Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yet Another Question For Christians

In the Bible, 2 Samuel Chapter 11 and 12, there is the story about David that I talked about it a few posts back. What follows is a "Yes" or "No" question I submitted to Ray Comfort's blog on several occasions. To date, not a single Christian has answered it with a "Yes" or "No":

For a quick review, I’ll paraphrase, but I am being careful to give an accurate description:

God loves David, but David does something that is bad in God’s eyes. He has an affair with Bathsheba, has Bathsheba’s husband killed in battle, and David and Bathsheba have an illegitimate baby son. God is displeased about this and makes the baby sick to punish David for what David has done. David pleads with God to save his baby, but after a week God allows the Baby to die.

Now, suppose just theoretically that you are a perfect, loving, omniscient, and omnipotent God and nothing exists at all except for You. You are starting from scratch and can do anything at all. You know, of course, exactly how everything will turn out to the finest detail before you even commit to creating anything because you are omniscient.

Okay, here’s the question: Would You create a world where someday You would make your beloved David’s baby son sick, let it suffer for a week, then let it die?

YES or NO?


Anette Acker said...

Hi Dave,

I'll accept your challenge. My short answer is that God disciplined David in order to save his eternal soul. David had really gone off the deep end, becoming arrogant and self-centered, but God brought him to a point of humility. David agreed with God that the state of his soul was most important. In Psalm 51:11 he says: "Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me."

If you want a much longer stab at an explanation, I blogged yesterday on a related subject: God's sovereignty, human freedom, and how evil fits in.

It almost certainly won't address all your objections (nor does it answer all MY questions), but feel free to challenge anything I've said.

Dave B said...

Hi Anette,

First, I want to thank you for taking the time to stop by and post!

Please don’t take what I am going to say personally. You seem like a very nice person.

I’ll get right to it. You totally ignored my question. My challenge was not for you to offer an explanation for God killing David’s son. My whole point was to bring God’s action here to a personal level and to ask you a simple yes or no question. You completely ignored it.

Don’t feel bad, as I have yet to find a single Christian willing to answer the question with a simple yes or no. So far the typical responses have been:

1. Totally ignoring the question.

2. Like yours, where a cognitive dissonant moral explanation for God killing a baby is given.

3. Refusal to answer with an attempt to brand the question as loaded. (It isn’t)

4. Answering “No” because they claim that God didn’t kill the baby.

I find your type of response the most fascinating. Not only because my obvious question is ignored, but because the mental gyrations a Christian will go through to justify the obvious immorality of God’s actions is often stunning. Really think about this Anette: you have justified in your mind the taking of an innocent life.

Anette Acker said...


I did not ignore your question. It was: "Would You create a world where someday You would make your beloved David’s baby son sick, let it suffer for a week, then let it die?"

That is not the kind of question that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no," so I answered by directing you to my blog, where I address the issue of why God created the world the way he did. Did you read that? Of course it's okay if you didn't--I hate it when people try to direct me to their blogs, so I understand.

But if you didn't, let me ask you a simple multiple choice question: Why did you ask the question?

a) This is why you turned against Christianity, and you really want to know the answer.

b) Giving Christians the runaround is your favorite sport.

If the answer is A, then read what I wrote and we'll discuss it afterwards. If it's B, then go back to Ray Comfort's blog.

Dave B said...

Anette, why can’t the question can be answered with a Yes or No? I really don’t understand this. Either you would create the world the same as the Biblical God and kill David’s baby or you wouldn’t. So simple.

And I explained why I asked the question. It takes a biblical issue and makes it personal. It forces the person being asked the question to come to terms with their own moral compass. Your perfect, loving, omnipotent, and omniscient god made the world that way, so why wouldn’t you just answer the question YES and be done with it?

As far as me wanting to now the reasons God killed David’s baby, well, I have heard ‘em all. Your answer is not unlike many of the others I have heard, and is a study in cognitive dissonance. I grappled with this issue (and many many others) until a light switch was flipped and I saw Christianity for what it really is. Just my opinion of course.

At this point in my life, I am fascinated by how a human being can possibly worship such a god. You do. I used to, although many have accused me of being a “False Convert” and I am fine with that label. I feel better about myself knowing that I never fully bought into Christianity in the first place., and you can take comfort knowing that I was never one of you to begin with.

So what was I? I have been doing research into mind control techniques and am becoming more and more convinced that Christians are brainwashed. It’s a fascinating subject to me, especially since I have to now admit I was brainwashed. I admit it. I read on a science website (, not anti-religious by any means) that studies have indicated that people that are subjected to about 30 minutes of repetitive rhythmic music are more easily convinced of something. Turns out, it is a mind control technique used by cults. It is also exactly what the mainstream Four Square Church in Bothell Washington that I attended for years did at the beginning of every single worship service. Hmmm.

And finally, I find your comment that if I asked the yes or no question to give Christians the runaround that I should return to Ray Comfort’s blog somewhat amusing. This is my blog, Anette. You came here.

I am more than happy to discuss anything here with you, as you seem sincere and intelligent. But then again, I have been accused of being under Satan’s influence, so you may want to ask your Christian family/friends/pastor if this is a place to avoid. Being told to avoid contact with conflicting people/information is another mind control technique by the way.

Anette Acker said...


"And finally, I find your comment that if I asked the yes or no question to give Christians the runaround that I should return to Ray Comfort’s blog somewhat amusing. This is my blog, Anette. You came here."

You're right--that was somewhat amusing. My point was to tell you not to bother reading how I answered the question.

I will answer your question with a simple Yes (because I can see that you haven't read my explanation).

We agree that cognitive dissonance is wrong, like we discussed on Steve's blog several months ago. It makes for a very fragile faith that can't withstand scrutiny or testing. (The Bible specifically talks about asking God for an "undivided heart.") But you can't accuse me of cognitive dissonance without reading my thoughts on this issue. I'm sure you know that in life the truth is usually nuanced. Why would the profound truths of God be any different? (They are nuanced but internally consistent.)

Let me rephrase my question: Have you completely resolved this issue and now regard Christianity as a "fascinating" study in mind control, or is your mind still open to the possibility that what you were taught is not the Christianity of the Bible?

And BTW, I never avoid contact with "conflicting people/information," so don't worry about me. I seek out situations like that in order to challenge my own worldview. The only people I avoid are those who are intellectually dishonest--Christians and non-Christians.

Dave B said...

Thank you! Congratulations, you are the first to answer the question with a yes or no. Seriously, that’s good.

I don't have ,uch time, so the following will be a bit rough:

You asked “Have you completely resolved this issue and now regard Christianity as a "fascinating" study in mind control, or is your mind still open to the possibility that what you were taught is not the Christianity of the Bible?”

