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Showing posts with label atheist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label atheist. Show all posts

Testimonies of Exorcism

From: Winston
To: ed.babinski
Sent: Sunday, July 18, 2004 7:02 AM
Subject: Link to my article debunking Christian fundamentalist arguments


Hi there,
I just put up my article debunking the main arguments of Christian fundamentalists. Here is the link. I was wondering if you could post it somewhere on your site. It was written to help newly ex-fundamentalists.


Debunking_Christian_Arguments.htm

Thanks,
Winston




From: Ed Babinski
To: Winston
Sent: Monday, July 19, 2004 2:37 AM
Subject: I read your testimony, Winston, very interesting!


Hi Winston,


Thanks for writing edwardtbabinski.us


I enjoyed your personal testimony about leaving fundamentalism at your website.


...especially this part: "My mom... took me to see some Spiritualist healers and Taoist-like temples to try to get help for the mental illness I had for 2 years. Three Different spiritualists who didn't know each other told her that they could 'see' two souls inhabiting me for a past karmic crime I committed against them. She was instructed by the leaders of a Taoist-like temple to perform these strange exorcism rites, which involved putting leaflet spells above the bedroom I slept in and having me take baths in some hot herbal water tossed in with yellow spell leaflets.

It was all weird to me and my Christian world view taught that Satan was behind these kind of things. But I thought oh well, being a Christian never helped me through those 2 hellish years anyway, so why not give Satan a chance at helping me?"


Your testimony parallels that of another former fundie friend of mine, Will Bagley, who lives in Washington state. Will was "born again," but later read the great Catholic mystics, then the great Eastern mystics, and today studies Taoism, vegetarianism, meditation, mental and bodily healing, life extension, channeling, massage, etc. Will sends out a regular e-newsletter on those topics. You two should meet for coffee and tell me all about what you discussed! Will's photo and testimony about how he left fundamentalism can be found in a book I edited, Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists (Prometheus Books, 1995). Though my book was published by that skeptical organization, it included testimonies of former fundamentalists who remained Christians, though more moderate and liberal, as well as the testimonies of two folks who left fundamentalism for Wicca and eastern mysticism, respectively. Only the final third of the book contains the testimonies of former fundamentalists who ecame agnostics and atheists. I thanked Prometheus for including such a broad range of former fundie testimonies.


Today there is a great website run by Steve Locks that features the testimonies of many former fundies, possibly the most well indexed and widest collection of such testimonies on the web. His site is simply named, "Leaving Christianity." Easy to remember, check it out by simply googling, "Leaving Christianity." It's number one.


Will and yourself also agree that the skeptics are too skeptical. Will is quite well read and also quite deeply into spiritual practices, and I am sure you two will find much to talk about, wish I was there to listen! Maybe send me a cassette tape of your conversation! And play a game of chess too! Why not some speed chess? (Will once won the championship of a large prestigious chess club in New Jersey, but hasn't played in years. Like Will, I was a top ranked high school chess player.)


Cheers!
Edward T. Babinski




edwardtbabinski.us writes:
Did you hear the story on the news about a preacher who sat on an autistic boy's chest, the mother believed her son could be healed of the demon causing the illness...


Faith kills boy, 8.


An autistic eight-year-old boy has died during a prayer service held to supposedly cure him of the evil spirits blamed for causing his condition. "[We] didn't do nothing wrong," the pastor, David Hemphill, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper.


US boy dies during 'exorcism' An autistic eight-year-old boy has died during a prayer service held to supposedly cure him of the evil spirits blamed for causing his condition. Torrance Cantrell was wrapped in sheets and held by his hands and feet while members of the Faith Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith in the city of Milwaukee prayed over him. This procedure had been taking place three times a week. However, on Friday those involved in the ceremony - including his mother - noticed the boy had stopped breathing. Paramedics were called to the scene but were unable to revive him. The brother of the church's pastor, Ray Hemphill, who was also present at the ceremony, was arrested shortly after the incident on suspicion of physically abusing a child, local police said. "[We] didn't do nothing wrong," the pastor, David Hemphill, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper. "We did what the Book of Matthew said... all we did is ask God to deliver him." 'Tormented' Autism causes children to have severe problems relating to, and communicating with, people around them. In interviews with local newspapers, neighbours of the Cantrell family alleged that Torrance hated being touched and said that having people restrain him would likely have caused him a great deal of stress. However, David Hemphill said that the boy had been wrapped in sheets and had his shoes removed in order to prevent him from being hurt. "We were asking God to take this spirit that was tormenting this little boy to death," Mr Hemphill said. "We were praying that hard, but not to kill." David Hemphill started the independent church in 1997. It has a small congregation of six families. Story from BBC NEWS. Published: 2003/08/25 14:41:23 GMT © BBC MMIII

Common Progression in Religion

Scholars think that Jesus did not start out being "equal with God" but started out as a "heavenly mediator," a concept that became popular during the intertestamenal period, but most folks don't hear about intertestamental heavenly mediators in Sunday school, and instead think Christianity popped out of thin air. Here is a little discussion I had with someone recently on such topics:


CHRISTIAN: Jesus claim of being God was unique. He made the claim in a strictly monotheistic context and (not pantheistic) culture.


ED: We know only what others claimed about Jesus. Moreover, there were many Messiahs, Messiahnic ideas, and "heavenly intermediary" figures just prior to Jesus' day. The Melchizadek scroll found near the Dead Sea even says that God appointed Melchizadek (a human being) as a heavenly intermediary to judge the entire world. And that was before Jesus' day.


