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Why I Am Not A Christian

I just now – fifteen minutes ago – came to realize with the most crystal clarity I have ever had why I cannot call myself a Christian.   Of course, as most of you know, I have not called myself a Christian publicly for a very long time, twenty years or so I suppose.  But a number of people tell me that they think at heart I’m a Christian, and I sometimes think of myself as a Christian agnostic/atheist.  Their thinking, and mine, has been that if I do my best to follow the teachings of Jesus, in some respect I’m a Christian, even if I don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God, or that he was raised from the dead, or that… or even that God exists.  In fact I don’t believe all these things.  But can’t I be a Christian in a different sense, one who follows Jesus’ teachings?

Fifteen minutes ago I realized with startling clarity why I don’t think so.

This afternoon in my undergraduate course on the New Testament I was …

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Me and Jesus
Why Do Good People Suffer? A Blast from the Past



  1. Avatar
    Phil  March 6, 2017

    Thank you Bart.

  2. Avatar
    Adam0685  March 6, 2017

    You should consider writing a book or series of essays on “Why I am not a Christian (but yet continue to commit my life to the study of early Christianity)”

  3. Avatar
    tskorick  March 6, 2017

    I have much more respect for people like you who pursue the truth despite how ugly it might be. Many of us have been right there (perhaps without the teaching a class part) and felt the pain of tearing off that bandaid. It’s hard, but the truth is the truth and wishful thinking doesn’t make it otherwise.

    I see this worldview, the absence of an afterlife, as increasing the value of the time we do have immeasurably in our own mental marketplace. I take life more seriously, push further, try harder, love more deeply, and cherish every moment because they’re fleeting and -poof- gone.

    This is not a bad life, Dr. Ehrman. It really isn’t at all.

  4. Avatar
    Todd  March 6, 2017

    You don’t follow his apocalyptic teachings but what about his ethical teachings of love, compassion and forgiveness? Any good humanist would find those to be commendable. I understand that there are those who say that his ethical teachings were “Kingdom teachings” but are they not something positive from Jesus’ to follow? If that is so then you don’t reject his whole message. Jesus’ ethical teachings are not unique (the Buddha taught the same) but those teachings are worth practicing.

    My hang up is the use of the term Christian and the terrible reputation so many churches have now days.

    Any thoughts on my comment.

    • Bart
      Bart  March 7, 2017

      See today’s post!

      • Avatar
        Todd  March 7, 2017

        Thank you for starting this discussion. It is personally pertinent to me at this time in my life. I hope we can continue it a bit more. Blessings to you.

    • Avatar
      HistoricalChristianity  March 7, 2017

      The teachings of Jesus were those of Second Temple Judaism. No one except Jews follows those teachings. Christians don’t observe Sabbath or kosher. Circumcision has become diluted as a Jewish distinctive. Those who do it, do it for perceived health benefits.

      Key to the teachings of Jesus and all the other Pharisees is the principle of the Hedge of Hillel. It’s the opposite of brinksmanship. I don’t want to be guilty of murder, so I choose not to harbor anger. I don’t want to be guilty of taking God’s name in vain, I refuse to even say or write the name. It’s a good principle, but few take it to this extreme.

    • Avatar
      VirtualAlex  April 27, 2017

      I think it’s rather unfair that Jesus should get all the kudos for his ethical teachings. He has been by no means the only teacher of ethics, not the first and not the last, and not the best. It’s fairly common time and the world over (the teaching of it, not necessarily the practice of it!). So there is simply no need to say that you or someone else follows Jesus if one wants to do good. One does the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Indeed, Jesus’ idea that you do good to get the reward of a kingdom pass is a little self serving.

  5. Avatar
    rburos  March 6, 2017

    But this blog is an example of your love of your fellow man on at least a couple different levels. I don’t follow what one of my priests says, so I recommend you do what I do–be sad that THEY believe there is only value in a “higher” world, that they don’t find a sense of the holy all around them.