Good question. I guess I have gotten far enough along in this adventure to say it’s the former. I have done enough study, arguing, searching my heart, and yes, even praying to come to the conclusion that I no longer believe in the supernatural. I still have faith, however, in the human spirit, and I do not have a problem using the word “God” to describe it. I am open to the supernatural, I simply have never had an experience that would prove to me it’s existence. Unlike the Ray Comfort Type Christians who would never let go of their disdain of evolution even if a million fossils where found and laid end to end showing a smooth linear transition from some early life form to man, it would be very easy for God to prove His existence to me.

This may sound silly, but me typing this just reminded me of what I used to do sometimes. You know how the Bible says that all who ask are answered and all that? Well, I used to ask God to make himself known to me with something very simple. My mom has a cabin on a lake in Oregon. Its at 5000 feet with very little around it, so if you go down and lay on the dock on a clear night, the view of the sky is phenomenal. We’d lay on the dock and watch for shooting stars, and I’d ask God to make a little shooting star in the sky, right there, right now. Never happened. And I was completely sincere.

I have a niece that is completely convinced that God showed his presence to her by changing a tooth filling from amalgam to gold. When she told the family, everyone was beside themselves with Praising The Lord. Well, except me of course, and when I shared my skepticism I was nearly banned from the family and accused by my sister of being under the influence of Satan.

So, God would not toss a speck of dust into earth's atmosphere for me, but is performing alchemy in the mouth of my already Christian niece. It makes no sense whatsoever. And no, she has never shown her gold filling to me, or anyone else that I know of.
Also, to be honest with you, even if God did choose to make himself known to me, it would be a long uphill battle to show that He is the God of the Bible. Fortunately, there are many other options, as I am simply incapable of worshipping a God that does even a tiny fraction of what God does in the Bible.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but I’ll stop and at least post my answer to your question. Later!

Anette Acker said...

Thanks for your honesty. I can certainly understand your frustration with your family. When I see Christians acting like that, it makes me want to bang my head against the wall. If it was true about the filling, why on earth would your niece not show anyone? 1 John 2:21 says that "no lie is of the truth." Seems self-evident, doesn't it? But the concept is lost on a lot of Christians. The problem is that faith built on lies is no faith at all.

As for the little miracle you wanted from God, he doesn't usually reveal himself like that, and the big reason, I think, is because it doesn't work. I don't usually read Ray Comfort's blog, but today was the first time I commented (in response to a question a woman asked). It was about Zacharius, and while answering the woman's question it occurred to me that Zacharius stood face to face with a real angel and he still asked for more proof that his wife would conceive. In other words, the angel wasn't enough to convince him. So do you really think the shooting star would have made any difference for you? First of all, I think you're too rational for that, so you would probably explain it away. When God answers your prayer to reveal himself to you, it will be in keeping with your personality.

Secondly, what generally happens is that faith comes first and divine intervention increases with spiritual growth. And when I say "faith," I don't mean "gullibility," but the Hebrews 11:1 definition, which is "the substance of things hoped for," or the presence of Christ in our lives.

Dave B said...

Thanks Anette.

You asked, “So do you really think the shooting star would have made any difference for you?”

I know you probably won’t believe me, but yes it would. It certainly would not have provided proof, but it would have given me additional reason to believe. And for the first 45 years of my life I wanted very much to believe. The shooting star thing is only a tiny example of a life trying hard to make God and Jesus fit in my life.

You said, “First of all, I think you're too rational for that, so you would probably explain it away. When God answers your prayer to reveal himself to you, it will be in keeping with your personality.”

Good point! So, how is it exactly that God would have revealed himself to me? I mean, here is a God that can do absolutely anything, right? Why is it that he made the world to appear, at least to a rational person such as myself, as if he doesn’t even exist? I have not witnessed a single paranormal event in my entire life. I have had “spiritual” experiences for sure, but if anything they have pointed to a non-Biblical God, such as a God of Nature, or a God of Human Spirit. I am completely convinced on moral grounds that the Biblical God does not exist, but I am still very open to a creator. Even as rational as I am, nobody has successfully convinced me that the big bang, for example, just popped into place. Perhaps a god created that event, with all the physical laws to govern it, knowing that life would evolve from it. Perhaps that god is morally neutral, and simply went on his way to try another universe experiment somewhere else.

Going back to my niece that supposedly had her amalgam filling turned to gold… Now, that would have had some weight with me and made me seriously re-evaluate my beliefs. I mean, we are talking alchemy here. When I suggested that since alchemy had never been proven, her verifying that the filling was gold would be a tremendous asset in her missionary work, especially since gold is never used for fillings in the United States. But she refused to do it, and I was accused of being under Satan’s influence by my sister to even suggest such a thing. Perhaps God had her filling changed not to influence her, as she was already a True Christian, but to influence me. Too bad it had the opposite affect.

[By the way and off topic: if you research the “gold filling phenomenon” it is classic mind control. People involved have been exposed as frauds, and not a single verified case has been proven. It is most popular outside the U.S., where gold is used as a filling material. Many people, myself included, have gold-toned amalgams due to coffee stains, and it is easy to convince those susceptible that it’s a miracle.]

Since that event about 3 years ago, I have dropped discussing religion with any of my family. And they are perfectly happy with that. I have learned now that they simply do not want to know who I am or what makes me tick unless it perfectly meshes with their religious-based worldview. So here’s their brother, son, and uncle Dave that they profess to love dearly, but are content with me just coasting along on my road to Hell. I know my mother has discussed my beliefs with her brother that is an ordained minister, and he has made no attempt whatsoever to contact me in an attempt to save my soul. My mother’s main concern is not that I am doomed, but that she sees herself as a failure for raising a son that does not have Jesus as a pal.

Anette Acker said...

I don't know your family, but it sounds like they have doubts of their own. This is very common and I don't want to judge them (we all struggle), but in one sense you are closer to the truth because you have faced your doubts. That is actually a huge step. If your family defines "faith" as the ability to take a lie and convince oneself that it's true, you are further along the path by having rejected that. The only faith that matters is faith in the truth.

You said, "So here’s their brother, son, and uncle Dave that they profess to love dearly, but are content with me just coasting along on my road to Hell." I recognize that you are not admitting to believing in Hell, but you are making an important point: There's no such thing as politely indifferent, cocktail party Christianity. If eternal souls are really at stake, it's all or nothing.

Were you an adult or a child when you asked to see the shooting star? Maybe that would have helped your faith a little, but you still seem to have too many questions. And if the "filling" incident is indicative of how Christianity is practiced in your family, you have clearly outgrown that--shooting star or no shooting star.

