Share your de-conversion story
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04-04-2015, 08:04 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(02-04-2015 04:16 PM)TurkeyBurner Wrote:  I do not believe in God. I still get butterflies in my stomach just typing it.

But, how do I tell my wife? What will she think of me? What about my kids? ... My manager and his manager and most of the leadership of this company are religious. I don’t think they would intentionally discriminate. But, if they found out I am an atheist, I fear they would subconsciously question my abilities to lead.

I am 38 years old. I do not want to rebuild my life from scratch but I am afraid that may very well be what happens.

I just recently read Dawkins’ The God Delusion and have begun listening to The Thinking Atheist podcast. I am searching for guidance.

This inner turmoil is eating me alive.

I hope someone reads this, but not any one I know. Not yet.
You're in a difficult transition that I was spared in some important ways ... my fundamentalist family lived in the Chicago area, at best on the fringe of the Bible Belt, and while I came of age in a small, rural, very white town, there was no KKK or lynchings. And our brand of fundamentalism was relatively "mild" for lack of a better word.

My wife at the time of my deconversion did not share my loss of faith. However, it had no appreciable impact on our marriage. She was not threatened by it, nor did she disrespect it. In part, it was because she had bigger fish to fry than to get her knickers in a twist over my existential issues. She was very ill, from the illness of which she ultimately died, and that very illness had a lot to do with my own dark night of the soul. She understood this. Also I did not disparage her faith; if it was a small comfort to her, I wasn't going to deny it to her.

Still, I think she was better than that -- here tolerance was not merely one of convenience or distraction. She had good boundaries and our relationship was grounded in a lot of things besides a shared faith.

What I see you have going for you in that department is that your wife is not active in church, despite her sense that she should be rekindling her faith. That means she's not some sort of bug-eyed fanatic and that her belief system isn't exactly setting her world on fire, either. Don't assume she won't be able to handle a frank discussion of your growing unbelief and the reasons for it.

If she is secure in the relationship and you continue to be the same person she knows and loves (or better yet -- you improve!) then that probably will mean more to her as a woman than what your metaphysics have come to. Be your best self, and have an honest conversation with her. Obviously there can be no guarantees, but you may be surprised that "coming out" to your wife is not the debacle that you envision. Her biggest concerns may be managing the social consequences, particularly from extended family. Which are probably concerns that you share. But if you're on the same page you can face that together.

This much I know ... in a marriage, honesty and communication are paramount. No good thing can ultimately come from hiding something this major from her. You owe her openness and trust. If she betrays that trust then it simply exposes a pre-existing fault line that should be dealt with anyway.

One thing at a time, so I won't even try to address the living hell of "falling away" in the deep South. In your shoes I would pull up stakes at whatever cost and get out of Dodge, but that's me. I live by choice in an eclectic college town in the northeast and I can't say enough good things about it. In my view it'd be worth the culture shock and adjustment and financial risk, but I realize that's easier said than done.

One final note. It took me probably 10 years from the first inkling of doubt to admitting my own unbelief to myself. It took me another 10 years beyond that to mostly crowbar the last of my theist baggage out of my brain. Rome wasn't built in a day; give yourself time and patience.

We're here for you dude ... we won't pray for you but we can do something better: listen and encourage. Keep in touch.
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06-04-2015, 10:50 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(04-04-2015 08:04 PM)mordant Wrote:  
(02-04-2015 04:16 PM)TurkeyBurner Wrote:  I do not believe in God. I still get butterflies in my stomach just typing it.

But, how do I tell my wife? What will she think of me? What about my kids? ... My manager and his manager and most of the leadership of this company are religious. I don’t think they would intentionally discriminate. But, if they found out I am an atheist, I fear they would subconsciously question my abilities to lead.

I am 38 years old. I do not want to rebuild my life from scratch but I am afraid that may very well be what happens.

I just recently read Dawkins’ The God Delusion and have begun listening to The Thinking Atheist podcast. I am searching for guidance.

This inner turmoil is eating me alive.

