or hate it. It can be one’s best friend or worst enemy. It has brought out the best in people (strong family values, missionaries, charities, humanitarian relief projects, changed lives, etc.) and the worst as well (inspired violent fanatical acts, inspired religious wars, closed people’s minds, etc.)
I happen to believe that everything happens for a reason. Therefore, Christianity has been a part of world history for a reason. Just what that reason is can be pondered about, and everyone will see it differently, but perhaps the real reasons cannot be answered with mere words. And neither can the question of why we’re here, or the meaning of existence. Most of us will never find the ultimate answers to those questions, although some claim they have. Perhaps there are no ultimate answers, at least not ones that can explain everything to everyone’s satisfaction. And I believe that’s because if there are true complete answers to life’s mysteries, they cannot be put into words. Sometimes though, they can be experienced, but not intellectualized for mental understanding. Just as the system of math or algebra cannot be comprehended by a dog, in the same way the true answers to life’s mysteries are beyond intellectual understanding. And we should understand and accept that. However, even the Bible says “Seek and ye shall find”, which has some truth to it. Those who fervently seek the truth do tend to find it in some form or another, in a way that’s meaningful to them, though not necessarily to others. That’s why the answers can be different for everyone.
To be fair here, I do acknowledge that based on the evidence from Christian testimonies, answered prayers, miracles, etc. I would conclude that yes there is something supernatural going on here in regards to their faith. However, just because there is some supernatural force or power behind it, doesn’t mean that all other beliefs and religions are false, don’t lead to God, and are of Satan and lead to hell, for there are supernatural things going on in other religions and spiritual practices as well. That is what Fundamentalist Christians don’t get.
Now, you may be wondering where my spiritual path has led me after my deconversion from Evangelical Christianity, and whether I am better off now as a result of it. Well I will share with you some relevant parts from my testimonial story My Rise to Christianity and My Transcendence From It and let you decide.
“After summer, I started community college. It was there that I learned a lot about the world that I didn't know before, its diversity, different cultures and beliefs, different viewpoints and opinions from great people throughout history from the past up to the modern era, etc. At this point I started seeing the world from a whole new perspective which helped me appreciate life even more. No longer did I see the world as a world of sin and darkness as I had been taught. No longer did I see the world as a giant dungeon where everyone was enslaved and chained up by sin, darkness, Satan and demons. Instead, I saw the world as a rich beautiful diverse place with its own problems and challenges to work through over time. I saw that each unique person in the world was on a path to evolve which included challenges and lessons to be learned. I realized that it was wrong to try to convert someone from that path, and that it was best to let people grow, learn and evolve on their own path and find their own destiny.
But what about finding the answers about the truth of God and religion? I wasn't sure where to begin. I knew that each religion claimed to have the truth and that they disagreed with each other on many things, so they couldn't all be right could they? But how would I know which religion was true and which wasn't? I thought there was no way to really find out until after you die. So I just became an agnostic and left it at that for a while. But eventually, I believed that if there were answers out there, then there must be some way to find them. I wasn't satisfied with being an agnostic and dropping the issue for good, so I decided to search again. It was then that I found some New Age spirituality books that had caught my attention. I had remembered that a few years ago my Youth Pastor had warned of the dangers of the teachings of the New Age movement. I had no idea what it even was at that time, but now I was curious. Maybe it would show me something that the traditional organized religions didn't. Fortunately, it did. Many of the concepts made so much sense to me and showed me the big picture. It was like it borrowed all the truths from each religion and put it into a giant wheel that represented the total sum of cosmic divine truth. That was it, I thought! Each religion represented a different aspect of the truth, and when you put them all together you get a better view of the whole picture! Bingo! This was the answer I was looking for. Now I understood what that secular adage meant that said that all religions are different interpretations of the same God. Before I thought that was just a cop out, now I understood how much sense it made. The reason that the great religions contradicted each other were due to the differences in man's interpretations of the divine, not the fault of the divine. In fact, the more I learned about each religion, the more parallels I could see between them. The same underlying themes seemed prevalent and all pointed in the same direction. I also learned that since religion was man's interpretation of God, that God didn't really fit into any organized religion, but was far beyond the limitations that they imposed on him.
For the next few years, little by little I gradually developed the courage to read books with ideas from other religions and New Age beliefs as well. For a while, each time I picked up one of these books, the words "Satan" and "blasphemy" would come to mind, but I as I learned more and became more confident in my new knowledge, those fears lessened and eventually diminished. One day, I found another profound answer to what I was looking for. I saw a quote in a book that said "The more and more you look at the universe, it appears less like a great machine and more like a great thought." That's it I thought! We don't have to look for God out there in some abstract place. We are all a part of God. We are all like atoms and molecules in the large organism we call God. Like each atom and molecule in our body, we each serve a higher purpose that we aren't aware of yet. This made even more sense to me as I realized that everything in the universe seemed to be made up of something revolving around something else. For example, in an atom there are protons and electrons orbiting a nucleus. Likewise, on a planetary scale, moons revolve around planets. On a larger scale, planets revolve around suns. From an even larger scale, suns and stars revolve around the center of each galaxy. So if we are all made up of atoms which contain things orbiting around each other, then maybe suns, stars, and galaxies are also like atoms which make up a larger whole we call God! I envisioned that everything in the universe was like valuable parts of the inside of an intricate clock, each part was valuable, unique, and served its own purpose. We just don't always see or realize that purpose unless we reach higher states of being and consciousness. At the time, I thought I was the only one who came to the conclusion that God was the totality of everything. Soon though, I realized that I wasn't and that others searching for truth had discovered the same thing, and that this view of God in fact had two terms for it. One was "Pantheism" and the other was "Monism."
