1. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    30 Jan '14 04:02
    "The Causes of Atheism" Written by James Spiegel

    “Book Review: Making of an Atheist Written by Richard Park on 18 February 2010. Dr. James Spiegel, Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Taylor University, has recently published a book called The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief – and it is powerful. This book, unlike other responses to the New Atheism (a la Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens), shows how atheists come to hold to their beliefs not because of the evidence at hand but because of the sin in their hearts – their unbelief is a function of their disobedience.

    While Spiegel’s thesis is mainly concerned with the moral and psychological reasons for atheism, Spiegel’s treatment does deftly, if briefly, deal with the intellectual bankruptcy of atheism as well – making a solid rational case for theism. Such a case includes (but is not limited to) arguments from the fine-tuning, the laws of nature, and a recapitulation of Alvin Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism. Building largely off of Paul Vitz’s Faith of the Fatherless (1999) and Paul Johnson’s Intellectuals (1988), Spiegel shows how so many famed and influential intellectuals (philosophers, economists, novelists and more) were often motivated toward their atheism either by markedly poor father figures (or the absence of such) or a strong desire to justify their immoral lifestyles – or both.

    While arguing for neither necessary causation nor deductive argumentation, Spiegel does a fine job to show how such correlations are more than merely accidental – they are born out of deliberate philosophies to justify their immorality – which in turn alters their ability to philosophize rightly about morality. Unbelief (atheism) leads to immorality and their immorality clouds their thinking, leading to misconceptions and further unbelief. In the end, atheism, argues Spiegel, is a matter of the will, not of the mind.

    One of highest virtues of this book (and to be sure, there are many!) is Spiegel’s ability to recapitulate many of the most recent and powerful arguments and concepts in the academic market of ideas, simplify them, and identify their relevance in the discussion at hand – and his use of Thomas Kuhn’s concept of paradigm shift is but one example. He uses this notion to illustrate just how it is that atheists and theists can see the other as ‘delusional’ without the one party or the other recognizing its own delusion – how such incompatible worldviews could coexist in the same world. This incommensurable difference in paradigms accounts for what Spiegel calls “paradigm-induced blindness” which further entrenches a person in her own worldview. (Other concepts from which Spiegel draws and upon which he insightfully expands are William James’ ‘will to believe,’ Alvin Plantinga’s ‘proper function,’ and John Calvin’s ‘sensus divinitatus.&rsquo😉

    In the final chapter of his book, Spiegel writes on ‘The Blessings of Theism.’ Here, he explains how such things the right to complain, the privilege of giving thanks, and the health of the mind are all things which are afforded by the theistic worldview. So, not only is it right to believe, but it is good. Spiegel’s The Making of an Atheist is a succinct yet powerful treatment of the deeper reasons for the new atheism – moral degeneration and psychological dysfunction. Written for the lay person but with an eye toward and involvement of academic literature, The Making of an Atheist invites the reader to a very important discussion on the issue the New Atheism and the responsible Christian’s response to it." (excerpts follow)

    https://www.apologetics.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=474:book-review-making-of-an-atheist&catid=54:richard-park&Itemid=77
  2. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    30 Jan '14 04:138 edits
    "The Causes of Atheism" Written by James Spiegel on 28 January 2010. The Atheists Discussed thus far are all scholars. But, of course, not all atheists are academics. Like believers, they can be found in every sphere of society. In fact, some of the more well known atheists are celebrities. Actress Jodie Foster, for example, has spoken openly about her rejection of all things spiritual. In an interesting case of art imitating life, she has noted the similarities between her own beliefs and those of Eleanor Arroway, the astronomer she plays in the film Contact: I absolutely believe what Ellie believes—that there is no direct evidence [for God], so how could you ask me to believe in God when there’s absolutely no evidence that I can see? I do believe in the beauty and the awe-inspiring mystery of the science that’s out there that we haven’t discovered yet, that there are scientific explanations for phenomena that we call mystical because we don’t know any better.