The Jewish Roman World of Jesus (great scholarly articles, great site)


Even in the Gospels you can see how in the synoptics (Mark, Matthew, Luke) Jesus pointed to doing God's will, "Do unto others, for this is the law and the prophets" (Matthew's sermon on the mount). -- "How do I inherit eternal life?" "Obey the commandments." -- "Pray this way... Forgive us as we forgive others." While in the last written Gospel (Gospel of John) Jesus is portrayed as pointing almost always at himself. So, the earliest three Gospels began with Jesus directing people to stare at where his finger was pointing, toward God, doing God's will, following commandments, while the last Gospel ends by staring almost solely at the finger itself, worshipping the finger of Jesus.


The history of religion features the same theme of the heavenly messenger getting raised to the status of the divine, superceding the message, becoming the whole message, again and again. Happened with the Buddha in Amida Buddhism (they pray "save me amida Buddha"). Happened earlier in Judaism where the "Torah" itself became holy, or the tabernacle, or things associated with God. Happened in fundamentalism in the 20th century where the "Bible" became God's inerrant words, and to doubt it's truthfulness even in little matters was condemned. Happened in Catholicism where the Popes were at one point elevated to the status of infallible "god-men," some said, "born sinless." Happens in religion, very common. The saint who loves God himself get elevated to near-divine status.




CHRISTIAN: The penalty in that CULTure, which he, Jesus, paid, was death.
He was nearly killed by stoning several times for this claim, and ultimately crucified for it. His response was not, "Hey, don't you get it?
Each of us is God."


ED: Actually that WAS Jesus' response in at least one case, "Know ye not that ye are sons of God?"




CHRISTIAN: His response was, "I am He, and if you don't believe Me, you will die in your sins."


ED: Late theological interpretation, that's from John 8:24, "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am [he], ye shall die in your sins." Only the last written Gospel (The Gospel of John), has a theology of "believe" in a certain thing "about Jesus," or "die." (Also see John 3, "he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the son...")


Such a teaching does not appear in the three earlier synoptic Gospels, except in the LATE ADDED chapter of Mark. "he who believes not shall be condemned."




CHRISTIAN: I understand that this is not the Eastern view of the nature of God or the Muslim view.


Thing is, if you go to Buddha's tomb, his bones are in the ground. Same with Mohammed's grave. Same with Krishnamurti, etc.etc. They are all dead and have remained so.


ED: What's really remarkable is that Buddha could grow into amida Buddha, the savior Buddha, that you pray to "save me amida Buddha," even without the need of hoaky resurrection tales. Hindus also have saviors, divine avatars that selflessly incarnate on earth rather than remain in heavenly bliss.




CHRISTIAN: Go to Jesus' tomb in Jerusalem.


ED: As if any archeologists have ever proven that we know where Jesus was buried.




CHRISTIAN: They'll say come on in and look around. "He is not here. He has risen from the dead!" This is not reincarnation, but resurrection. You'll get a glorified, perfect body. Jesus walked through walls after his rez. We maintain our identity. It's going to be great. Just great. Amen and Amen. God doesn't need America. He is raising up and toppling down governments over the centuries until one day His kingdom on earth is a reality.


ED: "One day," thousands of years later. The N.T. is now older than the O.T. was when the N.T. was first written. Still, no new revelations.




CHRISTIAN: He started with just 12 disciples, now over one billion people worship the One who rose from the grave. The Good news is spreading like wild fire in South America, Africa, and India.


ED: Yes, it's spreading, especially the kind of "good news" that includes Pentecostal teachings, aggressive claims of healing, end of world forecasts, speaking in tongues, and anti-intellectualism. A couple hundred million strong. This growth is bound to deepen the rift between the southern hemisphere where such "Christianity" continues to grow, and the more secularized and academic northern hemisphere. Catholicism of a more charismatic and conservative sort is also growing fast in the southern hemisphere, where the Catholic church continues having to ordain new bishops for her more numerous diocese, and that may lead to a future rift between more conservative and miracle-mongering Catholics in the southern hemisphere and their northern hemisphere brethren, especially a rift concerning which pope to next nominate. Not to mention what's going to happen as entire religions continue to collide. (You don't unconvert 900 million Sunni Muslims overnight.)




CHRISTIAN: Some countries are now sending missionaries to the U.S! The future looks bright indeed.


ED: Do you imagine this is all just one big football game and you're a pep rally cheerleader? Christians are no different from other people, crazy about some things, crazy hateful about others. Trouble is when any LARGE group of such people gets together, trying to steamroller the world with their craziness. Then hell starts a poppin', hell between family members, between nations, etc. The drive to evangelize via emotional cheerleading is linked to the drive to demonize via equally emotional name calling. Beliefs in ancient religious dogmas and holy books are not a step up the evolutionary ladder, but more like jogging in place, because for every good thing Christianity does, it also tears apart families and weakens nations. The most Christian nation on earth fell, the ancient Roman Empire, after spending zillions on "faith based programs." And for all of Christianity's sins, not matter how many dirty ditches it fell into headlong, it never lost faith that only "it" was forgiven by God, how self-righteous. Christianity is like geocentrism, provides the same sense of confidence and security. Yes, it has survival value, because it confronts people's primal fears of death and the unknown, and simplifies it all down to "have faith, we are promised resurrection," and, "anything anyone else tells you is from the devil." No religion puts things in such a starkly primal primate fashion.

