How Can a Made-Up Bible Still Be God’s Word?

An atheist and a Bible scholar agree on much about the Bible, but still arrive at opposite conclusions.

A few months ago, Patton Dodd highly recommended two books for Christians who are experiencing acute and painful doubt. Though I’m an atheist who experiences no such painful doubts, I do experience painless curiosity about books meant to “cure” such doubts. Eternally behind on my to-read list (if I believed in eternity), I decided to read one of these books.

Both recommended books promote liberal Christianity. I only read excerpts of My Bright Abyss, about Christian Wiman’s spiritual growth when confronted with his own mortality, coupled with suggestions on resolving faith paradoxes. I fully read the book with the more intriguing title, The Bible Tells Me So, by Peter Enns. Maybe I was inspired by childhood memories of the song by the same simplistic title.

Most atheists would agree with much of what Enns says about the Bible. I’ll first mention my points of agreement before explaining why we come to opposite conclusions.

Points of agreement

I agree with Enns that the Bible largely consists of made-up stories by unknown authors attempting to explain their views of the world and its origins. These authors sometimes modified stories from earlier cultures to shape their present needs and goals. There are countless biblical contradictions, as well as historical and scientific falsities.

Enns and I also agree that we should not accept the Bible as literal truth or attempt to make sense out of nonsense, a view that offends Christian fundamentalists. The God of the Bible is no role model. God can be a tyrant who orders the enslaving or killing of innocent people (including children) because they worship the wrong gods or live in lands that God wants his chosen people to occupy. God commands the Israelites to kill everything that breathes in Canaan.

While reading Enns’ book, I was at times reminded of the Richard Dawkins quote in The God Delusion: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Enns’ conclusion

Enns concludes that God wants us to take the Bible seriously, so we should not suppress questions about it. We must respect the ancient voices and their stories. We need to trust the Bible to say what it says and allow God’s word to challenge us. Followers of God meet him where they are, so they experience him differently.

Storytelling is how to understand the Bible, not as history writing, concludes Enns. The Bible is God’s word, but not God’s final word or the center of Christian faith. Access to God comes through faith in Christ and obedience to him, not through Torah-keeping. Jesus didn’t do what a Davidic messiah was expected to do. Instead of defeating the Romans, he was crucified by them and became a resurrected messiah. The reality of a risen Jesus necessarily transforms Israel’s story, as he is savior of the world, not just of Jews.

My atheist conclusion

Enns understands that biblical authors were products of their times and made things up to promote their views, but he maintains that the entire Bible is God’s word. How does he know this, especially when “God’s word” has inspired a multitude of atrocities throughout the ages? If you believe that God inspires everything we do or write, then he equally inspired the Quran, Why I am Not a Christian, and Mein Kampf.

The reality of a risen Jesus? Enns fails to mention that other resurrection stories preceded Jesus’ resurrection story. Early Christians, like Justin Martyr, acknowledged that basic Christian doctrines (gods having virgin births, performing miracles, being crucified and raised from the dead, ascending to heaven) existed in earlier Greco-Roman religions.

The best explanation they could offer was that such stories came from demons and were false, though the same beliefs in Christianity are believed to be true. The idea that Satan placed these earlier stories with other cultures and religions to confound later Christians became known as “diabolical mimicry.”

I think we should accept the parts of the Bible that make sense to us, as we do with any other book. Some books make more sense than others, but many individuals give unwarranted credibility to so-called “holy” books.

I understand why people want to discard or reinterpret outdated and nonsensical passages as long as they can remain part of a religious family tradition, but I think it’s especially difficult to maintain as a core belief that someone rose from the dead and that he will grant everlasting life to faithful believers of such a story.

*  *  *

I’ve often heard religious people say, “You seem like such a nice intelligent person, so how can you not believe in God?” I used to be dismissive and a bit puzzled by such “compliments,” but I’m frequently tempted to say the same thing to religious people, only without the “not.” I don’t know why Enns and I can agree on so much about the Bible, and yet draw such different conclusions. (Shouldn’t a nice, intelligent person like Enns be an atheist?)

