'Unbelievable' - A new book by Ex-Christadelphian Rob Hyndman


Click here to read your FREE copy online!

Discover why a well known Christadelphian speaker and writer concluded that the Bible was unbelievable, deconverted and became an unbeliever.

Rob J Hyndman is a Professor of Statistics at Monash University, Australia. He was a Christadelphian for nearly 30 years, and was well-known as a writer and Bible teacher within the Christadelphian community. Until recently, he was regularly speaking at Christadelphian conferences internationally, and his books are still used in Bible classes and Sunday Schools around the world. He gave up the religion when he no longer thought that there was sufficient evidence to support belief in the Bible. This is a personal memoir describing Rob's journey of deconversion.

In this book, he reflects on how he was fooled, and why he changed his mind. Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, you will be led to reflect on the nature of faith and evidence, and how they interact.

From the book
Rob Hyndman
"It suddenly struck me that there just wasn't enough evidence to justify belief."  
"It is now more than two years since I stopped believing, and I am more convinced than ever that I made the right choice. I am only sorry that I did not realise my mistake earlier."
"I could not continue to attend religious services that are based on mythology and archaic, cultural conventions."
"I always held the position that (my) faith was underpinned by evidence. I certainly had faith, and I believed that it was supported by some evidence. I now feel like the evidence I imagined was there was nowhere near as strong as I thought it was. Through a heavy dose of confirmation bias, and by deliberately ignoring the problems that I knew were there, I was able to convince myself for a long time. Then for some reason I tried to re-evaluate the evidence as dispassionately as possible and for the first time faced up to the difficulties and acknowledged the lack of any convincing evidence. Without evidence, I have no faith."
"Frankly I think the Christadelphian community cannot survive, except in its most extreme form. There are now too many educated members and too much available information for the mythology to continue to have any power. Even now it is apparent that many members remain part of the community for cultural and social reasons, rather than because of a deep seated conviction of the truth of the core doctrines ......... Extreme Christadelphianism is likely to survive longer, simply because the cultural entrapment is so much stronger." 
From the author
"After more than two years, here is the long-awaited “further explanation”. It is a personal memoir describing my journey of deconversion from Christianity."
 
Editor's review by John Bedson

'Unbelievable' by Rob Hyndman is the Christadelphian equivalent of 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins. It explains in detail why all of the different brands of Christianity are mistaken, but with especial emphasis on the Christadelphian version of this man-made religion. 

Unlike the militant 'New Atheists', Rob's approach to the subject is measured, diplomatic and at times almost understated. He is careful not to offend religious sensitivities as he sifts through the miriad of reasons why Christianity cannot be true. His background as a university professor of statistics gives him an expert's viewpoint as he weighs the statistical likelihood that Biblical passages may or may not be telling the truth.

The book explains the psychological reasons why humans believe in extraordinary things that have no credible supporting evidence, and why they find it almost impossible to challenge their own misconceptions and beliefs. Rob discovered how to think objectively about his own faith and as a result he came to abandon it as ill founded. 

The reader is left to decide for themselves if they want to continue to believe that the Bible is the work of a divine creator, or that it is a collection of books intended to fool people into belief in a complex myth invented by humans.

The book is not intended to deconvert Christians or Christadelphians. It's primary purpose is to help the reader to think rationally and objectively about faith based religion. It does not seek to dictate what people should think about these issues, but rather it explains a better way to consider the probabilities. 

People have to deconvert, or choose to believe, themselves. No one could or should make up their minds for them. But after reading this book they will be better equipped to make an informed decision.


29 comments:

  1. Is there anything wrong in a group of people "remain(ing) part of the community for cultural and social reasons," if it serves a purpose?

    Do they not provide society with a resource similar to other groups such as Rotary, Lions etc.?

    What motivates this group to evangelise against such a movement?

