How to Un-Convert Christadelphians

By John Bedson

The Problem

It’s not easy. You would think that reasoning with them and showing the false nature of their “evidence” for the truth of the Bible and the existence of God would be sufficient. But that does not work, because they did not get to where they are as the result of a process of logical reasoning. Like all religious people they arrived at their faith as the result of a series of emotional “short cuts” to reasoning that fast tracked them to faith without the necessary intervening steps of logic and careful analysis of the data and evidence.



How our Minds Work

That is how the human minds works. We are actually very poor at processing data logically. Logical reasoning is extremely slow and tedious. In the dangerous African savannah where we evolved over several hundred thousand years, we did not have the luxury of carefully weighing all the evidence for our decisions. We had to make quick decisions to fight, flee, procreate, join a tribe, track an animal or whatever else was occupying our minds. Emotional “feelings”, almost instinct, gave us the answers we needed fast. So if our crops failed and the local shaman told us that this was because the gods were unhappy, we accepted his pronouncement uncritically. If other members of our tribe accepted the explanation, that served to reinforce our belief. So thinking fast, with our emotions rather than with our reason allowed us to gain an evolutionary advantage and it has been bred into us ever since.

Confirmation Bias

Once someone arrives at a belief based on emotional reasoning they then defend that belief using reasoning that psychologists call Confirmation Bias. This is the tendency of people to favor information that confirms their existing beliefs or
hypotheses. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs such as religion. For example, in studying religious matters people usually prefer sources that affirm their existing beliefs. They also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing beliefs.

Psychologists
Jennifer Lerner and Philip Tetlock distinguished two different kinds of thinking process. "Exploratory Thought" neutrally considers multiple points of view and tries to anticipate all possible objections to every particular position. While "Confirmatory Thought" seeks to justify a specific point of view. Lerner and Tetlock say that when people expect to need to justify their position to other people, if the external parties are overly aggressive or critical, people will disengage from thought altogether, and simply assert their personal opinions without justification. Lerner and Tetlock say that people only push themselves to think critically and logically when they know in advance they will need to explain themselves to others who are well-informed and genuinely interested in the truth. Because those conditions rarely exist, they argue, most people are using confirmatory thought most of the time and are not thinking critically and rationally.

N.B. For a more detailed explanation of Confirmation Bias:
Click here.

How Christadelphians Think

The overwhelming majority of Christadelphians are born into the religion and they are emotionally conditioned into the same belief as their family. Most other Christadelphians who were not born into the religion have joined for reasons which are primarily emotionally motivated. They don’t realize what they have done; in fact in their minds they have the illusion that they have made an informed, decision based on reason and rationality. But it is mostly an illusion.

The same is true for the members of all other faiths and religions.

It is easy to demonstrate that Christadelphians hold their faith on an emotional rather than a rational basis. If you challenge Christadelphians they almost always react in an emotional way using Confirmation Bias reasoning. They especially dislike us Ex-Christadelphians because they see us as traitors to their cause. The call us "foolish", "willfully blind", "ignorant" and all manner of different things. They threaten us with suffering and death following the return of Christ. The last thing on their minds is to give a reasoned defense of their faith. That is because they are thinking with their emotions and not with their reason.

If you challenge an Ex-Christadelphian like me you tend to get a long, drawn out, tedious, reasoned explanation of why the Christadelphian evidence for their beliefs does not make sense. Christadelphians find this to be boring and reply with fast, shallow, circular, apologist arguments like “God ordered genocide in the Old Testament and condemned people to death for trivial offenses because he is God and he made us and he can behave however he wants…” or “Atheism is no better than Christianity because Hitler and Stalin who were Atheists killed lots of people just like the Christians did” or “If you don’t believe in God you might as well live it up and be wicked” or “The fossils were deliberately aged and put there by God to test our faith in his creation account.”

We Ex-Christadelphians have to listen to hundreds of different variations of these superficial responses. Christadelphians easily remember them and trot them out to us without realizing how simplistic and illogical their reasoning. We patiently work through the errors in their rational and explain why their thinking is not straight. But before we get very far, the Christadelphian apologist becomes bored with our answer and jumps to another one dimensional argument. Perhaps it will be “Archaeology proves the Bible to be true” or “A number of scientists disagree with Evolution.” Once again we Ex-Christadelphians work through the available evidence to show that these statements don’t actually mean anything and once again they get bored by our methodology and skip to some other superficial argument.

