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  1. 10 points
    I've never properly thanked you guys and this site for helping me to deconvert. Deconversion is best for people who are mentally ill. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for having patience with me. I haven't had one manic attack since I spoke to you last. At this stage I am fully deconverted. Christianity seems like a fairytale to me now. I have read many books by sensible non christian writers that gave me a new perspective. I am glad this site still exists. It is indeed valuable to many individuals. Anyway, my best wishes to all of you.
  2. 10 points
    Hello everyone my name is Tim, I just deconverted this week and I feel so much better. I had some serious doubts about christianity all my life, And when I found this website and read a few testomonials it gave me the strength to finnaly break free from that evil cult. I feel so grateful for the support and I am looking forward to meeting all of you and posting my own story soon.
  3. 8 points
    Hi everyone, I am a lifelong Catholic who has recently decided that religion (at the very least) is man made. I went from carrying a rosary everywhere I went to reading the God Delusion in one weekend. I was watching a documentary on the Greek gods, and just like that I was overwhelmed with the realization that my God was no different than any other. That my scripture was no more inspired than any other. I cant see my religion (any religion) as faith any more. All I can see now is a sort of mob like swelling of "beliefs." Us vs. them. We're righteous. They're not. Anyways...nice to meet all of you.
  4. 8 points
    Well, I just got back from the group meetup. The people there were nice and supportive, and It was really good to be able to talk with people who have the same mindset. One of the group leaders is a former minister who's now an atheist, so that was very interesting to see. I don't feel quite as alone anymore.
  5. 7 points
    Hello, my name is Joseph. I’m currently 23 years old and have been closeted gay since I was 14. I spent years of my life questioning my sexuality and what I liked and didn’t like. For all of those years, I isolated myself more and more. I also became angry and irritable towards my family. My mom would inquire about my attitude, but I would always shrug off her questions as me just being a “moody teenager” or being under stress from school. In reality though, I was keeping this major part of my life a secret and was even resenting her and my family for making me feel like I had to keep it a secret. Until recently, I had never even considered leaving my faith. Surprisingly enough, I actually decided to look up atheist arguments against Christianity while reading some books by CS Lewis my mom had just bought me for Christmas. Reading his writings, I realized that I had never taken the time to see what the other side of the argument was. Rather, I had always assumed what I believed to be true and kept my gayness in check because of that. Soon after some Google and YouTube searches though, I was beginning to realize that I had been doubting my faith for years. Many of the arguments against Christianity were similar to the questions I was already thinking but too afraid to ask for many years. Now, I’m in this state of limbo, feeling stuck with these beliefs that I’m not really sure I have anymore but also feeling this desire to let go of it all and finally allow myself to be the person I’ve been hiding for years. The more I realize how not-unique my story is and how many people share a similar experience and walk away feeling better because of it, the more I want it for myself. I still feel stuck though, like I have to get God’s permission first to stop believing in Him, even though I know how ridiculous that sounds. I don’t necessarily want to believe, but I also can’t escape the feelings and experiences that have propped up my faith for the past 23 years. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to maybe finding a community of people that I can actually talk about these things openly with.
  6. 7 points
    Welcome BarnOwl. I'm so happy you found Ex-c! Just remember my friend, you are going to be confused about all of this at first because your mind is pulling you back and forth. Once you learn more about the christian god, you will be able to become free to be who you really are! Stay with us. Post. Read. Ask us questions. And remember.....jesus himself never said one word in the new testament about being against any loving, gay person. Don't you think if this topic of being gay was that important, Jesus himself would have said something about it? Yet he didn't. So breathe and relax for tonight. Get ready for the journey you are about to take. It will be a little bit of a roller-coaster ride as you find your new life and form a new 'world view'. You got this!.
  7. 7 points
    Many of us had great experiences in church and in private worship times, it's just that eventually we had enough legitimate questions with only vague nonsensical answers, reams of Bible verses that gave a very different picture of the Bible god than we worshiped, actual historical evidence that belies the stories of the scriptures, and the complete silence of god when we really needed answers (which stands in stark contrast to the pleasant sounding promises that drew us in as converts "Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For all who ask receive, etc" "If your child asks for bread, will you give him a stone?" etc). It turned into a constant shell-game of "Oh He's always faithful! He answered, but it just looks different than you expected or wanted." "He's not a cosmic vending machine you know" "Maybe God wanted another little angel at his throne" I experienced things that seemed to confirm the reality of God at the time, but in retrospect leave me wondering what it really was. I've been out of the faith now for 12.5 years after 30 years of on-fire pursuit of God's presence. Since then, I've read a lot about the reality of world history, and the complete lack of it matching the Bible. Then the logistics of a whole people group and their animals leaving Egypt without a trace of that being found in any writings outside of Judaism, trying to get water to millions of them from a magic rock drinking fountain, talking snake, talking donkey, and loads of God blessing mass rape and genocide. I swallowed all of it while a believer and hoped I'd experience some of that magic, especially after Jesus promised that God would dwell inside each believer. 30 years and tens of thousands of dollars later, there was no reality to it. Lots of smiles and fellowship in the cult, but no reality of God in it. No answers to honest questions. No explanations for the primitive tribal violence and taboos replete in the scriptures (including the anti-gay ones). No revelations to the primitive peoples about germs or cooking their food properly, or any science at all. Lots of stories about magic, but nothing for us but promises that aren't kept. Now that I'm on the outside, life makes a ton more sense with no invisible battles between angels and demons. Sex is simply a drive we all have (or mostly all have), and there is a variety of wiring in that regard. We are products of the Earth and part of the variety of life left on the planet. I find joy in that connection and in trying to be kind to others. Anyway, I hope you find the inner peace you need.
