Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.
~ Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791 ~

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Eliminating Bias

"I don't believe that", said Alison, "I'd like to see your evidence."

Chris was taken aback. He had not faced someone so skeptical before. In the discussion so far, Alison had seemed polite enough but she was also becoming increasingly closed-minded. At first Chris wasn't sure what to say. He wasn't prepared for this response at all.

Before we continue, let's meet Chris...

Friday, October 13, 2017

They promise eternal life and happiness

A Christadelphian's primary hope is to live forever in a future state of bliss, surrounded by fellow believers and worshipping Jesus and God for eternity. No more sorrow and suffering, no more tears, no more pain, no more death. So the promise goes.

This utopia is apparently available to anyone who wants it. Just give up your ambitions and freedoms in this life, and submit yourself as a slave to a magical, invisible being, and you will be rewarded with more happiness than you can imagine. The sacrifices you make in this life will be more than repaid in the next, and the suffering you endure now will be insignificant compared to the glory you will inherit later. Feeling lucky?

But what are these merchants really selling?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Why I Believe There Is Probably No God

One of the more common criticisms I've heard directed at atheists is that in order to be an atheist, one must claim to know everything that exists in the universe and beyond. That is, in order to claim that no gods exist, one must possess all knowledge about everything that could possibly exist. Since obviously no human could possibly know everything that exists, it is argued that atheists are simply dishonest and arrogant.

While there may be atheists who make such claims, the vast majority do not. This is actually a misunderstanding of atheism on the part of believers who offer this criticism. The majority of atheists do not in fact assert that no gods exist. Most are actually agnostic, and simply remain unconvinced that any particular god exists.

However, in this article I want to go a bit further and put forward some arguments for why it may well be more rational to believe that no gods exist, at least for all practical purposes.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Is There A God? Why I Believed And How I Came To Doubt

People believe in a god or gods for many different reasons. Most of them believe in the god(s) their parents taught them to believe in. This is as true for Christadelphians as it is for any other religion. However, as they grow older, they learn (and come up with) other ways to defend that belief, and Christadelphians in particular often put a reasonable amount of effort into reinforcing the belief regularly. All of this was true for me, and I genuinely believed in a god right up until my early 30's. The reasons for my belief changed over time, and my concept of who or what God was also changed, but the basic belief was there all along.

This article explores why I believed in God, and how I came to doubt God's existence.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The historical reliability of the book of Acts

As a Christadelphian I heard over and over again how Luke was apparently a first class historian and therefore we could trust both his gospel and the book of Acts. But is the book of Acts really reliable as a historical source? I don't think so, and this article explains one of the reasons why.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Why didn't anyone tell me?!

I grew up as a Christadelphian. I went to Sunday School. I believed all of the Christadelphian teachings. I was baptised in my late teens and regularly attended the meetings, including fulfilling various duties.

In my early thirties, I decided to take a closer look at my beliefs. Actually, I started to become more curious about why other people didn't believe the same things, which led to some introspection about my own beliefs. If I wanted to convince others, I needed to be sure of my own beliefs first. So I embarked on a journey of discovery. Little did I know what lay ahead...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Atonement

As a Christadelphian, I had to endure countless long-winded sermons about The Atonement and why it was such a big deal. The Christadelphian view of atonement is somewhat unique, but it's not too far different from other Christian views on the subject (despite what Christadelphians will tell you). After all, they all get it from the same book.

According to Christadelphians, the atonement is the whole basis of salvation and encapsulates the human condition, God's divine plan for us and the universe, and even the meaning of life. But buried therein are some of the most sick and immoral ideas ever invented. Hold the cries of blasphemy, for I do not claim that such ideas came from a god. The fact that many people think they did, just makes the ideas so much more perverse.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

WTF Bible Verses

Did you ever come across verses in the Bible that really made you scratch your head and wonder what the heck the author was smoking? Probably acacia, but seriously I thought it might be enlightening to post some verses that were allegedly inspired by the greatest mind in the universe.