    The late George Carlin was more emphatic about his atheism, even turning an anti-religion harangue into a comedy bit. Here is an excerpt from his 1999 HBO special: When it comes to believing in God, I really tried. I really, really tried. I tried to believe that there is a God, who created each of us in His own image and likeness, loves us very much, and keeps a close eye on things. I really tried to believe that, but I gotta tell you, the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realize . . . something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong on the resume of a Supreme Being.

    This is the kind of [stuff] you’d expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. So Carlin gave up his efforts to believe in God. He opted for atheism “rather than be just another . . . religious robot, mindlessly and aimlessly and blindly believing that all of this is in the hands of some spooky incompetent father figure who doesn’t [care]. ”Notice that Carlin’s and Foster’s reasons for unbelief are founded on the two pillars of atheism discussed earlier. Foster’s rationale for her view reveals a latent positivism, the notion that all knowledge must be verifiable by the senses. Carlin, on the other hand, provides a tart version of the objection fromevil, which is as thought-provoking as it is irreverent. But Jodie Foster and George Carlin have more in common than just being thoughtful celebrity atheists.

    They also share the experience of having lost their fathers while they were young. Before she was even born, Foster’s father left her family. Hermother raised young Jodie, eventually guiding her into the acting career she enjoys to this day. Carlin also grew up fatherless. His mother left his alcoholic, abusive father when George was two months old, and she raised him and his older brother on her own. Is there any relevance to the fact that these two atheists grew up without a father? Some recent research strongly suggests that there is. In this chapter we will look at evidence for the claim that broken father relationships are a contributing cause of atheism. We will also consider evidence that immoral behavior plays a significant role in motivating views on ethics and religion.We will see how desires often drive a person’s beliefs when it comes to such issues, and I will propose that herein lies the explanation for atheism.

    The Faith of The Fatherless Paul C.Vitz teaches psychology at NewYork University. Though now a practicing Roman Catholic,Vitz was an atheist until his late thirties. Reflecting on his change of mind, Vitz observes that his “reasons” for becoming an atheist in the first place, during his college years,were not intellectual so much as social and psychological. Eventually, he began to focus his psychological research on atheism, and in 1999 he published the provocative Faith of the Fatherless,which proposes that “atheism of the strong or intense type is to a substantial degree generated by the peculiar psychological needs of its advocates.” Looking at the lives of numerous renowned atheists,Vitz’s study reveals a stunning link between atheism and fatherlessness. This he expresses as the “defective father hypothesis”—the notion that a broken relationship with one’s father predisposes some people to reject God.

    While some might be critical of any attempt to psychologize the phenomenon of atheism,Vitz notes: “We must remember that it is atheists themselves who began the psychological approach to the question of belief.” Turnabout, as they say, is fair play.Of course, a principal figure to whom Vitz’s observation applies is Sigmund Freud,whomaintained that religious belief arises out of psychological need.According to Freud, people project their concept of a loving father to the entire cosmos to fulfill their wish for ultimate comfort in a dangerous world.However, it was this same Freud who developed the concept of the “Oedipus complex,” characterized by a repressed sexual desire for one’smother andmurderous jealousy of one’s father.Vitz notes that here Freud inadvertently provides a straightforward rationale for understanding the wish-fulfilling origin of the rejection of God. . . . Freud makes the simple and easily understandable claim that once a child or youth is disappointed in or loses respect for his earthly father, belief in a heavenly father becomes impossible. . . . In other words, an atheist’s disappointment in and resentment of his own father unconsciously justifies his rejection of God.

    Thus, Freud’s own theory can be used to explain atheism. And, as Vitz proceeds to show, the empirical data bears out this account. The following are several cases from the modern period explored by Vitz that confirm his thesis.

    Atheists Whose Fathers Died:

    • David Hume—was two years old when his father died
    • Arthur Schopenhauer—was sixteen when his father died
    • Friedrich Nietzsche—was four years old when his father died
    • Bertrand Russell—was four years old when his father died
    • Jean-Paul Sartre—was 15 months old when his father died
    • Albert Camus—was 1 year old when his father died.

