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CFI Portland Meetup Group Message Board In the News › Former local atheist CFI meetup group leader returned to Christianity?

Former local atheist CFI meetup group leader returned to Christianity?

A former member
Post #: 2,207
It looks like Tom Gebhardt, a former atheist CFI leader, has returned to Christianity. How sad, although I had suspicions such might happen after Tom said he started attending a church on a regular basis. See the page at this link to Bernie's Science & Religion meetup group for details.
A former member
Post #: 2,208
It looks like Tom Gebhardt, a former atheist CFI leader, has returned to Christianity. How sad, although I had suspicions such might happen after Tom said he started attending a church on a regular basis. See the page at this link to Bernie's Science & Religion meetup group for details.
According to the home page of the website of Pastor Nathan's congregation (which is hosting the interview event) Tom began moving towards Christianity back in late 2011. The page says "Pastor Nathan Lewis interviews Tom Gebhardt, a former Christian who became an Atheist years ago and now, he has converted to Christian Faith, a pilgrimage beginning in late 2011. Tom has participated in the Beaverton Religion Forum these past few years as a presenter of Atheism. The interview, complete with audience participation in Q&A is scheduled for Sunday, November 17." I find it unsettling that Tom began moving towards Christianity as long ago as two years ago. It is unsettling to me because if I recall correctly, he was still a spokesperson for atheism in late 2011 (but perhaps he had stopped being a spokesperson for such back then). But then, even when I was minister of the Jehovah's Witnesses, there were times when I doubted the existence of Jehovah god.
A former member
Post #: 149
Please don't confuse "Leading the book club" and "Being a spokesman of CFI-Portland". I had many conversations with Tom, mostly prior to 2010. I'm personally not surprised by this news. He was emotionally unhappy with the friendships he formed with CFI members, had significant stress added to his family life by coming out as an atheist, [redacked -- I'll respect his privacy on my third point]. I really wish I could go to this meeting today as there are a few questions I'd like to ask him -- particularly if he is still open to following evidence whereever it leads. But I'm entertaining out of town guests today so will have to miss it.
A former member
Post #: 2,209
Please don't confuse "Leading the book club" and "Being a spokesman of CFI-Portland". I had many conversations with Tom, mostly prior to 2010. I'm personally not surprised by this news. He was emotionally unhappy with the friendships he formed with CFI members, had significant stress added to his family life by coming out as an atheist, [redacked -- I'll respect his privacy on my third point]. I really wish I could go to this meeting today as there are a few questions I'd like to ask him -- particularly if he is still open to following evidence whereever it leads. But I'm entertaining out of town guests today so will have to miss it.
Hi Kurt. I had thought Tom was once an organizer of one of the local CFI meetups, especially the CFI-Beaverton one. Regarding the latter I thought that Tom perhaps even created it (or at least was actively involved in it) as part of his efforts to create a local atheist social community. I also thought he had once been a co-organizer of Bernie's Science and Religion Discussion meetup group, though I realize that group is not a part of CFI. I thought Tom gave several presentations in that group on the side of Secular Humanism and that some of that group's meetings were co-sponsored by CFI.
A former member
Post #: 2,210
It looks like Tom Gebhardt, a former atheist CFI leader, has returned to Christianity. How sad, although I had suspicions such might happen after Tom said he started attending a church on a regular basis. See the page at this link to Bernie's Science & Religion meetup group for details.
According to the home page of the website of Pastor Nathan's congregation (which is hosting the interview event) Tom began moving towards Christianity back in late 2011. The page says "Pastor Nathan Lewis interviews Tom Gebhardt, a former Christian who became an Atheist years ago and now, he has converted to Christian Faith, a pilgrimage beginning in late 2011. Tom has participated in the Beaverton Religion Forum these past few years as a presenter of Atheism. The interview, complete with audience participation in Q&A is scheduled for Sunday, November 17." I find it unsettling that Tom began moving towards Christianity as long ago as two years ago. It is unsettling to me because if I recall correctly, he was still a spokesperson for atheism in late 2011 (but perhaps he had stopped being a spokesperson for such back then). But then, even when I was minister of the Jehovah's Witnesses, there were times when I doubted the existence of Jehovah god.
My impression of Tom's answers to the interview questions, last night, was that most of his answers were ambiguous and overly lengthly instead of being direct answers to the questions. I was disappointed that most of his answers were such. However he did at least give a direct answer to the easy question I asked him. I asked him which denomination he belonged to before he considered himself and atheist and which on he now belongs to. He said he was formerly a member of the Nazarene Church and is now a member of a Baptist Church.
A former member
Post #: 66
Please don't confuse "Leading the book club" and "Being a spokesman of CFI-Portland". I had many conversations with Tom, mostly prior to 2010. I'm personally not surprised by this news. He was emotionally unhappy with the friendships he formed with CFI members, had significant stress added to his family life by coming out as an atheist, [redacked -- I'll respect his privacy on my third point]. I really wish I could go to this meeting today as there are a few questions I'd like to ask him -- particularly if he is still open to following evidence whereever it leads. But I'm entertaining out of town guests today so will have to miss it.

