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[轉載] 網絡名人 - 大黃傻貓GARFIELD 的離教經歷

貓貓剛剛變了無神論者

This is a long long road.

I started out as a Fundamentalist, because the church I attended was a Fundamentalist church (Rev Daniel Ng, now the pastor of Kong Fook Tong, and the church was closely linked to Society of Truth and Light).

I first turned away from my rigid position as a Fundamentalist when I found that I could not defend cases when churches or para-Christian organizations or Christian groups hire staff based on their religion (hire Christians only) as well as those rigid marriage rules (marrying Christians only).
In both cases the arguments for the positions are weak, contrary to my values of equal/fair treatment to all.

As I got plunged to a war between Catholics and Fundamentalists in a number of forums (CCfellow, allenchow.com, iShare, etc), all the deadly flaws, toxic teachings of Fundamentalism were thrown to my face. I met the meanest humans beyond description---spitting poisons, deceitful, abuse of powers (when they manage the forum), twisting truths, slanderous, etc.

(My persistent fight with the Fundamentalists indirectly caused these three forums to close down for good. There were at least 2 others which met the same fate).

It is then I changed my position to a "mainstream Baptist" (after I was influenced by writings of this site www.mainstreambaptists.org). I questioned the validity of Bible inerrancy, literal interpretation, anti-Catholicism, once-saved-always-saved, sola fide, sola scriptura, etc.

In fighting with the Fundamentalists alongside with Catholics, I delved into books of all brands of Christianity---Catholicism, Lutheranism, Baptists (of course), Calvinism, Eastern Orthodoxy, touching subjects on salvation, end times, liberal theology, etc.

It was then I started to pick up logical thinking and reasoning again, because I must be able to weigh each brand of Christianity on their merits. I owned almost all books by 李天命. There are a number of Christian theologian-written books trying to debunk 李天命, but their arguments were laughable.

Then comes ID (Intelligent Design), the Noah's Ark fiasco of Media Evangelism. Both incidences drawn me to look at evidences of the origin of earth and evolution. At the point I remember saying to a Fundamentalist (a more benign one) that I don't think the Flood happened exactly the way it was written in the Bible (I believed it was a local flood, and later I found it to be true, only that Noah became a Babylonian). By this I effectively denied literally interpretation.

The next tipping point, as I remember, was SODO (2005).

I took on the HK brand of Christian Right-wing directly and sharply criticised their actions, wrote long articles and debated with right-winged Christians on Christian Times.

When Rev. Silas Wong was forced to resign, and along with the deceitfulness of KWAC, the silence of Christian community over this, and 梁家麟博士 defending it, I lost faith totally in the evangelical circles of Hong Kong. They were just like any ideological groups, refusing to listen to facts and different opinions. I was also convinced then homosexualilty is something similar to psychiatric diseases or of in-born nature, and that they were not morally wrong.

These events gradually changed me, I already thrown out Bible inerrancy, I thrown out "simple faith", I denied that homosexuality is a sin, it was only a matter of time before I thrown out the miracles, God creationism, etc.

I did not remember when, I purchased a book written by 方舟子(方舟子揭開世界之謎). In the book there is a full section refuting all psuedo-scientific claims cooked up by Christians to claim evolution is a "theory". How different schemes by Creationist can be debunked by rigorous science.

Round about the same time I purchased "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins, and in it loads of reasons that God is not necessary nor the hand in everything that happened.

In a separate incidence, I had a confrontation with my church's senior pastor over the question of "once-saved-always-saved".

During the conversation, he just printed out 10 pages and said there were "over 100 verses in the Bible" that proved "once-saved-always-saved". He was not ready to discuss with me, he wanted me to submit. I challenged him a number of points citing the Christian Times article then labelling a church "heretic":

Me: the article listed a number of criteria that makes this church heretic. One is the divinity of Christ, one is pastoral authority, and the other one is "rejecting once-saved-always-saved". I reject once-saved-always-saved, you said the other Sunday with emphasis on this point when talking about this church. Answer me, am I now a heretic?

Pastor: ..... you took the words out of context, it should be placed alongside with the others...

Me: this is illogical, if you listed it there, then as long as you fulfill the one or more of it, then it meets the criteria

Pastor: ....no ..no, you have to consider it with others

Me: then this criterial "rejecting once-saved-always-saved" should not be there ?

Pastor:.....I am a Baptist minister for 40 years, I was to preach the truth in the Bible, once-saved-always-saved is the truth as proven by the Bible.

Me: then what about the Methodists, the Lutherans, surely you know they don't teach once-saved-always-saved ?

Pastor: I don't comment other churches. I tell you, I am a veteran minister who preached for 40 years. We preach the truth said in the Bible. The Bible is literally true, the world is created in 6 days, each day a 24 hour day. Do you know that in USA the South Western Theological Seminary, once professor published a set of commentaries and used the word "myth" to describe Genesis ? He was sacked and the whole set of commentaries were rewritten. I preach what I believed is true and I do not have to answer individual. You are free to read anything you like, but in my church, it is what it will be taught.

.....

We have no common ground.

The above incidence convinced me that I could not stay in this church as long as this pastor is there.

To research on Creationism, I went to www.infidels.org to look for more research material. Most questions of evolution was answered by 方舟子, but there was yet a question not answered, how do the universe arise? (Creation Ex nihilo)

This site gives me that article: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mark_vuletic/vacuum.html

Then I also realized, the preposition that "things can only come to existence via creation, before that there is nothing" contains an assumption -- "before that there is nothing".This assertion is unfounded, why can't it be that things were there all the way along, then creation will be unnecessary.

The articles answered my doubt, and then I realized that Creation thing is now out of the window. The same night, I was supposed to attend the Hong Kong Franklin Graham Festival (I was one member of the big choir), then I found that I could not bring myself to go.

My mind would not allow it. I loved singing, but my mind told me that I could not do it, I should not go.

I kept this change of mind for about 2 months, I go to discussion forums as usual, but my demeanor has changed already.

During this period, I purchased a number of DVD from BBC discussing Bible mysteries (the Flood, the fall of Jericho, Jesus' death etc). Those materials confirmed me that God could not have existed, or the chances of it would be even slimmer than Jesus is a female.