As for how God will reveal himself to you, his preferred way is to speak through his people. So I would be more than happy to continue discussing this with you, especially since nobody in your family has brought it up. I'm guessing they don't know what to say or even if you want to talk. Since I don't know you in real life, I'm far less concerned about offending you. ;)

Here's something I consider divine intervention: Back when I commented on Steve's blog (the first and only time) several months ago I was very aware of the futility of debating religion with atheists (or Catholics or Calvinists, for that matter). But when you and Danny commented, I sensed God impressing on my mind that I should continue the conversation for as long as you wanted. But that conversation ended right away.

And then a few days ago something reminded me of that conversation, so I checked Steve's blog (which I definitely don't read) again and clicked through to your blog, where I found your question. And it seems that you are willing to talk about this now.

So I'm fairly sure that God heard your prayer, but, as is usually the case, he had his own ideas about how to answer it.

Dave B said...

Anette, you said “There's no such thing as politely indifferent, cocktail party Christianity. If eternal souls are really at stake, it's all or nothing”.

Exactly! So, where are all these Christians? I can’t quite figure out whether Ray Comfort is for real or not, but if he is sincere I can see that he is at least trying to save souls. You obviously are very sincere, and even though I do not believe in Christianity any longer, I admire Christians such as yourself that have this attitude. Yet it is extraordinarily rare for me to be approached by a Christian in private or public any more. Maybe just a sign of our times.

You asked, “Were you an adult or a child when you asked to see the shooting star? Maybe that would have helped your faith a little, but you still seem to have too many questions.”

I have been asking my entire life, including before I became a hardened stubborn adult. There have been many other occasions where God could have easily blessed me with knowledge of his presence. Not just silly situations like asking for a shooting star, but in many of life struggles where I have genuinely asked for God’s help. Total and complete silence. Of course, you will probably say that God did answer my prayers, just not how I wanted him to. I don’t see the point in believing in a supernatural being that behaves in a way that does not differentiate him from not existing at all. Why worship the Biblical God when praying to The Flying Spaghetti Monster has the exact same result? Especially when the Flying Spaghetti Monster has not committed genocide, killed innocent babies, nor created Hell? Unlike the Biblical God, TFSM only savors the aroma of cooking meatballs, not human flesh! I honestly do not see how any God, real or imaginary, could be more evil or tyrannical than the Biblical God. Sorry, it’s just how I see it now.

Finally, if you think your presence here is divine intervention and you are on a Mission from God to save me, although I honestly think that is very sweet, I think your efforts may be better spent elsewhere. The world is full of people that need spiritual help, and with all due respect, I am not one of them. I honestly have no desire to live forever, and I am comfortable enough with my present beliefs that I have no fear whatsoever of spending eternity suffering in Hell. My life is not perfect, but I have many blessings in my life and am happy with who I am. You are more than welcome to stick around, however, as I enjoy our conversations, and know that I have no intentions to change your beliefs. You are obviously happy with who you are, right?

Off Topic: I noticed you are Norwegian. My mother is full Norwegian and her parents came here in the 1910’s. from Oslo. Some day I would love to visit there! I live in Texas (not by choice) but spent much of my young childhood (age 6-13) in the SF bay area living in Fremont.

Anette Acker said...

Again, thanks for your honesty, Dave.

You said, "It is extraordinarily rare for me to be approached by a Christian in private or public any more. Maybe just a sign of our times."

I think the reason is that they consider it futile, and they consider it futile because you tell them it is. Just like you told me.

If I were to make a wild guess, I would say that's why your family hasn't talked to you about religion in the past three years. Your mother is presumably an elderly woman who has no idea how to refute your arguments. Your sister may feel badly for what she said, and I have no idea what to make of your niece and her gold tooth. But my guess is that they would rather keep the peace than have another ugly incident like that.

As for me, I don't even talk with unbelievers about religion unless I feel like the Holy Spirit is prompting me (and I know you think that's silly). But I know that God is the only one who can save a soul (with the person's consent), and he knows who is potentially responsive at any given time. I also believe that the kind of bickering that takes place on Ray Comfort's and Steve's blogs can do more harm than good. So I wait until I sense that God is leading me because I don't want to risk alienating anyone from the truth. Most of the time when I have felt led to say something, the reason became clear to me during the conversation or later. But every person is left with a choice that nobody else (including God) can force.

If you say that you are completely hardened against Christianity, I'll take your word for it and we can stop talking. But I was not fully convinced that you've given up because you seemed disappointed that nobody has tried to save your soul recently. Why did you say, "Maybe just a sign of our times," with respect to people not trying to convert you? Are you lamenting the fact that Christians are not as brainwashed as they used to be? And why are you congratulating me on being more fully brainwashed? (Do I detect cognitive dissonance in YOU?)

Also, your insistence on truth indicates that there may be hope for you. That is the only foundation for true faith. In fact, it is clear from the gospel accounts that Jesus valued truthful people above all others. But if your mind is sealed shut, that doesn't do any good, of course.

BTW, I think you're right to be concerned about brainwashing, but I'm sure you know that it goes both ways. If you spend your spare time reading Dwindling in Unbelief (where you can dwell on the OT atrocities, taken out of context) and Ray Comfort's blog (where you and your atheist buddies can beat to death the straw man of how exactly the world was created/not created), then you may be brainwashed still, but in the opposite direction. Remember what you said about exposing oneself to conflicting people and information? True words!

But again, if you say that you've made your final decision, I'll take your word for it. Those affirmations tend to solidify into fact.

"You are obviously happy with who you are, right?"

Absolutely! I addressed the issue of cognitive dissonance about sixteen years ago during a major crisis. I hold my beliefs to high level of scrutiny--spiritually, intellectually, intuitively, and empirically--and I can honestly say that my faith solidifies every time it is challenged.

"Off Topic: I noticed you are Norwegian. My mother is full Norwegian and her parents came here in the 1910’s. from Oslo. Some day I would love to visit there!"

Very cool! I was born in Oslo too.

Dave B said...

Thanks Anette!

Couple thoughts:

When I said I wasn’t approached by Christians anymore, I was thinking of Christians that had no idea of who I was. I can recall many times in my life that Christians would approach me, people would knock on the door, or come up to me at a gas station with their WWJD bracelets, etc., with the intent on converting me. It hardly, if ever, happens any more. I here Christianity is waning, and perhaps that is why. Could be too that Christians know that the conversion rate is very low amongst crotchety old men, so they leave me alone.

I am not disappointed that nobody is trying to convert me because I have some secret desire to be saved (I don’t), it’s just that their lack of effort is a reflection of their lack of conviction. If a friend or family member truly believed I was in need of salvation, it seems that they would do anything to try to save my soul. Especially if one of those family members was an ordained Presbyterian Minister. Not a single word from him. Even if I disagree I admire people on their strength of their convictions. That’s why I am your fan!