I’m more likely to accept a person’s atheist than religious claim, in large part because being an open atheist in our culture is generally not a good career move. For instance, it requires a lot of faith to believe that there are no atheists in Congress. Whatever Enns or anyone else believes about God, I think that Enns would agree with me that behavior is more important than belief.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Herb Silverman
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  • JPW

    Dear Mr. Silverman,
    Once again, I point out that for one who claims no belief in God nor Christianity, you write about both with regularity. “E” for effort of evangelization – even if you are batting for the wrong team. I cannot help but wonder why you spend so much of your energy on this topic which you profess to hold in un-belief. During your moments of exploration, perhaps you too will one day experience conversion like that of Alphonse Ratisbonne and so many others. In the meantime, without malice but with brotherly love, be assured of prayers for enlightment for you and those who share your lack of belief. Pax.

    • John Childs

      I think Dr. Silverman is speaking to the problem of religion on a regular basis because of the deadly events being committed during our own life experiences and the resurgence of fundamentalism that to many of us threatens the very foundations of our progressive secularist society. Just this morning I went on line to read another horrid story about a family of Christian believers lead by two parents in Utah who have murdered their three children and committed suicide. One can hide his head in the sand and not speak to these macabre religious events or one can address these issues giving hope to those who feel we are living in a resurgence of the dark ages that is being lead by Abrahamic religions though out Western civilization. We have to much to loose as a nation to have men like Herb Siverman be cowed by his detractors. Thank you, but not thanks JPW. And thank you Herb Silverman who has the courage to sign his full name to his opinion.

    • RichardSRussell

      I cannot help but wonder why you spend so much of your energy on this topic

      I suppose you probably also challenge your oncologist on why he’s so obsessed with cancer.

    • sTv0

      “…without malice but with brotherly love, be assured of prayers for enlightment for you and those who share your lack of belief”.

      Only slightly dripping with condescension, no?

      • JPW

        No. I am sorry you perceive my statement as such. We both have high hopes of the other’s “enlightenment.” Guess we can leave matters at that. Best, JPW

        • sTv0

          “We both have high hopes of the other’s “enlightenment”

          No, that’s not what you wrote. Go back and read what you wrote. Your words were condescending and wicked and I called you out on them.

          You have no wish for parallel enlightenment; your mandate as a Christian is to do what? Spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, is it not? So, according to your doctrine and that of your Messiah, those of us who do not believe will be subject to what? The fires of eternal damnation.

          Thanks, but you can keep your fake peace offering, pal. Too many of us have already fallen for that, and paid the ultimate price. We’ve not only learned how to deal with it, we’ve grown in strength and numbers, and we continue to grow. We’ll begin our takeover of the U.S. at some point this century, I reckon, starting with local govts, and working our way quickly up to the national stage. And we’ll do it peacefully and with open-minded welcoming for all view-points. We’ll employ critical thinking, scientific methods and rational thought. Your side can’t do that, or else there’d be no need for your religious faiths.

          Your side has lost, JPW. It’s just a matter of time, now. Time for our species to grow up. Join us, won’t you? Bye.

    • supup

      I used to be a quiet atheist. The came the rise of fundamental Christianity and its attempt to re-write history and dismantle our first amendment protections of freedom of religion. I had to speak up to prevent the inevitable disaster that results when the church is in charge of the state or vice-versa. We atheists have to speak up. So I speak and write about religion frequently, just as Dr. Silverman does.

    • Michael M

      Follow American Politics. Notice the politicians trying to push mythological nonsense in to out legislation, our laws, our homes, and our school science and history classes.
      Perhaps someday you will wake up and experience de-conversion like that of Dan Barker and many, many, many others.
      Be assured, that your prayers, have been proven to have no effect on anything in the real world. Thankfully, despite asking asking your imaginary friends for help, the number of Atheists is on the rise.