I also discovered that we could all find God and divinity in ourselves just by tapping into our higher selves and higher states of consciousness. It was like we were Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz who discovered that she had the power to return home the whole time because she had already been wearing those red magical shoes the whole time. Likewise, we could find God and the divinity within ourselves by just simply going within.
Finally, I discovered that many great great mystics and seekers of truth throughout history and in our modern era have come to the same conclusions that I came to as well. This said to me that there must be something to my discoveries after all! From their books and books written about them, I discovered very similar themes. These themes reveal that we are all souls from higher levels which have decided to come down to Earth to learn lessons and grow. We do this by either continuously reincarnating here or in other worlds or other planes of existence until we learn the lessons we need. As we learn, grow and evolve, we reach higher levels of consciousness, which allow us to enter higher heavenly realms. Some call these higher realms Heaven. Others call them Nirvana, Astral Planes, or Re-unification with God. There are different levels of these higher heavenly realms, and between 7 and 10 are named. In addition, I learned that millions of people who have had Near Death Experiences (NDE's) and Out of Body Experiences (OBE's) have had these same higher truths and themes revealed to them during their experiences. All this told me that there must be something to these themes if people from all over the world had the same things revealed to them somehow……………
There was another benefit to all this as well. Because of all these discoveries along with my new views of God and spirituality, I realized that my parents and relatives weren't going to hell after all! This lifted a huge burden off me and gave me peace of mind. In a way, I had saved my parents and relatives from going to hell just by realizing that they weren't going in the first place! My parents had been right all along that I didn't have to convert them or any of my relatives. All I had to do was appreciate where they are, because they were already where God wanted them to be. I now had peace of mind to move on and discover my own potential. I was free now to explore the limitless possibilities of life, knowledge, mind, philosophy, spirituality, etc. A whole new adventure was just beginning.”
If you want spirituality or God in your life without religion
Now, if you still hunger for a spiritual life, or fellowship with God, without having to subscribe to fundamentalist religions, I suggest starting with these books:
· Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
· Any book or audio by Wayne Dyer
· The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot
· Under the Tree by Greg Stone.
The books above are my favorite and have enriched and enlightened my mind to true spirituality.
Basically, you CAN have a spiritual life without organized religion. You just have to find it and recognize that, as Wayne Dyer likes to say, “You are not a human being having a spiritual experience, but a spiritual being having a human experience.” And the other good news is that you CAN have God in your life without religion. You can have the same faith that the Christians do, and still receive the divine help, power, miracles, etc. that they get from their faith, without subscribing to their religious tenets or doctrines. Many do, and are able to access the same help from the same divine power as religious people do, for God works through many ways, not just religion. But first, you have to find out who you really are, and who God is first. The books above will point you the right way.
An Indian American gave me this enlightening summary of his view of “God”, which accurately reflects my conclusions as well:
here is my view on God:
I am of the conviction that there is a God, but that God works in ways that are beyond human logic and description. Whether he is personal or impersonal, in us our outside of us, again, he is beyond human understanding. In fact, one does not really have to call it God: names like the Absolute Truth, Tao or Supreme Undescribable Force will do fine.
I welcome all religions, because I think they are the closest possible relative descriptions of the Absolute that we can have. Therefore, I regard all the major religions as the greatest, most inspirational source of life's wisdom that can ever be provided.
But again, the keyword here is relative, and the religions are still that - they cannot be Absolute. Friction and violence occurs when a member of a religion thinks their religion is the Absolute, or in other words, when they think their beliefs are the most complete description of the Undescribable. And on top of that, many such people think their beliefs are the ONLY way. This is the prime recipe for friction between two or more sets of relative beliefs.
Well that is my take...if you find anything worthwhile here, you may feel free to quote me on any blog or video.
For recovering fundamentalists, the mystical or New Age path changes their understanding of Christianity drastically. For example, a yoga mystic on my own email list named Faith (yes that’s her real name) had this to say regarding her new perspective of Christianity after undergoing cosmic unifying experiences which expanded her level of consciousness: (in her original purple text color)
“OK Win... for what it's worth........
