Billy Crocker

Thoughts on Deconversion, Religion, Humanism, Marriage, and Parenting

The year in review: The good

2017 has been an amazing, joyful, liberating, hurtful, divisive, difficult year. I started this year with an amazing gift from K9s for Warriors, receiving my service dog, Dozer. I was on a waiting list for her for almost two years, and you can read more about what she has meant to me in my blog post, My pill bottle wears a vest. I was thrilled to see the progress she helped me make with so many symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, OCD, and depression. I ended 2016 not sure how much longer I would be able to hang on, and now I feel like I cannot see far enough into the future. I became a lot more active on my blog writing, which is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. We hit over 1,000 visitors (THANK YOU ALL!), increased our views to over 3,000, and over 29 countries viewed this website, including very freethinking oppressed countries. Our top 5 countries were USA, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and Malaysia (in ranking order). We have over 300 followers between subscriptions to the blog, follows on Twitter, and likes on Facebook. It has been a great year for this blog. We moved to North Carolina during this time, which provides a lot of inspiration for writing, it is a beautiful state.

Over 29 countries viewed this website, including very freethinking oppressed countries.

What I learned

In looking back, we should only seek to learn lessons, not dwell or wallow in self-pity. On that note, in 2017 I learned what I believe for me. That has been a tremendously good thing. I introduced myself to people like Julia Sweeney, by watching her monologue; Letting go of God.  I watched a documentary on “The Amazing Randi”, about a magician James Randi, who staked his reputation on debunking magic tricks, psychics, and even an evangelical “Preacher”. I learned who George Carlin is, and found out subsequently that he unfortunately passed away. I have now watched the majority of his stand-up work, and it brings me joy to watch the way in which he articulated what so many of my thoughts were about religion. I have reconnected with my brother who has been out of my life for over 20 years, which has been phenomenal, and I am looking forward to that relationship continuing to grow. I read, and I read some more. I have always loved to read, but I would filter my reading based on my preconceived notions of what was “worth” reading, and what was not. You want to know what was not worth reading? Anything that questioned the idea of god. In case you didn’t know, that is a lot of f****** (for my PG readers) material. Let me give you an example; at the beginning of the year I started to read The God delusion from Richard Dawkins, and only about two chapters in I put it down, and immediately sought out Christian approved responses to this book. Only wanting to hear what was wrong with the book, and why I could safely dismiss it as garbage did little to satisfy my longing for the truth. The way in which I worked my way back in was actually through somewhat middle-ground material. I guess what I mean by that is moderate believers. A good example would be Rob Bell. I admire Rob Bell for being willing to step out of the box, and consider an alternative way to believing in god. I read his book What is the Bible?, which created a lot of controversy and judgment from the mainstream Christian crowd. I read Karen Armstrong’s A History of God: The 4,000 year old quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The most convincing book that caused me to walk away from my beliefs, which I held for 21 years of my life, was the actual Bible (The Holy Bible in ESV, CSB, HCSB, NIV, NASB, and yes even KJV). It was once I started to consider the inconsistencies in scripture, and the major implication differences between denominations that my beliefs really began to unravel. That was the moment I became The godless Pastor. I was at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary when the light went on for me. That was scary. Trying to hold back from coming out completely, I just started asking questions, and pressing myself to look beyond my labels which I had, and society had placed on myself. Once it became clear that simply moving outside of my initial comfort zone, and clearly the comfort zone of my circle of influence, it seemed inconsequential to go ahead and declare my atheism, which I did in the blog Dear Friends and Family,. During this time I also stumbled upon one of, if not the game-changer book, godless by Dan Barker. Reading his story, and his background, I immediately connected with his history. I then re-read the entire book The God delusion by Richard Dawkins, and my mind was blown. From there, I continued to read, and I was, and am continuing to read everything. Like a bird that has been in a cage its entire life being released into the air, I am spreading my wings into territories which I never even considered. Unfortunately, this decision to be open about my beliefs has not been as inconsequential as I have hoped. I have lost a lot of people in this process, and had very hurtful things said directly towards me. I hate that this decision to be open about my beliefs, and to call into question others beliefs has caused so much divide. However, mixed in with that I have had so many people reach out to me personally and thank me for doing this. I have had many people, even current Christians, confide in me their appreciation for my blogs, and my boldness about what I am learning. While I have lost some people, I have gained so many others that I would have never met if it hadn’t been for my blog. All in all it has been a wonderful, amazing year.

2018 reading list

I honestly do not know how you could enjoy writing, and not enjoy reading, but for me it is my escape. I love to read. I want to share with you what my reading goals are for this new year, and encourage some of these books to you.

1) The Seven Decisions, by Andy Andrews

2) The Mind of God, by Dr. Jay Lombard

3) The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

4) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari

5) The Lynching, by Laurence Leamer

6) Cosmos, by Carl Sagan

7) Parenting beyond Belief, by Doug McGowan

8) The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins

  9) The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson

  10) Science in the Soul, by Richard Dawkins

11) Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, by Yuval Noah Harari

12) The Holy Bible, by multiple human authors

Check these books out, and let me know in the comments if you plan on reading any of these with me during this new year.

2018, a hope

My hope for all of you in this new year is that you are able to think critically, and without walls. May you always be willing to look outside of the black and white box the world tries to put us in, and look in the gray area. That is where the best of everything is. READ, I cannot overstate this enough, read, and read some more. This includes religious material. Read magazines, books, newspapers, etc. I have found I need the tactile feeling of actual pages to turn, and so e-books are not my friends. However, whatever floats your boat, have at it. I just want you to think. If this means you become stronger in your religious convictions, great! If this means you walk away from all of your religious convictions, great! As long as you do it for YOU! My last hope for all of us, including me, would be that we would figure out a way to realize that we are one of 7.6 billion people (even more co-species), and empathy needs to happen. We need to start caring, and caring more about the other living, human beings, and other species then we do our religious convictions. It is in your hands, my hands. We are individually responsible for how this next year will pan out. So, let us get a spark in our ass, and start doing. Let’s do this!

The godless Pastor,

Billy J. Crocker

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Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Mat 1:23 KJV)

Christmas is a time of year in which most people in America try and suggest that there is a “war on Christmas”. However, we know through plenty of sources, even Christian ones (note the video below from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), that the celebration around Christmas has pagan origins.

Pagan, of course, meaning sinful, satanic, demon possessed people. No, of course not. Pagan simply meant the opposite of all this religious mumbo jumbo. Christians want to paint anything during Christmas time not relating to Jesus as horrible, and inconsiderate of poor little Jesus’ birth. When in reality most seem to not be aware of the unfortunate (for them) origins of this “sacred” holiday. There are plenty of videos, and blogs that tell you about the pagan origins, even the preacher dude up in the video does a pretty good job of explaining this. That being said, I don’t want to spend a lot of time dwelling on that issue, for it seems, for lack of a better word, buried (I hope for our sake this problem doesn’t “rise” again). Instead, I would like to share with you the complicated, complex problems within the story of Jesus’ birth. So, where do we begin…

I suppose at the beginning,

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Gen 1:26 KJV)

Some of you may not know this, but many churches teach that when Moses writes in Genesis the words “our image”, he is referring to the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). I start there, because to me this is the initial confusion. The way the story of Jesus is expounded is that once Adam and Eve committed the mortal sin of eating a fruit that God had declared them not to eat, this is the moment that Jesus became necessary.

14 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Gen 3:14 ESV)

The story goes that once Adam and Eve committed this sin, every “man” from that point through to the end of mankind was forever born a sinner through the sperm of the man. However, the grace that is apparently in the middle of all of this ridiculousness, is that there in verse 15 God gives a window for Jesus to come onto the scene when he states, “…he shall bruise your head…”. Not to mention that commentators love to point out that scripture is clear about it being the “seed” (KJV) of the woman that would bring about this Savior, which commentators declare clearly points to Jesus’ virgin birth (Source: Preachers Outline & Sermon Bible: Genesis; Gen 3:14, 15).

Here is a thought to consider, what the hell was Jesus doing between before this moment and this moment? I know that is probably confusing, let me see if I can clear it up a little. John 1:1-2 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.” (Joh 1:1 CSB). This, among other verses (John 8:58; 17:5) clearly shows that Jesus was existing right along with god before the earth was even here. So, if Jesus was and is the Savior, then before he became the Savior what was he doing. Genesis 3 seems to be so “off the cuff”, instead of this grand designed plan. I mean hell, God couldn’t even find Adam and Eve in the garden (apparently). Nevertheless, besides the confusion that exist about Jesus in general, there is great confusion surrounding the whole story.

