Hello, everyone. I was an atheist until at the age of 27 I began to study the Bible in order to debunk it. I learned quickly that the Bible was grossly misrepresented by apostate Christendom's adoption of pagan teachings such as the immortal soul from Socrates, the trinity from Plato, the cross from Constantine, hell from Dante and Milton, Easter from Astarte, Christmas from the winter solstice celebrations, and most recently the Rapture from Darby.

Though I have never and will never be a part of organized religion, my beliefs are not entirely dissimilar to that of The Jehovah's Witnesses, due to the removal of the aforementioned pagan influence. I have studied briefly the history of the major world religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Shintoism and Taoism and have published sacred and non-sacred texts from each of these online: The Dhammapada, Four Noble Truths, Paradise Lost, Divine Comedy, Analects Of Confucius, Bhagavad Gita, Qur'an, Pirqe Aboth, Nihongi, Kojiki, Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu.

Having been an atheist most of my life and given that nearly everyone I know is atheist, I think I understand and respect where most of you are coming from. I don't believe in "converting" anyone to anything, but I do think the atheist tends to be mislead when it comes to the Bible. Not that that matters much, except for that I do enjoy, given the opportunity, to correct them in thoughtful and polite discussion and debate.

I hope we can have some interesting conversations.

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Ron,

The JW's are more accurate because they removed the pagan influence that began to infiltrate Jewish and then Christian teachings beginning about the time of Alexander The Great. The immortal soul from Socrates, Trinity from Plato, Cross from Constantine, Hell from Dante and Milton, Easter from Astarte, Christmas from the winter solstice celebrations, and finally the recent Rapture from Darby. If you stop and think about that, it is the majority of teachings of the majority.

In HS, I did some bible study with a friend that was JW. At the time I was just being to ask, what I thought, to be deeper questions. The characteristics of  'God/god' are rather interesting, and subject to analysis. The odd 'all knowing', 'all powerful', 'all present', 'and time transendent', can be a fun why to entertain yourself, when video games are not available, and football seems a little too rough for the brain cells.

I asked questions about these characteristics of my friend. It became clear that he could answer questions concerning biblical teachings, but had no idea what do with these more abstract and important points. If these points are held as 'articles of faith', the mind becomes silent it seems.

If 'God/god' cannot have these primary characteristics, due to logical contradictions, or paradox, what happens to 'god' as a concept? If we accept the mental silence as the beginning of faith, how can we consider faith as a moral/ethical state of the human mind?

So 40 years latter, I still return to these questions, a little more certain of my conclusion...  

Blaine,

Atheists tend to think of the Bible as primarily fantasy and secular history as fact. Secular history always contains legends, myth, fantasy, not to mention biased reporting and propaganda. The Bible , according to Isaac Newton, who was an expert in ancient texts during his time, remarked on the historical superiority and reliability of the Bible. Chances are, that if secular history or modern day scholars disagree with the Bible, the Bible will eventually prove the more accurate.

I'm a 46 year old male born and raised in the Bible belt. My family has always been, not militant atheist, but irreligious non believers. Atheist.

This doesn't really match my personal experiences. The difference between conflations of the history of the Burgundians with Norse mythology (as an example) and the mix of Christian history and mythology is this: with the former we are simply trying to gain insight into the past, but with the latter, the life of Christ is being leveraged as a powerful political tool.

If you, as an individual, simply want to tell me what you believe happened around the Anno Domini, cool stuff. If you can get a reasonably accurate account, I won't sweat the details here and there. If you tell me Jesus performed magic, I'll probably regard that as a idiosyncrasy of the times in which this history was recorded.

If, on the other hand, you happened to be one of those individuals who insisted that the Bible should influence or dicate how I should live, the stakes are different. It is now perfectly reasonable to hold the Bible to much higher scrutiny than I would the Nibelungenlied, or any historical accounts related to it.

But, you don't sound like such a person, and in truth I'm not the type to let the future be that easily swayed by the past anyway. The historicity of the Bible? Don't care too deeply.

Kris,

Assuming that you have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible, would you say it contained more information on how not to live your life than how to live it or not? By example. What do you think it meant when it said there would be a resurrection of the unrighteous as well as the righteous, or that upon death we are acquitted of sin? What do you think Jesus meant when he told his disciples that the gross sinners would inherit the kingdom of God before them, or what was the meaning of his favorable comparison of the gross sinner over the righteous Pharisee?

Your approach sounds intellectual but isn't entirely accurate, is it?

"Assuming that you have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible..."

I'm not sure why you would make that assumption. It has little or nothing to do with what I wrote. How can I phrase this differently? The increased scrutiny the Bible -- treated as a historical document -- receives over other histories isn't necessarily the product of a double standard. That scrutiny is commensurate with the cultural weight of the Bible. If people are less skeptical on the facts surrounding Zarathustra, it may very well be because no one in our culture is trying to use the Gathas as a political tool do dictate what I should or should not do with my genitals. The need to scrutinize isn't really there.

