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A Conversion Story

Posted by JGJ on Thursday, March 02, 2006 | Permalink
 

I wasn't always an atheist. I like to say when people, who call themselves 'Christian', ask me how I became an atheist, "I read the Bible." Of course they think that is nuts but it is true. I went to a Baptist Church every Sunday, rode my bicycle 10 miles through the hills of Kentucky to get there so I was pretty dedicated and wasn't forced to go by my parents, nor did I have any bad experiences with the religion that would result in me holding them responsible. I have been asked questions like these by Christians since they feel there has to be cause for my abandonment and cannot accept that the Bible is what made me an atheist.

I grew restless in the sermons and wanted to ask questions, but, of course, that is something that people don't do. I don't know why, it should be a free-for-all. I had heard of other churches nearby that turned people away because they were wearing jeans or were not in their 'Sunday Best' as it's called. I don't think Jesus went around inspecting people's clothing when he gave a sermon. He even served food and drinks to everyone there, in church, the best food I ever had was a cracker and a shot of grape juice. I started actually seeing the other churches around with different names, like Catholic, Methodist, Seventh Day, Church of Christ, Church of God, Christ Church, Tabernacles, Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints, Unitarian, Evangelical, Pentecostal and on and on and was wondering how our Baptist beliefs differed from theirs. So, I started asking questions, which usually got me the answer, "I'm not sure" or "I don't know" and the like. I thought to myself, then why are we Baptists? Of course, most knew why they were Baptists, but, believe it or not, not all did. These were grown-ups to me; they were supposed to know these things. So, I did the research myself.

I found that the beliefs of the Baptist church were quite different on several things from several churches. I was shocked it wasn't just different in name but on major beliefs as well. This forced me to start looking up passages that the other churches referred to as a basis for their beliefs. I noticed that my knowledge of the Bible was a chop-suey mess and just decided to clean my plate off and start over. So I started reading the Bible from the beginning. I even did the calculations taking the ages of the Old Testament people to figure out when Adam was born. At the time, I didn't know that had been done already. I took Bible History in high school, then in college, then read several books on the subject and started delving into other religions from Shamanisms growth into classical mythology to modern day cults. And there I was, seeing the idiocy of it all. I was fascinated by the contrasts between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament and the growth and rise of Christianity from a very tiny cult to the religious powerhouse that it is today as well as the dominance of the Catholic Church over European history during the middle Ages. No other religion has had as much influence on global politics as the one that started with Abraham. Good portions of the problems today are caused by it. The Jews moving back to Palestine at the end of World War II so Christians can attempt to self-fulfill biblical prophecy is one small example.

Oops, I'm writing a book again, sorry about that. But anyway, just to see how much change and why there was change in the beliefs of Christians of antiquity and Christians of today was enough to make me an atheist, but it was the Bible at the root of it all. The difference in the fire and brimstone, angry, vengeful God of the Old Testament into the "love your neighbor, I'm so vain" God of the New Testament is enough as well. If something so all knowing and all-powerful was subject to such a drastic change in a few thousand years then how and why could we call it God?

JGJ

Comments [ hide comments ]
'If something so all knowing and all-powerful was subject to such a drastic change in a few thousand years then how and why could we call it God?' Maybe our perception changed? Thanks for your story.
St, 03.03.2006, 4:56pm #
Welcome aboard, JGJ! I often hear tales of people ditching faith when they hit their teens. Rather embarrasses me that I was well into my twenties before I twigged - like getting your first kiss at 19 or something.
Ben, 03.03.2006, 5:47pm #
interesting. i turned atheist at 9 (similar reasons: no good explanation) and i didn't really care until 8th grade when i was told i was an "atheist" i looked it up. saw the title fit, and then the hatred began. not towards me, but to others, gays, non-christians, other christians, and race. needless to say, the super evangelists became one of my least favorite kinds of people when my friend told me about the "glory" of Fred Phelps *vomits*

that's just one example of my turning i s'pose.
Shaggy, 04.03.2006, 2:50am #
i've always been atheist, my mum used to make me go sunday school...woo what a lot that done to me, it just made me even more atheist. I think parents shouldn't force their children into a certain religion, children should decide on their own.
Finners, 04.03.2006, 9:38am #
You\'ve made the wrong choice.
HELL IS WAITING FOR YOU.
RHF, 04.03.2006, 10:41pm #
well, god with all his omnipotence knew it was happening. and yet he doesn't care enough to stop him because his favorite show is on, and decides to throw him into hell becasue he loves him ever so much.

sensing a pattern here, are we?
Shaggy, 05.03.2006, 1:31am #
I have been asked by an evangilist from my parents church if I'm interested in being Jesus for a play...

I'm told my hair/ growing beard makes me look a lot like a red headed version of him. and Shaun White/ Flying Tomato



I am scared *hides*
Shaggy, 05.03.2006, 2:36am #
For RHF and all those who believe I am wrong and tell me I am going to burn and hell...

"He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone"

"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

Since you have judged me to go to hell, I'll see you there, maybe we'll party.
JGJ, 06.03.2006, 2:00am #
Have you become an atheist or a non-Baptist. The arguments you advance seem to apply essentially to Baptism, or perhaps more vaguely Christianity as a whole.
field, 06.03.2006, 8:26am #
Since I was a Baptist, my first direct experiences with Christianity were through that denomination. After I began learning about the other denominations I remained Baptist since I had found no cause to abandon their system of beliefs. One of the distinctive characteristics of the Southern Baptist church is that every church is autonomous in how they operate. As an entity they work together in voluntary cooperation and minor beliefs can vary from church to church.

