Losing My Religion

I saw this book review and thought I’d share it. It was in the Christian Science Monitor, of all places, but that’s not what struck me. It’s a autobiography of a man who went through what most atheists such as myself have gone through at some point in their lives – a spiritual search for truth – that landed him right on the doorstep of non-belief. He started relatively apathetic, tried to find meaning in religion, went through various churches, and eventually ended up happy, but atheistic. Unfortunately, according to the review, the impetus for his loss of faith was the Catholic pedophilia scandals. It wasn’t disgust with the Catholic hierarchy, however,  that drove him away from theism, it was

…the fact that Christians who were in a position to stand for principle and clean things up, regularly chose to turn a blind eye  to dishonesty, corruption, and hypocrisy.

They actually refused to believe that the priests were human, albeit abnormal, and heaped scorn on the victims, defending the priests. So he cast his reporter’s eye a little more broadly about.

“If the Gospels were true, shouldn’t I be able to find plenty of data that showed Christians acted differently – superior in morals and ethics – from the rest of society? I wanted to see that people were changed in fundamental ways by their belief in Christ.” The data from many studies, whether on divorce, racism, charity, materialism, etc., showed otherwise.

Anecdotally, we see it all the time. The hypocrisy of those who profess religious belief runs rampant through society. It’s not hard to find examples. The author of the book, William Lobdell, is a reporter, trained to observe society and report what he sees.

Apparently, he didn’t see anything that supported religious belief.

(Click on the book cover above for Mr. Lobdell’s blog.)

[Edit: After posting this, I found John Loftus’ review of the book over on his blog, Debunking Christianity, along with another guest post from Lobdell himself. ]

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20 thoughts on “Losing My Religion

  1. Can we talk about the person of God? I’d like a brief opportunity to share Him with you. He’s is NOT what Christendom has portrayed Him to be. Few so-called Christians know Him. When you were a child…you likely felt in yur heart..there is a God. But you learned early that something significant was missing. The missing link was that those doing the teaching and professing God….themselves did not know God. If you choose…would you read the scriptures describing the real God? In them you will see only Love, Kindness, and Humility…..the things missing in the character of professing believers.

    Jas 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

    Jas 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

    2co 6:3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 2co 6:4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 2co 6:5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 2co 6:6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

    Col 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Col 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. Col 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

    Mt 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Mt 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

    Mt 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    Mt 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

    Mt 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    Mt 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

    Mt 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

    Mt 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven

    Mt 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Mt 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

    Mt 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

    Mt 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

    Mt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

    Mt 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

    Lu 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

    Ro 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

    Ro 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

    Thanks for your courtesy and indulgence with my response. I appreciate your patience. Just let me say that what you hoped for as a child, the hope for something child-like, innocent, and pure is reality. He has many names. I call Him God. I know Him. He communicates with me. He is supernatural. He is unintrusive. He loves with a supernatural love….nothing like what we term as ‘love.’ What we term ‘love’ is often destructive, hurtful, and selfish. His love is as the following:

    1co 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

    1co 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil

    1co 13:6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

    1co 13:7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

    Hey..wouldn’t you like to hang out with folks like that. They are out there. But they are quiet, unintrusive, compassionate, they love-help-give without getting credit. They love the unlovable with real love….and it’s easy. They genuinely prefer the welfare of others above themselves. And they are few…as scriptures predicted…’few will find it.’ Don’t give up on God because of the self-righteous who honestly think they have found the way. They believe they are compelled to rid the world of unrighteousness. But they can’t see their own unrighteousness. They are the blind leading the blind. Treat the case of God as you would any other client. Find Him guilty or innocent. But do give Him a trial. To try Him, you first have to speak with Him. Turn your mind and your heart inward. Open a Bible. Begin with John. Then wait. Be fair. Wait. God will make the next move. In His time. Don’t give up. Expect to hear from Him. You will. Because He promised if we move towards Him…He’ll move toward us. Stop looking to find Him in the things and peoples of the world. He’s not there. He’s where the needs are. He’s the Mother Teresas working with aides victims. He’s the quiet ones who send money to feed the children in third world countries.

    Lastly, read Daniel, concerning his time in King Nebuchchadnezzor’s Babylon. Look at how Daniel treated the pagan King and others of the kingdom during his captivity there….and how he was loved. You will see the real God in the meekness of Daniel. You won’t see judgement. You won’t see him screaming accusations at the heathen. Also, Joseph in Egypt. Imprisoned for years. True men and women of God….are doers of good…and not just ‘talkers’ of good. True men and women of God…love their fellow man…and respect their fellow man…and they leave all judgement to God. Nothing has changed since the time recorded in scripture of the Pharisee and the Publican. The Pharisee stood in church and prayer, “Thank you God that I’m not like the sinner.” The public quietly prayer, “Father have mercy on me a sinner.” The latter was the real deal. Many real deals are present in the world. For the most part they are overshadowed by the pretenders.

    Oh my…nuff said. You are loved. I’m internetelias.wordpress.com

  2. Can we talk about the person of God? I’d like a brief opportunity to share Him with you.

    Unless “share” means “present the evidence for his existence” or better yet, “present him”, then please don’t copy/paste a whole bunch of crap from your holy book. Oh, too late.

    When you were a child…you likely felt in yur(sic) heart..there is a God.

    Nope, but I did feel there was a Tooth Fairy for awhile, and that there really was a Lone Ranger once, but come on, I was a child, and let’s not forget
    “When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things.” I Cor. xiii. 11.

    Don’t give up on God because of the self-righteous who honestly think they have found the way.