This is Thomas Gebhardt speaking: One thing out of way before I respond here: you said you had "many" conversations with me prior to 2010.. I only remember, to be specific, maybe 4 or 5 personal conversations maybe 5 minutes long, over like 3 years...., let's just say I wouldn't use you as a reference.. The reason why you aren't giving merit to what has happened to me over the years, instead merely saying that I was "emotionally unhappy" & have "significant stress", as if that was sufficient to explain away my situation.. The reason why you aren't giving merit to what my situation was or to acknowledge that you really didn't pay attention and take to heart all the things I was saying over the years, is because if you did, that would tell your members who look up to you, that you really weren't a free inquirer on the things which I many, many times over the years brought up, but choose to be a "conditional inquirer" and draw a circle around you about what you would ONLY inquirer into.. I brought up the topics of psychology, emotions, community, spirituality, meditation, ritual, narrative, symbolism, existentialism, metaphysics, etc. and because these topics are more abstract and messy (but nevertheless just as important of realities and that resonate in people), and not concrete topics like are found in the hard sciences, you, Kurt, made the choice to not inquiry into these things... to be a conditional inquirer.. You were not surprised about me, but I am not surprised about you and how comfortably you have made the choice to discredit my story.... How sad... My story is a lot more complicated than what you feel it is about moving from reason back to faith, and there is no obligation for you that you are "required to" to learn about my story, but you must always then acknowledge, Kurt, that "I Kurt made the choice to not learn about Tom's story and so I am not to be taken seriously in my evaluation of who I think Tom was, because I acknowledge that I have only cared to know so much." And that's only rational, isn't it Kurt, even though there's the temptation to summarize and dismiss my situation as only this or that... It's very sad, we could have had many deep conversations over those years, about the topics that really matter in this life, had your door to that type of friendship been opened...
A former member
Post #: 150
5 minutes each? That's a bit downplayed. I recall having to apologize to my wife for being late coming home due to our after event conversations about your parents and your love life. Since I missed your talk, I'm not sure how deep you dived back in. Belief in a god can be an intellectually respectable position. But it felt to me that that was not what you were looking for. I wouldn't be surprised if you went to a Christian community mostly for emotional resolve. If a woman was involved, then even more so. Belief in the god described in the Bible is a pretty absurd thing to do, but with motivated reasoning any belief is possible. There are several atheists I know who I would not be surprised if I found out they went there due to emotional pressures pushing them. To make sure there's no miscommunication, I'll be blunt on this next part. The reason why I don't care is because I do not respect you intellectually and never have. Since you might think this is an ad hominem to discredit you now that you've converted I'll offer up some evidence. I've lost count with how many volunteers have been on or have asked to join the advisory board for CFI Portland. Virtually any volunteer that was as committed as you were would have been asked to join. The reason why you were not was specifically because we (or at least I) didn't respect your decision making abilities and intellect. Your conversion back into the fold only strengthens this conviction for me. Though your conversion has made me curious to what you might say as you've become an anomaly. That's why I'm sad I wasn't able to see your Q&A. If you made a video series similar to Evid3nc3 explaining it, I would go out of my way to watch it. Regarding the topics you listed above, the majority of those are things I love discussing. Pre-kids 3 years ago, I would often get into discussions about those topics in person or on our discussion listserv. I honestly don't recall you talking about many of those. So if you were, perhaps I don't remember because I didn't find what you were saying to be very interesting or cogent? Sorry to be so forthcoming, but I felt your rationalization above was misplaced.
A former member
Post #: 2,214
Kurt said to Thomas:
Since I missed your talk, I'm not sure how deep you dived back in. ... Though your conversion has made me curious to what you might say as you've become an anomaly. That's why I'm sad I wasn't able to see your Q&A. If you made a video series similar to Evid3nc3 explaining it, I would go out of my way to watch it.
Kurt, Bernie posted a video of Thomas' interview here on YouTube.
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