Skip to main content


Showing posts from March, 2024

The Problem of the Satanic Panic

From a series of stories in the Provo Daily Herald in July and August 1985 warned of satanism in Utah County. By Wertbag ~  T he Satanic Panic was at its peak during the 1980's, where preachers around the world jumped on the bandwagon to claim that Satanic cults existed and were inflicting sexual and physical abuse on people as part of Satanic rituals, and that almost every form of pop culture was Satanic and hence evil. Some of these claims developed into anti-elite or anti-government conspiracy theories that exist to this day, including bizarre groups such as Qanon who claim a group of the world's wealthiest people gather to do child sacrifices, sexual abuse and child pornography. It is thought that the start of the Panic was in large part due to the hugely popular movies The Exorcist (1973), Rosemary's Baby (1968) and The Omen (1976). When people who claimed to be victims of such cults were tested, the images they commonly referred to were scenes from the movies,

The Problem of the True Christian

By Wertbag ~  W hat is a true Christian? What are you required to believe or practice, and which parts can be skipped while remaining a Christian? The majority of Christians will point to Mormons as being false Christians, and yet they follow the Protestant bible (plus 3 extra books), believe in God, Jesus and the resurrection. Their heresy makes them labelled as false, and yet the core of the religion remains the same. Would God really care that people who are actively looking to have a relationship with Him have been led to believe in extra books? By such logic the Catholic church can declare the Orthodox church heretics, the Protestants can declare the Catholics heretics and the Ethiopian Orthodox church can declare all the other heretics. There are some Christians who say you must be baptised to be a true Christian, but this is not universal and amongst those who do practice it some believe in a splash of holy water while others say it must be full immersion. Some Chris

The Problem of Cognitive Dissonance

By Wertbag ~  C ognitive Dissonance is the fascinating ability of humans to hold two beliefs at the same time which are contradictory to each other. This is commonly done by simply never comparing a person's beliefs to each other, each being looked at as a separate subject on its own. Some such contradictory ideas may be held by special pleading, that is saying certain ideas are exempt from universal beliefs that apply to everything else except the claim. Some examples of this include "It is ridiculous to think the universe came from nothing" and "God made the universe from nothing", or "Life cannot come from non-life" and "Adam was created from dirt". In each of these cases a universal unavoidable standard is held which makes scientific claims impossible, while having the belief that the exact thing declared as impossible was done. Perhaps the most obvious version of this is the belief that God is all-loving, that all people are equ

The Problem of Heaven

By Wertbag ~  H eaven is classically described as a place of pure happiness, where there is nothing negative ever and you live with the angels for eternity. This does sound very much like a carrot and stick situation, where if you accept the claim, you are rewarded, not just with some benefit but with the greatest thing ever, oh but if you don't agree then you'll suffer the worst thing possible. It's the very extremes of the two views, perfect happiness verse unending torment, that points to it being just the greatest thoughts in each direction that the author could come up with. The problem with trying to propose a place where there is no sadness, is that such emotion is a normal part of being human. We have empathy and care for our fellow humans, but we are expected to believe that we can be in heaven and not care for those cast into hell? Upon arrival in heaven, you find your wife, husband, children, parents or other loved ones didn't make it, so the alternat

The Problem of Claiming Jesus is God

By Wertbag ~  W ithin Christianity there is a split in how Jesus is viewed. By far the most popular position is the Trinitarians, who believe that Jesus was God, while the other, the Unitarians, believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the chosen one or the son of God but not God himself. Each group will point to the others as misled and, in some cases, claim that being misled in this way makes them not a true Christian. The Trinitarians will say failing to believe in Jesus's divinity will mean you don't have faith and in the case of faith only salvation, can lead to failing to reach heaven. While the Unitarians will say God said to have no other God's before me, so elevating Jesus to be God's equal is against God's direct laws. Some Trinitarian believers will say Jesus had to be God, as that is the only way his sacrifice is worthy of redeeming the world. The sacrifice of just a man, no matter how pure, is not enough to cover the whole worlds sin, while Unitari