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    1. I`m assuming that when Peter writes "this group" he`s referring to us, the Ex-CD`s. If he`s a CD then he must belong to an unusually ultra liberal Ecclesia and not visit others. If he`s not a CD then he doesn`t appear to know much about them and their controlling ways. However, he might be correct in posing the thought about members remaining for social reasons, as many seem to do, though keeping their thoughts and feelings to themselves. Because, Peter, if they made it known that that is the only reason why they attended and "belonged", then they would be kicked out on their ears. What "motivates" those who write here "against" Christadelphia is that with just a very small amount of research (an abundance on this site) it is clear that they are up the creek without a paddle in their beliefs, and their extreme behaviour towards those who won`t or don`t follow their dictates is
      a harmful and unacceptable side of their (dis)organisation.

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    2. In some cases there may well be good reason for someone to "remain part of the community for cultural and social reasons", but your question is "is there anything wrong" with it, so that's what I will respond to.

      Christadelphians routinely teach children to:
      * believe in things that have never been shown to exist.
      * fear an invisible being, lest they suffer its wrath (they may not teach hell, but they do teach divine punishment and retribution)
      * believe they were born sinful and deserve to die
      * feel guilty if they find it difficult to believe
      * feel guilty if they are attracted to someone of the same gender
      * give up the only life they have in the hope of a miracle, without a shred of evidence for it.
      * feel like it is their fault if they are not loved

      If people stay in the community and keep silent, they only serve to add their weight to these practices.

      Other groups such as Rotary and Lions actually provide a benefit to the greater community. I know there are a few Christadelphian groups who do this too (and I applaud your efforts), but it's extremely rare.

      Most Christadelphians only do work in their community if there is potential to preach and win converts. It's entirely self-serving. There is no effort to improve the lives of people now, because Christadelphians don't want "now". They want the world to end.

      If adults want to believe wacky things and pray to the invisible man every Sunday, let them. But the children and young people deserve to be free to make their own choices, and choose their own path.

      The reason I am motivated to "evangelise" against the movement is because I think people have a right to hear other points of view, and as someone who believes the religion is false, I believe people have a right to know, and a right to intellectual freedom.

      I was raised in the religion, and I know the chains it wraps around a young brain, strangling free thought and curiosity, and forcing people to beat themselves up when they cannot meet the impossible standard that has been placed on them. I also know the feeling of freedom and liberation one experiences when they find their way out. For most Christadelphians, they will never discover the flaws in their beliefs because they refuse to question. Nothing I say would change their mind, because their minds are closed to the possibility that anything they don't agree with might actually be true. They don't want truth. They just want confirmation and comfort. They are afraid of being wrong, and afraid of doubt. Why else would they need to keep reinforcing their beliefs? Notice how we don't need to reinforce belief in things that are actually real, like gravity, and rocks.

      But there might be a few people out there who read something here or on my blog, and decide to find out more for themselves. And if I can achieve that, even for just one person, then I will have reached my goal. They might not agree with everything I say, and that's fine. I just want people to think for themselves, and not let other people dictate what they must believe.

      This life is precious, and yet many Christadelphians seem intent on throwing it away, and teaching their kids to do the same. Why wouldn't we try to reach out to these people?

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    3. Peter: I guess that every Ex-Christadelphian has their own reasons to contribute to this website. For myself I delight in searching for truth and opposing misguided superstition. I'm trying to assist intelligent Christadelphians to escape from their childhood indoctrination.

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    4. I find it difficult to answer this, as some would say I'm part of the community for social reasons. That's right: If there is a problem, I'm part of it. But it does give me personal experience of the problems with "remaining part of the community for cultural and social reasons".

      For context, I'm not part of this group to attack Christadelphians generally, and I represent no-one but myself. Many of my posts have been defending Christadelphian views (not always views I agree on) and presenting personal views that don't always match either Christadelphian mainstream or atheism.

      The real problem with viewing Christadelphianism as a social club with a shared culture is that that is not its stated purpose. The stated purpose is believing and following the teachings of the Bible and serving Christ and each other, and looking forward to the return of Christ where all problems will be fixed. Not only is the member meant to hold these as a core part of their life, the teachings are also meant to be important enough to proclaim them to everyone they meet ("We can give you a hope for the future" not "Would you like to join a great social club?").

