to christendom and back

January 12, 2009

sinister throne

Weird Things talks to Daniel Florien of Unreasonable Faith about his life as a Christian and why after over a decade of belief he decided to change course and become an agnostic who lives as an atheist. We touch on some of the upsides and downsides of religious belief, shine a light on the question of what makes someone reject a faith and try to answer one of the most debated and controversial questions about atheism. Is religion the key to morality?

Q: What was your experience as a devout Christian?

A: I had a born-again experience with Christianity which is when your views change so radically that you become a whole new person. I was living an aimless teenage life, but Christianity gave me a solid purpose and belief. I gave up punk rock and a filthy mouth, began carrying around a Bible and reading it every chance I got. I wore in-your-face Christian clothing and I knocked on random people’s doors to tell them they were going to hell unless they accepted Jesus as their savior. I taught a Bible study at my public high school and would begin and end every day with a prayer and a reading from a few chapters of the Bible.

Eventually I felt “called to ministry” so I went off to college to train to be a pastor. I was exposed to new viewpoints and eventually became more of an intellectual Christian. I started to despise what I was before, realizing my early naivet. I wanted to be a scholar and teacher of the Bible. I studied Hebrew and Greek, church history, theology, and practice. After college, I received a job offer from a popular church that I respected, and I couldn’t turn it down. I found personal and intellectual freedoms there I’d never encountered in Christianity before. Believers read secular books and listened to secular music. They drank beer. It was life changing. I found new love for reading outside of theological books.Before long, I was reading over 10,000 pages a year and never happier in my life. That is, until my reading lead me to start doubting my faith.

Q: What did you like about your faith?

There was the community. All the best friendships I’ve had were based on Christianity and I’d say that’s what I miss most about my faith. I also loved making a positive difference which is a feeling Christianity gives in large measure. If you help someone with food or shelter, that’s just temporary. The gift of Jesus is forever. So when you’re involved in spreading Christianity, you get the feeling that you’re doing something that really matters – unlike all the poor saps who waste their lives helping people with “earthly” things.

There is something about human nature that desires black and white instead of shades of gray. I liked knowing what God was like, why he created us, why we were created, what was right, what was wrong, etc. There was an answer for everything, as long as you didn’t go too far (then you always discovered “mystery”). Perhaps something surprising that I liked about my faith is that it sparked intellectual curiosity in me. I reasoned that God revealed himself through a book, thus books must be one of the most important things in the world. So it was Christianity that made me love reading, a gift I’m very thankful for because without reading, I would’ve never escaped Christianity and became a reasonable person.

Q: What did you dislike about your faith?

A: While believers often think their faith is based on evidence, it’s really based on emotions. You can see this by asking a believer why they believe. Usually they say they’ve “experienced Jesus” and have been “born again.” I have seen this discussion many times on my blog: believers start out talking how reasonable Christianity is, but by the end, they say they’re not really sure about all the specifics, they just know they’ve been changed by Jesus and that’s all that matters.

I hate the hypocrisy that religion fosters. Every Christian knows about the “Sunday face” – you put up a smile on Sunday even when you’re not happy. While Christianity is vehemently against premarital sex, I don’t know many Christian friends who waited until marriage and they studied to be pastors or theologians. I lost my virginity in college and the guilt is horrible. We had many scares that my girlfriend was pregnant. We didn’t use birth control because that would be a sin and if she actually did get pregnant, we would’ve been kicked out of school, disowned by family and friends and my chances to become a pastor would have been severely hurt.

When I worked closely with pastors, I often found pornography on their computers. A college roommate would have women over when I left for vacation and had a collection of porn tapes in his room. I could go on…

There’s also a lot of fear and guilt mongering. Children are bused to churches where they are told that they’re very bad sinners and God is going to torture them in a very hot place for all of eternity. This scares these little urchins pretty bad. Then they hand out treats and explain that if they just say this nice little prayer to Jesus, and believe that he is God and died for their sins, they go to heaven with Jesus instead of the place of fire with the Devil. Of course, most will say the prayer. I also worked with a lot of plays and pageants that used the same tactics on adults.

Q: As a theist, what was your conception of atheists?

A: As a theist, I believed atheists were immoral, evil, and stupid. I thought that even though they denied it, they believed in God, but refused to admit it because they hated him. (This is the view of many Christians.) I thought they were bent on tearing down the fabric of our society because of their hatred of God. I believed they wanted to kill and persecute Christians and would if given the chance. I thought America was a Christian nation, and they didn’t belonged here. I thought evolution was an atheist conspiracy – there wasn’t any evidence, but they didn’t want to admit that biblical creationism was the only explanation.