And finally, regarding brainwashing, I am glad you recognize it as a concern. Here’s the deal though. Pretty much the entire religious establishment is a huge brainwashing machine. I know that sounds silly, but if you do even a little research on mind control techniques nearly all of those techniques are in use by religion, especially Christianity and Islam. And I know this probably sounds even sillier, but I suspect you are using or have used those exact same techniques on your children. I know my parents did, yet they were completely unaware, or blind, of what they were really doing and were doing it totally out of love. Ever sung to your child the “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so!” song? Seems so innocent, yet a parent singing that song to an impressionable child is incredibly powerful.

And just as an example, during the big gold filling fiasco when I was quite vocal on a family website I had one niece that was expressing her doubts about her Christian beliefs and started agreeing with me. The psychological pressure put on her by her parents to get her back inline with her traditional Christian beliefs were breathtaking. Parental pressure to conform is extraordinarily powerful and it worked like a charm. She is pregnant now and is having a girl. If a boy, she said she would have named it “Christian”. Her parents are beaming with pride I’m sure.

And getting back to the brainwashing thing… there is absolutely no such mechanism in place that would cause a de-conversion from Christianity. None. There’s no atheist agenda to reach out and convert people away from religion. They can’t hardly even get themselves organized, let alone come up with anti-evangelism. I never set foot on an atheist website such as Steve Well’s or Ray Comfort’s until I was far along my personal journey away from Christianity. It all started for me by actually reading the Bible. To be more specific, it was me reading to my then 8 year old daughters from “Children’s Stories from the Bible”, the story about Abraham bringing his son Isaac up to the mountains and lashing him to an altar to be sacrificed to God. Even in children’s prose it made my stomach churn. Later, when we were watching the animated classic “The Prince of Egypt” for the second time, during the scene where God kills every first born child in Egypt, my stomach churned again. I was watching a holy snuff film and demonstrating to my children that the God I want them to love is somehow justified in killing thousands of innocent children. It was literally sickening and my journey away from Christianity began.

- continued -

Dave B said...

- continued -

Funny thing, as you have said, probably during the most painful experience of my life, a divorce 11 years ago, my faith actually strengthened. It was later, much simpler, and more innocent event that caused it to crack. My de-programming, as it were, was a product of the love for my daughters. As God as my witness (whomever that God may be) I refuse to worship that biblical god again. If I am, as Ray says, clenching my teeth and denying what I know to be true, so be it. As I have said before, I will proudly march into Hell before I worship the god that created it.

PS There’s a pretty good chance that we are relatives. Sorry. :-) My grandfathers last name was Christiansen and my grandmother’s maiden name was Dahl. And did you know that Norway is one of the most secular countries in the world?

Anette Acker said...


Brainwashing is always bad, even if the intentions are good. I agree that it's prevalent in the church, but strongly disagree that it's inherent to Christianity. In fact, the Bible says: "Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds." That means that we are not to conform to the Christian subculture either.

One of the things God taught me during the crisis sixteen years ago was to think critically about what the Bible actually says. Up until that point, I had just taken everything I heard from the pulpit at face value, and that is generally a very watered down gospel that doesn't hold together biblically or logically.

People are brainwashed when they uncritically take in whatever they hear. You could just as easily say that your (now pregnant) niece was being brainwashed by you, in much the same way that sheltered Christian children go off to college and lose their faith/indoctrination. We encourage our children to think critically and talk through their doubts. But we know that ultimately faith comes from the Holy Spirit, so we don't try to control it.

You said that Christianity is waning; I think it's just that most Christians are only partially converted. Many Christians care far more about how exactly the world was created than the nature of salvation. They have never asked themselves any of the hard questions, so they have no idea whether their faith can withstand scrutiny. Therefore there is no true conviction.

I appreciate what you said about respecting Christians like me who have convictions, but I still think there's cognitive dissonance there. To you, Christianity is not just a perspective that you disagree with. You think we are actually brainwashed. So why do you admire the more fully brainwashed Christians? Is that how you feel about all crazy people? If they have lucid moments, you want nothing to do with them?

You atheists/anti-theists seem to have definite ideas about who is and is not an authentic Christian. Do you know what an authentic Christian is? It's not a good person--it is someone who is empowered by God's Spirit, meaning that the biblical God lives through him or her. Fake Christians will try to do the right thing, but will have all the same issues as unbelievers (although they'll Christianize them). This is very clear in the Bible.

So given your ideas about the biblical God, I would assume that you consider an authentic Christian someone who kills babies, etc. When you're wondering whether Ray Comfort is for real or not, is it because you're not sure whether he has gone on any killing sprees? Because "Christ in us" is the definition of a true Christian. And Christ is God.

I'm still wondering if it's worth continuing this conversation. If you have made your final decision, it is probably just a waste of our time. Faith is a spiritual state, and if nothing is making any dent, then there really is no point in debating this. I'm not a huge fan of talking to brick walls, so that has been my question from the very beginning.

Yes, we probably are related somehow, and yes, I know that Norway is one of the most secular countries in the world. :)

Anette Acker said...

Just an additional point: True Christianity is actually the opposite of brainwashing because we are "called to freedom," whereas brainwashing annihilates free will.

I agree that forcing oneself to believe something is akin to brainwashing. That makes some Christians live in a bubble and avoid conflicting views. But faith is something that grows in us by the power of the Holy Spirit, and it is inexorably tied to freedom. Faith can't be forced by psychological pressure.

Anette Acker said...

I just realized that my last few comments might have seemed like I was just trying to win an argument, and I apologize for that. The points about your cognitive dissonance were tongue-in-cheek, but that probably didn't come out in writing.

But I still think that at some point in this conversation I went from trusting that God was in charge and concerned about your soul, to thinking: "I'm going to MAKE this guy see things my way!" That's the challenge of being a Christian because for some reason God has chosen to work through flawed humans. He respects our will so much that he actually lets our egos shove his Spirit out of the way. I hope that nothing I said alienated you further against Christianity. (This is a reason why I generally avoid prolonged theological discussion.)

Anyway, I appreciate you being so gracious about it. I sincerely hope you'll give Christianity another look. Nobody should reject it because they care too much about truth and compassion. There must be a misunderstanding somewhere.

Anette Acker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave B said...

Hi Anette!

I have enjoyed our conversation very much and you are welcome to respond to this now or come back at any time in the future and add anything you like. I do not censor what people post and it will be here for the world to read.

But yeah, I think this conversation has run it’s course. I gotta be honest… you are indeed talking to a brick wall. There are a million reason why, but if I had to single out one reason I will never again be a Christian is that I am simply unable to worship a god that kills babies. Whether you think it is justified, or whether you think it’s not God but rather Satan (that God created!) it doesn’t really matter to me. Your God knowingly created a world where he would allow innocent babies to die, and that simply does not mesh with a loving creator.

