Out of a life of extremism

sent in by Dan

My wife and I were ultra religious up to a few years ago. If you had seen us, you would have suspected we were Amish or Mennonite (it doesn't help that we now live in Lancaster County, PA!). The women in our household wore head-coverings and I had a particular propensity toward wearing clothes that were often confused with the aforementioned religious communities. We have a LARGE family, have been home-schooling, attended church every week (some of my children and I participated in the church orchestra). At one time I aspired to the ministry and was an interim pastor for a mid-west church.

Our religious "trek" took us from conservative Baptist (me) and Catholic (my wife) through the charismatic movement, evangelicalism, Reconstructionism (five-pointers, no less!), Presbyterianism and probably a few other "isms" tossed in for good measure. I was even part of a cult (Witness Lee's "local church" movement) for a year.

A couple years ago, our oldest son moved to the west coast to be part of a presbyterian church that looked like it was going to set him up for his early adult life in a way that would have made both his mom and dad proud. Unfortunately, when he dabbled in the some "sinful" (but normal) early adulthood independence they ended up excommunicating him. We were devastated. We knew he had dome some things he shouldn't have, but his excommunication sent us into a root-level whirlwind that made us question EVERYTHING we'd believed in. While this was going on, we ourselves had moved to another church within that same denomination and I was beginning to be pressed regarding my responsibility in my son's excommunication. I was told I had not acted responsibly, that it was my fault, and that I was not doing enough now to win him back to the faith or prevent similar things happening to my other children. I was told I had not loved him enough. Furthermore, I could already begin to see the pattern they were setting in motion that would have enabled them to excommunicate me.

Those of you who are parents know how much you want your children to share your values. Some of you may have been better at letting go than we have been, but I would venture to guess that you feel a tinge of pride when you hear your child "figure out" a conclusion that you carefully taught them over the years. When the church drove my son away rather than work with him patiently, and then blamed me for his defection, I started to question that which I would not allow myself to question before.

With these events surrounding my son's excommunication, my wife and I began to question the foundations we had lived our lives on. First of all, we saw that the years we had spent carefully plotting our religious progress had made us prideful and exclusive. People were seen by us as threats to our growth, or threats to the development of our children, or as mere prospects for conversion. We saw that when our son discovered that people outside of the faith were normal, and often admirable, he had believed a lie that we had fostered. And, understandably, this drove a wedge between us and our son that tore our hearts in two.

So we began to open up to people outside the faith, too. And like our son, we saw what good people there were out there.

Secondly, we realized the limits we placed on our lives in order to live a life that pleased God had often made us and our children miserable. There aren't a lot of people, we've seen, that can make religion enjoyable. We *did* know a few (and at that point we still admired them), but most of the time, those with religious limits are so careful that they don't cross the lines they carefully draw that they just don't know how to enjoy life. When we saw this we thought - why would ANY of our children, once they see that the world outside is actually a wonderful place to be - full of song and dance and pleasure and joy - want to live the way WE have told them they should?

So we began to loosen our restrictions and encourage our older children to have fun doing things they weren't allowed to do before. We started encouraging our older children to date recreationally. We decided to stop home-schooling so our younger children could be with others their age. And my wife and I also started setting an example for them by going out on Friday nights to dance.

Finally, we realized that the people we'd churched with were not going to accept this new openness. The wheels for my excommunication were already starting to turn. I didn't want my wife of my children to have to face a decision of whether to follow me or the church. So I wrote to the elders and told them we would be looking for a new church and wouldn't be attending theirs any longer. It was abrupt, and many people called us who didn't understand why we were leaving. It was not easy for the family, but it needed to be done. We attended a "liberal" church across the street that was much more accepting of differences.

I mentioned above that I had been an interim pastor for a mid-west church (an inter-denominational church formerly pastored by a presbyterian minister). This meant that I was fairly well-studied since I was often called upon to teach & preach. I particularly remember doing a series on the "canon of the scripture", using FF Bruce's book of the same name as my foundation.

With new doubts in my mind, though, I set out on a quest to revisit many of these issues to see if they survived a higher level of scrutiny than I was willing to apply when I was the spiritual 'overseer' of a flock. I poured into books from various points of view, always with the idea in mind that I would seek out whoever was recommended by proponents of a point of view as the best resource to present that point of view.

Much to my surprise (or maybe not, in retrospect) I found again and again the inability of creedal Christian scholars (i.e. those whose point of view was governed by loyalty to the church's creeds) to answer to even the simplest of observations levied against them by non-creedal scholars. It almost became comic (if the subject matter were not so important). I came to see a pattern - when something the church espoused was exposed as illogical, unreliable or contrary to the non-creedal historical record, it was a matter of "faith". A mystery. Something we simply cannot "know" and therefore must accept.

With my growing awareness that the emperor had no clothes, my wife was overcoming her crisis of faith in a different direction. She appealed to old friends regarding her doubts and was held aloft from the intellectual process I was diving headfirst into. Not only that, but these "caring counselors" recommended that she cut off communications with me over these topics while she was unstable. Her daily telephone conversations with these former "friends" became the means of a rift that has set into our family life and remains to this day.

The shedding of my religion has been exhilarating, but it has extracted a high cost. The knowledge that I am no longer bound by the demands of a childish, vengeful, non-existent deity who would threaten me with eternal punishment for my temporal disobedience brings with it a freedom I have never known. But its a freedom that is muzzled because sharing it with the ones who are most important to me only brings conflict and even the threat of separation. It remains to my mind that my wife has chosen to remain loyal to a deity she believes will justly cast me to eternal fire.

Recently I had a kind of picture come into my mind of how things have gone for my marriage. I saw my wife and I were part of a primitive tribe engaged in their primitive worship. I happened to stumble across the truth, somehow, that the deity we worshiped was simply imaginary. But when I went back to my wife, in her religious frenzy she would not listen. Somehow I ended up on a sacrificial stone, and my wife was the one lifting the blade over me. I looked up, told her that I would lay down my life for her even though I knew the 'god' she was sacrificing me to was imaginary. She ignored my words, and ran the blade across my neck. I lay there bleeding to death, the life slowly ebbing out of my body.