Q: When did you turn to atheism and why?

A: It took a long time to call myself an atheist even when I started to doubt my beliefs because it was one of the worst labels I knew. My faith began to crumble when I started reading more and more secular books. After learning more about science, young earth creationism was the first to go. I spent six months reading authors like Stephen Jay Gould, Carl Zimmer, Kenneth Miller, and Francis Collins to learn about evolution from a source other than Christian apologists. The evidence was overwhelming and after much struggle, I accepted evolution as fact.

As I thought and researched more about these things, I realized I was deluding myself for over a decade. I wanted to believe, but the more conversations I had about it with friends, the more I realized how unlikely that my beliefs were true. Technically I’m agnostic. There really is no way to know if there is no god. He could be hiding. But I’ve chose to live like an atheist or like there is no god. If god shows up, then I’ll gladly change my mind. But I think that’s pretty unlikely.

Q: What would you identify as the driving factors to rejecting a faith?

A: I think it depends on the person. For me, the route to unbelief was solely intellectual. I made a conscious decision to be open-minded, to read the “opposition,” and go wherever the truth lead me – even if it was away from God. It doesn’t seem like many Christians are willing to be that open-minded. But I think it’s very important. Otherwise, through cognitive dissonance, we only see what agrees with our worldview, and reject and explain away what contradicts it. The beauty of reason is that we can consider any proposition and attempt to figure out whether it’s true or not. But religion already has the truth. It’s not seeking it. It’s defending it. That mindset has to be overcome.

Q: Do you think that atheism can become radical or radicalized? If so, how would you define radical atheism and how do you feel about it?

A: I encourage passionate atheism. Done appropriately, it furthers truth and increases human knowledge. I consider myself a passionate atheist. But I discourage radical atheism. I have only encountered this a couple times. Recently, for instance, there was someone on PZ Myers blog who was questioning my “sincerity” as an atheist – in other words, he wasn’t convinced I was a TrueAtheistTM. This is simply the antithesis of a religious fundamentalist – only people who are exactly like them qualify in their club. To me, this is a symptom of a small mind.

Q: Some theists say that without a higher power, atheists have no use for morality since they’re not being judged. Do you feel like you’re being judged by anyone and how do you define what’s moral and immoral?

A: I’m judged by people and by history. I generally accept traditional morality, unless a case can be made against it. I was helped by Michael Shermer’s The Science of Good & Evil here. I think a good basis for morality is based on suffering. If something makes another person suffer, then we probably shouldn’t do it, unless by suffering it will end up reducing suffering.

Q: Do you feel your theistic upbringing had any effect on your conceptions of morality?

A: Absolutely. My “conscience” is very sensitive after many years of introspection and guilt. I’m ashamed of many of my instinctual reactions like to seeing two boys holding hands because it was drilled into me for so long that homosexuality is disgusting and immoral. But I don’t think that way anymore and as soon as I think about that, I’m fine. If they feel love for each other, why should I care if they’re holding hands? It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes for my initial reactions to be replaced.

Q: What is the role of science in your life? How do you see science and secularism?

A: Science is the light of my life since it illuminates truth and falsehood. It gives me methods by which I can understand the world around me. It forces me to be objective because it forces me to have evidence before I claim something to be a fact and science is the judge and jury of my beliefs. To me, science and secularism go hand in hand. Religion is a fantasy that’s created by the blind, science is a method that cures our blindness. Religious beliefs require faith, they are based on things without evidence. When they do have adequate evidence, they cease to require faith and are simply considered facts.

Q: If you had the chance to give a message for all theists, what would it be?

A: I would plead for them to be open-minded and willing to go wherever the truth leads them. I would ask them to read books by non-believers and people of different faiths. And above all, to really research their holy books outside of conservative scholarship. Learn the history of how and when they were written, how they were changed, and how they were written by mere men.

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  • nitiniu

    Very informative interview with good questions. It strikes me how different my life has been and it’s interesting that it seems Daniel reached basically the same conclusions as I. I also found the bit about gut reactions to homosexuality and the like very interesting.

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  • traffer

    Wow, I’ve come to completely the opposite conclusion by following the same advice you give to theists of being open minded and going where the truth leads; taking me from atheist to theist. Evolution is a given. Rabbi Isaac had the universe at 15.4 billion years in the 14th century. Not scientific by any means, but certainly in no way concluding 6,000 years was at all possible. That’s crazy talk. I love science, history, anthropology and the Bible.