A Belief in Near Death Experiences

From: Kathy G.
To: Ed Babinski
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2003 2:08 PM
Subject: Jesus


I wish there was something profound that I could say to make you change your mind about this man Jesus. I wish you could know him Like I do as a comforter, heavenly father, a friend that I can tell anything to, teacher, answerer of prayers.


You are missing so much without him in your life. My father is 91 years old and loves the Lord. I know that he will be gone before long and it gives me such great peace to know that he is Heaven bound. He always tells me, "the best is yet to come, and that's Heaven."


I truly believe he lived and died for me, and I am so humbled and grateful for that, all I want to do is tell others about his love for them.


I will be praying for you that someday your eyes will be opened and you too will know, as the Bible says, "the peace that passes all understanding."


Kathleen G.




From: Ed Babinski
To: Kathy G.
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2003 4:03 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Jesus


Dear Kathleen,


I sincerely appreciate the love with which your email to me was filled.


Robert Ingersoll, America's "great agnostic," used to remark that there were sometimes hundreds of people outside his home praying for his salvation. He didn't mind he said, because it was like a boy holding a girl's hand, it didn't do either of them any harm, so long as the boy didn't squeeze the girl's hand too tightly.


I don't even feel any desire to disagree with you, or try to convince someone such as yourself of anything other than the joy you have found in your present beliefs, just as I wouldn't seek to convince anyone of any religion to leave it if they were wearing it fully, and practicing love as a result.


A mystical friend of mine who used to be a fundamentalist Christian once wrote in LEAVING THE FOLD that religion was like a cloak or clothes that you had to put on fully to see how they fit, and in the end after entering fully into love and also growing to recognize that love in others of other religions, and even in people of no religion, that cloak would grow lighter and lighter until you didn't even realize you were wearing it, but merely that you were a member of all faiths and non-faiths that practiced love.


Gandhi used to say that Christian missionaries shouldn't be trying to get people to leave their major religious faiths to become "Christians," but people should be trying to encourage each other to travel deeper into the heart of love that is found in all religious traditions and holy books. (See the book titled, ONENESS, a small volume, that mentions such verses in all the world's major religious traditions.)


So many faiths that wind and wind,
yet what the world needs most
is just the art of being kind.


Lastly, I am not an atheist, but think there may be something to Near Death Experiences.


Best, Ed




From: Kathy G.
To: Ed Babinski
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2003 3:56 PM
Subject: Near Death Experience


Thank you for your answer to my e-mail. You mentioned near death experiences. A few years ago I worked in an office with ten men. One of these men was a 37 year old by the name of Gene Mose. Gene underwent surgery on his foot in November of that year and as a result he got a very bad staff infection that put him in the hospital for 6 weeks. By January they realized that he had developed a heart problem and they immediately did heart surgery to replace a bad valve. During the surgery his heart stopped three times.


When he came back to work he came to my office one day and said, "Kathy, I want to share something with you. I don't feel I can tell any of the guys my story because they will think I'm nuts, but I know you will believe me." He then told he how when his heart stopped, his spirit rose above his body and he watched the surgeons frantically trying to save him. He said, "Kath, I saw Linda (his wife) sitting in the waiting room, I saw people going up and down the halls, and heard everything that was being said and done to save me. But the best part was the complete feeling of peace and joy and love that surrounded me during that time. I could feel the presence of God all around me and I really didn't care to come back. Noone will ever convince me there isn't life after death." He said, Do you think I'm nuts, Kath?"


I told him of course not. He said, "everything was as real as my sitting here talking to you today, and when they got my heart started my spirit went down until it was back in my body again."
That was in January of that year, and in August he layed down on the couch one night and died. Only 37, but he was ready to meet the Father.


If I had one wish in this life it would be that every person in the world would know beyond a shadow of a doubt what lies beyond this life. I'm sure we'd all live differently.


Sincerely, Kathleen G.




From: Ed Babinski
To: Kathy G.
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2003 4:29 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Near Death Experience


Thanks, I love hearing about such things. Who is your friend? He should contact Raymond Moody, the author of the bestseller, Life after Life, or Dannion Binkley, author of Saved by the Light (I think that was the title). They are not evangelical Christians, but they collect Near Death stories. Moody has an institute for such things up in North Carolina. Their studies revealled to them that one's religion didn't matter. You could be an evangelical Christian or something completely different, and still feel the love and the recognition that there was life after death. And yes, along with your friend I wish everybody got to experience that kind of happiness in the midst of suffering, pain and death, it would bring a lot of us closer together here on planet earth.


Or on the other hand, perhaps it would also make some of us ignore those who are suffering, since they knew they'd be going to a better place? Hmmm. A wise rabbi was once asked if there was any time in which it was best to think like an atheist, and he said "Yes, there is one time when it is appropriate to think like an atheist, in the giving of charity, since you must not imagine that God is going to right all wrongs and take care of the poor and suffering."


That being said, I still think that if everyone had such an experience as your friend, the planet would be a happier better place, with less fear and tension. Certainly if Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants both had it, along with Muslims and Christians and atheists and agnostics, then people could speak of their shared experience. On the other hand, some fundamentalist Christians and Muslims might still find ways to denounce each other's experience as "fake" or "phoney" or "of the devil." I know there are some fundamentalist Christians like Habermas who co-wrote a book on The Afterlife in which he argued that all of those positive loving and life-changing NDEs that non-evangelical Christians have are all a "delusion" and don't mean those people are going to avoid hell.