  6. Avatar
    Wilusa  March 6, 2017

    I’ve never understood why anyone who didn’t believe Jesus was “God” – and didn’t accept all the doctrines of one sect or another – would *want* to think of himself or herself as a Christian, or feel sad about no longer doing so.

    But…in your case, maybe it was because you had positive experiences in the Christian “communities” to which you’d belonged?

  7. Avatar
    GreggL10  March 6, 2017

    Dr. Ehrman, I learned about the apocalyptic Jesus concept from taking your (excellent) Great Course on the historical Jesus. You make a compelling case IMHO. To be complete, I have been trying to understand competing theories about what kind of teacher Jesus was in the relevant scholarly literature. One issue I cannot seem to resolve is the question of where the idea that people are equal actually originated. I am referring to the early church’s apparent belief that “there is no longer Jew or Greek…slave or free…male or female.” or the accounts they wrote of Jesus talking to women or tax collectors etc. Maybe I am reading too much of my 21st Century values into this, but that seems to be a major departure from the belief systems of the ancient world. Can you shed any light on this, sir, or is there a book of yours you would recommend?

    • Bart
      Bart  March 7, 2017

      Yes, it is a departure from most of what was thought/believed in antiquity (especially in the Roman empire, where the religion started). It’s a good question where it originally came from. Jesus? I don’t really know! You might be interested in Peter Brown’s large book Eye of a Needle, which explores the different Christian ethic/conception of humans (and need, then, for charity rather than dominance)

    • Avatar
      HistoricalChristianity  March 7, 2017

      That’s because understanding what kind of teacher Jesus was is a fool’s errand. It’s impossible. All we have is how various gospel diarists portrayed him. These evangelists wrote inclusively. If you thought Jesus an apocalyptic preacher (or a sage or a Zealot or a magician), you could find texts to identify with. Paul was inclusive and egalitarian because he wanted his religion to be universal, and gain the benefits of empire.

      With tax collectors (sinners) and Samaritans, Jesus chose the philosophy of Hillel, appealing to sinners (non-practicing Jews) and Samaritans (practicing a different form of Judaism) to repent and become observant practicing Jews according to the beliefs of those Jews who had returned from Babylonian Diaspora. Shammai chose an isolationist path, avoiding defilement from associating with anyone but observant Jews.

  8. Avatar
    mobydobius  March 6, 2017

    funny. i had that same realization when i came to understand the historical jesus as this apocalyptic preacher. an understanding that i got from reading your works. it is sort of a punch in the face, isnt it?

  9. Avatar
    rblouch  March 6, 2017

    What if both of these are simultaneously true:

    “Following Jesus means to realize that ultimate reality resides outside this world, in a higher world, above this mundane existence that we live in the here and now”

    “My view is that there *is* no realm above or outside of this one that provides meaning to life in our world. In my view this world is all there is. ”

    My favorite example of the seeming paradox (it is no paradox at all once you’ve experienced it directly) is the movie The Wizard of Oz. The last scene is an intentional mis-director. In the books Oz was not a dream.

    As I tell my five year old daughter with some regularity, “Most people live in Kansas simply because they can’t see that Oz is all around them all the time. The trick is to develop the eyes you need to see it.”

    As for this: “There is no transcendent truth that can make sense of our reality. Our reality is the only reality. ”

    You have just not experienced it directly for yourself.

    Experience comes from proper practice, not from cogniting on the word of God in the Bible. Anyone can experience it if they are willing to expend the effort and have proper technique. It is transformative. It does exactly what you are suggesting can’t happen above. It makes complete sense of our “reality”.

    It will not inherently turn you into an apocalypticist, either. That was just Jesus’ reaction to it. That is the danger in having the experience – it’s so superb you conclude it’s better than the here in which most of us live. You may then need to escape into it forever.

    There are many other reactions to it spanning a spectrum of human behavior and for the most part codified in the different literatures of the various spiritual traditions.

    I have experienced it and I’m fully engaged with life. More so than ever before.