As a whole they believe in baptism by immersion and that no one can be "born" into the church but have to be "born again" in the church to become members. Because you were saved and baptized in one Baptist church does not make you a member of all. I had a problem with this because I was saved at an event called a 'revival' and had to be re-saved, or at least go through the '€œsaving' process again in my own church so I could become a member. To me, it had felt false but I accepted anyway.

My problems with Christianity were the scriptures themselves. The awareness I had gained of the evolution and history of the Christian faith and Catholic Church, and the blindness that is required to be a good Christian.

Mark 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

A child accepts what their parents teach them as infallible much like Muslims who strap bombs to their arses are devoted to their fundamentalist clerics. My abandonment of Christianity came at a slow pace and I had spent a lot of time with preachers, priests, ministers and whatnot discussing my problems with the scriptures over the years of my conversion in my attempts to remain a Christian. I had taken several college level religion courses in an attempt to become more knowledgeable in my faith at the time but that had only fueled the fires of my conversion. In almost every conversation I had with church leaders ended up with the same excuse for my problems with the Bible, '€œThe Lord works in mysterious ways.' To me, that seemed to be a cop out or another way of saying 'I cannot help you with your specific problems because my faith is based upon ignorant devotion'.

I could list several other denominations that I have problems with because of a difference of opinion in their interpretations of scripture with what I would believe to be truths, or because of the lengths they had gone to separate themselves from other churches over what I would consider to be analism, but my problems with various denominations in Christianity is not what converted me. Other religions I had studied were so foreign to my way of thinking that I had found them lacking or quite silly and primitive. Again, it was the Bible that made me an atheist and various parts of it will become the subject of my essays that I will submit to the site for comment. I'm not here to prove myself right and the faithful wrong, I firmly believe in the freedom to worship and the freedom from worship and do not actively try to convert Christians to atheism. I welcome all constructive criticism by Christians; I even let the Jehovah's Witnesses in when they come knocking, though some have left crying. Don't get me wrong though, I did not make them cry by being cruel but by asking questions and raising issues about the Bible that they could not answer. It is my sincerest hope that a Christian could answer all of the issues that I will post in future essays and it is also my hope that Christians who read my future essays will become more curious about the what and why of their beliefs.

If anyone has questions and/or comments that you would rather not post you can contact me by email.
JGJ, 06.03.2006, 9:28am #
I think Baptist interpretation of the Bible is quite different from say that of a gay Anglican non-literalist. Many Christians see Christianity as simply one attempt to reach God. They don't necessarily believe in the literal truth of the Bible, even that Jesus was necessarily divine - why should they since it doesn't even say he was in the Bible!

My point would be that rather than fighting a battle of Baptist beliefs wouldn't it be better to give mature consideration to the case for a creator deity. This might be a deity that has no "personal" dimension and so may be quite different from the God of the Bible.
field, 06.03.2006, 1:30pm #
Interpretation of the Bible is different throughout every denomination, hence there is no single unified Christian Church but many denominations that claim they are the "true" Church. The reason for this is the implicit nature of the four Gospels. One's interpretation also depends upon whether you are a Conservative or Liberal Christian. I do not argue against the Baptists beliefs nor any other denominations, but rather against the Bible itself which is the basis for Christian belief.

"We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further." - Richard Dawkins

It is an old adage, and not one that belongs to Prof. Dawkins alone, but it is one that has merit. Being an atheist depends upon where you are standing at the time and whether your opinion counts. Atheism should really be defined in a degree system where all possible deities should be considered. A monotheist should be a first-degree atheist. A polytheist should be an atheist to a degree with however many deities they believe in. You could go the other way, but you are left with atheists with a degree of 10^-43 and the like. With you being a spiritualist all it would take is for you to step foot into a Catholic or any other denominations' church that is not your own or even a Muslim temple and you become an atheist, or at the very least a heretic, in their eyes. There are over 170 different denominations in Christianity with a significant following. There are numerous "Christian cult" followers as well. I no more want to pick apart the beliefs of every one of those one by one than I would want to pick apart a gay Anglican non-literalist's beliefs. Christians are people too, and like people, you have to take each one as an individual; no two people are the same. My goal, in a nutshell, is to give defense to those atheists who do not know the Bible very well so that they may be able to stand on their own two feet when confronted by people who fling the Bible, as well as popular missionary/evangelical cliches ©s, in their face.

The consideration of a "personal" deity as opposed to a "Biblical" deity would be quite a daunting challenge since much of the meat of your beliefs come from within. Personal experience and the opinions derived from them are difficult to consider since an outsider can't deny them. As you and I have discussed before all one has to do is say €œI don't believe that way and the conversation ends, personal faith cannot be considered. That leaves physics, mathematics, and cosmology as the basis for cosmogony. Do we know enough in those realms to have a mature consideration of a creator deity? What if one doesn't agree with some of the current theories? Can a theory be enough to make a statement of belief in the existence or absence of a creator deity?
JGJ, 06.03.2006, 2:52pm #
There's alot of sense in what you say JGJ but I don't think the Dawkins quote is very helpful. He wouldn't say: "There are 140 competing sceintific theories of the origin of the universe. Most people don't believe in 139 of them. But I go one step further and don't believe in any of them." Or if he did, he would give reasons why.
field, 07.03.2006, 8:56am #
yeah i think alot of christianity is a bunch of BS. I was even "saved" at some youth camp and I definately changed-but all the questions about the bible came back- makes zero sense to me. plus christians have to be the biggest bunch of retards out. I was with this one group who wore their flash gears all the time and even hinted that when i became a "real" christian i would lose my braids and piercings!! Ive read the teachings of Jesus (NT of bible) and I like alot of what I read about him. He hung out with all the "losers" "sinners" and he hated the stuck up richos- good job. man when i meet pple these days and we talk religion i just say i follow the teachings of Jesus. definately not a mainstream chriso- too much BS and money making hypocrites