There are a few things I want to mention quickly. First, based on your statement “People are brainwashed when they uncritically take in whatever they hear.” tells me you do not understand what brainwashing is. May I suggest you do a little research (Wikipedia is a good start) and read some of John Loftus’s material on the subject at his blog, as he writes much better than I do. Here’s a link to this very subject (which I just now found, I had not read this previously, honest):

Second, you said, “To you, Christianity is not just a perspective that you disagree with. You think we are actually brainwashed. So why do you admire the more fully brainwashed Christians?” This is an excellent point. Perhaps I was just trying to be nice, but to me the people that are “half-Christians” upset me off because they haven’t explored the issues… they just go with the flow and don’t think about Hell (for example). You, on the other hand, have. Yes, I do think you are brainwashed, but that’s not a terrible insult. I mean, I would much rather be brainwashed that stupid or insane.

Finally, you said, “So given your ideas about the biblical God, I would assume that you consider an authentic Christian someone who kills babies, etc. When you're wondering whether Ray Comfort is for real or not, is it because you're not sure whether he has gone on any killing sprees? Because "Christ in us" is the definition of a true Christian. And Christ is God.” I’m not sure if you were being serious or not, but of course I don’t think a Christian is someone who kills babies. They simply worship a god that does. That said, there are millions of humans that have been killed under God’s name using the Bible as a moral guide, incorrectly or not. The Bible directs you to kill in many situations, but of course I am sure you have come to terms with very one of them.

I could go on, but I am short on time and thought I owed you a response in a timely manner. I did not have time to sanitize this, so I hope I haven’t offended you too much. I do think you are a good person, and I genuinely appreciate the time you have spent here. Thank you.

Anette Acker said...


I've also enjoyed the conversation, and no, nothing you said offended me at all, including the bit about the brainwashing. I'm glad you're willing to be honest about that. :) I hope nothing I said offended you either.

If you are in fact a brick wall there is no point in me responding to any of your arguments, except to say that I have thought through the issues honestly and without cognitive dissonance. The reason it has not made me into a monster is because the explanations actually make a lot of sense, and they make more sense the more I grow as a Christian. If you ever want to discuss that, let me know. At this point I think we're talking past each other, even though we agree on a lot of things (like the importance of intellectual honesty).

I wish you the very best!

Dave B said...

Hi Anette! I stopped by your blog and I gotta admit I enjoyed being the subject of your blog. I don't want to mess with your blog by posting there, but I thought I'd give you a couple of my impressions here.

You described me as "militantly against Christianity".

"Militant" is defined as "extremely active in the defense or support of a cause, often to the point of extremism". Sorry, Anette, that is simply not true. The vast majority of people in my life have no idea what my religious viewpoints are, and I have no intent whatsoever in engaging in any religious battles. I'd hardly call posting my thoughts on an anonymous blog militant and I have never ever condoned the use of military tactics regarding religion. Ever.

Amy said in a response and you subsequently agreed, "Our pastor recently taught in his Sunday school class that there should never be a time when we as Christians fall into the debate about God with nonbelievers. He said that God is not to be debated (period)."

Warning, Will Robinson! Warning! CLASSIC mind control technique!

You said, "This particular man actually used to be a Christian. He never calls himself an atheist, just an ex-Christian. I think he knows that God exists, but he's furious with him. He says he will never worship a God who "kills babies," and he's now a self-described "stubborn, hardened old man."

Well, thank you for not calling me False Convert. I believe I told you I was agnostic, and only atheist when it comes to the Biblical god. I am not furious at a god that doesn't exist. The self description was meant in jest. I may be stubborn, but I'm a big softy.

You said, " It's very tragic to see someone shut out from God's light, but I'm still praying."

Well, thanks for the prayers, but I think I have exposed myself to the real God, whomever that is, and my spiritual journey continues. You display a common characteristics of Christians. It's either the Biblical god or no god at all. Simply not true, and I am very open to a deity. I have even had "spiritual" experiences along those lines I have not yet shared.

Again, I am short on time, but that is what jumped out at me. I did have one unrelated question for you. Even though you have been exposed to classic mind control techniques you deny them, I assume, based on your "personal" relationship with God. My question is how do you feel about devout Muslims? Are they brainwashed?

Anette Acker said...


You're obviously upset about what I said about you, and I apologize for that. I didn't mean to be derogatory. What I meant by "militantly anti-Christian" was that your blog reflects anger toward Christianity. I thought that was just a factual statement. I didn't look up the word "militant" before I used it, so that might have been a carelessly chosen word. I have no doubt that you are a very nice, respectable person. In fact, you came across that way to me on your anonymous blog, where you need to "vent and purge." (Actually, I don't think you ever described yourself to me as "agnostic," but I could be wrong about that.)

I did not mean to seem disrespectful, because the fact is that I do respect you. You are very honest, which is a rare quality. I even appreciate that you gave me a piece of your mind right now instead of just taking offense and stewing in your own juices. Thank you for that. I have no problem with having my shortcomings brought to my attention.

What I don't know about you, though, is whether you actually want to hear my answers to your questions, or if you're just challenging Christians because you are "venting" and "purging." That's why I took you seriously when you said you were "hardened and stubborn." I had no sense that if I gave you a detailed explanation you would listen and take it seriously, even if you were to ultimately dismiss it as unpersuasive. I still don't know the answer to that question.

Many people are so set in their ways that they won't listen to an opposing point of view. I try not to be that way, which is why I took everything you said seriously (you can go back and check the conversation to confirm that), and I actually sincerely agree with much of it.

What I (and Amy) meant about not debating God was not that we have a problem with having our own views challenged, it's that people tend to reinforce their own position during a debate, so if it's Christianity we're debating, an unbeliever is likely to become more firmly established in his or her views. Obviously, I believe that the Bible is the truth, so I don't want that to happen.

Again, I apologize if I seemed condescending, but haven't you been a bit condescending toward me? You told me I'm brainwashed (again, I appreciate the honesty), and the first thing you let me know was that my answer to the David question was the "most fascinating kind." Obviously you view me as a fascinating case study. So let's just say we're even. (And if not, you can throw a few more at me. :)

But I did want to tell you that just today I was thinking about the fact that there IS a lot of dishonesty and Big Brotherism in the church, and I feel like you and all those other intellectually honest agnostics/atheists on Ray Comfort's blog have been fed a lie about what the Bible actually teaches. Calvinistic notions of God's sovereignty are so pervasive, and they would persuade any honest person that God is tyrannical. You are the people who are refusing to be manipulated into saying that you see four fingers held up when there are really five, and I respect you for that. However, you deserve to know what you are rejecting before you make up your mind.

