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I recently met a new friend who says that he went from being an atheist to a Christian. I found this intriguing since I (and many other people I know) went from being a Christian to an atheist. I present below, first, what he calls his "testimony," and following, my response to it. I have decided to make this section "interactive."
    Please do not waste your and my time if you're the sort of Christian who simply wishes to rant about how I'm going to hell. I assure you, it is an exercise in futility and I will simply ignore any such posts.
Some visitor comments on the debate are here.

However, if you are the sort of Christian (or a believer in other religious claims) who wishes to make an attempt at rational justification for your opinions, or if you are a non-believer who wishes to answer the religious claims made here, please read Jordan's piece, then my response, and then feel free to respond. You may respond to only one writer or to a small group of people I have chosen to receive the responses. If you would like to be in this group let me know. If you wish to respond:
*ONLY to Jordan, click here; *ONLY to me, click here;
or to the whole group post here.

I may decide to post particularly interesting responses elsewhere on the site for all to read. I would like to hear from anyone who wishes to share their "conversion story" of going from atheist to Christian or vice-versa. Be aware that anything you write may appear on this site and/or in the print magazine SOAR unless you specifically place the words "NOT FOR PUBLICATION" on it.

On Page One of the debate section are Jordan's orginal article, "Birth and Death of an Atheist," which prompted this debate. Below that is my reponse.
The following is Jordan's First Rebuttal. My comments (from my response on Page One) are in blue. Jordan's comments are in yellow.

First, let me clarify my use of "Christian," for it is as broad a term as "non-theist." I present "Christian" when referring to Christ’s followers, not followers of Christian denominational authorities. Nevertheless, Temy expressed other concerns. Although I find those concerns irrelevant, I address them point-by-point. My faith is built upon Christ’s resurrection. The real issue lies in whether Christ existed, endured crucifixion, and escaped His tomb. An individual who determines (as I have) that the resurrection is factual has reason to question whether the extant God is good or bad; sane or crazed; loving or hateful. It does not follow logically that deeming God’s ethics faulty means God does not exist.
In one sense, Jordan, I suspect that you and I are alike – that is, we would both be considered by most other people to be extremists, at least the kind of extremist who takes his beliefs seriously enough to defend and to live by.
I agree.
I seem to remember someone once saying something like, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” I feel that way with respect to truth.
You have my vote on that. In the following pages, I will put your claim to the test.
One troubling difference in our ideologies is that if one truly follows Christianity to an extreme, one is bound to kill other people.
“. . .bound to kill other people” needs elaboration. In my one and a half years of following Christ, I have learned nothing even remotely supporting that claim. Christ proved passive and yielding. I challenge you to present one passage from Christ’s teachings that would lead a follower to kill other people. In fact, following Christ “to an extreme” would mean not even defending oneself.
For better or worse most of the many millions of Christians in this country are lukewarm at best. Very few read the Bible, even fewer understand it, and fewer still have any inkling of the history of their religion and what it is founded upon.
Okay, well, thanks for reiterating my article’s main point. Differentiating Christians from Christ’s teachings and example exhibits who Christ is and what He represents. I see no point in defending Christian behavior. I defend my faith in Christ’s teachings and example. However, your statement has me figuring that you consider your knowledge superior to that of all Christians, as I will evidence in future points. Further, most Christians with whom I keep company are quite the opposite. They are devoted followers who engage in daily prayer time and Bible study.
Though you and I do not yet know each other very well, I think you do know me well enough to know that I could not let the assertions made in your testimony to pass unchallenged. Indeed, I intend to challenge them with both barrels blazing (figuratively, of course). First, I offer my sympathies on being addicted to drugs and the “failures” you experienced. This culture is extremely well-adapted – mainly by influence from Christianity – to heaping guilt upon those who do not succeed in playing the games it is founded on.
The same holds true in many freethought circles. Although both guilt and shame can be good, it is bad if one abuses them to manipulate another person.
“Shame and disgrace” are the trophies awarded anyone here who “fails” in business, or who has the “moral failing” of succumbing to a psychological or mental illness, disorder, or addiction.
My addiction is water many years under the bridge now, but thank you, Temy; I appreciate it. My feelings of guilt and shame led to my remorse and turn-around.
You say “Christianity repulsed me” and "I felt conned." These are almost inevitable feelings one will experience when the door of reason is really opened and the light of truth shines upon Christian ugliness.
Again, I contrast Christian behavior to Christ’s teachings. Indeed, Christian ugliness conned me; it cheated me from knowing who Jesus is.
There are several possible paths one may take from that point onward. Many of us took the path of searching for truth and vowed to never stop the search until it was found. Unfortunately, you apparently did not follow this path to its conclusion. This is evident from “I described myself as philosophically agnostic.” The agnostic who has left religion behind has stopped in the middle of the road and cannot or will not proceed, and will argue that at either end of the road lies madness, despite the fact that he has not yet been to the other end.
Your huge claim discounts the intelligence of agnostic SOAR readers. Atheists and theists are well aware God’s existence cannot be proved or disproved to everyone’s complete satisfaction. All individuals must weigh the available evidence for themselves. Recent evidence presented to me regarding Christ’s existence and resurrection convinced me that 1) He existed, and 2) He died and rose again. Agnosticism means not gnostic--lacking knowledge -- period. Some agnostics perhaps have a vision of where “roads” go, but that is irrelevant to my article’s self-description, “philosophically agnostic.”
To retain the label “freethinker… second only to Christian” is to abandon freethought. For a freethinker worthy of the appellation, in my opinion, “my thoughts are free” is not second to anything. The moment that you exempt Christianity – or anything else – from skeptical and critical analysis, in that moment you have accepted dogma or emotional “warm fuzzies” as superior in that field instead of thought.
I hoped you would go there. Thank you. First, Temy, you have exempted Christianity from critical analysis because you do not even consider it in your search for truth. SOAR’s cover provides your definition of freethought. Consider persons who turn to, say, Merriam Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary: “freethinker n. (1692): one that forms opinions on the basis of reason independently of authority; esp.: one who doubts or denies religious dogma.” Throughout my atheism, Robert Ingersoll, along with Thomas Jefferson, remained a historical figure I revered. Now, as a Christian, both Jefferson and Ingersoll remain historical figures I revere.
Few Christians embrace Ingersoll’s writings. I, a freethinker, embrace them. I form opinions based on reason, independently of authority, especially doubting or denying religious dogma. Ingersoll’s writings illuminate evils perpetrated in Christ’s name. Revisit my article; my separation of Christians’ behavior from Christ’s teachings fueled my conversion.
When I encountered a Christian asserting, “Evidence for the resurrection outweighs any case against it,” I (the freethinking atheist) had to examine the claim. I doubted Christ’s existence. Nevertheless, I had to review the evidence to know everything knowable regarding my disbelief. True to freethought, I had to allow it into my mind’s court. My freethought integrity depends not on the seeming soundness of evidence I ponder, but that I ponder all evidence. When I weighed the evidence for the resurrection, it astoundingly weighed stronger than my assumption against it. That is freethought at its truest: venturing from embraced beliefs to explore all available information (pro or con).
Having determined Christ died and rose again, I have greater faith in His guidance than any scientist or philosopher whom Temy affords credence (faith) in his quest of truth...