It's a morbid image, I know. I'm unable to convince her that there's any truth to my studies, but I honor my commitment to love, honor and cherish her. As the days go by, my life ebbs away, but I know the last thing I did while I still had a will alive enough to do so, was to let her sacrifice me to her god.

On the positive side, I am growing in ways I never even realized were necessary. I would never go back to the closed-mindedness I accepted when I was a Christian. I have adopted a morality that is simple: "Live to enjoy whatever pleasures you can - so long as you don't hurt anyone (especially those closest to you) in the process. And, if at all possible, help relieve the sufferings of others."

I'm free now to see the reasonableness of things like evolution, gay marriage, erotic art and literature, and much, much more.

46 comments:

ficino said...

Amazing post, thanks for coming here and sharing it. Many couples go through what you and your wife are going through, when one outpaces the other in seeing through a religion's tenets. I hope she has the courage to look forward without blinders.

BTW care to mention any of the disagreements between credal and non-credal scholars that particularly influenced you?

chris said...

Hi Dan,

I also come from a first Catholic, then many other "isms," ending in a fundamentalist protestant background. My story is similar to yours in principle. It started with an emotional experience, which made me realize that there was another side of the coin, and that I had lived my life as an intolerant biggot. This then led to much studying and reading, always looking for a way to keep some sort of god-belief intact, and ultimately led to a complete rejection of the supernatural.

Like you, I felt that exhileration and a sense of freedom at losing my religion that I could never have previously imagined. I have adopted the exact same "morality" that you have. I could never go back.

Unfortunately, I have also experienced the same loss of a loved one. My "adopted" mother, who took me in when I was young and has been a mother to me for 25 years, has cut me out of her life completely because of my desertion of christianity.

The biggest problem I've had with this, and I brought that up to her once, is that she absolutely loves, adores, and worhips a being whom she believes will set me on fire and burn and torture me forever, and she believs this is justified. As a compassionate human being, I just cannot understand that way of thinking. If someone threatened even a fraction of that harm to her, I would dismantle him/her cell by cell until there was nothing left. But she has "peace" about this, and stands by waiting for it to happen.

I too have promised her that I would always be there for her. In the current situation, where I am not allowed any form of communication with her, this makes my committment a bit difficult to uphold. And, it hurts like crazy.

I have no solution to resolve your dilema, but just wanted to let you know that someone else really hears what you're saying, and you aren't alone.

Peace,
chris

HereticChick said...

Wow Dan, I am amazed! The journey you're on is so exhilerating! I wish your wife would open her eyes also so you could both revel in the joy of letting go. Since I banished religion from my life, I have never been happier. My husband and I both share the same views and have a better relationship because of it. I wish you all the best!

Dano said...

Dan,
Even though some of the most thoroughly logical and brilliantly thought out, posts I have read on this site were written by women, I remain sure that their minds work a little different from men. Without even goggling it, I'm confident that I could find many studies suggesting this.

I know my wife does not even come close to caring as much, about how silly most of the Christian stories are, as I do. The irrationality that offends me does not bother her as much. I also think women are a little nicer than men.

One thing is, that our primate brains are not compelled to be logical as much as they are compelled to keep us safe. We are perfectly capable of believing irrational things if it gives us the confidence we need, to face unpleasantness.

For example: If we need to venture out of the cave to kill something, it helps if we believe there is some form of magic protecting us.

It could be that the ladies are more interested in the safety of the "nest," than with the lack of credulity, that we pride ourselves for.

Dano (Good to see you here, Dan)

Ken said...

ficino wrote:
"BTW care to mention any of the disagreements between credal and non-credal scholars that particularly influenced you?"

Oh, there are so many. Since the Da Vinci Code is so popular now I've read many of the books by folks like Ehrman and Price where they set the record straight in terms of what is wrong with traditional xian history. The lion's share of my time has been spent uncovering the lack of authenticity of the NT writings. I started out by reading the creedal, but scholarly handbook on the NT by Metzger (since he was referred to by a number of apologists). What I found was coy acceptance of the pseudopigraphal (is that the right word?) nature of the pastoral epistles. Recently, Detering's "The Falsified Paul" (available in pdf form for free!) has been considerably eye-opening regarding ALL of the supposedly earliest writings attributable to this "apostle".

Perhaps a good example is to point you to an article at http://christiancadre.blogspot.com/2006/07/how-do-i-deal-with-my-doubt.html. Here the author makes the astounding statements that if your doubt exceeds the normal intellectual questioning that *all* believers have, your problem is a matter of sin rather than doubt. In other words, if simple answers don't suffice, your doubts are not intellectual - you just want to fuck the office manager and the church won't let you.

My principal areas of study were:
1) Reliability of the NT
2) Epistemological foundations
3) Internal consistency in the NT

In all these areas, the answers just seemed to be better if you realize christianity is not of divine origin, that it doesn't really make sense, and that the NT record can only be held together if you're willing to suspend reason.

Dan

Ken said...

chris,
I found the article on dealing with anger recently posted in this site to be really comforting.

I can certainly commiserate with you on your relationship with you mother. It's amazing the damage religion causes, in spite of its vaunted benefits.

Dan said...

HereticChick,
What a "blessing" (er, is it ok to use that word here? lol!) to have a spouse on the same page! I envy you.

I frankly don't know if our marriage will last this way. We're both depressed, but unable to come to terms. Of course, to her the problem is my rejection of the love of christ - and how destruction has come upon me. What a load of shit.

Dan said...

dano,
You know, my wife, more than anyone I know, HATES how "god" made men and women different. She has said to me more often than I can remember that she resents "him" doing this.

Umm, dear, I think I have an answer...

emptycan said...

Dan, nice post.

GoneNsane said...

