Shai Reads "Godless"
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31-08-2017, 11:00 PM
RE: Shai Reads "Godless"
Hey, what do you think you're doing? Get your own bible Tongue

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01-09-2017, 12:41 AM
RE: Shai Reads "Godless"
(31-08-2017 08:22 PM)jerry mcmasters Wrote:  
(31-08-2017 08:07 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  I would guess he was sincere when he was promoting Christianity too, but I personally wouldn't trust my own sincerity given that kind of history.

How can you not trust your own sincerity? He believes he was wrong but now believes he is right.

The same way an evangelist pastor who had previously been some variety of atheist would...

The point it he was all "ra ra Christianity", and off converting people and shouting about how he was right, now he's "ra ra Atheism"... Just comes off that he'd be ra ra *anything* as long as it was what he believed. i.e. there's not a lot of self-reflection going on in there Tongue

Like Thoreauvian I have no direct knowledge of Dan Barker...

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(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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02-09-2017, 10:49 PM
RE: Shai Reads "Godless"
Well, *stares at the Random Number Generator* it seems that this may be the only time where Christopher Hitchens would not have been the more controversial choice. Wink

Anyhow a few thoughts to the discussion that's evolved: I'm not sure if Dan Barker is into self-promotion/wants to replace Hitch a the 4th Horseman, or if it's more about how when people convert (or deconvert) they sometimes throw themselves into things wholeheartedly. For example, when I converted to Catholicism, I was absolutely obnoxious for about three years. Wink And I still loathe Evangelical Christianity as a whole and consider it to be a blight as it's usually practiced. That said, I would agree he can get smarmy at times in his replies; I'm not a fan of Cardinal Pell in Australia by any means, but he was an intentional asshole throughout that one.

And my own Bible Robvalue? And Jerry, I...eviscerated Strobel's book; so. Dislike. Evangelical. Bullshit. Also I'm a sucker for conversion and deconversion narratives. I love, for instance, Journey Home, on EWTN (the Eternal Word Television Network).

Anyhow, short chapter this time, a full two-thirds less than the first in length.

Chapter Two
The Fall

Uh oh, page 33 we start off with a Baptist pastor nervously explaining to our traveling evangelist that he has some people who don't think Adam and Eve are literal people. Interestingly, I can see how this would shake his faith some, once he had to consider it. When you're raised with 100% Biblical literalism, any deviation from that is the beginning of the end. Paulogia, over on YouTube, mentions how Answers in Genesis cost him his faith with their defenses of Creationism; where if Genesis isn't true, then nothing else would be either. Without the first Adam, there is no need for the Second Adam in the form of Jesus. If there's no Fall in the Garden, there's no basis for sin. I've heard Kent Hovind in person when I was younger, and for about six months at the age of 11, I was a Creationist, and that's about how long it was before I went, "God, that's stupid."

Anyhow...I really need to work on transitions and segues when I read chapters, because between this already and the first chapter, you'd do liver damage if this was a drinking game. Page 33 says, "I was shocked by this kind of talk. Liberal talk." regarding the Bible possibly not being 100% literal. He talks about how in Revelation, Jesus speaks of spitting out the lukewarm and how he disliked liberals more than atheists when he was younger. He talks on the next page about how he felt like nailing down liberal Christians' beliefs was like, "trying to nail Jello to a tree". He also takes this point to offer some advice; that if you're talking with a fundamentalist, don't use "gray" terms or relativistic talk, because they automatically dismiss you.

It's at this moment, that he makes a small to an outsider, but seismic shift in his life and his beliefs, that he could accept people who thought Adam and Eve weren't literal people. He wouldn't yet lose the belief that they were real himself though. It's at the age of 30 where he first begins to have questions about his faith, which he clarifies weren't doubts yet, just questions at the time. He stopped reading only the Bible and Christian books, a genre he hadn't strayed from in years; he began to read science and philosophy magazines, some psychology stuff, and even daily newspapers! He was catching up on the liberal arts education he had shunned while at Azusa and over the next four to five years, it was going to be a force that helped him migrate along the theological spectrum.