    If any of this makes sense to you and doesn’t sound like the rantings of a lunatic you can spend some time with my answers to questions on meditation at Quora.com to get a variety of different approaches to thinking about it. Ron Blouch My experiences of the transcendent transformed me, as they always do to anyone who has one, and I like to help others who are perplexed understand their own spontaneous transcendent experiences or discover how to have one if they have not.

    • Bart
      Bart  March 7, 2017

      Actually, I have experienced (many times) what people identify as the transcendent. And I too regularly meditate.

      • Avatar
        seeker_of_truth  March 8, 2017

        Not to get too personal, but do you use a particular meditation technique?

        • Bart
          Bart  March 10, 2017

          I use a kind of body-mindfulness technique that I vary regularly (I have several sequences I’ve devised); normally it’s about 15-20 minutes/day.

    • SBrudney091941
      SBrudney091941  March 7, 2017

      People who change the way they think about the world–conceive it–come to experience it differently. That’s pretty clear and is the basis for cognitive therapy. Human imagination is not just imagination but can transform our very experience. I have never taken anyone’s experience of the transcendent as proof of the transcendent–not even my own experiences–anymore than I take seeing the Sun go up and go down (something we actually experience) as proof that it moves around our planet.

  10. Avatar
    ComputersHateAndrewLivingston  March 6, 2017

    You seem to think that your options are limited to, “Something exists outside of this world,” and its negation–as though we were speculating about whether a perpetually locked door was just a dummy door or had something behind
    it. The question instead is, “What may be *here* in the room with us? And is there only one valid way of finding out?” Transcendence isn’t the same thing as separation.

    If it helps, think of numbers and mathematical properties as an analogy. These things don’t consist of waves or particles but instead *affect* those things which do. Like physical laws they are nowhere to be located, will never be seen under any microscope, and yet are known to be objectively real.

    In my experience, when you bring this up people always try to evade it by saying something like, “Laws are descriptive, not prescriptive,” when your whole point is about *why* the world is describable that way in the first place. Physicalists have no choice but to act like mathematics is all a matter of semantics. Yet quite obviously it isn’t: five plus five would still equal ten even if no one had ever existed to notice this fact, let alone label it. The world is arranged–you could even say organized–according to very objectively real patterns. And while that doesn’t tell you anything about Jesus or heaven or miracles it does point to cosmic design.

    P.S. I’m not a Christian either.

    • Avatar
      turbopro  March 7, 2017

      ” five plus five would still equal ten even if no one had ever existed to notice this fact, let alone label it.”

      Perhaps, perhaps not. From my perspective, “5 + 5 = 10” is a definition we give to signify our understanding of our perception of our observations as a group.

      How would we demonstrate that “5 + 5 = 10” is a fact if no one existed?

  11. TWood
    TWood  March 6, 2017

    Makes sense… but I’d say your work to help feed and clothe the needy can still be accurately called “christian” in some historical sense… in other words, you’re counted among the sheep rather than the goats… and that’s a good thing whether there’s an afterlife that accesses other dimensions or not…

    • Bart
      Bart  March 7, 2017

      See today’s post!

    • SBrudney091941
      SBrudney091941  March 7, 2017

      The call to be just and merciful, to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and treat the stranger as one’s own is found before Christianity in Judaism, not to say it originated there.

      • Avatar
        VirtualAlex  April 27, 2017

        And Jesus didnt even make up the two greatest commandments either (which are supposed to summarise his teachings. Not a whole lot of original thought there…

  12. Avatar
    godspell  March 6, 2017

    A quantum physicist might disagree with you.

    It’s actually quite impossible that this world is all there is, but I can respect your point.

    I don’t call myself a Christian, because I don’t believe in many basic tenets common to most if not all Christian faiths. I do believe the world is a better place because of Jesus’s ideas, even though those ideas have often been misunderstood and misapplied. And I call myself a Catholic, weirdly, however lapsed, because that’s the culture I was raised in, and because even though I don’t believe Jesus was God, I do believe some spirit of truth spoke through him, as it has through many others.