Best, Ed

Book of Enoch and the Bible's Judgment

DOUG: Hi i need to clarify how when the Lord comes with all His saints in Jude 14-15, do you think that is the day of judgment as written in Rom 2:16 "when the God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel". Plus could you tell me if you consider that Math 13:46-51 , 25:31. John 5:28-29 Rev 20:11 are all the same judgment. Then, are the saints of Ist Cor 6:1-3 the same as the "judgment was committed to them" of Rev 20:4 and Math 19:28 you who have folowed me will sit in 12 thrones judging 12 tribes of Israel. And of course Rom 2:16 and Jude 14-15 , Ps 149:9, Zec 14:6 Hope you can shed some light on these judgments and apparent judges.
Bless you,
Doug B.


ED: Dear Doug, Thanks for writing. Concerning your questions, I do not view the Bible as an inerrant heavenly puzzle book such that you can catalog and clearly define every reference to "judgments" and "judges" and fit each reference together in a tale of dogmatic, theological, and mathematical precision. Even inerrantist Bible believers disagree as to how many judgments the Bible speaks of, how many resurrections, even how many raptures. And there are dispensationalists and preterists who disagree on the "real" or "metaphorical" meanings of various descriptions of judgment, or whether such descriptions apply to the entire earth or only to the desctruction of one city on earth. Concerning such debate among Christians see:

InterVarsity Press:
Four Theologians Debate the Major Millennial Views

And Zondervan Press, Counterpoints Series:
Three Views on the Rapture
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond
Four Views on the Book of Revelation

According to the modern historical approach to the Bible, the Bible is a book made up of many books, each of which is related individually to the times in which it was written and to the literature and ideas of its age. When the book of Jude was written, the book of Enoch was still popular. The "judgment" mentioned in the book of Jude (14-15) is actually a citation from Enoch 1:9, an intertestamental work:

Jude 14-15: 14Now Enoch, who lived seven generations after Adam, prophesied about these people. He said, "Look, the Lord is coming with thousands of his holy ones. 15He will bring the people of the world to judgment. He will convict the ungodly of all the evil things they have done in rebellion and of all the insults that godless sinners have spoken against him."
The quotation comes from the Apocrypha: Enoch 1:9.

I highly recommend the study of intertestamental works in order to understand N.T. apocalyptic passages in their historical perspective. The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism (2 vols.) by Stephen J. Stein (Editor) and John Joseph Collins is the best starting point I know. The article in by Collins is a "must read" overview of the topic. It is evident that the nearness of a final judgment of the entire earth was a view held by some before Jesus' day (including a prediction in the Dead Sea Scrolls of the earth's final judgment within a generation of the death of the "Teacher of Righteousness").

Cheers,
Ed



Doug, You may also want to read my replies at my website to someone who asked me about the Bible's end times prophecies compared with modern history.

And see my online article, "The Lowdown on God's Showdown"

Cheers,
Ed



From: Ed Babinski
To: Doug B.
Sent: Friday, July 09, 2004
Subject: Re: The Book of Enoch, a pseudepigraph (written under the pseudonymn of "Enoch

Doug B. writes:
Hi Ed , thank you so much for your lenghty and very interesting article on Enoch, marvellous.

Ed you touched on the expression "sons of God' as either angelic or sons of Seth, from that would you have an opinion(probably already documented, by that I mean I am sure you have) on the "Sons of God" of Hosea 1:10/Rom 9:24/Gal 3:26, now I know the Sons of God are the church, but could they relate to a position similar to the Genisis "sons of God'. Making us divine, possibly?.

ED: There are currently about nine different interpretations of the "sons of God" mentioned in Genesis. The words, "sons of God" are so general they have found usage and applications by different Bible writers, who wrote at different times, of different things. I don't think is there any one way to sum them up in any single easy fashion, just as I think it's impossible to try and get every different interpreter of the term, "sons of God" in Genesis to finally agree.

If you are interested in different opinions concerning the "sons of God" in Genesis, the NIV APPLICATION COMMENTARY ON GENESIS (2002) by Watson at Wheaton College, provides a summation of some of the major views. That commentary is an excellent read for a variety of reasons, check it out when you have the time. Watson acknowledges the original Hebrew meanings and original context of Genesis, as all scholars today must, but adds of course, his own "bridging concepts" to try and bring modern scholarship in line with 3rd century orthodox Christian interpretations of Genesis. It's an interesting attempt at being honest and also orthodox. I think his attempt fails, since his bridging concepts are really an example of "fudge factors" to try and bring his data in line with his orthodox Christian conclusions. But at least he has indeed presented the original Hebrew concepts and ideas of Genesis to the Evangelical public, including the flat earth, the firm firmament, no mention of Satan in Genesis, nor any inference that the serpent was nothing but evil (a crafty beast, a trickster, but not evil).

Besides the above commentary I suggest the following website for a scholarly list of different interpretations of the "sons of God" in Genesis.


Or, is God just relating to us a separation of Israel as , "daughters of Zion/Jerusaelm", from the, "Church/body of Christ/Sons of God", giving a feminine role to Israel and a male role to us.

Israel as daughters and us as Sons.

ED: I would suggest getting your hands on the Anchor Bible Commentary volume on Hosea, for a fleshing out of that book's historical context and what Hosea was most likely trying to get across to his readers. The Anchor Bible Commentaries are some of the most in-depth available.