on a journey

J
Jimmi, 08.03.2006, 12:36am #
Jimmi -

Good luck on your journey - sounds like you have the right sort of compass to travel by: a healthy regard for the truth.

I would say that in assessing any system of religious beliefs you should ask how successfully
they address what it is to be human. There is definitely a spiritual side to our existence which comes from our consciousness - the fact that there is an I experiencing the world - we're not just biological robots.

Many of the stories about Jesus are powerful and affecting. As you rightly say, his desire to associate himself with outcasts is of particular note.

I also find the story of the Buddha a powerful one - he was a rich man who had everything, and yet he deliberately took himself to the limits in search of truth - nearly starving to death along the way. Both Jesus and Buddha were saying in different ways that wealth is ultimately inconsequential - our experiences are not made of material stuff. Personally I don't find that message in Islam. Mohammed robbed people and there's a verse in the Koran specifying exactly how much the Prophet should receive from the spoils of war. However, to be fair, he was supposed to have led a personally quite frugal existence (but so do many rich men).
field, 09.03.2006, 9:42am #
I think we can prove by the use of logical argument that the Bible was created by people, rather than being the "ultimate truth" that Christians believe.

My argument, which has probably been argued before, is what qualifications does anyone have to interpret the word of God?

A mortal surely is not capable and should not possibly dare to interpret for others what God or Jesus means by what he says in the Bible.

So they say, "the Scriptures are not to be interpreted. I read them for spiritual sustenance".

Yet, if that were so, all Christains would agree 100% as to the meaning of the Bible.

For people to interpret the Bible they must be equal to God.

They must be God.

Therefore, the Bible is a purely human creation.
SimonH, 10.03.2006, 1:28pm #
And so I say Praise Jesus! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Hallelujah! Feel the Light and the Power. Or was it the Power and the Light. Whatever it was, Praise Jesus and his Light and his Power. Hallelujah. Amen!
Reverend Sasquatch, 11.03.2006, 1:08am #
SimonH, the great thing about proving that the Bible was created by people is you don't need logic. It proves itself.
JGJ, 11.03.2006, 2:51am #
SimonH -

I don't think your conclusions are very logical.

Take the example of a clever two year old who tells you that "it is important to brush your teeth". You ask him why. He says he doesn't know. Or perhaps he says "to keep them white" while another two year old says "to make them grow."

According to your logic we would have to say that the injunction to brush your teeth must have come from the two year olds because (a) they don't understand what is meant by the injunction and (b) they disagree over what the injunction means.

But plainly the injunction has not come from the two year olds, it has come from the parents.

So with the Bible, the fact that people disagree over the interpretation is of itself of little consequence as to whether there is a God or whether the Bible is in some sense God's message to humanity.
field, 11.03.2006, 5:19pm #
I only occasionally drop in, so excuse my unfamiliarity with the story so far, but it seems that SimonH was arguing that the bible is a human construct.

Simon, we don't need syllogisms, follow the paper.