Regarding your claim that Christianity and freethought are antithetical, I continue applying “critical analysis” to Christian doctrine, as evidenced by my opposition to Christian Right politics. Members of the Christian community commonly reject my political views. However, I was baptized not in the name of my pastor, any church, the Southern Baptist Convention, or the Vatican. I was baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Considering He never advocated or attempted utilizing governmental force to advance the Father’s will, I reject any “Christian” attempts to do so. I remain a freethinker, independent of established religious authorities.
You and I embrace fundamental beliefs. Yours center on science and humanism, whereas mine center on Christ. From these perspectives we both think freely. In thinking freely, we question established authorities. My independent position coincides with the “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” terminology Christians espouse, not my relationship with my pastor, denominational authority, etc.
It is perhaps unfortunate that your first encounter with “real atheists” was with Madalyn O’Hair. Though I never met her, I have read many different sources which paint her as an especially obnoxious person. True or not, she does not represent all atheists any more than Jerry Falwell represents all Christians.
Agreed, but Madalyn’s works are as biased as Jerry’s. Both advance a political agenda, but ultimate political truth resides in neither analysis. Incidentally, most American Atheists I encountered appreciated, defended, and applauded her “especially obnoxious” personality.
In reading a great many of Jefferson’s writings, including his letter to the Danbury Baptists, it is abundantly clear that his intention was indeed a “wall of separation.” He did think that the government should have no power to interfere with private religious practices, and he also thought that religious groups and clergy should have no undue influence on secular government.
Here’s where I get into trouble with my Christian Right foes, but again, I am a freethinker.
Jefferson claimed, “Our rulers can have no authority over natural rights, only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.” - Thomas Jefferson
Source: THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL or COMMON LAW. 1995, Howard Fisher, The Message Company, Sante Fe, NM (p. 45)
In their letter to which Jefferson responded using the wall phrase, the Danbury Baptists asserted: “Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty; that Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor.”
Yet now the Christian Right supports legislation against unchristian victimless “crimes.” Conversely, the religion of Secular Humanism enjoys “undo influence on SECULAR government.” The American Humanists Association affirms Secular Humanism is a religion. Note the commonality: Secular Humanism--secular government. Every recent “wall of separation” victory advances secular humanistic values onto the public. By teaching evolutionary theory, and carefully avoiding creation theory (my position is both should be taught), government schools side with Secular Humanism. Should government honor your professed wall of separation? Tyrannical Secular Humanistic government is as wrong as tyrannical Christian government. The principle applies to both sides, no? You, the political anarchist, and I, the political libertarian, should agree to keep governmental power out of the religious picture. Theists have a right to influence how secularists govern them. Simultaneously, secularists have a right to influence how secularists govern them. By “a wall I later learned was nonexistent,” I mean secularists too often throw in the wall-of-separation phrase rather than quote the amendment: “Congress shall pass no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . .” Secularists tend to conveniently forget the free exercise clause.
The idea of a “one-sided wall” is a convenient fiction invented by those Christians (such as D. James Kennedy) who wish to completely do away with ALL secular power and have the government be the enforcing arm of the church. Now tell me, Jordan, when was the last time you saw a wall which had only one side? Such a discovery would overturn all of physics!
The amendment contains no wall. Jefferson’s phrase in an individual letter is just that: a phrase in an individual letter. It is not etched in stone. It is not part of the Constitution. If the wall existed, the amendment would state it. The Constitution’s signers were active in government. Had the founders intended to bar anything from government buildings such as Ten Commandment plaques, they would have done so when they wrote the amendment. However, I agree attempting to force people to Christ actually pushes them away. Also, I repeat, Christ never advocated utilizing government to advance the Father’s will. Only a heart can close or open. Simultaneously, “ALL secular power” has no business serving as the “enforcing arm of the [Humanist or Christian] churches.”
It is one unfortunate aspect of human nature – to which atheists are not immune – that hierarchical groups form and either an individual or a small group arises to “take charge” of things. From my reading it is apparent that Madalyn was not one who “worked well with others.” I see some evidence of heavy-handedness in the leadership of FFRF. This is the single worst problem “organized” atheism has – it is the major reason that there are so many "lone wolf" atheists. Many of us admire most of the work that some of these groups do, but are simply unable in good conscience to stifle our own autonomy to the extent required by some atheist or freethought groups. A great many churches and larger organizations such as the Southern Baptists have similar problems, though not nearly to the degree the athe-ists do. This is primarily because the same personal attributes that help make one an atheist, also make one wary of “groupthink.”
That about says it. However, autonomy can be both self-defeating and defeating to ideals, values and loved ones, for no man (other than a complete hermit, who, in chaos theory, would not even be excepted) is an “island unto himself.” Yes, Christians do humble themselves (even Southern Baptists) to a common bond of Christ quicker than freethinkers humble themselves to anything.
Christianity is utterly dependent on groupthink, and all “rebelliousness” is discouraged from the pulpit at least, and often harshly stamped out by whatever means necessary.
Organized religion -- yes. Christ needs nothing of the sort; He never advocated organized religion. He said to Peter, “And I say unto you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16: 18; NKJV). Nowhere did Christ define church as a Vatican, Southern Baptist Convention, or big beautiful building. Again, let us not confuse Christ with Christian behavior. Also, Christians are instructed to study the Word and, as my article presents, “Beware lest any man spoil [them] through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And [we] are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:8-10; KJV). This verse reminds me of R.G. Ingersoll’s words, “To me, reason is the final arbiter, and when I say reason, I mean my reason. It may be a very poor light, the flame small and flickering, but, after all, it is the only light I have, and never with my consent shall any preacher blow it out.” That is how I thought as an atheist; it is how I think as a Christian.
The “intellectual elite” can indeed be a problem in freethought groups, just as the “spiritual elite” can be in religious groups. This is due to another unfortunate innate human problem – lust for power and prestige. Those who fall into this trap have not found the wisdom or integrity to acknowledge when they are wrong. It is often said that truth is the first casualty in war. Unfortunately, it is also all too often the first apostate of many groups of all kinds.
C’mon, atheist Preacher! Amen!
As Bill points out, you seem to have a tendency for wild swings. How red-herringly ad hominum of him.
You go from being a Christian to hating Christians.
Where did I say I was a Christian? I experienced Christian indoctrination and assessed it based on churchgoers and historical church atrocities. Look again. When I assessed it as an adult, I rejected it. Former Christian or not, my repulsion for Christian ugliness did and does parallel yours. My atheistic “hatred” of Christians demonstrated the same revulsion you express. Again, you avoid the message by attacking the messenger. Okay, so I am a nut; now let us deal with the message.
Makes one wonder whether you now hate atheists.
Perhaps you were bogged down with editing when you read my article. At the time of my, let us say, emotional-psychotic-salvific “swing” experience, I clearly reported that a love and compassion for my former atheist colleagues flowed in. Also, I said “animosity,” not “hate.” I chose my words carefully. As you know from our private e-mails, I regard you highly, particularly your poetry. I just plain like you.