Dan, all you can do is accept her and the fears she can't let go of. Just live your truth and hopefully she'll see you haven't sprouted horns and a tail, and she'll start to wonder about what the church teaches about heathens. The problem with most Christians is that they don't personally know (or they don't know they know) non-Christians, so they don't see them as real people but as something out of a Jack Chick tract. She may not ever be able to come around, but give her time and be as quiet about your lack of religion as you can, and let your actions speak for you. Good luck to you.

Ken said...

thanks, emptycan.

gonensane, you're right, of course. Everyone here knows the frustration, I expect. I'm someone who thrives on conversation, so the decided lack of it lately is a pretty tough burden. Top that off with her christian "agape love" facade (which I know to be false, because the kids have mentioned how much she cries when I'm not around), and you have a pretty uncomfortable home.

Ah, well. what can you do?

I just feel like givng a big "FUCK YOU" to the world, sometimes.

Lorena said...

Dan,

Well written story. I appreciate your honesty.

I am sorry that your wife has chosen to share her struggles with her "friends." I wish I could go over there to give you a big hug.

As you know, I am in a similar predicament. My husband, however, has chosen to keep the big secret to himself and I think it is eating him away. He denies it but I think he is depressed and ashamed. I wish I could reach out to him, but I can't. She laughs at my new ideas and has totally closed himself up to any input coming from me.

Anyway, it is difficult for you, me, and others. All we can do is hang in there, like you are doing.

Best

Lorena said...

Dan,

I mistook you for Dano, because his story seems similar to yours. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan, (and also Loreno, Chris and those who have similar experiences)

Thank you for sharing your story; it's very interesting and I feel so sorry that this is causing you so much trouble in your marriage. My family is very religious and I dread the moment when I have to tell my parents that I've given up christianity for Atheism. I wish I could make everything alright with you and your wife. You seem like a very kind man and I can tell you love her so much.

One website that I found that makes a lot of good, concise arguments for atheism is: http://www.godisimaginary.com. The only thing you can do is try to be kind to her. You know where she's coming from. I hope you are able to work things out.

DMM

Anonymous said...

i read how your family just let go.
sadly, eventually you will realize that the devil got you. when you are old sick and alone.... no boundaries for families mean no families. wake up! your children's future is your responsibility...what if you are wrong? I'm sorry just won't cut it! You had problems with people...not God.

tigg13 said...

Anonymous said:
"i read how your family just let go.
sadly, eventually you will realize that the devil got you."

And god hasn't lifted a finger to help.

"when you are old sick and alone.... no boundaries for families mean no families."

Have you ever been to a retirement home? They're chock full of card carrying christians whose children never come to visit them.

"wake up! your children's future is your responsibility...what if you are wrong?"

Are you saying god is going to punish his kids for his lack of faith? What about their free will choice? And what if he isn't wrong? How does it serve his children to to pay lip service to a religion that he no longer believes in?

"I'm sorry just won't cut it!"

I didn't see him apologizing for anything.

"You had problems with people...not God."

And god hasn't lifted a finger to help.

You know what anonymous? If all you can do is toss around guilt and intimidation, maybe you should go play some where else, hmmm?

Marianna Trench said...

When I read the posting from "Anonymous" who said "eventually you will realize that the devil got you," I was reminded yet again of how often True Christians™ reveal an utter lack of the fruits of the spirit. Instead of expressing any understanding or sympathy for the problems Dan is experiencing within his family, our Christian friend found it proper to hurl unfounded accusations of parental irresponsibility and prophesy a miserable old age and eventual hell-fire.

People like our anonymous Christian poster may take a lot of pride in showing off their religiosity, but in my book they are nothing. The funny thing is (really not so funny), that’s also what they are according to the book they claim to live by. (1 Corinthians 13:2 “… though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (love), I am nothing.”)

Dan – While I feel sympathy for you for the problems in your marriage and hope that your wife will eventually see the light of reason, I feel happy for you at the same time – happy that you were able to free yourself from such hypocrites.

Ken said...

Lorena,
No apology necessary. I've been on your blog and have been reading through it. You're a good writer and we have very similar experiences. I'll be reading & commenting there from now on. Thanks for the feedback!

DMM,
I'll check that website out - thanks! And thanks for the kind words.

tigg13 & Marianna Trench,
Thanks for the feedback to the anonymous christian. I am not bothered in the slightest by thoughtless comments from people who believe they can say such things to total strangers. It's obvious to anyone reading it that they have their own problems and have to divert attention to survive.

But a few words to Anonymous,
Well, you're quite the evangelist! You have made me realize the error of my ways. Please come and release me from the devil's grip! Show me the way. And if you're a girl, reasonably attractive, let's go some place alone and get it on when you're done excorcising my demons, ok? (Sadly, you're probably a guy and likely one with few social skills - sorry, I don't swing that way, regardless of the incredible display of spiritual muscles you've flexed for me).

Dan

Piprus said...

Dan,

Thanks for sharing your testimony. I hope you'll be a regular visitor and poster here at this sanctuary of reason.

What an amazing story. From what could only be described as a weirdo cult back to sanity. Man, what on earth could your son have done to get him summarily excommunicated! I truly hope your other kids have not been permanently distorted by their experience, and I hope you and your wife can resolve your situation and find a common ground. My wife and I are both ex-christians, she an ex-pentecostal, I an ex-southernbaptist, she now a freethinker with some basic deist beliefs, I an atheist. With time, searching, and free discussion, you and your wife may arrive at some mutual point of acceptance. May it happen for you.

For pity's sake, pay no attention to that pathetic remark by "anonymous". The devil didn't got you any more than the boogeyman in your closet. The devil ain't real. Period. And of course you had an issue with "people". Interpersonal conflict is an everyday thing. It was your capacity to separate sense from nonsense that won out, and you are to be admired for it. Best wishes, Dan. Welcome to the group. (From a guy who was born in Lancaster Co.)

Ken said...

Piprus wrote: "Man, what on earth could your son have done to get him summarily excommunicated!"