    There are so many different levels of reality in this world we all live in. So many worlds within the world. To assume only the one you’re perceiving at a given moment is real is to make a very serious error. There is an infinitude of worlds. Every human being sees a somewhat different world than every other human being, I believe. When we say “This world I see is all there is”, that actually constitutes a form of fundamentalism, doesn’t it?

    Yes, on one level Jesus was preaching the end of the world in his lifetime, or shortly after. But is that really all he was preaching? Don’t the stories we have about him indicate there was much more to him than that?

    You consider yourself an American.

    Does that mean you agree with everything America has done in its history, everything Americans have subscribed to as a group in the past few centuries, or right now? Obviously not. But it’s still part of who you are.

    I’m not quarreling with your choice to not call yourself a Christian, not in the least–but think of all the devoutly atheist Jews out there who still consider themselves Jewish. Because it’s part of their identity, and because in trying to get free of it, they’d also be losing a vital part of their identity. That’s not purely a matter of race, of ancestry.

    You want to be free.

    But nobody is ever free of the past. And if we don’t come to terms with that past, we can’t move into the future. A historian knows this better than anyone.

    • Bart
      Bart  March 7, 2017

      When I say this world is all there is, I mean that there is nothing other than what resulted from the Big Bang.

      • Avatar
        godspell  March 7, 2017

        Whether the Big Bang happened or not (they’ll be arguing about it long after all of us here are dust, and most of us will no more be able to comprehend the arguments than to read Greek manuscripts), if we knew for an absolute fact whether it happened, or how, we still wouldn’t know this universe is all there is. We don’t, we won’t, we can’t. Our ignorance will always and forever massively outweigh our knowledge, and our knowledge will always be reevaluated and frequently discarded. The only physicist who is always proven right in the end is Heisenberg.

        A very wise man once said “A realist is somebody who thinks the world is simple enough to be understood. It isn’t.”

        Hell, I don’t even understand all of the immediate neighborhood I live in.

        I will hazard one more gentle critique. Your post title is self-consciously patterned after the world’s most famous anti-religious tract, written by a man who was quite a highly regarded philosopher and mathematician in his day, but who today is primarily remembered for being a proponent of atheism. Bertrand Russell, far as I’m concerned, is to atheism what whoever writes The Watchtower is to religion. And I can’t say I think very much of him as a man.

        I respect everyone’s beliefs, or lack thereof, but I always bristle a bit when somebody hands me a tract. And that’s what this is. And that’s not what we need from you. Facts. Not Tracts. And now I’ve quite certainly said too much.

        • Bart
          Bart  March 8, 2017

          I’m not saying we know this about the universe. I’m saying I think this!

          • Avatar
            godspell  March 9, 2017

            But you’re not a scientist–not that kind of scientist, anyway (that’s another academic debate that will never be resolved, is history science or not). Your opinion on the Big Bang and the nature of the cosmos is no better or worse than the average person’s. It’s only when you’re talking about your specific area of expertise that you speak with authority–as do the many fine scholars you respect who are Christians–and just for the record, if I was at one of their blogs, and he or she is telling me “Why I Am A Christian” I’d bristle a bit at that as well.

            When Bertrand Russell wrote “Why I Am Not a Christian”, you understand, he was really saying “Why Nobody Should Be a Christian.” Not that you were saying this, but you understood whose title you were borrowing. Russell also wrote that the British should welcome an invading Nazi Army in peacefully, but he gave that up by 1940. See, it’s not only Christians who can be impractical at times. 😉

            Blogs are an acceptable place to air opinions, world views, and that’s what many people do on them. However, you’ve set up this blog to discuss what we actually know (and don’t know) about Jesus and early Christianity.

            I can see it from your POV–people are interested in your beliefs, and form opinions about them, and you want to set the record straight. But personal beliefs, unlike personal knowledge, are fluid, go back and forth. Lincoln seems to have been a skeptic most of his life–he certainly did not believe in a divine Jesus, and he may well have been a freethinker in his youth.