    Atheists with Abusive or Weak Fathers:

    • Thomas Hobbes—was seven years old when his father deserted the family
    • Voltaire—had a bitter relationship with his father, whose surname (Arouet) he disowned
    • Baron d’Holbach—was estranged from his father and rejected his surname (Thiry)
    • Ludwig Feuerbach—was scandalized by his father’s public rejection of his family (to live with another woman)
    • Samuel Butler—was physically and emotionally brutalized by his father
    • Sigmund Freud—had contempt for his father as a “sexual pervert” and as a weak man
    • H. G.Wells—despised his father who neglected the family
    • Madalyn Murray O’Hair—intensely hated her father, probably due to child abuse
    • Albert Ellis—was neglected by his father, who eventually abandoned the family

    While this list is impressive,Vitz’s overall case for his thesis is not limited to these but includes analyses of well-known theists from the same era. These scholars had consistently healthy relationships with their fathers or significant father figures. This confirms by contrast Vitz’s thesis about their atheist peers. Such prominent modern theists include Blaise Pascal, George Berkeley, Joseph Butler, Thomas Reid, Edmund Burke,William Paley,William Wilberforce, Friedrich Schleiermacher, John Henry Newman, Alexis de Tocqueville, Soren Kierkegaard, G. K. Chesterton, Albert Schweitzer, Martin Buber, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Abraham Heschel. Of course, none of the fathers of these men were perfect moral exemplars. Some, such as the elder Kierkegaard, grieved or disappointed their sons by their misbehavior. Still, the relationships persevered, and resentment did not prevail. In most cases, these men had strong love, admiration, and respect for their fathers or father figures.

    To be clear,Vitz’s thesis does not imply that having a defective father guarantees one will become an atheist. He takes care to emphasize this point. This is because, as Vitz puts it, “all of us still have a free choice to accept or reject God. . . . As a consequence of particular past or present circumstances some may find it much harder to believe in God. But presumably they can still choose to move toward God or to move away.” In fact, some people with defective fathers do not turn away from God but become vibrant believers and faithful practitioners of their faith.Given the strong majority of religious believers, it appears that most children of defective fathers manage to resist the temptation of atheism. Still others, such as C. S. Lewis and Antony Flew, give up their atheism even after many years of unbelief. So the psychological dynamics of atheism are very complex, but the impact of the father relationship does appear to be profound.

    I would add that when it comes to atheism, as with any other behavior, an explanation is not an excuse.To identify a cause of a belief or behavior does not imply that the person is not morally responsible for it. So even if we can causally explain why some people reject God, this does not mean that they aren’t responsible for doing so. Rather, the lesson seems to be that having a defective father presents special challenges to faith, but that this kind of psychological wound can only predispose one to atheism." (1 of 4 to be continued)

    https://www.apologetics.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=469:the-causes-of-atheism&catid=96:bonus-content&Itemid=80
  3. Standard memberSwissGambit
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    30 Jan '14 04:45
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    [b]"The Causes of Atheism" Written by James Spiegel on 28 January 2010. The Atheists Discussed thus far are all scholars. But, of course, not all atheists are academics. Like believers, they can be found in every sphere of society. In fact, some of the more well known atheists are celebrities. Actress Jodie Foster, for example, has spoken openly abo ...[text shortened]... hp?option=com_content&view=article&id=469:the-causes-of-atheism&catid=96:bonus-content&Itemid=80[/b]
    My Dad's a good guy (he is one of the helpful and compassionate people I know), and he's still alive and kicking. Sorry, you can't save my soul this way. 🙄
  4. Cape Town
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    30 Jan '14 05:181 edit
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    Thus, Freud’s own theory can be used to explain atheism. And, as Vitz proceeds to show, the empirical data bears out this account. The following are several cases from the modern period explored by Vitz that confirm his thesis.
    .....

