About

yuriy inna stasyuk

Yuriy was born in Ukraine, moved to the US at ripe age of seven, but he really grew up in a fantasy world. It was here, nose deep in books, he realized he had a desire for something beyond the monotony of regular life. Poking his head from out of the clouds, he stopped backsliding and became a devout Christian.

He spent a couple of years as a fervent Pentecostal fundamentalist and a few more as an earnest Calvinist.  During that season of his life he spent nearly a decade leading study groups, singing in worship bands, pastoring youth, and preaching to thousands of people with his fiery Pentecostal fervor or his gentle-but-passionate Baptist voice. He thinks the latter listeners were probably way more lucky, or at least less guilty in the end.

Then, once upon a time, as these things often go, he was reading the Bible and realized there was something fishy going on. He tried praying, fasting, taking seminary courses, reading apologetics, and even preaching through his doubts, but alas nothing helped. His faith slowly dissipated, just like the shadows on a crisp summer morning.  You can read more about his journey, which was featured on the frontpage of reddit, right here (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4, and Part 5).

After Yuriy lost his faith, he realized he had never really considered critical questions during his preacher phase, and so he decided to start helping other people question and think about what they believe and why. For the most part, Yuriy thinks that there probably isn’t a God, but as with all things, he loves pleasant surprises.

Today he spends his time working as a brainy analyst for a fortune 500 company and in his free time, asking the really big questions about life. Sometimes, though, when the big ones are really complicated, he asks little tiny ones, to make himself feel better by figuring out the answers.

He has two college degrees and a university degree but still cant figure out what he really learned. He loves philosophy, biblical studies, technology, history, video games, and other cool things. Probably the coolest thing that he loves is his beautiful wife who blogs at innastasyuk.com.

All in all Yuriy can be a pretty interesting guy, but don’t take my word for it, off to the blog you go.
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My interview with ChristianMegapolis

Part 1 – Topics in this section include my childhood, how I began my ministry, my faith, why I became a reluctant atheist, and the reaction of my friends and family to my deconversion.

Part 2 – Topics in this section include: my views on why Christians believe, the exodus of young people leaving Christianity and their motives, the worst reason to leave Christianity, the status of Slavic immigrant churches, and how an atheist can have morals.

Part 3 – Responses to the most common criticisms, comments, and messages I received within weeks after the interview.

Part 4 – A reply to the criticisms of Christian author and apologist Victor Marzul.

Part 5/6 – A reply to the criticisms and concerns of Christian and biblical scholar Dr Victor Schlenkin.

19 responses

  1. Caught your blog by accident, but I’m glad I did. Interested in your Textual criticisms. You ask some solid questions that I too am looking into.

    Enjoy your Monday!

  2. Yuriy, I have been addicted to your blog, particularly the last 24 hours. You had some great insights in the transitional phase of blogs. I feel sad that you dont think you can be an intellectually honest Christain. I have read many of your skeptical blog posts and greatly enjoy much of what you still say. Such topics as biblical innerrancy, toungues, hell, C.S. Lewis, and many others have brought me to your blog to steal your sources, since you make such awesome bibliographies (You have been a great resource for my own researching endevours. haha!) I enjoy the desire for honesty, and I feel like I have encountered many, if not all of the same issues and questions you have addressed in your blog. Yet, at the end of it all, I cant seem to get away from the fact that I still beleive that there is a God, and Im not lying when I say I have asked myself a lot of the same questions. Somehow, i still have a faith, and for whatever its worth, I hope you find yours again. Nevertheless, I will continue to read and appreciate what you have to say.

  3. Greetings Yuriy,

    A friend brought your Christian Megapolis interview to my attention & I just finished reading both parts. I was hoping to comment on the article as posted on your FB page but, the post doesn’t allow it for me & there is also no opportunity to ‘friend’ you. I did write you through FB Messenger but, I see it’s still unread so I’m writing you here. Any way…

    While reading your interview, I found much to relate to my own journey of faith. There was a time when I was losing the battle struggling with many of the same questions. If you don’t mind, I would like to ask you a few questions that pop out at me from your interview so that I might better understand the circumstances. Some are more personal and there’s no obligation but, I would appreciate your response.