  • Breath of Fresh Science

    JPW, I’m sure many would agree with me that Mr. Silverman IS enlightened.

    Keep writing, Herb. Love to read your thoughts.

  • Helen Kahn

    If there were One Christian God, why does he need so many prophets, priests, pastors depending on the hundreds of Christian denominations who profess to interpret the holy scripture the New Testament?) often in contradictory ways… All get Tax- Exemption for doing charity without regulation (they don’t file a 990 form and supposedly avoid politicizing from the pulpit…. and they get $$$billions in Faith-Bsed funding??? Doesn’ that sound like a government subsidized business??

    If we all agreed that Jesus Christ is our Savior instead of Mohammed.. and abided by biblical law…then we would be living in a Theocracy like Iran….

    • David

      If you live in America you technically are living in a theocracy.( one nation under god, in god we trust )

      • Helen Kahn

        …but it doesn’t say which God, Allah, Jesus, Yahweh, etc. In god we Trust… to do What??
        Those are just mindless slogans to proselytize the idea of a God… like “One nation Under God” put into the pledge in the 50’s… and the 10 Commandments monuments originally displayed for the Movie… now in some courts

        We are not yet a theocracy. As a Secular citizen I am trying to vigilantly protect our democracy and watch for when our courts switch from mostly Civil Law to Canon Law…

    • Aaron Browning

      “If we all agreed that Jesus Christ is our Savior instead of Mohammed.. and abided by biblical law…then we would be living in a Theocracy like Iran…”

      Helen, anyone who makes this statement demonstrates that they have suppressed common sense when it comes to reading and interpreting literature or that they have an incredibly shallow, biased view of Scripture.

      • Karin Karejanrakoi

        The trouble is that god-botherers don’t see ‘Scripture’ (Why the capital letter? What is a ‘Lord’ or ‘Saviour’? What is a ‘soul’? And even more questions have I, Daddy) as ‘literature,’ but as everything from a Road-Map to a Rule Book.

      • Rowland Nelken

        Are you, Aaron Browning, one of those people who witters on about allegory and context when confronted with the barbariity of the torah, the law that Jesus swore not to change by one jot or tittle? If we lived by god’s laws as per the Bible life would be hell. Fortunately for a large majority of CHristian churches the Bible has been reduced to a mere ceremonial prop. THe problem is that mere ritual reverence lends legitimacy to the fundies who actually believe it.

  • James J Lundy Jr

    As a product of a Jesuit education I often had the same experiences as Herb does. How could amazingly intelligent, highly educated Jesuit priests who largely believe the Bible is fiction or highly fictionalized stories with a small basis in fact NOT go that one extra inch and be atheists? I have since learned that the brain will lock away ideas held to be sacred if they are learned at an early age making it almost completely impossible to question them later. Unlike JPW, I understand why we atheists have to write about religion on a regular basis. If left unchecked, religion is capable of committing great evil. It needs to be constantly held in check.

    • David

      Religion needs to be eradicated ! Alas, not in my lifetime.

      • Eric Holp

        You never know. It was a well known “truth” for many years that a black person would not be elected President of the United States.

    • Eric Holp

      But people can and often do overcome these things that are learned at an early age.

      • James J Lundy Jr

        Agreed. However it is exceedingly difficult to question what is learned to be sacred if it occurs at an early age. There is a certain quality of it being more hardwired that other types of learning and at later ages. Jonathan Haidt’s book “The Righteous Mind” is a fascinating read on the studies they’ve made about this and many other topics about how much (or how little) our logical abilities actually affect what we think.

  • Helen Kahn

    … atheists know more about religions… and we’ve grown up…that’s why we think it is silly and don’t spend time praying, ritualizing.