As for your question at the end, my faith is based on three things: An actual spiritual rebirth which has to be experienced to be understood, honest logic and reasoning, and experience. To me, those things fit into what the Bible teaches. It is almost scientific to me, because everything in my life has confirmed the truth of what the Bible teaches. (And I try to be very honest with myself--if you've caught me in a lie, please tell me.) I don't twist the truth because I don't have to, and I'm not intimidated by talking with people like you who have rejected the Bible.

I know you're busy now, but if at some point you want me to address your specific questions in detail, I would be more than happy to do that.


Anette Acker said...


Obviously, I don't expect you to take anything I say at face value, but I would expect you to listen and take it seriously. I have taken everything you've said seriously, including what you have told me about myself. That's why I wrote about brainwashing. (But again, I can see why you didn't like to see yourself referenced, and I apologize for that.)

If you are interested in my views on the problem of evil, I wrote a blog post called "God's Sovereignty and Human Freedom," where I spell them out.

But if your mind is closed on such an important subject as the existence of God (the biblical one or not), then yes, I do consider that tragic. And that's what I thought you had told me before. I'm glad that's not the case.

If you're interested in the Muslim God, you'll have to find a Muslim to talk with. I can't help you there. But I'd be more than happy to answer your questions (and open-minded challenges) about the Christian God.

Dave B said...

Whoa! I didn’t intend my post to cause such a labor-intensive post on your part. Your previous posts didn’t upset me much, I merely wanted to clarify what I felt was a misuse of a label. Militant is a very strong word, that’s all. I appreciate your apology and accept it.

Also, after I posted I figured you might mis-interpret my mentioning the Muslim faith. I wasn’t clear at all, sorry. No worries, I have no interest in it other than as a study in human behavior. The reason I asked you about it is that you claim to be a Christian based on a fair and, well, almost scientific study of it. My assumption is that many Muslims likely make the same claim. What interests me is that human beings can hold such diametrically opposed views in regards to spirituality. There’s only one truth, after all, so if someone is convinced that what they believe in is true yet they are wrong, then they must be either stupid, insane, or brainwashed. Is there another option?

Are they stupid? I would say not as there are scholars in all religions and there is neutral statistical data that shows that non-believers actually have a slightly higher IQ, on average, than believers.

Are they insane? I think not, as most religious people seem to function just fine in their society. Certainly a few are insane if not borderline, on both sides of the fence, as a quick gander at the wackos that frequent Ray Comfort’s blog will demonstrate.

Are they brainwashed then? I am becoming more and more convinced that they are. I simply include one more religion (out of thousands) in the brainwashed category than you do. The same way you are atheist as far as the thousands of gods go and I am include one more god than you.

I asked about Islam as I was simply curious what you thought about the 2/3 of the world’s population that do not call themselves Christian. What are they if not brainwashed? And how can you tell for sure that they are and you are not? I mean, even you admit that Christian churches engage in brainwashing activity.

Again, I want to reiterate that my definition of brainwashing is not likely as derogatory as yours. I consider myself to be brainwashed much of my 54 years after all, and I liked myself back then as well as I do now. :-)

I know this post is pretty jumbled, but its getting late and I wanted to through it out there. Feel free to ignore it!


Anette Acker said...

Good question. I actually recently read an article where a very thoughtful Muslim (a former atheist) made the argument that atheists are brainwashed. So people don't necessarily have to believe in a god to be brainwashed.

At one point in the article he said that Satan brainwashes, and I agree with that because he is the "father of lies." He lies in many creative ways. So, you're right; anything that's not of the truth is in a sense brainwashing.

That's why it's so important to insist on truth in all the little things. I don't have to be able to explain everything in the Bible, but I should never lie to help God out. People who do that usually end up defaming him. I've found that the truth becomes more clear the older I get.

What upsets me most is brainwashing/Satanic deception in the church, because it keeps others out. I think the church has always been Satan's favorite part of the playground. Why wouldn't it be, when that's where he can do double duty? Jesus said to some of the religious leaders of his time: "You yourself do not enter the kingdom of God, and you're hindering others from entering."

I believe what I do not just because of my "relationship with God," but because it makes sense logically, intuitively, and empirically. In other words, I have "checks and balances" in place so I don't delude myself about something so important. (I don't trust "spiritual experiences" implicitly.) And I ask God on a regular basis to slaughter any sacred cows that I might have. I honestly believe that if Christianity wasn't true, he would have led me to another religion.

"The reason I asked you about it is that you claim to be a Christian based on a fair and, well, almost scientific study of it. My assumption is that many Muslims likely make the same claim."

Really? Do most people take the truth of what they believe that seriously? That's not what I've seen. Often the question of whether it's really true is the last one people care about. In fact, back when I heard C.S. Lewis say that that was the most important thing, it was a major breakthrough for me.

BTW, I didn't mean that my faith is not subjective too, but when the subjective and objective line up consistently over a long period of time (sometimes in very unlikely ways), the evidence is very strong to me. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that atheists and agnostics would find my arguments for the Christian faith convincing. It's not "scientific" in that way.

If you're on a spiritual journey, why not ask God to lead you to his truth and see where that takes you? As you said, there can only be one truth, and any deity worth his salt should care about you finding it, right?

Dave B said...

I thought I posted a long response to this, but for some reason it vanished into thin cyberspace. Divine intervention perhaps? :-) I'll repost when I get a chance to rewrite it.

Anette Acker said...

"Divine intervention perhaps?"

Ha ha, so let this be warning to you: just agree with everything I say, and it won't happen again.

Anette Acker said...

Hey, Dave, first I wanted to make sure you know that my previous comment was a joke and not a “brainwashing technique.” ☺

I’m guessing that since you haven’t rewritten your lost comment yet, you might have decided not to. (Forgive me if that is not the case.) So I figured I would wrap this up by answering your original question, which was essentially: Why would God create a world where he would have to make an innocent baby suffer? That’s actually a question that I have grappled with for the past sixteen years, and even though this answer seems long, it barely scratches the surface of a very complex problem.

But here’s the background: Our daughter Ingrid started having uncontrollable seizures when she was only five months old. She had them as often as every five minutes, where she would stop breathing and her lips turned blue. After three months in various hospitals, the seizures finally came under control well enough to take us out of crisis mode. But by then, she had suffered irreversible brain damage. She could no longer smile or cry, and her right hand was fisted and unusable. She is still nonverbal and unable to take care of herself. Over the years she has had many untreatable seizure clusters.