    1) You mentioned that your path to ‘deconversion’ started when you & your wife decided to re-read The Bible together. You stated that you were finding discrepancies that were not so readily apparent before. Off the top of your head, what are the one or two most influential discrepancies you found?

    2) At the time you started this re-read of The Bible with your wife, was there anything else of significance going on in your personal life?

    3) I don’t recall reading anything in the interview of you seeking counsel of church elders or for that matter your pastor father & uncles. When you began finding these discrepancies did you seek the personal support/counsel of other trusted believers ?

    4) Your interview intro briefly mentioned an ancestral legacy of pastorship. Was it always assumed/expected that you would follow in the footsteps of your father & uncles? Did you go into ministry out of expectation or do you truly believe your heart was called to ministry?

    I will leave my questions there for now & await your reply. I hope we can continue the conversation & become friends. BTW, I see you went to Thomas Edison State U. That’s Trenton, NJ …yes? I’m in suburban Philadelphia. Did your family first come to the Philadelphia area?

    PeaceBw/U,
    Michael

  4. Yuriy,

    Name one discrepancy you found in the Bible?

    To all who read this blog
    There are no discrepancies in the Bible’s original languages of Hebrew, Arabic and Greek. But yes, in the English translation of the Bible, there are many discrepancies. But, they are easily reconciled with a simple concordance which allows you to find out the exact meaning of the word in question that was used by God.

  5. Yuriy,

    Fascinating stuff! I really enjoy your blog, and get a lot of very deep, gut-level joy from it. I don’t agree with you most of the time (but that is pretty normal, since I don’t agree with most people) but your liveliness, humor, and forthrightness is extremely refreshing!

    I would call two things to your attention, mostly for your entertainment.

    One, only in Western Christianity, and primarily in American Evangelical/Fundamentalist/Pentecostalism streams of thought, are issues of personal salvation raised to such a (ridiculous) fever pitch. The rest of Christianity is quite content with group membership based definitions of salvation, or they find the notion of getting paranoid regarding salvation to be totally baffling (e.g. Japanese Christianity, which I am most familiar with). Just sayin’. The implications to some of your work on morality should be obvious.

    Two, the future of Original Sin as a doctrine is quite uncertain, given the intense pressure upon it by the separation of the right to define reality away from the Church Universal because of the scientific revolution. The right to define the truth regarding the observable physical world has been fully removed from the Church, although there are those who are still struggling and resisting that notion (while they enjoy their electronics, and agree that they orbit the center of the Milky Way, and have no trouble with the germ theory). But back to the point. Original Sin cannot stand against this as it is currently formulated in its Augustinian form because the lack of an objective Fall results in the lack of objective Original Sin, which undermines the entirety of the doctrine of sinfulness, depravity (regardless of the degree), and every other notion of sinfulness as the defining characteristic of the human condition. After 1600 years, it is time for a full re-write, which of course has already begun.

    For reasons of self-protection, I must remain anonymous unless we correspond in private.

  6. I am seeking permission to reprint a figure from your blog-site. It is entitled “Ancient Hebrew Conception of the Universe”, and is posted at http://yuriystasyuk.com/bible-science-ancient-hebrew-cosmology/

    I would like to reprint this in a book I am authoring, to be published by Wipf&Stock, which addresses the conflict between science and Christian faith.

    I would be happy to answer any questions you might have, and look forward to your favorable response to this request.