      These teachings do in many cases produce a friendly, family-like atmosphere of working together. I love much of what we do in my ecclesia, and the enthusiasm, warmth, energy, and care of the committed members is great to see (though those less active can be left on the outer). I have many great friends there, and the general atmosphere is great. However, that atmosphere is always at risk from people who are compelled to prioritise fighting for the truth as they see it over keeping the social club going. Many friends have been left on opposite sides of divides that were not of their own making.

      The Bible is the glue that keeps the group together, because it gives an objective standard that everyone can be expected to adhere to. Yes, it can be interpreted in many ways, but the fundamentals are supposed to be agreed. Memorial meetings, lectures, and Bible Classes bring members together regularly, but are based around acceptance of those fundamentals. Speaking (for many brothers), Sunday School teaching, prayers, Bible reading, evangelism, and even casual discussion after a service go beyond just agreeing with these fundamentals to presenting them. Yes, it is possible to sit through the service purely to keep up with friends and family, and hide all disagreement with these fundamentals. It is even possible to present dissent in guarded tones, and to have animated and interesting discussions where everyone assumes you accept the fundamentals. But is it a good idea?

      If it is a few people who deceive the many because they see advantages in the social club, I don't think that's too bad. But if it were really everyone deceiving everyone else, then I'm sure we could work out a better system to get the social side without tying the majority of the activities to those fundamental religious beliefs. The reality is that those who are just in it for cultural reasons are inadvertantly strengthening those who are serious. They are compelled by peer pressure to say things that they don't actually agree with. They are compelled to spend a lot of time conforming to the club to stay in it. If they have really thought about it, they will fear that one misstep, one word or action out of turn, and the whole edifice will tumble. Is that really a good way to live a life?

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    5. There is no excuse for people to remain in the Christadelphians after they lose their faith and arrive at a position of unbelief. They are deceiving their fellow Christadelphians and lying to their nearest and dearest.

      It's as simple as that. They should come clean and stand up for the truth that they have discovered and not continue to propagate Christadelphian mistakes and untruths. They should resign. Anything else is hypocrisy.

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    6. What if its going to cost your marriage John?? whats your advise then...

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    7. If your Christadelphian spouse wants to give you a load of trouble because you deconvert, (which they will because they are fundamentalist fanatics) I recommend that you leave them for the sake of your own sanity.

      Atheists make far better spouses than Christadelphians. Who wants to be married to someone who believes in invisible people who live in the sky that you have to talk to in your thoughts each evening before you go to sleep???

      Far better to get a sexy, rational, Atheist spouse.

      - That's what I did and it was even better than leaving the Christadelphians. I left the Christadelphians and left and divorced my wife at the same time. It was fantastic. It was the start of a brilliant new life with three new children since then.

      There is no easy answer to leaving the Christadelphians. In most cases you will be in for a huge amount of emotional upset and pain. It may last for years. They have messed with your head and getting it straight again can be extremely painful. But all Ex-Christadelphians will tell you that it is worth it in the end. It's like cutting out a cancer or a brain tumor or a gangrenous limb. Nasty, unpleasant business at the time but when it is all over you get a whole new life that is a hundred times better than your previous, indoctrinated, irrational frame of mind.
      I was three and a half years living on my own before I met the girl who I am now married to. It was awful and very lonely. Alcohol was my friend. But my new life outside the Christadelphians and with an Atheist spouse has been far better than I previously imagined the Kingdom of God to be.

      If you deconvert and remain with a Christadelphian spouse you are going to be miserable to the grave. Those Christadelphians are seriously deranged and you need to cut them out of your life completely to get your sanity restored.

      I tell you straight: If there is one thing worse than being a Christadelphian, it's being married to one. That is daily misery until you fall into your grave.