  • Resurgam

    Daniel honey, you’ve merely grown beyond a childish and literalist understanding of the Bible. Recognizing scientific truth doesn’t make one less of a Christian. Most of the main-line churches view fundamentalism as flashy and simple and emotive. Sadly, people recovering from fundamentalism often think that all Christianity is a sham as they chuck out the preposterous claims of uneducated clergy and unthinking laity. I would be willing to bet you still believe it is a good ethic to love others as yourself. I bet you still agree that people are more important than things. I bet you still agree that people should care for others, even those who are societal outcasts. Jesus’s teaching still stands, despite the often ludicrous accretions that human culture has piled on top of it.

  • http://www.xanga.com/nalalina NaLalina

    Resurgam honey, you’ve missed Daniel’s point: we don’t need to be religious Christians in order to be moral. People can be moral/ethical without believing in Jesus Christ. If you disagree with this, then you must think that non-Christians are immoral/amoral, which is what Daniel used to think: “As a theist, I believed atheists were immoral, evil, and stupid.” We don’t need more evidence-less prejudice and stereotyping, which is what religious supremacy fosters.

  • BBK

    NaLalina, honey, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Awooga.

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  • demianfarnworth

    Good interview, but I’m not really sure I understand Daniel’s last statement, “Learn the history of how and when they were written, how they were changed, and how they were written by mere men.” Aren’t all books written by mere men? And is that a problem?

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  • Greg Fish

    “Arent all books written by mere men? And is that a problem?”

    What I understood from my discussion with Daniel was that while all books are written by mere men, thinking that these mere men could channel the word of God with the books they wrote is both dangerous and baseless.

  • demianfarnworth

    Thanks for the clarity, Greg. Take care.

  • Anonymous

    Daniel, you might be right.

  • dmartin

    Daniel, you might be right.

  • Evidentally

    Mr. Florien,

    I sense in your interview that a combination of bad church experience, hypocricy, “convincing” of evolutionists, and distasteful doctrine has left you with a bad taste for God – Christianity. I have seen just the opposite of your case – complete atheist, immoral to the core person (not necessarily atheist), and murderer change their lives to do just the opposite – go from atheism or agnosticism to faith in Christ. Are the things you mention-hypocricy, bad doctrine, corruption, etc – most contributable to the change? There is a more “evidence” from science and theology that would be intellectually convincing. Hawking admits probably design, Antony Flew, George Wald – said evolution was disproved, but didn’t care he just didnt want to believe in a God. Einstein and others are on record stating opinions about God. What are your thoughts? Would anything bring you back to Christ?

  • Evidentally

    Here are some findings:

    First, Stanley Miller’s origin of life experiment now is thoroughly discredited (it had convinced many at one time).

    While it’s debated at to how many are credentialed, over 100 scientists from a wide range of disciplines with doctorates from Cambridge, Stanford, Cornell, Yale, Rutgers, Chicago, Princeton, Berkeley, Purdue, Duke, Michigan and Temple, including professors from Yale, MIT, Tulane, Rice, Emory, the University of California and elsewhere took out a two-page ad in 2001 and signed their names to what they called a scientific dissent from Darwinism. They announced, We are skeptical of the claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. The list is over 800 now. While none of them purport to oust evolution altogether (microevolution) they raise serious doubts of scientific evidences for origins of life.

    Dr. Vera Kistiakowski, professor emeritus of physics at MIT and former president of the Association of Women in Science: The exquisite order displayed by our scientific understanding of the physical world calls for the divine.

    Patrick Glynn went from atheism to belief in God. He said in his book God: The Evidence: Today, the concrete data point strongly in the direction of the God hypothesis…Those who wish to oppose it have no testable theory to marshal, only speculations about unseen universes spun from fertile imaginations…Ironically, the picture of the universe given to us by the most advanced 20th century science is closer in spirit to the vision presented in the Book of Genesis than anything offered by science since Copernicus.

    Dr. Dean Kenyon was a professor of cell and molecular biology at San Francisco State College. He believed he had the answer of how life could have created itself, without any need for a Creator, and he and a co-author described their theory in this book Biochemical Predestination.

    Their idea was that the building blocks of life amino acids must have some sort of inherent chemical attraction that caused them to automatically organize themselves into the first living cell. Scientists were very excited about this concept.

    But in the ensuing years, new scientific studies began to undermine this theory. In light of these developments, Dean Kenyon did something very unusual he stood up at a public gathering of scientists and publicly repudiated the conclusions of his own textbook.