    We are afraid the business of religion is taking over the country , funneling tax-free money to political candidates (all Republicans in Congress and the Senate are Christian!) and will make it a Theocracy… that’s scary. What is the ir platform mostly Christian, biblical morals… suppress women’s reproductive rights, defining marriage in religious rather than practical financial rights and responsibilities…etc

    • John Childs

      Excellent

  • anamericanundernogods

    It is interesting to know that Quran was written many years
    after the death of Mohammad. Mohammad claimed to be sent by Allah at the age of
    40 and died at the age of 63. Many years after Mohammad’s death, his 23 years words
    of prophecy were collected just by relying on the words of mouth and were
    called Quran. How it is possible to have an accurate copy of one man’s 23 years
    of preaching just by relying on the words of ordinary people? Yet, Muslims
    believe that everything in Quran is the exact word of Almighty Allah. I don’t
    know why this Powerful Almighty Allah did not help his messenger (Mohammad)
    while he was alive!

    • bakabomb

      Your statement “Quran was written many years after the death of Mohammad” is only partially accurate. True, it was originally memorized (not “written”) by Mohammad’s companions in their travels with him during his lifetime — so it was collected contemporaneously. It was first put into its full written form only a bit more than 20 years after his death; most modern readers wouldn’t consider that “many years after”. Jesus’ words weren’t committed to writing until three times as long after his death — some 60 years.

      And it’s the Hadith, not the Quran, that you could describe as collected by “relying on the words of mouth” after Mohammad’s death. But even the Hadith were compiled using a process requiring each hadith to be independently verified by several of Mohammad’s companions. Neither of the other Abrahamic religions has anything like such rigor when compiling their scriptures — and I say this as a Christian.

      • Sam

        This is actually one of the reasons that I was drawn to Islam.

        • anamericanundernogods

          There are compelling reasons that many are drawn to Islam. For example according to Ayeh 34 of Soura Al-Nassh, Allah permits “A man can beat his wife” but there no such permission given by Allah to women. Not to mention, cutting hands and feet, stoning, beheading, etc.

          • Sam

            Thank you for sharing. Peace be upon you.

      • anamericanundernogods

        It is the fact that Quran was collected and written relying on word of mouth and many years after the death of Mohammad. Many verses were even turned and twisted and changed a few times.

      • James J Lundy Jr

        It’s funny to see adherents of two religions who can see how flawed and unlikely the other’s sacred text is but cannot see the same flaws in their own sacred text. Spoiler alert: they’re both works of fiction.

        • bakabomb

          The Bible contains fact as well as mythology, and overall might better be termed “interpretive history”. In any event, eternal truths can certainly be found in fiction. Cf. the works of Wm. Shakespeare and Sam Clemens, inter alia.

          • sTv0

            “The Bible contains fact as well as mythology…”

            Sure it does.

            One of my favorite “facts” of the Bible is the verse about the chariots of iron.

            And how the god of abraham was unable to defeat them.

            I give three-to-one odds that Hulk-smash will git ‘r dun.

          • bakabomb

            Ah yes, the Satanic chariots of iron verses. So what you’re saying is that we’re deluded if we take a particular Bible verse, yank it up out of its context, and choose to interpret it literally. (Guess what? I’m not arguing that point.)

            But if an atheist does the exact same thing, it’s perfectly legitimate and they win the argument. C’mon, the Hulk’s no Einstein, but even he wouldn’t fall for such a preposterous grift.

          • sTv0

            “Satanic chariots of iron”? Can you do better than this?

      • WHW

        the nazis were very rigorous too. rigour does not mean anything is based on truth or the word of god or anything necessarily positive to the world. basically mo made up a religion to suit himself and throughout his life added bits here and there to suit his reign and/or personal life. great. what a fantastic religion. about as good as any other gibberish out of the religious world though.

        de-programming cult members is a worldwide duty and necessity. it’s hard work! it can take years unless this nonsense is nipped in the bud at an early age, with reason.