I hope someone reads this, but not any one I know. Not yet.
What I see you have going for you in that department is that your wife is not active in church, despite her sense that she should be rekindling her faith. That means she's not some sort of bug-eyed fanatic and that her belief system isn't exactly setting her world on fire, either. Don't assume she won't be able to handle a frank discussion of your growing unbelief and the reasons for it.
...
we won't pray for you but we can do something better: listen and encourage...
Thank you for the encouragement!

So, I tested the waters this weekend. Rather than an outright declaration of apostasy, I decided to ask a question much like the one that I asked my myself early in my de-conversion process. While we were getting dressed Saturday morning, I casually threw out, "So, do you think there is really any evidence that god is real?"

Just for background, my wife has a BS in Electrical Engineering, an MS in Math, and is working on a PhD in Computer Engineering (focusing on information theory and modeling). She has plenty enough reasoning skill to figure this out on her own. Like me, though, comparing notes on faith and science has been strictly avoided out of some sense of reverence to belief; or more likely, a fear of confirming what the hitherto gagged voice of reason in our head has been trying to tell us all along.

I expected her to either react with concern for my faith and an admonishment that faith and science can co-exist, or possibly try to argue some of the pseudo-scientific arguments that have been thrown out by some apologists to make god's existence seem likely.

What I didn't expect was her actual response that went something like: "Is this what has been eating at you for the last few months? No wonder you have been so cranky!"

The actual discussion was very benign... "something had to create the universe for it to exist, why couldn't that be god?" to which I replied with "based on that line of reasoning, if god exists wouldn't something have to have created god?" She replied with "I guess so. I don't know then..." Then our kids came in and interrupted the conversation with an argument of some sort.

I honestly think she is further down the path to reason than I thought. She asked me Saturday night if we were going to church on Sunday morning for the Easter service. I told her I didn't care either way and I asked her if she wanted to. She never replied and we didn't go. I think she is more worried about a paper that she is working on than the existence of god and the status of our eternal souls.

I just wanted to let you know that I love you even though you aren't naked right now. Heart
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06-04-2015, 12:45 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(06-04-2015 10:50 AM)TurkeyBurner Wrote:  So, I tested the waters this weekend. ...

Just for background, my wife has a BS in Electrical Engineering, an MS in Math, and is working on a PhD in Computer Engineering (focusing on information theory and modeling). She has plenty enough reasoning skill to figure this out on her own. ...

I expected her to either react with concern for my faith and an admonishment that faith and science can co-exist, or possibly try to argue some of the pseudo-scientific arguments that have been thrown out by some apologists to make god's existence seem likely.

What I didn't expect was her actual response that went something like: "Is this what has been eating at you for the last few months? No wonder you have been so cranky!"
*chuckle* Like most women she is way ahead of where the man thinks she is ;-)

I don't think you need to have any worries here. Get her aside when you have some private time and just open up about this. She already knows (and obviously cares) that it has been eating you. She may be concerned at how far it has gone but you may be surprised to find that, at least upon reflection, she'll realize that she's further down this road than you think. All that secular education has taught her how to think.

Out of curiosity, do you have a degree yourself? Forgive me if you mentioned that you did, I don't recall.

I am an autodidact making six figures most of my adult life writing software and managing a data processing operation -- no degree at all. It is harder for me, not having gone through the process of university education, to realize how much it helps inoculate a person against faith-based thought systems. My late wife had a master's degree in computer science at a university where that discipline was under the math department. It probably helped her a great deal more than I realized at the time, to not be threatened by my growing unbelief. You may also be pleasantly surprised, particularly if you, like me, didn't go through that process yourself.

I am very pleased to hear of this development. It means you can likely keep your family intact and that is HUGE. The rest is relatively easy if your loved ones are on the same page. You'll face this together. You'll make new friends and connect to new support systems.

One step, and one day, at a time.
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06-04-2015, 04:21 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Quote:Out of curiosity, do you have a degree yourself? Forgive me if you mentioned that you did, I don't recall.