  7. Let me start off by saying that I thoroughly ( so far) enjoy your blog. The blog itself has a great look to it, and I really feel like your personality shows through in your writing. I am coming at this issue from the other end, however. I am a Bible believer , an adult convert who comes from a background of skepticism and philosophy. I have been in the ministry, particularly public ministry, for almost 22 years, and you are a rarity among skeptics in that you don’t appear to be driven by an anger or malice towards God. I appreciate that, and I have no doubt that your issues and your struggles are real, and that they were arrived at carefully.
    I obviously think your conclusions are in error, but I don’t think you arrived at them haphazardly.
    Just wanted to let you know that people like me are out there, and if you ever want to correspond, let me know. I don’t come in a spirit of hostility, and I think it might be an interesting conversation for both of us.

  8. When I was working as a volunteer English teacher in Kurdistan, Iraq, I met several international humanitarian workers. One evening, I had an interesting conversation with a young man who had been raised devout Catholic, but was now an atheist. His reason: He no longer believed in transubstantiation. What a leap! If he couldn’t believe one part of church theology, he would dump the whole thing.

    I too have come to question a lot of the Bible – not by reading intellectual criticism – but, similarly to you, by reading the Bible itself. It’s been a tortuous journey. But I’ve come to a place of peace in believing in God and in Jesus, my Savior, even though much of what I used to have answers for are a mystery to me now.

    You are on an intellectually honest spiritual journey. I commend you and don’t believe that God is judging you. But I do hope that someday you come to a place where you don’t “throw the baby out with the bath water.”

  9. Yuriy,
    I was raised in the Pentacostal faith as well and I’ve read a lot of your posts and you bring up very good, thought provoking points.

    You obviously know that churches these days say it’s the last days and that Jesus will return at any moment and to be ready. I’m agnostic at this point. I cannot blindly ignore all the things you’ve written about because it makes sense. And yet my upbringing is lodged in my mind. So how do I cope with this doubt that what if I am wrong, and all that starts happening… And on the other hand I do not want to waste my life believing something false. The apostles were saying it was the last days thousands of years ago, and throughout history Christians were convinced they were living in the last days.

    Thanks

    • Hi Dina,

      First off, as far as how to live your life, just be honest with yourself and open to the truth, whatever it is.

      Unlike every manipulative sermon you have heard, you don’t have to make a decision today, and keep to it forever. You don’t need to unquestionably commit your fate right now. Every time the guy from the pulpit said “repent now, because you don’t know what will happen when you leave this place” he was using manipulation. Sales people use this all the time. “If you don’t buy this item on sale now, you will never find it discounted so much, this sale ends today!”

      Don’t commit to an answer, but accept a method of humility that lets you change your mind.

      I thoroughly believe that if there is a God out there, and we find evidence or a good reason to believe in it (for example, if he verbally spoke to us, and we all heart it at the same time knowing its not a hallucination) we should believe it. If there is no supernatural force out there, then we should accept that as well. I am willing to believe, in God, in anything, as long as I have a good reason, and feel I’m making a reliable and trustworthy choice, not a blind one. I dont make to make the choice to accept Jesus, by using the same method Muslims use to accept Allah, or Hindus use to accept Shiva. That method of “faith” is not reliable, because it leads to multiple answers.

      So in the end, if there is a just God, he would know the reason I abstain my adherence to any world religions, and he would not punish me.
      And if there is a God out there, who would punish me for simply wanting to know which things are true before believing them, then we are all damned anyway, for such a God could not be good.

      ————————————————————–

      As far as the apocalyptic literature in the Bible, whats even crazier is that, as far as we can know, the early disciples literally thought that they were living in the end times. We can gather this by reading the gospels, there are many fragments of their apocalyptic hopes, dreams, and ambitions. Heck, the Gospels even report Jesus as saying the end would come in their time (we can never truly know who really said which things, but someone writing the story of Jesus, a few decades afterwards, claims Jesus said so).

      “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are **some of those who are standing here who will not taste death*** until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.“
      (Matthew 16: 27, 28)

      This idea is also repeated (or likely sourced from) the Gospel of Mark (13:26-30)

      Likewise, many of the apostles write in such a way as thought they expect the end in *their* life. Now, today (since the last days have not yet come) Christians re-interpret this to be metaphorical. But if you honestly read the text, its hard to make that interpretation, unless you already lived past the days of the apostles, and see their predictions have failed. So while there are dozens of passages that say “we are living in the end times” some can be poorly “explained away” as a metaphor. Others, are so directly tied to people alive at the time, that its impossible to make them into a metaphor. A few examples.

