Ordinarily I wouldn’t post up a bunch of stuff that I encountered on YouTube, but this collection of one persons account of his deconversion from Christianity to Atheism is so thoughtfully considered and carefully presented that I was absolutely captivated, and would like to share it.

The concept of God is, for most believers, an aggregate of other beliefs. There is no silver bullet, single argument, that will disavow a believer of the God concept. For the author, his belief was built upon

  1. logical arguments (exemplified by Schroeder’s The Science of God).
  2. answered prayers.
  3. God as the source of morality.
  4. Life as a testament to the creator.
  5. The Bible as the divine word, full of wisdom.
  6. The supporting testimony of other Christians.
  7. The personal relationship with God, and personal experiences of God.

The big issue with prayer is that the likelihood of having a prayer answered is proportional to the likelihood of that event occurring even without supernatural intercession. Prayer, in a sense, puts a person in the driving seat with respect to an omniscient God. It should be better to figure out what God’s will is directly, rather than plead for what we’d like to have happen. Scientific evidence points out that prayer has no positive effect on patients recovery. [Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients: A multicenter randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving intercessory prayer American Heart Journal, Volume 151, Issue 4, Pages 934-942 H. Benson, J. Dusek, J. Sherwood, P. Lam, C. Bethea, W. Carpenter, S. Levitsky, P. Hill, D. Clem, Jr., M. Jain] The traditional dichotomy of “yes”, “no” and “wait” responses that can be received from God in answer to prayer, is entirely psychological.

How can the Bible contain all of God’s Possible Knowledge, if it can’t answer very specific questions such as those regarding dating or personal life objectives. The Holy Spirit, helps by stepping in and filling those gaps. A university class in Professional Ethics, however, completely changed his mind. A text for the class included Being Good, by Simon Blackburn. The professor focused more on ‘how do we make good decisions’, and didn’t reveal his biases during the presentation of dilemmas. In regards to God, he raised the Euthyphro Dilemma, taking the position that Divine Command Theory is bankrupt, because it would allow obviously bad things (rape, murder, pillaging) to ‘become’ good by God’s command. Thus, morality is separate from God, and not a derivative of His command. Do you do good things because you want to be good, or to get into heaven? If you want to be good for its own sake, then you must do the moral footwork, and not delegate this responsibility to God, be threatened by eternal punishment in Hell, or bribed by eternal salvation in Heaven.

There is a discord between the Bible and Science. Genesis is debunked by Big Bang Theory, age of the Earth, Theory of Evolution, Rainbows after the Flood, etc. Schroeder initially offered a reasonable time-frame that allowed compatibility between these magisteria. A post about the book on Amazon was responded to by a professor, claiming that none of the scientific evidences above, are solved by a relativistic time shift. The professor had changed his own mind about God after using the personal library of Ramon Menendez Pidal to vet that the Bible was the result of construction of several previous sources. [Who Wrote the New Testament: The Making of the Christian Myth by Burton L. Mack, and A History of God by Karen Armstrong both provide good layman references to this fact.] Schroeder’s book is an example of extrallusory intelligence.

The professor alerts our author to the tactic of reverse terminology, and shows that “The doctrinal underpinnings of the Bible have been known to be mythological for centuries.” (as shown by Some Mistakes of Moses by Robert Ingersoll, who recounts the conflict between historical linguistics and the Tower of Babel). This conversation evolves, and the professor moves to remove himself from the conversation to avoid inevitable disenchantment, advising not to worry about religious details too much. The author reflects that many of his congregation are not on the path to Truth, and likely fear the dark waters and questions in which he travels, turning their backs on Truth (but he has nevertheless learned spiritual lessons from them).

The Bible clearly offers explanations for why educated people reject god (Romans 1:22). He kept many verses as guidance through his life, but hadn’t actually read the Book from cover to cover. In Genesis, he encountered stories with immoral behavior by God’s characters, and inconsistent punishment for such actions. Hardening Pharaoh’s heart and killing all the firstborn sons violates both freedom and justice. Exodus and Leviticus are found to be full of incredibly detailed rules about sacrifice and offerings, no longer necessary since Jesus’s death. Numbers and Deuteronomy are also full of tedious details, and legalistic jumbo, that Christians with the Holy Spirit don’t need. Some details are fond to be inconsistent: in particular, God’s wrath concerning Judas in Acts is now an account of remorseful self-infliction in Matt). Apologetics is found to be somewhat contorted logic to rescue these inconsistencies.

Our author is now well on his way to using secular learnings as his moral and ethical guide, rather than lessons from the Bible. The Amazon professor, holds the position that many of these stories are incredibly preposterous (Order of Creation, Two different accounts, Noah’s Ark vs actual number of species, God’s command to kill children (Deut 20:16)) Questioning God’s word is still very uncomfortable for our author, as the Bible was communicated directly from God, and comes to us, unedited. But translation is not the problem, for the Bible was written by various authors each with political aims to reconstruct (edit) history. This is the Documentary Hypothesis (The Bible with Sources Revealed by Richard Friedman). The Bible is now no longer an infallible source of Truth.

The author reveals that God is attributed, fortuitous coincidence, beauty, numinous experience, etc, and given credit for all that is good. The Holy Spirit is recognized as a voice different from his own, providing guidance and inspiration unlike his own conscience. Religion is the metaphor through which he understands his personal experiences. Failure in daily activities guide our author to a stronger devotion to his faith, yet in college the material is now found to be unsurmountable, even with stronger devotion. Speaking with atheists becomes his new motivation, for it alone now brings feelings of God’s will.

Even if the Bible is not the word of God, having directly communicated reveals that God exists. The Amazon Professor, in respectful observance, neither denies the authors sincerity, nor agrees. Persistence leads our author to continue the the conversation. The logical arguments are battered back and forth, and the professor begins teaching: given what we know, God is just a concept, and personal interaction with Him is a simulacrum. The God concept gives the believer a surrogate parent.

Finally the author concedes that it is possible, the history/creation of the universe, the construction of religion, the lack of positive intercessory prayer, the (im)moral behavior of individuals, the independence of morality from God etc, the personal revelations, all can happed without God. The carefully considered evidence from the Professor, leads our author to see that all these things are explainable without resort to God. Occam’s Razor leads the author from “it is possible that there is no God” to “there is no God”.