Only two of the Gospels even bother mentioning the details of the birth of the Savior of the world, which I find a little odd in and of itself. Even so, the two Gospels that mention the miraculous conception fail to line up together. Let’s start with Matthew. In Matthews account of Jesus’ birth (In his defense he wasn’t there) he talks about Joseph (Mary’s earthly husband) being visited by an angel (not named, although later named in Luke’s Gospel), and being informed that he will call the baby’s name Jesus. Sounds all good in the neighborhood, until one verse later the angel apparently adds that in order to fulfill prophecy you will name him “Immanuel”, which translated means “God with us”. Now certainly with a unquestionable faith-filled heart one could overlook this minor discrepancy. However, I have a few things I want to set straight here for the skeptic. Immanuel is only mentioned three times in scripture. The first, is apparently where the angel in Matthew’s story quotes from, is in Isaiah 7:14 which says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isa 7:14 ESV). The second time is in Isaiah 8:8, ” And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.” (Isa 8:8 KJV). Then the last time it is mentioned in scripture is there in the lonely New Testament verse of Matthew 1:23. Look, I am sorry, but it just doesn’t pass the B.S. smell test. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that in an attempt to fulfill the prophecies, Matthew may have gotten a little excited and added a few things. I will give you another way to consider this. The name Jesus is only used in the New Testament. The name Christ is only used in the New Testament. Nowhere, except in this one Matthew 1:23 verse does the name Immanuel come up, and it states the reason very clearly.

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:” (Mat 1:22 ESV)

I get it, you need the prophecies to be fulfilled. However, no different then any other mystical, supernatural tale, you really have to use your imagination to get beyond the obvious discrepancies about the virgin birth. For sake of brevity, and I am an animal lover (no sense in beating dead horse), I will leave you with that information. Everything else about the story of Jesus’ birth seems to have been written about over and over. When it comes to the prophecies, you could honestly write a book about the discrepancies. Look at that text in Isaiah in context, and tell me honestly, without any outside commentary, if that seems to be referencing a future Savior? Personally, I do not see how you could say “clearly that is what it meant” about anything in the Bible, much less the Old Testament references to Jesus, unless you are desperately trying to draw conclusions. Throughout theological thought you often arrive at the conclusion that without unquestionable faith, Christianity is no different then any other religion.

All in all, as I mentioned at the beginning, and this Pastor in the video so eloquently explains, Christmas is NOT about Jesus anyways.From one skeptic to another, Merry Christmas.

The godless Pastor,

Billy J. Crocker

Introduction

This is a very long post, I have attached this courtesy PDF copy for your viewing pleasure and for download: Author of Confusion_TheBook

I started the Author of Confusion series a little over four months ago after deciding to start presenting my questions in a public forum about what I saw was serious issues of division within the church. I was fed-up with fundamentalism, and done with denominational divides. I had decided to start reaching out to one of my brothers, who is gay, and not judge him for that (I realize some of you may be Christian and not see a problem with this, but for my fundamental upbringing this was big). I did not start this series with the desire to walk away from my faith completely. As I have already shared on several occasions, the cracks in my beliefs started the day I joined the Air Force and went off to basic training.

I made a friend with another Airman that turned out to be an atheist. During our initial conversations I did not realize that he was an atheist, as conversations take a long time in basic training. Once I found out that he was an atheist it cracked my foundation. This guy did not look anything like I was told atheist would look like. I was expecting to see a depressed, evil, lost soul who would need Jesus. The ironic thing is that I started off, once I found out about him being atheist, trying to win him to Jesus. Ultimately, a process that took 11 years, he won me to atheism. There are a lot of good intentioned people in all forms of beliefs. There are good Muslims (theist), there are good Hindus (theist), there are good Christians (theist), there are good Humanist (atheist) and so forth. There are no doubt bad people in all those spectrums of belief as well. What this continually shows is that a person’s belief in god, or not a belief in god has nothing to do with their goodness. In a world of wars and rumors of wars it is easy to feel like all the bad things in the world are all apart of gods plans, that we can just put our fingers in our ears, and yell out “come Lord Jesus, come quickly!”. I know a lot of people who put off life because they are trying to figure out what god wants from them (I was this person at one time). I know people who honestly think that they do not have to answer for the wrong they do because it is *only* god who can judge them.

The reality is that we live in a world full of other people, 7.6 billion the last time I checked, and so it is vitally important that we live this life in two ways, 1) That we answer to ourselves, and the communal society in which we live, and 2) That we live this life as though it will be our last (just in case). Here is the thing, those two rules are rules of my life. Someone else may look at my rules, and say “you’re crazy”. That is fine. I am only hoping to help people see that they shouldn’t make those decisions in favor of, or against a god. For those that do not want to consider an alternative view, you probably should exit out of the page now. You will see a change over the course of these post. The earlier posts are more favoring a communal Christian view because I was still trying to maintain my Christianity. Towards the end you will see that I am becoming more open about the reality of the situation. I hope you enjoy the read.

Author of Confusion: Salvation

Baptism

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1Co 14:33 KJV)

From the start of this, I want to suggest my main theme, so that you might understand my perspective. I believe the author of confusion is man, and the book he wrote. As I write this article I am aware of the divisive opinions that will quickly be leveled my way just for asserting these claims. Maybe not in print, but at least in their mind. However, let me suggest a few things about this topic. I intend to write several articles over this very point of confusion. However, there is no way that I can write one article on this, or it would become a book. Even the “sub-point” of salvation must be broken down even further into specifically just the controversial viewpoint on whether baptism is required for salvation, because there is also the issue of works for salvation, and the issue of the age of accountability, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and so on. So, you see, even in this very first topic, within the first paragraph, confusion is at the center.

I am not trying to mislead you, or to convince you of a specific viewpoint. However, I do desire to make you think beyond what you are being told to believe. Even if you say that you “read the Bible for yourself”, I would ask if you are understanding it on your own or are you reading commentary? There is nothing wrong with reading commentary, but you must understand that depending on what the author of that commentary believes will determine how that verse is being translated. You must see that every single topic will have people from all sides, with different viewpoints, based on scripture. I could argue for baptism being a requirement for salvation and the Catholics, the Methodist, and the Church of Christ would be giving me an “Amen”, while the Baptist would be quick to share the pages of scripture and theological references to suggest that it is not a requirement for salvation.

Before we get into this topic of salvation, you may be asking why does any of this matter? Well I would present to you the age old “Christianese” question that stops non-believers in their tracks, and that is “What if you are wrong?”. No matter what you are, whether Christian or Hindu, Atheist or Agnostic, Baptist or Methodist, or any other belief, if you are wrong there are grave implications here. I have spent my life thus far preaching the Baptist Gospel and there is plenty of opportunity for errors from anyone, including me (how damned we must all be?). With the example I just gave above, I would suggest that the “baptism is a requirement” crowd at least has all their bases covered with salvation by requiring baptism. Because, if Baptist are wrong, and you do need baptism to be saved, there are a lot of people who are going to just barely miss the boat into paradise because they did not get the opportunity to be baptized, or simply chose not to be baptized. Let us dig into the details…

Digging into the issue of salvation is possibly the most important topic we can discuss. If Hell is real (I am not convinced), and there is eternal damnation for those who do not believe, and are baptized then we should all have grave concerns for what message we are preaching. The first verse I want to present to you is out of Mark, and it reads:

John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Mar 1:4 KJV)

Most Baptist commentaries seem to ignore anywhere that baptism is listed as anything required for forgiveness of sins. This is obviously natural because it would go against the tenets of their beliefs. However, this is very difficult to ignore that clearly baptism is somewhat involved in the salvation experience. Some may say, “well that was Johns Baptism”, that is not the Lords.  Well, what about this one?…

And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Act 19:3-5 ESV)

Seems to be that whether we are talking about John or Jesus, baptism is important. One of the most used verses for baptism being a requirement for salvation is typically this one…

And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ (Act 22:16 ESV)

That one is blunt. Not only is it commanding these people to be baptized, but it is specifically stating what the result of that baptism would be, and that it would “wash away your sins”. However, even with these verses, and quite frankly many more, Baptist do not see baptism as a requirement for salvation. Yet, even though they do not find it a requirement for salvation, they (Baptist) do require that you be put completely “under” or “full immersion” as it is said in the vernacular. They also would require you to be baptized to become a member of the church most likely. While there is zero scripture to support requiring baptism for church membership, church membership is something that is not required in scripture either (although most believe it is “implied”), but I will save that for another article.