THE WEBSITE BELOW WAS CREATED BY A LIBRARIAN/THEOLOGIAN, WHO COLLECTED AND ARRANGED THE PREMIER SCHOLARLY RELIGIOUS URLS INTO HANDY CATEGORIES FOR EASE OF USE:
Wabash Center

Religion as Gang-Warfare - Coming to a Theater Near You

READ THE BIBLE
It Will Scare The Hell Out Of You:
Why I Am No Longer a Christian

by W. Dale Murphy (Author)


Dale Murphy addresses how he sees religion as a danger that leads to conflicts between ethnic groups. He expresses his disillusionment of international and domestic problems created by Religion.

Religion as Gang-Warfare - Coming to a Theater Near You
by Dale Murphy (Author of "Read the Bible - It will scare the Hell out of You")


In 1981 when I was in the process of rejecting fundamentalist Christianity, I was totally alone. I knew of no one like me. Was I the only one who was “leaving the fold,” as per Ed Babinski’s book title? The only other person I was aware of who had expressed the ideas and attitudes I was feeling was Robert Ingersoll, in 1879. I heard of him by accident, as a result of a college dorm bull-session. He was dead and gone, and it appeared to me, forgotten. Was there no one who saw the problems I saw, who reasoned as I did? For me, twenty years ago there was nowhere to turn. One is the loneliest number, and 20 years ago, it was terrifying.


What a different world it is today, thanks to the Internet. And “thanks” to all of you who have contacted me with support and encouragement since the release of my book. I welcome more [murphycolorado@juno.com], and apologize for not referencing your books in mine, but I had no idea you were out there. I had no reason to look. Surviving alone for twenty years, I suppose I had gotten used to it. It was only after the book was complete, as I was compiling the references, that I thought I might do an Internet search to see if an organization I had seen in a 1986 article which I had referenced still existed: Fundamentalists Anonymous.


I probably would have continued in this live-and-let-live attitude toward Christianity had it not been for two recent events; the first personal, and the second: international. I began writing a book. After reading the book, my brother called and accused me of being guilty of the same attitude which I pointed out in my book as the root of all religious wars: Religious Exclusivity, the “We’re right and you’re wrong and something’s gotta be done about it” theme that lurks beneath the surface. He is probably right.

After hanging up the phone, excuses started coming to mind. What has changed me from a live-and-let-live guy into an anti-established-religion activist? Two events:


#1: The loss of my family to evangelical fundamentalism.
#2: 9-11.


First, #2: 9-11. Perhaps a good analogy is that of inner city gangs. Most of us are not victims of gang violence, so it is easy to ignore the problem with a live-and-let-die attitude. Their worldview is so limited, their reality so distorted, that they find meaning and purpose in fighting and killing each other, protecting their territory, pride, drug business, buddies etc. As long as we aren’t caught in the crossfire, we aren’t inspired to venture into the ‘hoods to enlighten them. But if the bullets start spraying into OUR neighborhood, the live-and-let-live attitude is abandoned. In a sense, that is what happened to our world on 9-11. The Christian/Islam/Jewish gang-wars moved into our neighborhood. This situation became more than just spectator-sport for us “tolerant-types” when the World Trade Center towers fell. We felt desperate to get these warring religious gangs together for a “wakeup call.” This amounts to us saying “We’re right and you’re wrong and something’s gotta be done about it.” The insanity of the situation is compounded by the fact that these battling religions all claim the same early books of the Old Testament as their holy scriptures. It is truly tragic.


With street gangs, perhaps part of the mediation could be a trip to the airport for a flight over their neighborhoods to let them see that the areas they battle over are trivial compared to the much bigger world. That might help motivate a changed “worldview” for them. But what do we do about these religious conflicts spilling into New York City, with the aftermath affecting the whole country, from delays at the airport, to the gutting of the Bill of Rights, to dead bodies in Iraq and the post office?


The situation seems impossible with our “Christian” President saying that these problems stem only from rogue elements within some of the world’s “great religions.” How can all the religions be “great” when they keep telling each other they’re going to hell? (My own view is that rogue elements within our own government are using the age-old hatred between these religions to further their own agenda; sort of a “Let’s you and him fight” scenario. Take a look at cooperativeresearch.org, infowars.com, or the-movement.com for some very disturbing evidence.) The fact that Christians are sending missionaries to reach the Muslims and vice versa perpetuates the “We’re right and you’re wrong” syndrome. (An Egyptian roommate in college brought his turban-clad friends to try to convert me. I presume there are some Muslim missionaries over here somewhere, though maybe the Jehovah’s Witnesses have informed them that my neighborhood is their gang’s turf.) The Jews appear to be just caught in the middle of this mess, and while not out trying to convert everyone else, they end up killing a lot of people as the ancient feud treads on their territory. Of course they treaded on Muslim territory in 1917 and again in 1948 after locking arms with the “Christian nations.” What followed was a gradual westernization via McDonald’s, miniskirts, and the media, making the Moslems cringe in holy terror. “There’s battle lines being drawn, but nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.” When these incompatible religious cultures are mixed with some heavy-handed foreign policy, hatred builds. Oil and water don’t mix, and neither do oil and religion when the military gets involved. The military is perceived as representing the religion of the nation that sent it. The United States has been cast as the Great Satan by the fundamentalists on the other side of the religious tracks, whose mentality hasn’t progressed beyond the days of the Christian Crusades.