I too, felt conned and was very angry for a time after coming out of religion. But I was able to direct my anger, which blossomed into a profound loathing, toward religion and not its adherents. There are many “liberal” Christians, of which you are now apparently one, who truly are good-natured and kind people. However, “liberalism” is sharply at odds with biblical Christianity.
That is an accurate observation. Now, again, here is where my Christian Right foes and I are at odds: the whole New Testament clearly shows we followers live in a non-Christian world. We are taught that, to follow Christ, WE are to do away with those (liberal) ideas and behaviors. Nowhere are we commanded to force others to do away with them. We are to let Christ shine through us to non-believers so they will want Him too.
It is apparent from the whole of your writing that you were an atheist in name only at best, apparently a relatively brief period in which you might not have believed there was a god. Since you indicate that you were a Christian before this period,
Again, where did I say I was a Christian? In the current edition of SOAR, one non-theist (Sierichs) asserted I remain an atheist because I reject gods other than Jesus. Meanwhile, another non-theist (Thompson) claimed if Jordan was an atheist, she’s the Pope in Rome. Well, Sierichs crowned Ms. Thompson the Pope in Rome, two times over! The true issue here is not whether I was an atheist but what caused my turn from whatever I was. I learned Christ existed, died, and rose again. I did not accept that as fact when I was whatever you, your readers, or Mr. Sierichs perceived me to be. For 15 years I shared the same testimony as the average freethinker with whom I kept company. I deduce that the atheists who claim I was never really an atheist simply do not want to accept they have lost one. They do not want it accepted that a freethinking atheist can come to know Christ after truly investigating Him.
Makes one wonder whether you now hate atheists.
I addressed that above.
it is more like a case of a Christian becoming disgruntled with god, than of a serious deconversion to atheism.
Sorry, but are you telling me I believed a God existed? I know I rejected any god[s]’s existence. I claimed agnosticism only because I could not prove He did not exist. I remain the authority of my own theistic and non-theistic perceptions. How do we know then that you, Temy, are truly an atheist? Perhaps you are a Christian in rebellion. Will the “true” atheists please rise? Of course, according to Sierichs, I remain an atheist although I accept Jesus’ supernatural aspects. Perhaps I should abandon the Bible due to its “contradictions,” freeing me to embrace non-theistic consistency. Again, how does that bear on my message? You claim Jesus Christ probably did not even exist. But the historical evidence shows that He existed, was crucified, and somehow left His tomb.
An atheist who has been an atheist for some years and who thoroughly understands why he is an atheist is not going back if he is intellectually honest.
I covered that when addressing your claim I cannot be a freethinker. Freethinking is intellectual honesty. “Intellectual freedom is only the right to be honest” (R. G. Ingersoll). Are you claiming that theists are intellectually dishonest and atheists are honest? Your a priori statement implies that a theist who turns to atheism is not subject to such intellectual “dishonesty.”
It would be like trying to unlearn the alphabet.
Attacking analogies seems pointless, but you made one and I promised a point-by-point response. Because you assume atheism is as true as the alphabet, you are overlooking that our alphabet is established and not under attack as to its reality, authenticity, or interpretation by theists, atheists, philosophers, or scientists. You compared apples to orangutans.
This lack of understanding of what atheism is about is evidenced later on when you say you were convinced that your beliefs were held only by faith and indoctrination.
I also said I never looked up the atheists’ claims about the Bible. Again, revisit my article. I agree: tsk, tsk on me for not looking up atheists’ claims. Does it follow that when I eventually looked up the claims and found them false, they really were true? By “lack of understanding,” do you refer to my lack of Temy’s understanding? I understood a-theism to mean not theistic.
Atheism requires no faith whatever
You do not deem science and human reason capable of solving man’s ills (i.e., place faith in secular humanism)? I lacked that faith even when I rejected God’s existence.
and I seriously doubt it would be possible to “indoctrinate” anyone into being an atheist,
In their testimonies, both atheists and Christians profess breaking the chains of their indoctrination. Do you believe someone can be indoctrinated only into theistic religion?
and would certainly be unethical if it were. This is the methodology of religions and cults, not freethought.
Yet Secular Humanism, by its own definition, is a religion.
While atheists may certainly agree with some of the politics of some Christians, no real atheist,
What is a “real” atheist? In his ending years, Jefferson described himself as a “real” Christian.
in my opinion, will be “impressed” by anyone’s “religiosity.”
As my article attests, I found Swindall’s respect for non-Christians and their rights surprising. Christian or Humanistic “religiosity” could even lead one to extraordinary humanistic feats.
I know virtually nothing of Pat Swindall
Obviously, but no crime in that.
and have no idea whether he is guilty of the accusations or not. In any case, I don’t see the relevance of that to Christianity and atheism.
Through investigating Swindall’s case, I learned much about the Jesus he worshipped. Walking with Christ need not require force, coercion, and totalitarianism. God’s Holy Spirit enlightens the lost to the Truth far more effectively than do any human institutions. Some Christians are aware of that and maintain complete faith in Christ, not the government. Swindall modeled Christ’s example.
Nor do I see the relevance of the slam against Ed and Michael Buckner. Your implication is that they may have deliberately misquoted historical figures to further a political agenda.
Oh? As I explained in their “defense,” they could have merely trusted their source.
I know Ed Buckner fairly well and consider him one of the most honest people I know.
I, too, know the host of ceremonies of my wedding, Ed Buckner, fairly well. I agree he is one of “the most honest people” anyone will know. That is why I added my “in the Buckners’ defense” paragraph. I doubt he or Michael contrived a misrepresentation. I do believe they trusted a less-than-trustworthy source.
He often makes a point, when speaking to freethought groups, of telling his audience to check and double check all quotes to be certain of their authenticity.
You are accurate. That is how I discovered that altered quotation.
If he made an error, I have no doubt it was an honest (and rare) error.
I agree. However, he is still responsible for the work he puts his name to.
As the former editor of a freethought group’s newsletter, I can certainly understand possible reasons why "My Appeal to the AFS" was not printed. In my personal opinion, it should have, and should have been answered. But if an AFA member had submitted something similar to The Alabama Freethinker (TAF) while I was editor, it would probably not have seen print there either. Though I was the editor, I understood that TAF was the group’s newsletter, not mine, and for whatever reasons, many of the leadership of the group would not have wanted such a thing in their newsletter.
Understood. Nevertheless, AFS’s Ed Buckner requested and encouraged I write the article. Indeed, he later told me that other AFS members (though a minority) shared my concerns. Freethinkers could take pride in exposing truth. I commend you, Temy, for printing all points of view in SOAR.
This is one reason I probably would have started SOAR even if I had continued as editor of TAF.
As well you should have.
...suppose for one second that if I were still attending my old Assembly of God church that I would get space to criticize anything about Christianity in their newsletter?
They are the Assembly of God, not the Assembly of Freethinkers.
Your charge that some freethinkers “embrace a God of government,” only with a small “g,” has merit.
I know. Thank you.
A typical Christian assertion is that people cannot be moral without the threat of eternal punishment from their god.
You are right. Christians commonly assert that. I challenge those Christians. However, I attribute all moral truths to God’s initial design.
Too many freethinkers seem to think that people cannot be moral without the threat of physical punishment from government (is this anyone you know?).
Yes, yes it is. This is most atheists, humanists, and Christian Right advocates I know.