  8. 7 points
    Welcome to our community. I understand the feeling of being a square peg forced into a round hole very well. Having been out of religion for nearly 20 years now, I still find parts of myself that I have kept hidden or not allowed myself the freedom to experience or explore. But knowing that the only permission I need is my own has been the most liberating knowledge I have ever gained.
  9. 6 points
    I was engaged to a christian once. It didnt work out... Also, she was psycho.
  10. 6 points
    My moment of clarity came while watching a documentary aboard a plane. The documentary was on the Greek gods. Stories I've read many times before. A documentary I've probably seen before. But for some reason, on this flight, I was suddenly struck with the realization that my God was no different than any of the other Greek gods. But why did it click this particular time? I've been thinking about that question. Here's what I came up with. First of all, I don't think it was as sudden as it seemed. It was more like opening a new pickle jar. You struggle, adjust your grip, tap the lid, double down on your grip and eventually it suddenly opens. The process is slow and difficult. There's nothing really sudden about it. So in simple bullet points, I'm going to try to list those things that worked on loosening my jar (so to speak). I course questioned many things as a child. It's hard to believe in my current reality, but I am naturally inquisitive and sceptical. However, there was some point where I stopped critically question my faith and the Church. These bullets will start about ten years ago when I went from a delighted devout Catholic to something different. The first crack was when I asked myself the question, "If Christ welcomed everyone, why did we have a closed Communion?" I met and friended several gay people. They were all awesome. Not a one was an evil person. I spent hours debating the Bible with one a lesbian friend. She was an ex-Christian due to the way she was treated because of her homosexuality. After that summer, I began to struggle reconciling my church's teachings with my own sensibilities and notion of love. I sought out spiritual direction to help me with my inability to "reconcile my inside world with the outside world." I converted to Orthodoxy in hope of finding peace. Obama became president and I saw Christians accuse him of being a Muslim, a non-citizen, wearing a tan suit, and putting fancy mustard on his hamburger. Then Trump was elected. I saw Christians throw away everything I thought they held dear just to elect a Republican. ThisChristians began to say Trump was sent by God. The previous two points helped me begin to see that Christianity was more about building boxes and walls and ways to say "we're good because we're not one of them" than actually living like Christians. It was an old boys club. I saw the divisions within Orthodoxy...divisions based on culture, race, and politics. Moscow stopped recognizing the EP, and so on. I converted back to Catholicism in hope of finding peace. Discussions with a good friend (an atheist) helped me begin to see that even my special brand of Christianity shared similar origins to the others. He also helped me see how religion can be a harmful force and how the recent election proved it. Rational thinking was replaced with mob thinking. My son told me he didn't believe in God because "It just doesn't make sense." I put on a documentary about the Greek gods. Pickle jar opened. It seems clear to me now that I was, for those ten years, unsettled because I was trying to do the impossible. I was trying to reconcile rational thinking with religious belief.
  11. 6 points
    https://youtu.be/pNh6UWTG5YY
  12. 6 points
    The goal of any argument should never be changing the mind of the person you're arguing with; but, rather, perhaps, enlightening those who might be listening in. That said, let them come, let them do their best.
  13. 6 points
    I said other. I appreciate that this is a space for ex-Christians to recover, and there are times when being exposed to evangelism may not be helpful. However, I think there are enough "seasoned" members here that Christian arguments are usually dealt with in short order. Also, some new members find it actively helpful to argue with Christians and thereby strengthen their own new convictions. I think that roughly covers my feelings on options 1 and 2. As far as trying to (de?)convert them is concerned, in principle I would like it if more people saw that Christianity is false, but I don't really feel a strong desire to dissuade people of their convictions, so long as those convictions aren't actively causing harm. I have enjoyed arguing with Christians in the past, but these days I mainly just find it tiresome. I do think it's important to remember that some Christians may stumble upon this site on their way out, as it were, and may engage in passionate evangelism here in a desperate attempt to justify their own faith. Enchanges with us here may eventually help some of these top find their way out, which I think is important. Ultimately, I'm happy to have conversation with anyone who is willing to engage in rational discussion. If someone wants to try to argue for Christianity, fine. They'll have a hard time of it, but that's alright. And if they just resort to preaching ad nauseum, then they're easy enough to ignore. On the whole, I think I prefer a case-by-case approach.