What can we do in this situation? Does anyone have any “wakeup call” ideas? I feel helpless, frustrated, angry; thus the tone of my book. The written word is out there, and has been out there, in many books, as I have only recently discovered, thanks to sites such as this. Despite that fact, these books have been for all practical purposes ignored by the battling evangelists/militants. This is not a recent phenomena. These books have been ignored for years, from Robert Ingersoll’s 1879 works to even a hundred years before that, with Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason. I had heard of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense series, and about his part in the genesis of our country, but I was not aware of the contents of The Age of Reason until I began to peruse sites such as this one.


Why? Though considered well-educated, always near the top of my class, I was oblivious to it. Those I crossed paths with in Oklahoma had never heard of it, or if they had, never mentioned it loud enough to get my attention. This information was apparently hidden from my classmates and me, perhaps accidentally, but probably intentionally, to keep from ruffling fundamentalist feathers.
Yet we had all heard of Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, The Robe, etc., no classroom required. And now everyone has heard of Mel Gibson’s Passion of Christ.


In our day and age, movies communicate; books do not. Intellectuals may be influenced by books, but unless the book is made into a movie, the masses never hear about it. Since the masses pick the President (or at least used to, before the new electronic voting machines), this is important. The President, his handlers, and Congress direct the foreign policy (or at least used to before CIA covert operations). Foreign policy determines our perception in the world, recently casting us as the Great Satan, bringing the gang warfare into our neighborhood. To change foreign policy, we must reach the masses. I think we need a movie.


A bunch of Hollywood names are noted in those celebrity atheist/agnostic lists. Does anyone out there know someone in Hollywood who would be inclined to initiate a blockbuster expose of the Bible? As a follow up to The Passion of Christ, how about The Anger of God? With a title like that, even Christians would show up, until they realize that this movie includes the rest of the story, the verses they don’t put in sermons. The Old Testament contains plenty of blood and sex and adultery, injustice, cruelty, revenge, slavery, Lord of the Rings style-war and fire-from-heaven judgement: good movie material. It could even include Indiana Jones’ Lost Ark, when God strikes down poor old Uzzah as he tries to stop it from falling off the ox cart (II Samuel 6: 3-10). A story line would be necessary so it wouldn’t turn out to be just a bloody documentary. (I still remember my daughter’s comment at age six after viewing about 15 minutes of her first documentary: “Is that it?! Is this the movie?”) The dramatic story line is what makes Left Behind, the current end-of-the-world Bible prophecy series not only palatable, but a best seller. Using verses as subscripts to document God’s starring role in all the carnage shouldn’t prove unmanageable, for there wasn’t a word of spoken English in The Passion of Christ. Despite all the protestors that would be picketing outside the theaters, with enough blood and sex it couldn’t flop. Maybe it wouldn’t match the box office receipts of the Passion of Christ, but with our passions stirred by recent events, I’m sure a significant number of us former tolerant-types would show up, in addition to all the hedonists. There are a lot of us: “According to recent surveys, 39 percent of Americans – 111 million of us – belong to no church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious institution . . . an unprecedented 14 percent of Americans tell pollsters that they are atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, or simply disinterested in religion. That’s about 40 million Americans. . .”1


What do you think? Is this doable? We need something big. Any other ideas?


Ok, that covers 9-11, my #2 reason.


What about #1: the “loss” of my family to fundamentalism?


I wrote the book with four goals in mind: 1) To explain why I wasn’t in church with my family, 2) To do something “big” so that eventually, someday, my children would read it and understand their father’s viewpoint, 3) To call attention to the bankruptcy of the fundamentalist Book and worldview while providing links to evidence for a more plausible paradigm, and 4) To “rage against the machine” that had stolen my family. Together, or in pieces, my wife and children are gone to four, five, and six church/religious functions a week. In addition, there are the Bible-oriented homeschool computer curricula and their fundamentalist-influenced school co-op. Essentially all their friends and interests are church-related. Once again, one is the loneliest number.


From page 28 of the book:

I had been intending to correct all those typos [in my 1981 “skepticism” paper] for years. For about the same amount of effort, plus a hundred bucks, I could get it published. I thought I would give it a go, and see what happens----probably nothing, based on the nature of the faith game. Faith is a demanding master. Keep the Faith! It is deemed noble, true, and virtuous to believe based on faith rather than evidence. . . . But who knows, the times, they might be a changin’, again. Perhaps the insanity of child-molesting priests and crazed Muslim militants might motivate people to cast some furtive glances through the slightly widened cracks in the wall. Maybe we can start trying to understand each other and stop trying to save each others’ souls or blow each other up. . . . Despite the odds, I feel I must speak out. I believe it is time for another picture, whether anybody wants to look at it or not. Perhaps this book could somehow serve as a catalyst to initiate a change in worldview with potentially long-term positive peaceful results. What?! Am I so bold as to think this book is the opening salvo in some great paradigm shift? Hell no! Woops. Heavens no! This book is mostly an act of frustration and rage, like the guy in that movie several years ago who called out from his radio or TV microphone for everyone to go over to the window and yell: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” The church has stolen my kids and now my wife! And they’ve done it in good conscience thinking they were doing my little family a favor. Islamic terrorists are flying planes into our tall buildings attacking America thinking they are doing God’s will! The opiate marches on, killing, converting or mentally maiming everyone in its path. And it is all based on fallacy, as I firmly believe the remainder of this book will show. I feel like the little mouse in that cartoon: “The Last Great Act of Defiance” which circulated via office copiers a few years back, giving a hand gesture just before the enormous hawk snatched him up. It will probably do no good, but at least I didn’t roll over and take it.