      1. “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, we who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15 )

      Paul writes to comfort a frightened community that thinks they’ve missed the end, that Jesus has taken all those who have died up into his kingdom, and left the living. Paul tells them the living will be taken up first. And speaks from the perspective of *himself* expecting to see this. Not “in the future the living will go first, and we who are deceases will follow” but “we who are alive.”

      2. “What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31 )

      Paul here speaks to people alive in his time, telling them to not become attached to things. If he did not believe the end was to happen in the era of his audience, why tell them this? This clearly speaks to the people of antiquity, by name, and tells them *they* are living in the end.

      3. “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” (1 Cor. 10:11)

      Paul elsewhere talks about his generation as the one that sees the fulfillment of all events. Again, he is not anticipating the apocalypse in the future, but on him and his speakers.

      4. “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18)

      To make matters worse, the author of 1st John calls his time the “last hour” not just “the last days.” He claims they know this is the end because they see the signs.

      5. “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching… You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”” (Hebrews 10:25,36-37)

      The author of Hebrews encourages a specific local community to continue waiting for the Day of the apocalypse, and tells them they will see the reward for holding fast until that day.

      6. “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”… But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:3-4,8)

      What is also fairly interesting, is that one of the best defenses by Christians that is used to explain these passages away, is in fact further proof that early Christians were wrong about the apocalypse. This passage above is ironically enough admitting that Christians of their time had began complaining about the Apocalypse not approaching. This passage is proof that early Christians believed they were right before the Apocalypse, and some began to be angry when this Apocalypse did not come, even thought it was promised. After decades of waiting and seeing their friends and parents die, people began to reinvent how to think about the “end days” and here the author of 2nd Peter makes a “rationalization” to explains away why this “last day” is taking so long to pass.

  10. i have a question that troubles me; why god created man and he knew before the foundation of the world that he would fall and he would lose most of his creation to eternal torment. that is not good news at all. that is that doctrine that mainstream churches teach that if you die and you had not accepted jesus in your heart ; you end up in hell forever and ever without hope of getting out.

    • I agree with you, that seems to be an inevitable and problematic part of any theology where God is both (a)omniscient and (b)omnipotent. If God made the rules, and can do anything he wants, surely he could have chose to “not create” people who would inevitably end up in hell, whether through their own choices or not.

  11. I was awakened this morning by a dream, which is very odd for me. I will not go into detail about the dream, but it made me think about the terrible things in life that people have had to endure and how that can affect us even if we are not the ones going through it. I realize now that we do not have to experience tragedy to be affected by it. For many people, the very fact that life, and the things thereof, is/are not perfect force them to reason that perfection cannot possibly exist.
    I don’t know if this is why you came to mind, but I believe it was God who put you on my heart. Yuriy, I don’t pretend to know anything about you, especially what kind of relationship you originally had with God, but I encourage you to consider this: God is perfect even though this world and the things He has had to do to keep it steered in the right direction are not. Please do not allow the things that God has had to do based on His perfect understanding of the way things are keep you from having a relationship with Him. My brother, I understand your reasoning and reaction to the tragedies of life and of history, but God is not the problem, He is the solution.
    When you turned from him it was a reaction to a wrong pattern of thinking. Believe it or not you were lead down the wrong road and God is reaching out to you now. He wants a relationship with you that will allow you to understand the reasons He had to do the things that turned you against him. God wants you to become closer to Him than you ever had before. What will this take? Trust. I am sure you know the bible says in Proverbs 3:5-6 “ Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
    I will not take it any further than that simple truth, but I do ask you to consider the reason you are a reluctant skeptic. I believe that deep inside you are yearning for reason and you think you have found it in disbelief. If anything, keep searching for the truth and weigh all the possibilities.

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