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  2. I think its good for people to be able to get together etc if it helps them get out of bed. I race motorsport and i know that gives me a heck of alot to keep on living for.Everyone needs something to hold on to in life. IF what ever blows your hair back is not hurting your fellow human i dont see a problem...religion does do a hell of a lot of good in some cases too.. but also has a hell of alot to answer for...helping starving children is one example is one of the good as such.Yes you dont have to be religious to do that.. im well aware of that.. but there is some good in it..

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  3. I agree with what Paul says here as religion does have some good as long as it is approached with an open mind and not people saying that their way is the only way. I have recently completed four Theology/Religious Studies papers at university out of interest and if you approach it from an academic prospective, as taught at university, you certainly see that nothing is set in concrete as much of it is just passed down the line traditions as is stated on this website. Also many of the other religions have their take on the same stories in the Bible but with different locations and characters. There is no definite proof for any of it but if it gives people a conscience then is that not always a bad thing. Unfortunately people only want to look at things from where they feel comfortable, in other words reaffirm what they already deeply believe. I feel it must be approached with a total open mind and always, I state always question is it kind what is being taught. An Anglican Minister told me that was studying some of the same papers as I was, is that "the Bible is man's encounters with God, not God's encounters with man". I found this very helpful indeed!

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  4. Cindy, if that's what interests you I've got no problems with it. I still see much of interest and beauty in the Bible, though I also see more problems than I did 10 years ago.

    In the context of this site, though, I can't imagine most Christadelphian ecclesias and families being happy with the path you describe. Being an interested onlooker is difficult in a movement that calls for and encourages active involvement and unshakeable beliefs.

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  5. Cindy, "if it gives people a conscience then is that ("that is"?)not always a bad thing". How are CD`s consciences exercised over their "fixed-in-concrete" approach towards marrying only within the CD`s? Indoctrinating their children with a "this-is-The-(only)-Truth" approach to belief? Their "frowning-upon-the- reading-of-books" which promote other ideas to those they are glued to?

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  6. Jakarta Jack, I appreciate your comments and agree that my approach in an ecclesia would not work. Trust me I used to ask questions around evolution and various contradictory passages and it was not received well so for peace sake remained quiet. However I personally could only do this for a certain amount of time as I was not satisfied with what I was hearing. Talking about what we were all suppose to believe in without challenging ourselves was not enough. That is why for me I had to take a different approach to get another view of things. I am not saying for one minute that this will work for everyone, but for myself it has been extremely helpful.
    While doing my few studies I looked at other religions apart from the 3 main Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). The other faiths all had the same morals of worship/honour God or gods and the basic do unto others as you would have done unto you principals. If you failed here there would be consequences. So my point is, is that if faith is what it takes you to do good unto others, that is great. I love the Bible and its vast collection of writers with their varying encounters with God or opinions on God and how life should be lived. I particularly enjoy the book of James is it is not all about just having faith as you actually have to do works too. I certainly don't know if I have heeded to the words of holding my tongue though!
    I cannot discount belief in a divine being or affirm it but one thing I know is there are various ways of looking at the divine and no one has the truth because the truth my be or may not be no god at all. For me being an interested onlooker is the best option for my well being but I am not saying that would work for others or in a Christadelphian community.

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  7. Mancott, you are right I don't think it is healthy and you missed my point as I probably have not worded my spiel that well, sorry. When I mean conscience I mean it as doing good unto others. That is how I hope my conscience works and when I get it wrong it is my conscience that soon pricks me. And by doing good unto others, I mean it in a way that it is excepting their belief or non belief and putting that aside and still having a good human working relationship with them. Oh the world would be such a dull old place if we all agreed and only talked about those things. The only way to grow into an understanding being towards all others is by challenging yourself with uncertainties and things that you might just not want to hear. To me that is hard, basic truth! :)

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    1. Cindy, sorry if I missed your point. I think you are describing Humanism, which although many CD`s would subscribe to the (their) idea of the "doing good to all men" bit, most of them couldn`t bend towards accepting others beliefs without an attempt to "put them right", which is not "doing good to all men".