    Stephen Hawking: The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the big bang are enormous. . . I think clearly there are religious implications whenever you start to discuss the origins of the universe. There must be religious overtones.

    Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow, former head of the NASA/Goddard space institute, has said, For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story of the big bang ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.

    Dr. George Wald (a Nobel Prize winner in Biology and professor Emeritus of Biology at Harvard, until his death in 1997) said, “There are only two possibilities as to how life arose; one is spontaneous generation arising to evolution, the other is a supernatural creative act of God, there is no third possibility. Spontaneous generation that life arose from non-living matter was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others. That leaves us with only one possible conclusion-that life arose as a creative act of God. I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God, therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation arising to evolution.”

    Ben Stein has a docu called Expelled that simply wants to ask questions about matters of science and evolution. Check it out too! : )

  • Greg Fish

    “Hawking admits probably design”

    Actually, he doesn’t. Hawking was once asked about the origins of the universe and he gave a few ideas, the one involving a God was then reused and abused by the likes of Ray Comfort and his fans. (see this post)

    “Antony Flew, George Wald – said evolution was disproved”

    Anthony Flew flip flopped many times and his book was a case of intense and very obvious self-aggrandizement. He was far from being the most noted atheist in the world. I’d also like to see where he actually said this.

    Wald said nothing of the sort expect if we’re talking about a quote being taken out of context as it had with Hawking.

    “Einstein and others are on record stating opinions about God.”

    Einstein and the company of physicists with which he worked were agnostics by their own words. His famous quote “God does not play dice” was an allegory used in a debate about Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle at a quantum physics summit and was not by any means an admission of faith.

  • Evidentally

    Debunking the scientists own words? I didn’t state evidence, but we can go to those sources. Primary point: there is not irrefutable evidence in macroevolution, that you and I came from primordial soup. It takes more faith to believe that something came from nothing. As a former skeptic, I love science and believe the more we uncover, the more we see the fingerprints of the Creator. Unlike many on here, both theist and atheist, who have their beliefs made up before investigating, I choose to investigate first, with the ultimate understanding that both are faith systems.

  • Greg Fish

    Just for your information, this blog has many posts debunking pretty much every single assertion you’re given here using actual evidence rather than just declarations.

    Also, Ben Stein doesn’t want to ask any question. He calls scientists Nazis and lies about Darwin’s writings. Yes, he’s just asking questions… about whether scientists stopped beating their wives yet.

  • Greg Fish

    So you choose to investigate yourself, but yet you quote things that were either shown to be wrong or taken out of context? Then, you embrace a great, giant “I don’t know” in the end? That’s an interesting way to investigate things.

    You ran though a gamut of names and random quotes (half of which were taken out of context) you’ve presented as evidence but when pushed to produce something more than assertions say you didn’t present any. So what was that whole list about other than proof that there’s always a PhD willing to hide behind it to say things for which they have no proof?

    And before you claims what is or isn’t irrefutable about macroevolution, I have to ask if you even know what macroevolution is because it certainly doesn’t sound like you do.

    and P.S. Wald ignored the theories of panspermia and life from other planets traveling to Earth. As unlikely of an option as it is, it’s a third possibility that Wald said does not exist. How authoritative is a claim that ignores other possibilities to present a false dichotomy?

  • Evidentally

    Let me ask this question: Is evolution presented by scientists and in schools as a theory or fact?

    To answer your questions: I did not say “I don’t know,” and let me clarify what I meant – both theism and atheism are faith systems, claiming to “know” something without having conclusive evidence or proof. Also, I am saying that there are briliant and credentialed scientists who have doubts (or questions) about Darwinism. What would you think if Dawkins changed his mind or gave an objective point that leaned toward the possiblity of intelligent design? I gave those (and I have 100s more) quotes from scientists who have done research and who do look at science to come to those conclusions. I’m sure you would put stock in established and credible scientists.

    They are not hiding behind PhDs. Some of them are getting fired or not getting tenured for merely questioning. Also, is there proof that there could have been life from other planets (panspermia)? Maybe he ruled it out because of improbability, but suffice it to say, he must be an idiot to say something as drastic as he did. One more question to you, then a jolly good night, do you believe there are scientists who absolutely do not want to even give intelligent design (GOD) a thought and purposely adjust evidence or lack thereof as needed?

