1. First of all, I've been curious about your blogging name. Is Hausdorff your last name? If not, where did your blogging name come from?
It’s the name of a mathematician. Back in 2004 when World of Warcraft first came out, I had my eyes open for a name for my character. I was looking for something mathy that most people wouldn't recognize and we happened to talk about hausdorff spaces in one of my classes that day. I thought it sounded cool and have just kept it as my online name ever since. It’s kinda funny how a random little unimportant decision can stick with you for so long.
2. One statement of yours really surprised me once. You said that despite growing up in a fundamentalist Christian household, you had not read the Bible through before. Why was that?I guess the main reason is that I resisted. I hated reading pretty much everything as a kid, and the Bible is tough for a young mind to get through. When I did give it a go I mostly got confused, or stuck in some begats. It didn't occur to me that I could skip ahead a page or two and keep going, seems I had an all or nothing mentality even back then.
Another thing I can think of is that I would often get lists of verses I was supposed to memorize. This is about the worst thing for me, I suck and memorizing things, I can remember ideas and logical procedures, but it’s hard to memorize what amounted to a random jumble of words in my mind. (although I still know John 3:16 perfectly).
One final thought, we would be told in church that we should read the Bible on our own. I remember one sermon in particular where he said novices listen in church, students read verses they are told to read, and scholars read on their own. I remember getting all fired up about reading it on my own, I probably read it on my own for like 2 nights and bailed because it was boring. I’m don’t think many people in the church read more of the bible than I did.
3. As a child, what denomination(s) was your family a part of? Was there any certain ministers that they were followers of? What was that upbringing like?
It was an Evangelical Free church. My parents listened to Doctor Dobson, they also read a ton of his books. I think my upbringing was pretty standard middle class, normal ups and downs. Although looking back, it seems to me that the downs were made worse by religions influence. I had an extreme fear of hell for a long time, I was always worried about doing the wrong thing or even thinking the wrong thing. Thoughtcrime is probably one of the worst things I was taught.
4. What led you to begin questioning the faith, and when did you give it up entirely?
I don’t know exactly what got me started, I think it just didn't make sense to me. I remember being told that dinosaurs were millions of years old and also that the earth was 10,000 years old. My dad told me that dinosaurs were around at the same time as humans and the scientists were just wrong. I asked a lot of questions and at some point (around 10 years old) I got too close to something I guess they found Biblically dangerous and they decided we needed to go to church more often. (before that we would theoretically go every week, but in reality maybe every other week). Church sucks, so I quickly learned which types of questions would result in more church, and just internalized those topics. I mostly thought about these things on my own and about 10 years later didn't consider myself a Christian anymore. In addition to the dinosaur thing that I mentioned before, the things that bothered me the most were the church’s anti-science stance and the problem of evil.
5. I noticed that on your blog, you started your Bible reading with Matthew, not Genesis (New Testament before Old Testament), and have just recently started with Genesis.
Why did you start your reading this way, instead of reading from beginning to end?
When I started, I figured I would use it as a tool in arguing with Christians. I wanted to avoid the “that’s just the Old Testament” argument. I’m glad I did it this way though, I've changed so much in the way I do it since I started, the first half year at least was almost just a practice run. When I finish the old testament I will probably do the new testament again, at least through the gospels. I want to at least give the Jesus stuff a good run through with the commentaries and podcast and whatnot.
6. What is the most surprising/shocking thing you have encountered in the Bible so far?
Honestly, I’m surprised at how bad it is. I have always heard from Christians that the bible is wonderful and from atheists that the Bible is crap. I always assumed that both were just focusing on stuff to suit their perspective, I figured I would find pretty much an equal mix. I would say it is at least 90% bad. And a lot of the bad stuff is absolutely horrible. When I finished the new testament I wrote a series of posts summarizing my thoughts, and the last one was addressing the fact that I focus on the negative rather than the positive, I largely argue that the good parts are either missing or underdeveloped.
To be fair, some of the things I see of as bad the Christians will see as good, namely obedience and faith. The new testament talked about how great faith was all over the place. I think faith is an absolute negative and they see it as a virtue, but even if we ignore faith since it is in dispute, what else do they have? I would say very little. And in the Old Testament so far, the only reasonable lesson I can see anywhere is to be obedient. Obey God or be drowned, obey God or your city will be destroyed, obey God or be turned into a pillar of salt. And even if you see obedience as a virtue, God overreacts in all of these stories.
7. Has your opinion of the Bible changed since you started your blog?
As you can surely guess by my last answer, it has gone more negative. So many of the stories are terrible, nonsensical, and contradictory. After reading the whole new testament, it is honestly puzzling to me how anyone can read it and think it is divine.
8. What kinds of reactions have you had from fundamentalists on your blog, and on social media? Have there been liberal/moderate Christians that have been offended by your commentary?
Have they been offended? Probably. Unfortunately very few will comment, and those that do will not stay long. I have tried pretty hard to be friendly to them. I try to invite discussion and have a little back and forth. I try to never attack people, only ideas, but people have trouble separating the two. It’s unfortunate because one of the reasons I started the blog in the first place was to interact with Christians about this stuff, it’s a big part of the reason I've been trying to branch out and read more Christian blogs lately. If they won’t come to me I’ll go to them.