I say again; Christadelphians behave this way because their faith is not rooted in logic, reason or tangible evidence. The overwhelming majority of Christadelphians are incapable of thinking this way. Their faith is “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” In other words they believe it because they “hope” that it is true and their “evidence” for this hope is “not seen” with the human eye – it has to be “Spiritually discerned.”

We Ex-Christadelphians know that this method of thinking is the perfect foundation for self delusion. A PHD thesis in which the substance of the essay was what the writer “hoped” was true and his “evidence” for his thesis was “not seen” by anyone would be the laughing stock of his university. But Christadelphians have an emotional “feeling” that they are correct and this leads them into an illusion that their faith is somehow grounded in logical reasoning.

So when you challenge these people you don’t get a rational debate about the evidence, because their emotions rapidly go into a panic mode when they realise that they can’t keep up with you rationally. This causes them to blindly grasp at the first thing that enters their heads, however absurd, to defend their position. When they have used up what little ammunition they have in their mental arsenal their emotions take full control of their brains and out come the insults and the threats that we will suffer and be murdered by Christ at his return.

Ex-Christadelphians Hold the Moral High Ground

I have to say here to my Christadelphian readers that this sort of thing is pretty sickening to us Ex-Christadelphians. We look at such Christadelphians with pity that they are so shallow that our murder is the first thing that enters their minds when they begin to lose the argument with us. We Ex-Christadelphians genuinely believe that Christadelphians have lost their moral compass and need to be reformed. Christadelphian behavior towards us confirms our worst fears.

We say this in humility and with much sadness in our hearts, because we were once like them. We once thought like they do now and it makes our blood run cold to remember what it was like to be a Christadelphian. But, for whatever reason, we have matured beyond that frame of mind and grasped the wonderful truth that there is something far better outside and beyond Christadelphianism.

We don’t believe in God, or an afterlife, or a reward for what we are doing. We believe in rational thinking and reason. We believe in promoting human well-being and contributing what we can to this wonderful Universe in which we live. We work with Christadelphians because we love all of humanity and we feel an especial responsibility to help our dearly beloved brethren and sisters. We LOVE those guys! We LOVE them and we sorrow that their heads are full of such stuff. When we debate with Christadelphians it never enters our heads that they should be tortured and killed for not agreeing with us. But that is how Christadelphians sometimes think of us.

My Own Experience

I was born into a Christadelphian family that goes back generations to the time of the founders. One of my sons and his lovely wife are Christadelphians. My grandchildren are being brought up in the faith. I have a very large Christadelphian family and hundreds of Christadelphian friends who reject me and who are expecting with a contented smile my murder at the return of Christ.

Can any Christadelphian reading these words begin to imagine how hard that is for me? You people were my life; my eternal future - my everything. My childhood Christadelphian conditioning ran through my blood like an addiction to crack cocaine that was impossible to break. I was aged thirty five when I finally realized that the game was up and that my family religion was nonsense from start to finish. It was another two decades before my head cleared and I summoned sufficient courage to return to my beloved brethren and sisters to say that this religion has gone far enough; it has to end now.

How to Un-Convert Christadelphians

I return to my subject: How do you un-convert a religion that is based on emotion, hope, fear and fantasy?

The easy way would be to use their superficiality and their emotionally based method of thinking to tempt them away from their dogma. Indeed this is why so many Christadelphians are leaving to become Evangelical Christians, or are “un-converting” their own ecclesias into pseudo-Evangelical places of worship that remain in fellowship whilst adopting eschatology and beliefs from non-Christadelphian churches. They are moving towards a religious experience that is even more emotional and irrational than Christadelphianism.

But I am not in favor of such trickery. I believe that it is better to patiently working over time to present the evidence for our cause. They have to make the decision on their own. We need to explain to Christadelphians the rational basis for our rejecting their faith. We have to do the hard work of sifting through the Bible passages and demonstrating the error. We have to explain that Confirmation Bias has skewed their reasoning and they need to look afresh at the reasons why they believe and they need to do it with the objective thought processes of an outsider, not from their own narrow point of view. We should do this work with love and respect for our brethren and sisters, even while we scorn the religion itself as ridiculous. It is the belief system that is erroneous, not the faithful.

There is nothing wrong with our beloved brethren and sisters other than the fact that they have been fooled into a delusion. But that is not their fault and it is not a weakness on their part. We were once like them and we are equally to blame for once being naive. We are not smarter than them because time and chance threw us the keys to our imprisonment. Many of these current Christadelphians are going to listen to us and make their escape back to reality. When they do, they may prove themselves to be smarter than us and they will take up our cause with an enthusiasm and intelligence that may leave us in their shadow. I look forward to that happening.