        • bakabomb

          “de-programming cult members is a worldwide duty”

          Well, that sounds very rigorous in its own right. The kind of rigor with which totalitarians of all stripes are well familiar. Your certitude is likewise reminiscent of True Believers the world around.

          • WHW

            well someone has their work cut out with you. truly demented. just look around and you’ll see why religion needs to be taken out of the equation. mentally ill people should not hold office or have any powers over anyone! I do hope you don’t have kids.

          • bakabomb

            “Someone”, perhaps. Clearly that “someone” isn’t you; “someone” who sets people straight by calling them “truly demented” and “mentally ill”. What kind of work is “cut out” for “someone” like that? Cutting out snowflakes from construction paper, presumably. Using round-ended scissors.

          • WHW

            Glad to see they have web access in the asylum. Careful with those scissors and keep taking the meds.

          • bakabomb

            And this, folks, is the face and voice of the secular “humanist” in all its “humanist” charity and goodwill. Doesn’t it just make you want to repudiate the church and become a secular “humanist”? Doesn’t this stirring testimony make you want to turn your life over to the tender care of Dawkins’ proselytes? After all, by their fruits shall ye know them.

          • WHW

            you can pray for me. have fun talking to yourself. or failing that, try praying to the cat – it will have the same effect only that if you pray for it to lick itself, it may just do that. hurrah. all praise felix!

      • sTv0

        So, to use your logic, all three holy texts are effectively ancient versions of the modern-day game of “telephone”.

        And billions of your fellow believers base their entire world-view on them.

        Got it.

        Next.

        • bakabomb

          So, you wouldn’t know my logic if it jumped up ‘n’ bit ya where the good Lord split ya. Conflation, extrapolation and fabrication is no way to go through life, son.

          • sTv0

            Well, you set the parameters. I just followed your lead.

    • EYES E YOU

      1.incorrect, the Quran as being recorded as Mohammad peace be upon was a live. not ordinary people, he had companies with many skills. he had men that can memorize quickly so he would have them write what he said down. His companies were with him almost to say the whole day learn from his actions, words, and lectures. and also, incorrect, God did help the prophet during his years, if you read the Quran you can see God communicated to Mohammad through the revelations and even when Mohammad was asking God (threw prayer or another means, i forget), “God, this there something wrong with me, why do these people hate me?” God responded nothing is wrong you.. during that time the prophet was introducing islam and people used to follow him throwing stones which left him covered in his own blood and all he did was forgive them. he was a kind man. non muslims and muslims alike trusted him when asking for advice, keeping their valuables save with him and not to mention his daughter was married to his enemy, and he had no problem with that. Love is love. How a loving and caring man he was. When he used to have hostages during war he used to treated them like guests, give them water and food.

      2. Allah is an arabic name given to mention the Almighty just like in English we have the word God to mention the Almighty. The same God Muslims, Jews and Christians believe in.

      3.
      Was he not a drop of ejaculated sperm, then a blood-clot which He created and shaped, making from it both sexes, male and female? (Qur’an, 75:37-39)

      [We] then formed the drop into a clot and formed the clot into a lump and formed the lump into bones and clothed the bones in flesh; and then brought him into being as another creature. Blessed be Allah, the Best of Creators! (Qur’an, 23:14)

      … He creates you stage by stage in your mothers’ wombs in threefold darkness. That is Allah, your Lord. Sovereignty is His. There is no god but Him. So what has made you deviate? (Qur’an, 39:6)

      how can an illiterate man hold this type of knowledge? there was no technology and science that we have like today. how did he know of this? IN DETAILS

      • anamericanundernogods

        1. Most of Mohammad’s time was spent in numerous wars including rubbing merchants and caravans and it is
        ridiculous to imagine having a man with super memory all the times by him.