I almost gave myself away when I told my ex-Pastor (Dr. Sun Po-Ling) that I was about to be an ex-Christian. He was kind, gracious and not a judgement word came out of him when I had coffee with him. He certainly appreciated me as being a socially concerned Christian, but he had no idea that I was so near to the brink of quitting Christianity.

However, the more I ponder on this, the more I felt I should make a decision. I decided that I should not kept this to myself so I declare it in discuss.com.hk.

I am planning my exit from my church friends and deciding how to break the news to my Christian friends.

I am lucky that most of my Christian friends are genuinely kind, friendly, and many of them are funny people that you will like to hang around with.
I hope that my news will not startle them. I have to really think hard on how to tell them.

I was initially worried that my change will also give ammunition to the hostile Fundamentalists (mainly on the Internet, e.g. in Christian Times), that they could use this against me and my causes. However, I reconed that I should not be deterred by those people, they considered me an apostate anyway.

However, I do not want my case to harm those groups I affiliated with. Those mean Fundamentalists can do anything just to show that they are righteous, so I have to plan my exit very carefully.

.....

抽覆:

貓姐:

看到你的文章,十分欣賞你的坦誠和勇氣。我想你在宗教問題的透切了解,絕對在許多人之上(包括我在內)。

對於在信仰問題上的痛苦掙扎,我想你已一一承受過。因此,儘管在立場上是對你的「新生」表示認同,但我不會「恭喜你」。我想,你亦不會因此而停止一切對生命的思索和追求。

你的分享很值得借鏡,絕對是許多人希望獲得的寶貴經驗。冒昧一問,離教者之家可以傳載你的分享麼?

抽刀斷水 謹上


http://www.armbell.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4888&mforum=liberalhk
支持鼓勵每位離教者

我的信仰經歷﹐特長版本。以後會翻譯為中文。

Resigned from Christianity after 23 years of journey

The beginning

I am a keen learner and enthusiast of knowledge. I and my siblings used to beg our parents to buy kids encyclopedias, popular science magazines. We do read comics of course, but our crave for knowledge was unique among our peers.

I was especially fascinated by nature and science from a very young age, and even considered to be a scientific researcher. I watched TV programs like “Cosmos” (Carl Sagan) and those programmes by Sir David Attenborough on science and nature.

I studied at a Christian found high school (Episcopal), and there were a number of Christians (teachers and students) keen on evangelizing the schoolmates. I never took things in the Bible seriously even though I knew a lot about the Bible. The religious atmosphere was great, and most of all, the teacher heading the religious part was a relatively open minded person, who would not judge or condemn other religions or faith like the Fundamentalist. Her openness and her approach in discussing topics by engagement took root in my mind.

I was brilliant in my study, doing debates and public speaking, because I had a good mind in making arguments and reasoning. I had a lot of hopes with my life.

The crisis and the conversion

However by the time I was 18, my family went into a deep crisis. My father and mother separated, my father’s business collapsed. I was greatly depressed, my grades fell, I missed classes, and I started to hang around with the “bad” kids. My father was the authoritarian type and control-freak, and my mother the submissive type, which infused some kind of inferiority feeling and lack of confidence in my mind; I found that my life was always in their tight grip, and I was not allowed to have my opinion, and there was no self-assurance given to my in my upbringing, which probably explained my receptiveness to Christianity at that time.

Those Christians in my high school approached me then. Maybe I was moved by the kind of caring they gave me, and that I needed so much emotional supported that I said yes to an invitation of a evangelizing meeting at a schoolmates church, and there I, “accepted Christ as my personal savior”.

Years of living in faith

Like many new converts to a faith, there was a kind euphoria that that somehow appeared to give me great peace and joy in the heart. I was so excited of my new found peace and faith that I immersed in it quickly, began witnessing the Gospel, sharing my experience around.

With my brain in overdrive, I zoomed pass the entire part of the “new Christian induction” that was used in my church. I attended all gatherings apart from Sunday services diligently, showed up on time, join the choir, volunteered to do a lot of things in the church.

In less than a year, I was almost indistinguishable from any veteran Christian. At the same time, I tucked my scientific and logical mind up to a little attic in my head until 15 years later and basked in the 2 year honeymoon with Christianity.

My church was a Baptist church that subscribed to Fundamentalist position, though I met a lot of Christians that took a more moderate position. The Fundamentalist view of the world affected my a lot. I held a very exclusive mindset that Christians and non-Christians could not work together, not to mention marrying. I also looked down on other faiths, fully convinced that Christianity is supreme. I stayed a Fundamentalist for at least 8 or 9 years, during which I invested in a lot of Christian books, Bible commentaries etc. I led Bible study groups, sing in the choir, and sometimes taught in Sunday schools. Every year we attended summer camps, where there would always be a section where the youths were called to “re-dedicated” themselves. People went forward, tearfully said they would dedicate their lives to Jesus etc.

Yet I noticed a kind of pattern. After a number of years in summer camps and seeing all these people re-dedicated themselves, those who “cried” the most were often the ones who “fell away” from the faith.

Likewise, those who appeared to be very fervent would also tend to disappear from church. It was then I figured that in many of the conversion cases, emotion was the main element, not faith or reason. I had no idea I was one of this kind.

The first glimpses of the dark side of Christianity

Before long I had my first brush with the dark side of Christianity. I led a small group and we had Bible studies. This mode of gathering was new to the church, and our church, a Baptist church, was trying to figure out the mode and decided that in order to get people to know each other, the groups would undergo re-organization every year. This was greatly resisted buy my group members because they would rather settle in a group for a longer term, and not to be forced to build new relationships. Temper flared when the church’s person who led this said this was the “church’s policy” and that we had to make up our minds or the church would do it for us. I asked the church not to split the groups and got a promise from the committee. Yet four months later I was shocked to find that they split the groups anyway. I was very disappointed. I realized that in a church, individual’s concern could be ignored for the convenience of church administration.

The second brush happened when I switched church. It was the pastor. He had disagreements with one of the deacons. The pastor back-stabbed that deacon in small Bible study groups, and he talked behind his back in front of the other deacons.

The church hired a woman minister, and that pastor felt threatened by the woman minister; she was popular among the senior members and initiated a lot of good programs. The pastor started to play games, intimidating the woman minister, and at some point, verbally abused her. The woman minister was very distressed, and her performance plummeted. There were so much double-talk, back-stabbing and suspicion around the church that the Sunday services was affected, the programs were affected and the volunteers morale were low (except for the youths, which the pastor had a lot of influence).

