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 ~

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...



One of my primary goals was to become more familiar with other viewpoints. I wanted to know why other people did not share my beliefs. I read Bart Ehrman's excellent book, "Forged", which opened my eyes to a whole new world of biblical scholarship I never even knew existed. At the same time I also discovered a wealth of evidence from the natural sciences which shook the foundations of my faith and overturned my entire worldview.

I was wrong.

This realisation turned my life upside down. I realised I had grown up being taught so-called "facts" about the world from people who had never done any of their own research. They had simply accepted what they had learned from others over the years, and so it went on. So I set out to rediscover the world for myself. I wanted to know the truth, even if it hurt.

Everywhere I looked I discovered more and more information that challenged the views I had grown up with and inherited. I read more books, from both Christian and non-Christian authors. I watched many debates between prominent scholars. I wanted evidence, but I eventually realised there just wasn't any, or at least not the kind of evidence one would need in order to be convinced. This lack of evidence really bothered me. The arguments presented to explain this apparent lack of evidence started to sound very much like the excuses for why there is still no evidence for Bigfoot, or alien visitations, or Zeus.

My world was changing. I had been a Christadelphian all my life. All my friends and family were Christadelphians. My whole identity was tied up in the religion. It was the only world I knew, and yet with every new piece of information I discovered, that world began to change. It felt like the scales were falling from my eyes, bit by bit. It was scary, but all I wanted was to know what was true. I didn't want to give up my life for a lie. If this was the only life I had, I didn't want to waste it pretending I had another one to look forward to.

All of the research I had done pointed away from everything I had been taught as a Christadelphian. I wanted to scream...

"Why didn't anyone tell me?!"


Well, they probably didn't tell me because they didn't know. Because they never thought to look, or were too afraid to.

So that is what this blog is for. To share the things Christadelphians won't tell you. To share the amazing things I've learned along my journey - things I wish I had been told many years ago.

10 comments:

  1. Your first paragraph could have been written by me.
    It wasn`t until I moved house from an area in the English Midlands where I was easily able to be, and was, subjected to a constant bombardment of everything associated with Christadelphia, and frequently, and alongside friends and relatives of the same persuasion - to, an ecclesia which, I`m sad to say, was full of members who were "dead" in their thinking. No flowers allowed in the meeting hall. No discussion after the bible class. "We have THE TRUTH"- no argument. No change. I could go on. It was like having a bucket of cold unthinking water thrown at one.
    The result of this was that it caused me to start to attend less frequently, until I found I didn`t want to attend at all. This wasn`t, surely, what God`s people should be like. I was, of course, and after almost no contact from the "AB`s" I might say, slung out for Long Continued Absence.
    For some time I was in a state of a thinking limbo. What would God think of me? But gradually, my mind being freed from the regular bombardment of continual unthinking indoctrination, which seems to be the reason why members take their seats every weekday, Sunday, and at Fraternals, et al, I began to embark on a path of discovery. What had I actually been taught from a child up, that stood up to examination as to it`s value and truth? Why hadn`t I queried this before? Gradually I read, and I began to use my brain, I began a voyage of wonder and enlightenment, I began to realise that what, into which I had been indoctrinated, just didn`t stand up to a careful examination. It wasn`t THE TRUTH into which I had been baptised at an age of late teenage, mainly I think now, because National Service was looming, and I was not supposed to be part of that.
    I`ve now been "out" longer than I was "in", and now that the (Christadelphian) rain and mist has gone, the air is beautifully clear, and the sun of reason shines into my life. I`m so content. I`m so glad that I`m out of that sad sect. I still have friends who are "in". I value their unquestioning friendship. We don`t discuss our differences. I would, but only if they raised it first. They are happy with what they think they`ve got. I`m happy with what I now know. I can see both sides. I`ve been there. They continue on a journey of indoctrination.
    Would that they could come to look outside their bubble, and to see and understand what I have found to be my "truth".

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  2. Steve,
    "Why didn't anyone tell you?". This depends on who you think "they" are. Your Christadelphian family, real and ecclesial would not have because you where acting out the life of the perfect Christadelphian. They would have no knowledge of what an insidious business Christadelphianism is, and if they did, they would have,as you put it, excused it, knowingly or otherwise. Outside of that circle people probably did tell you, but as a Christadelphian, would you really have taken any notice? I'd guess not-you would probably have dismissed them out of hand, and not even recall doing it.

































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    1. I do remember several times when non-Christadelphians tried to tell me. In fact at least 2 in particular were influential in causing me to start questioning my beliefs. They weren't necessarily what you might expect either. One was a comment bluntly asserting that Bart Ehrman had already disproven Christianity. I didn't follow it up at the time but it was enough for the name to stick in my head.

      Another was a comment pointing out that while scientists do make several assumptions about the world, most of those assumptions are independently tested. He then went on to demonstrate how the particular assumption I had mentioned had been tested, to a fairly high degree of confidence. That comment planted the seeds that started to change my view of science.