So, why would someone believe that baptism is not required for salvation?

Often one quotes the verse below to show that baptism was not of critical importance:

I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (1Co 1:14-15 ESV)

Clearly the issue that Paul seems to be addressing is that he was fearful that people would get caught up on the issue of who was doing the baptizing. I personally do not see how this shows anything about baptism not being required for salvation, but apparently some people are able to read between imaginary lines and come to that conclusion. The verse below is another one from the same chapter above that is used.

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel… (1Co 1:17a ESV)

After all, if God cared about baptism being a requirement for salvation He would have had His most trusted preacher performing them, right? It is ironic to me that when this scripture is quoted as proof they leave out the second part of this verse, which reads…

…and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (1Co 1:17b ESV)

Now, it seems to me that a popular reason for leaving this second part off is because people do preach with “words of eloquent wisdom” all the time. How would you even determine this? I can hear preachers now responding to this, “I do not preach with words of eloquent wisdom, I just preach the gospel”. Well, while usually “they” say we are our own worst critics, I fear we are not good judges of ourselves. After all, who would want to admit to emptying the cross of Christ of its power?

Probably the most common defense is the thief on the cross. If God required baptism, how could Jesus assure the thief on the cross he would be with Jesus in paradise? Reference the verse below…

But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luk 23:40-43 ESV)

This is played out in many debates on this topic in several ways. I have my own personal example of this even. I accepted Christ when I was only nine years old, and then it took until I was 13 before I was baptized. From nine to 13 I was never told that I needed to be baptized to be saved. If I would have died, would God have seriously said to a 10-year-old who is simply believing what he knows, that he is going to hell because he didn’t get baptized? I have heard that if you are not aware of this requirement God would be gracious, well I sure would hope so. However, what then about the person who does know about baptism being a requirement? What if that individual simply chooses to believe the overwhelming majority in their circle of influence who believe that baptism is not a requirement, and they are afraid of water? I realize that is a hypothetical, but I would be willing to bet it happens. I find it hard to believe that God would send an individual to hell because, even though they believed and followed God, they did not get baptized.

As you can see, this topic can be very confusing, and I honestly only touched the surface, as I did not even get into the issue of what the “correct” baptism is (there is more than one baptism preached). I am praying for us all that we can come to some sort of reasonable conclusion. A conclusion that I cannot find myself coming to is accepting that we just all have different beliefs. If our differences were about the color of the carpet in the church that would be one thing. However, we are talking about salvation, and somehow, we can just sit idly by and let there be these varying opinions about the difference between hell and heaven. Why believe what you believe though? Should you believe that baptism is a requirement? If you do, you do not have to worry about if you are wrong, because it at least will not hurt you that you have been baptized (unless you had the wrong baptism). However, why should you not believe the Baptist viewpoint, after all it does seem to make the most logical sense? What is clear, is that you cannot seem to come to scripture with this question, because every denomination in the Christian faith comes to that very same scripture, and reaches a conclusion different from the next person. This is honestly unfortunate, and I wish I could reach a different conclusion myself, but this is where I find myself.

Baptism, which kind?

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1Co 14:33 KJV)

I know that I have taken a while to post again, and I am sorry for that. With everything that happened in Charlottesville a few weekends ago, I got myself way too wrapped up in it on social media and needed to take a break for a little while. Thank you for being patient with me, and I want to say thank you again for the continued views of my page. I greatly appreciate all the readers. I hope that you are finding these blogs enlightening and challenging. The last blog in this series that I wrote was about whether baptism was required for salvation. In this blog I want to focus on the fact that if you even get past this challenging issue, you then must ask which baptism; pouring (effusion), dipping (immersion), or sprinkling (aspersion) is the correct one? Once again, this is, I think, considered a non-issue among most believers. When I talk to most Christians about what church they go to, a favorite question I like to ask is what made them chose that church. I can count on one hand the amount of times I have been told it was based on specific beliefs. Usually it is more vague reasons, such as, “they preach the Bible”. Other vague reasons given include, “we like the music”, “they have a great youth program”, “they help out in the community”, and my all-time favorite “we love the Preacher”.

And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” (Luk 4:8 ESV)

I will leave that blog for another day, but I will simply state that I have seen people back their preachers message (because let’s be honest they idolize the Preacher instead of God), more than the Bible. I hear all the time, “Well Brother so and so said…”. Or, “Brother so and so gave an awesome message this morning and he said…”. I hear that a whole lot more then I hear, “I read in my Bible today…”. However, I am not trying to suggest that the Bible is the only place you should get your information (I am sure that will not sit well with most). The thing about it is that it is not the only place where any of us get our information. Here is the problem relying on your preacher, do you know how many preachers there are in various belief systems? Nearly all of them use the Bible, the same one your preacher uses, only to preach a completely different message then your preacher. Someone has it wrong, but nine times out of ten it seems the main reason we choose a church has more to do with the music, the youth program, and/or “loving” the Preacher, then what is being preached.

Back on topic, sorry for chasing a rabbit. When it comes to the topic of baptism I realize that some who think it is not a requirement for salvation may not see then why it matters what way you were baptized. However, try and go into most Baptist churches, if you were only sprinkled, and ask to join. Most Baptist churches will require you to be baptized by full immersion (all the way under the water), for you to become a member of that church. For this reason and other reasons, I believe it does matter that we understand the differences in opinion on this topic.

What reason do churches sprinkle (or pour water) water on people? Well first, it is important to note that most churches that believe sprinkling or pouring water on someone is an acceptable form of baptism, also usually do not have an issue with full immersion as well. The opposite is true of those that believe in full immersion as the only way, as they seem to think that it is literally the only way to be baptized (I would like one proof of it being the only way). The reason that most churches sprinkle or pour water on people to symbolize baptism is because it is an acceptable practice according to scripture.

“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.” (Eze 36:25 NAS)

If you continue in this chapter, these verses continue to describe a salvation experience through this cleansing by sprinkling. Not to overlap the last blog in this series, but this is an interesting point that it would be put as a necessity for cleansing a person. You may say, well that is in the Old Testament. OK, well look at the New Testament, in it you will find the story of Paul being baptized in Acts 9. This is what is said in verse 18:

And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. (Act 9:18 KJV)

To those who support the idea of sprinkling or pouring, it is a common verse used to show that Paul was clearly standing, as it says, “he rose” (ESV), and then the baptism happened. Obviously, you cannot be baptized by full immersion if you are standing (that I am aware of, please correct me if I am wrong). The common defense for this verse being used to show that full immersion is not required is to claim that the word, ἐβαπτίσθη in the Greek, is defined as full immersion. Honestly though, it depends on which commentary you are using. I would also point you to Luke 11:38, where the Pharisees try and trip Jesus up by criticizing Him because he did not “wash” before dinner. Contextually, this was referring to a ceremonial practice to cleanse yourself before eating. However, when you look at the Greek word used here for wash, it is the same word used later in Acts, ἐβαπτίσθη. No one is going to try and argue that the Pharisees were trying to say that Jesus needed to go be fully immersed in water before He could eat.

The reality is that there is no scripture to suggest that full immersion is the only way to be baptized. Quite the contrary, there are scripture that suggest it improbable, and unlikely that full immersion was the only way people were baptized. Another interesting perspective on this to consider is that it is interesting considering that Baptist believe that you must be fully immersed in water that they also believe it is not a requirement for salvation, and they believe that a child is not bound by this salvation requirement (Age of Accountability). It seems to be convenient that you would not require a young child to be baptized by full immersion (you would be considered crazy, and likely be sent to jail), and instead would simply suggest that baptism is then not required for salvation, and that you must be old enough to understand what you are accepting to be held liable for your salvation. After all, how could you tell a grieving mother that her young child will be going to hell because they did not accept Christ, nor were they baptized. Instead of facing that issue it would naturally be easier to just do away with baptism as a requirement, and do away with salvation being required of a child before a certain (not specific, although most agree on 12 years old) age. I fear that we are basing our doctrine on logic instead of the Bible. I am not saying that is necessarily wrong, but it could be.