The situation got so bad that an ad-hoc member’s assembly was called; a group who were influenced by the pastor sat in and wanted to fire the woman minister. It almost went ugly but the deacons stopped it. The woman minister found she could not cooperate with that pastor and decided to resign.

It was at this point the deacons realized that they had to fire this male pastor because his action was a clear sign of his lack of integrity and deceitfulness. The ugly power struggles were all being talked about in the choir (the choir was the circle where many rumors and gossip happened).

The Net-Christian days and my first compromise

I majored in computer studies during my undergraduate studies and after I finished my degree, I was worked in the computer/software business. I was the early ones that used BBS, and later the Internet (using slow dial-up modems) to access the Internet, and there I was opened up to a world of different opinions of Christianity, challenges to my mind and reality of Christianity I never imagined.

I began discussing issues of Christianity and faith at newsgroups, went into heated debates with non-Christians (atheists, agnostic and ex-Christians).

During that newsgroup age, I had crisis, which I found out later that it was called cognitive dissonance.

It was common practice for Christian organizations, schools or para-church organizations then to employ almost exclusively Christians. They would require the applicant for a position to be a “born-again” Christian.

This sparked a heated debate on the newsgroup. Non-Christians accused Christians of discriminating non-Christians on the basis of religion and denied them opportunity for employment.. Initially I flatly denied the accusation, and used all my ammunitions to justify the kind of employment practices. I soon found myself at the corner when I was shown cases were Christians were employed by Buddhists organizations, but not otherwise.

I looked everywhere in the Internet to find reasons that Christian organizations were allowed to practice this kind of “discrimination”, yet I could not come up any strong arguments, legally or even from the Bible (except a verse in Leviticus that prohibits two different animals from carrying the yoke).

Most other Fundamentalist would simply snap back at the non-Christians, quoting Bible verses the referring to passages of. However, I was not comfortable with this approach, we should be able to present our arguments clearly apart from pulling verses from the Bible; yet deep inside me I believed that faith should not matter that much for employment, as long as key posts are Christians. For example, a non-Christian could be an accountant for a Christian organization, or a non-Christian graphic designer or a general office clerk.

Arguments from Christians would claim that a non-Christian (accountant, clerk, whatever that may be) would draw anger from God because the service they rendered were “imperfect” because they some were from non-believers, or that the non-Christian account would not be as honest, or that they would compromise their effort to “glorify God” because one of them is a non-believer, even if that one is just a janitor. They believed that being a Christian can make so much different. My reason would not allow me to agree with that kind of argument. As long as that person followed the procedures, policies of the organization and behave well, why such a fuss with his religion? They could even take the change to evangelize!

Eventually after some struggle, I came to realize that if I could not found any sound argument, both on the Internet, the Bible and from logical reasoning, it was because that practice was wrong in nature. As much the “Truth” Christianity was claimed to be, you cannot use “Truth” to turn things that are inherently wrong to otherwise, and any attempt to do this is an abuse of our Bible and our teachings.

This feeling of cognitive dissonance aroused because I was trying to use the “Truth” to justify something which was wrong inherently, and I knew it. I then posted a message on the newsgroup saying that I renounced that position.

This was the beginning of the “end” of my Christian journey.

The Fundamentalist mindset

Here I would like to distract a bit and describe about how a Fundamentalist Christian mind worked.

If my mind worked like the one of a hard core Fundamentalist, I would ignore the fact that I could not find reasons or justifications.

I would turn a blind eye to the logical problems with the Christian’s reasoning, I would suppress my feeling of “cognitive dissonance”, because for a Fundamentalist, he/she already had the truth, and that because what they held had to be true, and truth must be defended, then all things against the truth “had to be wrong”, and that if he/she was not comfortable inside, it was the lack of faith, a temptation from Satan etc. (circular arguments, empty assertions etc.). In the end many Christians would respond with a quote from the Bible like “blessed are those who are persecuted because of my name” (Matt…) or (Cor???) or (Phil???).

I did not assumed that I had the truth as the Fundamentalist, probably because I was more influenced by the moderate Baptist position (which were non-creedal, and never presume they had the truth), this left a little gap in my mind that allowed me to use facts and reasoning out from the attic in my head from time to time. Yet when it comes to core part of the faith (Jesus’ birth and resurrection, the Flood, the salvation, Trinitarian God etc.), I blocked the logic and reasoning again.

The years of war with Fundamentalists

The Internet evolved, so was the Christian community and tools on the Internet. The text based newsgroup gave way to web-based forums, and many Christian organizations jumped on the band-wagon of the during the Internet boom, setting up web sites, and started discussion forums. They thought Internet was great to allow fellowship of Christians from all places.

There were three forums I regularly visited to post and discussed with others. One was called iShare, one was called CCFellow, the other called “Allen”.

CCFellow and Allen were dominated by Fundamentalist and in particular the hard core ones (Biblical inerrancy, literal interpretation, young-earth, anti-Catholicism, rapture and end of world etc).

At that time, forums used software that were a lot more primitive, so moderators could only delete posts but not banning accounts or barring IPs. At that time I spent time mostly on iShare, until I got to CCFellow. It was 2002, and several groups of Christians were locked in a heated debate regarding if Catholicism was a heresy. There were Catholics, Christians who regarded Catholicism as orthodox, and of course the hardcore Fundamentalists.

Initially the debates were still courteous, but as Catholics debunked one proof of heresy from the Fundamentalists after the other, the Fundamentalist got furious and started to play dirty.

They swarmed the discussion from with a lot of posts to bury counter arguments from Catholics and their sympathizers; they used all kinds of smear tactics, and posted those debunked arguments They also used multiple pseudonyms on the forum to make them appeared numerous (actually there are no more than five of them, about the same as the other side). The forum moderator was also a Fundamentalist, allowed those Fundamentalist participants to post articles that attacked the Catholics (and sympathizers) personally, posting those “proof of Catholic heresy” again and again (many of which contained false information), but when the Catholics and their sympathizers tried to respond, the moderator deleted their posts promptly.

I was not prepared for such kind of mean-spirited manner from my own camp, and immediately I “deflected” and fight the Fundamentalist alongside with the Catholics.