I have a BS in electrical engineering. Also, I am an avid reader. I read everything from the backs of a cereal boxes, to the dictionary, to classics, to random research papers on arxiv, and anything in between. No guarantee I'll retain it all, but I read it and try to understand it.

Quote:I am very pleased to hear of this development. It means you can likely keep your family intact and that is HUGE. The rest is relatively easy if your loved ones are on the same page. You'll face this together. You'll make new friends and connect to new support systems.

Indeed! Nothing else seems insurmountable if my family is with me.

I just wanted to let you know that I love you even though you aren't naked right now. Heart
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08-04-2015, 10:24 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I'm new here. So instead of typing some standard introduction, here's my story.

Nominally I was brought up as a Roman Catholic, but my parents were Christmas and Easter christians. Going to church wasn't on the agenda when I was a child. I guess I'm a lifelong "I don't care" atheist. When growing up, I didn't give religion or god much thought, but the few times some priest talked about eternal punishment (they like that a lot), I always thought that I don't like that guy they're talking about in church or in the bible. Certainly not someone to worship.

Also, from a very young age on, my parents took me to museums. My father, having been a technician, was very much into science. And so it was out of the question that I doubted evolution or the age of the universe and all the other things that contradict the bible stories.

Newest polls for my country, which is Austria, show that only 46 percent of the people believe in an afterlife. Only 19 percent believe in heaven and fewer still believe in hell. So it's no big deal being an atheist. Religion just doesn't come up in regular conversations.
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25-04-2015, 12:06 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(Short story) I was Catholic, questioned my own belief. Got educated. Now I’m Atheist.

(Long Story) I was raised a Roman Catholic, my mother was Roman Catholic my father a none practicing Protestant. In a small town in New Jersey. It was important to my mother to make sure I was raised in the Catholic Church. My father made sure I got high grades in School. He never really liked going to church and would only go during Christmas and Easter. All in all, I can’t say my family was SUPER religious. Church on Sundays, CCD on Thursdays, prayer at dinner and prayer before bed. If didn’t saturate our lives like I hear many do. I wasn’t blocked off from any education.

My earliest memory I have in the church was when I was in a child’s church study group. I was maybe 4 or 5. We were ushered into the church along the side door and I was that last one threw. The large solid wood doors slammed somehow right on my fingers. I began to cry and scream and the woman that was leading up told me I had to be quite while in Gods house. I just remember coddling my hand while she was talking about how this was the lords house. And that he was here with us right now. I looked around hoping to find this guy so that maybe he could help me with my painful hand, and not seeing anyone.

I was put into a CCD program (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) for those that aren’t familiar it’s in short a program for kids in the Catholic Church to be taught about their religion. (Sunday school just not on Sundays) Very often we would be asked what we learned in school and the teacher would tell us how God did it. Questions were accepted but often brushed aside if the teacher didn’t approve. I remember asking question about how we could prove that Noah’s flood happened. Mostly because in school I had just learned about Geography and the sediments layers. The CCD teacher would respond fossils and leave it at that. At a young age I became captivated by dinosaurs and wanted to be an Archeologist. I wanted to learn everything I could to become one. I was discouraged being told I wasn’t smart enough. But they never failed to captivate me; to this day I still keep up with any discoveries found in the field. Also we had to take part in “forced” confessions. At least once a month we would go to church and have to confession to the Deacon or Priest. I never knew what to say. I never did anything that I felt guilty about or that was to the extent that I need to cleanse my soul. Long and short of it I went through all the Sacraments of Confirmation. One I did my mother gave me the option to continue going to church or to stop. Church as always long and toilsome. I choose not to go feeling that Jesus and I had an understanding, so long as I prayed and believe all would be right and I would get into heaven.