The Slow Death of Christadelphianism

We might think that we are getting nowhere when the Christadelphians chant their empty mantra back to us. But don’t be fooled and don’t despair. Our message is slowly getting through. Religion of all sorts is slowly dying. Secularism is inexorably progressing throughout the World. The advance of human understanding is chipping away at the dark recesses of religion and these fundamentalists are in retreat.

Christadelphianism is no different. Their position is looking increasingly precarious and they are only managing to expand their sect by diluting the original faith of their founders to a palatable mix that can be fed to Africans and Eastern Europeans. This new, superficial, emotion based, non-thinking eschatology is no threat to us and I’m not even sure if it is even worth the bother of engaging. If you “un-convert” people like that they will be no further forwards; they will just go and believe in something else equally ridiculous.

The same can be said for all of the “old dears” in the religion. Their doctors are unlikely to tell them when they develop a fatal illness, so we should not trouble them that their hope of resurrection and reunion with their loved ones is not going to happen.

But even with these broad exclusions it still leaves perhaps thirty percent of the Christadelphians who might appreciate being rescued from the cult.

Leaving the Christadelphians and the Reward it Brings

I have found it to be a wonderful experience, but was a long time before I got to the “wonderful” bit and it was hell getting there. Christadelphians who embark on the un-conversion path must be warned that it is for many an extremely difficult and unpleasant experience. But I and hundreds of other Ex-Christadelphians can testify that it is worth all the hardship. You do end up in a much better place.

It is this “much better place” that needs to be explained to Christadelphians in order to motivate them to break their strong addiction to their dysfunctional thinking and to realign their minds with reality. They see Atheism as an empty, hopeless, pointless existence devoid of moral content. Christadelphians especially like the moral content of their faith.

Post religious Atheism is a powerful force for good in the World. Religion has done a great deal of harm, but by our picking and choosing the less offensive parts from the Bible and from the Koran, humanity has gained from religion. Those “good bits” were not placed there by Divinity, any more than the reprehensible parts were divinely inspired.

Good teaching and goodness itself arises within the human spirit, not from a fantasy God. Humans wrote those admirable parts of our holy books and humans “cherry picked” those good sections and rejected the evil. But human understanding and science has progressed to the point that those holy books are now exposed as being merely the work of ancient forgers. Nevertheless there is no need to reject the admirable morality that humanity has evolved over the years. As Atheists it is our responsibility to take up the mantle of moral rectitude from the defunct holy books and ensure that it continues to develop and be respected by humanity.

It is a great and wonderful task. It far outshines the narrow minded dogma of Christadelphians and of other religions. We must seek to improve ourselves morally and to share our enthusiasm for all things good with humanity in general. We must reject the evil that still lies within the hearts of men and seek to improve the lot of mankind.

Our reward will not be eternal life, or a Kingdom, or any such thing. Our reward is that we are privileged to play a part in this glorious endeavor. We did not see it commence and we will not live to see the end of it. But for one brief shining moment we walk out onto the stage of life and we play our part in this almighty drama. Then we must steel our nerve and bravely face our eternal death.

It is magnificent. The Kingdom of God cannot begin to compare with what we have; because what we have is real. And that Kingdom – It just ain’t real. It’s a fantasy.

15 comments:

  1. we must steel our nerve and bravely face our eternal death

    Yes, the fear of death is what holds all people to the book religions and they only imagine that they have found a way of escape from the inevitable. It helps one to live with the reality of death but it doesn't remove the reality of death.

    This tends to make people wish to die and just get it over with. This was the motivation of the martyrs who turned themselves over to the Romans for execution for the "crime" of simply being Christians.

    Christianity is and has always been a death cult. A cult more concerned with death than with life. Most of Christianity has lightened up on that part of the message in modern times but it's still there - in spite of all the modern disguises about it being about life. It's not, it's about death and where one spends eternity.

    My way of overcoming the fear of death was to realize that the world was here before I was, suffering was here before I was - and I didn't care. I didn't care because I didn't know. In death it will be just the same - I won't know, and because of that, I won't care.

    Religion has it that, somehow, you will keep on caring and/or will live again. This part is not true.

    Eternity has no beginning or end, therefore, you could never have NOT known or cared about anything before you were born but you would have to have existed from eternity.

    Realizing that fact, the immortal soul doctrine was contrived in order for mortal to become immortal without spoiling the concept of eternity.