I want to leave you with some personal application of a real-world example of where full immersion was an illogical choice, and so a Chaplain went outside the box and baptized by pouring. Lt. Carey H. Cash (Navy Chaplain), author of A Table In The Presence, tells of his personal experience being attached to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment as they entered into Iraq from Kuwait as one of the first during Operation Iraqi Freedom following 9/11. In this book, Lt. Cash talks about an amazing experience that he had with his men, where a Marine in his unit asked to accept Christ out in the Iraq wasteland, and then to be baptized. Lt. Cash admits that it would have been easier to have done this back in the states, and to be able to plan it out, but this was not their experience. They were in the middle east, in the middle of a war. Lt. Cash shares how he baptized this young Marine.

“Filling my chalice to the rim with the potable water from my canteen, I asked the young Marine to lean back, and in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Eli was baptized”. A Table In The Presence, Lt. Carey Cash, p. 133

There are churches today that would reject this baptism of Eli. You see, out in Iraq it did not make any sense to try and baptize this young man by full immersion. The author of this book that I have quoted certainly seems to be very confident of his choice of baptism for this Marine. I do not think it is fair to simply dismiss this other opinion, because as Baptist you may not believe that baptism is a requirement for salvation. You do require it in most Baptist churches to be a member. So, why does it have to be full immersion?

It is very confusing to me to be hard on what form of baptism for church membership, but not on being baptized to be saved. This seems to be chosen for the sake of convenience, and not theological doctrine. Please feel free to leave a public comment at the bottom of this blog, or you can send a private comment through the form directly below this paragraph. Please let me know what you think. I appreciate all the feedback.

Evidence of salvation (i.e. speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, good works, etc.)

“Since God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” –1 Corinthians 14:33, CSB–

I have used the verse above for every post on this topic of confusion. The word used from the Christian Standard Bible here is “disorder”, instead of confusion, but the same principle applies. The reason that I use this scripture is because of the specific instances in scripture that are translated differently to mean different things depending on what denominational structure you fall into. In this chapter, the context of that verse is on the issue of speaking in tongues. Very appropriate for what I am discussing on this blog, because the issue of spiritual gifts has long been a controversial issue. I know many people who follow along the “Pentecostal” belief that state unless you have been “baptized by the Holy Spirit” then you are not walking close enough to God. I have even heard it suggested that unless you possess these spiritual gifts in some form (speaking in tongues, healing, prophecy, and other gifts of the spirit), then you are not genuinely saved. Here we arrive at our first supposed “evidence of salvation”:

  1. Gifts of the Spirit
  1. Not to be confused with “fruits of the spirit”, gifts of the spirit are referencing more extravagant gifts that no one living, and breathing have actually witnessed that cannot be explained with science. It is interesting to me that out of all the spiritual gifts most often received by believers is that of speaking in tongues. Yet scripture makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 14 that the gift we should most desire is that of prophecy. It goes onto suggest that the reason for this is that the gift of speaking in tongues lifts the individual up, but the gift of prophecy lifts up the church. Today, a seemingly large majority of “mainstream” Christian denominations (Baptist, Methodist, Anglicans, Catholics) do not practice any of these gifts at all. These denominations do perform some types of healing by laying on of hands and praying (although I have never seen any of these proven), and many of them “ordain” ministers by laying on of hands, some even using oils to “anoint” the forehead of the individual being ordained.
  2. Speaking in tongues, in my opinion, is the most widely used because it is the hardest to dispute. If someone claims to have prophecy as a gift, we can easily call them on it. For example, Montanism (back in the 2nd century), Great Fire of London in 1666 (666 being thought to be the number of the beast) in which only 10 people died, in 1806 a poor hen in Leeds, England was having her eggs shoved back up her you know what with an inscription that the owner had written “Christ is coming”, Millerism (not to be confused with the beer, although the taste of Miller makes me wish for the second coming), Harold Camping has tried to predict the end of the world over a dozen times using Biblical numerology, then of course Joseph Smith (Mormon leader), and not to be forgotten the 2012 Mayan Calendar fiasco. If you say you speak in tongues and then start speaking a bunch of gibberish, then what can one say? Those with a logical mind can easily deduct the ridiculousness of what is going on, but more naive people would choose to blindly believe what they are hearing as the Holy Spirit of God.
  3. Something else brought out in 1 Corinthians 14 is that if someone speaks in tongues then they should also have someone who has the gift of interpreting. For obvious reasons, if someone is speaking “in tongues” then how can any of the rest of us understand what they are saying if there is no one to interpret these tongues. As I have never believed in this sort of thing, I am not the expert on the subject, but I do not believe you can buy a Rosetta Stone for “Holy Spirit Tongue” language. I could be wrong though. I have personally never experienced someone speaking in tongues that had an interpreter present to explain what in the world the person is saying. I am sure that it “happens”, however I do not see how this makes it truthful.
  4. The biggest problem I have with spiritual gifts as evidence of salvation is that I know some spiritual “giants”, if you will, that are very strong Christians, and strong followers of the Bible, and they have never spoken in tongues, spoken prophecy, healed anyone, etc.
  1. The “fruit of the spirit”
  1. In Galatians 5, we come across the second evidence of salvation that I want to discuss, and that is the “fruit of the spirit”. Mentioned briefly earlier, the fruits of the spirit are called: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Whether or not these determine our salvation have long been a topic of debate among the different denominations. In Matthew 7:20, Jesus said, “So you’ll recognize them by their fruit” (CSB). In John 15, we read about Jesus’ description of the “true vine”, this of course being Jesus. Jesus goes on to explain that if we are in him, then we will produce fruit, but if we are not in him then we will not produce fruit. The damnation, of course coming along with that, “If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6, CSB). While it doesn’t necessarily show that you must have works in order to be saved, it is clear that not having works (fruit) to show will land you among the branches, and thrown into the fire. Somehow, in a few chapters earlier, we were more precious then the birds of the air, and the grass of the field, but now we are being compared to branches.

Verses that discuss the evidence of our salvation are in abundance, and so are the ways in which we are supposed to interpret them. It really comes down to what you “want” to believe, more then who is right or wrong. Speaking in tongues, prophecies, healing with hands and prayer sure are miraculous, but they are also very dangerous. To take from science what it has earned over centuries and replace it with something that could cause severe harm, pain, and even death to those that subscribe to religion as their sole source of “healing”, and “vision” can be damaging to those who are naive enough to drink the Kool-Aid. Science can fail, but with science you can still apply reason and logic. With religion you really do just have to leave it all up to “faith”.

Creation

When tradition is the source of income

One of the most rewarding things about becoming a free thinker, and an atheist from that, has been the ability to abandon archaic teachings that simply do not line up with scientific evidence. I can remember as a believer in every word of scripture being truth, that I would hold great disdain for publications such as National Geographic, and I would get a lump in my throat when I would hear about one of my nieces or nephews learning about science, and praying that they would be able to see through the fallacies of modern science (man how indoctrinated I was). I was literally scared of instruction that would have the audacity to suggest that this earth could be millions of years old. I was not fundamental enough to demand it was only in the thousands of years old column, but millions just did not line up with my inspired, word of god bible. Yet, as I decided to start looking objectively at the facts, my eyes started to open to reality. My thought going into this journey was that surely there was nothing that I could find in the facts that would cause the tenets of my faith to be called into question. Fortunately, I was able to use the scientific evidence provided through numerous resources to sincerely question what I was believing, and preaching. So, how does someone like myself come from an ultra-conservative, fundamental mind to believing wholeheartedly in the reality of scientific evidence? Dropping the labels is the best answer I can give. Not allowing myself to come at the evidence with a determined presupposition that god still must turn out to be real, no matter what the evidence shows. So, why can other people who have looked at the evidence not come to the same conclusion? They are not willing to drop the label.