During that process, I need to muster sound arguments from both Christianity doctrinal aspects and historical aspect, so I started to read widely on different denominations (Episcopalism, Lutheranism, Calvinism, Arminianism, Baptists etc). I realized that diversity (or confusion ?) of Christian understanding of the Christian faith, and that there were core dogmas as well as varieties of teachings.

Furthermore I found that many of the Fundamentalists / Evangelical teachings on sola fide, sola scriptura, salvation, end times, and justification etc. were not as biblical as they claimed. I found out that Fundamentalists cooked up many lies against Catholicism (that they removed books from the Bible, that they altered the Ten Commandments etc.) and that they distorted many of Catholics position.

After that incident in CCFellow, I realized I could no longer subscribe to the Fundamentalist position.

This fighting with the Fundamentalist lasted for at least 3 years. During the years at CCFellow, the Fundamentalist also used the forum as a launch pad of their attacks to Christians or organizations they saw as “heresy”, “Liberals” or “apostates”. In one instant, they posted an article accusing a university professor at the university’s school of theology of teaching people to pray to “God the Mother”. They took the professor’s word out of context and attacked that school of teaching heresy. When they posted the article, they used that school’s official email address. I promptly informed the head of that school, and the school responded by posting a statement denouncing the actions of those Fundamentalist. The Christian group hosting the forum apologized, the Fundamentalists stopped for a short while, then started their attacks again. At this moment, their shameless and mean-spirited manners was so appalling that the forum drew other in to start quarreling with the Fundamentalists, and the fight heated up. The organization running the forum decided to shut the forum down because they found that the whole situation was out of control.

In another battle ground at “Allen”, the fighting was as intense, some Christians were so frightened by the quarrel there that they moved to other forums, and before long that forum had to shutdown too.

The battle was repeated in one forum after another, scared the shit of all those Christian organizations - some forum posted articles accusing Dr. Billy Graham to be an apostate, some had death threats to those opposing Fundamentalist views. Those organizations running the forums might have decided that the Internet was too “rough” to be a place where faithful Christians could “fellowship” and be “edified”, and that the Internet was the place that caused wobbling Christians to stumble. They could no longer maintain the control as if it was in the church building. By 2004, only two or three open forums run by Christian organizations are online, but very few visitors.

At the time of writing of this article, which is 2008, no other Christian forum run by individual believers or organizations survived the “heat” when they accepted open membership. Those which operated exclusively for Christians (often Fundamentalists) were inactive with very few people visiting. The more active forums are moderated by both Christians and non-Christians, and hosted by private companies for commercial reasons.

For about 2 years, I followed the trails of these anti-Catholics around every Chinese forum.

There was one particular anti-Catholic (dubbed keyperson, also called himself “puritan” , “John Knox”, MandM, and a number of other names) that always tried to settle in forums and used it at his anti-Catholic launch pad. During the CCFellow days, he was the leader of the anti-Catholics.

At first Puritan displayed a very civilized demeanor and appeared to be reasonable and even loving. It was just a front, when everything went his ways.

When Catholics began to proof him wrong he started to “loose it”.

During the CCFellow days, it was also the time when the outrageous Catholic Church scandal (priest sexually molested boys) erupted. Puritan treated that scandal as his powerful ammunition to Catholics, and kept posting news clips about the scandal even 1 year after it was out of the news headlines. His tactics of “Red Herring” was so annoying that I devised a very nasty plan of revenge.

I secretly researched about clergy sexual abuse in the Protestant side, and gathered at least 30 or 40 such clippings, each involved a pastor, including cases from Campus Crusade and the Salvation Army. Then I posted all to the CCFellow forum with a report on clergy sexual abuse that was submitted to the Southern Baptist Convention.

This proved to be a terrible blow to him. Puritan must have had his perfect image of “orthodox, God fearing and Bible believing Fundamentalist” shattered, and remained silent for weeks before he re-emerged. He tried to counter my facts but he was no match to me.

Then my next blow came when I met him in another forum. I researched heavily on Bible canonicity, and found out about how the New Testament and Old Testament was evolved and the entire list of books was only official declared “Canon” (canonized) in the late 15th Century at the Council of Trent by the Catholic Church (contrary to the assumption that the books were there “from the beginning”).

I posted my detailed research, and again dealt another blow to him. Then I posted another on “sola scriptura”, and then some testimonials on Fundamentalist turning to Catholicism. These Catholic-friendly articles were all on my blog and were quoted by many Catholics to counter attacks from Fundamentalists by many Chinese speaking Catholics. For a while I really considered Catholicism because I loved the beauty of their liturgy.

After thought on the wars with Fundamentalists

During the times, I slowly understand the kind of Fundamentalist mindset and many thoughts emerge. I witnessed first hand what this kind of mindset could do to a persons’ integrity.

This is what I saw happening to them:

At first, a Fundamentalist would appear kind and courteous (just like those holding Bibles and knock on your door with a wide smile). They lives are upright, with high integrity. But as their views and beliefs were debunked one after another, their rigid Fundamentalist mindset created a strong internal conflict in them. Because they choose to defend their “treasured faith”, and that all of their sound arguments were out of the window, they mind started to be locked into an ideological vicious circle:


  • I knew the truth (or I had the truth, whatever)
  • They were non-believers, liberals, heretics, apostates, they did not have the truth
  • So even they had facts, reasonable, used means with integrity they are still wrong
  • Even if I used things that looked like a lie, unreasonable, illogical, and even without integrity, I am still with the truth
  • To defend the truth I had to use any means

This kind of reasoning somehow motivated them to use tricks that get meaner and meaner, because they would rather compromise their own intellectual integrity than to suffer the humiliation of admitting that they were wrong. This resulted in the breakdown of their integrity. They no longer capable of loving the enemies, they would speak bitter words of hatred and curse. They turned into Crusaders.

First they would post things with false facts, and then mud-smearing, then back stabbing (they found out which church I attended, and send emails to my church’s email address), flooding the forum to drown out other articles, assumed multiple identities to make it appeared they were the majority, and when they had the authority to delete posts or bar participants in a discussion forum, they used it like some repressive regimes against dissidents.