As you read through these verses prepare to feel as tiny as a grasshopper as you admire the sheer genius contained therein. Clearly these words were penned by God himself, although not literally of course. Firstly, because pens weren't invented until the 19th century. And secondly, because like all truly great beings, God allegedly had other people actually do all of the work, while taking full credit. I've actually met people who had mastered this same tactic, although I disagreed with them about whether they were actually God. But I digress...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Guest Post: A Brief Guide To Christadelphianism

I did not write this fantastic piece. It was written by a friend who gave me permission to publish it here. Enjoy!

Forget 'The Christadelphians' by Harry Tennant - here for your convenience and reading pleasure is a (very) brief guide to the Christadelphian religion in verse. Just because.

In Eden the Lord chose to make
A woman, a man, and a snake.
On a tree he then put
Some ripe, tasty fruit
Which proved an almighty mistake.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

How Effective Is Prayer?

Does Prayer work?

I've never met a Christadelphian who did not believe prayer was effective and worthwhile. This belief is probably one of the most widespread beliefs among all Christians, and people from other religions too. I used to pray, and I was convinced that at least some of my prayers were answered even though I couldn't be completely sure which ones.

Many believers pray every day, and even several times per day, so obviously they believe prayer really works. But have you ever thought about that? Does it actually work? How would you go about finding out? It's not enough just to think of a time when you prayed and something happened. You might be ignoring other times when nothing happened, or the statistical likelihood of that thing happening to any one person on the planet by chance alone. What about all of the other possible outcomes that you might have likewise interpreted as an answer to that same prayer?

What many believers may not be aware of is that prayer has been studied scientifically and there are even randomized, controlled trials that show a statistically significant positive benefit in favour of prayer! Let's have a look at some of the studies on prayer and what they found...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Thoughts about my journey out of Christadelphia

I often think back over my life growing up as a Christadelphian and I try to make sense of it all, and put the pieces together in a way that will hopefully provide a little bit more closure. I remind myself that leaving one's religion behind is not an easy task, and certainly not something you do in ten minutes before moving on to other things. It's a bit different for everyone, but for me the process is ongoing and probably will be for quite some time.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Why are Christadelphians obsessed with Bible Prophecy?

For many Christadelphians, Bible prophecy is a big deal. For some, it forms the bedrock on which all of their other beliefs rest. For others, it provides comfort and helps them to feel more secure in their beliefs.

This article takes a look at why Christadelphians put so much emphasis on prophecy.

Syria in Bible Prophecy

Syria has once again hit the news headlines across the world, and no doubt Christadelphians will capitalise on this and make all sorts of claims about it being a fulfilment of Bible prophecy. I'm just guessing. I don't really follow any Christadelphian sources these days.

So I thought this would be a good opportunity to take a look at what the Bible actually says about Syria, and try to cut through the hyperbole and hysteria that tends to surround topics like this.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Biblical poems, are much more interesting, would you like some more?

I read the Bible.
I searched for the evidence.
I couldn't find it.

They said, "Just have faith".
That didn't make any sense.
I couldn't believe.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Why don't you pray to Thor for rain?

When you look out at the natural world, what do you see? Whatever you see, and however you interpret it, I think it's very human to seek an explanation for it. People have been coming up with explanations for the natural world for thousands of years, at least since the invention of writing, and probably much earlier than that. If you look at the explanations offered over time you will notice some patterns emerging. Our explanations for things changed over time, just as we humans have changed. I doubt you would find the oldest explanations compelling. Is Thor responsible for storms? We still celebrate Thor's day (Thursday) every week. Should we offer sacrifices to a fertility goddess? Are there any ancient superstitious rituals that are still practised today?

Monday, March 13, 2017

There once was a book called the Bible

It was Adam and Eve in the garden
And God said, "I do beg your pardon.
New rule, this just in,
Eating fruit’s now a sin,
And for goodness sake please put some garb on!"

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Viruses and floods require an Intelligent Designer

One of the most common arguments used by believers for the existence of God is the "argument from design". Perhaps you've heard it as "Just look at the trees", or "How could all of this just happen by chance?". These are essentially just ways of saying that because nature is complex, therefore it must have been designed by some intelligent being.