  14. 6 points
    Hello. I just typed out a very long post and accidentally deleted it. Ugh. Anyways I am 37 and was in and out of church most of my life. I tried many different times and many different ways to “get closer to God” always wondering what I was missing. Pray more! MemoriZe and meditate on scripture! Just have faith! Don’t question! Have more unwanted sex with your husband! The list goes on. I always ended up short. Always felt like I didn’t belong in the church circles. Always felt shame for not being able to love my husband the way others seemed to love theirs. I hastily got married young after getting pregnant by someone I barely knew. I proceeded to get caught up in the Christian, homeschool, large family movement. And had 8 kids. I love them dearly. But 15 years of nursing, breastfeeding, and isolation took a severe toll on me. After my last child I was very suicidal. My husband didn’t take it seriously. Through a series of unfortunate events I was connected to a Christian therapist who has been amazing. Anyways a year ago I really started trying to get to know myself and focus on my health. I realized I am gay. Took me a long time to begin accepting it. I am still in the process. But I have no idea how I will untangle the choices I have made in order to live my truth. And I still have the religious voices in my head that tell me I am shameful and undeserving of love and I will go to hell. I was excited to find this site today. I have read a few threads and it was a breath of fresh air. I look forward to interacting with you all.
  15. 6 points
    I felt more connected to humanity upon deconversion. It's weird; because I don't like people very much.
  16. 6 points
    So sorry it didn't go over very well AP. And this is what family (or friends) will do when you tell them something you know isn't going to go well. People like to make others feel guilty. It's part of wanting for them to stay in control and to control YOU. Even when you call somebody out on their own bullshit, you will get defensive answers as to why they did what they did (or believe what they believe) and they will normally blame everything around them except themselves. People ''pass the buck'' all the time. It's passive aggressive behavior and it will produce guilt in you if you accept it. Especially when you are trying to tell someone that you are not a believer anymore. I wouldn't say too much more to any of them. Go quiet for awhile. And be peaceful to know that you stood up for yourself!! Every time you stand up for yourself, it becomes easier. Just remain loving and kind and show them YOU are in control now!! Keep us posted. (hug)
  17. 6 points
    Welcome, BarnOwl! I too like your screen name, especially since I used to be an avid birder. Like you, I struggled to reconcile being Christian with being gay. Eventually the injustice of God as depicted by Christianity, and the failure of NT promises to come true as the NT indicates they should, drove me out of the religion. Later on I came to see how flawed is the evidential basis it rests on. I don't know whether the old archives are still accessible here on Ex-Chr. Below is my anti-testimony, which I posted back in 2004. Egad! 16 more years have gone by! Sorry for the length. I hope there is something you can identify with. I agree with you that we're not all that unique. Time to say yes to life It’s been over twenty years since my fervent faith collapsed, and almost fifteen since I stopped going to church altogether. I used to think I could never go on without believing in Christ as my savior. Rarely, I miss it, but I realize it’s the social or emotional trappings-- Christmas carols on an icy night, incense breathed at mass, or tradition and the pull of ideals. I know from reading posts on this website that many people who drop Christianity feel adrift and anxious. From my middle-aged perspective, I haven’t looked back or regretted leaving. I’d make the same decision again and know it was the right one. Christianity was costing me my chance for a human life. The god it represented was unjust. It didn’t live up to what it promised. As a system, it couldn’t be true. As a young child I was sent to Presbyterian Sunday School by parents who were also into Westernized, Hinduistic practices and ideas like vedantic yoga and reincarnation. I was attracted to God and spiritual things. The summer after ninth grade I had been reading Autobiography of a Yogi and was struck by the meaninglessness of earthly life compared to the aspiration of becoming one with God. All the same I wanted to fit in with other kids, plus I was attracted to other boys, but I didn’t confront that as a “problem” within myself until I was well into high school. I wound up in college lonely and confused, resigned that I was gay but unable to decide what to do about that, wishing for a sense of direction and purpose. I wanted to understand truth that would set me free (I used to say this biblical verse to myself). I had fallen in love with philosophy and wanted to study more, even perhaps someday to be a philosopher. At the start of sophomore year I met some students who had been “saved” over the summer. They seemed full of life and purpose. I marveled at how they seemed transformed. They and other Christian students all seemed to display instant love for each other, and they tried to show it to non-Christians like me, too. It didn’t take long before I agreed to go with one of my new friends to an emotional revival at an Assemblies of God church. I thought the emphasis on sin, repentance and belief was ridiculous, even too easy. I had come to believe that, if knowledge of God is real at all, it can be obtained only through arduous searching and self-development. I thought sin was more lack of awareness. Still, at the end of the night I asked the pastor to pray that I would understand I was a sinner. My friend told me to read the epistle to the Romans. Within two weeks I sat in the university chapel, prayed the sinner’s prayer, and gave my heart to Christ. All my new friends rejoiced that another sinner was born again. I became immersed in the Assemblies church and in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on campus. I had a multitude of instant friends. People wanted to hear