            Under the pressures of the Presidency, the Civil War, he seems to have become a great deal more religious. He went so far as to say, in private correspondence, that if he let the slaves he’d freed via the Emancipation Proclamation, many of whom were then sacrificing their lives for the Union, go back into bondage, he’d be damned to hell for all eternity. He may not have literally believed that. But he behaved as if he did. Given his propensity for deep depression (and seemingly prophetic dreams), I don’t think we can say he was all about calm materialistic rationalism.

            I accept your statement that you are not a Christian, and in the technical sense, neither am I. But part of being honest with ourselves is to accept the simple fact that the beliefs we absorb in our youth go on affecting us, positively and negatively, throughout our lives. That is true of everyone, without exception. You have certain habits of mind that come from your days as an evangelical–one of which is that you are still much inclined to proselytize. Well, it’s a common enough failing.

            More things in heaven and earth, Dr. Ehrman.

          • Bart
            Bart  March 10, 2017

            I think you misunderstand me. I’m not trying to speak as an authority on the Big Bang. I’m just saying what I think about whether there is a realm outside the material world we live in.

          • Avatar
            godspell  March 11, 2017

            People can think whatever they like about that, but one opinion is exactly as good as any other.

            And in point of fact, those who dreamed of other realities beyond this one have not been exclusively religious visionaries. They got there first, is all.


            I think you’re trying too hard here to justify something that doesn’t need justification. Most people in the world aren’t Christians. Including a lot of the people who call themselves Christians. You don’t have to opine on the nature of the entire universe to say “I don’t think a virgin had a baby, and he was human and an infinitely wise and powerful being all at the same time, and he rose from the dead in physical form, and he’ll come back someday.”

            “To sense that behind everything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense…I am a devoutly religious man.”

            Albert Einstein.

            When you try to impose your perceptions–religious or mundane–onto the world around you, that’s the bad side of religion, and atheists are often just as guilty of it.

            When you’re open to new experiences, new perceptions, new awarenesses–that’s the good side of religion, and atheists are often just as guilty of that too.

            Are you?

          • Bart
            Bart  March 12, 2017

            Yes, I’m always open. I also firmly believe in not accepting something without critically examining it on many levels.

          • Avatar
            godspell  March 12, 2017

            I’m the same way. My mind is open, the admission isn’t free.

            But there are things we may feel powerfully that can’t be examined in a 100% critical fact-based way.

            And those are often some of the most important things in life.

        • Avatar
          turbopro  March 8, 2017

          “And that’s not what we need from you.”

          If I may please, with all due respect and courtesy, kindly speak for yourself.

          I, speaking for myself, more than welcome that which you call a “tract.” For me it is not a tract, but, an honest and open sharing of thoughts and understandings by one very learned in matters of which I am most interested.

          Moreover, these are thoughts and understandings that result from a lifetime of ongoing rumination over matters, abstruse and recondite time immermorial.


          • Avatar
            HawksJ  March 11, 2017


            Well-said, Turbo.

          • Avatar
            godspell  March 12, 2017

            If I may say, with all common sense and practicality, Bart Ehrman will go down as an influential scholar in his specific field.

            I don’t think he’s going to be remembered as one of the great philosophers, and I don’t think he’s aiming to be that.

            It’s his blog, he’s got a perfect right to do some navel-gazing, and explaining his personal views in depth, like everybody else on the internet with a blog.

            But that’s all it is, unless there’s some facts behind it, same as everybody else on the internet with a blog.

            If that’s all he had, I wouldn’t be here.

            Why exactly do you need it?

            Are you that insecure about your own beliefs that you need them affirmed by someone in authority?