I always assumed everyone believed in the same god and practiced the same religion right up to high school. I had made different friends with different faiths and was often asking them questions about theres. This made me ask my mother how she knew we had the right religion. Her response was “I don’t. We just have to hope that God is forgiving enough to forgive our mistake. Be a good person is the most he can ask.” junior year I meet (to this day) my best friend. I never had much of a social life. Often taking to sitting in my room and drawing pictures, or sitting in front of my game console. But he got me out took me to parties, introduced to other people that then become good friends. We looked out for each other. He was just the type of person I need to know. But I was floored when I found out he was Atheist. At starters I couldn’t believe it. He celebrated Christmas and he was such a kind person. I would often try to get him to go to church with me so that I could introduce him to the good word. He never refused, but I never followed through. (Today he is a Biologist in Boston. He worked on making curse for the Anthrax epidemic. He also just got back from Kenya working on a cancer study) I learn you didn’t need to be Catholic to be good. He was and is a far better person then I will ever be.

College I would say was a major turning point. So many different beliefs, so many smart people all openly talking about their views. It was fantastic. Plus the fact I was an art school in the center of Philadelphia opened this small town. I would often feel guilty for not going to church on Sundays. This was a time when I met a boy named Pat. Pat was SUPER RELIGIOUS to the point I felt bad for him. He was missing out on everything college had to offer. I apologies but to make my point I need to give a short back story on Pat.
Pat was adopted by a rich W.A.S.P. family. He was a child from Kenya and was raised more by a nanny then his “parents”. His “parents” had adopt many children 8 if memory serves. So that they could get a tax ride off. They didn’t play an active role in his life and when I ask more on the matter he would just give me blank stares. He was home schooled and was shelter from the outside world. He didn’t understand the dangers that would come by going out late at night in Philly, he didn’t understand that people would often take advantage of people gullibility. And I and many other people felt that he was homosexual. Not that it’s a bad thing! Just that his sexual desires were being repressed because he didn’t want to offended god. He was making comments like “Kissing girls looks gross” “I just love the way this color looks on you.” “I need to lose weight so I can fit in these pants.” Anyway, in the end he joined a cult. He stop going to classes so that he could pass out fliers on the side of the street about the good word that Jesus was coming back. (But that’s another story)

I would ask him question about his faith and because of the he thought I was evil. And any advice I would give about how to survive in our school would be brushed aside. But meanwhile he looked up to my other roommate that was a notorious thief, alcoholic, and molester. Only because he believe stronger in Jesus then me. I couldn’t understand. I felt my faith was being tested; maybe I wasn’t viewing god in the right light. I wasn’t being the best catholic I could be.

My last years of college I starting writing a story about a man that joins a cult without knowing he joined a cult. I had the idea from seeing all the craziness that was coming out on the news with Tom Cruise and Scientology. I knew very little on it and was wondering what it was all about. What I found was nothing but insanity. How could people believe in an intergalactic war how could they not see David Mcsavigh the very definition of sociopath. This made me diving into other cults, James Town , Heavens gate, The Masions, etc. How did these people not understand? How could they not see. And that’s when it popped in my head. Maybe I was brain washed? I made me question my own faith I look at the world. I dived deeper looking for historical evidence of the bible. I used other sorces out side the churches web sights. I looked at other religions deeper trying to find maybe they had solid evidence that could back up their clams. I found little to none. I would listen to Pen Jellet on the radio (when he was a part of Krock) I started watching videos on youtube. Religious debates, street debates, and I found a video with a man named AronRa. He was arguing with a street preacher and was very intergedic. I was laughing at him on how foolish he looked. But things he was saying made sense. I fact checked him, and things started to match up. I look for apologist videos see counters for arguments but none held up. All I heard were people denying dinosaurs, denying facts that are as plan as the nose on your face. I look for more atheist videos. Living Dinosaur, The Atheist Experience, The Amazing Randy, and The Thinking Athiest. The more I got comfortable with the ideas I would move up to harder debates with more notable debaters like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Steven Hawking, Neil Degrasse Tyson, and Lawrence Krauss. I took of my god glasses for the first time and never wanted to put them back on. I prayed on last time. My prayer was “God, show yourself to me. Or you will lose me forever.” Nothing. No earthquake, nothing fell down of the self, no knock on the door. Just me. That’s when I realized it was always like that. With my god glasses gone I see religion everywhere. I see if more then I ever did before and I see it for what it really is.