One case was that I met up with Puritan in another forum that supports deletion of membership, Puritan somehow got the post of administrator, and he barred my membership account, deleted all my posts, put up a notice that basically turn the facts about what happened upside down. This process gave Puritan a inflated self-esteem, he felt he was more powerful than me, he felt a kind of gratitude and satisfaction, as though he won a Crusade for God. The forum went back to “normal” with those “heretic posts” gone, and that served as a confirmation to his terrible tactics - he did it for God using these means, he won, he had “peace” in heart, the good Christian now had a place to share, this had got to be pleasing to God.

This is precisely the dark side of Fundamentalism: in the face of opposition, if they had the powers to crush their enemies, they would use it without hesitant, there is no “Love your enemy”, or that “love” comes after they crushed you. Look at the situation in USA, in those denominations taken over by Fundamentalists, the pattern is all the same.

The battle years with Fundamentalist gradually turned me to a moderate Evangelical, and somewhat leaning to the Liberal side.

In forums, I did not subscribe to common Christian myths (e.g. Darwin turned Christian at his death bed, Einstein was Christian, majority of scientists was Christian, there were tracks where human and dinosaurs walked side by side, the Noah’s Ark was found etc) and often was among the ones that debunked posts containing these lies the very moment they appeared. My action incited Fundamentalists, even some Evangelicals and conservative Christians, because I embarrassed them.

Similarly, when anti-Catholicism articles appeared, I refuted them without hesitation. I then earned the nickname of “the whore” (given to me by Puritan, of course), and gain reputation among forums as the very radical Christians with unorthodox views.

The gay rights controversy

During the same time as I fought the Fundamentalist, I also befriended a number of gay Christians on the forum. I was appalled by the hatred and hostility displayed by other Christians to them. The Fundamentalist and many Evangelicals wanted to stop those gay Christians from posting at the forum. I was a staunch believer in freedom of expression, and I opposed those Christians fiercely, making a lot of Evangelicals and caused a forum to shutdown again. I and one of the gay Christians became friends (he is now going after mysticism).

In 2005, a bill that would make discrimination based on sexual orientation an offense was out for public consultation (“SODO”, “Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance”) in Hong Kong.

This started my new round of fight with conservative Christians. One para-Christian group called the Society of Truth and Light (STL, one that imports all right-winged, conservative views directly from their counterparts in USA). They published large ads on papers containing many false scientific research about homosexuality plus twisted cases in the West. I posted on public forums long articles reprimanding STL, again having heated debates with many Fundamentalists/Evangelicals. Many of my long articles were quoted by LGBT rights activists because I struck at those groups weakest points again – their lack of, cover up or distortion of facts about homosexuality (if it could be “straightened” and “typical cases of homosexuals persecuting Christians” etc).

During that year, a pastor befriended me. He was the kind of seeker sensitive pastor who does not agree with the “military-like” tactics of Hong Kong Christian right/conservative groups, and in particular STL. He preferred the “engagement” mode of helping homosexuals. He wrote some articles criticizing STL in newspapers. STL, unfortunately has a number of senior advisors coming from the denomination which the pastor belonged. About 6 months after he published his views on newspapers he was forced to leave his church (apparently the leadership of the denomination was angry when he embarrassed them). The whole thing was handled in a shadowy manner, the church who asked that pastor to leave even lied about the reason. Their cover was blown away when the pastor released the letter ordering him to resign, showing the deacons had lied public.

The whole Christian community was silent about this issue, allowing the church to lie. The Christian community (mainly evangelical) were just like any ideological groups, refusing to listen to facts and different opinions.

I was convinced then homosexuality is something similar to psychiatric diseases or of in-born nature, and that they were not morally wrong.

These events gradually changed me, I already thrown out Bible inerrancy, I thrown out "simple faith", I denied that homosexuality is a sin, it was only a matter of time before I thrown out the miracles, God creationism, etc.

This event made me decided that I had to cut my ties with Evangelicals and then I completed my transformation to a Liberal Christian, and that had not stopped.

Science – the antidote

By then, I picked up a lot of books about critical thinking, logical reasoning, different Christian doctrines, and finally I returned to my favorite – popular science.

At that time I traveled a lot in China. In China there were big bookstores, the equivalent of Barnes & Nobles in USA. The books were well printed and most of all, dirt cheap. I was drawn to the section of popular science, and picked up 3 or 4 books at every visit there.

I enjoyed those reading so much that I gradually rekindled my love of science.

The war against “Ark finders”

During the same years of SODO (2004 – 2005), there was another event in the Christian circles of Hong Kong. A Christian media group called Media Evangelism (“ME”) announced in the fall of 2004 that they had found the remains of the Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat, and wanted to raise tens of millions of dollars to fund a grand expedition and research project.

When I examined their claims, I was appalled and angry. They just filmed a cave somewhere on the mountain, throw stones into it, and said it had a “hollow sound of echo”, they found big rocks with holes drilled on top (which they claim they were anchors, actually they were shrines made by Christians) etc and they declared “we have the ark”. In news conferences, they repeated said they found it, but showed no physical evidences. They produced a movie and asked churches in the whole territory to buy up big lots of tickets.

I and other Christians posted on a Christian newspaper our views, stating that “ME” was misrepresenting facts about their discovery of the Noah’s Ark, and had heated debates with again the Fundamentalist.

I also found out “ME” site about the “Ark discovery” was full of false materials (including those from the notorious Ron Wyatt who claimed he found the remains of Pharaoh’s chariots that were under the Red See). I sent out an open letter listing all the misinformation in their site, eventually forced “ME” to remove them (but they did it quietly without making an apology on posting wrong things).

Re-visiting origins

The substantial amount of research I did draw my attention to an ancient problem – the earth was over 4 billion years old, there were no evidences of the Flood, that the Ark of that size cannot be seaworthy etc. – the origins of life, the Earth and the Universe crept to my mind. I started to question if Genesis was wrong, how about Virgin Birth and Resurrection ?

As I continued my research I found that much of the claims by Christians, whether about science and history, contained a lot of flaws. Furthermore, the Bible is by no way the inerrant word of God.

Nobody could explain the inconsistencies and cruelty in the Bible. Moreover, the Bible’s authorship was not as simple as most Christians learned about in Sunday Schools. Those were teachings from over 150 years ago. The new discovery and textual analysis, showed that, for example, the book of Genesis, was a compilation of sources up to the time the Israelites were abducted to Babylon, a long after the supposedly time of death of Moses (said to be the author of the first five books). The other books like Joshua, Ruth etc were all written in a manner to teach Israelites not to turn away from God, but many of the events were probably fictional. They were written again at later years.