Let’s just say that watching your child having seizures is like standing by as wild dogs attack her. You’re completely frantic and utterly helpless at the same time. Unlike with the death of a close family member (which my husband and I have both experienced), there’s no way to grieve and move on. So I’ve had plenty of opportunity to reflect on the problem of evil and suffering and the power of Christ’s victory on the cross. But instead of shattering my faith, my experiences have helped me see how well the pieces fit together. This is a basic summary of what I’ve learned:

At the heart of Christianity is freedom. That is why I made the point to you earlier that it is the opposite of brainwashing, which undermines freedom of choice. When we allow him, God changes our hearts so that we obey him without a sense of compulsion. Control tactics are never from the Holy Spirit.

God created us (and the angels) with the power to choose right or wrong, because without it we would be puppets incapable of either love or virtue. Inherent in the power to choose is the power to choose evil. There’s no way around it. To say that God could have given us free choice and also made it impossible to choose evil is like saying that he could have made 2 + 2 = 5. It is intrinsically impossible.

Hell is separation from God, who is the source of all goodness. Sometimes the Bible refers to it as “the outer darkness.” God will not force anyone to come to him. I will admit that the concept of hell is one I’ve always struggled with. How can such an awful thing be real? (But the truth is that a lot of awful things are real. It's only in our complacency that we think something can never happen to us.) When I read your “Dave’s Top Ten” list, that was the only one that gave me pause. I think one answer is that God values freedom so highly that he considers it worth making great sacrifices for, like his own death on the cross.

In fact, while thinking about this I happened to get onto Ray’s blog and see his post for that day (November 22), where he talked about the sacrifices made during WWII for our freedom. Almost all the commenter congratulated him on those sentiments, and one person even said, “Ray, you’re going to have to be more disagreeable or everyone is gonna get bored and leave.” As far as I could tell (and I didn’t read all the comments, of course), nobody said, “Why did we send twenty-year-olds into battle for our freedom?” I mean, isn’t war hell? But most Americans, regardless of political or religious persuasion, consider freedom worth suffering and dying for. We consider it honorable, instead of unjust, for some to die for others.

(To be continued)

Anette Acker said...


And the warfare analogy is used throughout the Bible, which means that not everything happens according to God’s will. We are fighting a spiritual war, even though it has been won on the cross, and what we are experiencing now is guerilla warfare. (The cross has a lot more theological significance than I can (or you would want me to) go into in this space.)

But suffering is usually the anvil on which God hammers us into instruments for doing his will. I remember walking down the hall of the hospital and wondering how anything could possibly be worth this. (I have always been certain that what we went through was in fact God’s will.) And I thought then, as I still do, that the only way it makes sense is if there is such a thing as hell. If so, then it is well worth it for those who follow Christ to suffer in order to be used by God to reach others, because it also means that we don’t live for this life. And my experience has borne that out, because looking back I can see that there was a method to the madness of my life—God was shaping me in very specific ways. (Actually, he has blessed us in many ways, even during the hardest times.)

Is that a perfect answer? No, it’s not even my complete answer. And my complete answer is far from perfect, in part because the Bible doesn’t reveal everything to us. But it reveals a lot, including everything we need to know. One thing I’ve realized is that Spirit-led Christians of all denominations often agree on everything that pertains to our walk with Christ in faith and obedience. With respect to those things, the Bible is completely internally consistent, and the Holy Spirit helps us make sense of it if we stay close to him. It’s about the stuff that doesn’t matter that Christians disgree—like how exactly God saves us and whether an apostate was ever really saved. (So the next time someone calls you a false convert, you go ahead and tell them that Arminians and Calvinists are still squabbling over that one.) But why does that matter anyway? Some things are only known to God, and he is too infinitely big for us to fully understand him.

At the time when my intellectual faith was at its lowest and I seriously questioned whether any of it was true (after Ingrid had over twenty seizures while we waited for the hospital discharge papers with nowhere else to go), Christ became far more real to me than he has ever been. He filled me with a joy and peace that could only be supernatural. Surely my deep spiritual experiences, taken in isolation, were not worth Ingrid’s suffering. But only God, who knows everything, can see the eternal ripple effect of what she went through. And over time the big picture has made more and more sense to me, both in terms of how God uses suffering, how he helps us overcome it, and how the two are intertwined. And I’ve seen his power in response to our prayers for Ingrid.

I don’t know if this makes any sense to you, but I figured I would at least try to fully answer your question.

Dave B said...

Hi Anette! I have simply been very busy. I intend to re-write my lost post, perhaps as a new subject. Thanks for your posts and for sharing your personal experiences!

Dave B said...

A couple quick thoughts:

"Inherent in the power to choose is the power to choose evil. There’s no way around it. To say that God could have given us free choice and also made it impossible to choose evil is like saying that he could have made 2 + 2 = 5. It is intrinsically impossible."

I think you just proved that Heaven cannot exist! ;-)

"...not everything happens according to God’s will"

Here's where we disagree, and probably always will. The argument that free will and an omniscient God cannot co-exist is very sound and is what I firmly believe. Simply put, if God snaps his fingers to create the universe knowing exactly every sin that is going to be committed, those sins are PRECISELY his will! This is so simple and logically sound that I really struggle with how any reasonable person can believe otherwise. It's pure and simple logic that completely destroys the concept of an omniscient god creating anything that is not his will. Anything otherwise, as you say, is intrinsically impossible.

"... suffering is usually the anvil on which God hammers us into instruments for doing his will." " ...the only way it makes sense is if there is such a thing as hell. If so, then it is well worth it for those who follow Christ to suffer in order to be used by God to reach others"

You sound as if you believe that Hell is in the here and now, that you've been there, and is used by God as a learning tool. Is that the case? I have no problem with the concept of using suffering as a learning device. We do it as parents all the time after all. But the concept of an eternal Hell, where people are thrown for eternity, takes all the learning part away. Eternal suffering in Hell cannot reform, as there is no escape. Do you believe in the classic definition of Hell as an eternal place of torture? I s'pose I could go read your blog and find out, so if so you don't need to answer. I'm just thinking out loud here.

"Some things are only known to God, and he is too infinitely big for us to fully understand him."

I don't have a problem with this statement except that what we DO understand about him must make logical and moral sense.

A bit off topic, but have you ever read the "Conversations with God" series by Neale Walsch? It explored the question about why there is so much suffering in the world in a way that made the most sense to me given a loving God. Neale completely lost me in the third book and I gave up, but I would recommend you give the first one a try.

Finally, thank you with sharing about Ingrid. I cannot imagine what you have been through. I have been through some struggles with my daughters (and I went into that some in my lost post) but nothing like what you have been through. The love a parent has for a child was not something I expected and cannot be understood by anyone unless they have been there. The price for incredible highs with such love is the incredible lows that result when your children suffer. I may disagree with your religious beliefs, but I have nothing but respect for you as a mother.

Anette Acker said...