my testimony. At first I still had doubts. My upbringing and education had left me assuming that fundamentalist Protestantism was just for the ignorant and emotional. I dove into the Bible and devoured books explaining prophecy, creationism, and so on. It was not long before the Assemblies of God led me to seek the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” and to speak in tongues. It seems another person's life now, but I remember kneeling with two other people from the congregation in a darkened living room one autumn night on a shag carpet waiting, and then receiving, the "baptism." My tongue took off and formed what seemed like complete utterances all by itself in an unknown language. I now am convinced I psyched myself into an extreme emotional state with my own prayers plus increased rate of breathing. While my voice was doing the tongues thing, my rational faculties were all intact and I was with another part of my mind sort of standing back and thinking, wow, I've gotten the baptism, hasn't God blessed me! plus also wondering how much my consciousness was controlling what my tongue was doing. My influence was a role in my sister’s becoming a Christian. She and her husband now are still deeply into the charismatic movement. On campus I became aware that there were many versions of Christianity and much doctrinal dispute. When I wrote a paper the next year on St. Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine of predestination (he held that God foreordains all events, including who shall be saved), I came to believe that the Arminian (God foreknows but doesn’t cause) approach of the Assemblies was not scriptural. My adherence to Christianity was stronger than my natural resistance to Calvinistic doctrines like God predestines those whom He will punish forever in hell (the saints rejoice at their torments), and I drifted into Calvinism under the influence of some other Christian students who were also studying philosophy. I was elected president of the campus InterVarsity chapter, and I had a lot to do as leader of an organization of 160 or so members. I was “discipling” younger students and all sorts of stuff that amazes me - how did I think I knew anything? I visited elderly shut-ins. I was always in love secretly with some male friend and no prayer or religious exercise ever changed that. I believed God would change me eventually. I did seek counseling from adult Inter Varsity leaders. Like everyone else, I jerked off every so often and repented. At one college retreat, about a hundred guys went to a session on masturbation, while I and one girl and one other guy went to a session on homosexuality! Every so often my friends would confess their lusts or that they’d looked at porn or whatever. I dated girls here and there but didn’t feel any physical desire - which scared me, but I still believed God would change me. Like many who are really into Christianity, I wanted to go into some ministry. In graduate school I met Eastern Orthodox and Catholic students. For the first time, I was confronted with serious Christians who were not Protestants. My Assemblies and then Calvinist associates had all just assumed that those traditions were unscriptural and works-centered rather than salvation by faith alone. One Sunday I went with other students to English services in a side chapel at a Russian Orthodox cathedral on New York’s Lower East Side. It seemed very foreign, but people were clearly into it as much as in the Assemblies. I met seminarians from St. Vladimir’s. Protestants tend to talk as though the Holy Spirit skipped over about twelve or more centuries. I started to wonder, were the Reformers justified in breaking away totally? My question changed from “how can these priest-ridden groups think they understand the Gospel?” to “how can the Reformers justify their radical break?” One of the most striking things to hit me as a Calvinist was in a footnote in Tradition and Traditions by Yves Congar, quoting another theologian who observed that the principle of "sola scriptura" does not satisfy its own requirements in the case; it's not taught anywhere in the NT, which on the other hand talks about traditions of the apostles as normative. I was shaken by Congar’s remark that the formation of the canon of scripture had long been one of the trump cards of the Catholic controversialist. Protestants claim to limit themselves to a Bible alone, when that Bible doesn’t itself state the list of books that go into making it up - the Church came up with that. John Henry Newman’s Apologia pro Vita Sua also shook my Protestant assumptions. I went on to a year at a Calvinist seminary to give the Reformation a chance. Someone mentioned Cornelius Van Til a while back on this website; he taught at a nearby seminary, and I heard him lecture on his presuppositionalist apologetics and went to his house for tea. John Henry Newman’s Lectures on Justification and his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine provided arguments that none of my Calvinist teachers could answer. I had been taught by Calvinists that “a dogmatic Christ founded a dogmatic church.” They wanted the Westminster Confession and other Protestant documents to hold authority about doctrine over the individual. They got impatient when I kept asking why that principle doesn’t amount to tradition and teaching magisterium, i.e. it leads to Rome. By the end of that year I was sitting in on mass at a local parish, and the other students and the professors abandoned me as an apostate. I had pledged to judge all questions by scripture when I entered that seminary. I believed I was still doing this. “This is my body.” etc. etc. By this time I had a girlfriend, but I wasn’t taking things anywhere. I had sought pastoral counseling about what I called homosexual desires. Nothing was changing. I thought maybe if I just get married in faith I’ll learn to love her physically. As I decided to become Catholic, though, my idealistic side turned toward the priesthood. Plus that gave the obvious advantage of promising ways of not dealing with my sexuality. It turned out that I was groped at one point later by a religious brother in the provincial house of his order, and other priests made passes at me. I told my priest about it as