He sums it up on page 35 as, "I was not aiming for doubt or atheism. I thought each little move was the last one. 'Ah, I'm growing more mature in my beliefs," I told myself. I originally thought my faith was being strengthened. I had no sudden, eye opening experience. When you are raised like I was,you don't just wake up one morning, snap your fingers and say, 'Oh silly me! There's no God.' It was a slow, sometimes wrenching, halting, circuitous process."

I can actually relate to this, in my own conversion experience. Leaving my Baptist faith wasn't an all or nothing proposition on the flip of a coin. It was three solid years of Bible study, reading Catholic theology and apologetics, talking to people on both sides of that religious difference, and eventually praying at a Eucharistic Adoration chapel. And it was only then I felt that I had shifted, that my views had changed irreparably from the Baptist faith I was raised in. Insert someone being like, "and what about now? Do you think your faith is being strengthened here?" Compared to the Catholic forums I'm active on...more than there! But no,
I'm not blind to the fact I'm reading a book called Godless right now.


He began to study what his fellow, non-fundamentalist Christians believed. As he visited different congregations, he realized a truth, that there is no single Christianity, that there are thousands! And notes, in a parenthetical, as he loves to do while quipping about something he's realized since the retrospective scene took place, that there are probably as many Christianities as there are Christians. It's not something I'd necessarily disagree with; one of the interesting discussions on an interfaith Facebook group I'm in, recently, was about exactly that, and how we project our values upon Christ.

Page 36 snarks, "Paul says that, 'God is not the author of confusion', but can you think of a book that has caused more confusion than the bible?" He said he realized Jesus had still not yet returned and began to think about what if it wasn't going to happen? What if all he had been hearing for the past decade and a half were wrong? That every generation thought they were in the End Times. He was becoming more moderate, his sermons less hell and more love, less the afterlife and more about this life. Going from evangelism speeches to more about the "Christian walk".

He began to think, "something is wrong." He decided to try and follow, or at least link, reason to his beliefs. As the months went by, his mental refrain, "something is wrong" continued to grow. After a few years, he said, "I became one of those hated liberals, in my own mind, and few people suspected it. God did not spit me out of his mouth." He still spoke to God through prayer, and spoke in tongues in this time of weakening and liberalizing faith. Even though he began to ask questions like if his experiences were more valid than the experiences of other people in other faiths. He realizes then, it may be all a trick of his mind, and notes in the parenthetical that he can still do these experiences today, which he believes validates that initial thought.

His preaching began to reflect the congregations he was invited before. How liberal or conservative his preaching and songs would depend on how liberal or conservative that particular church was, and it began to make him feel like a hypocrite. On page 38 he muses, "If I think it is so easy for millions of people to be misled into a false religion because of a tendency to believe error, what makes me exempt?" It was one of those questions he probably should not have asked to keep faith. Because then it leads to the Prodigal Son was a parable, Adam and Eve is a metaphor, what does that make God, a figure of speech? Unfortunately his expanding reading list, for his faith, led to doubt upon doubt.

On page 39 he states, "I would cry out to God for answers, and none would come." It all kept coming back to faith, and faith just seemingly wasn't enough, there was something wrong with it. And then...he lost his faith in faith. He admitted the Bible was full of contradictions. He states that people ask him what the one thing is that changed his mind, and he thinks that this is born out of a desire to pinpoint and "fix" that problem. However, on page 40, he says, "But there was no 'one thing'. It was a gradual process. It would be like asking, 'when did you grow up'?"

It was in 1983 in the summer that he finally told himself he was an atheist. No one knew for almost half a year, though he thinks a few friends and his wife suspected something was off. However, his ministry was still going and he knew there had to be other atheists, even if he felt alone. He didn't want to join a club, he wasn't converted by an atheist movement of some sort, or wooed by some sort of 'atheist evangelist' on TV. He says so many people tell him the same thing, that it's often a private and intense process of deconversion.

Between Summer and Christmas of 1983, he said that he went through a gut wrenching period of hypocrisy. On page 41 he says, "I was still preaching and I hated myself." He should have cut it off cleanly, he reflects, but he had a family to support. So while paying the bills for with ministry, he began to take computer programming classes and got a job as a part time programmer of 68000 Assembly Language with a company involved with petroleum. (After becoming an open atheist, he'd move on to doing so for railroads in the Midwest.)