The battles and wars by the Hebrews in Canaan resulted in large casualties, but no remains of the war were ever found, and the numbers were too high if we considered the world population at that time. Mostly they were exaggerations to make God looked powerful.

The account of Creation by Genesis was also scientifically wrong (plants appeared before the sun was created for example), and that the flood could not have covered the earth (that much water will be triple the volume of the waters of the ocean today) and a boat of that size (450 feet long) could not even stay afloat.

This clear errors in the Bible make me ponder the question, between science and Christianity, I must decide.

At that time I also kept myself updated on the development about arguments of Intelligent Designs and Evolution, I started to realize that, if there is proof that the origins of life, the Earth and the Universe are not a result of a higher being’s intervention (you may call it the Flying Spaghetti Monster), but purely the result of natural forces, then the foundation of Christianity will be gone. You don’t even have to talk about Virgin Birth, Resurrection and End Times.

I examined the evidence in the Bible, and there are clear inconsistencies on the accounts of Jesus’ birth and resurrection. I do not want to go in to details as this was well covered by many other ex-Christians. In a nut shell, the accounts were later created to elevate Jesus to Godhood, but it failed terribly when historical facts were checked. Jesus’ year of birth according to Matthew’s account and Luke’s account was 10 years apart. The census mentioned by Matthew never happened. The mention of the governor at Luke’s account was also in error.

Secondly, the genealogy of Jesus was clearly something created by the authors, they both referred to the paternal side (Joseph’s side of the family). Even if you take into accounts that gaps where there when generations were skipped, there were instances of clear inconsistencies.

The inconsistencies between the accounts of resurrection of Jesus was also disturbing.
I had those doubts buried until I bring myself to face it, and there could be no way anyone can harmonize it. Refer to infidels.org article here for an elaborate discussion: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/testimonials/bradley.html.

Up to this point, my long held belief that Jesus is God were all disproved, I did not ignore the facts presented to me.

As for Evolution, I already found out that those Christian claims that “Evolution” was challenged were all again blatant lies, they twisted news about new discoveries of bones that changes view of Evolution, and claimed that those discoveries “overturned” Evolution.

I visited infidels.org and another site dedicated to Evolution, and then a very good book that outlined how Evolution works and answered a lot of challenges to Evolution, how simple organisms emerged and evolved without conscious “design” and eventually to advanced organisms by natural selection.

I also read a fine book written by Mr. Fang Shi-Min, a PhD in heredity and biology, who did a brilliant job in explaining some intricate mechanism of Evolution (e.g. how a complex organ like the eye evolved). I was fully convinced evolution is a fact and needed no divine intervention to occur.









The point of no return

It was 2007, I still attended Christian activities, and I signed up for the Franklin Graham Festival as a choir member. By November, as the event drew near, I read another articles. This was the very last question that I needed answer. Does our universe (the energy, the matters therein) needed a creator ? Did somebody create our universe out from nothing ?

Here I found a logical flaw. Its hidden assumption was “for something to exist, it must be create”. This was simply begging the question. What we should ask was “how did our universe begin” without jumping to assumptions that it has to be “created”.

In reading articles on modern physics (which showed that matter could come to existence from non-matter) and that the universe is not a true vacuum, and about virtual particles, it can be demonstrated that matter can arise from non-matter. Secondly, the universe can exist on itself without being created. If something was there along, it needn’t be created. By then I cannot lie to myself, I am not a Christian anymore by definition, I am an atheist.

After some hesitation, I announced by switch to atheism. I could not bring myself to sing in the Franklin Graham Festival Choir (even I attended all the practices, knew the anthems back to back), because that was against my intellectual integrity and conscience. Once I realized that, I knew my mind has passed beyond the point of no return.

Settling in

As I settled after I made my announcement, I really am amazed how we can trick ourselves using our mind. We see what we wanted to see, for example goodness or kindness, we cannot find in our lives, we turned to religion because we hoped that we can find it in some deity. We need assurance that things are in control, probably because we felt at times we lose control of things. We are also uncomfortable that forces of nature are impartial and has no emotion when it happens in ways that stirs our mind. We projected our human nature to the “nature” (mother nature, storms have names etc.). Sure, we shared a lot of commonalities with animals, but that does not give laws of nature a “personality”. The mechanistic view of nature is not pleasing or appealing, but should we go as far as to create our god so that nature is more appealing?

One aspect of Fundamentalism and Evangelism is to attribute God’s hand in everything. The Tsunami in late 2004 was branded as God punishing South Asia and India, which are predominantly pagans in their eyes. However they overlooked cases where pagan temples stood intact after the earthquake and Tsunami, and Christian lives lost in that event (I knew an entire family, the parents and children were lost). They failed to see the human kindness displayed by people during the hard times.

Another is that, Fundamentalist used evangelization to justify everything. For instance, to evangelize Catholics, they created bunches of lies to lure them to convert. To evangelize university undergraduates that has some background in science, they created lies about Evolution. They would even justify persecution of fringe religious group (e,g. China’s Falungong) so to “make way for Gospel”. They even hailed the torture of prisoners held at Guatemala, that the Muslims no matter what, the present of US Troops in Iraq open doors for Evangelization.

Evangelicals are no better. The book by Barna Group (unChristian: what What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters) described precisely their distorted world view because of Christian teachings.

The many pseudoscience stuffs (equivalent to quacks) propagated by Christians are just a direct product of their view that God is there to push things. When there is a gap in the argument, they fill the blanks with the word “God did it”. Their behaviors are just like politicians or lobbyists of big corporations creating opinion to support their agenda, rather than the pursuit of truth.

Concluding words

My story will definitely hurt a lot of my friends I had since I became Christian. Many of these friends are kind and compassionate, but will definitely not able to share my views because their world view is so different from mine. I will like to maintain relationship with them. Fortunately I made new friends who are Liberals, agnostics, and atheists. Something I am happy about.


Prologue – A confrontation

This dialogue was a confrontation between me and my pastor some months before I left Christianity, which just shows how narrow-minded, irrational and authoritarian ministers can be when their core beliefs are confronted. I hope in time, my Christian friends will see the facts.

This confrontation with my church's senior pastor was over the question of "once-saved-always-saved".