    While this list is impressive,Vitz’s overall case for his thesis is not limited to these but includes analyses of well-known theists from the same era.
    I just wonder whether you realize just what utter nonsense this is.
    Let me give an example:
    Suppose I claim that black people are black because their fathers died young. I then give 10 examples of well known black people whose fathers died young.
    Very impressive!
    I then include analyses of well known white people whose fathers did not die young.
    Have a proved my thesis, or is James Spiegel stupid?

    The real question is whether you, Bobby actually read what you posted before posting.
  5. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    30 Jan '14 05:453 edits
    "Now if Vitz’s theory is correct, we could expect many atheists we know to have a defective father. This naturally raises the question, What about the new atheists? Do they confirm this thesis?We know that Daniel Dennett’s father died in a plane crash in 1947, when Dennett was just five years old. As Vitz notes, losing one’s father at such a young age is particularly devastating, since it is during this developmental period that a child bonds with his or her father.

    Christopher Hitchens’ father appears to have been very distant, so much so that Hitchens confesses, “I don’t remember a thing about him. It was all her [his mother], for me.” Tragically, when Hitchens was twenty-four his mother killed herself in a suicide pact with a lover. After his mother’s death,Hitchens says, “I no longer really had a family,” which is an especially sad statement considering his father was still alive. As for Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, there is very little information available regarding their relationships with their fathers. Harris, in particular, has maintained such a low public profile that personal information about him of any kind is scant.

    Whatever causal role having a defective father plays in one’s becoming an atheist, Vitz has surely uncovered a significant aspect of the psychology of atheism. But why is the father relationship so important that its absence should create such an impediment to belief?We’ve already noted Freud’s inadvertent explanation in terms of the Oedipus complex. But from a Judeo-Christian perspective, the proper explanation goes back to human nature. Human beings were made in God’s image, and the father-child relationship mirrors that of humans as God’s “offspring.” We unconsciously (and often consciously, depending on one’s worldview) conceive of God after the pattern of our earthly father.

    This is even encouraged in Scripture, as Jesus constantly refers to God as our “heavenly father. ”When one has a healthy father relationship and a father who is a decent moral model, then this metaphor and the psychological patterns it inspires are welcome. However,when one’s earthly father is defective, whether because of death, abandonment, or abuse, this necessarily impacts one’s thinking about God. Whether we call it psychological projection, transfer, or displacement, the lack of a good father is a handicap when it comes to faith.

    Delivery To Depravity The eminent twentieth-century historian Paul Johnson describes his Intellectuals as “an examination of the moral and judgmental credentials of leading intellectuals to give advice to humanity on how to conduct its affairs.” Thus begins a 342-page historical expose that recounts behavior so sleazy and repugnant that one almost feels corrupted by reading it. Most disturbing are not necessarily the details of the sordid lives described by Johnson but the fact that the subjects are often regarded as intellectual heroes. Not merely successful people of letters in their day, they were scholars whose influence was, and continues to be, felt worldwide. They mastered their crafts as novelists, poets, playwrights, and philosophers and set forth ideals and values for ordering society.

    So for most readers it comes as a bit of a shock to learn that so many leading intellectuals were selfserving egotists,whose ostensible interest in humankind generally was belied by their callous disregard for those nearest and dearest to them, especially familymembers. Among those examined by Johnson are Jean Jacques Rousseau—intensely vain and wildly irresponsible; sired five illegitimate children and abandoned them to orphanages, which in his social context meant almost certain early death Percy Bysshe Shelley—a chronic swindler with a ferocious temper; also an adulterer who, with three different women, fathered seven children whom he basically ignored, including one he abandoned to an orphanage, where the baby died at eighteen months Karl Marx—fiercely anti-semitic;

    egocentric, slothful, and lecherous; exploitive of friends and unfaithful to his wife; sired an illegitimate son, whom he refused to acknowledge Henrik Ibsen—a vain, spiteful, and heartless man, caring only for money; an exploiter of women and contemptuous of the needy, even among his own family Leo Tolstoy—megalomaniacal and misogynistic; a chronic gambler and adulterer; a seducer of women and contemptuous of his wife Ernest Hemingway—ironically named, given that he was a pathological liar; also a misogynistic womanizer and selfdestructive alcoholic Bertrand Russell—misogynistic and a serial adulterer; a chronic seducer of women, especially very young women, even in his old age Jean-Paul Sartre—notorious for his sexual escapades with female students, often procured by his colleague and lover Simone de Beauvoir.