            Scholarly authority and religious authority are not the same thing. For one thing, scholarly authority actually exists in an empirical sense. 😉

        • SBrudney091941
          SBrudney091941  March 14, 2017

          1. Did Bart say he self-consciously patterned his title after Russell’s? It seems to me a very likely and common title for someone to use if he or she was to sit down and explain why they are not a Christian–too common to presume someone using it was copying another who used it.
          2. My guess is that you do not respect everyone’s beliefs….maybe their right to believe what they want but not necessarily their beliefs. Do you respect the beliefs of bigots? I also think that the right to believe what you want is not a pass one gets to never have their beliefs questioned.
          3.In regard to your March 13 post which had no “Reply” option, you wrote “Not all questions have answers, at least not answers that finite mortal beings can ever divine. And that’s why we need faith” and “Respect the beliefs of others, and insist they respect your own–and understand that where there is no proof, there can only be faith.” Isn’t that conditional on wanting to whether one has an interest in having “answers” to the big questions? Some people are satisfied to have faith that a certain story is a sufficient answer to a certain big question. Other people don’t want to just have faith and feel that, if a question truly seems unanswerable, one should let it go. As Bonhoeffer once wrote (as well as I can remember it from his Ethics), “Some questions are not meant to be answered but transcended.” Where there is no proof, one could have faith or one can just get one with one’s life here on earth, understanding (from hints here and there) that there is more than our senses and science can describe.

      • TWood
        TWood  March 7, 2017

        Yes, but all physicists say there was an initial quantum state that preceded (and therefore transcends) the Big Bang. Some symmetrical sphere of energy that existed before spacetime began expanding due to a mysterious asymmetry that happened (aka the Big Bang or Infinite Stretch). It’s quite possible most of the observable universe *still* transcends the Big Bang (95% of it is made from matter and energy we cannot observe). It’s an old problem (Prime Mover/First Cause), but it’s still a problem in modernity. I’m not saying this proves there is a god, especially a personal god. But I don’t see how it can be accurate to say there is *nothing* other than that which *resulted* from the Big Bang, when we know *something* existed that *caused* the Big Bang—and that something cannot be nothing, can it? The Big Bang required an unimaginable amount of energy to happen. In my view, the eternal questions are: What is energy? and Where did it come from? We just have no way of knowing whether it’s something (unintelligent eternal energy) or someone (intelligent eternal energy). In my view, this makes all of us agnostics in a rather objective sense. None of us knows what the mysterious cause of our observable universe is. But don’t you agree that whatever the cause was, it was *something* other than what resulted from the Big Bang? In other words, *something* caused the Big Bang to happen 13.8 billion years ago. I think that’s safe to say with a great deal of confidence (from a basic scientific point of view).

        • Avatar
          turbopro  March 8, 2017

          “But don’t you agree that whatever the cause was, it was *something* other than what resulted from the Big Bang?”

          Things within that which we call the universe may have a cause as far as we may determine. However, the universe, as its own entity, may not need a cause. It may or it may not need a cause. Perhaps we find out later.

          • Avatar
            godspell  March 13, 2017

            More likely we don’t ever find out.

            Not all questions have answers, at least not answers that finite mortal beings can ever divine.

            And that’s why we need faith.

            It does not have to be theistic faith, but faith in something besides what we can perceive with our physical senses. Science is a wonderful way of learning about the world around us. It’s never going to answer the really big questions like “Why are we here?”

            We can’t rationalize the irrational, as Karl Popper put it. We have to understand the difference between what we know and what we believe, and keep them in their proper places, each respecting the other. Both extremes, theism and atheism, have severe potential consequences, as history shows us.

            Respect the beliefs of others, and insist they respect your own–and understand that where there is no proof, there can only be faith. We’ll never know everything. Because if we did, WE’D be God, which would prove atheism wrong. 😉

        • SBrudney091941
          SBrudney091941  March 9, 2017

          I would not agree that “something” must have caused or come before the Big Bang–not if you literally mean some THING. There of course were forces and processes but no reason to think that “thing” is the right concept.