He did what any sane 20 year old would do after leaving an oppressively religious home - he got drunk, he got laid, he had some drugs... etc. In retrospect, he did some self-destructive things, and he'll be the first to admit it now. But he got over it, he survived, and I look upon his defection from faith as a sweet gift of reality to me. I am the sole recipient of it in the family so far, but I love him to death for helping me see what a crock christianity is. He just got married a few weeks ago to a beautiful pagan girl and they seem to be as happy as clams (I assume clams are happy, right?).

No, I don't take my anonymous christian friend seriously. I see he hasn't bothered to respond to my fun/taunting. LOL!

Dan

Interested Atheist said...

Fantastic story, Dan! Congratulations on your courgae and principles!

emptycan said...

Dan, I believe one of the best things for your marriage is keeping on discussion without your wife's blaming on you. How about making a promise or contract not to blame each ohter but only to focus on the facts of the discussion?

Maybe, the biggest problem that your marriage has is her xtian friends. Let her know about this. Can it be possible that you give her some chances to make other friends with no religion or other religion. How about going to a unitarian universalist church near your family. If she sees the people of other convictions, who knows she may find the loose frame of her religion, too?

I am afraid of giving you irrelavant suggestion. But i hope those will work for your marriage.

Anonymous said...

hey Dan,

I'm 18 and i'm from northern ireland. I go to a baptist church and i really do love it, its so laid back and instead of worrying about the stupid stuff that some christians get wound up on, its totally about worshipping God and not caring what other people think. For me thats class cause ive been to churches which have a routine, one organ and a dress code, but in my church i wear jeans most of the time.
We all go through hard times in life, my dad near died 3 years ago, then my uncle died of cancer and several other things happened like my friends dads dying and friends commiting suicide. It would have been so easy for me to turn away, and thats what i did. I looked away from God and concentrated on friends and my girlfriend. I think i must have been away from God for about 2 years (although everybody thought i was fine cause i put on a false face), and then i went to a christian festival over 5 days called summer madness. On the second last night i started crying uncontrollably (which was hard for me cause i didnt wanna be a wuss!) and i knew this was God taking control. I prayed for 3 hours solid just asking for God to talk to me but i got nothin, until i went to bed and i jus randomyl said "isaiah 42". I had to get my bible cause i had never read isaiah 42 and when i read it i knew it was for me. Ive been back on track for 2 weeks and people have even said to me they notice an uplift in my personality, i shout at people less and i feel less guilt about things in general.
Being a christian and knowing God is my life goal, its my reason for existance and wihtout this, i have nothing. Knowing that i will be in heaven one day is a relief, but the hardest part is knowing that my amazing non-christian friends will be in hell. I try to be a good influence on my friends, but have never tried to force my views down their throats because we were given free will for a reason.
God is amazing, and he never makes things happen to hurt you.....he LETS things happen to hurt you knowing that it will form your character and make you much much stronger in the long run. It also strengthens your faith in hard times which is something im actually greatful to God for!
I would just ask you to think really hard about giving up your faith, sometimes it may just look like a waste of time and infact i believe it takes alot more faith to believe that there is no God. Life is so important and is a short preparation for eternal life which will actually rock!
Thanks for readin this and i hope you have a good life whatever way you go!
Peace and God bless.

Anonymous said...

I am so incredibly happy that I was raised without any religious influence what-so-ever!

To read what people have/had to go through because of religion is so insane to me! It seems so doggone time consuming and confusing to have to constantly cloud your thoughts worrying about what some invisible 'thing' thinks about you and whether or not you will be rewarded with 'heaven' or 'hell' when you die! Yeesh!

I can't even fathom how ANYONE could possibly believe that any god(s) or devil(s) or what have you, actually exist!

Well, I hope you all find peace within yourselves! I tend to feel that we are all responsible for our own selves and that YOU have to live with whatever you choose to do, whether good or bad! Simple as that!

J. C. Samuelson said...

tut"Knowing that i will be in heaven one day is a relief, but the hardest part is knowing that my amazing non-christian friends will be in hell."

Be not afraid! In heaven you will be too busy kissing God's ass to worry about your "friends" anymore.

Do you really feel that your "amazing" friends deserve to be tortured for all eternity? What have they done to deserve it? What could they possibly do to deserve eternal torture? Be specific.

"God is amazing, and he never makes things happen to hurt you..."

No? See Deut. 32:39 and Isaiah 45:7 for starters. God Himself disagrees with you. How does that feel?

Anonymous said...

Being a christian and knowing God is my life goal, its my reason for existance and wihtout this, i have nothing. Knowing that i will be in heaven one day is a relief,

WOW! God is your life goal and your reason for existance and without that you have nothing??? And knowing that you will be in heaven one day is a relief???

Why??????

Anonymous said...

http://www.godisimaginary.com

I am going to post this on EVERY website / blog / message board, that I visit!!!!

http://www.godisimaginary.com

Bentley said...

Knowing God! Sounds so admirable, doesn't it?

So now by knowing God, means you have sustained all knowledge about your God. So!

How tall is God? 5ft. 6ft. 7ft.???

Is God white, black, orange, green, red, purple???

Can God speak?

Can God speak different languages?

Is Jews God favorite food?

What is God's favorite food?

Does God pee and dookey?

What color are God's eyes?

Does God wear clothes?

What color is God's hair?

Does God have hair?

How much does God weigh?

What is God's favorite sports team?

Does God eat anything?

Does God use deoderant?

Does God use foot powders?

What is Gods favorite solar system?

Who is God's favorite preacher?

Is God left handed or right handed?

Does God brush his teeth?

What time does God got to bed?

If you know so much about God, then these would be simple questions for you to answer with 100% certainty.

But if you cannot answer any of these question with 100% certainity, then you do not know God and you are a liar.

Ken said...

Interested Atheist, thank you.

emptycan, thank you for the suggestions.

Anonymous (18yo),
I can see that you are well-meaning in your post. I wish you well. If you ever decide to give your religious views some additional scrutiny, I would be glad to suggest some books to you that have been helpful to me. for now, I hope you go out an have some great fun and don't take life too seriously. Build your life wisely, since you someday may find yourself in a similar position to mine.