I am often asked from atheist, how I could possibly have stayed in the Christian religion until I was 30, before proclaiming my belief in science over the bible? The simplest answer is I was having an issue with dropping my label. My entire life, and circle revolved around the Christian god being real, and his message was even one that I was preaching publicly. I preached the Christian bible all over the lower 48, here in the United States, and then I preached in England, Germany, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates. When people talk about a belief system being the core of their character, I was someone who could claim that wholeheartedly. The concept of Jesus Christ being the savior of the entire world was everything I was about. In High School I was the founder and leader of a prayer group that met weekly, at Church as a teenager I was the “Salem Youth Association” President (two-term, that was impressive apparently). Then at only 15 I was preaching behind pulpits all over East Texas. I preached in front of crowds as small as 10 to as large as 500. I am good at public speaking as well. It is a skill that I honed over years of preaching, but I think it also came naturally (my mother is a great speaker). The greatest compliment I ever received was when I preached in a Methodist church in England, by an elderly man in his late 70s, who told me that I was the greatest preacher he had heard since Billy Graham, and that he saw him preach in person. It was attached to everything I was about, and it fit me well. I was a Pavements and Construction Equipment Journeyman in the Air Force by trade, and I was known as the “Preacha’ man” by all of my colleagues. I was asked to perform the wedding ceremony for a few of my colleagues, and I even led several to choosing the Christian religion for themselves while I was in the military. Everywhere I went I was preceded by a reputation as the Preacher. My entire family (and I have a big family) knew me as the strong Christian, and Preacher. People would clean up their language when I would come in the room (sure some would make their language worse intentionally), and often the conversation would turn to religion if they knew who I was. All our friends were strong Christians, and church-goers. Every fiber of our life was centered around Jesus.

I believe therefore many have such a tough time examining, and then publicly accepting the facts presented. This is, for many, their livelihood. Many that I know in the Christian circle are Pastors, or at least going to school to be Pastors. They have invested every bit of their life into the presupposed notion that the Christian god is the real god, and that Jesus is the way to heaven. To go from that, to accepting that there is no god (at a minimum any of the gods man has imagined), no heaven, no hell, no soul, Jesus did not resurrect from the grave, the earth is millions of years old, we evolved, and were not created would be a huge jump. Quite frankly, it is a jump of social suicide for most individuals.

What does the bible say?

Anyone who grew up in the south in the USA most likely heard at one point or another about the creation story of the bible. You know, the one where a god created light, before he created the sun. Basically, in a nutshell, the bible declares that the earth was created in six days, and in this span of time he also created one man and one woman directly (Gen. 1-3). Through these details, biblical literalist claim that the earth is a mere 6,000 years old (approximately), and that every bit of this creation story is the truth. They understand science says otherwise, but they have made it clear that they believe the bible is not only the final authority on every topic of life, but that it is the only authority. Science is from the devil, specifically, science that disagrees with the bible. Now there are some commentators, and somewhat reasonable scientist, who reject the creation story in the bible, stating that clearly (duh) science shows that the earth is many millions of years old, and that we have evolved over these millions of years. Why do I say that these scientists are somewhat reasonable? Because, the scientist I am referring to continue to maintain that the god of the bible is still real, and that he still created all that we see, just not in the way that is described in the bible. These individuals teach that large parts of the bible (they probably would not prefer me to put it that way) are metaphors, the Genesis story of creation being one of them (you don’t say). A lot of them also claim the stories of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3), Jonah and the whale, the talking donkey in Numbers 22:28 (how crazy is that!?), and other miraculous events, except for the resurrection, seeing as how that one is kind of necessary to the whole concept of Christianity. I mean, after all, if the resurrection did not happen, then no automatic salvation from a prayer, or baptism, or works, or spiritual gifts (whichever is the way of salvation??). If no resurrection, then we would have to go back to sacrificing our most precious items in our life. That would be weird in the 21st century!? Can you imagine seeing someone on the side of the road burning an iPhone, or a big screen TV to sacrifice for the gods?! It would be hilarious, but what would we do, seeing as how not very many families have livestock anymore. I guess the farmers could be our priest? They could take their livestock to be burned for us. We would pay them, and then they would take a cow to the altar for us. OK, I will admit, I chased that rabbit trail a little more then I wanted to. It was kind of fun though.

But science cannot have any answers about our origin, can they?

The most exciting thing that I am finding out about as an atheist, is the actual way in which we came into being who we are today. Finding out our past is so helpful in understanding our present being, and who we can be. Dropping all of the nonsense of religion is one of the most freeing things you can do, especially in the field of science. When you have the burdens of the bible to carry through scientific research it not only limits your research, but even blinds your ability to look at the facts objectively. Heck, even the term scientific theory and facts is debated amongst creationist. Scientist who are not restricted by religion certainly have debates, but it is based on science, not some personal opinion about a superficial god in the sky.

Without giving a lesson on biology, yes science does not only have theories (in the way Christians try and paint it), but facts about the origins of our species, and our world. Please read a scientific book if you want to understand this more (not the bible), it would be too lengthy to explain in a blog post. The basics of the facts are that Homo sapiens appeared some 200,000 years ago in East Africa after millions of years of evolution. Prior to Homo sapiens, we had Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthals), Homo erectus (upright man), Homo habilis (handyman), and the Australopithecines (AKA “southern ape-men). Source: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/human-evolution-101/

Science offers clear evidences of our earth being somewhere around 4.5 billion years old (Source: https://geomaps.wr.usgs.gov/parks/gtime/ageofearth.html). The only reason you have to deny this, is because the bible says it cannot be anywhere near that old. While that is a tough conundrum, most would then let go of the original theory of creation, or at least the account in the bible and move on with their lives. However, for people who are deeply invested in the idea of the bible being the very words of god, they simply cannot afford to lose the credibility of the bible. Many will try and twist scripture to make it say something different, to which I simply ask why god left it that way.

Why god is the author of confusion

I have read from many authors, and scientist who maintain a belief in Christianity, about Genesis being a metaphor. I simply ask why would a great and powerful god do that? Why so many metaphors? Why talk in code? I would have been a lot more impressed with the god of Abraham if he would have put in Genesis, “In the beginning, 4.5 billion years ago, God created the heavens and the earth, including all of the organisms on the earth, and over the course of billions of years God orchestrated an evolutionary process to complete humankind”. You could even still have original sin. Maybe “Lucy” could have committed the original sin (I know how much Christian prefers women to be the ones screwing everything up). It makes absolutely no sense that god would have instead stated it took him six days, put in another verse that a day to god is one thousand years to us (even that doesn’t make sense with science). Why did he not just say the truth? We would all be saying “holy shit” right now in amazement as the god of Abraham would continue to be proven right, and truthful.

I would still not worship the egotistical, genocidal, jealous, childish god that he is, but I would certainly believe he is real. It is just a thought of course, I could be wrong overall the damn thing. After all, I am not the scientist, I am simply the reader of science. So, maybe scientists are all from the devil, just like musical instruments and women. However, I am kind of thinking that there is not much motive for a scientist to be from the devil. I know the bible describes hell as a place of “weeping”, but I would think that heaven, considering how empty it is apparently going to be (Matt. 7:14), will be the place of weeping. The main question I get at this point is based on morality, a question of how we know what is right and wrong. I would literally have to write another blog on that topic, which is what I will do.

I am an Atheist

I come to you with a sincere heart, an open, and clear mind. I want to make sure that I am being honest with all of you about what I believe. I know that many of you came to know me as the “preacher” of the Christian Bible, and I am not that man any longer. I do not want to be deceitful or ask any of you to continue to be involved in my life if this makes you uncomfortable. I know that for many, this will not come as a surprise, but I would now consider myself an atheist. I know how many of you feel about your faith, and so I do not want to take this letter to dismiss your faith, but to simply exclaim that I do not find any evidence for the existence of any god, much less, the Christian god.

There will be, no doubt, many who will try and explain away this decision. There will be many who will decide that I must have never been genuinely saved to begin with, which is not true at all. There will be many who will explain that maybe I simply had a misunderstanding of my faith, I am afraid this is not true either. I am not hurt, I am not angry, I am not being selfish, I am not “cold”, I do not “hate God”, I am not choosing to not believe because I am wanting to ignore morality. I simply find no evidence of god. This is not a season, this is not something that will pass. I did not arrive to this point overnight. I have been having these doubts for a very long time, but only recently started becoming more confident of what I believe to the point of sharing my thoughts. I am remaining, and hope to always remain open to the ability to believe in god, if he would show evidence of his existence. I would love for the “doubting Thomas” experience to be mine. If Jesus appeared to me and let me touch his nail pierced hands I would believe. However, I am not going to hold my breath for that to happen.