“It will probably do no good.” Until a couple of weeks ago I held that attitude. Yet after a conversation with a fellow exfundy, Pat Swindall (former U.S. Congressman and Christian talk-radio show host) a realization dawned on me. We live in a different world now. He said he didn’t think he could have made it out of fundamentalism twenty years ago. The information was just too hard to find. He could have spent months in a university library and not come up with what a quick Internet search can provide in seconds today. We may be WIDELY scattered, be we need no longer be ALONE. In the case of my religious sanity, one is no longer the loneliest number. Perhaps there is hope. Hope for what? Rehabilitation of refugees from fundamentalism? Yes, that is a given. Hope to wake people up to the fallacy of their religions? I don’t know.


For twenty years, I was silent on these matters. When pressed, I would express my opinion, and occasionally loan out my skepticism paper, but for the most part, I just kept to myself. I knew the evangelical worldview couldn’t be true, but saw no reason to stick my head up only to be shot at by the evangelicals who squeezed people into one of three general categories: Either you were a Christian, a hedonist, or one of those born on the wrong side of the religious tracks who the missionaries were trying to reach. The Christians I came in contact with apparently could not conceive of someone rejecting the Bible for intellectual reasons. Those Christians now include the members of my own family.


The brother who accused me of the “I’m right and you’re wrong” attitude is still a fundamentalist. He’s not a Bible-beater. In fact, he’s a medical doctor in the Northwest. He says I should be glad they have embraced fundamentalism, for it keeps them out of the perils our youth face today. If they don’t embrace fundamentalism, what else is there to embrace: MTV, sex, drugs, rock and roll and tongue barbs? (Some of the Christian rock bands my daughter idolizes are sporting piercings now. Hey, gotta’ relate to reach those lost souls. Maybe it is no different than long hair in my generation. I think I remember hearing some men back then from “the older generation” say that seeing long hair on a boy made them sick. I guess I finally know how they felt. Hope I die before I get old; talkin’ ‘bout my generation.) This medical doctor brother of mine recommends that I ask my children to give me back their copies of my book. He reports that my 16 year old told him the portions she has read from it seem Satanic. A couple of years ago, she gave me one of those plastic placards that says “World’s Greatest Dad.” I doubt I’d receive one now. She believes I am now bordering on the Satanic thanks to the influence of her church. An email I noticed while cleaning out the sent-messages-file was from my wife to my brother noting that “50 people in the church have been praying that God will save Dale.” This was even before the release of my satanic verses. They are probably praying for an exorcism now.


Hey, “Praise the Lord,” this is all part of His glorious plan, for Jesus said: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." [Matt. 10: 34-36].


Better not read Daddy’s book. Can’t risk being tempted to love him more than Him.


One of my brother’s daughters is preparing to go to college next year. What will his attitude be if the Moonies or Hare Krishnas or Heaven’s Gaters seduce her into their “cult” religion? He’ll be distraught, I am certain, for he views those groups as cults. To me, Christianity is a cult. Just because Christianity is mainstream, that doesn’t make it the right stream. The mainstream is a very different stream in the Middle East. That is how I feel regarding what has happened to my family: they’ve been seduced by a mainstream cult, who has them under mind control. My wife and two children are starting out on the same road I headed down 32 years ago. I spent nine years striving to further the causes of evangelical fundamentalist Christianity. I spent thousands of my father’s dollars studying theology at Oral Roberts University, then getting two geology degrees with the goal of involvement in evolution/creation research. Fortunately, following the skeptical meltdown, at least I had a degree I could make a living with. For 20 years I wandered around as a Deist until new evidence crossed my path, quite by accident. It is credible recent evidence, for life after life. I am once again filled with hope and wonder. That’s what the last chapter of my book is about. (I’d like to thank Ed and Sharon for allowing me space in this forum, despite my “unorthodox” views by agnostic/atheistic standards.)


It took me nine years to discover fundamentalism was a dead end. I want to save my kids from the confusion, heart-ache, and wasted years that I experienced. I suppose this is simply parental instinct. (I am dreading the request for megabucks from my own children to attend colleges similar to Oral Roberts. How should I respond?) If my kids were getting into drugs, I would try to warn them. If they took up black leather and started riding with the Hell’s Angels, I would feel compelled to point out the history and reputation of that organization. Those issues are black and white. The religious issue seems gray and harmless, actually beneficial, for as my brother admonishes me, it helps keep them out of the cesspools of youth. There are unintended consequences, however. Though they may avoid the cesspools of youth, they end up in the swamp of religion. In this swamp grows the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Religious Exclusivity. And from this tree come the seeds of religious wars. By perpetuating a fallacy to avoid the cesspools of childhood, we inadvertently create the whirlpools of adulthood which have once again sucked mankind down into yet another religious war. When the truth is found to be lies, all the joy within you dies.


1 Promotional brochure for the Council for Secular Humanism, quoted by Henry Morris in “The Lake of Fire” Back to Genesis article in Acts and Facts April 2004. By the way, Morris tells us “These people are all headed for Hell” along with “the billions of people who believe in false religions.” Additionally “There are also many who profess to be Christians but will eventually be sent to the lake of fire” because they “tamper with the inspired words of the Bible.” (Page B)


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Banned Book: About Leaving the Fold by Edward T. Babinski

"The book was recently removed from the shelves of the Anderson County Public Library in South Carolina (Babinski's home state), due to complaints from patrons. The book contains nearly three dozen first-hand testimonies from former fundamentalists who have become liberal Christians, agnostics or atheists. According to Babinski, 'I've tried to get the local newspaper to interview me since writing my book, but they never had the time. Sales have been slow. Now, miracle of miracles, the book is being mentioned in newspapers, television and radio. God bless those Christians!'"

