We Said goodbye to our Church on Sunday

This Sunday just gone, was the last time we attended a service at the Church that we’ve called home for the past 14 years.

Our pastor was on holiday so he wasn’t around, but I did get the chance to shake his hand and say farewell and best wishes the week before.

This means that, having not attended Church for several months, I have been the last two Sundays.

There are many dear friends who attend our former Church, most of whom know of and even share our concerns with the current leadership. Some know about the various events over the past couple of years that have upset either my wife or myself.

It is a little sad to be leaving under less than happy circumstances, but the move away is not at all related to the situation at church, it is a personal choice that will bring a very different quality of life to us and its for that reason we are moving. If everything at church was perfect, we’d still be moving, and it would be a more emotional wrench.

We are still leaving some very dear friends behind though. Friends who welcomed us to the church all those years ago and friends we’ve made a long the way. In those years I’ve seen people come to the church and I’ve seen people leave. Some have moved away, after many years of service, many more than the 14 years we’ve been around. Some have left the church because they’ve had enough.

Our last service was nothing special, with the pastor being away a church member preached. He’s a nice enough and genuine person but he’s not especially great at preaching. He doesn’t engage in his delivery and I don’t find him intellectually stimulating either. Some people don’t go when he preaches for those reasons.

Since we have dear friends in the church and those dear friends know how much my wife and I have committed to the church over the years, there was no way we were going to get away without it being made known to the rest of the church. So near the beginning of the service we were called to the front and interviewed about our move away. We were okay with this, though we would also have been happy to slip away unannounced. We’ve already arranged for many of our close friends to come and bid us farewell on our last night here in a local drinking establishment, so a farewell at the front of our home church is merely a formality.

However, that all being said, I had mentally prepared a small speech covering some of the things I wanted to say as a thank you to those who have been an extended family to us over the years. Unfortunately, the gentleman who was leading the service is a new joiner, an enthusiastic South African who is a biblical literalist and has his own way of doing things; he has also been the source of some of my wife’s upset over the past year. On his list of accomplishments seems to be the utter demise of the church music group. As a result, the farewell interview was a couple of obvious questions like, when do you move? are you packed? and where do you move? He didn’t probe to ask how long we’d been at our church or what we’d be doing church wise after we’d moved. Things we would also expect to be asked.

So the questions halted awkwardly and then we were prayed for. One of those praying for us is possibly the best friend we have at the church. A wonderful lady who has seen her own share of hurt, not just from this church, but from other churches too; gentleness, kindness and love simply ooze from her pores and we’ll miss seeing her on a regular basis. So I smiled knowingly when she made a point of listing all the things we’ve been involved with in the church over the years during her prayer of thanks for us.

I didn’t get to say my piece to the church, I’m a disappointed about that, but I’ll get over it. I have no idea, if we’ll ever set foot in it again. We may do, but we’ve currently no plans at all to return to this town, so I can’t say for certain.

We’ve waved goodbye to the church we gave much to and which supported us. We’ve waved goodbye to the frustrations and upsets too, hopefully they’ll not return to bother us again.

This week is now a week of looking forward, on Wednesday my wife takes our daughter to her parent’s house to stay for a few nights while we finish up the packing and on Friday we move to a brand new house in a town by the sea and a new life beckons.

I am sure it won’t be perfect and I am sure there will be challenges ahead, but there will also be good things to look forward too. For the last 14 years we’ve lived in a town we moved to because of my work and we’ve not been close to family for any of that time. From Friday, we’ll be a mile away from my wife’s parents, since they beat us to the hop and moved to the same seaside town a month before we did; after we announced our intent to move. We’ll also be less than an hour from my Aunts and cousins. This is a move for us. My wife is very excited about the move and simply can’t wait to settle in and start making friends with our new neighbours. I am a little more reserved about it as I’m not yet sure how this will affect my work so I’m taking it in my stride, enjoying the ride and will deal with whatever comes our way.

No doubt there will be a report from our new home Church and I expect I’ll be going to church more regularly from next week. I’m sure I will cope.

Noah’s Ark, Gilgamesh, or Just a Story?

Noah's sacrifice

Image via Wikipedia

I had never previously doubted the account of Noah’s Ark.Yet, once I started to have doubts about the young age of the earth (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/the-first-nagging-doubts/), I found that I was now critically analysing key events in the Bible. Specifically, key events that rely on and require a young Earth. Such as the Genesis account of Noah, the ark and a global flood.

Basic Problems with the Global Flood Account

The most obvious issue with the account of the global flood is the volume of water required. There simply is not enough water in our atmosphere to produce enough rain to fill the earth up with water to the height of a mountain. The Genesis account also mentions waters of the deep, which some have interpreted to mean great reservoirs of water below the earths surface opened as a result of earthquakes and water flowed up from them. The problem with this is that it would require huge reserves of water to cover the entire earth, reserves which simply have not been found. Something truly miraculous would be required to cause a global flood.