You may wonder why I feel a need to share this with anyone. I would simply present to you the same question, but in reverse. Why do you feel it necessary to share that you are a Christian? Why do you find it necessary to share bible verses every day on your social media? Why do you find it necessary to suggest that the most important thing about a person is that they believe in god, specifically the Christian god? I have already been hurt however. Not by my lack of belief in god, but instead in people who were my family that in a very Christian way, chose to tell me they do not ever want to see my “fucking face” ever again. That certainly hurt. I have been hurt by my “family” suggesting that my children are in danger because I do not believe in the same god they do, and even worse, support black people. I am not worried about hell, because I do not believe in hell (which ironically a lot of Christians do not either). The reason I have to tell people is because I am a reason that many believe in God. My wife was not a fundamental Christian until she met me. She believed in god, even the Christian god, but she was not fundamental in her beliefs. I, on the other hand, was very fundamental. Frustrated that my fellow Christians could not get more serious about their faith. Wanting, so desperately to convince these people to stop giving into worldly temptations and give “everything” over to god. These Christians of “little faith” annoyed me to no end. All that I could think about were the lukewarm believers that are mentioned in the bible. I could not understand how these people could be so comfortable with their lives of sin, and still coming into church every week to not change a thing.

Where I am at now, I realize that the reason a person could do that, is because none of it is true. This is not why it is not true, just simply one of the many evidences that it is not. I still find reason for living, after all if this is the only life I have, I absolutely want to make it count. I have not changed, I still have a desire to preach the “truth”. Which is why I must continue to share, continue to speak, and continue to write. I want others to know that they are not alone in their doubts, and if they could rescue themselves from the burden that is the fundamental Christian cult then that would be great. I love you all, and I hope that you all can know that I am sincerely sorry if I have hurt any of you. I am now the “godless Preacher”. If this is not something you can listen to, or be a part of, I understand, but it does make me sad. It lets me know how shallow our friendship was. It lets me know that outside of my Christian faith that I once held, you cared nothing for me as an individual. For what it is worth, I would love to continue to be your friend, and know how life is going. Thank you for reading, and participating in my life. You all have shaped me into who I am today, and while I know some may take that as an insult, I mean it as a compliment.

Conclusion

**I want to end with my post about my “main question”. I ended up chronologically, through my blog, writing this post somewhere in the middle of my series on Author of Confusion because of the overwhelming response that I received about what point I was trying to make. I think for this compilation of this series, it is a healthy perspective to end here**

OK, let us pause for a few minutes. I appreciate the response to the past few articles. We had well over a few hundred responses between visits, and impressions through Twitter, Facebook, Google and on WordPress over just a few days. Thank you. I realize that some people are taking these the wrong way.

The only point I am trying to make is that we need to think outside the box. We need to dig in more. In this article I want to take a pause and look at some very basic principles from where I am coming from, and hopefully not cause a heart attack. Thank you for being gracious with me.

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, (1Co 14:33 ESV)

Once again, I start with this verse. Hopefully to hit home the point that this is not the reality of denominational differences on very important topics. The fact that these are extremely important topics is what really makes this worth writing about. There should be no greater topic to a Christian then the issue of salvation. If we are wrong on these things, then there could be serious implications behind these beliefs. I do not understand not having any desire to search these things out. It seems that the only reason that most people do not seek answers to these topics is because either 1) they do not care, or 2) they feel like they are confident in what they already believe because they think their viewpoint is the one viewpoint supported by scripture. I realize this is not 100% of Christians, and I know that some Christians have searched out the scriptures, dug in deep and they are confident in their faith for good reasons.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1Pe 3:15 KJV)

This verse above is also one that I think suggest that we be more confident in our faith. Paul often implies that we should have a deeper faith then most of us do, such as the verse below.

for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. (Heb 5:13 ESV)

In this analogy Paul suggest that at some point we are supposed to move on to deeper things of our faith, or as he calls it, the “meat” of the Word. If we are in the same spot with our faith at 20+ years that we were on day one of our salvation, then there is a problem. The point of being saved is not for securing heaven, as most of us seem to care about above everything else, but instead it is about a daily walk with the Lord. It baffles me when I hear someone describe their walk with God as mundane. All I can think is, what God are you following? Because, the only God I am aware of is anything but mundane. I believe the reason for this is because we go to church to check a box, and we never dig into our faith. I have upset some people by asking these obvious questions because it seems to threaten people’s viewpoints. I am not a theologian by any means, although I have studied the Word of God for 21 years. However, I would hope that you have more confidence in your beliefs to be able to defend them from a 30-year-old layman. What I honestly hope we can conclude is realizing that maybe, just maybe the things we make a big deal out of are not things that we should be making such a big deal out of. I believe that the divisiveness that we have caused results in many walking away completely from the faith, and many more at least not being willing to dig into the meat of the Word. That is at a minimum what I am wanting to encourage; do not believe what you believe just because someone told you that is what is right. It is obviously good to seek counsel, but anyone who wants to suggest that they, and their message is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man can come to salvation by any other message clearly did not read the following verse very well:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (Joh 14:6 ESV)

Jesus, not the Baptist, not the Methodist, not the Church of Christ, not even the Catholics are the way, the truth, or the life. However, thank goodness Jesus is.

Please send me a private message, or e-mail me @ billy.crocker@outlook.com. I would love to hear from any of you if you have any questions or would like to add anything.


This conclusion was from a post, My main question, in which I tried to explain my perspective, and what I was trying to figure out. Even though I was personally struggling with whether to believe in any of this at all, I chose, during these initial questions, to believe anyways. I was trying to have unquestionable faith. Ultimately, I could not continue believing in something that had no logical basis, and that was so divisive, hateful, misogynistic, homophobic, judgmental, and hypocritical (and yes, I am talking about the Abraham god, not just the people who worship a god). So, this is it, a compilation of my journey from belief to atheism.

The godless Pastor,

Billy Crocker

Great blog, and an awesome perspective on ways to notice burnout before it gets too bad. Strongly encourage you to read this article.

COMC

Before we proceed: This article is not politically correct or warm and fuzzy.  These are tactics that, through much pain, have worked for me.  My motive: If I can help one person by sharing, being open and honest, I have accomplished my mission.  Therefore, I offer no apologies.

View original post 1,303 more words

“The most terrible moment for an atheist is when he feels grateful and has no one to thank.” -Anonymous

A statement that used to cause me to be puzzled is the one above. Yet, I heard that statement many times over the 21 years I spent as a Christian. I grew up in a home where we rarely “gave thanks”, in the traditional sense. My upbringing, until my teenage years, was an environment where god was assumed to be real, but rarely was he discussed. Yet, I often found things, and people to be thankful for. Their truly is not any reason why an atheist could not be thankful. The silly assumption in the quote above is that an apparent large percentage of the things we have to be grateful for, have to be divine in origin, and divine only.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love is eternal.” –Psalm 136:1, CSB

In the Christian faith you are supposed to give god thanks for everything that happens in your life. Your spouse gives birth to a healthy child, give thanks to god. You’re able to put food on the table, give thanks to god. You get a great job, thank god. The more twisted versions of this thankfulness would be when you are ill. However, most mainstream Christians teach that even in your pain you are supposed to give thanks to god. After all, Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (KJV). In the Christian faith, no matter what happens to you, whether extraordinarily amazing, or horribly bad, praise god.

So, how do I teach my children?

Bertrand Russell has said, “Good parenting is inspired by love and guided by knowledge.”, and this is where I believe every kid thrives. A Christian would have to avoid reality to suggest that a belief in god is the “thing” prevalent in every healthy home. Just like Christians do not own the corner on “good people”, they do not own the corner on good children, a healthy home, or gratitude. I know the necessary message of the Christian is that you don’t have it all, and that answer is Christ, but this is simply missing a larger point. I know that the “hole in your life” analogy has been preached in front of me many times over the course of my life. The basic concept of this analogy is that you feel an emptiness inside of you, the speaker knows this, and his answer for that emptiness is god. Where in reality that hole is love, and knowledge. The “thing” in our parenting does not have to be god, but it better be love, and knowledge. This is no different in aspects of being grateful. I absolutely will teach my children gratitude. Yet, unlike the Christian, I do not have to explain gratitude as belonging to god, but instead to actual things. You see, I can explain to my children that they can be thankful to the doctors, and modern science when we bring home a little sibling for them to love. I can explain to my children that when we put food around the table this thanksgiving, and everyday, that we can be thankful to so many actual, living people. We can be thankful to the farmers, we can be thankful to the grocery store workers, we can be thankful to whoever made the meal (Mommy or Daddy, or if someone brings food, thankful to them). I can show my kids that when good things happen to us, that there are real people that we can be thankful towards, and that this big 7.6 billion person world we live in gives a lot to be thankful for, and that it is all of us that makes the world go round. Additionally, when we experience heartache, or pain, or suffering we can be thankful that we are still breathing. We can be thankful to the doctors for easing our pain, or the pharmaceutical companies for their hard work at making medicine to help us through ailments. There is a lot to be thankful for, and I would suggest that the list is even larger for an atheist.