The core assertion is that "complexity necessarily implies design, and design requires an intelligent designer", or simply just "complexity requires an intelligent designer". Lately I've noticed that another assertion has been added to the mix, namely "information requires an intelligent designer". This is very similar to the argument from complexity, and on closer inspection it seems that the logic underlying it is indeed the same, and therefore so are its flaws.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Christadelphians and the meaning of life

Last year I wrote a series of articles about finding meaning in life without God. I found it to be a very interesting topic to explore, and quite personal too. But until recently I had not spent much time thinking about how Christadelphians find meaning in life with God. It's one of those things that is often just assumed or taken for granted. Now obviously I cannot speak for other Christadelphians and I have no empirical data from which to draw any conclusions about them, but I can talk about what I found meaningful back when I was a Christadelphian, and perhaps some others will be able to relate to that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Christadelphian Reality Distortion

The alternate, distorted reality that is Christadelphianism includes several defence mechanisms that appear to be quite effective at keeping people from looking too far outside the religion, if they look outside it at all. Many of these mechanisms are perpetuated both indirectly through culture and directly through Sunday School indoctrination and regular reinforcement.

When I talk about reality distortion, I am specifically referring to ways in which Christadelphians inherit or acquire a view of the world that not only differs from what modern societies consider "normal", but also directly contradicts our best understanding of reality. While this distorted worldview evidently does not prevent Christadelphians from functioning within society, and there is nothing stopping anyone from believing whatever they want, I consider it somewhat harmful and even potentially malicious when children are indoctrinated with these distortions and taught that it is in fact the rest of society (all 7 billion of them) that have lost their way.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Leaving the Christadelphians

Growing up as a Christadelphian can feel normal enough. We may have been seen as a bit "different" at school or university, but going to church is still generally respected and people rarely ask too many questions about it. That, too, is kind of still normal enough. It was sometimes difficult coming up with interesting answers to, "So what did you do on the weekend?", but we survived. The camps were fun (well, the free time was anyway). We had large organised events for young people, and regular opportunities to meet new people and have a good chat over supper.

For the most part, this was our life. But there was something else. Life as a Christadelphian was really all about one thing, and one thing only. Getting into the kingdom. That's all that mattered, and the Christadelphian community had created a framework and ecosystem spanning almost every part of life, all geared towards that goal. From Sunday School, to youth group events, to baptism instruction, to ecclesial duties, to outings, to teaching, to getting married, to preaching, and even to funerals, they had it all covered. Everything we needed in order to keep us on the straight and narrow path was catered for, complete with both positive and negative feedback mechanisms to encourage and enforce certain patterns of behaviour. There was also sometimes that positive community spirit of helping each other along the often difficult path, that "narrow way that leads to life". We were the lucky ones to have been born into the one true religion. Christadelphian life wasn't easy, but God would surely reward our struggles by granting us eternal life when Jesus returned.

And it almost made sense. Almost.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Was Jesus perfect?

There is a danger in elevating a single person or book above all others. We become blinded to the flaws, and become persuaded through our bias. We can all recognise this danger when it comes to almost every other area of life (and especially other religions), and yet the Bible is still often held as a book never to be questioned. The irony screams pretty loud here.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Does DNA require God?

I recently had the misfortune of arguing with a creationist who insisted that DNA is (or contains) information, and that information requires an intelligent creator (God, of course). This appears to be the latest angle creationists pursue in order to cling to some form of perceived relevance in today's scientific world.

First, let me just point out that it's interesting and perhaps encouraging to see that certain other long-debunked arguments for creationism are now advanced less often than before. Progress of a kind. Creationism will be with us for a while yet though, because it is almost never purely the result of careful examination of the evidence. These people typically became creationists as children, and then invented (or learned) creative ways of defending that belief as adults. Meanwhile, it is estimated that over 99% of those who have studied the evidence most carefully, accept evolution.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Ontological Argument

The various arguments for the existence of God were not often employed by Christadelphians back when I was a member. I'm not sure if it's because they were not aware of them, or because the arguments were made by non-Christadelphians, or some other reason.

Nevertheless, the arguments do surface occasionally, and in this article I thought it would be interesting to look at the Ontological Argument for the existence of God.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Christadelphian Story

In the beginning, there was a super intelligent being, called God. Except there was no beginning, because God had always existed. Forever.

One day, God decided to create a universe, as you do. He made it full of about 2 trillion galaxies, each containing about 100 billion stars, and around many of the stars he created several planets.

Then he picked just one planet, and created all living things on it.