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.