The Concept: Introduction to Christian Nontheism
Maybe you were born to Christian parents and raised as a Christian. Or maybe you are just a part of a Christian nation. You might have attended church regularly, or maybe just on special occasions. If asked, you say that you believe in God, but you really never thought about what that means exactly. You are a well-educated person who accepts the idea of Biblical miracles, but only the more "reasonable" ones. You have read some of the Bible, mostly just parts of the New Testament, but never committed to reading the Bible cover to cover. You are a good person who admires the many "Christian values" as demonstrated by Jesus Christ. But something does not feel right.
- Science tells us that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, but the Bible tells us it's 6,000 years old.
- Science tells us life is the result of emergent properties in combined molecules, and we have evolved from a very primitive life form, but the Bible says that God made us, as is, from dust, and blew life in our noses.
- You see a world where little bunnies burn to death in forest fires, and wonder why an all-good and loving God would allow such a thing to happen.
- You pray to God and you realize that sometimes your prayers are answered, and sometimes they aren't -- just as if you didn't pray at all.
- You hear about other religions and wonder why your religion is right and every other religion on the planet is wrong.
- You have a real problem with the idea of all your non-Jesus-believing friends and family spending eternity in Hell.
In fact, the more you look around, the more you see a world absent of this perfect image of a perfect God. As much as you want to avoid critical thinking and "just let go and have faith," you find that you cannot believe in something contrary to your logic, reason, and common sense -- no matter how much you want to. This might lead to feelings of guilt, insincerity, and/or hypocrisy. Yet you just don't want to let go of your Christianity. And you shouldn't have to.
Can you be a Christian without believing in people living inside the stomachs of big fish, 900-year-old men, and bodies coming back to life after three days? Can you be a Christian without believing that the Bible is a historical and scientific fact inspired by God? Can you be a Christian without believing in (or pretending to believe in) the God that is so firmly embedded in our culture today? You can, and you can even continue going to church if you like. Depending on your church, you might be the member of the congregation they have staying after service/mass to scrape the gum off the pews. You might be the Christian they would first look to if God ever came down and commanded a human sacrifice. You would probably be the one they Photoshop out the church brochure. But you would be a Christian, and a darn good one.
By daring to question "orthodox" Christianity, challenging your childhood beliefs, and risking eternal damnation (okay, so there might be a minor side effect to reading this book), you will discover a whole new appreciation for Christianity as well as an appreciation for the human race. Through a unique blend of science, philosophy, theology, and a touch of humor, you will see how you can trust your logic and reason, be true to yourself, and still be proud to call yourself Christian.
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