Anonymous (raised without religion),
You know, I genuinely envy that you steered clear of the shit so many of us had to work at. good for you!

Jeff the Ubergeek, good response!

Dan

To The Mono-Synaptic Marvel said...

"Being a christian and knowing God is my life goal, its my reason for existance and wihtout this, i have nothing. Knowing that i will be in heaven one day is a relief,"

So, life is meaningless without your god. You narcistic snot.

Narcism: "Self-love: an exceptional interest in and admiration for yourself."
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Kindly fuck off, and keep your own self-importance off the network, you egotistical retard.

Shannon said...

"God is amazing, and he never makes things happen to hurt you..."

But does he make things happen to you that doesn’t hurt you? You know, the good stuff.

If (your) god graces you with the good stuff or creates the good stuff doesn’t the bad things need an ungracer or creator too? ‘Cause don’t we use the bad to measure the good and the good to measure the bad? Aren’t they the flip side of the same coin?

So, who is responsible for the bad stuff?

What kind of power does this bad stuff creator have and how can it exist separately from (your) god?

It’s odd, don’t you think, that while (your) god doesn’t make bad thing happen, he sure doesn’t seem to have a problem sitting around, watching it happen, yet nary lifting a finger to stop said bad things from happening.

And don’t tell me that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Child rape doesn’t make anyone stronger. No one is better for it. Plain and simple: it f**ks you up. What kind of god can sit around and watch something as heinous as child rape and do nothing?

Your god sucks.

Melissa said...

Anony-tian:

You said:"i went to a christian festival over 5 days called
summer madness."

Has this "summer madness" been commanded of you in the buy-bull?

The summer solstice is a Pagan celebration. Hey, no problem though, as most Christians don't even know they are worshipping and celebrating many pagan traditions, thanks to Constantine's councils.

Does your church celebrate Christmas and Easter as Christian holidays? If so, it too is corrupt, according to the buy-bull.

Here in the U.S. they have
"Midnight madness", a retail sales event that happens during the CHRISTIAN CONSUMER SEASON!
It has nothing to do with Christ or his alleged mass though.

People rush into the stores like rabid animals, many of who proclaim themselves to be Christians, while fighting each other to gain possession of a Playstation or a Chiken dance Elmo...it's such a bizarre ritual.

These sales never take place on Sunday, because these fiends need to get their other "fix" and be forgiven for all those worldly habits they have Monday-Saturday.

Pay the preacher his money...and you too, can buy your way in to his heaven.

Let me guess...you are a True Christian, just Like all the other
True Constantine Christians.

Go figure.

Deamond said...

"You know, my wife, more than anyone I know, HATES how "god" made men and women different. "

Viva La Diforance!

I like women. Escpecially the bits that aren't like my bits. If men and women weren't different, we'd all be... well... gay, I suppose. (not that there's anything wrong with that.)

freedy said...

Hey Deamond,....Men and women are so differant because of the fall,..right? So I guess this might be why some are gay.They're just trying to get back to the way it was in the garden! l.o.l.

Anonymous said...

Hey again, its me the 18 year old guy who apparently got totally anihalated a few blogs ago.

I was kinda peeved off that I got such a slaggin for bein so firm in believing in God, i'm not tryin to annoy anyone. I just wana share my views nd stuff and i dont see a problem with that, just like i hav no problem with non-christians sharing their views wit me.

Someone said about my amazing friends and that God sits back and watches them go to hell....the fact is altho they may be good people they still go to hell...but God has clearly provided a way out which is Christiannity and Heaven. But I don't know why you brought that up cuz I thought athesists didnt believe in heaven and hell.

Shannon said about child rape and that God sits back and watches...but I really dont understand where you wer goin with that. God made us...and then sin entered the world and as a result there are some twisted people about. God could stop that, but where does it stop. Does God then stop every sin that happens...if that were the case we would have no free will and you would be a Christian as a result. I know you are using child rape cuz it is a sick area and it helps to explain your point, but dont think that things like that have not affected my family and friends, just incase you think i'm reguarding it as something that 'just happens'.

Melissa...about the summer madness thing. Who said anything about a summer solstice and worshipping it? Its called summer madness cuz its during the summer holidays...and at it you generally have fun and go to worship sessions. It's a name for the event. And no...my church and most of Christiannity do not celebrate Christmas as such, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. And at easter we celebrate Jesus' dying for our sins and then coming back to life.

Just remember I'm not tryin to convert anyone here, and I'm not slaggin off your beliefs. I know you all think I'm wrong, and its not my choice wether any of you believe in God, or no god...it's called free will. I've just never really talked to an atheist before and I just want to see how you see things from your perspective.

Someone said "Kindly f*** off, and keep your own self-importance off the network, you egotistical retard." Don't be so flippin insecure that you can't even handle me puttin in a blog, do you see me as a threat or something?

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan, Are you a an ex-charity if you are from Lancaster PA and not amish or mennonite. I am ex- charity. I would be interested in who you are. Steve's email stevepetre@juno.com

Anonymous said...

Dano,

I'm a woman, I've just joined this forum, and feel like I'm having a joyride down a waterfall! (born an atheist). Regarding how men and women are different: my dad was a caustic atheist. It's taken me years to heal from his scathing attitude about the dumbness of people who believe. It actually kept me from trusting any friendships with them, and made me quite lonely. As an experiment (and also driven by a very lonely Christmas) I ducked into a very large church in New York City a few years back, and cried my heart out. The messages of good will and peace were overwhelming; the sense of community consoling. Perhaps, as someone else said, the women are guarding the nest. I do think it's possible that women have a kind of instinct that binds us together and expresses itself in a non-rational way. I certainly don't want to sound mysterioso or scary. But I can laugh myself silly with women and feel warmth and comfort even when I put my huge logical brain to the side. Where's the church for atheists? We need community.

Naomi

bookjunky said...