During the conversation, he just printed out 10 pages and said there were "over 100 verses in the Bible" that proved "once-saved-always-saved".

He was not ready to discuss with me, he wanted me to submit. I challenged him a number of points citing the a Christian publication reporting a newly emerged church being a "heretic":

Me: the article listed a number of criteria that makes this church heretic. One is the divinity of Christ, one is pastoral authority, and the other one is "rejecting once-saved-always-saved". I reject once-saved-always-saved, you said the other Sunday with emphasis on this point when talking about this church. Answer me, am I now a heretic?

Pastor: ..... You took the words out of context, it should be placed alongside with the others.

Me: This is illogical, if you listed it there, then as long as you fulfill the one or more of it, then it meet the criteria.

Pastor: ....no ..no, you have to consider it with others

Me: then this criteria "rejecting once-saved-always-saved" should not be there. It is one that the Christendom never agreed on, and I do not believe any pastor should preach it as the dogma similar to Trinitarian formula.

Pastor:.....I am a Baptist minister for 40 years, I was to preach the truth in the Bible, once-saved-always-saved is the truth as proven by the Bible.

Me: then what about the Methodists, the Lutherans, surely you know they don't teach once-saved-always-saved ? The Methodists is against this doctrine.

Pastor: I refuse to comment other churches. I tell you, I am a veteran minister who preached for 40 years. We preach the truth as said in the Bible. The Bible is literally true; the world is created in 6 days, each day a 24 hour day. Do you know that in USA the South Western Theological Seminary, once professor published a set of commentaries and used the word "myth" to describe Genesis? He was sacked and the whole set of commentaries were rewritten. I preach what I believed is true and I do not have to answer to any individual. You are free to read anything you like, but in my church, it is what it will be taught..

.....

We have no common ground. All I saw was a person that refuses to have a conversation, but only wants to thrust his set of beliefs down my throat.

http://www.armbell.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4895&mforum=liberalhk
支持鼓勵每位離教者
grammar麻麻

Does our universe (the energy, the matters therein) needed a creator ? Did somebody create our universe out from nothing ?

Here I found a logical flaw. Its hidden assumption was “for something to exist, it must be create”.

Other than that, 恭喜佢
恭喜,係因為過年時漏咗拜年,現補拜,並唔係我唔聽話
de omnibus dubitandum
原帖由 抽刀斷水 於 2008-3-1 11:23 發表
Resigned from Christianity after 23 years of journey

The beginning

I am a keen learner and enthusiast of knowledge. I and my siblings used to beg our parents to buy kids encyclopedias, popular scie ...


ThANKs

hast thou attempted2invite her to come over here at least 4 visit ?? cheers ThANKye

回復 2# 抽刀斷水 的帖子

The intolerance from churches are expected, as clearly explained by A. Einstein.

"A man who is convinced of the truth of his religion is indeed never tolerant, and he is unable to be tolerant. At the least, he is to feel pity for the adherent of another religion but usually it does not stop there. The faithful adherent of a religion will try first of all to convince those that believe in another religion and usually he goes on to hatred if he is not successful. However, hatred leads to persecution when the might of the majority is behind it.
In the case of a Christian clergyman the tragi-comical is found in this: that the Christian demands love from the faithful, even love for the enemy. This demand, because it is indeed superhuman, he is unable to fulfill. Thus intolerance and hatred ring through the oily words of the clergyman. The love, which on the Christian side is the basis for the conciliatory attempt towards Judaism is the same as the love of a child for cake. That means that it contains the hope that the object of love will be eaten up. …"

Although he was talking about the Jews, it is also generally applicable.


This site may be of help.

http://www.exminister.org/

After spending so many years in the church or the religion, I can imagine that your social circle is much resticted to Christian circles. Tough or painful time can be ahead in this aspect.

However, the reward is the freedom to seek for knowledge and truth.
原帖由 Guest from 218.103.205.x 於 2008-3-2 08:56 發表
The intolerance from churches are expected, as clearly explained by A. Einstein.

"A man who is convinced of the truth of his religion is indeed never tolerant, and he is unable to be tolerant. At the ...


ThANKs to  遊客 218.103.205.x

ThANKs to http://www.exminister.org/
: : which opens widely my own eye ,
: : which i'm drilling
原帖由 Guest from 218.103.205.x 於 2008-3-2 08:56 發表
After spending so many years in the church or the religion, I can imagine that your social circle is much resticted to Christian circles. Tough or painful time can be ahead in this aspect.

However, the reward is the freedom to seek for knowledge and truth.

一直以來,離教者之家的定位是不設會員制,我們沒有入會退會的手續,各位朋友來去自如,希望可以減少離教者要考慮「入會」的猶豫和戒心。

理念上,我希望各離教者能以過來人的身分和經驗互相扶持,和分享各方面的種種。

非常同意「the reward is the freedom to seek for knowledge and truth」,許多基督徒都沒有這種自由。人生有很漫長的追尋道路,期間亦可以欣賞的角度去看身邊的美麗事物,而不必再考慮它們是否受造之物。

朋友,加油啊!You are no longer a victim but a survivor!
支持鼓勵每位離教者
終於看完了傻貓的經歷,我列印出來也要11頁紙。

23年來,經歷這麼多,才找到一個出路。究竟基督教有甚麼魔力,令這麼多人難以自拔?是靠一個又一個的謊話?還是龐大的勢力與社交群體?就算教徒明明已發現有許多問題,也都在努力自我掩飾著這個懷疑?

最近本網亦收錄了一名專研神經內分泌學的生理學潘震澤教授的宗教經驗,我想很多人為此浪費掉的寶貴光陰也實在太多了,尤其是求學的黃金時期,假如沉迷在基督教,忙碌於事奉、積極參與屬靈活動等,或許會輸掉學業與前途。傻貓與潘教授是幸運兒,他們的學業似乎並無受到太大影響。

正如潘教授最後都引用孔子的說話:「未知生,焉知死」,中國傳統上都覺得不應浪費時間在這些身上。周兆祥苦思多時,得出的結論也只是:「人生那麼短,哪有時間去想這個問題。」

以上這些,都是各離教者的經驗與智慧累積。
支持鼓勵每位離教者

回復 9# 抽刀斷水 的帖子

係呀, 十一頁紙咁長, 所以我都係等你個中文版翻譯出黎先細心睇.