The Secular Humanist Bulletin


Your comments are welcomed!




Controversial Book: "Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists"

by Edward T. Babinski


This book is primarily a collection of testimonies by people who were Protestant Christian fundamentalists and who later left fundamentalism (with the exceptions of Tom Harpur and Harvey Cox, who were moderate Christians whose views underwent a broadening similar to what some fundamentalist contributors experienced).


A hard-line fundamentalist may wish to warn the authors of this book's testimonies, and anyone reading this book, that "hell" is probably their "next destination." But he will have to do better than that if he hopes to convince his former brethren to rejoin him in his "straight and narrow" appreciation of the Bible and Jesus. He may even have to read this entire book to understand where his former brethren are "coming from" rather than simply predict where he thinks they are going.


I first tried marketing this book in parts. The testimonies of those who had left fundamentalism but remained Christians were to be published by a moderate liberal Christian press; the testimonies of those who had left both fundamentalism and religion were to be published by an atheist or agnostic press. However, some testimonies, such as those by William Bagley and Ernest Heramia, did not fit easily into either category.


I contacted several moderate and liberal Christian publishing houses and found that none of them were interested in "testimonies." I think that is a defect of moderate and liberal Christian sensibilities. Perhaps they do not wish to "lower" their standards, so to speak, by copying confrontational evangelistic techniques used by conservatives and fundamentalists, one such technique being "testifying." (Can I hear an "Amen," brother?) Yet personal testimonies are remarkably effective at conveying feelings, not merely facts; deeds, not merely dogmas; and they incite people to act as well as to think. For many years evangelical Protestant Christianity has used the power inherent in a single person's "testimony" to win new converts and buoy the faith of old ones.


So, after several rejections from moderate and liberal publishing houses, I offered the testimonies to the largest free-thought press in America, Prometheus Books. At first I was skeptical whether a "free-thought" press would print testimonies by people who had remained Christians, but I was assured that promoting genuinely free thinking was more important to the press than selectively chopping up every hundred-thousand-word manuscript they bought until it resembled a ten-page primer for atheism. Prometheus has published three full-length autobiographies of people whose faith in Christianity was shattered after they had witnessed the unethical or demagogic practices of church leaders and the naivete of their followers (i.e., Salvation for Sale, Don't Call Me Brother, and Jesus Doesn't Live Here Anymore). None of the authors of those books is an atheist. Furthermore, printing only testimonies advocating atheism would be to fall into the same error as that of the fundamentalists, who feel it imperative that everyone believe exactly as they do.


I suppose that the nearest that fundamentalist Christians ever came to advocating greater diversity rather than greater uniformity was when Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority, which, until its demise in 1986, focused on the moral (and political) concerns of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. Considering what fundamentalist Protestants teach about the grave errors of Catholicism (not to mention Judaism), that was quite an amalgamation for a fundamentalist like Jerry Falwell to construct. But, as they say, "politics makes strange bedfellows." For that matter, so does televangelism."

(Chuckle.)


This book exemplifies how an even more diverse array of people (far more diverse than the Moral Majority) is willing to band together to speak out on an issue that has intimately affected all of them, hoping thereby to increase the volume and scope of their declarations.


Once you have read all the testimonies, certain threads linking them together become apparent: the dilemmas and fears each person faced in leaving fundamentalism behind; their gradually dawning courage to ask crucial critical questions, and to continue asking more questions; their discovery of how wonderful it can be to allow one's innate curiosity the freedom it craves; and the blossoming of their distinctive personalities and beliefs. Anyone who enjoys a novel with idiosyncratic and markedly diverse characters will enjoy reading what lies ahead.


Of course, people who have left fundamentalism can differ markedly in their reactions to it. At one end of the spectrum are those who bid fundamentalism a "fond farewell." They had fun as fundamentalists, particularly in their youth. They also remind us that belonging to a fundamentalist church is a healthy alternative to drug addiction, alcoholism, and crime. A fundamentalist church setting can provide some with the social and psychological context that helps them to legitimize and catalyze radical changes they wish to make in their lives. (Of course, individuals must also want to change in the first place. No mere context can do that for you, as groups like Alcoholics Anonymous have pointed out.)


At the other end of the spectrum are those who aim both barrels at their former fundamentalist lives and beliefs. They view fundamentalist organizations as robbing people of their money (through "tithing," "giving till it hurts," and phoney come-ons to garner more contributions than a television ministry knows what to do with); robbing people of their time (every minute involved in church activities); robbing people of their health (phoney promises made by "faith healers"); and robbing people of their individuality, their freedom of thought, or even their ability to appreciate life.


Both perspectives can undoubtedly be true, depending on each individual's personal experiences. It was left up to each contributor to discuss in whatever terms they chose their entrance into and exit from fundamentalism, and to explain where they are today.


If you are a Christian, you may be interested primarily in testimonies by former fundamentalists who remained Christians. If you are not a Christian, but open to non-Christian spiritualities (wiccan or eastern), then you may find testimonies of that nature more to your liking. If you "don't know" which part of the book you might enjoy reading first, try the testimonies of those who became agnostics. If you are an atheist, your curiosity may be peaked by that section. Or, if you are a historian, you may wish to flip to the final section of testimonies of historical figures.


Readers of all persuasions should peruse the annotated bibliography that lists further testimonies. Or, you may wish to advance directly ahead.


© 2003


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