      But I think the thing that really changed everything for me was my own desire to understand other points of view. I wanted to understand why so many scientists were convinced that evolution was true. I wanted to understand it properly in order to refute it, but it was the evidence and explanations I found during that process that ended up convincing me as well. Actually it was a combination of discovering new evidence and also correcting some misunderstandings.

      Then I started reading Bart Ehrman's book, "Forged" and that really made me curious about the truth behind the Bible. I had been brought up reading and studying it but suddenly here was a lot of information from a prominent scholar that contradicted what I had been told. To make it worse, apparently most scholars had known all of this information for many years but I had never heard any of it before.

      With so many disagreeing voices and sources, I wasn't sure how I could know which ones were true and which were not. That's when I realised the importance of evidence. I realised I could be persuaded by clever arguments regardless of what was true (and indeed this had happened several times prior), so arguments on their own were not enough - since I am not a perfect logician. If there was tangible evidence, that was much more difficult to twist or argue with. And when I watched debates between scholars, it suddenly became clear who was coming up with empty arguments in order to dodge around the fact that they had no evidence. It was the theists. They couldn't meet the burden of proof. They started to look like dodgy salespeople, trying to sell the emperor's new clothes. Since then, when I have insisted on evidence with theists, all I've gotten is excuses.

      Evolution became a test case for me for the kinds of evidence it takes to determine what is true. I was convinced of evolution on the weight of the evidence. However, when it came to the Bible and God, there was nothing like that standard of evidence. It was all smoke and mirrors, and "just believe". The "faith" card was played everywhere, and I couldn't see any difference between faith and self-deception.

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  3. Sadly, most CDs are saturated in their way of thinking and cannot recognise any other viewpoint apart from their own version of the 'truth'.
    I have had many discussions with friends and family who are still 'in', and you can see the change in expression as you make your point, their head tilting slightly and a look of pity that you don't share their understanding of the bible.
    As one who enjoys a full and frank discussion, I find it laughable and somewhat frustrating that they waft away any criticism of the bible, because the bible is right and any arguments against it are automatically wrong.

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    1. Yes Mark, this is the indoctrinated mind at work. Until one`s mind is freed from that indoctrination, and it can be done, then true reasoning cannot take place. "They" only see one side of what they believe is true. "We" are in the fortunate position of having been there, done that, and of being in a position to wear the bubble-free T.shirt with confidence.

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  4. I know exactly what you're talking about, Steve.

    I had two "Why didn't anyone tell me?" moments. One was in relation to evolution, of which I was only ever taught a strawman version, and the other was in relation to academic Bible scholarship, as opposed to Christadelphian Bible 'scholarship', which is not true scholarship at all because it starts with so many uncritical and unquestioned assumptions. You can't arrive at truth if you aren't willing to question things - as you discovered for yourself.

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  5. Why didn't anyone tell me? Well, like you, my first answer would be "Because they didn't know". But I think also that their worldview (and mine) didn't really permit them to know.

    Take evolution, for example. I came across many of the facts that would now cause me to accept evolution years before I accepted evolution. Some of them sounded tenuous, both because short internet articles couldn't explain their full force and because I assumed in their naturalistic thinking they weren't recognising the creative power of God. Other things I didn't really have an answer for, and mentally they were filed away in a category of "I know there must be an answer, but I haven't yet been able to find it". And yes, I qualified in an evil secular university and worked in a largely secular workplace, so I was able to have people telling me things that I ignored.

    Biblical inerrancy is similar: If you start with the assumption that it's correct (you just need to figure out how), it's a lot to demonstrate it is correct. And clearly anyone saying anything else isn't a true believer and is motivated to avoid believing in God.

    The Internet is a double-edged sword. I suspect it makes it a lot easier to accidentally run into alternate points of view, but it also makes it easier to build up an echo chamber and to find motivated dismissals of those alternate points of view.

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  6. You don't have to think if you KNOW it is the TRUTH. You just dish up the same old stuff and all those in the CD box will agree with you. Just don't get outside the box (the box being the CD truth which can't be questioned as it is right, even if it is wrong) or believe anyone who dares say anything that is not in the box because of course they are wrong, even if they are right. And having your head stuck in the box is a bit more comfortable than having your head in the sand, even if it isn't,

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  7. The main reason that no one could have told us is that we wouldn't have listened. We were conditioned to believe that the only motive for anyone not following our version of The Truth was so that they could be free to sin. Or that they had not studied the bible hard enough and so were ignorant and should be pitied.

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  8. I had JW`s at the door today. I was so struck (again) by the similarity of the indoctrination they exhibited, to what I exhibited at the doors of those I was canvassing when I was a CD. I find it interesting to observe the human mind at work in this way. As far as I can understand, there are but two ways to get at the truth of what one is taught, and becomes indoctrinated by. Either way can only start by the person who is indoctrinated by feeling, or being given, a tiny, mini, spark of doubt. Then, firstly by wanting to, or being curious, either by an honest and intellectual exercise, or by a lengthy separation from the constant bombardment of CDism (or Whateverism), seek for truth. Then the brain can begin to separate fact from fiction, having a rational approach rather from irrationality.

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