The Christian version of this is based on the notion of “original sin.” The secular version seems unduly influenced by that as well – it seems to assume that humans are naturally bad.
As an atheist, I thought humans are basically bad. I still do. I think we have to learn to be good. Though not criminals, most humans naturally are self-centered and self-absorbed.
However, your charge that Humanism is a “religious faith” is bunk. Humanism, as defined by Encarta Dictionary, is: “A system of thought that centers on human beings and their values, capacities, and worth.”
Does Encarta Dictionary’s definition override that of the Humanist Manifestos I and II, which delineate Humanism in practice? You place faith in mankind’s abilities, not in theism. You choose one faith (Humanism) over another (Christianity). Nevertheless, preferring one definition does not make other definitions go away.
I know some people call themselves “religious humanists.” There are even some who call themselves religious atheists. To quote Clark Adams of the Internet Infidels, “If atheism is a religion, then bald is a hair color!” Perhaps these folks want to be people of reason but fear of Pascal’s Wager has them dangerously spreadeagled with one foot in each camp and the gap is ever widening. I don’t believe that one can hold “a system of thought that centers on human beings…” and simultaneously embrace religion, which is an ideology that centers on one or more deities.
Now, now, Temy, even the The American Humanists Association site describes humanism as a religion and mentions its chaplains and religious order. Additionally, “Humanist Magazine” described how the religion of Secular Humanism should be indoctrinated into the minds of American youth, particularly through America’s schools. Humanist John Dunphy posited,
"I am convinced that the battle for humankind's future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith . . . . These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level--preschool day care or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new--the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent in its promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of ‘love thy neighbor’ will finally be achieved (The Humanist, Jan/Feb. l983, ‘A Religion for a New Age’).”
Sixteen years ago, Dunphy explicated Secular Humanism’s religious ideals. Yet you insist Secular Humanism is not a religion. Consider the Humanist Web site’s description that the AHA “represents both secular and religious naturalistic humanism. . . .” The AHA site offers Humanist Invocations and Benedictions; Humanist Holidays Order of Service for World Humanist Day; A Humanist Child Dedication Ceremony; A Humanist Memorial Service; Non-theistic Religious Meditation Ritual; and Humanist Wedding. Notice any resemblance to theistic rituals? Our nation’s Supreme Court established Secular Humanism (Torcaso v. Watkins, 1961) and Atheism (Theriault v. Silber & Malnak v. Yogi, 1977) as religions.
You say you have a “ ‘net results’ orientation” which I take to mean you are a “bottom line” person. This is good because, believe it or not, this writing will eventually get to a bottom line. It is much easier in some ways to live in a society in which, as you put it, “up was up, down was down, good was good, and bad was bad.” But only for those who wish to abdicate their own decision making responsibilities for themselves to some external power, be it a god or a government.
I have reason to believe God exists and rules over governments. You abdicate your thinking to believing science and humans can lead mankind to your desired ends. The oversimplification you presented applies to you also. One need not deposit one’s brain into a trash receptacle to embrace Christ, science, or government as authorities. Life consists of thinking and decision-making regardless of one’s world view.
It is all-too-religious a notion to blame all society’s ills (drug use, fatherless children, etc.) on a lack of morals. This is a gross oversimplification and ignores the fact that there are myriad factors which influence these things, including some of the most cherished ideologies in the society.
A correlation does not a causation make -- granted. Explanation (description and prediction) of a phenomenon requires delineation of any factors mediating or moderating its outcome. Nevertheless, establishment of causation requires demonstration of correlation.
I have not read LaHaye’s Battle for the Mind, but I can tell from the author’s name and the title that it is the typical Christian view of things, i.e., will your mind be controlled by “God” or by “the world.”
In other words, “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts”? You discount the author’s point by assuming that only an atheist (and certainly not a Christian) can present accurate information. You know, Temy, that you and I agree on many social and political issues. Our only real disagreement lies in that I accept the resurrection as an actual event, whereas you reject it.
The humanist/atheist/freethought view is (or should be)
“or should be” according to what authority? Yours?
that the individual should think for himself about all things without regard to dogma or authority – something which is anathema to all religion and most of what we call politics.
My pilgrimage to Christ resulted from investigating beyond established atheistic claims. Jesus won.
You say, “Anything that Jesus fella actually said or did is not particularly offensive.” Really? Aside from the fact that it has certainly never been proven that “that Jesus fella” ever existed in the first place,
If you dispute Josephus, Tacitus, and rabbinical writings, et al., please show how they are in error and explain why both theistic and non-theistic scholars accept them. Here are some relevant sites:,,, (Atlanta Apologists is still under construction).
I found the evidence presented to me for Christ’s existence compelling. That is not to imply you would. Enough evidence and reasoning were presented to me to deduce that disbelief demands greater faith than belief.
...many things he supposedly said and did are offensive to most of us.
Of course, some people simply cannot deal with the idea there is a head honcho. Hey, I did not make it that way; I am just bringing you the Good News.
Examples? Luke 19:27(TEV) “Now, as for those enemies of mine who did not want me to be their king, bring them here and kill them in my presence!” Ordering his sycophants to kill anyone who won’t worship him is not offensive to you!? What happened to freethought? Or freedom?
Clearly, Jesus quoted the parable figure of the previous verses. The reporting faultiness lies in you. To be accurate, you should have included inner quotation marks with the outer. He did not command or suggest His followers kill anyone. In this parable, Jesus teaches that God will handle final judgment. I make no apologies about that, nor should I. Again, I did not make the news; I am merely reporting it. This is a shining example of how people (such as Jordan of yesteryear) develop repulsion towards Jesus. They all too often base it on things He neither did nor said. The parable teaches that, as His followers, we are not to safeguard our salvation by keeping it to ourselves, as did the servant who buried his master’s money to avoid losing it. We are to do as the other servant who invested his master’s money and multiplied it. As Christians, we are to invest our salvation by sharing it with others, therefore contributing our part in multiplying God’s saved ones. When we accept Christ, we become fishers of men. We cannot let Christ’s light shine onto others if we “slay” them. When Peter cut off Christ’s enemy’s ear, Jesus stopped him from further violence and gave Himself up to the officials, fully aware His crucifixion would result. Consider Matthew 13:7: “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.” (NKJV) Is that a command to spring up and choke those who are weak in Christ? Of course not.
Mark 11:13(TEV) “He saw in the distance a fig tree covered with leaves, so he went to see if he could find any figs on it. But when he came to it, he found only leaves, because it was not the right time for figs. 14 Jesus said to the fig tree, "No one shall ever eat figs from you again!" And his disciples heard him.” A guy who would curse a fig tree for not having figs on it out of season (didn’t he know the season? The fig tree’s nature?) is a guy you admire and want to worship!? Ah, but it’s only a parable, you say. Well, what does it mean? Maybe he was trying to show the disciples how to use supernatural power? Matt. 21:20 “The disciples saw this and were astounded. "How did the fig tree dry up so quickly?" they asked. 21 Jesus answered, "I assure you that if you believe and do not doubt, you will be able to do what I have done to this fig tree. And not only this, but you will even be able to say to this hill, "Get up and throw yourself in the sea,' and it will.” Yeah, sure, show me someone who can do that trick besides maybe David Copperfield. Or maybe the parable means kill all those you can’t convert to Christianity. Luke 13:6 “Then Jesus told them this parable: "There was once a man who had a fig tree growing in his vineyard. He went looking for figs on it but found none. 7 So he said to his gardener, "Look, for three years I have been coming here looking for figs on this fig tree, and I haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it go on using up the soil?' Sure, if they won’t be Christians, kill them. Why should they go on using up the air and water and soil, etc.? Sounds pretty offensive to me either way you look at it.