我參與教會聚會都有廿多年, 魔力在哪? 魔力在當教會成為你的全部, 你就無法有一個清晰的頭腦, 去思想信仰所是. 我的經驗是先離開教會, 再離開信仰.
原帖由 龍井樹 於 2008-3-4 14:35 發表
係呀, 十一頁紙咁長, 所以我都係等你個中文版翻譯出黎先細心睇.

我參與教會聚會都有廿多年, 魔力在哪? 魔力在當教會成為你的全部, 你就無法有一個清晰的頭腦, 去思想信仰所是. 我的經驗是先離開教會, 再離開信仰. ...


felicitations2u that : :::::::::::
even ye had 廿多年教會聚會's habit ,
even 教會 had 魔力 up on your 全部 , ye have still perfected through in rooting out the church ,

+
felicitations2離教者之家 having your attendances


原帖由 龍井樹 於 2008-3-4 14:35 發表
係呀, 十一頁紙咁長, 所以我都係等你個中文版翻譯出黎先細心睇.

我參與教會聚會都有廿多年, 魔力在哪? 魔力在當教會成為你的全部, 你就無法有一個清晰的頭腦, 去思想信仰所是. 我的經驗是先離開教會, 再離開信仰. ...

要踏出離開教會之前,往往都要權衡一下在其中認識的好朋友,在離教之後會否改變。

或者,學習一下傻貓,先認識一下其他觀點不同的朋友,那麼在離教後都不會太孤獨。
支持鼓勵每位離教者

回復 9# 抽刀斷水 的帖子

呢個過程係十分浪費資源嘅。
而最麻煩嘅係,發現呢個過程係十分浪費資源,本身亦係十分浪費資源嘅。

所以,我就簡化此問題,過程只須三部曲:
1. 如果冇上帝,好似唔多合理
2. 但係有上帝,又係唔合理
3. 咁,我都唔知點搞,由於資料不足,我都無從下判斷;所以,都係唔好下判斷啦。反正有冇上帝我都咁做人之嘛
de omnibus dubitandum
原帖由 沙文 於 2008-3-5 00:28 發表
呢個過程係十分浪費資源嘅。
而最麻煩嘅係,發現呢個過程係十分浪費資源,本身亦係十分浪費資源嘅。

所以,我就簡化此問題,過程只須三部曲:
1. 如果冇上帝,好似唔多合理
2. 但係有上帝,又係唔合理
3. 咁,我都唔知點搞,由於資料不足,我都無從下判斷;所以,都係唔好下判斷啦。反正有冇上帝我都咁做人之嘛


reading thy piece @ here or other where , is oh////o also : :::::
呢個過程係十分浪費資源嘅。
而最麻煩嘅係,發現呢個過程係十分浪費資源,本身亦係十分浪費資源嘅。
原帖由 抽刀斷水 於 2008-3-4 13:13 發表
終於看完了傻貓的經歷,我列印出來也要11頁紙。

23年來,經歷這麼多,才找到一個出路。究竟基督教有甚麼魔力,令這麼多人難以自拔?是靠一個又一個的謊話?還是龐大的勢力與社交群體?就算教徒明明已發現有許多問題,也都在努力自我 ...


>>>>>>>>> 終於看完了傻貓的經歷,我列印出來也要11頁紙。

it would b a last straw on thy already-too-overburden-camel's back , 4thee2翻譯中文版

me-seems ,
it should b the responsiblity of My Fair Lady 2 do it ,
+
she had said she'd translate it sooner-or-later

cheers ThANKye

原帖由 抽刀斷水 於 2008-3-4 19:59 發表

要踏出離開教會之前,往往都要權衡一下在其中認識的好朋友,在離教之後會否改變。

或者,學習一下傻貓,先認識一下其他觀點不同的朋友,那麼在離教後都不會太孤獨。 ...

所謂物以類聚。如果我真係能夠同教友玩得埋,就證明左我同佢地係同一類人啦,
仲點會離教呢?
原帖由 龍井樹 於 2008-3-6 09:06 發表

所謂物以類聚。如果我真係能夠同教友玩得埋,就證明左我同佢地係同一類人啦,
仲點會離教呢?

假如玩唔埋而離教,當初又點解信教?當初唔係同一類人咩?

這「物以類聚」的假設有一缺憾,就是假設了人不會改變。

沙文的簡化程序相當具結論性。
支持鼓勵每位離教者

回復 17# 抽刀斷水 的帖子

我從小就跟父母到教會主日崇拜,父母在外面參與崇拜,我在房間跟其他背景一樣的小朋友玩。(有一個藝人是我其中的一個兒時玩伴,他是快必譚得志。)試過因為周日拒絕上教會而跟父親爭執,終被武力鎮壓。

信教大概是小學五年級的事,那時開始跟姐姐轉到另一教會聚會。這算是我正式參與教會聚會,上主日學、參加青年團契,後期更參與主日崇拜,甚至加入詩班在台上唱聖詩。

貓姐說她先是基要,再到福音派自由派,最後成為無神論者。我的情況有點不同。我跟貓姐同樣認真追求信仰所是,但不滿福音派的妥協態度,心信一套行出來卻是另一套,口裡承認的跟基要沒有兩樣,但行事為人則向社會大眾的道德標準盡量看齊。我沒有到過基要派的教會,只是在忠於《聖經》教導的信仰下思想逐漸傾向基要,對教會內教友言行不一的表現越感厭惡。由於我一家都是教徒,對教徒言行不一的體會更是深刻,例如父母曾經因為兄長為數不少的十一奉獻而責備他,甚至趕他出門要脅要不認這個不孝子。由於大部份時間都放在教會侍奉,自然沒有太多時間跟教外的朋友聯絡,而教會內那種也不冷也不暖的宗教生活亦令我跟那些所謂「弟兄姊妹」合不來,因此最後就離開了。

回復 18# 龍井樹 的帖子

有沒有興趣把你的經歷加以補充,像貓姐一樣總結一下自己的宗教經歷,使之成為你自己的離教見證呢?
支持鼓勵每位離教者

回復 19# 抽刀斷水 的帖子

謝謝你再次邀請!

我是個眼高手低的,自己的寫作能力遠遠落後於對文章的要求,恐怕無法完成「離教見證」這類比較嚴肅的東西。
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