However me, personally? I don't care about the historicity or the most meaningful interpretations of the the books which make up the testaments. Not any of them. The Bible is one document out of many which I supposedly should read, yet that list of documents may be longer than the number of days I have left to live at this point. I have to be selective. The stories of Jesus and Moses and Abraham and the gang just don't meet the cut for my reading list. Absent of divinity, it's just a collection of old texts from a set of peoples with whom I do not identify.

Kris,

Perhaps we are at cross purposes? I'm not entirely sure what political justification the Christian congregation would have for suggesting what you are or are not capable of doing with your genitals.

The Law of Moses was given to a nation created for those laws, in a sense. Each and every man, woman and child was gathered at one point and read these laws and agreed to them. They failed in adhering to those laws, as was expected. That arrangement was dissolved, in a sense, mutually.

Though a guide to the Christian the Law of Moses is no longer in effect. The morality of the Christian is upheld by the Christian congregation, though often misinterpreted. Certainly not in effect to the non-Christian.

As a non Christian you and I can observe the political usefulness of, even the abuse of Christendom's self appointed moral policing of the globe but are not in fact under any real apolitical obligation to it without the political abuse being recognized as such, a worldly obfuscation of the Christian morality itself, and likewise, the same implication of the attempted outside obfuscation of the Christian congregation delivered through social means of the times.

In other words, the Law of Moses is void. The Christian laws apply to Christians and the nations have their own.

What then are you protesting?

I am not protesting; I am explaining. You stated the following:

Atheists tend to think of the Bible as primarily fantasy and secular history as fact. Secular history always contains legends, myth, fantasy, not to mention biased reporting and propaganda.

Many atheists are aware of the imperfections in historical accounts recorded over the ages. The increased skepticism the Bible (specifically the New Testament) gets is not necessarily a statement that there is more or less validity to other historical accounts or that the Bible is uniquely awful.

For me, neither Leviticus nor Acts (nor any other relevant books) are of any pressing concern so I don't feel any pressing need to demystify them. For others there is a need based on the culture by which they are surrounded.

Atheists tend to think of the Bible as primarily fantasy and secular history as fact.

Atheists reject theist claims that God exists. That's all. If someone tells you he is an atheist, you know nothing about what he believes. You know exactly one thing he does not believe. Anything beyond that is your own assumption.

Atheists reject theist claims that God exists. That's all. If someone tells you he is an atheist, you know nothing about what he believes. You know exactly one thing he does not believe. Anything beyond that is your own assumption.

Right. Unless he is a former atheist, then he must have got it wrong, eh? My experience has been that there are three kinds of atheist. I know there are dozens of new terms describing degrees of atheism, which is ridiculous. You either believe or you don't.

Of the three types of atheist I have encountered the primary one, in the majority by far, are the non-militant. Everyone I know, all family and friends of mine, fall into this category. They don't know about God and they don't care about him. They see the concept and belief as absurd and they don't want to waste a moment discussing it, or arguing about it. They would consider doing so as monumental a waste of time as arguing about the Easter bunny - without really having the faintest idea of where the myth of the Easter bunny came from in the first place. They are not bothered by theist or the religious. If these people could organize themselves they could have an impact greater than that of the freedom movement of any other minority. Gays, blacks, women . . .

The second group are the what I call the militant (meaning more outspoken and active) atheists. They are the minority by far. They are, obviously, more outspoken. They protest the violations of unnatural union of church and state, a loathsome and dangerous combination, school prayer, another loathsome tradition, they hang billboards with atheist slogans, bumper stickers, bus advertisements, buy propaganda from Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Give money to the cause without a cause.

This second group consists of two parts. The politically minded and the science minded. They have an unrealistic and exaggerated perspective of either of these two forces as a sort of utopian social paradigm.

I personally think that politics is more dangerous than religion. Religion, has been used in the past as a tool for political destruction, only as a pawn. The political is dangerous and should be destroyed. Will, I believe, be destroyed by Jehovah God.

I would argue, though, that the science and technology should have their day. The point of the Bible tells how man rejected God to choose to make up his own mind about what is good and what is evil. God has given us a time to test this. I think, though, that science and technology will have a much more destructive and rapid day.

The third group are the bitter formerly religious. Had to be pretty stupid to join a religion and haven't learned much from the experience. 

Unless he is a former atheist, then he must have got it wrong, eh?

No. It just means he chose to believe in god(s) despite the lack of evidence.  

I know there are dozens of new terms describing degrees of atheism, which is ridiculous.

Baron D'holbach described implicit and explicit atheism in "Good Sense Without God" in the sixteenth century. Terms describing degrees and types of atheism aren't new. They're only new to you.

You either believe or you don't.

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