  • Evidentally

    I understand Macroevolution any evolutionary change at or above the level of species. And, really I am aiming at understanding origin of life – are we from the primordial soup, glob? Did we evolve into ameoba, then reptile, then mammal, ape, so on? Has evolution stopped? Would humans be something not resembling who we are now in say another 100 million years?

  • Greg Fish

    “Let me ask this question: Is evolution presented by scientists and in schools as a theory or fact?”

    A scientific theory is a collection of facts. Your question is sort of like asking if a sci-fi movie is being presented as fiction or as a portrayal of imaginary events.

    “I meant – both theism and atheism are faith systems, claiming to know something without having conclusive evidence or proof.”

    Atheism doesn’t claim to have divine knowledge and is based on evolving ideas. Theism maintains it has information directly from God and doesn’t change its story even when proven wrong.

    “I gave those (and I have 100s more) quotes from scientists who have done research and who do look at science to come to those conclusions.”

    Quotes are meaningless. What matters is the research and their research is not out there and is usually demonstrably wrong or there’s claim of research when there was no actual study or experiment done. Even I, a science writer, can easily debunk many of the claims you put forward. Why? Because some 99% of them aren’t even aware of basic biology but tackle it as if they’re experts. A PhD in physics is not the same as a PhD in molecular biology or genetics.

    “Some of them are getting fired or not getting tenured for merely questioning.”

    According to Ben Stein and we know that he’s a liar who goes on record and says that science is murder.

    “Also, is there proof that there could have been life from other planets (panspermia)?”

    There is some circumstantial proof. We know living things can survive a trip in space. Right now it’s sort of guesswork which is why it’s not a fully fledged theory.

    “do you believe there are scientists who absolutely do not want to even give intelligent design (GOD) a thought and purposely adjust evidence or lack thereof as needed?”

    No, but you sure seem to. Plus, why should intelligent design involve some sort of supernatural being? That’s even more improbable than alien tales from pulp comics. Scientists want evidence. They’re not given actual evidence, just claims what are then backed up by pseudoscience.

    “Did we evolve into ameoba, then reptile, then mammal, ape, so on? Has evolution stopped?”

    No. You don’t know enough about evolution. If you notice, all the species you have listed here are still around. What does that mean? We branched off because we mutated into a new species and survived. Since evolution is like weather, it never stops. It can move slower or faster depending on the environment but it can never cease as long as life is still around.

    “Would humans be something not resembling who we are now in say another 100 million years?”

    If we’re still around (and that is a huge if), in 100 million years, we’ll most probably be nothing like what we are today. Even in a million years there would be very noticeable changes in humans.

  • Evidentally

    –Even in a million years there would be very noticeable changes in humans.–

    Like four arms, more eyes, taller? I want in!

  • Ima

    gfish:

    So you would teach evolution as a fact, end of discussion? If a theory is a collection of facts, then it shouldn’t be a theory. Your assertion about atheism not having divine knowledge – an athiest has to believe (like theists) that God absolutely does not exist, and if you cannot, then you are basing your case on faith.

    I happen to believe that it is quite possible to believe in God/Intelligent Deisgn and evolution.

  • OFW

    —-How authoritative is a claim that ignores other possibilities to present a false dichotomy?—-

    Other possibilities: Intelligent design?

  • Greg Fish

    “So you would teach evolution as a fact, end of discussion?”

    I don’t know any other way to teach a collection of facts than as fact.

    “I happen to believe that it is quite possible to believe in God/Intelligent Deisgn and evolution.”

    It’s possible to believe a lot of things but they need to reconcile and design just doesn’t work the same way as random genetic experiments that are the hallmark of evolution.

  • OFW

    So are you saying that evolution proves there is no God or design? How would you respond to the student (that would probably be me : ) that says so, who made evolution? How did it all get here?

    Do you believe it is possible that a Creator exists and that there is anything outside of “natural?” Would aliens (if they are real) be natural? I’m simply impressed that the universe just happened to come along the way it has – very impressive.

  • ENDit

    I say since there is no God or Designer that we blow the planet up and kill everybody. No reason to stick it out for the next 30-40 years. Why not just get rid of the planet? And, I wonder if humans would come back in a few 100 million years if every human wiped off the face of the earth? Hey, how about an experiment??

  • Greg Fish

    “So are you saying that evolution proves there is no God or design?”

    No, I’m saying that evolution doesn’t behave like a designed force so to try and merge it with some sort of design is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

    “How would you respond to the student that says so, who made evolution? How did it all get here?”

    Asking who “made” evolution is disingenuous. You’re already stating that it was made rather than just asking how something came to be the way it is, the reverse of the scientific method. How things got there is a very different theory based on organic chemistry, not biology and that’s an ongoing field of study.