        2. There are versus in Quran that talks about Mohammad’s wives and his relation with his wives.

        3. At one time when Mohammad had an affair with a woman (Maria; a friend of his wife) and when his wife
        finds out and makes a big deal of it, Allah sends a verse to Mohammad to (sort of) legitimize Mohammad’s adulterous behavior.

        4. Mohammad had 23 wives and eleven of his wives were still alive when he died.

        5. It is equally bizarre to have this superman (the super memory guy) next to Mohammad in all of his
        private times.

        6. Sorry, I know it is hard for Muslims to accept the truth, but it is the truth.

        • sTv0

          This is why I was drawn to the Church of the FSM, Sauce Be Upon Him.

          • Michael M

            R’Amen Brother!

          • Sam

            Lol. “R’Amen.” That’s freaking hilarious!

  • JPW

    It seems so many commenting here regard people of faith as religious fanatics with violent tendencies, yet I know this is not the case for the majority of Christians.
    Follow-up remarks:
    – Deadly events are perpetrated by the believer as well as the unbeliever. Such actions ARE deplorable. (How would having my full name benefit this conversation?)
    – My oncologist should be obsessed with cancer; should the atheist be obsessed with God?
    – God doesn’t need many denominations – love, belief in Him and belief in the sacrifice of His Son are what he wants from us. From this should spring a desire to love and care about the well-being of all humankind.
    – Yes, I know many of you believe Mr. Silverman to be enlightened.
    – Seems that many things, deeply felt, and left unchecked, has the ability to turn to evil. My Christian faith is my motivator in cultivating love, understanding and forgiveness – not the opposite.
    – Be not afraid.
    Pax.

    • westcj

      If your Christian faith keeps you on the straight and narrow path, go for it. But please be aware than many people do not need a god in ”cultivating love, understanding and forgiveness.” Common sense and treating other people how I would like to be treated is my guide. Are Christians motivated to be good people by the belief they will receive payback in the form of eternal life in heaven when they die?

      • Sam

        I don’t think that belief in God or having faith is necessary to be a good person and I don’t think that everyone who believes in God does so for future reward. I think that would be missing the point just like the atheist who only does good for a secular reward.

        • westcj

          My original point was that JPW said that Christianity helps make him a better person, if he believes that I am happy for him. However I do question the sincerity of some Christians when they say that believing in god makes them a better person. The majority of religious believers will expect to be compensated by their god when they die if they are “good” on earth. If you don’t believe there is some form of afterlife judgement, why would anyone believe in a god? Afterlife is the major cornerstone of all religions. Is there a form of religion that does not have an afterlife plan?
          I am also puzzled by your statement regarding “secular reward”, what exactly does that mean?

          • Sam

            By secular reward I was attempting to convey that doing good for immediate rewards, whether that is good will from others or some material reward or the such. Any sort of material, interpersonal, or even just psychological benefit that you would receive, potentially or actually, through the commission of an action. One of my greatest issues with people of faith is the same mentality but removed to an afterlife. If one is only being generous or kind or (God forbid) not out raping because they seek a reward or to not get punished, either in this life or the next, is not really, imo, “cultivating love, understanding, and forgiveness”. Such behavior is far more like “…treating other people how I would like to be treated…”

            Such behavior is far more about future rewards than it is about actually being a better person. Many people expect to be compensated, either for themselves or for their posterity, and thus do good for a future reward. (Honestly, I think most people are psychologically and biologically wired to be altruistic sometimes and not other times and that most of why we do anything is actually far more mysterious and out of our control than we would like to admit.) That being said the end behavior, whether the motivation is wholly altruistic or instead entirely pragmatic, is really the goal though correct? Would you rather have the world populated by selfish psychopathic individuals or by altruistic afterlife reward seekers?

            I know that my own quest that has led me to try Faith has nothing to do with an afterlife. I had grown quite comfortable with the idea of just ending. Having to reconcile myself to the possibility that I may continue on post-death (whatever form that may take) was quite an interesting undertaking. Faith for me was an attempt to broaden my understanding of myself and reality in general, not to impose God on it but rather to cease imposing my non-God on it. I wanted to see what it was like as an actual observer rather than as an outside observer on this most subjective of experiences.