The godless Pastor,

Billy Crocker

 

“…Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Gen 3:16 ESV)

Definitely Author of Confusion series worthy

What is it with sex? Obviously, if you are doing it right, it should be pretty awesome. However, the obsession that our culture has with sex is ridiculous. As much as conservatives want to paint liberals with a broad brush of “Hollywood sexualization”, they are not, and have never been immune to this issue. Look no further this past week then Roy Moore, Alabama Christian conservative running for office. What makes this so hard to watch, is the inability of the Republican party to get a handle on this situation. The people have already spoken, with Sean Hannity as their spokesperson that it is the victim that should be demonized and accused, while Roy Moore should be able to keep on running for office. Why not, right? Across this world, sexualization is a reality. Is the god of the bible clear on how we should be with members of the opposite sex? Is the god of the bible our clear moral compass so that we can know what we should do about this problem? I beg to differ. Let us take a look at some of the scriptures available to us:

In Deuteronomy 28 we read about the blessings of following the “LORD your God”. In the next several verses God goes on to decree the punishments for not following the “LORD your God”. One of those punishments were the following, “You will become engaged to a woman, but another man will rape her.” (Deu 28:30 CSB). Over the course of the entire bible there are several instances where women are treated as second class. This verse in Deuteronomy shows that apparently god would choose to use a woman as a form of punishment. It is the man who has done “wrong”, because it is only the man that can make decisions, according to the bible. However, it is the woman that will be apart of the punishment, in the form of being raped. I honestly cringe when I read this verse, and I wonder, “what the hell?”. The reality of the scriptures is that when it comes to issues such as slavery, and women, there is no greater example of this whole book being made up. Here is what I mean, when you think of sexism, who do you usually think of? Men, if I can make an assumption here. I am not saying that in todays world that is the only place it comes from, but definitely during biblical times, sexism was from men. Men, specifically white men ruled all. So, it is, in scripture that you truly see the author(s) for what they truly are. The author of the bible is not a supernatural god, but men. All of the censuses in the bible are only directed at men (Num 1:1-2; Num 3:15, 28). Only men could be priest (Lev. 6:14-18; Lev. 21:9). So on and so forth.

Yea, but this doesn’t mean the god of the bible would support rape, or sexual objectification of women, right?

As I have already mentioned earlier, Deu. 28 not only supports rape, but uses women being raped as a sort of justice token for the wrong that the man does! Wow!?!?! Not only does he support rape, but it is clear that throughout scripture, women are clearly, and outright objectified as pieces of property, or as sleazy men say in modern times “a piece of ass” (1 Sam. 18:27; Ruth 4:5; Deu. 22:28-29; Jer. 8:9-10; Exo. 21:7-9). Here is one for you; a woman’s menstrual cycle is a cursed thing (I am sure most women would not disagree), and it requires a sin offering, and referred to as her “unclean discharge” (Lev. 15:29-30). Like seriously!?!? WTF!?!?! You created the problem “God”! Now, they are required to bring a sin offering because of this? Hang on a second, my head is spinning.

You may say, “Ok, but that was the Old Testament”. That is true, I have only mentioned OT verses, but you do realize that the NT puts women as second class citizens as well, right? In I Timothy 2:11-14, Paul declares to Timothy, “11 A woman should learn in silence with full submission. 12 I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to be silent. 13 For Adam was created first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed.” (1Ti 2:11-14 CSB). Then in 1 Timothy 5:14, Paul states, “Therefore, I want younger women to marry, have children, manage their households, and give the adversary no opportunity to accuse us.” (1Ti 5:14 CSB). Whether we are talking about the OT, or the NT, the god of the bible unfortunately objectifies women.

So, what does this have to do with Roy Moore, Al Franken, and Donald Trump

During the election of our 45th President we witnessed around 14 women come forward with sexual assault allegations towards then, GOP nominee Donald Trump (Source: Video, Chicago Tribune). The response from Donald Trump was threatening a lawsuit, and an immediate comparison to the Democrats support of Bill Clinton during his sex assault allegations brought against him. The response from Christian evangelicals, his biggest base of supporters, was outright demonization of the victims, and full support of Donald Trump. After all, he was chosen by god to lead this country to prosperity. With the allegations against Roy Moore, an Alabama Senate candidate, we have another instance of demonizing the victims, (Source: ABC News) and multiple references to “Satan’s attack” against “God’s children” from several of his ardent supporters. Al Franken, a Democrat senator, and former Comedian is of course being treated completely differently by the right-wing conservatives. Conservatives have wasted little time in painting Al Franken as a typical liberal, godless, immoral man. If only Al Franken was more in tune with “God” then maybe this would not have happened. The reality, of course, is that all of these instances of sexual assault allegations are serious, and beyond a response of simple apologies, which few conservatives have given. Instead, these men do need to step aside.

The connection to god is not seen, and that is because god has nothing to do with this problem. Obviously, my reason for believing this is because I do not believe that god is real, but even for those who do, it must be recognized that god (or lack thereof) is not the common factor. A persons being a theist, a Catholic, an atheist, Methodist, or Southern Baptist simply has zero to do with their morals. I know that this is hard for many to accept because of the connection that Christianity claims to morality, and being the source of morality. Morals has to do with our culture, and our culture, both with god and without is corrupt. Whether you look in the church pews or the bar stools, ethics problems reign. The most common culprit being men. Whether this man is white, black, Hispanic, or other race or ethnicity, if this person is a man, chances are he is the culprit of sexual assault. The Bureau of Justice has a report out that shows that “Female victims accounted for 94% of all completed rapes, 91% of all attempted rapes, and 89% of all completed and attempted sexual assaults, 1992-2000.” (Source: PDF File from BJS). The idea of a woman being second class unfortunately transcends generations, religious beliefs, races, nationalities, and any other category. The recent #metoo campaign on social media has led to many women coming forward with sexual assault claims, and I could not be more proud of these women for being this bold and brave.

“Female victims accounted for 94% of all completed rapes, 91% of all attempted rapes, and 89% of all completed and attempted sexual assaults, 1992-2000.” (BJS, 1992-2000)

It is very personal for me

I am a victim of rape from a family member when I was only around nine years old. This rape was from a home that claimed Christ as their champion, and had plenty of crosses on the wall. I was ashamed, and embarrassed, and unfortunately nothing was done in response to my admission of this when I was very young. I became extremely sexually confused following this event, and have always struggled socially with this weighing on my heart and mind.

Now, while I am a man, I was one of the few male victims of a violent crime. Here is the reality though, violating someone sexually, should be met with extreme punishment. This steals something from a person that can never be given back, no matter what punishment is given. I have a three year old daughter, and two boys, so my wife and I will have to face this problem head on. I believe, that just like males are often the perpetrator of these crimes, males must become the defense against these crimes. We must speak out against this sort of behavior. Across all male cultures like the military, construction, news outlets, comedy, sexual innuendos, derogatory imagery, and language has been accepted. The time for that sort of behavior to end is now. We all must speak up, and speak out against this sort of behavior and make it clear that we stand behind anyone who wants to come forward with this private, and difficult admission. Obviously, these claims need to be investigated, and if found to be false, that person should face a penalty because of the way it ruins it for the truthful claims.

Make no mistake about it, we must be the voice of reason, not a holy book from 2,000 years ago. Instead of looking back, we need to look forward, and change the culture, starting today. No matter our sexual orientation, gender, nationality, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, we all need to come together under this issue. We should all be able to join hands in denouncing sexual assault in any form, including the “innocent” language and sexist language that our culture uses on a regular basis. I look forward to the dialogue on this, and I hope to continue to see support behind every #metoo person who has the courage to come forward. I would hope that my daughter would have the future freedom to succeed in life without the objectification of her body. I would hope that my sons will have the respect of another person, to honor another persons body, and to always get consent. I can only hope that if I am willing to be apart of the solution. Thank you for your patience through this blog, I know it was kind of all over the place. My thoughts were racing.