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    2. Well, a letter in the January Christadelphian told us how atheists were terrible for wanting the world to be a better place with a better quality of life. Or maybe the problem was that they were trying to improve these things by removing religious practices that they thought harmful.

      It amuses me that when a brother or sister is saved by advanced medication it is the work of God, but those humans who work on such technology are written off as trying to put their trust in their own work rather than in God.

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  8. Christadelphians are different than any other belief system that exists as they believe God is trying to raise man up to his level, whereas mainstream religions and others like yourselves try to drag God down to mans level

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    1. It looks to me like the God of the Bible is trying to drag man down to his own insecure, jealous, paranoid-schizophrenic, genocidal level.

      Excuse me, but we are talking about a God who drowned the entire population of the Earth except one family. I don't remember Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot or Stalin doing anything so remotely evil and insane as the God who was worshiped by Noah.

      The most horrific movie ever produced by Hollywood in it's entire history was called "Noah"! :)

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    2. John, as you know,the god who drowned the earth`s population in the time of Noah was an invented god. You and I used to worship an invented god. Unenlightened others still do. This was a god invented by the human writers of the bible, so your first paragraph is correct, and shows that Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin et al, were showing the same depth of depravity as displayed in the imaginative writings of those men who cobbled together the bible. This is not to say that whole tribes were not slaughtered from time to time, but this was done by man, in the name of an imagined god.

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    3. From what I've seen, I don't think too many Christians were lining up to claim "Noah" as an accurate representation of the Bible. More like running long lists of the differences.

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    4. Anon,

      The god of the Bible is essentially just man's projection of the ideal moral being, seen through their particular cultural lens. That is why "God" appears to change throughout the various time periods when each book was written. It's why some of the actions of God appear barbaric to us, but seemed quite natural to people in the Iron Age. Ever wondered why the New Testament god is a lot more civilised? Think about the culture in which each book was written. It all fits like hand in glove, and that tells us a lot, I think.

      On the same topic, there is good scientific evidence that the "god" many people believe in today is essentially just a projection of their "ideal self" (i.e. an idealised virtual version of themselves).

      http://scienceblogs.com/notrocketscience/2009/11/30/creating-god-in-ones-own-image/

      Next time you pray to God, ask yourself what would be different if there was no one listening. What would change? If nothing, then how can you be sure that anyone is actually listening? If you think something would be different, then you now have a way to check...

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    5. Or to put Steve's point in philosophical terminology, if the Bible was inspired by an omniscient, metaphysical being its' morality should be Moral Absolutism. That is to say, its' morality should not change through the passage of time, or development of cultures in which it was composed. But if the Bible is not the words of God and merely composed by humans, we should expect the morality of the Bible to be Moral Relativism. That is to say the morality of the different parts of the Bible should reflect the morality of the times and cultures during which each part is composed.

      Not only do we find the Bible to display Moral relativism (which disproves its claimed divine authorship), but we also see that the teaching and morality of the Bible has been adjusted and evolved during the thousands of years since it was written in order to make it palatable to the reader of each new age.

      Therefore the hypothesis that the Bible is some form of origin, definition or arbiter of the Absolute Morality of God is proven to be false by the evolution of enlightened morality from Genesis chapter one, through the New Testament and all the way down to our own times.

      Christian morality is relative to the morality of the age in which the observer is living, not to any absolute, unchanging truth or moral teaching contained in the Scriptures.

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    6. Actually, I don't even think we need to go as far as even talking about an actual god (whatever that is). For starters, we have a huge volume of evidence of humans inventing deities. We know exactly what that looks like, and in my opinion the Bible fits that picture extremely well.

      Even if we were to grant the hypothetical possibility that supernatural entities might exist, I still think the obvious and most rational explanation for the origins of the Bible is that it is entirely the product of superstitious human authors. Until someone can conclusively prove otherwise, there is no reason to believe that the biblical deity is anything but a human-invented fiction. That's not to say the authors thought they were writing fiction. On the contrary, they were most likely sincere, but mistaken (just like the writers of all other similar ancient religious texts).