The Problem of Defining God

By Wertbag ~  T he simplest version of a God is the deist version, that is an unknown force behind the universe. Such a definition doesn't claim certain features, powers or even a mind, just that there is something beyond what we understand. Such a definition could be a force of nature, or a being, but it says that we don't know from our perspective. While this kind of vague definition is the hardest to disprove, due to its lack of any real claims or clarity, it is also possibly the least important, as any such force would be apathetic to us and if it doesn't interact or care, then its existence is irrelevant to us. So, the focus of apologists and counter apologists is on the claims of interactive, intelligent and supernatural beings who it is claimed have revealed themselves and their wishes to their chosen people. Even once we say we are looking at a being and not just a force of nature, the numerous possible claims and features this being can be said to have makes

The Problem of Experience

By Wertbag ~  S ome religious folks will say their belief is due to them feeling the presence or actions of their particular God in their lives. The immediate problem raised by this claim is that it is universal across competing religions. Christians will say Mormon's are following false teachings, and yet Mormon's have experiences that they attribute to God as well. Muslims, Hindus and Jews all have similar experiences, but each religion believes the others are incorrect. Of course, any such experience is something that only the claimant can experience, and as their experience is not repeatable or testable, it is valueless as evidence for their claim. It can certainly be a powerful motivator of belief, with many people putting personal experiences as the foremost reason they believe. Many, such as William Lane Craig, will say it is more important than any other evidence, and if the bible was shown to be completely wrong, they would still believe based on the witness of

The Problem with Morality

By Wertbag ~  M any apologists will quote several bible verses where it says that God wrote His moral code on our hearts. Verses such as Hebrews 8:10 "This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." or Romans 2:14-16  "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus" seem to say this is the case, although there are Christians who read this as metaphor rather than fact. The problem with this often-repeated idea that we have morals on our hearts, is th

The Problem of Physical Evidence

By Wertbag ~  F irstly, it must be said that Ron Wyatt is a scam artist who lies to make money. Any of his many claims should be considered false until such a time as more reputable sources can double check his work, as every time this has happened Ron has been shown to be wrong or lying. Ron was the one who claimed to have found the remains of Noah's Ark , which when checked by experts was found to be nothing more than an oval rock formation. He claimed to have found chariot wheels at the bottom of the Red Sea, but when checked it turned out they were train wheels (the metal train wheels survived the time under the sea, while wooden chariot wheels would have long rotted away). He also claimed to have found the Ark of the Covenant under the Temple Mount, but mysteriously his camera failed and others checking the same tunnels failed to find any trace of it. The Ark of the Covenant was said to be the golden casket in which the ten commandments were kept. The bible talks of

The Problem with Slavery

By Wertbag ~  I n the modern western world, most people would have no problem saying slavery in all its forms is evil. This is a non-controversial position to take, but one which runs counter to the laws of the bible. Due to this, apologists have had to find ways to justify slavery and condone the laws laid out in the bible. Really, at the point that your worldview puts you in the position of having to justify slavery, it should make you question that worldview. The most common way this is done is by trying to claim that the slavery in the bible is purely indentured servitude, that is an employment contract where the person is temporarily put under the ownership of the person owed a debt so that the servant can work off that debt. The apologists will often try to paint this as a happy time of sunshine and rainbows, saying it could well be volunteer and the best thing for the servants. This line of argumentation ignores several glaring problems, firstly the bible outlines multip

Recovering from Religion and The Existential Crisis

By Marlene Winnell ~ R ecently in our online  Release & Reclaim support group  (which has multiple monthly meetings over Zoom as well as a large community of deconstructing folks in our forums) we had a conversation about existential panic.  One member posed this simple question: “Is anyone else hitting the existential crisis part of this recovery process?”  And from there, an incredibly nuanced discussion ensued. Jocelyn  (*all names have been changed to protect the identities of members, and all who are quoted gave their permission)  expressed a nagging, post-religion feeling of dread, that “nothing is real, and there would be no reason for living if there is no life after this one. I know this is due to a loss of Christian identity, but the fear and pain of this loss is enormous.” Andres agreed: “It’s been difficult accepting that there isn’t some grand cosmic purpose to this life.” Kara said the struggle to find meaning and worth feels similar to the journey of addiction reco