    The reality is that life did begin and life will cease to be. Otherwise, it isn't even life but only a manifestation of eternity.

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  2. I’ll say this in favour of Christadelphianism: When you move beyond it to Humanistic Atheism, you take with you the good that you have learned, both from the Bible and from the Christadelphians and it enriches your experience and your philosophy as an Atheist.

    Philosophically, Atheism is still weak on defined morality. All too frequently it “throws the baby out with the bathwater” and the good things that religions have picked out of their holy books are ejected along with the perverted ethics that are contained in those same books.

    Admirable human morality is something that has to be developed and evolved. We have to work at it and seek to encourage humanity along the broadly Anglo-Saxon path towards commendable human behaviour.

    Strangely, the development of “commendable human behaviour” has been accelerated over the past four hundred years in a small geographical location of the World and the focus of that acceleration has been a particular religion. The geographical location has been England. NOT Scotland or Ireland. Not Great Britain. It has been England and the religion has been Protestant Anglicanism.

    They are the people who have done most of the heavy lifting of commendable human morality and ethical behaviour. They are the people who rejected the evil sections of the Bible and who redefined God in their own quintessential image. It was Anglicans who built the theoretical framework of decent human behaviour since the days of Henry the Eighth and it was he who quite rightly initiated this incredible reformation of human morality. We have much to thank him for.

    The English have exported this enlightened morality to the rest of Britain, to their Empire and to the World. It has been warmly embraced in North America and the Anglo-Saxon colonies; people like the Chinese and Russians but dimly understand it and in places like Africa it has largely been ignored. But in effect, places like the UN are really Anglican inspired institutions.

    Far be it from me to advocate Anglicanism. But I do see a future in a sort of “Anglican Atheism.” The next best thing might be a sort of “Christadelphian Atheism” for those of us unlucky enough to be born Christadelphians and not as Anglicans.

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    1. Hi I started going to a Christadelphian Hall 3 years ago, 18 months ago I got out as I realised how wrong it was, luckily they didn't get the chance to baptise me. I now want to help those still in that Hall to get out, I NEED HELP!

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    2. Thanks for your post and for your kind offer to assist the work of the Ex-Christadelphian community. We are keen to hear from people like you who have attended Christadelphian public lectures and come away disappointed. It helps us to expose weaknesses in the religion and it helps the Christadelphians to improve the character of their outreach work. I would be grateful if you would kindly write an article for this blog detailing your experiences with the Christadelphians and email it to either me or to Corky. My email address is: bedson@pacific.net.au

      Don't worry about any spelling or grammar mistakes. We will fix them at our end. We will then publish your article and invite comments. You could further assist by writing to the Christadelphians in your area telling them that we have published your work and inviting them to read your article.

      Corky helps to run a closed and confidential Atheist Ex-Christadelphian Facebook forum. He will read this note and contact you to invite you to join. If you are a Christian he will direct you to our Christian Ex-Christadelphian forum which is linked, but run separately.

      If you email me confidentially, I will explain the nature of our work and invite you to become an activist for our community. There are many things that you can do to help us reform this religion and to encourage its members to free their minds from the cult.

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  3. Hi,

    I would agree with some of what you are saying. However, it seems to me that you are unnecessarily harsh on Christadelphians wanting to "murder" you and "threatening" murder. I don't know if you really mean this, but certainly the correct attitude of a true believer should be sorrow that someone by their own choice will die, not using it as a threat or wanting people to do (like God is written about "not willing that any should perish"). Threatening people with such a death would hardly be consistent with loving your neighbour ("Good to meet you, neighbour. Now, are you part of the truth, or are you a wicked sinner that we are looking forward to killing when God's kingdom comes?").

    Hoping for some clarification here.

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  4. Anonymous:

    It just goes to prove my point that Christadelphian morality has been corrupted by the evil morality of the Bible, the God of the Bible and of his son Jesus. (Who I consider to be invented characters.)

    There is good in the Bible, but there also is much that is evil.

    Christadelphians want their debating opponents tortured and killed because they have taken on board the evil from the Bible along with the good. There is a sound scriptural basis for wanting me and my family and billions of humans like me – killed! And killed in a highly distressing manner. “There shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

    But we enlightened humans in the Twenty First century know that this is NOT the way to behave. Many Christadelphians know that this is true, even though it contradicts their faith. Most Christadelphians would now disown the contents “Christendom Astray” chapter eleven. BUT THEY STILL SELL IT!

