September 12, 2007

Ex-Christian Highlights Tactics to Maintain Belief

I suppose that the majority of American atheists are bound to be ex-Christians. We were indoctrinated in this ancient superstition during our formative years, but we were able to break free and recover from what had been done to us. Still, it is quite different to hear from to hear from one of the many ex-Christian members of the clergy who left religion behind to join the reality-based community. These brave individuals often have great insight about how believers are "helped" to keep the faith.

Take Barry, the author of A Penitent Atheist, as an example. He embraced Christianity at 17 and went on to become a minister before eventually leaving delusion behind to arrive at atheism. In a recent post, he noted
When I was a minister in the service of Christianity, a significant aspect of my job was explaining away biblical absurdities. If the Bible said something that was illogical or just plain wrong by modern standards, which it frequently does, then I would search the commentaries for the most reasonable-sounding explanation. It could not really be an absurdity, because the Bible is the Word of God, went my thinking.
It sounds like an important part of Barry's job involved explaining away the very reasonable doubts parishioners would experience when confronted with something nonsensical. I have little reason to think that this was a rare experience. All over America, churches are asking their congregants to swallow a set of "truths" that just doesn't want to stay down.

Today Barry reads the Christian bible for what it actually says instead of what some Christian apologist wants it to mean. If there is hope for a former member of the clergy to arrive here, surely there is hope for the rest of us. If the bible sounds absurd, perhaps it does so because it is absurd. No contortions of logic are necessary.

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