well as the brother’s superior, but I figured to let charity be charity and forgive someone’s weakness. In a meeting with a monk-therapist I was told I wasn’t a real homosexual but a case of arrested development. I didn’t know what to make of that, but since I was more seriously planning to enter religious life, I figured God would enable me to transcend the flesh by his grace. It was very painful to my girlfriend when I told her I planned to become a priest. I am ashamed even now of how long I let her hang on, though I know a marriage would have been total disaster. Among educated Catholics I met many who developed their minds and did not get hung up on fundamentalistic prejudices. All the talk of “the Lord gave me a burden for this” or “the Lord led me to say/do this” etc. ad nauseam is much rarer in Catholic circles. Catholic friends also tended to remain friends with me after I left, when all but one of my former Protestant friends shunned me as an apostate. As years passed, eventually the problems with the God of the desert as depicted in biblical texts, and with the mentality that the religions of those texts create, became too much. I remember one summer visiting the monastery of Mt. Savior near Elmira, and another visitor, a Catholic seminarian, said, in answer to my questions about what he was looking for, replied, "I'm trying to learn how to be a human being." At that time I was in love with my roommate who then became engaged to marry. Again I’d seen my emotions run into directions my religion fenced off. I'd been praying, and people prayed for me, that God would free me, but nothing was changing. My priest said, enduring homosexuality and remaining faithful to church teachings was God’s way for me of carrying the cross. That year I felt depressed at what looked like a life of loneliness. I might have handled my struggles if they’d been unique to me, but as a believer in God’s omnipotence and sovereignty, I couldn’t see how He could be a just god setting up a world with millions of people like me and letting us have human drives and desires, then barring us from experiencing their fulfillment the way He allows heterosexuals to do -- even those who can’t have children. All of us gays and lesbians were the pot saying to the potter, why hast thou made me thus? and the potter’s answer was, because it is my will, and it glorifies me. I would walk down my street wondering, is this the way Luther used to feel when he said he hated God? Some gay Christians claimed the Bible verses against gays and lesbians really have different interpretations, but my study of the Greek never convinced me they were right-- though I’m still open to that possibility. Any ex-fundy knows how useful hermeneutical dexterity can be. I went into therapy with a priest but nothing changed. Contradictions in the Bible that I used to shrug off started to disturb me. A graduate-school friend died of cancer despite the prayers of our whole campus group, including children from a nearby parish who didn’t even know the young man. My hope was that monastic life would give me structure, goals and direction. Then, a REAL miracle! I fell in love with my present lover-partner of 23 years. When we realized we loved each other, my religious scruples fell like a house of cards. The thought of hell waiting for gays melted under the warmth of hope. I realized I could choose life over fear and loneliness. The day we declared our feelings to each other, I wept that I could never pray the rosary again. Ken took me in his arms. “Of course you can, Kit. You can if you want to.” But I knew the man I loved was wrong on this. I could never pray again from inside an infallible faith. Whatever the gray areas, the Christianity to which I’d devoted myself - Protestant or Catholic - claimed to be inerrant in its essentials. I had never taken seriously anything less than that. Drop one essential and the edifice crumbles. I let it crumble and smiled through my tears. In the ensuing days, I walked on air and wanted to shout our love from the rooftops. Over time, the Christian residue faded away. The human part remained and grew into its proper spaces. Sadness and grief and obtuseness alternate day by day with gladness and wonder. They are just what they are; it’s a relief not to spiritualize mental states anymore. I chuckle that as years passed, I even became sexually attracted by females as well as males. It took getting out of Christianity to feel that. I’m loyal to my honey just the same; only monogamy works for me. Before that day, I would have propounded lots of arguments to convince myself that my doubts about Christianity's fundamental truths were smokescreens for my sins, lust, desire for guys, rebellion, pride in my education and intellect, blah blah. “You never really gave your heart to Christ because you were attached to your homosexual desires/scholarly pretensions.” Whatever. I did and believed ALL the stuff. I don’t know how I could have had stronger belief in the forgiveness of my sins. After becoming Catholic I had stopped masturbating for years. I felt and expressed in confession a strong sense of contrition for my mental slip-ups. Religious types always say that a person’s decision not to accept their doctrines comes out of the person’s moral fault, not the fault of the doctrines. When I looked away from myself and at the evidence of unanswered prayer, contradictions in the Bible (check this website!), the moral depravity of the deity depicted in that book, absurd combinations of mutually exclusive ideas, etc. etc., I realized my own "argumenta ad hominem" were my insecurities talking. Some genuine Catholic friends urged me to stay in the church, but picking and choosing what teachings to accept just seemed dishonest. Augustine read Plato and fell in love with the Form of the Beautiful. He wanted that abstraction to have a human face. He convinced himself that face was the face of Christ. How many of us do that? But I need a human face to look into mine. How much "grace" a selfish, flawed human being can reflect back when s/he just is open to acting in right sentiment? I think that's the most love we get and give in this world. Acting because God told me so doesn't bring more virtue and often weakens what virtue there otherwise