In November of 1983 he accepted a preaching gig in Mexicali, a city on the border of California. He speaks on page 42 of staring at the stars on a cot in a Sunday School room there, unable to sleep, and, "It was at that moment that I experienced the startling reality that I was alone. Completely and utterly alone. There was no supernatural realm, no God, no Devil, no demons, no angels, helping me form the other side." In leaving my Baptist faith, this would be the Adoration Chapel moment for me.

He kept preaching for another month, one woman even telling him, "Reverend Barker, your sermon was so meaningful. I want you to know that I felt the spirit of God on your ministry tonight." Much to his shock, considering he's a secret atheist at this point.

His last sermon was in the week of Christmas in 1983. The church was filled with local townspeople. The pastors meeting with him before the service excitedly told him that there was someone there who wasn't normally part of the congregation; Harry, the town atheist. A nice guy, successful businessman, etc. he had remarried to a Christian woman and liked music, so he had grudgingly come. The other pastors laid hands on him, praying that his ministry would lead Harry to the Lord. As he played his songs he thought how stupid they had to sound to Harry. He peppered the time between them with mini-sermonettes that he no longer believed. Towards the end he wanted to say it was wrong, that Harry was right, but...the church still had his plane ticket home. Kinda not the time to out oneself as an atheist.

At the after party at the minister's, he shook Harry's hand. But didn't interact, because he was ashamed. Instead he sat over by the Christmas tree and the window. He said he felt Harry had far more courage than he did. As a pastor said, something about how it was great to gather to celebrate the birth of 'our Savior', Harry apparently groused, Not all of us."

And it was Harry, and this time, that was really the last straw. He never preached again, never accepted another church invitation for a concert or sermon, and in January of 1984 mailed out a letter to everyone he thought he owed an explanation: ministers, relatives, friends, his publishers, Christian recording artists he'd published with, friends, etc. That he was no longer Christian and had become an atheist or agnostic.

And that's that. Short chapter (though this post is still about 2/3 the length of the first one), and our next chapter is The Aftermath. Or I imagine, "that point where not everyone takes him outing himself as an atheist very well". Another thing I can sort of relate to; my parents were fine with my conversion to Catholicism, but I have an aunt who has never asked me to lead family prayers again since then at Christmas at her house, after almost two decades of having asked me to. I lost a full third of my Facebook friends overnight after announcing my Catholicism.

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02-09-2017, 11:14 PM (This post was last modified: 02-09-2017 11:28 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Shai Reads "Godless"
(30-08-2017 11:34 PM)Shai Hulud Wrote:  After the Case for Christ, it was recommended I try an atheist book next instead of Evangelical apologetics.

I suggest we read the Red Letters of the New Testament together, that would be interesting. We could select Red Letters and you could tell me what the Christians think they mean and I could tell you what Jesus says they really mean. That would be fun. Why are you analyzing this other bullshit instead of your own sacred bullshit? I question your scatological qualification and judgment in these matters.

#sigh
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03-09-2017, 01:28 AM
RE: Shai Reads "Godless"
(02-09-2017 11:14 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  I question your scatological qualification and judgment in these matters.

How dare you sir! Shai has the most impeccable scatological qualifications Laughat

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If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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03-09-2017, 02:01 AM (This post was last modified: 03-09-2017 02:15 AM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Shai Reads "Godless"
(03-09-2017 01:28 AM)morondog Wrote:  
(02-09-2017 11:14 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  I question your scatological qualification and judgment in these matters.

How dare you sir! Shai has the most impeccable scatological qualifications Laughat

Dude's wasting his time sniffing through the wrong shit.

#sigh
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03-09-2017, 05:20 AM (This post was last modified: 03-09-2017 05:31 AM by Thoreauvian.)
RE: Shai Reads "Godless"
(02-09-2017 10:49 PM)Shai Hulud Wrote:  He began to study what his fellow, non-fundamentalist Christians believed. As he visited different congregations, he realized a truth, that there is no single Christianity, that there are thousands!

I wonder how he missed that fact for so long. Wishful thinking?