Jesus approached the tree finding only leaves; there were no pre-season “taqsh” (Palestinian Arabic). Peasants ate the taqsh. Having no taqsh, the tree would never bear fruit. Destroying the tree represented the death following fruitlessness. F.F. Bruce elaborates on that point in “The Hard Sayings of Jesus” (1983).
Ah, your 10 points. Jordan’s shorter version of Luther’s “95 theses”? (See SOAR Vol. 1 No. 3, p.4 {or Page One} for Jordan’s testimony. If you need a copy of that SOAR issue let me know.)
No, as I wrote, “after great agonizing and investigation, I determined . . .” Everyone must draw their own conclusions – there you have mine.
1. I have already answered. Secular Humanism is not a religion. More and more I am convinced there is no such thing as a “non-theistic” religion. I say the minimum definition of “religion” is belief in and/or worship of one or more supernatural beings.
I have already presented it is a religion. Not only has the US Supreme Court established Secular Humanism as a religion, the American Humanist Association describes it as a religion. Buddhists do not worship a theistic being; is the Buddhist philosophy not a religion when practiced?
2. “Humanists control mainstream media, politicians, and the entertainment industry.” Replace the word “humanists” in that sentence with “Jews” and you would have a statement that could have come from any white supremacist group. Such a statement from the white supremacist would be closer to the truth – it can be shown that a huge number of Jews do hold high positions in these areas, especially politics. While there are almost certainly some humanists involved in these areas, their numbers are extremely low. That humanists control these areas is simply false.
Although you apparently assume LaHaye cannot teach you anything, he (among others) provides names, positions, and corporations. The Humanists in the areas I mentioned in my article hold high-level positions. Remember, cultural Jews are often atheists. Let us not remove and replace each other’s words. I said Humanists, and that is what I meant. Perhaps an inquisitive, open mind searching for truth could learn something from LaHaye. I did.
3. I have never heard anyone assert that “religiosity” was not a factor in America’s history. To my knowledge, there were no atheists at all among the “founding fathers.” Paine was one of the most religious men of his time. He detested Christianity though, about as much as he detested atheism. The man was a Deist. It is true that the textbooks used by many public schools today omit quite a bit about early American history – a situation that parents and teachers should demand be remedied. But the charge that American history is being rewritten by those evil Secular Humanists is pure Christian propaganda and I challenge anyone to produce any credible example of that.
Temy, I present this respectfully because I know at heart you’re a wonderful man. Now, a rose by any other name is still a rose. Secular Humanism is a religion, is a religion, is a religion. I didn’t make it that way. Further, I neither advocate nor support Christian Right politics. As I presented in my article, I examined political propaganda from both sides. Although I claim no authoritative knowledge of the two camps, I claim authority of my own investigative analysis. America’s Christian Right activists spew propaganda. The problem is that secularists rarely, if ever, question whether secular activists spew their own propaganda. Both Christians and Humanists rewrite history to their liking. Libertarianism, as outlined in the original US Constitution, provides our greatest political safeguard from each religious side.
Most secular people want government to be completely neutral regarding religion. This may arguably be a desirable ideal but it is simply impossible in practice because government does not exist as an entity unto itself – it is made up of people. And as long as religious
Excluding Humanists?
people are allowed to hold governmental positions, the government cannot be neutral toward religion. Any person who is sincere in his religious beliefs, will attempt to live those beliefs.
Excluding Humanists?
If a sincere Christian is in any government office he will attempt to make policy, vote, etc., based on his beliefs. To do otherwise would be hypocritical. A Christian who is truly trying to live according to biblical principles will understand that he is ordered by his god to evangelize at every opportunity.
I clearly saw Swindall (still do) as a devoted Christian who evangelized at every opportunity to share with others the love he found, not to follow orders. That is why I embarked on this debate. It is because I stumbled onto the Truth named Christ. He is not at all as I and other atheists perceived. Jesus proved such an awesome discovery to me, I desire others know who He was, is, and will always be. I admired Swindall’s sincere religiosity. Unlike all too many Christians, he did not force it upon others. I admired his politics. He swore to uphold the Constitution and honored that commitment. Ignoring that oath by voting in favor of his religiosity would demonstrate hypocrisy. His position on school prayer upset many in the Christian community who desired forced prayer in schools and considered Swindall just the congressman to enforce such religious tyranny. He held then, as now, that it is unconstitutional to force children to pray. He encouraged parents to instill a value for prayer in their children and maintained that children on free time should be allowed to pray on school grounds.
This will obviously include using whatever political power he has to that end
Not by Christ’s example.
because, to a sincere Christian, doing what he perceives to be the will of his god is and always will be number one priority.
As you stated earlier, you know little about Swindall. Swindall disproved that claim as Congressman. His number one priority was leading others to Christ outside his congressional capacity. Nowhere in my readings have I found Jesus to advocate or attempt utilizing the Roman (or any other) government to further His name or the Father’s will. It simply is not there, and I challenge any Christian who asserts it is. By His own example, Jesus beckons voluntary hearts. Nowhere have I found in Swindall’s politics an attempt to utilize governmental force in advancing his religiosity. Jesus revealed Himself to me through Swindall.
This is why I only reluctantly support the notion of “separation of church and state.” It would be good if it could be achieved but it cannot. This is also why I assert that BOTH church and state should be abolished utterly.
4. A) I certainly agree that American government is growing more totalitarian and coercive – this due mainly to Christian influence – it being by far the most dominant religion in the country.
Please demonstrate how our government is totalitarian and coercive because of Jesus.
I cannot imagine any government being nearly as totalitarian and coercive as Christianity.
Oh? Try Islamic regimes, the former USSR, or atheistic Communist China. Again, I know of no verse where Jesus commanded His followers to utilize coercive, totalitarian governments. I do not advocate Christian Right politics. By restoring our nation’s Constitution and abolishing ALL unconstitutional bureaus, laws, and presidential executive orders, we would be protected against religious fanatics, both theistic and non-theistic.
B) “Jesus still seeks voluntary hearts” is pure nonsense. Remember Luke 19:[2?]7. Yeah, sounds real “voluntary” to me!
I addressed that earlier. Jesus quoted a parable figure without commanding or suggesting His followers kill anyone.
5. Considering that Christianity absorbed such a huge amount of the pagan dates, rituals, etc., and considering that throughout history Christianity has lived the above verse, literally slaying millions who would not conform, it’s hardly surprising that it “flourished.”
Christianity’s birth defied enormous odds. For example, Christianity flourished while Christians were fed to lions. Christianity introduced ideals and values against the established religious order and had no might to enforce it. Again, I never defended Christian behavior, only Christ’s teachings.