      I'm not asking for evidence consistent with divine inspiration, I'm asking for evidence that would rule out human authership and human origins.

      To suggest that the Bible must be the product of a super-human intelligence is to insult human intelligence.

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  9. Mancott I would tend to agree with what you say here, though it also goes for a lot of other religious groups that have very definite or should I say dogmatic views on beliefs. It is such a shame as they miss out on seeing a persons good because they can't get past the fact they believe something different to them. And oh well I guess that is their choice. It is certainly not how I choose to live my life.

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    1. Cindy, yes, CD`s are not the only group who each tend to look "down" on those who are not of their number. And yes, they do miss out on the rich diversity of human goodness. Since leaving the Cd`s I have enjoyed a freedom of thought, a happy mixing with others not of my former faith, and a generally better enjoyment of life than previously. I`ve also come to understand the bible for what it is, and not as it was presented to me from a child upwards. Those in the bubble of indoctrination are denied this enlightenment.

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    2. Cindy,
      I haven't been on here much lately. What are you? A CD? an EX-CD? or something else...

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  10. Hi Joseph, I am an ex CD. I was bought up one but did not get baptised till my mid/late 20's and my decision to get baptised was quite fear driven. Then after about 7 or 8 years I felt I did not fit the mould as I had too many questions that plagued me. I would not say I am now an atheist but more likely an agnostic. Also to make it clear I am not here to bag others as I firmly believe freedom of thought is something no one can take from you. But that is probably much of where my problems with the CD religion is, is that you can't have freedom of thought if it does not fit what they say is right. I do stress too that our thoughts have to try to produce kindness to all mankind of whatever religion/non religion/sexuality etc. I also feel that we should remain humble with our views on religion as it can be damaging when a dogmatic approach is taken and that goes for believers and non believers alike. I also feel I try to be sensitive to CD's or other religious groups/people who have a rather fundamental approach as not all people can handle looking at things in a more open minded way. To be perfectly honest a site like this is probably the best way to discuss these views as otherwise it can just cause too much contention and for example to an elderly person who has held fast to their beliefs all their lives and then to go and cause great upset by telling them that not all may be as they have thought it was is just unfair and unkind. I realise this may not be how some people here like to approach things but for me to live with my conscience, that is how I try to deal with things. If asked by someone, I am only more than happy to give my opinion though. I still feel that doing the few Uni papers on Religion/Theology (the Religious studies papers are done from an agnostic point of view and Theology looked at the Bible as a piece of literature) was one of the best things I could have done. It gave me answers to some troubling questions I had and was too scared to ask someone of a strong fundamental faith.

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  11. Cindy, you write "the Bible as a piece of literature". A really worthwhile read, as has been mentioned on this site previously, is, "God - a biography" by Jack Miles.

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  12. Hi All,The Bible is a wonderful book when viewed through the lens of "Greek Mythology" as was intended, with the wisdom and words of the wise and and their dark sayings, as the bible puts it in Proverbs 1. The Mystics. It has many influences from the East, in the Egyptian, Hindu's and Buddhist tradition of consciousness, meditation, kundalini (the Serpent) and the 7 chakra's (the 7 seals of Revelation). It's all Cosmic. It was written allegorically to deliberately mislead the profane, those who would corrupt the teachings. If you don't understand it, you take it literally. And that's what has happened, and has been taught for manipulation of the masses for thousands of years. To keep us ignorant slaves and not to question. The Inquisition killed off most who knew the truth or questioned it and burnt, stole and hid the knowledge over hundreds of years. Modern Christianity was born out of the dark ages when no-one was allowed to think...Sound familiar? We must not get caught up in the pissing contest of who's wright or wrong but plant seeds of truth in discussion with them and allow them to grow with a little watering now and then, so they begin to open their minds and ask questions themselves.The time has come to wake everyone up my friends!Much love,From an Ex Christadelphian.

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