Don't Live each day like it's your last. Live each day like you have 541 days after that one where every choice you make will have lasting implications to you and the world around you. ~ Tim Minchin
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25-04-2015, 01:16 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I was raised Irish Catholic--but never actually read the Bible. What I knew about God was through church and through my parents. I heard all the *good* passages--about how God and Jesus love you. My parents were very strict and extremely conservative due to their Catholic upbringing.

A little later on, I became friends with some pretty hard core Christians. I started reading the New Testament passages that my Christian friends told me about. Again, we were reading all the *good* passages about God and Jesus. I turned into a Jesus freak lol.

One day, I was looking through youtube and I saw a debate between Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron (yes, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I was that kind of Jesus freak lol) and a group of atheists. I remember thinking How can anyone be an atheist?? God is amazing. Jesus is amazing. These atheists must be some pretty awful people to not want God/Jesus in their lives. (Of course, the atheists annihilated Ray Comfort.)

Later on, I decided to do a little extra reading in the New Testament and found out about the dead saints that got up and walked out of their graves. I never remembered hearing about that in church or from my Christian friends! I then decided to read the entire Old Testament. It was then that I started to have some serious doubts about God's existence. Despite this, I felt extremely *guilty* for questioning God. I also felt extremely stupid for believing all this crap--I remember thinking I am college-educated with two degrees, I should have known better!! I slowly started identifying as agnostic (mostly out of fear of the Christian ingrained hell--the whole what if I am wrong and God really does exist sort of thing).

From there, I read everything I could get my hands on--books from both christian theologians and secular academic scholars. I couldn't deny it any more after that--I was an atheist. I now identify with the same people I thought were awful for not believing and loving God and Jesus. And you know what? Atheists are some of the best people I know.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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25-04-2015, 11:31 PM (This post was last modified: 26-04-2015 07:37 AM by Cosmic Discourse.)
Share your de-conversion story
I was raised in an agnostic theist environment growing up. My parents didn't drag me to any churches as a child, but I knew that they were believers, in a rather broad general sense.

I lost my father as I entered my teenage years, and I developed quite a bit of unresolved (at the time) anger issues. Fast forward to my young adult life after a discussion with a friend, I became curious about the usual topics (why are we here, where are we going, what's my purpose, etc). I asked a close friend for a bible, started reading and began to investigate many of the different christian belief systems.

I attended church for a while, at a methodist chapel in my area. Didn't join, but continued to research until I came upon the LDS (Mormon) church. For where I was at the time (intellectually), the core tenets of the faith clicked and made sense for me, so I was baptized a short time after missionary lessons.

After holding a few leadership positions (EQ Presidency, Ward Mission Leader), I became disillusioned by some of the blatant contradictions with a "loving heavenly father".

After having my name/records removed (self excommunicating), I started looking into other world religions (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism). I read the Qur'an, Bhagavad Gita, and a few Mahayana Buddhist texts from the Tibetan school (Yogacara, Madhyamaka). While I found some of my studies interesting, and even adopted some of the principles for the sake of being open minded, nothing really stuck long term.

That brings me to the present, where I comfortably self identify as an antitheist (atheist). I'm not the confrontational type, but will defend my position if I feel its merited.

Between book learning, video watching, website browsing, attending meet ups and participating in activism, I'm fulfilled in all the ways I've yearned for my entire life. And the bonus is, that I'm operating as my authentic self.

I love to learn, and I know the future holds many new insights and breakthroughs. I guess that's my not so brief synopsis. Smile
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27-04-2015, 02:04 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(07-08-2013 06:05 PM)Yvette Wrote:  I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. . One day when I move out on my own and fade away from the Organization I will truly be free.

HI,

My mum is a JW and we as kids had the stories just before bed! But when I started to aske questions, I had good answers! However I was just a kid but as I was growing up the questions just came back and the answers was not satisfying!
However I take joy in keeping them at my door when they come a calling! And if they want a bible study I am only available when they have there meetings on Thursday evenings! I can keep them talking for a good 10 to 20 mins! Then they start to feel un-comfortable and they must leave to catch up with there friends!