    The upshot of Johnson’s book is that not only do many leading modern intellectuals fail to live up to their billing as moral visionaries, but their moral perversity should cause us to question the legitimacy of their ideas. This is because one’s personal conduct impacts one’s scholarly projects. And, as Johnson shows, the works of these intellectuals were often calculated to justify or minimize the shame of their own debauchery. Among the diverse vices that characterize the intellectuals studied by Johnson, brazen sexual promiscuity is the one recurring theme. So it is not surprising that most of these men explicitly rejected the Judeo-Christian worldview. Indeed, many of their scholarly and creative works openly challenged the values of this tradition, which condemns the sorts of lascivious behavior that dominated their lives.

    Aldous Huxley, another significant modern intellectual, had much to say on this point. In the following quote he refers to a nihilistic worldview, but this could as easily be supplanted by Marxism, Sartrean existentialism, or Shelley’s vision of a religion-free society: "For myself as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation.The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality.We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom." Elsewhere in this same essay, Huxley is even more candid: "Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know. It is our will that decides how and upon what subjects we shall use our intelligence. Those who detect no meaning in the world generally do so because, for one reason or another, it suits their books that the world should be meaningless."

    As Paul Johnson argues, the philosophical systems and social ideals of many modern intellectuals were decided by their will to be immoral, not their quest for truth.They wrote the books they did to suit their personal lives, not vice versa. This point is well expressed by E. Michael Jones, who writes, “There are ultimately only two alternatives in the intellectual life: either one conforms desire to the truth or one conforms truth to desire. These two positions represent opposite poles between which a continuum of almost infinite gradations exist.” (2 of 4 to be continued)
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    30 Jan '14 05:48
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    [b]"The Causes of Atheism" Written by James Spiegel on 28 January 2010. The Atheists Discussed thus far are all scholars. But, of course, not all atheists are academics. Like believers, they can be found in every sphere of society. In fact, some of the more well known atheists are celebrities. Actress Jodie Foster, for example, has spoken openly abo ...[text shortened]... hp?option=com_content&view=article&id=469:the-causes-of-atheism&catid=96:bonus-content&Itemid=80[/b]
    This is headed toward atheism being listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Mark my words, you young whippersnappers. The day will come, if you don't resist it.
  7. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    30 Jan '14 05:56
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I just wonder whether you realize just what utter nonsense this is.
    Let me give an example:
    Suppose I claim that black people are black because their fathers died young. I then give 10 examples of well known black people whose fathers died young.
    Very impressive!
    I then include analyses of well known white people whose fathers did not die young.
    Have ...[text shortened]... stupid?

    The real question is whether you, Bobby actually read what you posted before posting.
    Greetings from afar, twhitehead. Though I'm pleased that you're weighing in I'd hoped you'd extend the courtesy of a fair shake to the lengthy original post. Please exercise judgmental restraint until you've assimilated the entire excerpt. Thanks.
  8. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    30 Jan '14 05:591 edit
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    My Dad's a good guy (he is one of the helpful and compassionate people I know), and he's still alive and kicking. Sorry, you can't save my soul this way. 🙄
    SG, didn't you disclose your status as a Christian* until you decided to return God's Grace Gift recently in another thread?