Dan,
Thank you for sharing your amazing journey. I wish all the best to you and your wife. It sounds grueling, but I know that other Christian/atheist couples have managed to stay together and love one another despite their differences. I hope that your wife will at least learn to be tolerant and even a little more liberal given time. It sounds as if this is all still pretty new and obviously upsetting that you have changed.
I was a (non-xian) theist and living with an atheist for over 7 years. What changed my mind was - surprise - studying my religion. When I started to get answers such as "that's a good question" I started looking for my own answers.

bookjunky said...

Anonymous 18 -

I am glad you are joyful in your new religious beliefs, but sad that you are given over to delusion. If you are wrong, you have wasted your one life. You owe it to yourself to look a little more closely into the history of your new religion, especially how the new testament was formed. Don't be afraid to look at both sides of the argument. If it is the truth, it will stand up to scrutiny. After all, would a loving God try to trick you? or allow you to be tricked by another (evil) power?

Here is what Richard Carrier has to say on free will. It is long but I think important to this discussion. I hope you will read it and think about what it says.

*************
God is Silent

If God wants something from me, he would tell me. He wouldn't leave someone else to do this, as if an infinite being were short on time. And he would certainly not leave fallible, sinful humans to deliver an endless plethora of confused and contradictory messages. God would deliver the message himself, directly, to each and every one of us, and with such clarity as the most brilliant being in the universe could accomplish. We would all hear him out and shout "Eureka!" So obvious and well-demonstrated would his message be. It would be spoken to each of us in exactly those terms we would understand. And we would all agree on what that message was. Even if we rejected it, we would all at least admit to each other, "Yes, that's what this God fellow told me."[2]

Excuses don't fly. The Christian proposes that a supremely powerful being exists who wants us to set things right, and therefore doesn't want us to get things even more wrong. This is an intelligible hypothesis, which predicts there should be no more confusion about which religion or doctrine is true than there is about the fundamentals of medicine, engineering, physics, chemistry, or even meteorology. It should be indisputably clear what God wants us to do, and what he doesn't want us to do. Any disputes that might still arise about that would be as easily and decisively resolved as any dispute between two doctors, chemists, or engineers as to the right course to follow in curing a patient, identifying a chemical, or designing a bridge. Yet this is not what we observe. Instead, we observe exactly the opposite: unresolvable disagreement and confusion. That is clearly a failed prediction. A failed prediction means a false theory. Therefore, Christianity is false.

Typically, Christians try to make excuses for God that protect our free will. Either the human will is more powerful than the will of God, and therefore can actually block his words from being heard despite all his best and mighty efforts, or God cares more about our free choice not to hear him than about saving our souls, and so God himself "chooses" to be silent. Of course, there is no independent evidence of either this remarkable human power to thwart God, or this peculiar desire in God, and so this is a completely "ad hoc" theory: something just "made up" out of thin air in order to rescue the actual theory that continually fails to fit the evidence. But for reasons I'll explore later, such "added elements" are never worthy of belief unless independently confirmed: you have to know they are true. You can't just "claim" they are true. Truth is not invented. It can only be discovered. Otherwise, Christianity is just a hypothesis that has yet to find sufficient confirmation in actual evidence.

Be that as it may. Though "maybe, therefore probably" is not a logical way to arrive at any belief, let's assume the Christian can somehow "prove" (with objective evidence everyone can agree is relevant and true) that we have this power or God has this desire. Even on that presumption, there are unsolvable problems with this "additional" hypothesis. Right from the start, it fails to explain why believers disagree. The fact that believers can't agree on the content of God's message or desires also refutes the theory that he wants us to be clear on these things. This failed prediction cannot be explained away by any appeal to free will--for these people have chosen to hear God, and not only to hear him, but to accept Jesus Christ as the shepherd of their very soul. So no one can claim these people chose not to hear God. Therefore, either God is telling them different things, or there is no God. Even if there is a God, but he is deliberately sowing confusion, this contradicts what Christianity predicts to be God's desire, which entails Christianity is the wrong religion. Either way, Christianity is false.

So this theory doesn't work. It fails to predict what we actually observe. But even considering atheists like me, this "ad hoc" excuse still fails to save Christianity from the evidence. When I doubted the Big Bang theory, I voiced the reasons for my doubts but continued to pursue the evidence, frequently speaking with several physicists who were "believers." Eventually, they presented all the logic and evidence in terms I understood, and I realized I was wrong: the Big Bang theory is well-supported by the evidence and is at present the best explanation of all the facts by far. Did these physicists violate my free will? Certainly not. I chose to pursue the truth and hear them out. So, too, I and countless others have chosen to give God a fair hearing--if only he would speak. I would listen to him even now, at this very moment. Yet he remains silent. Therefore, it cannot be claimed that I am "choosing" not to hear him. And therefore, the fact that he still does not speak refutes the hypothesis. Nothing about free will can save the theory here.

Even when we might actually credit free will with resisting God's voice--like the occasional irrational atheist, or the stubbornly mistaken theist--the Christian theory is still not compatible with the premise that God would not or could not overcome this resistance. Essential to the Christian hypothesis, as C.S. Lewis says, is the proposition that God is "quite definitely good" and "loves love and hates hatred." Unless these statements are literally meaningless, they entail that God would behave like anyone else who is "quite definitely good" and "loves love and hates hatred." And such people don't give up on someone until their resistance becomes intolerable--until then, they will readily violate someone's free will to save them, because they know darned well it is the right thing to do. God would do the same. He would not let the choice of a fallible, imperfect being thwart his own good will.

I know this for a fact. Back in my days as a flight-deck firefighter, when our ship's helicopter was on rescue missions, we had to stand around in our gear in case of a crash. There was usually very little to do, so we told stories. One I heard was about a rescue swimmer. She had to pull a family out of the water from a capsized boat, but by the time the chopper got there, it appeared everyone had drowned except the mother, who was for that reason shedding her life vest and trying to drown herself. The swimmer dove in to rescue her, but she kicked and screamed and yelled to let her die. She even gave the swimmer a whopping black eye. But the swimmer said to hell with that, I'm bringing you in! And she did, enduring her curses and blows all the way.