          • TWood
            TWood  March 10, 2017

            I mean what Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek means. That is to say, “forces and processes” are not nothing (noTHING), so they’re something (someTHING). It’s better than saying somewhere or someone, and it’s consistent with the definition of “thing” as used by the physicists I’ve read (with the exception of Krauss, who Wilcek basically mocks by calling him out on trying to define something as nothing, and Krauss ends up admitting Wilczek is right in any case). I certainly didn’t mean a bearded man hitting sticks together caused the Big Bang. There was an initial quantum state that had symmetrical energy which was then broken causing inflation and all the rest. The Big Bang did not come from nothing according to all the physicists I’ve read. If you have a information saying otherwise please provide it. I’m always looking for new angles to study. That’d be a new one if there are views saying the Big Bang was not caused by something else. As far as I know, the Big Bang really only explains general relativity (the expansion of the observable universe). I can’t think of anyone who believes the timeless quantum state began 13.8 billion years ago. Maybe I’m wrong.

      • Avatar
        llamensdor  March 7, 2017

        Be careful now, you’re getting into physics. Was there nothing before the Big Bang? How was everything now in existence “created” out of nothing? What “caused” the Big Bang? A first cause, uncaused? What’s that? We are learning that there are not only billions of universes, but billions of universes within these universes. The scope of “reality” is inconceivable (at least to me). I’m sure you don’t mean anything as esoteric as all that, let alone quantum science that tells us we change reality by observing it. I don’t believe in an afterlife either, but there is a lot more in our reality, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy

  13. Avatar
    francis  March 6, 2017

    Dr Ehrman; This is what I believe also and have most of my life.

  14. talmoore
    talmoore  March 6, 2017

    If it’s any consolation, Dr. Ehrman, you’re not alone. I think the same way you do, as do many, many people I know personally. Incidentally, did you ever watch that Neil deGrasse Tyson video I linked? NdT is basically making a case for how we can fulfill our inner desire to believe in something greater than ourselves, but within a naturalistic, materialistic prespective. I call it Goosebumps without God.

  15. SBrudney091941
    SBrudney091941  March 6, 2017

    But, Bart, you wrote toward the beginning that your thinking has been “that if I do my best to follow the teachings of Jesus, in some respect I’m a Christian.” I thought, some time ago, you said you were perfectly comfortable with someone calling themselves a Christian if they shrived to follow Jesus’ moral teachings that you have been okay in the past with calling someone a Christian, period, not just a Christian “in some respect.” In either case, why would that change if you didn’t agree with Jesus’ conception of the universe–that is, with his views about where meaning and value ultimately derive from? If one just looks at what they take to be his moral teachings and strives to live them, can’t that stand independently of what Jesus’ other views are?

    • Bart
      Bart  March 7, 2017

      See today’s post!

    • Avatar
      HistoricalChristianity  March 7, 2017

      If you follow the teachings of Jesus, you’re a Jew! Jesus (as all Pharisees) taught Torah.

  16. Avatar
    Nan Roberts  March 6, 2017

    Thanks. But other cultures have come up with a transcendent Something. A more than as well as other than. Where do we get these ideas? I also keep wondering what the heck happened to Paul, going from Saul holding the coats to Paul preaching love, etc.

    Going through a faith shift, I find that I don’t believe there is something else or more either. And I am sad and angry and bereft.

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    Judith  March 6, 2017

    During a severe grand mal seizure toward the end of my son’s life, he saw his deceased father and beloved (long dead) dog walking by. He was told he could not come with them. He had to be changed first, that there was no heaven and after death, we stay here but everything is different.

    Perhaps thousands of years in the future when other earthly dimensions are discovered, Jesus’ words may make more sense.

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    doug  March 6, 2017

    It was hard for me to stop calling myself a Christian when I stopped believing in God. I had equated being a Christian with being the best person I could be. But I’ve since seen that I don’t need to think of myself as a Christian to be the best person I can be. Nor can I honestly call myself a Christian anymore.

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    Andrew  March 6, 2017

    This is a really good and honest explanation that helps my thinking. Thanks for the clarity.

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    bwithers55  March 6, 2017

    An epiphany of sorts? -bw

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