Arguing with a zealot is only slightly easier than tunneling through a mountain with your forehead!
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01-05-2015, 06:18 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(25-04-2015 01:16 PM)jennybee Wrote:  I was raised Irish Catholic--but never actually read the Bible. What I knew about God was through church and through my parents. I heard all the *good* passages--about how God and Jesus love you. My parents were very strict and extremely conservative due to their Catholic upbringing.

A little later on, I became friends with some pretty hard core Christians. I started reading the New Testament passages that my Christian friends told me about. Again, we were reading all the *good* passages about God and Jesus. I turned into a Jesus freak lol.

One day, I was looking through youtube and I saw a debate between Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron (yes, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I was that kind of Jesus freak lol) and a group of atheists. I remember thinking How can anyone be an atheist?? God is amazing. Jesus is amazing. These atheists must be some pretty awful people to not want God/Jesus in their lives. (Of course, the atheists annihilated Ray Comfort.)

Later on, I decided to do a little extra reading in the New Testament and found out about the dead saints that got up and walked out of their graves. I never remembered hearing about that in church or from my Christian friends! I then decided to read the entire Old Testament. It was then that I started to have some serious doubts about God's existence. Despite this, I felt extremely *guilty* for questioning God. I also felt extremely stupid for believing all this crap--I remember thinking I am college-educated with two degrees, I should have known better!! I slowly started identifying as agnostic (mostly out of fear of the Christian ingrained hell--the whole what if I am wrong and God really does exist sort of thing).

From there, I read everything I could get my hands on--books from both christian theologians and secular academic scholars. I couldn't deny it any more after that--I was an atheist. I now identify with the same people I thought were awful for not believing and loving God and Jesus. And you know what? Atheists are some of the best people I know.

ah, one of my favorite sticks with which I beat the theists with...the ridiculous zombie invasion story...

Matthew 27:51-53
King James Version (KJV)
51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Consider

wow...so zombies...freaking ZOMBIES crawled out of the ground and "appeared unto many"...and yet...yet...not one literate person at the time thought this was noteworthy enough to write down...nope 50 years later voila! the story is written down after having had this urban legend passed down from person to person...or perhaps completely made up at the time the BS story was fabricated. hmmmmm now a thinking person would suspect that someone at the time would have thought...wow, zombies! and put it into the written record...nope, not...one...word..in ...contemporary history.

Perhaps Philo of alexandria who was a reknown and respected historian who resided in this area during the time of jesus?...nope...but then of course, he never even mentions jesus Gasp

The early years of the Roman Republic is one of the most historically documented times in history. One of the writers alive during the time of Jesus was Philo-Judaeus (sometimes known as Philo of Alexandria).

Philo was born before the beginning of the Christian era, and lived until long after the reputed death of Christ. He wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on earth. He was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ’s miraculous birth and the Herodian massacre occurred. He was there when Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He was there when the crucifixion happened with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness and resurrection of the dead took place – when Christ himself rose from the dead and in the presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven.

These amazing marvelous events which must have filled the world with amazement, had they really occurred, were all unknown to him. It was Philo who developed the doctrine of the Logos, or Word, and although this Word incarnate dwelt in that very land and in the presence of multitudes revealed himself and demonstrated his divine powers, Philo saw it not.

Philo might be considered the investigative reporter of his day. He was there on location during the early first century, talking with people who should have remembered or at least heard the stories, observed, taking notes, documenting. He reported nothing about Jesus.

Odd... Consider

Perhaps Justus..There was also a historian named Justus of Tiberius who was a native of Galilee, the homeland of Jesus. He wrote a history covering the time when Christ supposedly lived. This history is now lost, but a ninth century Christian scholar named Photius had read it and wrote: “he [Justus] makes not the least mention of the appearance of Christ, of what things happened to him, or other wonderful works that he did.”

hmmmmmmm maybe...now give me a second...maybe it...was....all...made...up Blink

Big Grin

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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