The godless Pastor,

Billy Crocker

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Featured Image Photo Credit: NBC News

The bible demands Christians to be evangelical

I was often approached as a Christian and asked why I cared what someone else believed? Why be so evangelical? If someone else wants to believe differently, then why should that be my concern? While I fully understand people have different perspectives on life, my fundamental beliefs simply did not allow that position. Some of the same people who were critical of me being evangelical with my Christian faith, have since removed me from their life for not believing in god anymore. However, the irony in this is hard to miss. Charles Spurgeon has said, “Do you want to go to heaven alone? I fear you will never go there. Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.”, and the Christian bible declares, “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;” (Mat 9:37 ESV). You cannot talk about evangelizing the world without mentioning The Great Commission, which is outlined in several of the Gospels. In Matthew, Jesus said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mat 28:19-20 CSB).

 “Do you want to go to heaven alone? I fear you will never go there. Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.” –Charles Spurgeon

The most common thing I heard as a Christian preacher amongst fellow Christians was that, as far as evangelizing goes, that was “not for them”. It simply did not fit their character. They were not “those kinds of people”. You know, to talk openly about their faith. While I, as a fellow human being, completely understand that, I am afraid scripture is a little less forgiving. The specific excuse of fear of speaking is addressed, and in Matthew scripture states, “But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you should speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because you are not speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.” (Mat 10:19-20 CSB). You may say, “Well, that’s not talking about sharing your faith, but being brought before the courts.”. While I do not disagree, I would suggest that we consider how this would end up happening? Being brought before the magistrates, that is. Luke tells us, “Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: but whoever denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” (Luk 12:8-9 CSB).

That verse, combined with The Great Commission, and I am afraid the way you end up in the courts is by sharing your faith. Most of the “Christians” today would not even be brought before the courts, for lack of evidence of them being a “Christian”. You may say, well who are you to judge. Let me share with you, that I am not the one doing the judging, but Christ is. For Jesus Christ said in Matthew 7:20, “So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.” (CSB). I can well remember as a Christian preacher making it clear that your lifestyle, by the scriptures own words, absolutely condemns you to hell. The reason for this being, scripture makes it clear, over and over again, that if you are producing any kind of evil fruit, then you need to check your salvation. For if you are truly saved then you, simply, will not do these things anymore. We do see struggles with this from people in the bible, take Paul for example, when in Romans 7:14-25 he talks about the war within himself between flesh and soul. This might make you think that it gives some leeway with our sinning as Christians, but read through the entirety of Romans 5-7 and tell me that you do not feel a sense of guilt for even one sin as a believer.

“…How can we who died to sin still live in it?” –Paul, AD 57 (Romans 6:2b, CSB)

In Romans 6:2, we read Paul declaring, “…How can we who died to sin still live in it?”. This is a powerful verse, and there are many more like it that make it perfectly clear that once you are genuinely saved you should be getting your act together and coming around to sanctification, and this whole sinning business will stop. Now, I certainly do not know everyone’s personal life, but I do know that amongst Christians a common phrase is “Sinners saved by grace”. While it is a beautiful phrase as a believer, it is most often used as a crutch to keep on sinning, despite the warnings against that in Romans 6 & 7. Once again, I want to go back to something I said earlier, as a human being, I completely understand. However, scripture is much less forgiving. It is also less forgiving then you apparently are about salvation. If you honestly believe that there is no need to share with someone who believes differently then you, and you claim yourself to be a “Christian”, I honestly would like to know what bible you are reading? Christianity does not allow for a different way. As a matter of fact, the bible states, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.'” (Joh 14:6 NAS). That seems pretty specific about how we gain heaven. This is not the only scripture, but perhaps the most specific one about Jesus being the only way. Unless you are going to tell me that you do not believe in a literal place called hell, and we all will be allowed salvation (which is against the Christian bible), then you really should care what other people believe. Let me put it this way, if you are a Christian and you do not care what other people believe, then you are either lying about being a Christian, or you are heartless. Christianity, unlike something such as humanism, is not simply a set of values and traditions, as many have claimed it to be, but instead, is a call to complete devotion that has everything to do with self-sacrifice and completely submitting to the will of god.

So, why do I care as an atheist what other people believe?

You may not be aware, but many atheist seem to not desire to share their beliefs with other people. Most seem to do this to avoid conflict. While I certainly have not met every atheist in the world, this has simply been my experience thus far. With my own experience, I can share that in the USA, saying you are an atheist, will most likely come with judgment, and conflict. So, I can empathize with those who choose to remain silent. Unlike Christianity, which demands sharing, I do not believe that you have to share your atheist views if it does not fit your character. This most certainly is not a call for atheist to convert their theist friends and family. However, the personal reason that I want to share is because I have personally seen the damaging side of religion, and I would venture to say that most of us saw the damaging side of religion on September 11th, 2001. It is not enough, for me, to simply allow the taboo of talking about religion in a negative way to continue. People should be allowed to be an atheist without fear of judgment and conflict. I know of people who have been fired from their jobs (secular jobs at that) for stating that they are an atheist publicly. Additionally, I feel personally, that their may be many theist who are simply that way to avoid judgment and criticism, and I believe that the more atheist who speak out, the more comfortable they will feel about at least admitting what their own beliefs are. I realize that September 11th is an extreme example of the damaging side of religion, and I know many Christians will scream that this is terrorism, and not Christianity. I wish that there was not a damaging side of Christianity, but there is. Look no further then a recent Dateline episode, The Prophets Daughter, where they discussed the Fundamental Latter-Day Saints cult that has “camps” located all over this country. The “prophet” Warren Jeffs, who is in prison, continues to hold an oppressive grip on this community of children, and other brainwashed individuals. At least two of these children, both of whom are now grown, have come forward with sexual assault allegations against Warren Jeffs. While that part of this crazed man is incapable of inflicting harm, he nevertheless is still breeding this sort of harm on innocent individuals. A 20/20 episode on ABC came out earlier this year about “Gay conversion therapy camps”, which are all across America using fundamental Christianity (Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, etc.) beliefs to send gay children off to “conversion” camps to make them heterosexual “again”. My own personal story is that I have an older half-brother (same dad, different mom) who was kicked out of my home when I was only between 5 and 7, (I barely remember this happening I was so young) because he is gay. I was told that he ran away from home, and it was not until about four years ago that my Mother told me the truth. This admission was only after she realized that my brother was on Facebook, and that he may find me. My Father still wants nothing to do with him. When I say nothing to do with him, let me be clear that he acts like he does not exist. I am, one of three sons, of my Dad (including my brother who is gay). Yet, when my Dad talks about his sons, he literally only ever mentions having two. I have been in contact with my brother, who is now living in California, and I am hoping that we get an opportunity to meet up soon. It honestly breaks my heart that I am now 30, and I have missed so much of my brothers life, and time that we could have spent together. Why have we missed this time? Because some 2,000 year old book told my parents that homosexuality is an abomination, and that light has no business with darkness (2 Co. 6:14). I believe that there are many broken families like this across the country. I could care less really if people want to believe there is a god in the sky, and that when we die we go to heaven, but literally everything else about religion needs to go away. It is hateful, and disgusting.

Let me put it this way, if you are a Christian and you do not care what other people believe, then you are either lying about being a Christian, or you are heartless.

We need to break this mold, and not allow Christians to think that they have the corner on morality to themselves, because atheist most certainly do not have the corner of immorality to themselves. It seems quite obvious that a persons belief, or lack of belief in a god has very little to do with whether or not a person is a good person. Besides that, I honestly would much rather someone be genuine about being a good person, instead of thinking it is something that they must be, in order to be a good Christian. As an atheist, you are a good person, because you should be one. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about being an atheist or agnostic, and I am hopeful that I can be a voice to clear up those misconceptions. I know that I am not going to change everyone’s views. However, if I can at least break those walls down that I know (because I was one) Christians have built against an atheist, or someone different, then I will feel as though I have accomplished my goal. This world has some 7.6 billion people in it, as of October 2017. We need to learn to coexist, and as long as fundamentalist thrive, this will be an ever increasing difficult task.

The godless Pastor,

Billy J. Crocker