    But they are not willing to make the logical progression to the conclusion that if they find that the morality of the Bible offends the ethical basis for living that they KNOW to be true, IRRESPECTIVE OF WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS, then that proves that there is something seriously wrong with the Bible itself.

    The Bible undermines enlightened human moral behaviour THAT WE KNOW IN OURSELVES IS CORRECT.

    THEREFORE THE BIBLE IS WRONG!

    Therefore the Bible is NOT the work of a supernatural God. It is the work of primitive Bronze and Iron age myth makers who did not have a developed and enlightened understanding of good human ethics.

    Therefore we must accept and cherish the good morality that is in the Bible, reject the evil, disregard the myths, realise that there is no such fantasy as God and for the sake of our own moral wellbeing, we must become Atheists.

    If we remain wedded to a God who condemns women to a painful death by stoning for adultery and a to Christ who fundamentally disagrees with his Father on this topic, we are subject to the whims of a warring fictional mafia family. We might as well use Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather” as our holy book.

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    1. It just goes to prove my point that Christadelphian morality has been corrupted by the evil morality of the Bible, the God of the Bible and of his son Jesus. (Who I consider to be invented characters.)

      There is good in the Bible, but there also is much that is evil.



      >>
      John what you said above is shameful ignorance. To try and claim Christadelphians behaving badly is because they are following the example of Jesus is shocking. I would suggest your idea of what is evil in the Bible is infact a manifestation of your ignorance. The Bible uses intentional repulsive imagery and morally repugnant concepts to force the reader to abandon the literal sense and interpret it symbolically, which can be proven. The fact you met Christians who did not understand this and so acted as repulsively as their error is no way reflects upon God or the Bible, only your own ignorance of theology and the Bible I am afraid, caused by hanging around the wrong sort of Christadelpians too long. Try the new BTDF forum.

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  5. So, I will now ask explicitly: Have you ever received threats of this nature? There seems to me a big difference between accepting that the Bible you believe *teaches* these things (as things that are right because they are done by a righteous God) and threatening other people who disagree with them "Comply or else we'll kill you."

    Certainly in family situations I have seen more sorrow and never-ending grief that relative X has rejected the truth and will face the judgement than threats to relative X "Do as you're told or you'll burn in hell" [not that Christadelphians believe in burning in hell].

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  6. Anonymous:

    I receive frequent warnings from Christadelphians that I will suffer a cruel death when Christ returns. But they certainly don't threaten to kill me before then. Very sweet of them don't you think?

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  7. John bedson which fellowship are you from?

    I understand your pain l once was in a fe
    lowship that said l will not be in kingdom because l left them. the reason l left Christ's commandments were not being taught but hatred and fear was the atmosphere. Legalism is what causes this by man made traditions not God's commandments. Its a concept of God which is wrong that makes them create such a system.

    I believe in God and l love Christ's commandments.

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  8. Anonymous:

    Thanks for your wise words. You are 100% correct in my opinion. I was Central fellowship. Now I am Ex-Christadelphian fellowship. No legalism here. Yes we do uphold the morally commendable commandments of Christ and the God of the Bible. However we also uphold the morally commendable precepts of all other religions.

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  9. I'm curious:"What do you think about violence, nonviolence, war and peace?"

    I have trouble with babies heads being dashed against rocks in the Old Testament. Yet, Jesus did not support violence, war, and was a peaceful man. I do believe he existed, but got very distorted by the stories surrounding him, those who wrote those stories and redacted those stories. I believe he was a visionary, Jewish Palestinian from a particular century in time. He was not unlike our Martin Luther King, Jr here in the USA, or Gandhi.

    I was raised as a United Methodist Christian and still attend this church. I agree with many things that Atheists say--including our Bill Maher here in the USA. I still think we are all interconnected by something beyond our understanding.

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  10. CORRECTION: "Christendom Astray chapter 11" in one of my posts above should read "Christendom Astray chapter 15"

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  11. I did a Christadelphian lecture last year about Bible Prophecy. I've posted it here: http://www.empowernetwork.com/lollyink/blog/bible-prophecy-facing-the-worlds-future-with-confidence/

    We have to stop being so negative. Be positive about the present and the future joy we will experience.

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  12. It is very hard to get out of a family religion, you hear the sermon\lecture after lecture, you will question the preachings but because you are in the mind is foggy, then once you break the bond then you say what are these people all about, you can see clearer, you are now outside looking in and can differ in views that sound a bit out of reality.

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