Is that in dispute? that any particular bible is an amalgam of libraries of manuscripts, often wildly conflicting, which were filtered, eddited, mis-copied, deleted, falsified, negotiated over by representatives of ecclesiastic and secular power, which has been given sanctity by a poltically appointed prelate?
Don, 16.03.2006, 12:58am #
It is always so sad to me when people let men influence their opinion of God. All men are imperfect. Man has added and taken away so much from the way God intended the church to operate. God did not change from the old testament to the new. He never changes. He has always been all of those things. Jesus also came as a lamb to take away the sins of the world, but the Bible says He will return as a roaring lion to judge the world. That does not mean He is changing just showing another side of Himself. Please visit my site.http://noreligionjustjesus.blogspot.com/
No Religion, Just Jesus, 20.03.2006, 3:30pm #
I would assume that since you are a follower of Jesus that you have read the Old Testament and the New Testament; but your comments leave doubts. Show me where God's love extends to anyone but the Israelites in the Old Testament.
JGJ, 20.03.2006, 3:56pm #
Yes, the Isrealites are God's chosen people. In the old Testament, inorder to receive forgiveness of sins, there had to be the shedding of blood, hence the need for sacrifices. The priests were the only ones allowed to enter the Holy of Holies,( the prescence of God ).In the new testament, Jesus, the Son of God, came and died . He was the final, once and for all sacrifice. His blood shed was the sacrifice that covered the sins of all mankind. When you read the New Testament it talks of the veil being torn in the temple from top to bottom after Jesus breathed His last breath.(Mark 15:37-38) Until then NO oNE was allowed behind that veil other than the priest. The tearing of the veil symbolized the fact that now, the prescence of God was available to all. That no more animal sacrifices were needed. Jesus' shed blood was the final sacrifice for all mankind. Then the Gospel was first preached to Jew and then to Gentile. Anyone can receive forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus.
No Religion, Just Jesus, 20.03.2006, 4:13pm #
That's not what I asked. I wanted to see where God's love extended to anyone other than the Israelites in the Old Testament. The reason is simple, God had the Israelites kill men, women and children who were not Israelites for their land. Where is the love of God to the non-Israelites that is preached so heavily in the New Testament? Where is the "turn the other cheek" attitude. Where is the "love thy neighbor" attitude of God? If God is perfect love, why did he not extend that love at all times throughout the Bible and not just in the New Testament? The argument you brought up was that the God of the OT and the God of the NT were the same, and yet there are no similarities. God changes in the Bible as the pen changes hand from OT authors to NT authors. Even from NT authors to NT authors, translation to translation. Is God so inconsistant in his own beliefs?
JGJ, 20.03.2006, 4:21pm #
God is the Creator of all living things. He above all has the right to do with us as He sees fit. Who are we to judge Him? If a person breeds dogs and a dog becomes uncontrollable would anyone blame them for killing it? How much higher is God above us than we are above the animals? Yet we are so arrogant that we tell Him what He can and cannot do with us. People need to wise up and smell the coffee. This is not a game, like it or not God is in control!God is a God of love, or He would not have sent Jesus to die for us. He is also a jealous God and demands our respect and worship. He does not do so physically right now, but there will come a day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The problem is that it will be too late for most.Yes the Jews are God's chosen people, but you have to ask yourself why. Could it be that He wanted to show everyone His love and His nature? He gave the Israelites everything. He destroyed their enemies and helped them prosper, and what did they do? They turned away from Him time after time. He proved through them that being kind and giving to them and showing His power to them, did no good. There were some of them that lived good lives and tried their best to follow Him, but most did not. He also gave them many laws to follow. He gave them all these laws so that all humanity could see that no one can live up to His standard. We are all in need of a Savior. When Jesus came to take our sins, who were the ones who rejected Him? The Jews! But God was not finished, He showed that salvation was for everyone, Jew and non-Jew alike.God's chosen people are those who will call on His name and believe in His Son Jesus Christ. The Jews still hold a special place because God made some covenants with them and He will fulfill them, but believe me they are also going to go through a time the likes of which no nation as ever known before (the time of Jacobs trouble - the tribulation). Look at the suffering the Jews have gone through as a people in just the past 100 years. If anything this should show people that there is something special about them. They have been killed and persecuted just because they were Jews. Hitler tried his best to wipe them off the face of the earth. How does a person who does not believe in God explain the Jews? How does a person explain the predictions about the Jews in the Bible and what has happened to them? The more I read God's Word and really look at the world, the more I know that His Word is true
No Religion, Just Jesus, 20.03.2006, 4:34pm #
"Who are we to judge Him? If a person breeds dogs and a dog becomes uncontrollable would anyone blame them for killing it?"
And so you say that people are dogs to be killed when they do not believe the same as you? Who determines God's will? Who determines who needs to die and who does not? Christians? By saying that God told them to?

For a long time the Catholic Church felt it their duty to kill all those who did not believe as they do. Take Galileo for example. He said the earth revolved around the sun and they burned him alive for it. Imagine, they tie you to a stake piled atop a huge pile of wood. They light the wood afire and the flames slowly creep towards your skin, getting hotter and hotter. You remain there, long after you would have pulled away from the flames as your skin starts to smoke, the pain searing through your mind to a point where nothing else exists but the pain. The blood in your legs reaches a boiling point that quickly races to your heart and brain with every breath. You can smell your own charred flesh burning it's way through your nostrils. Death decends mercifully upon you. All this, for saying that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

This story can be told in different variations of torture, maiming, and murder throughout Christian history. Where is your God of Love's punishment for the atrocities committed in His name now? Where is His love protecting the children who are molested by his Priests?

He slew the enemies of the Israelites for being born on a land that was pormised to Abraham. Innocent children, playing in the streets mercilessly cut down by the invading armies of God. By His order! Imagine one of your young loved ones being on that street, a son, a daughter, a nephew, a niece, playing together. Even imagine you are one of God's Chosen People who have come to take the land promised to Abraham. You stand there before one these innocent children, a four-year-old girl who looks up to you with big brown eyes and dirt on her face from playing in the street. She is the enemy of no one, all she wants to do is play. But you were ordered by God to kill her, not ordered directly by God, but by Moses and Aaron. You raise your sword, and a tear fills the fear-filled eye of the little girl. You strike the child with your sword upon her head, nearly cleaving it in two. The blood and brain matter of your now lifeless victim covers your sword and has splattered on your face, but you relish it because God had commanded that this child, this four-year-old innocent child, is your enemy.

So you can throw all the cliches of Christianity at my feet and I will stomp on all of them. Your religion is a relgion of murder, fanaticism, and delusion. You murder, torture, condemn, and try to convince non-believers with threats and empty promises. You say things like, "God is pure love" and yet the Bible shows that he is not. You say that God has the right to do whatever to whomever he wishes, but it is not God doing it, it is people doing it in the name of God. It is YOU that determines what is and what is not the Will of God. All rhetoric of punishment after death is just inane babbling threats with no justification other than your own ideals of who will go there and who will not. All Christians judge others and themselves. They say things like, "You are going to burn in hell, but I am not." Yet their own Bible forbids them from doing saying anyone is or not. You say that the Bible predicts things? I too can say that all empires fall and that there will be earthquakes and wars and natural disasters of all kinds. There have always been these things, there will always be these things. These are not predictions. Predictions in the Bible are historical predictions. There is no proof whatsover that predictions in the Bible were written before they were fulfilled. And the predictions that could have been were generic predictions with no specifics to even qualify them as predictions.