Later, it turned out that one of the victim's children, her daughter, had survived. She had drifted pretty far from the wreck, but the rescue team pulled her out, and the woman who had beaten the crap out of her rescuer apologized and thanked her for saving her against her will. Everyone in my group agreed the rescue swimmer had done the right thing, and we all would have done the same--because that is what a loving, caring being does. It follows that if God is a loving being, he will do no less for us. In the real world, kind people don't act like some stubborn, pouting God who abandons the drowning simply because they don't want to be helped. They act like this rescue swimmer. They act like us.

So we can be certain God would make sure he told everyone, directly, what his message was. Everyone would then know what God had told them. They can still reject it all they want, and God can leave them alone. But there would never be, in any possible Christian universe, any confusion or doubt as to what God's message was. And if we had questions, God himself would answer them--just like the Big Bang physicists who were so patient with me. Indeed, the very fact that God gave the same message and answers to everyone would be nearly insurmountable proof that Christianity was true. Provided we had no reason to suspect God of lying to all of us, Christianity would be as certain as the law of gravity or the color of the sky. That is what the Christian hypothesis entails we should observe--for it is what a good and loving God would do, who wanted us all to set right what has gone wrong. And since this is not what we observe, but in fact the exact opposite, the evidence quite soundly refutes Christianity.

Despite this conclusion, Christians still try to hold on to their faith with this nonsense about free will--but they haven't thought it through. Meteorologists can disagree about the weather forecast, but they all agree how weather is made and the conditions that are required for each kind of weather to arise. And they agree about this because the scientific evidence is so vast and secure that it resolves these questions, often decisively. It can't be claimed that God has violated the free will of meteorologists by providing them with all this evidence. And yet how much more important is salvation than the physics of weather! If God wants what Christianity says he wants, he would not violate our free will to educate us on the trivial and then refuse to do the same for the most important subject of all. Likewise, if a doctor wants a patient to get well, he is not vague about how he must do this, but as clear as can be. He explains what is needed in terms the patient can understand. He even answers the patient's questions, and whenever asked will present all the evidence for and against the effectiveness of the treatment. He won't hold anything back and declare, "I'm not going to tell you, because that would violate your free will!" Nor would any patient accept such an excuse--to the contrary, he would respond, "But I choose to hear you," leaving the doctor no such excuse.

There can't be any excuse for God, either. There are always disagreements, and there are always people who don't follow what they are told or what they know to be true. But that doesn't matter. Chemists all agree on the fundamental facts of chemistry. Doctors all agree on the fundamental facts of medicine. Engineers all agree on the fundamental facts of engineering. So why can't all humans agree on the fundamental facts of salvation? There is no more reason that they should be confused or in the dark about this than that chemists, doctors, and engineers should be confused or in the dark.

The logically inevitable fact is, if the Christian God existed, we would all hear from God himself the same message of salvation, and we would all hear, straight from God, all the same answers to all the same questions. The Chinese would have heard it. The Native Americans would have heard it. Everyone today, everywhere on Earth, would be hearing it, and their records would show everyone else in history had heard it, too. Sure, maybe some of us would still balk or reject that message. But we would still have the information. Because the only way to make an informed choice is to have the required information. So a God who wanted us to make an informed choice would give us all the information we needed, and not entrust fallible, sinful, contradictory agents to convey a confused mess of ambiguous, poorly supported claims. Therefore, the fact that God hasn't spoken to us directly, and hasn't given us all the same, clear message, and the same, clear answers, is enough to prove Christianity false.

Just look at what Christians are saying. They routinely claim that God is your father and best friend. Yet if that were true, we would observe all the same behaviors from God that we observe from our fathers and friends. But we don't observe this. Therefore, there is no God who is our father or our friend. The logic of this is truly unassailable, and no "free will" excuse can escape it. For my father and friends aren't violating my free will when they speak to me, help me, give me advice, and answer my questions. Therefore, God would not violate my free will if he did so. He must be able to do at least as much as they do, even if for some reason he couldn't do more. But God doesn't do anything at all. He doesn't talk to, teach, help, or comfort us, unlike my real father and my real friends. God doesn't tell us when we hold a mistaken belief that shall hurt us. But my father does, and my friends do. Therefore, no God exists who is even remotely like my father or my friends, or anyone at all who loves me. Therefore, Christianity is false.

More of his very interesting arguments at http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/whynotchristian.html

Anonymous said...

heya bookjunky,
Thanks for the rather long post lol, i did read it all and altho i found it interesting...i stil didnt agree with alot of it. Lets face it, i am a Christian and im open to other peoples views totally, but im also not gona be swayed by things so easily.
Sometimes Christiannity may seem a little less logical to you than athiesm, and i know you have heard it before a million times, but thats where faith comes in. I have gained enough evidence through experiences in my life and through the Bible to let my faith take me the rest of the way.
Don't feel sad for me atall, you think im disillusioned...i feel thankful to be a Christian. You think if you are right my one life will be wasted...why? I can do everything i want to do and more being a Christian. Tell me a few things you think im missing out on?

Once again thanks for takin the time to 'blog' to me and i hope to hear back from ya soon.

bookjunky said...

Anonymous 18,
I guess I don't quite see how you can do everything you want when you must be in fear that if you don't do what God wants you will go to hell along with your amazing friends. And how can you be sure that you are doing what God wants? The Bible is self-contradictory on that point, as on so many, so you can't really trust the bible. Then there are some 30,000 Christian sects, each of which thinks it has the answer to what God wants (admittedly some of these are liberal enough that they don't see this as a one-answer question). I have a hard time thinking that your Baptist sect does not prohibit or consider "sinful" at least some behavior a normal 18 year old would find enjoyable.

Meanwhile, why would you take something as important as how you live your life on faith? Would you abdicate your reason and sense on any other question? Why would you think that God gave humans a rational mind but expected us not to use it when it came to the big questions? Actually it was a relief when I finally admitted to myself that the idea of God did not make sense, and that there was no Grand Plan other than what I want to do.