    Thread 157631 [OP*]
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    30 Jan '14 06:251 edit
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    [b]"The Causes of Atheism" Written by James Spiegel on 28 January 2010. The Atheists Discussed thus far are all scholars. But, of course, not all atheists are academics. Like believers, they can be found in every sphere of society. In fact, some of the more well known atheists are celebrities. Actress Jodie Foster, for example, has spoken openly abo ...[text shortened]... hp?option=com_content&view=article&id=469:the-causes-of-atheism&catid=96:bonus-content&Itemid=80[/b]
    A quick read around indicates to me that he has some interesting ideas on the psychology of atheism some of which will appeal to theists because they are supportive of biblical a standpoint, but I think the book is probably written to make money from Christians looking for a more intellectual argument against atheism.

    The Freudian father thing is begging to be slapped down and I can't understand why someone close to him did not advise him against exploring that agenda. A more interesting hypothesis to explore would be that there is a correlation between atheism and abuse by one of the arms of organised religion.

    The psychology of the various atheistic perspectives is worth considering E.g. The author quotes one atheist as stating that not only does he not believe in god, he does not want there to be a god. But this could have been counterbalanced with a study of the psychology of theism and why for example there is little evidence of atheism in the Bible.
  10. Cape Town
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    30 Jan '14 06:28
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    Greetings from afar, twhitehead. Though I'm pleased that you're weighing in I'd hoped you'd extend the courtesy of a fair shake to the lengthy original post. Please exercise judgmental restraint until you've assimilated the entire excerpt. Thanks.
    Sorry, but the little bit I read was so stupid, I didn't want to bother reading more. I am frankly amazed that you bothered posting such nonsense. What did you expect?
    I do want an answer as to whether or not you yourself have read it, or are you too exercising judgmental restraint by not reading what you post?
    Do you dispute my objection? If so, explain why. If not, explain why you posted something containing such obvious flaws.
  11. Standard memberwolfgang59
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    30 Jan '14 06:30
    A Christian friend of mine became atheist ... only after jumping in a time-machine and killing his own father when he was 18 months old though!

    And atheists who become theists? Their fathers are resurrected from the grave?

    All utter nonsense.

    One major cause of atheism: common sense.
  12. Standard memberSwissGambit
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    30 Jan '14 06:351 edit
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    SG, didn't you disclose your status as a Christian* until you decided to return God's Grace Gift recently in another thread?

    Thread 157631 [OP*]
    Yes, but many on these boards have assured me that, despite my 2 decades invested in the faith, I must never actually have been saved, because I never had a true relationship with Jesus Christ. If I had, I would never have been able to walk away from it.

    Or so the story goes.
  13. Cape Town
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    30 Jan '14 06:36
    Originally posted by divegeester
    A more interesting hypothesis to explore would be that there is a correlation between atheism and abuse by one of the arms of organised religion.
    Actually I have no objections to exploring possible correlations, but anyone who thinks that he has demonstrated a correlation by citing under 20 examples from a dataset in the billions, is either stupid or dishonest.
  14. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    30 Jan '14 06:38
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Sorry, but the little bit I read was so stupid, I didn't want to bother reading more. I am frankly amazed that you bothered posting such nonsense. What did you expect?
    I do want an answer as to whether or not you yourself have read it, or are you too exercising judgmental restraint by not reading what you post?
    Do you dispute my objection? If so, explain why. If not, explain why you posted something containing such obvious flaws.
    As I've frequently mentioned to Great King Rat, googlefudge, Penguin, SwissGambit and others since last Thanksgiving I'm ignorant of atheism and am intensely motivated to shore up the deficiency. What better place than this forum? So please bear with my intellectual clumsiness and selected topics that may seem awkward to you. This one I care about immensely!
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    30 Jan '14 06:42
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    Yes, but many on these boards have assured me that, despite my 2 decades invested in the faith, I must never actually have been saved, because I never had a true relationship with Jesus Christ. If I had, I would never have been able to walk away from it.

    Or so the story goes.
    Two decades under a delusion; you must look back on that period and wonder why it took you so long to realise it is all such an obvious fallacy.
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