I could go on, but have to leave right now.
JGJ, 20.03.2006, 5:44pm #
Ok, so not Gallileo, but rather Giordano Bruno, a million Jews, witch trials in England and the Americas...
JGJ, 21.03.2006, 12:41pm #
No one can deny that the Old Testament documents were in existence by about 200 BC, because they were being translated into Greek (in what is called the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament) about then, and you cannot translate something that is not there! l00 years before Babylon reached the height of its power, Isaiah the prophet foretold its overthrow in very specific terms. In a chapter headed "The burden of Babylon", this is what he said

. . . The day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty . . . Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them . . . And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans` pride, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited . . . neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there, neither shall shepherds make their flocks to lie down there. But wild beasts of the deserts shall lie there. (Isaiah 13:6, l7, 19-21) The fate of Babylon is clear; the attackers are to be the Medes (a nation to the east of Babylon) ; the city is to become a desolation, inhabited by neither man nor beast. And let us remind ourselves that this clear prophecy was uttered 100 years before Babylon arose to the height of its power and glory.
Another prophet, Jeremiah, writing 100 years later, when Nebuchadnezzar was about to attack Jerusalem, added to the forecasts of Babylon's downfall:
Behold, I will raise up against Babylon a destroying wind . . . Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed . . . Prepare against (Babylon) the nations, with the kings of the Medes . . . Babylon shall become heaps (ruins), a dwellingplace for jackals, an astonishment and an hissing, without inhabitant . . . The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly overthrown, and her high gates shall be burned with fire . . . O Lord, thou hast spoken against this place to cut it off, that none shall dwell therein, neither man nor beast, but it shall be desolate for ever . . .
The prophet Ezekiel, whose pronouncements were made in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, from about 600 BC declared that as a result of the judgement of God Egypt was to be desolate for 40 years. Then there was to be a revival, but not to the former glory and power:
Thus saith the Lord God: at the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the peoples whither they were scattered . . . and will cause them to return to the land of Pathros [in upper Egypt, the original seat of Egyptian power], into the land of their birth; and they shall be there a base kingdom (RSV, a lowly kingdom). It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: and I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations . . . Thus saith the Lord God: I will also destroy the idols and will cause the images to cease out of Noph (Memphis); and there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt ... (Ezekiel 29:13-15; 30:13).
Egypt had also been a mighty power in the Middle East. The period of its greatness was about 1600 BC, when the armies of the conquering Pharaohs pressed southwards into the Sudan, westwards along the north African coast, and northwards through the land of Canaan (later Israel) and into Syria. The discovery of some of the ancient temples, monuments and tombs of Egypt has revealed the glory of the Pharaohs at the height of their power.
But from about 1400 BC Egyptian power began to decline, due to civil war and to the rise of Assyria, and later Babylon. Nevertheless, during the period of Israel's occupation of the land of Canaan, 1400-600 BC, the Egyptians interfered periodically in the politics of the Middle East, with varying success. The Israelites, fearing invasion from the Assyrians or Babylonians, were often tempted to seek support from Egypt instead of relying in faith upon their God.
Again the sense of the prophecy is clear: Egypt was to suffer the calamities of invasion and the deportation of captives. Although no precise historical record of these events has survived, they must have been the result of the invasion of Egypt by the Babylonians, as Ezekiel himself prophesied (see Ezekiel 30:17-20). But that was not to be the end of Egypt. For after 40 years the captives were to return to their own land. Egypt as a kingdom was not to be destroyed: it was to survive but with greatly reduced power - "a lowly kingdom", never presuming to exert power over the surrounding nations any more. And so it came to pass. From about 600 BC Egypt fell under the domination of a succession of conquering invaders: first the Babylonians in the 6th century BC; then the Persians, from the 6th to the 4th centuries; then the Greeks in the 4th century; then the Romans from the lst century BC to the 5th century AD They were followed by the Arabs and the Turks from the 7th century AD onwards. Even the British ruled in Egypt for a period in the 19th century. For 2500 years Egypt has remained, as Ezekiel prophesied it would, "a lowly kingdom", always dominated by others. But Egypt and the Egyptians did not disappear. They still exist, and they have even recovered a measure of independence in recent times, thanks to massive financial support from the U.S.A. and Saudi Arabia. The Old Testament records for us how God made distinct promises to Abraham (about 1800 B.C) which meant, among other things, that his descendants would become a people (Israel) who would take possession of the land of Canaan, later called Palestine. About 1400 BC the people of Israel were brought out of Egypt at the Exodus under Moses, and 40 years after began to take possession of the land promised to them. But while they were still in the wilderness, before they entered the land, they were solemnly warned by God through Moses of the fate which would overtake them if they turned away from their God to worship idols and imitated the ways of the pagan Canaanites. The 28th chapter of Deuteronomy is a most remarkable prophecy - and was a terrible warning - of the calamities which would come upon the Israelites if they were disobedient. The reader is recommended to read the whole chapter for himself. Here we have space only to outline the main features:
But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments . . . the Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known . . . And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all the nations whither the Lord shall lead thee . . . The Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even to the other . . . And among these nations shalt thou find no ease . . . (Deuteronomy 28:15, 36-37,64-65).