    Oh don’t worry about that, because that has nothing to do with it. The belief in the supernatural and imaginary friends are childish things I’ve put away because they’re unwarranted beliefs. Whether a priest diddles a boy has no bearing on the childishness of your make-believe indulgence.

  3. internet elias

    I appreciate you stopping by in response to the post, but you really ought to look at the blog, maybe sample a few posts, before you indulge in drive-by proselytizing. If you had, you’d have figured out that I am an atheist, and that most of the people who read this are atheists, or at least serious skeptics. I certainly don’t want to discourage Christians from reading this, though I am a realist, and realize there is little I’ll say to change your mind.

    But really. Massive quotations from the Bible just don’t cut it here. As Christopher Hitchens characterizes it, it’s all “white noise”. There is no sense in what you quoted that has any meaning to me, or anyone else of a rational bent. Most of us are quite familiar with the Bible, and there’s nothing in there that would convince any of us of the “truth” you apparently have deluded yourself into believing. The book is so rife with contradictions, logical fallacies, and downright ugliness, it’s hard to look at it as a source for anything. There are a lot of other books out there that are worthwhile reading.

    So, keep this in mind when and if you come back. Bible passages are quotata non grata. 8)

  4. SI:

    I applaud your courtesy to your most recent drive-by evangelist. In keeping with your tone, I’ve deleted my snarky response to him.

    I read about this book recently, then forgot about it. Thanks for the post, as it reminded me that I want to buy this one. Maybe I’ll even read it. 🙂

  5. Hey SI!

    Puerto Rico was pretty good. I didn’t get to see Arecibo on this outing because we stayed at the north east corner of the island. Will definitely check it out on the next visit.

    Meanwhile, if you’re interested, I have some posts up on my blog about the trip along with some nice picture.

  6. OT, but does anybody know what happened to Brian’s Primordial Blog? I clicked on the link to his blog and the page said the blog does not exist anymore.

  7. Tommy

    By Jove, you’re right. I thought I saw him commenting somewhere the other day. Now where was that….

    [EDIT] It was on your blog, Tommy. The Palomino Island post.

  8. If you choose…would you read the scriptures describing the real God? In them you will see only Love, Kindness, and Humility…..

    Well, it’s been awhile and since our drive-by evangelist has failed to respond, I should probably skip this but…

    We should really encourage all believers to do what virtually none of them has done – actually read the “holy” book(s) that they accept and quote mine (because that’s all they do with the many scriptures they cut and paste).

    Seriously, if you have dedicated your entire life to the subjugation of some text, it would only make sense for you to thoroughly immerse yourself in it. Such an immersion will have you feeling like you are drowning (at god’s “kind and loving” hands). There is no way to closely read the full scriptures without concluding that god must be a genocidal megalomaniac. No quote mining of a few hundred of the thousands of scriptures can hide the fact.

  9. Been reading the book, no surprises, but I’m finding it a good read.

    The man is honest about what he’s finding, and we’ve all read the same things on many of these blogs. Unfortunately (or contrariwise) for him, he got a good, close look at where and how they make the sausage, from what I can tell.

  10. Very telling passage in which a mormon indicates that it’s “the story” that is important, not if it’s factual or not. It isn’t important that “the story” be true, but that one is true to the story.

    Says a lot, I think.

  11. Yes. Given the tacit admission that the story is fiction, it says volumes.

    But only to those who feel that the truth of religion is more important than the effect of religion. It amazes me that people can wrap their entire lives around a fiction, knowing it’s fiction, and still follow it, because they think the ends justify the means.

  12. You’re right.

    I also get a confirmation of the suspicion that people will by a turd and because it’s in a very colorful, gorgeous wrapper, also very expensive, they’ll convince themselves that it’s the finest chocolate no matter how it smells or tastes.

    They paid so much it HAS to be enjoyed and “good”.

  13. Sarge, I have yet to find out if this story is true or not, but in college I heard a tale about Duchamp. It seems he was distressed by the attitude of the art world to celebrate anything produced by a big named artist. So he packed his own shit in sardine cans and passed it off as new work, daring the critics to cry foul. Instead, his shit cans sold quickly, for top dollar.

  14. I just finished reading about Lobdell’s journey, which he continues. It was a good and easy read, as I have found most deconversion stories are. His being an investigative journalist/storyteller gives his work a kind of “insider” perspective, especially regarding how vile, corrupt, and hypocritical the Catholic Church is, from Pope to priests, to the sheeply lay. While paying some lip service to other religions, the title would be more descriptive if it was “Losing My Christianity,” and even more if it was “Losing My Catholicism.”

    There are many pithy revelations in the book, such as his coverage of the current state of discussions in christianity, where he says “hell has been frozen out mostly because of consumer desires, not theological concerns”, in other words, by playing to the audience. For all of its high points, and I found the book both confirming and revealing, in my judgment the book did not live up to the high praises I have read. I was especially taken aback by praise from prominent skeptic/atheists (e.g.,see the book jacket for comments by Shermer and Hitchens) with no mention of the disparaging remarks Lobdell makes of atheists in perpetuating a stereotype; for example “I didn’t want to join up with the atheists, who could be as arrogant and cocksure of their beliefs as fundamentalist Christians.” Of course they can Mr. Lobdell, they’re humans. And they know it. But there is a difference; its called evidence.

  15. There is no way to closely read the full scriptures without concluding that god must be a genocidal megalomaniac. No quote mining of a few hundred of the thousands of scriptures can hide the fact. (Evo)

    Just out of curiosity, John, how much of the Bible have you read? Have you ever read it cover-to-cover?

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