Then of course there is the issue of the animals. All those animals need feeding and, more importantly, watering. The carnivores would present a specific problem, plus there would have to be very strong and very significant means of separating them apart.

Post flood, there is the very real problem of how to explain that the species of animal are unique to specific parts of the world, the indigenous animals of Australia are the most obvious example.

So the believability of the global flood is found wanting, yet I managed to unquestioningly believe it for many years.

So what of Gilgamesh?

The Epic of Gilgamesh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_of_Gilgamesh) is a fascinating story, it probably best you follow the link or do your own searches on it rather than me repeat it all here.

The tale predates Noah’s Flood and it is suspected in some circles that the story of Noah’s Flood is a direct retelling of the Gilgamesh story, wrapped up for a different audience and several cultural additions. This is how myths, legends and stories evolve over time anyway.

Gradual Realisation

One of the key moments in me realising that the Flood account was not a real event was a documentary about the Flood, which expanded on some of the evidence I have indicated above. That same documentary drew parallels with the Gilgamesh account and I found myself compelled to question what I had previously accepted as true.

So, now I was not only questioning a young Earth, I was now questioning the validity of the Bible, or at least the validity of a literal interpretation of some Biblical passages.

Genetic evidence

Recent DNA analysis has shown that Adam and Eve could not have existed (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-problem-of-adam-and-eve/). I would go further and suggest that this evidence also puts into doubt the possibility of Noah and his extended family being at one point in time the only human inhabitants on the planet.

Atheist Morality

This was a subject I was intending to get round to eventually, but recent blog postings have prompted me comment on it now. I am fairly sure I’ll return to this subject again in the future, it is a big subject after all.

The basic issue that is prompting me to comment is the reaction of Christians to the assertion that morality does not come from God and is in actual fact an evolutionary characteristic. As someone who accepts evolution I don’t have an issue with that premise. I find it very interesting, in a stimulating way, it takes the idea of physical traits honed over generations through evolution and applies it to characteristics. What we do and how we act, is now viewed, in evolutionary terms, as a benefit or not and selected accordingly.

Intellectually I have no issue with this at all. I believe it is at least highly plausible and will be paying attention to the results of further research on the subject.

The Failure of God Driven Morality

The idea that our morality comes only from God and that only a believer can be deemed to be a moral person is flawed. There are atheists that are upstanding and moral people as well as there are Christians who have murdered.

As a Christian, I held firmly to this belief. I never questioned the existence of good atheists; I accepted they existed but I am not sure what I did about the conflict between morality coming from God and there being atheists who were good. So I can’t answer that obvious question.

What I am sure of is that the mere suggestion that morality is evolutionary would have caused me upset and it seems that there are a good many Christians who feel the same.

The most recent article on the subject is this one in USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2011-07-31-atheism-morality-evolution-religion_n.htm (for reasons I can not explain, I am unable to reach that URL directly and so in case I am not alone, here is the google cache link for the article in question: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2011-07-31-atheism-morality-evolution-religion_n.htm)

I found the link from the Evolution is true blog which has published a couple of the comments that were received from Christians on the subject (http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/the-public-responds/).

There is a very sad irony that Christians upset by the assertion that they do not have a monopoly on morality are behaving in a way that is arguably not moralistic.

The Futile Atheist Existence

As it happens, another blog (http://formerconservative.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/red-cardigan-would-be-a-complete-sociopath-if-god-didnt-tell-her-not-to/) pointed me to a Christian blog discussing the same subject. The Christian known as Red Cardigan has a peculiar view on atheistic morals, going so far as to suggest that atheists take their morals from a specific philosophical viewpoint. Its news to me that atheism is a specific philosophy; its not clear that if she means all atheists or just some, I suspect she originally meant all and then refined to some.

Whichever she meant is not important, it’s the extension of the logic that Christians get their morality from God therefore atheists must get theirs from something too, so philosophy seems like a reasonable conclusion. I can see how that logic would be attractive and I can see how a firm Christian who has utterly bought the idea that morals come God would make that leap.

The brutal fact is, it is wrong.

The trouble with this utterly wrong viewpoint, is that it leads to further wrong ideas. These can be seen in the following three posts (http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/2011/07/atheist-hissy-fits.html, http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/2011/07/prison-atheist-fable.html, http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/2011/08/pollyanna-atheism-shakespeare-and.html) on the subject where the Christian idea of what an atheist is and believes is put forward and there is no effort at all to actually learn when corrected. Its this bit that’s so sad; even more sad is that I was once like that too. Trapped in my own ideas of what was and not listening when I was told what actually is.