Again the prophecy is quite clear. Israel were to be scattered among the nations, there to live in very uncomfortable circumstances, the object of scorn and contempt. How forcibly their history has proved the truth of these words! The scattering of the Jews throughout the world began in the days of the Assyrians in the 8th century BC The process continued through the Babylonians in the 6th century. After a partial return from Babylon in the days of the Persian kings, a community of Israelites lived in their land from about 500 BC to the days of Christ, successively dominated by the Persians, the Greeks and their successors, and finally by the Romans. In AD 70, 40 years after the crucifixion of Christ, there occurred the most terrible devastation of all. The city of Jerusalem was sacked by Roman armies because of rebellion; the temple was burned and the Jews were scattered as captives over the Roman world. There they have been found ever since, literally "from one end of the earth to the other".
And they have indeed, until very recent times, found "no ease". Suffering persecution and at times extermination- the pogroms in Russia in the 19th century and Hitler's policy of genocide in the 20th are only the most recent examples - the Jews have everywhere been subject to vilification and derision, so much so that their survival as a recognisable race is one of the marvels of history. Again we note the fact that this prophecy of Israel's fate has remained true for over 2500 years. Who could have foreseen that, despite all the scattering and the persecutions, the Jews would remain for centuries a recognisably distinct race, right up to the present day?
Babylon, that great power in the Middle East, was to lose its empire and its magnificent capital city was to become a site of desolate ruins, shunned by man and beast. And so it came to pass.
Egypt , also a great empire , was to remain a recognisable kingdom. The Egyptians were to continue to inhabit their own land. But they would be constantly dominated by other powers, remaining "a lowly kingdom". And so they have been.
The fate of Israel was not to be like either of these. Scattered from their own land into other countries, and suffering severe persecutions and constant contempt, they were to return to the very land from which they were scattered, and to establish themselves there once again.
Let us note carefully the following facts:
The prophecies concerning these nations were uttered about 2500 years ago.
Their truth has been demonstrated in history right up to the present day.
The three cases quoted concern three different powers with three entirely different fates. One was to disappear into oblivion; the second was to remain, but be subject to other nations; the third was to be destroyed, its people expelled and scattered all over the earth, and yet eventually to be restored in the original land.
These are not "political forecasts" of clever political observers, but accurate predictions
No Religion, Just Jesus, 21.03.2006, 4:21pm #
Not all things done"in the name of God" are what God wanted. Man is corrupt to the core. Many men throughout history have done things they should not have in the name of God. We are inherently wicked, man often lets pride and thinking he knows motre than God get in the way. You can not let things man has done altar your image of God. If we look to man to accurately portray God, it will fail every time. After the fall of amn in the Garden man was in need of a Saviour. Jesus was that Saviour. There are many many things the "church" throughout the ages has done that I believe They will answer for one day. Some being things you mentioned, the crusades, the witch trials... I know that I can not be responsible for what others do, I and I alone will answer one day to God for what I have done. And I have accepted Jesus as my saviour for the forgiveness of my sins. Am I perfect? No WAY!!! I fail every day. But I know that I am breathing right now because God is giving me my breath. I worship Him because He is God. Not because I understand everything He does.Who am I to ask the one who created me if HE knows what He is doing. No ONE!!! can convince me otherwise. Since I accepted Him into my life,my life has changed, I feel a peace I can not explain, evev when everything is going wrong in my life, will I ever understand God completely, NO! But i look forward with assurance to the day that I get to go to be with Him for eternity.God is to real to me for anyone or anything to change my mind. I know it in my heart. If I try to figure it out in my mind, it will never happen. Our minds cannot comprehend the greatness of God.Just remember, not all who claim to be "christians" are really living for God. likewise with those who calim to do things in the "name of God." Can I judge tham? NO that is up to God. But I can see if what they do is contrary to the Bible., The Bible tells of many who will altar the truth for their benefit, the Bible tells of those who will preach for the money, all the things people see wrong with the church. But we can not make our opinions of God based on the actions of man.Because a few are wrong not all re wrong.It saddens my heart to see all that goes on in "the church" today.
No Religion, Just Jesus, 21.03.2006, 4:39pm #
I'm getting to you No Religion, have a A&P test to study for and will reply soon.
JGJ, 22.03.2006, 11:19am #
Thank you Brother \"No religion, Just Jesus\".
God gets the glory. No one is good, only God is good.
RHF, 23.03.2006, 12:46am #
Hello all, I'm new, but I just have to say something here to No Religion, Just Jesus. Your rebuttal says that you can not judge God based on the atrocities of man. The bible itself DESCRIBES atrocities carried out by man because God told them to do it. There are too many instances to reference in the bible that describe God smiting this person or that for non-belief. And not JUST for non-belief. How about when he killed the first born sons of every person (and all other living things) in Egypt. What did those innnocent children have to do with anything? That was not MAN. That was your BIBLE. Is the bible not the word of God? If I'm to understand that the Bible is the word of God, then he committed atrocities against innocent people. I don't find that admirable at all. Also, please, if you choose to respond to this comment, please respond to my actual comment. Don't start a new topic and try to prove yourself from there. I'd prefer a response to what I actually said.