would be. When I first got saved, Christianity met some of my psychological needs: direction, purpose outside myself, confidence with people, yearning to be loved. Nevertheless I believe Christianity blocked me from other developmental tasks that were important at that age, like integrating romantic and sexual issues, establishing my career, being at ease with the world outside Christian circles. I always secretly hated feeling that non-Christians were fundamentally separated from me and that I had to focus on converting them because they were headed for hell. As a Catholic I loved the sacraments, the slow rise of the Divine Office prayed six times a day, the best of the music (like Faure’s Requiem), the attempt to integrate reason into faith, the understanding of human nature of the more Italianate style of Catholicism. I was like other born again types - when pushed to the wall to give an explanation, I justified my conversion by my experience. So why not appeal to experience the other way round and leave a self-contradictory system when you realize it damages your experience? (Parts of this testimony are pieced together from earlier postings. Apologies to those who are reading them for the second time!)
  18. 6 points
    Yup...a tool... I got a short story...my employer is a deeply religious man. A while back he asked me how I spent my Sunday afternoon. I told him my wife and I went for a hike in the woods. His response was, "Why weren't you in church?" My reply..."maybe I was". He said nothing else. The end.
  19. 6 points
    No snark; but i spent more than 30 years thinking about it. We are discussing evidence for an omnipresent god. If he is everywhere, I should be able to reproduce your experience of him.
  20. 5 points
    It's been a coupe of months since my last update, I figured I would fill everyone on current happenings. Something that I deemed a lost cause occurred, I've shared this with some of you one on one but I've never made a post about it. When I first deconverted 7 1/2 years ago, I had an atheist friend who'm I could be as open and intellectually honest about any topic. The taste of mental freedom that she gave me was a major factor towards my loss of faith and for that I'll always be grateful. However, due to the the worst aspects of my nature (that many of you no doubt have experienced) combined with my "angry atheist" phase drove her away and she never wanted to speak to me again. She is a resolute person and this was all but inevitable and final. Though I got over it and moved on to other like minded individuals, it is something that had lingered in the back of my conscience for years. Due to some unlikely circumstances, I was in fact able to reconnect with her and slowly start to rebuild that friendship. I will say, forgiveness by someone you care about especially years after it weighing on you feels much better than what god ever offered when confessing my "sins". The message I want to get across is hold yourself to a higher standard in how you treat people you care about. You may not get the same opportunity that I did and it's easy to lash out at everyone when you're in an angry period in your life. I look in disgust at the type of person that I've been over the last few years, seeking conflict just for the sake of conflict, being unyielding in my views. Inner peace has taken over since I've abandoned that. Furthermore, I've discovered that life seems more meaningful when I help others. It doesn't have to be some grand cause or anything, small acts of kindness here and there. These can be listening to someone and give advice while sticking with them through a difficult period. It can also be using your abilities and talents to help them and in term, they will help you. This is the way it should be, it is far more fulfilling than coming home from work and just indulge in selfish pleasures/pursuit night after night. Maybe I'm just incoherently typing sentences at this point so I think I'll stop. This is where my life and thoughts are at the moment.
  21. 5 points
    Hello everyone. I stopped being a Christian at exactly 12/25/2012. After becoming one on 8/13/2007 8:30 PM. I've suffered horrible abuse in the name of God. Feared I committed the unforgivable sin. Read about how inferior I am as a woman. Read I am going to Hell if I don't repent of my bisexuality. I have had some positive experiences with Christianity though. I even felt the beautiful "First Saved" feeling. I loved and worshiped Jesus Christ with all my soul. I seriously wished to become a Christian martyr. I wanted to die to prove my love for Jesus to him. I couldn't wait to go to heaven and spend eternity with my saviour. The only man I could and would ever submit too. I've read the entire Bible cover to cover twice. The new testament 5 times. And some books and verses multiple times. I wanted to remain single so I could serve my God, my master instead of some man. My biggest goal in life was to be a Bible scholar. Anyway. After a long battle with the Bible. Plus the horrible spiritual suffering I faced. (Exactly how I suffered and what I saw and heard is too graphic and inappropriate to list here), and reading all the contradictions in the Bible, I left the faith behind. The true word of God would not have even 1 contradiction or misunderstanding. If God was real he would have NEVER allowed anyone to have such images. It was a hard choice to make. But I finally had enough and found the courage to leave Christianity behind for good. The abuse I suffered got even worse after I left that religion. I never got any support after I left or even before I left and sought support. Instead all I got was judgement and condemnation from other christians. I now suffer one of the worst cases of Religious Trauma Syndrome, Theophobia, Thenatophobia, and Anthropophobia with greater androphobia than gynophobia. Too many people have, still, and will continue to suffer and die because of this religion. But thankfully I got out of that abusive situation shortly after leaving the faith. I hope to support others. And help my fellow women understand their worth and that we are equal to men. And be a shoulder for people to cry on. I also hope to receive support as well. Much respect to you all. Thank you for having me.