    “I say since there is no God or Designer that we blow the planet up and kill everybody.”

    I say that you may be a very disturbed individual if the idea of a natural process not being overseen by a supernatural force leads you to advocate mass murder and suicide.

    “And, I wonder if humans would come back in a few 100 million years if every human wiped off the face of the earth?”

    No. Our appearance happened once thanks to certain mutations and there’s no reason to believe that that same mutations will repeat themselves. In fact, the odds are very much against it.

  • ENDit

    What problem would you see with mass murder/suicide? I don’t see any. There’s not a moral law against it (government laws maybe, but that’s why you plan it well, like the 9/11 guys). And, it’s not because there is no God, just that it would be cool to see how it would look, but I guess I’d have to be the one remaining person to witness it. Lots to think about…

  • Greg Fish

    “What problem would you see with mass murder/suicide?”

    If effectively hobbles our species’ ability to reproduce for one.

  • ENDit

    Is there a law against reproduction? : )

    You know I’m playing the DA…

  • Greg Fish

    If there was a law against reproduction then we wouldn’t reproduce.

    The point is that killing off our species on purpose is a really unproductive thing to do. Sure you can do it if you have the weapons but it’s just a ridiculous idea plain and simple.

  • kh0790

    I believe my morality to be superior to religious people’s because I don’t ‘behave’ out of fear that I will be judged when I die, and sentenced to hell. I act in a moral manner because I don’t want to see people hurt, and I don’t want them to treat me in the same way; NOT because at the end of this life, I believe God will reward me. I don’t need that threat or that reassurance to know that stealing, adultery and mass murder is wrong – although whoever wrote the Bible doesn’t seem to know that.

  • DebbieSLP

    LMA says: “an athiest has to believe (like theists) that God absolutely does not exist…”

    No, an atheist simply does not see evidence that god exists. That’s much different. Given evidence, the atheist would become a theist.

    Theist – “I think (believe) that god exists.”

    Atheist – “I don’t think (believe) that god exists.”

    (NOT “I know that god does not exist.”)

    Gnostic – “I know that god exists.”

    Agnostic – “I don’t know if god exists.”

    (NOT “I know that god does not exist.”)

    Agnostic atheist: “I don’t know if god exists, but I don’t think so.”

    LMA says: “So you would teach evolution as a fact, end of discussion? If a theory is a collection of facts, then it shouldnt be a theory.”

    Evolution is indeed a theory: an idea that has very strong evidence obtained through science. A very large body of evidence makes a theory more plausible than a hypothesis, which has less evidence to back it up. So evolution is taught as a theory.

    Regarding morality, I learned most of mine before age five: hitting hurts. Don’t hit. Breaking other people’s things makes them sad ad angry. Saying mean words hurts others’ feelings. Be kind to people and animals. Do what you can to reduce pain and suffering in this world.

    Saying the “special prayer” and “accepting Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior” at age five didn’t change my basic morality. It just gave me more fear of displeasing god and adults.

    Thankfully, like Daniel, I got out of my fundamentalist evangelical church and mindset after about a decade.

  • Anne

    Humm. Lovely interview, some like way stupid questions afterwords. I am a Christian, I believe in God. I also do not think the Bible should be taken as literal, that atheists can be moral and that Darwin was right. Just because I am a person of faith does not mean that I have left reason behind. Research shows morality is partly inborn and necessary for society to function as a whole. Christians are NOT more moral than Buddhists, or atheists. You are evolving right now. Evidence is showing that wisdom teeth are being evolved out of us because we just don’t need them. Our diet has changed and we don’t need the hard crushing teeth. If it was God, we would all wake up and “bang” they would be gone. Ask your dentist. By the way, if you say I am not a “real” Christian because I think this way, I would just turn the other cheek and not let your words bother me. I know what I am and that is what matters.

  • Anonymous

    People not only know that evolution actually occured; they also know that Jesus is a myth. I wanted to believe in an historical Jesus, but the evidence against this is overwhelming. There were many Christs before Christ, and this is never mentioned in even the liberal churches.

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  • KBM

    Daniel, Excellent discussion. I have a similar background….Christian University, missions, fundamental background. It took 50 years before I finally questioned why it is I believed what I believed. Long story for another time, but I am now a free thinking humanist today. I have read more books then I ever thought possible and I am extremely pleased with where the journey has taken me. I will enjoy reading more of your blogs and familiarizing myself with your views.

    All the best