Those are excellent arguments, Dave! But before I address them, I just want to make a general point. The atheist-turned-Muslim I mentioned in a previous post listed common arguments in support of atheism and demonstrated that they each contained logical fallacies, and therefore did not support atheism. His point was that atheists emphatically say, "God DOES NOT exist," and yet none of their arguments prove that. They are making assumptions based on their limited understanding. But as a theist, he was able to identify other explanations than the "either/or" propositions relied on by atheists. And the logical fallacies were clear to me as well, even before reading his explanations.

What does that have to do with you as an agnostic? You have emphatically said that the Christian God does not exist, so if he is in fact the real God, you are in the same position as an atheist. You have ruled him out based on your present understanding. It's sort of like an American saying, "The only possible explanations are x, y, or z," and a Norwegian replying, "No, it could also be æ, ø, or å (the letters at the end of the Norwegian alphabet)." The American wouldn't even have known that the Norwegian letters existed, and that's fine, as long as he's open to the possibility that they do.

Faith equals a combination of reason, revelation, and experience. I don't downplay reason at all (I love theology) and look forward to addressing each of your very good points. However, some things can only be understood through revelation, when we are ready to understand them. And when we do begin to understand, we can put it into the clearest, most reasonable language, and still not be able to communicate it to another person. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the other person's intellectual capacity--it has to do with where he/she is on the spiritual learning curve.

Are you willing to concede this possibility? Again, it's not a copout--it's just my way of saying that I can appreciate your x, y, and z and will address them, but the explanation involves æ, ø, and å (and no, that's not a euphemism for "We just can't understand God!").

Thank you again for going straight to the heart of the matter and not chasing red herrings! But before I answer, I want to make sure that your mind is open to the possibility that some things are beyond your present understanding. "Here's where we disagree, and probably always will," makes it sound like you have already made up your mind. (I address the issue of God's will in "God's Sovereignty and Human Freedom." It would be helpful if you read that, but I'd be happy to give an answer tailored to your specific argument.)

So is your mind still open? Yes or no? If you say Yes, I will start addressing your points.

P.S. I definitely hear you about raising children. I think that when they suffer, it's worse for the parents than for them. But people keep having children. I could turn that into an argument for God and why he created, knowing that there would be sin and evil, but I will resist. :)

P.P.S. No, I have not read that book.

Anette Acker said...

My point was that it will take me a long time to write out answers to your arguments, and if it could help you on your spiritual journey, I would do it in a heartbeat. I would definitely prioritize this conversation over other things. But if you already know that we will always disagree, why are we discussing this? You are great to talk to, but I'm still trying to get a sense for the state of your will, because I think the human will is pivotal in spiritual matters. If your will is set against Christianity, I can talk until I'm blue in the face, and it would be an interesting intellectual exercise, but that would be all it is. And I would have to weigh that against other things I should be doing.

As I've said before, I take my beliefs very seriously, and one soul is of infinite worth. But indulging my own interest in theological discussion is worth relatively little. If this is, as C.S. Lewis said, "words going out to battle against other words," then I have to see it as such, knowing that those battles rage indefinitely on blogs like Ray Comfort's, and that's why I don't contribute to them. The will is far more determinative in matters of faith than the intellect.

But having said that, I really like your point about me having proven that heaven cannot exist (ha!), because that's something I've actually done a fair amount of thinking about. And no, I've proven nothing of the kind. :)

Dave B said...

Hi Anette!

Um, I am really flattered that you want to save me, but to be honest, I think your time would be better spent elsewhere. Let me put it another way:

In all your experience as a Christian, have you ever seen a case where someone like me, that has gone through the following steps, ever return to Christianity? Here's what I have gone through in a nutshell:

1. Lived first 40 some years as a "casual Christian" in a Christian environment.
2. Had an evangelical Christian brother that may be on the top of my most admired people list.
3. Had a father that was on that same list that was a champion for meshing Christianity with Science.
4. Was married by my Presbyterian Minister uncle, after spiritual counseling.
5. Endured a divorce that strengthened my belief.
6. At age 45 during a reading of the Bible to my daughters was bothered by the message I was sending.
7. Decided to study, research, discuss, and pray to God to provide guidance in my beliefs.
8 Express those doubts to family and friends whom tried desperately to bring me back inline.
9. Put a marriage at risk with my obsession with finding the truth. (It's okay, its worked out fine).
10. Was given what I consider divine inspiration from God that I was on the right track. (the "lost post")
11. Felt a huge sense of relief and spiritual awakening when I concluded that Bible does not represent God.
12. Had not one single person, ever, encourage me to be a non-believer in any shape or form.
13. Has no fear of death
14. Has no desire to live forever.
15. Has a renewed fascination with the cosmos and respect for nature.
16. Has a new fascination with what makes people tick and why they believe in what they do.

A big nutshell perhaps, but there ya go. I could write a book about any one of those steps.

Now, back to your yes or no question. Yes, I personally I think I have had, and still have, an open mind, and in fact that open mind has put me where I am today. I am not stupid, insane, or brainwashed. I am just convinced, and probably more convinced than anything in my life. Call it a closed mind if you like, but only in the sense that a criminal case is closed once a verdict is reached. But hey, new evidence does pop up occasionally, and I am open to it.

By the way, I have never insisted that God does not exist, only that I no longer believe in the Biblical God. I also know that none of my arguments prove that He does not exist, as that is impossible to prove.

That made me think of one more point. Suppose, just for fun, that you and I both changed our minds; that you became an ex-Christian and I became a Christian. Your life would become a shambles. Your friends and family would go ballistic. Your life would become another living Hell, so to speak. (Go read about some of Dan Barker's experiences for a taste). Me, on the other hand, would be welcomed with open loving arms by my siblings and mother. I am surrounded by Christians (I live in the Bible Belt you know) and would be embraced and loved more than ever. I know this proves absolutely nothing, but perhaps lends some credibility to the conviction of my beliefs. I don't want to believe what I do. I just do.

Anette Acker said...

Dave, I really appreciate that post because it makes your position very explicit. It is true that whenever I blog on or discuss spiritual matters it is with the hope that it would help someone (Christian or not) on their spiritual journey. I rarely do it for recreation. So it helps me to know that the case is closed for you (even though your mind is not).

Again, I have really enjoyed our conversation. I appreciate your honesty and the very good points you made. Thank you for taking all that time to talk with me in spite of being very busy.

BTW, I replied to your point about proving that Heaven could not exist on my blog.

Dave B said...

Thanks Anette, I have really enjoyed our conversations as well. Feel free to stop by anytime. Have a great Yule!


African Cutie said...

hey Dave, I am a Christian.

Answer: YES I WOULD.

Dave B said...

Hi African Cutie! I appreciate you taking the time to post! Here I thought this blog was essentially dead! How did you even find this?

You enthusiast (all caps) response has me curious. Wuld you be willing to discuss this a bit?