Thank you,
Missy
missy, 23.03.2006, 9:32pm #
Just going back to my point - that we can prove the Bible is not the word of God - so you compare people to two-year-olds talking about brushing their teeth. In your example, they didn't understand why, they weren't smart enough. So if people aren't smart enough to understand the word of God, how can we know what ihe means?
SimonH, 24.03.2006, 9:04am #
No Religion, Just Jesus. I am the Son of God, your Saviour. I have noticed the false words you are speaking in my name and have come to speak the Truth. God is Love, He does not want us to kill. Any such evil done in His name is false. Let all know this.
Jesus Christ, 24.03.2006, 9:08am #
No Religion, here are a few to wet your whistle while I am gone for the weekend, or at least until Sunday.

Ex 20:13 Thou shalt not KILL.
Le 24:17 And he that KILLeth any man shall surely be put to death.

Nu 31:7 And they made war on Midian, as the Lord gave orders to Moses; and they put to death every male.
Nu 31:9 The women of Midian with their little ones the children of Israel took prisoner; and all their cattle and flocks and all their goods they took for themselves
Nu 31:15 And Moses said to them, Why have you kept all the women safe?
Nu 31:17 So now put every male child to death, and every woman who has had sex relations with a man.
Nu 31:18 But all the female children who have had no sex relations with men, you may keep for yourselves.
Ahh, the reward of virgins.


Ex 21:17 Any man cursing his father or his mother is to be PUT TO DEATH.
A little steep isn't it?

Ex 31:14 So you are to keep the Sabbath as a holy day; and anyone not honouring it will certainly be PUT TO DEATH: whoever does any work on that day will be cut off from his people.
Ex 31:15 Six days may work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be PUT TO DEATH.

So which is it, is he to be cut off from his people or is he to be put to death?

PSA 145:9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
JER 13:14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.

Is he good to ALL or just those who are not his enemy?

MAT 1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
LUK 3:23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.
Who is Joseph's dad?

MAT 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
The '€œother' Mary?

MAR 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
Oh, Mary the mother of James.

JOH 20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
Wait, where did the '€œother' Mary go?

JOH 10:30 I and my Father are one.
JOH 14:28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
< = > Which is it?

GEN 1:25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
GEN 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

GEN 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
GEN 2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
What came first? Man or Beast?

KI1 4:26 And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.
CH2 9:25 And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem.
Was it forty thousand or four thousand?

PRO 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
ECC 1:18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
1 Cor.1:19: "For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and wil bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."
Should we be wise or not?

Ac 2:29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
ACT 2:30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
MAT 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Ok, so the Christ was to come from the line of David but was born of the Holy Ghost without Mary knowing a man. Then why isnt his lineage shown instead of David to Joseph? Joseph was not the seed bearing father of Jesus. That's what you get when you mix Roman polythiesm and diefication of the Emporer with Christianity to make it more popular.

ISA 14:21 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.
Ex 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the FATHERS upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
DEU 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
Ok, which is it?

Jesus first sermon
Matt.5:1,2: "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying...."
Luke6:17,20: "And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people...came to hear him.. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples and said..."
Mountain or Plain for his first sermon?

I would give you more but I don't have time. As for the prophecies, it is currently 3 pages but I figure you wouldnl't read it anyway. People who are as closed off as you are, are not worth the effort. There is plenty of information out there on the subject, if you wanted to know, you would have looked. You can't change a fanatics mind.
JGJ, 24.03.2006, 1:39pm #
Simon,

I know it isn't actually the word of god, I was being sarcastic. I don't believe that the bible is the word of anything other then un-enlightened men trying to make sense of the world around them. Later, it was adapted by people in power to control the masses.
I find it really interesting to have come upon this thread because I was once a wimpy agnostic; until I actually read the bible. Vengeful death and destruction abound. Innocent people are killed for little other reason then being in god's way. Love is reserved only for those who worship, absolutely, an egomaniacal god. The more I read, the more frightened I became of fundamentalists. I can understand the casual Christian who goes to Church occasionally, probably never read the bible cover to cover, and still vaguely believes in an archaic myth simply because everyone else seems to. However, a person who has read it cover to cover? How could anyone agree with the violent, totalitarian, unwaivering ideals expressed in this book? How could anyone with half a brain read it, see all of the contradicitions and errors in logic and believe it was written by a "perfect" god?
And then, after I made all of these realizations, I read in several places that George the Fundamentalist reads the bible every single morning. WOW. It all makes perfect sense to me now.

Missy
missy, 24.03.2006, 3:46pm #
why can't religious folk and atheists get along? why must there be so much hatred? oh god the humanity!
edm, 12.04.2006, 1:59am #
I get along fine with the religious, as long as they don't try to convert me.
JGJ, 12.04.2006, 11:46am #
ah...i can see someone deleted the rants we had earlier, makes the board look more inviting, thx.

but yeah, same with JGJ, i'm fine with religion, but keep your god to yourself.