            Regarding religions and their variation on beliefs regarding an afterlife this is quite a broad topic. The Abrahamic faiths have had quite a very large influence on aboriginal faiths and belief systems so unfortunately the pre-contact primary sources for many beliefs are unavailable. Of those that do exist though we know that the belief in an afterlife is not a necessity of religious belief. The lions share of Buddhist schools are actually devoted to extinguishing ones existence in an afterlife while Taoism holds that you essentially get reabsorbed into an afterlife. The early Egyptian afterlife was essentially a continuation of your life, no matter how unimportant you were. And the traditionally Judaism had very little emphasis on an afterlife because it was far more focused on daily life then what happens next.

            As to why someone would believe in God or hold to a religion is as multifarious as their are people. I have already touched on mine and I am sure if you discussed with others their would also be a wide variety of reasons given, some that conform to your expectations and some that do not. But to think that “all” do anything for “a” reason would be inaccurate and creates a false monolithicism (if you will) that isn’t there.

          • EYES E YOU

            you’re muslim?

          • Sam

            I am, by way of reversion (based on the idea that everyone is born in submission to God) a few years ago.

            At a young age my curiosity was encouraged and I gravitated toward history, philosophy, and the social studies that fell within and between them. At 15, or so, Islam made the most sense to me as far as a comprehensive belief system was concerned especially in light of the rich documentation available and the speed with which the Quran was written down, so I decided I’d be a Muslim if I was to choose a faith. I decided at that point though that faith seemed foolish as so many competing and contradictory beliefs claimed to be The One Truth so I sought answers elsewhere. Over the following decade and a half I went from agnostic to atheistic to antitheistic all with a peppering of Zen and Buddhism in the mix and a rich diet of scifi. When I turned thirty I decided it wasn’t working for me so after a year of soul searching I decided to follow through with the determination made 15 years hence.

            It’s not what I expected. All the logical arguments that I made and read before still hold water but accepting faith for what it is rather than what I thought it would be has been life altering and not at the same time. I love it.

            As my family says, I’m still Sam. I’m just Sam with faith. I’ve been told I seem calmer and more at peace. I know I have successfully let go of a lot stuff. How much of that is faith or age or something else I don’t know.

          • EYES E YOU

            you’re a revert, mashallah and alhamdulillah you questioned everything around you to find the truth. I have been reading your post, mashallah you stand out from the bunch! mashallah :)

          • Sam

            Jazakallah. :)

          • EYES E YOU

            twitter? :D

          • Sam

            Disqus is the only utility I use currently. I gave up facebook and never started on twitter. :)

          • EYES E YOU

            and what you speak of is the character islam builds in us. Letting us freely choose forgiveness over grief, giving over selfishness, ramadan for self-control and a lot of other things that islam builds in us to make us peaceful. You have found God and he made his way to him for you easy and he was calling on you for the truth. Alhamdulillah.

    • Karin Karejanrakoi

      For every christian I meet who claims to ‘love’ me “for myself,” there’s another who’d love me better if I weren’t gay, another who’d love me better if I weren’t a communist, and another who’d love me better if I accepted their (and your) atavistic, ghoulish fantasy of divine rape, blood-sacrifice and a Cosmic Zombie…

      And then there are the other six who want to do away with me in various ways.

      And, mutatis mutandis, the situation is no different when it comes to jews, muslims or callithumpians either…

  • Ed Buckner

    Yes, behavior is surely more important than belief, and i would not actively wish Christians like Enns ill, but I must say, I find it quite hard to respect someone like Enns. I give Herb Silverman high marks for graciousness and reasonableness, but I cannot myself get past seeing Enns as merely someone unable or unwilling to come to grips with what he apparently knows full well is the truth.