6. By “atheistic regimes have committed equally atrocious acts,” I presume you refer to Stalin.
Add Mao Tse-tung, Pol Pot, and current communist China.
It is true that such regimes committed atrocious acts, but there are two points on that: 1) the number of acts and the number of dead pale in comparison to those committed by religions and,
Please present your numbers.
2) the terrible things done by atheistic regimes were not done because of atheism,
...but because the offenders were not restricted by atheist evolution. Darwinism presents “survival of the fittest,” (i.e., might makes right). Atheism provides no ultimate right or wrong. Jesus does. Christians who twist verse remain accountable to Christ’s teachings. To whom are atheists accountable?
whereas those done by religion are almost always done because of the religious beliefs. The Jewish belief that “God gave us this land” is the reason they made war on the Palestinians and took their land. The same belief by Christians caused them to take the lands of many people.
Where did Christ command it? Sounds to me like a case of naughty Christians believing what they want. How is Christ accountable?
Granted this makes little difference to the dead, but it should matter a great deal to the living.
The atrocities committed by both sides resulted from human reasoning. Had either side followed Christ, the atrocities would never have happened. They each used whatever source they could to rationalize their evil behavior. Christians twist verse, whereas despots twist Darwinism.
7. I have to go through this one point by point. “I reject the idea that the apostles allowed themselves to be persecuted over something they knew to be false.” A) You have no proof there were apostles,
Even Sierichs acknowledges that Paul (who met Christ only after the resurrection) probably existed. If indeed there were no apostles, who wrote the other New Testament letters to the churches? What was their motive?
B) if there were and they thought their beliefs were true, it only shows their gullibility.
It shows their gullibility to what? You presume Christianity is false.
Whether or not they believed this stuff is irrelevant to whether it is actually true.
It is relevant that they would not have accepted persecution over a known lie. Please present a case of someone’s willingness to be persecuted and killed over something he/she knew to be false. We have churches on almost every American street corner, a centuries-old Vatican, and an established history of early Christians. Now, where did the lie enter the scene? In the Gospels? In the letters to the churches, which appeared 30 or fewer years after the crucifixion? If Jesus did not exist, who started the lie? Why? Anyone who started such a lie would stand to gain nothing and risk losing everything over a non-cause.
“I…reject that the apostles and the 500 witnesses to His ascension into Heaven experienced joint hallucinations. Science has yet to prove such hallucinations are possible.” A) You don’t know that there were either 500 witnesses (who were they?) or an ascension.
The historicity of the gospel writers is more reliable than Alexander the Great’s. Non-theistic scholars claim reports about the disciples arose after sufficient time elapsed to develop legends. In contrast, historical documentation for Alexander the Great’s existence appeared nearly 400 years after his death. Nevertheless, scholars agree he existed. If the gospels were written 150 years after the crucifixion (and some historians have dated the letters to the churches to under 30 years after the event), they are more reliable than accounts of Alexander the Great. Scholars of both theistic mind-sets accept Alexander the Great’s historicity, but theism versus atheism splits scholars regarding the Gospels. Other established historical figures include Suetonius, Tacitus, Thucydides, and Herodotus. Writings about them appeared 800 to 1300 centuries after their existence yet are considered credible by scholars of either theistic camp. Other than disliking the message, what is the reason for this split? Here I call in Sierichs. I truly admire his versing in history and ability to articulate his knowledge in print (that is a sincere compliment and expression of respect). I would like to know his non-theistic take on documentation of historical figures. Mr. Sierichs, please chime in; I request your expertise.
It is only one ridiculous claim in a book chock full of ridiculous claims.
We have just covered one “ridiculous” claim. What others flow from this “chock?”
B) Mass hallucination is a well known and fairly common occurrence. Recently thousands claimed to have witnessed appearances of the Virgin Mary and all manner of “miracles” in Conyers, GA, only they didn’t think they were hallucinations of course. Those experiencing hallucinations rarely know they are hallucinations.
Please demonstrate the veracity of your claim that, “Mass hallucination is a well known and fairly common occurrence.” Atheistic Harvard professor Michael Martin (“The Case Against Christ,” 1991, p. 92) wrote,
“Is it really true that there is no such thing as mass hallucination? In fact, psychologists have studied a closely related phenomenon known as collective delusion or mass hysteria. In this phenomenon . . . . ”
Notice he shifts to a “closely related phenomenon [collective delusion],” not the phenomenon at issue [mass hallucination]. Charge me with splitting hairs. However, when I queried my wife Vickie (a Ph.D. in community psychology) regarding the difference between hallucinations and delusions, she informed me hallucinations are ‘sensory’ experiences (e.g., “I see the Abominable Snowman sitting on my sofa drinking coffee, I hear his growl, and I feel his claws ripping my flesh”), whereas delusions are beliefs (e.g., “The Abominable Snowman is out to get me,” or “The Abominable Snowman lusts over Madalyn O’Hair.”)
Temy, Martin took a huge leap to explain sensory phenomena using delusionary phenomena. You claim, “Mass hallucination is a well known and fairly common occurrence.” First, define “common,” then define “fairly.” Mass hallucination is neither a common, a fairly common, nor an established phenomenon. Notice Martin challenged the established understanding that mass hallucinations are non-existent. Further, your Conyers scenario offers no indication of whether Christ did or did not exist, die, and rise again. Those who witnessed the resurrected Jesus did so in varied times, places, and circumstances. Atheist debater Robert Greg Cavin conceded in his debate with William Lane Craig (available at: ) that: 1) Christ existed, faced crucifixion, and the tomb was empty, and 2) The disciples plus 500 others saw Jesus after the crucifixion at different times and in different places. Cavin point-blankly confessed that it seems impossible they mass hallucinated, but he must cling to belief in such a miracle to reject another miracle of a resurrected Christ. Clearly, he accepts his position on faith.
“The disciples were neither cultists, nor kamikaze styled religious fanatics, for they were steadfast over something they personally witnessed.” You are simply assuming the truth of something you want to believe. The Heaven’s Gate bunch sincerely believed that they would be “going home” on a spaceship. Did that sincerity make it true? Where is the hard evidence that these disciples existed, or personally witnessed these things?
Strobel’s (1998) “The Case for Christ” provides serious, valid evidence. The Web sites I presented earlier may enlighten you. I did not simply assume the truth of something I wanted to believe. I wanted to be non-Christian. I found my journey unpleasant until Truth unfolded.
8. “If Jesus and His disciples … existed and were truthful, the empty tomb is beyond secular explanation.” Very big IF on both counts. There are many possible “secular” answers to why a tomb might be empty.
Then, in detail, please share with your readers your explanation(s).]
I’m sure you could think of some if you try.
I tried, but those “answers” failed. Throughout my atheism, I rejected the historicity of the gospel story. Then a Christian challenged my position. I investigated. I learned that even atheistic authorities acknowledge the gospel figures existed and, by Godly hook or earthly crook, Jesus’ body left the tomb. Secularists such as Martin attempt to explain away the mechanism. I am aware of secular explanations (e.g., the women went to the wrong tomb, the disciples stole the body while the guards slept, etc.) Challenging them from an open mind, I rejected them. Such atheistic apologetics posed more questions than they answered.