I would just say that.... on the topic of Christianity and the Bible .... That it is rather ironic that ALL (dualistic) Christians , those who do NOT see God in and AS all things and all Beings) (those who are still in judgment mode.. as in... they see OTHER where no OTHER actually exists..... have no idea as to the true GREATNESS of Jesus or what it really means ULTIMATELY to Be in Christ Consciousness and what the Christ really Offers and will bestow upon them at some point in their existence. Jesus was NOT just about getting into Heaven. THAT is only part one.
This information cannot be known intellectually but instead one must come to via direct Transcendent revelation which is the GREATEST Gift of Grace.
To KNOW the Christ Consciousness one MUST become ONE with the Christ Consciousness. THIS was Jesus' GREATEST gift. To make US ONE WITH himself. Not just about getting into heaven for an eternal Life but to become ONE WITH .. in every way... the actual SOURCE.. The Supreme unchanging Reality.
This can only sound heretical until one Transcends to this Supreme Truth which only Grace can reveal. Too bad so many judgmental early Christians tortured many who were actually in Christ Consciousness themselves. They did not, and still do not understand what is meant by 'The ONE and the Way'.
Knowledge is known within ALL spiritual traditions. It does
belong exclusively to the Christian perspective . The
have It, (Cabalists) the Moslems have It, (Sufis) the
It (Vedanta / Kashmir Shaivism)... AND the Christians have It....
Gnosticism .... this IT.. is the Supreme UNCHANGING
Yes, Jesus was a Grace Bestower.... he was ONE with the "Christ" or
So.. Yes, Jesus was indeed One with God, and although rare, this state is not QUITE so rare as the Christian religions might have us believe.
God .. or The Supreme Christ Consciousness is UNLIMITED and can manifest when and as IT chooses, through whomever IT chooses. Jesus was/is not the ONLY Pure ONE. The Christ has ALWAYS manifest for humanity. Sometimes revealed... sometimes not.
One can THINK they "know"... but that thinking will not be real knowing. When "God" realllllly wants us to KNOW.. we KNOW and there is no belief and no THINKING involved. AND it cannot be SHARED verbally with those NOT in this state of Grace. IT is Transcendent Knowledge.. beyond the mind's ability to reason. IF.... one THINKS that they can relate this divine reality via words.. then know that they do not know.
PS... though some of Jesus' disciples knew the supreme Truth.. they did not all grasp his HIGHEST teachings.
btw People who think the Gnostics are heretics are quite ignorant of Jesus’ highest lesson.
though it is most likely that some of the Disciples did write from a
Erik, a reader of my deconversion story, wrote me these comments below about how he felt after leaving the faith:
“After that day I started looking at the bible with a much more open mind. I no longer had that assurance that it is truth, or that I had the only true path to God. Some people have shared this with have expected this to be a very negative period in my life. After all I was losing what was the foundation to my life. In reality it was anything but that. For the first time in years I felt free. I could ask all the questions I had always passed over, I was looking at life in a much more open minded way. In time instead of seeing everything in black and white, instead of seeing Christianity as right and all other religions and beliefs as wrong I began to see the world in a very new light, as a place of diversity and colour. A place where people with such a rich variety of cultures and lifestyles all add up to make the world a much more interesting and better place than it was for me when I was a Christian. Gradually I began to look at other peoples beliefs and was amazed that they have so much in common with my old Christian beliefs (moral values, self improvement, peace, spiritual fulfillment).”
Apparently, such post-fundamentalist feelings like Erik and mine are quite common. Ed Babinski, who wrote a book chronicling testimonies of former fundamentalists called Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists, noted a pattern among the deconverts in their new founded sense of freedom after their gradual deconversion. He notes on his site regarding his book:
“Once you have read all the testimonies, certain threads linking them together become apparent: the dilemmas and fears each person faced in leaving fundamentalism behind; their gradually dawning courage to ask crucial critical questions, and to continue asking more questions; their discovery of how wonderful it can be to allow one's innate curiosity the freedom it craves; and the blossoming of their distinctive personalities and beliefs.”
For now though, I suggest that we open ourselves up to consider new possibilities and paradigms that may not fit our views. That is not to say though, that we should believe and accept every crazy or dangerous idea in the world. But rather, find the degree of truth in contrary ideas rather than reject or accept them as a whole. After all, rarely is anything ever 100 percent false. Most things have some degree of truth in them, and they usually at least point to something meaningful. By doing this, we develop a broader view of our lives and of reality. The benefit of having a broader viewpoint is that you start to take things less personally, your problems less seriously, and you don’t tend to overreact as much to little things that won’t matter a few days from now. And also of course, you appreciate more things in life and have a richer more rewarding inner life as well.
We are never too old to learn new things. Life, learning, and personal growth is a process. Therein lies the beauty of it. As the saying goes, life is a journey, not a destination. Therefore, the process is more interesting and rewarding than the end result. Let me close now with a few quotes that illustrate this.
"Let the mind be enlarged... to the grandeur of the mysteries, and not the mysteries contracted to the narrowness of the mind" - Francis Bacon
"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't." - Mark Twain
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." - Albert Einstein
Thank you for reading my book. May you learn to love and accept yourself. And I wish you will discover the best parts of yourself and make them bloom.