Names and e-mail addresses have been witheld to protect the guilty. If you recognise your letter here, and wish to have your name and address displayed, feel free to contact me.
I very much enjoyed reading your letter about your exit from Christianity. My story is similar. I was a member of the Worldwide Church of God for 23 years. My wife is still a member of one of their splinter groups. It has been difficult for us. I feel that I am trying to reconstruct my life.
You are not alone. Almost all of the "apostates" that I know (myself included) went through a period of difficulty and depression following a decision to leave a particular religious system. The only thing I can say is that it definitely does get better. It takes a while to re-integrate a mind, to pull together all the shattered pieces and find a new direction and purpose in life. But if the testimonies of other defectors is anything to go by, the result is certainly worth the effort.
Hi, My name is Jerry. I'm new on the web. About a week ago I sent this story to a few places and, for the first time, found some folks who gave me some positive input...I'm encouraged by this, so I thought I'd continue sending it to folks who might appreciate it. Your site has a lot of stuff that fits my thinking. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to drop me a line.
I was curious but how do you know there is a god, or to be more preicese are you sure God/ Christianity isn't something the human mind conjures up?
We really cannot be "sure" of anything. Most scientists will quickly note that no theory can be "proven" in the sense that we can prove that, say 1+1 = 2. Instead, theories are usually categorized by how likely they are to be true. Thus, the theories of quantum electrodynamics, general relativity and biological evolution, for example, all have high probabilities of being true, because all are supported by strong experimental evidence, and all have high predictive ability.
In the case of whether there is a god or not, or whether the god concept is a social construct, we must once again look at the evidence and try to decide which theory has the highest probability of being true. In the case of the Christian God, we find that this character appears to have evolved along with the tribes who worshipped him. The earliest records of Yahweh show him to be a tribal deity, with a ferocious and bloodthirsty appetite that would surely put him amongst the worst mass murderers of history.
As time passed, Yahweh evolved from a tribal deity to a universal God, and at the same time shed some of his worst attributes to become a more loving, generous deity. This picture is carried over into the New Testament, although we also find the ridiculous and immoral notion of everlasting punishment in Hell, which tends to directly contradict the notion of a loving God.
Thus, we find that over the years, Yahweh's character, likes, dislikes and actions tend to mirror those of the people that claimed to worship him. The evidence thus seems to indicate that Yahweh is little more than a social construct. "Man created God in his own image", as the saying goes.
Of course, this does not mean that no god(s) at all exist, but that notion still lacks any sort of proof.
Did you know that the Bible has a test to see if we are true Christians? It is in 2 Corinthians 13:5-- "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test"? I pass that test, Jesus is in me. He indwells me and has turned my life around totally.
I spent 30 years of my life as a smoker, a drinker and a drug addict. I was addicted to every drug except heroin. When I was diagnosed with the same disease that recently killed my mother-in-law [multiple sclerosis], Christ came in and all that garbage went out.
I have been given a new nature, I'm a new creation! And NONE of it was my doing! If you have any questions pleas e-mail me any time.
People need different motivations. For some, religion is the answer. For others, religion is a straightjacket that impedes both spiritual and intellectual growth.
I applaud you for having found some direction in your life. From my perspective, of course, your turnaround probably has far more to do with your innate strength and potential than any external force. Still, if it helps to believe that God had something to do with it, then more power to you.
I would just like to say I love your site. I have a little addendum to your questions about David. It has always been my theory that the books of the prophets where more or less propaganda. Take this theory: Samuel picks Saul as the leader of the Jews because he is the highest amongst men. Saul is originally painted as a giving and caring man. Then he dies, and a new king is required. A warlord, we'll call him "David", figures this is his best chance for leadership of the country. He needs to rally troops. So stories of his great conquests start propping up. The broken telephone effects makes several different stories. They are listed in Samuel.
Saul becomes an evil blood-thirsty king. This is not the king we've known. David seems the tragic hero in all this, but of course we know David's lustful story. Who was really the nice guy? Did God really punish Saul for the sin of PITY?
Just some things to think about.
History, as they say, is written by the winners. Although most Christians would not like to admit it, it is almost inevitable that the Old Testament authors and editors had their own political and religious affiliations and biases. Saul was a Benjamite, while David, of course, was of the tribe of Judah. If ancient tribalism was anything like its modern counterpart, one can almost be assured that there was little love lost between the tribal members.
All of this indicates that the Bible really only tells one side of the story, and it is more than likely not the "true" side in many cases.