I in fact still play Dungeons & Dragons with a Catholic (another one left after her anime obsession pissed the rest of us off. anime in D&D=ew), and she and I still get along just fine, and she doesn't give a damn she plays D&D with a Wiccan and an agnostic as well.
Shaggy, 13.04.2006, 1:03am #
1. "love your neighbour as your self" is in Leviticus 19; also the injunction to care for the stranger is repeated numerous times in the pentateuch -- both are examples of universalism in the hebrew bible
2. Distinguish the laws from the descriptions of events. The latter are not supposed to be examples to be followed - they have a different purpose; perhaps to show that every rule has exceptions. (E.g. The innocent are sometimes killed legitimately, where there is a massively greater good to be achieved).
3. Some of the laws with horrendous penalties may be telling you something about the nature of the purpose of human life -- perhaps desecrating the sabbath is a terrible thing (this is hard to grasp -- but experience of a community that honours the sabbath teaches what it is that desecration jeopardises). The laws of evidence also in the bible make it very unlikely that anyone would be executed -- but the bible gives a message in a powerful way by stipulating the death penalty -- viz, that there is something fundamental about the purpose of life that is being threatened, such that the perpetrator is jeopardising his own chance of a meaningful life. Think about it.
4. Have some humility: do you not know that all these apparent contradictions have been addressed over millenia of biblical comentaries? For instance, the apparent contradiction between passages that give children responsibility for sins of parents and those that do not is readily understood once you consider that although no court should punish a child for the sin of the parent, yet every parent knows that what they do will have an influence over their child's life chances - that is the way of God's world -- we have free choice, and our actions have consequences affecting others, not least our children.
5. I would be interested in your response to the posting about the fulfilment of the various prophecies for Babylon, Egypt and Israel.
rationaltheism, 16.04.2006, 3:11am #
"2. Distinguish the laws from the descriptions of events. The latter are not supposed to be examples to be followed - they have a different purpose; perhaps to show that every rule has exceptions. (E.g. The innocent are sometimes killed legitimately, where there is a massively greater good to be achieved)."

I could go off on that because the innocents killed in the case of land grabbing by Moses' followers is not a greater good, but I won't.

"viz, that there is something fundamental about the purpose of life that is being threatened, such that the perpetrator is jeopardizing his own chance of a meaningful life. Think about it."

Ok, I thought about it and think it's nuts that one could believe that it is justifiable to take someone else's life because he wasn't living it up to the executor's expectations. And I'm not talking about murderers, child molesters and rapists, I'm talking about people who happen to be living in the spot God wants to give to Moses, touches a certain mountain, working on Sunday, blah blah blah. The Christian god has no respect for human life and I can point to several passages that prove it.

"we have free choice"
And as we have free choice, I choose not to believe without fear of punishment. God's free will is not free will but rather an ultimatum.

"I would be interested in your response to the posting about the fulfilment of the various prophecies for Babylon, Egypt and Israel."

If you can give me irrefutable proof that these "prophecies" were written before the occurrences were described, I'd be happy to respond. The existence of these so-called prophecies in the Bible does not, in any way, provide evidence of its validity. Faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain, yet no one has been able to do that by faith alone, so who would go to heaven if they have faith so small?

If we can judge the cover of a book by its contents, Christianity is the cover and its members are the contents, I'm not impressed. The Christian god is the author of that book? I'm definately not impressed with the author.
JGJ, 16.04.2006, 4:06am #
Dear JGJ,
To raise the level of debate, it might help to focus upon one problem at a time. (We can shift to others later if you wish.) You write:
"... it's nuts that one could believe that it is justifiable to take someone else's life because he wasn't living it up to the executor's expectations. And I'm not talking about murderers, child molesters and rapists, I'm talking about people who happen to be living in the spot God wants to give to Moses, touches a certain mountain, working on Sunday, blah blah blah."
Of course I can empathise with this reaction. These passages are difficult, but they are there to challenge our intuitions not just to confirm them. May I try to get you to see a different perspective from which they reveal a deeper set of ethical values than those we normally consider?

Let's focus upon the capital penalty attached to breaking the Sabbath. This has meaning at two levels. First, for someone who is considering whether to desecrate the sabbath in circumstances in which they could not possibly be brought to court and executed. This of course includes almost everyone in these jurisdictions nowadays. And traditional understanding of the stringent rules of evidence dictated by the Bible for capital offences indicates that it would include almost everyone in Biblical times too. For this audience, the capital status of sabbath crimes does not circumscribe their freedom to do as they will on the Sabbath; rather it emphasises dramatically the importance of Sabbath observance -- you are urged to take seriously the possibility that desecrating the sabbath is an action so awful that it is as if you were throwing away your life. How can one make sense of something so crazy? Well only by focusing upon the meaning of life itself: failure to acknowledge the transcendent source of the creation by setting aside one day a week from relentless creativity for contemplation and family, may strip life of its value. WH Davies “What is this life if, full of care, / We have no time to stand and stare?

Yet the second perspective demanded by the capital offences must also be confronted - this is the one upon which you focus - the perspective of the judge in a biblical court confronted by a proven sabbath desecrator and the obligation to execute such a person. How can the Judge even consider an execution for a victimless crime like Sabbath-desecration. To accept that this could be a moral response requires the imagination of a context in which the desecrator is threatening the fabric of a society in which sabbath observance is imbuing life and social and family relations with meaning; in which a public and deliberate act to undermine social cohesion (only if it is a public and deliberate act, following a public warning, will the death penalty be invoked), puts at risk a social idyll. The biblical perspective is one that does give preeminent value to community and to values that can be achieved by communities, even above individual freedom; and in which yes the life of the individual may have less value than the good fo the community; threats to the community are therefore taken very seriously. The communal values that are sacred to the Biblical community are more pervasive than those that inform the much weaker version of society that is common in the West nowadays; to understand the heinousness of the crime of threatening such a structure requires an act of imagination.

Does this make any sense to you?
rationaltheism, 17.04.2006, 12:26pm #

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