Bruce Gerencser was a pastor for 27 years until he started reading books with non-Christian viewpoints. One of the 5 most influential books in his conversion to atheism was Jerry Coyne’s book, Why Evolution is True. Bruce’s kids are no longer evangelicals and left the faith that he once taught them. He openly says he hates Jesus now.
Perhaps there is a Jesus somewhere that I could respect, a Jesus who might merit my devotion. For now, all I see is a Jesus who is worthy of derision, mockery, and hate. Yes, hate. It is this Jesus I hate. When the Jesus who genuinely loves humanity and cares for the least of these shows up let me know. In the mean time, I hate Jesus.
Though I’m a creationist, I’ve generally not had a high opinion of the clergy (especially now in light of the child molestation scandals in the Roman Catholic church). Most clerics strike me as closed-minded and not very well exposed to critical thinking and examination. In other words, they are often the least qualified to lead others to the truth. They are usually the focal point of social clubs that need an excuse to gather — but bastions of critical thinking? Usually not. A few of them which I’ve known personally are sociopaths.
Many pastors adopt a set of beliefs which they preach in front of congregations, but they can’t defend them very well when confronted. Gerencser strikes me as an example of someone who folded his claims once what he preached was exposed to scrutiny. I commend him for exploring opposing ideas and living by what he believes, though I don’t agree with his conclusions.
But this highlights how pastors and parishioners in the modern day seem to care very little about opening their eyes to the difficulties presented by empirical and archaeological facts and coming to terms with how sketchy the evidence is for their beliefs. Seems that many, when they actually do open their eyes, lose faith. Many believers have confided to me they prefer to close their eyes to the evidential and conceptual difficulties lest they lose faith.
I shared a similar journey to Gerencser when I was briefly an agnostic circa 2001, but he and I ended up in different destinations because of our eventual views on evolutionary theory. If I had been persuaded that evolutionary theory and OOL theories were generally correct, I’d probably be right there where Gerencser is today.
3. I’ve been blessed to have some outstanding pastors who were ex-atheists. I get along much better with those who were raised in non-Christian homes before becoming Christians. They don’t seem like the brainwashed variety of believer that I often see in many church circles.