“Why would lives be changed by it?” People’s lives can and do dramatically change all the time based on beliefs the individual acquires. This says nothing whatever about the truth or falsity of the beliefs.
I included Christian testimonies of changed lives in my anecdotal evidence while exploring the case for Christ. I now see this truth from first-hand experience. Like it or not, Jesus is alive. Granted, the death of a loved one, a close call in an accident, etc. can account for a person’s changed life. Christ, too, changes lives. Would I embrace Christ solely on the testimony of a person’s changed life by Him? Certainly not. However, a changed life should follow when someone accepts Him.
9. “Bible prophecies have come to pass against enormous odds.” If enough people “prophecy” enough things and enough people “interpret” them for long enough, it would be astounding if none of them “came true.” Most biblical prophecies are either not prophecies at all or were made after the fact.
Please explain your generalization, providing specifics. Dr. Hugh Ross (an astronomer converted from deist to Christian) presented a case regarding biblical prophecy too rational for me to reject. For example, he calculated the probability that both Jeremiah and Isaiah would accurately prophecy King Cyrus’s name, date, and locale at one in a million-trillion. He calculated the odds of Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah’s birthplace at 1/100,000. He presented 13 prophecies to demonstrate their happening by chance alone at 10123. Add the odds of the known fulfilled prophecies and you will have a number beyond human comprehension. To reject biblical prophecy would be, to use your words, to “simply assume the truth” of the atheistic position I embraced.
But Farrell Till’s The Skeptical Review is a better place for in-depth discussion of prophecy fulfillment claims.
I challenge you to read and listen to the publications presented at the end of my article. I’ve been reading skeptical, atheistic, and agnostic works for over 10 years. The Christian apologists present the real news. The sites I present address skeptic claims.
10. “Women are not the subjugated male inferiors that non-Christians perceive the Bible teaches. Husbands are to sacrifice themselves for their wives as Christ did for the church (Ephesians 5:25).” Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Colossians 3:18: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.” Christianity is an extremely patriarchal religion. To assert that women in general were anything more than chattel in biblical teachings is disingenuous.
First, I don’t defend Christians’ behavior. Men have twisted scripture to degrade women. That goes back to my point of judging Christ on His own merit, not man’s misuse of scripture. Second, Christ’s running theme is that we are to live for God and others, not ourselves. We are to live serving God, our employers, neighbors, and yes, our wives. Prior to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, women were indeed the chattel you mentioned (in all known cultures). It was bizarre and unpopular when he instructed husbands to sacrifice for and love what they viewed as their property. Christianity produced a respect and love for wives contrary to the times.
Most atheists I know are repulsed by the idea of being subservient, especially as to a king. As an atheist, as an autonomous being, as a man, the mindset of a person willingly abdicating their dignity and responsibility for their own lives is troubling.
You just described my problem with socialism: bowing down to man almighty. Blind trust of State (comprised of humans) allows atrocities such as those perpetrated at Waco and Ruby Ridge. I have no trouble acquiescing to my wife, friends, and God. My high-horse arrogance was nailed to a cross. My human struggle is to leave it there.
The notion of letting someone else live for me, either real or imaginary, is repugnant. As a Christian for over 25 years, I certainly understand the feeling, and how it seemed a good thing at the time. As an atheist it is sometimes difficult to believe that I ever thought that way, and it’s most embarrassing. I value my life highly, but I would die before I would willingly bow or kneel to anyone, god or otherwise. I keep my seat in a courtroom when all are ordered to rise. I do not take orders.
Okay, so humility is not your strong point. Nevertheless, your statement confuses me. The Temy I have encountered is polite, yielding, and considerate to his readers, even me. Sorry to deliver this bad news, but, Temy, you are a nice guy whether you like it or not. Your arrogance is directed at a God you believe does not exist, a God you have misperceived. Also, if you did not “take orders,” you would not have even entered the courtroom. What about employers or cops? Should blue lights flash in your rearview mirror (unconstitutionality aside), would you not pull over?
“It is the most awesome story ever told.” Not hardly. I think the story of a man actually setting foot on the moon passes this one by a mile.
Do you truly find the story of moon-walking more awesome than the story of tomb-escaping? Dying and rising again?
I would credit the “Jesus story” with being one of the dumbest and most asinine ever told. You have a being of incredible power – enough to make an entire universe (somehow). Yet that “omnipotent” being cannot fathom a better way to communicate with his creatures than “inspiring” a few of them to write a book! How absurd! He could have as easily “inspired” all humans to behave as he wanted couldn’t he?
He communicates quite effectively with me through prayer, His Holy Spirit, fellowship, and yes, that book. Sure, He could have created robots, but He did not. You have expressed a desire for autonomy without free-will (hmm . . .).
Then the “omnipresent” being sends a part of himself (somehow – God works in mysterious ways)
Please elaborate.
to live a while among humans to die to redeem them from punishment that he would otherwise impart to them – for behaving as he surely knew they would to start with if he was so smart. The very notion of “vicarious atonement” is vile and goes against any reasoned sense of justice.
Not against any reasoned sense of justice I understand. The act seems quite loving and understanding to me. Please tell me more about your “reasoned sense of justice.”
Christians make a big deal of the alleged death of Jesus, which is a crock on several levels. A) He probably never existed at all.
Again, even secular scholars dispute that claim. He existed. Was He a liar, lunatic, legend, or Lord? Please explain your answer.
B) If he did, and said and did the things attributed to him in the Bible, he was obviously a pathetic and severely deluded fellow.
Excuse me, Temy, but if Jesus rose from death, those who reject his divinity would be the deluded fellows. Explore His resurrection.
If he had been what the Bible claims he was, then his dying, while very painful (though it need not have been)
He (not Jordan or Temy) would be the authority on what is needed.
was hardly a big deal. If I knew with certainty that I would be resurrected very shortly, dying would be at most a minor inconvenience.
Strobel’s The Case for Christ details Christ’s crucifixion from the initial flogging to the last breath. We are not dealing with a bullet to the head. Minor inconvenience or major annoyance, the question is whether He rose from the dead.
The bottom line? Yes, at last we have arrived! Here it is: There is not a shred of evidence that the biblical god ever existed or could exist, and the historical existence of many other biblical characters, including Jesus, Moses, Solomon and David, is in doubt.
That used to be said about the Hittites, Lysanias (the tetrarch of Abilene), the Pool of Bethesda, etc. Remember, scholars in both theistic camps acknowledge Paul’s existence. Non-theists question his reliability and/or sanity, not his existence. Again, even atheist scholars concede Christ’s existence. Fellow Christian SOAR contributor, apologist John Richards, has charged numerous times that skeptics too often trust outdated skeptic authorities such as Joseph Wheless. Consider my claim in my initial article. I wrote that when Vickie and I looked up Bible “contradictions” presented in my atheist reference material, the claims proved false. For example, in American Atheist (August 1989, pg. 39) Madalyn O’Hair presents Wheless’s contention that Matthew 2:23; 13: 54-55 claims Jesus was a “native” of Galilee, directly contradicting John 4:43-44’s claim that He was a “native” of Judaea. Look it up: none of those verses mention Jesus’ nativity.