I don't expect to change your mind about Christianity as it obviously fulfils some emotional needs for you, as it does for many others. But I do hope that you will apply your ability to reason and think to religion and philosophy. You seem like a smart person and you have been through some really rough times. I am very sorry for your losses and I can see why religion is helping you right now.

That's all I want to say...keep an open mind.

J. C. Samuelson said...

"Someone said about my amazing friends and that God sits back and watches them go to hell....the fact is altho they may be good people they still go to hell...but God has clearly provided a way out which is Christiannity and Heaven. But I don't know why you brought that up cuz I thought athesists didnt believe in heaven and hell."

I brought that up. No, I don't believe in heaven or hell but I know you do. My intent was to prompt you to think about what your "amazing" non-Christian friends could possibly do to deserve an eternity of torture and punishment.

You believe they will go to hell if they don't convert to Christianity. What crime is it that earns an eternity of torture? According to your faith, disbelief is that crime. That's it. Disbelief.

Imagine I've invited you to dinner. I tell you that you're going to have the best meal you've ever had in your life or ever will. It will be so good you'll have a full-body orgasm, and you'll never be hungry again. That's right, you will never need another bite to survive. Would you believe me? No you wouldn't.

Let's say you ignore the invitation or question me about the meal. You indicate you don't believe me. I'm so insulted that I forcibly abduct you and tie you up in the basement.

Each day for the rest of your life, you are tortured in every imaginable way, to the point you wish you'd never existed.

Does this sound fair to you? Imagine this happening for eternity, if you can.

According to your Bible, a similar situation awaits your "amazing" non-Christian friends. They are to be punished for all eternity because they simply don't believe something.

Is this something that a righteous, loving God would do for such a seemingly minor crime? The Bible says YES!

Anonymous said...

I am adding you to my prayer list. And I will be praying more fervently for all of the others who also are lost...

Your post saddens me tremendously.

We came from a very worldly background and are now Mennonite.

Speaking personally, had I died ten years ago, I would have been rejected by God. I would be in the Lake of Fire for all eternity.

Our time here on earth is so very, very short. A passing vapor! You do not know when God will call you to leave, and when He does...

Where will you be heading for eternity?

Forever... it's such a long time! We cannot comprehend it!

Are you sure you want to give up Christ? -- Leaving the loving boundaries He provides is not freedom or happiness. Truly. You are an eternal soul.

Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth that also shall he reap. Are you reaping destruction?

God be with you. I pray He grants you enough time to make your way back to Him.

"Earnestly tenderly Jesus is calling...
Calling oh sinner, come home!"


Lovingly,
A Stranger and Pilgrim

J. C. Samuelson said...

"'Earnestly tenderly Jesus is calling...
Calling oh sinner, come home!'"


It's never ceases to amaze me that some Christians aren't able to recognize the dichotomy between the opposing messages of salvation and damnation that are put forward in the Bible.

Out of the same mouth (often the same sentence), they'll say that God gave you freewill, Jesus loves you and wants the best for you, but if you don't do exactly what he says you're going to pay - forever!! Salvation at the point of a gun. Join us, or die.

Even more indicative of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of some of these folks is that they'll combine these conflicting ideas when witnessing without batting an eyelash.

boomSLANG said...

Wandering Pilgrim said:

"I am adding you to my prayer list. And I will be praying more fervently for all of the others who also are lost..."

I'm adding you to my 'mock-the-ignorant-person-who-thinks-that-prayer-works' list. News flash: People have been down on their knees "praying" for the people on this website for so long that their knees have actually taken root into the ground. And LOOK!...has anything changed? Hell no. Your God as had every opportunity in his "omnipresent existance" to prove that prayer actually works, yet, time after after time; heathen post after heathen post....we see ZERO results. NONE. Nothing FAILS like prayer.

Pilgrim: "Your post saddens me tremendously."

Your ignorance saddens us more.

Pilgrim: "We came from a very worldly background and are now Mennonite."

So we're supposed to be intimidated by someone who's afraid of a zipper?(BTW, what are you doing with a computer?...isn't that a bit "worldly"?)

Pilgrim: "Our time here on earth is so very, very short."

Yes, so why spend the one life that you KNOW for sure you have, gambling on if you have chosen the "correct" one-out-of-a-gazillion religions?.... especially considering that if "all others are wrong", then yours could be too? You wouldn't do too well in Vegas.

Pilgrim: "Where will you be heading for eternity? Forever... it's such a long time! We cannot comprehend it!"

You cannot "comprehend" your own non-existance, which is why you cling to the false, illogical, and arrogant notion that you will exist in the clouds "forever". There is zero evidence for this thing you call a "soul". NONE. (Please don't come back with NDEs for "proof". Testimonials are not "proof")

Pilgrim: "Are you sure you want to give up Christ?"

' Never been so sure of anything in my life. Are you sure you want to give up Allah?

Pilgrim: "Leaving the loving boundaries He provides is not freedom or happiness. Truly."

Oh, so being coersed into belief is freedom and happiness? And this, my friend, is PRECISELY why you, and all others, believe. TO AVOID HELL. You've been bullied into believing. Hmmm, for some strange reason, I like my idea of freedom better.

Pilgrim: "Be not deceived. God is not mocked."

Be not deceived---your God is either a wuss-bag, or non-existant. Got that, Pilgrim?

Nvrgoingbk said...

18-year-old Anonymous, you said: "but im also not gona be swayed by things so easily."

So your decision to accept Christ was a thoroughly informed one? You did the research before committing your intellect and emotions to this Savior? How long did it take you exactly to decide to convert to Christianity after hearing of this loving savior that takes away the sins of the WORLD? If you are not swayed by things so easily then tell me how reciting a verse from Isaiah is proof enough for you? After the post that BookJunky provided you, you still aren't convinced, but you are SURE that Jesus is the ONLY way because...WHY? Because you had some emotional experience when you were younger that scared you into joining the fold or else you would go to Hell? And you were convinced of this based on what evidence? I'm just curious since you are not swayed so easily and all!

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