  22. 5 points
    I'd say one is a product of the logical mind making a conclusion, the other is the product of the survival mind and is a product of programming. I never realized how separate they were until this last summer when I started having anxiety attacks (PTSD) based on the behavior of a neighbor acting oddly and then aggressively. I had to spend weeks trying to understand why I was reacting so strongly to something that in reality was just an annoyance, not a run-or-be-killed situation. I realized eventually that I had been raised with a single solution to any such situation: shoot her. Not that we ever did, but my family wasn't the most functional and mature folks. We loved firearms and had plenty, and loved Rambo and Terminator type films. The solution to any issue of an "enemy" was then to shoot them. Again, we never did, but that was the programmed response verbally and emotionally. I've been around long enough to know that shooting is only valid if I am in clear and present mortal danger. The neighbor was just being aggressively noisy with her music, sometimes at 3am just to annoy me. Not a threat at all, but I really had no emotional training to deal with it. So my emotional basic mind responded with "I have to shoot her, but I can't do that. I'm trapped, therefore must flee the danger." It really came down to that stupid conclusion. But I reacted with full body shaking terror anytime I heard her subwoofer. Then at work, even an HVAC system turning on had a low thrum sound that I'd react to that. I was stuck in fear by a part of my mind that was trying its best to protect me from perceived danger. It took weeks of purposefully examining the situation with my logical mind, talking to my primitive mind that was in terror, every time I'd hear something that triggered me. I'd ask it "Is this danger, or just an annoyance?" and wait for a response. Over and over again. It eventually learned through repetition that this was just an annoying thing, not a real danger. I taught myself a new response and got to the point where subwoofer sounds were easy to ignore, and I stopped being triggered. The mind really is segmented more than we usually realize, but the pieces can work together through training it. The same sort of thing is true of those who have an irrational fear of hell. It makes no logical sense, but the terror is quite real and will remain so until the mind is taught to see through repetition that it isn't a real danger. I've read articles that say this is backed up by current knowledge of how the amygdala learns. So yes, one can be an atheist and still have fear of hell, and that fear can be overcome through purposeful confrontation of the triggers and re-training the amygdala to see that it was lied to originally and that there is nothing to fear.
  23. 5 points
    I don’t want this site to be like a Christian fundy site that censors speech they don’t agree with. There isn’t anything a Christian could posts here that we haven’t heard and dealt with. Our rejection of religion is based on facts, evidence, history, science, logic, and reason. I can’t imagine anything a Christian could possibly posts that would cause us to doubt our reasons for leaving Christianity. Christians, on the other hand, might possibly encounter information that could possibly encourage them to investigate their “beliefs” more deeply and hopefully more objectively. Personally, I don’t care whether they are nice or not when they challenge our reasons for leaving religion. I’m a big boy, I don’t take insults personally or even seriously.
  24. 5 points
    I voted “Other”. I’d say the benefits of us engaging with Christians are threefold... Some “inexperienced” ex-Christians can learn new arguments against Christianity from observing the more experienced ones take on the believers, and so gain needed confidence in their deconversion. Those of us who are confident ex-Christians can exercise our counter-apologetics muscles in debating so we can become more effective in debunking Christianity. Fence-sitters, the lurkers who are teetering somewhere between belief and unbelief, will likely encounter solid arguments against Christianity, and against the idea that religious faith is a sound way of knowing what is true. The more civilized the discussion, the more likely it is to be useful. I often feel sympathy for the Christian who ends up alone against the group, trying to respond to multiple lines of opposition. It’s not surprising when they get defensive and combative. I agree that LMTO handled himself pretty well. I see references to him in the past tense: has he departed from among us?