  • http://WWSHP.ORG William Dusenberry

    I read Karen Armstrong’s “The Case for God” for much the same reason Herb read his “pro-god” books.

    I consider Armstrong’s “The Case for God” one of the most atheist-encouraging books of our times — especially its epilogue.

    I won’t tell you how “The Case for God” concludes; you should find this out on your own.

  • bakabomb

    The author has done a marvelous job of collecting every known variety of strawman ever erected by atheists and collating them into one jawdropping op-ed. We owe him considerable gratitude, I suppose.

  • http://mindprod.com roedygreen

    Christians think their job is done if they can argue for some remote slim possibility their claims are true. That is like arguing for Russell’s orbiting teapot. Even if it is remotely possible, it is most probably not because there is no evidence to support it. It was just made up. It is a sign of mental illness when you cannot tell the difference between reality and what you make up.

    • bakabomb

      An exemplary illustration of the Three Cardinal Virtues of militant atheism:
      1) Humility
      2) Self-abnegation
      3) Empathy
      Nicely encapsulated, o Moose.

  • anamericanundernogods

    EYES E YOU posted that “There was a super memory guy all the
    times with Mohammad” who recorded what Mohammad heard from Allah.

    Nothing could be further from the truth that the above bizarre claim.

    The truth is:

    1. Most of Mohammad’s time was spent in numerous wars including rubbing merchants and caravans and it is
    ridiculous to imagine having a man with super memory all the times by him.

    2. There are versus in Quran that talks about Mohammad’s wives and his relation with his wives.

    3. At one time when Mohammad had an affair with a woman (Maria; a friend of his wife) and when his wife
    finds out and makes a big deal of it, Allah sends a verse to Mohammad to (sort of) legitimize Mohammad’s adulterous behavior.

    4. Mohammad had 23 wives and eleven of his wives were still alive when he died.

    5. It is equally bizarre to have this superman (the super memory guy) next to Mohammad in all of his
    private times.

    6. Sorry, I know it is hard for Muslims to accept the truth, but it is the truth.

  • Carstonio

    The idea of “God’s word” amounts to a demand that everyone in the world accept the Bible as authoritative. Or more precisely, that everyone accept the person’s particular reading of the Bible as authoritative. Questioning that claim is not inherently atheistic, otherwise Hindus, Buddhists, Shintos and all other non-Christians would be atheists. Anyone can come up with a text and insist that it’s divinely authored, taking advantage of the fact that there’s no way to prove the claim wrong. If we take no position on such claims, then the Bible becomes an important historical and cultural artifact like the Iliad, a mixture of fact and legend, where readers can make up their own minds about the moral ideas that it offers.

  • g75401

    Actually, we would do a lot to advance the cause of reason if we promoted the version of the NT that places the books in chronological order. The first book, Acts of the Apostles, follows the actions of the true founder of xtianity, Paul AKA Saul of Tarsis. The Gospels, with all their supernaturalism, don’t appear until Revelations, an equally supernatural book. The early center of the xtian church was in Greece and, quite clearly, Greek paganism had a huge influence in what we call xtianity today. And so did Norse paganism. I think if most liberal and moderate xtians understood how influential Greek and Norse paganism was to the modern church, they’d realize just how “not” the “Word of God” it was…

  • sTv0

    ” The Bible is God’s word, but not God’s final word…”

    No, that job falls to Allah and his prophet, as apparently the Qu’ran is “the final word”, according to the teachings and traditions of Islam.

    Of course, his prophet was illiterate, as far as we know. So he’s got that going for him. And he hallucinates, much like Joseph Smith, another “prophet”.

    Shit, these prophets keep coming out of the woodwork like termites out of a rotted tree…

  • HeLovesUsSo

    The NIV is the only “bible” I would question and anyone who wouldn’t question it is a fool. Look into it and learn it’s full of horrible mistakes made on purpose.