O’Hair also presented other alleged inconsistencies between the gospel accounts of Christ’s nativity. Citing Wheless, she claimed Matthew 2:1 reports that King Herod ruled at the time, whereas Luke 2:1-7 reports that Governor Quirinius (also spelled Cyrenius) ruled. The article presents this as a destructive contradiction, because 13 years elapsed between the governor’s rule and the king’s rule. However, consider John McRay’s (Wheaton College professor of New Testament and archaeology) response to Strobel in The Case for Christ:
Archaeology has not produced anything that is unequivocally a contradiction to the Bible, on the contrary, as we’ve seen, there have been many opinions of skeptical scholars that have become codified into ‘fact’ over the years but that archaeology has shown to be wrong (pg. 100).
Indeed, archaeologist Jerry Vardaman recently uncovered a coin bearing the Quirinius name in the disputed time period, meaning either Quirinius ruled in two periods or two Quiriniuses ruled. Both Luke and Matthew proved accurate.
Further, the “omni” attributes contradict themselves, each other and common sense – therefore no being can exist which possesses them.
If God can do anything, can He create a stone too heavy for Him to lift? That puerile (sophomoric at best) argument fails to address whether Jesus died and rose again. God could not create a square circle, for example. Nor could God lie, etc.
One of the most fundamental precepts of science is that matter can neither be created nor destroyed – only its form changes. You either accept that as true or not.
Donald Dicks of the Atlanta Christian Apologetics Project (ACAP) asserted: “There is a third option...that Temy misunderstands the First Law of Thermodynamics (Law of the Conservation of Energy). The law has nothing to do with how matter or energy came into existence in the first place.”
If so, it blows the god hypothesis out of the water because the universe obviously exists and is made of matter – therefore the universe itself is eternal (in some form) and had no need of a creator. If you do not accept that as fact, then you should provide compelling evidence that it is false.
I accept the corporeal as is. My point is that Jesus came to demonstrate what is beyond the world we know. The historical evidence demonstrates Christ’s reality (e.g., by dating the gospels and New Testament letters, secular writings, etc.). Jesus existed, was crucified, and the tomb became empty.
Donald Dicks is more concerned about the science of your claim than I. He presents:
“OK! There are, at least, two ‘compelling’ arguments confuting the idea of the universe being eternal, one philosophical and the other scientific. 1) Argument from the Impossibility of an Actual Infinite Number of Things a. An actually infinite number of things cannot exist. b. A beginningless series of events in time entails an actually infinite number of things. c. Therefore, a beginningless series of events in time cannot exist. 2) Another way of looking at it is that the universe cannot be eternal because this would mean that in order to get to today, we would have had to traverse an infinite number of days (‘events in time’).”
Time permitting, Mr. Dicks plans to submit a detailed explanation of these points to the site.
Any being which demands to be worshipped, no matter how powerful, is unworthy of even respect, much less wor-ship. Worship is a demeaning act which is beneath human dignity…. and it truly saddens me that a good man would subjugate himself so, into an Orwellian world of double-speak where groveling is a privilege, suffering and persecution are blessings, and dying means eternal life.
I used to perceive it that way. However, “Irony can be pretty ironic” (Airplane 2: The Sequel). I now find Christian “double-speak” quite rewarding, for it is not double-speak at all. But that’s another article for another place. The issue is whether Jesus died and rose again.
Did you forget that you like a world where up is up and down is down? That is my bottom line.
No, I did not forget. I do not plan to accompany you down. I pray you will eventually accompany me up. God is calling you back, Temy. That is the top-line.
[In summary, my faith rests on the Resurrection. We have covered many points, many of which I find irrelevant. Because you raised them, I answered them. If Jesus Christ is real, as evidenced by the Resurrection, other points are side issues. Now that I have addressed each of your points, I must limit my debating to the Resurrection. You wrote in SOAR (Nov. 99, pg.18) that you hope to “win him [Jordan] or some other reader to the atheist side.” The best way to win Jordan to the atheist side lies in convincing him: 1) Jesus did not exist; 2) His disciples did not exist; 3) the crucifixion never took place; 4) the tomb became empty by means other than resurrection; and 5) the New Testament was written by a person or group of persons who were either deluded or lying. You will find a wealth of information at the sites I provided. Weigh them against your skeptic/humanist/atheist sites. Again, please visit:,,, (Atlanta Apologists is still under construction). The meat of the coconut here is that you and I accept two different miracles. I accept a resurrected Christ, whereas you accept mass hallucinations. Both break the laws of known science. Your miracle requires you to accept, for example, that not just one man, but nearly a dozen faced persecution and death over a known hoax. I ask and pray that you and your readers consider my points in the previous pages. I do not expect to win you over (only Christ can do that). I do expect that those of you who are honest with yourselves will change your view that Christians are automatically wrong or “nuts.” I thank all of you for your openness in taking the time to examine this issue from both sides. -G. Zeinelde Jordan] ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "We may define "faith" as the firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of "faith." We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence. The substitution of emotion for evidence is apt to lead to strife, since different groups, substitute different emotions." – Bertrand Russell [“I would rather be absolutely honest, and have everybody in the world think I was dishonest than to be dishonest and have the whole world believe in my honesty.” -Robert G. Ingersoll]

Here are some responses from other people to the Beal/Jordan debate on this site:
I visited your web site and enjoyed it. I read everything, including the exhausting debate with Mr. Jordan. As for the debate I can say he does not appear to have ever been a free thinker nor atheist. In six months I expect he will be something else again. I can add that religion nor atheism have never been important to me, but I do follow the social and political aspects of Christianity in America. That does concern me. In general I appreciate your position for being more objective than bitter, when compared to other sites, on the Matrix for example. I am surprised that too many atheists lose credibility for their subjective viewpoints of all things. I agree with you on most points, with exception your stance against the government. I am satisfied with the government even with its faults and inherently corrupt ways. I'm lived abroad and traveled a long time which has made me patriotic. This is not to challenge you but to illustrate my background. Anyway, congratulations on a good web site and I hope you will add more content in the near future. CJ PS if you reply, would you use my hotmail address Thank you very much.

I have read with interest this debate. I started reading Mr. Jordan’s comments and I began to feel a slight twinge of fear, being I recently chose to become a free thinker after about twenty years as an independent, fundamentalist, Baptist. Whenever I read of someone converting from atheism to Christianity it causes me to think "uh oh, did I goof"? But all I had to do is read on and hear the voice of reason that you present so well. The more I read the words of free thinkers, the more my mind is shaking off the dead spots that have been covered with old bible leather for years. The moment I realized that there was no god, was the most liberating moment in my life. I no longer had to fear the tomb. (because one can never truly know where one is going when they die as a Christian, only hope that they were baptized properly, prayed the sinners prayer correctly, trusted fully in God, Jesus, the Holy Ghost, the Father, Son, three in one, all for one and one for all...? The grave is it. The eternal dirt nap. I can now live life to it's fullest with out all the guilt that is necessary when you attempt follow the Bible. My only regret in giving up the life of bondage as a Christian is that I didn't do it 19 1/2 years ago. Six months as a Christian would of been a growing experience, but 20 years was stifling. And by the way, I don't dare tell the people I come in contact with in my work that I'm an atheist. Talk about religious persecution, I'd be out of business. Randy Sweatt – VA