Huh
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03-09-2017, 05:54 AM
RE: Shai Reads "Godless"
Hey Shai.

Mate I've not read these later authors. I do hope they offer a decent prose for you.

Mate after this, if I may, may I recommend a book?

Jacques the fatalist, by Denis Diderot.

It's light hearted and funny, and offers as much as one may deem.

Check it out. Laugh while asking questions. It was fun for me. Mind you, I read it just as a novel 30 years ago.

Funny as hell. Big Grin

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03-09-2017, 03:56 PM
RE: Shai Reads "Godless"
(02-09-2017 11:14 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(30-08-2017 11:34 PM)Shai Hulud Wrote:  After the Case for Christ, it was recommended I try an atheist book next instead of Evangelical apologetics.

I suggest we read the Red Letters of the New Testament together, that would be interesting. We could select Red Letters and you could tell me what the Christians think they mean and I could tell you what Jesus says they really mean. That would be fun. Why are you analyzing this other bullshit instead of your own sacred bullshit? I question your scatological qualification and judgment in these matters.

As I said before, I like apologetics and counterapologetics, or conversion and deconversion narratives. Hence why I sniff this shit. Wink And I did things related to my own "sacred bullshit" last time, and it was recommended my next read through be atheistic "bullshit". It actually does go into arguments against Christianity for the latter 2/3 of this book, including Biblical contradictions. So I'm sure we'll get to some of those; as for I can say what Christians think and you can say what Jesus means; I'm trying to only apply my own thoughts. When I'm summarizing, I am only just summarizing. I make an effort to show differentiation between my opinions and experiences, and what the author is actually saying.

So don't worry, I'm sure we'll get into how different Gospel narratives contain different things. How depending on which Gospel you read are which things Christ is listed as having done. How even the genealogies listed don't agree.

(03-09-2017 01:28 AM)morondog Wrote:  
(02-09-2017 11:14 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  I question your scatological qualification and judgment in these matters.

How dare you sir! Shai has the most impeccable scatological qualifications Laughat

Seriously, my poop allows people to see through space and time and smells of cinnamon, as well as plot fold space jumps. So what if it causes a bit of paranoia, megalomania, addiction, and tendencies to engage in overly complicated centuries long plots that lead people to declare holy wars on one another?

(03-09-2017 05:20 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  
(02-09-2017 10:49 PM)Shai Hulud Wrote:  He began to study what his fellow, non-fundamentalist Christians believed. As he visited different congregations, he realized a truth, that there is no single Christianity, that there are thousands!

I wonder how he missed that fact for so long. Wishful thinking?

Huh

It's something I never thought of as a Baptist. There's a general assumption, at least in more fundamentalist churches, that we all believe the same thing, unlike those filthy Papists! At least that's my theory on why it took him so long to look into it. But it is just a theory; I know as a Baptist, any sign of independent thought about what we believed was swiftly put down because you didn't want people to think, only to obey.
(03-09-2017 05:54 AM)Banjo Wrote:  Hey Shai.

Mate I've not read these later authors. I do hope they offer a decent prose for you.

Mate after this, if I may, may I recommend a book?

Jacques the fatalist, by Denis Diderot.

It's light hearted and funny, and offers as much as one may deem.

Check it out. Laugh while asking questions. It was fun for me. Mind you, I read it just as a novel 30 years ago.

Funny as hell. Big Grin
I'll have to see if I can find a copy, sounds interesting!

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03-09-2017, 04:07 PM (This post was last modified: 03-09-2017 04:14 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Shai Reads "Godless"
(03-09-2017 03:56 PM)Shai Hulud Wrote:  
(02-09-2017 11:14 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  I suggest we read the Red Letters of the New Testament together, that would be interesting. We could select Red Letters and you could tell me what the Christians think they mean and I could tell you what Jesus says they really mean. That would be fun. Why are you analyzing this other bullshit instead of your own sacred bullshit? I question your scatological qualification and judgment in these matters.

As I said before, I like apologetics and counterapologetics, or conversion and deconversion narratives. Hence why I sniff this shit. Wink

Weirdo. I hope you have the sense enough to keep your distance from children. Drinking Beverage

#sigh
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