  25. 5 points
    I was thinking along these lines too. I was raised in a toxic faith, so I tend to go grizzly bear when someone’s evangelistic efforts start to get annoying. It would be nice if the evangelists had some advance warning. (I don’t mean about me in particular . . . .) A modest proposal: Some notes for believers visiting ex-christian.net: Who we are We are not poor, wayfaring unbelievers; we are ex-christians. Some of us were ordained ministers; some of us can read the bible in its original languages. We have heard the sermons, we know the arguments. And our reason for being here is not to argue with you; so sometimes visitors with evangelism on their minds do not get the welcome they expect. Most of us thought long and hard about giving up our faith, and an emotional appeal is not going to bring us to the altar. Some of us experienced religious trauma and have very negative opinions of christianity in particular, and religion in general. And some of us still believe in god, or gods, and have our reasons for having left christianity for another religion. How it works From the forum guidelines: “These forums exist for the express purpose of encouraging those who have decided to leave religion behind. It is not an open challenge to Christians to avenge what they perceive as an offense against their beliefs.” We are not here to convert you; and if you are here to convert us, the burden of proof rests on you. When you assert that god exists, or that the bible is true, we are going to ask for objective evidence, and we will subject your assertions to reasoned argument. And many of us can and will give you many reasons why we do not believe in god or the bible. Please note that your conviction that god exists is not evidence. And before you start endlessly prolonging an argument while innocently professing to enjoy discussing christianity, please look up the definition of an internet troll. And do you really want to go there “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance . . . .” Hebrews 6:4-6 https://www.ex-christian.net/guidelines/ https://www.ex-christian.net/forum/29-frequently-asked-questions-and-topics/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burden_of_proof_(philosophy) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll
  26. 5 points
    I think that a lot of christians come here with no previous experience in where this sort of discussion will lead. Then get agitated that they're facing impossible situations. Because they didn't already understand that their positions and claim making are just that, impossible. If they are only familiar with preaching to the choir with confirmation biases, then a conversation like this will come as an abrupt surprise. 'What do you mean subjective experience doesn't equal hard, objective evidence?' They may wonder to themselves, 'what would these people do if they were put into an impossible situation like this?' I've already disclosed it in so many words. But the simple answer is that we simply WON'T make untenable claims that are impossible to substantiate. We won't, for instance, make the claim that we know god does or does not exist. It's untenable either way. Given the evidence that does exist it's highly unlikely and that's good enough for me to lack positive belief. I have no burden of proof requirement to substantiate the non-existence of god, nessy, big foot, fairies or anything similar. Therefore I face no impossible situation. Let's take another example. What if I believe in something? What if I believed in something like mind over matter? 1) Unless I could demonstrate it consistently making the claim factual and objective, I wouldn't make the claim to begin with. 2) I would be honest about the untenable nature of the claim, but then chime in that I believe it myself despite the lack of hard evidence. 3) I would leave it entirely up to others as to whether or not they agree with the claim, even though it's well known that the claim itself is untenable. 4) I would never refer to threats or bullying those who do not choose to believe the untenable claim! There's no good reason to breach 1) and try making such a positive claim. It's an impossible claim, so why make it? It boils down to learning how to be smarter than that. Some of the smarter theistic thinkers do understand this. It's very unintelligent to run head long into untenable claim making, it's ill advised, and completely unnecessary. Christians, pay close attention!!! You come at us like this, you will lose ground. And most likely tuck tail and head for the hills with embarrassment. One after another, this trend continues. All the while with none of them, "getting it." I hope that maybe at least a few of our passing visitors will think on these issues more in their lives and perhaps come around to "getting it" someday, and making the necessary adjustments in how they approach others with untenable claims and untenable claim making.
  27. 5 points
    I think about it a lot; it is mostly intellectual musing, not very often a “feeling.” Our existence is like an eddy in a stream; it forms due to the flow of the water, lasts awhile, then disperses. All come from dust, and all return to dust. It may seem strange, but what I feel most connected to, like some sort of role model, is trees. When I feel lost, adrift, wondering what the point is, I ask myself, “Does a tree need a reason to exist?” And my favorite place to be is among trees. The place I go to when meditating is a swing from a tree from my childhood; I had experiences there that were almost transcendent, or maybe dissociative. Overall, I have not felt either more or less depressed since deconverting; there is the good of being free of a bunch of toxic garbage, but the bad of the effect that the garbage had on the course of my life. (Like a tree that gets damaged early on.) And the loss of the false but comforting belief in providence, afterlife, and so forth. It is what it is.
  28. 5 points
    But that's just it, it isn't an established truth. The problem here is that you are thinking that it's established truth when it clearly is not. If you come at this from an objective stand point, and an honest one, will you admit that just because you think something is true or have the opinion that it's true, doesn't make it a hard fact? It has to be a presupposition on your part, because it's not a hard fact. It's just your opinion at this moment in time. The opinion could change. And then you'd see that it wasn't ever a hard fact to begin with. It was just a perspective subject to change. You can prove a bee sting. You can demonstrate the reality of the injury on your physical body. You have nothing comparable to provide as a demonstration of the existence of god. If you think that you do, then by all means, try and provide the demonstration. Whatever you could possibly demonstrate will have multiple explanations and will not default to conclusive evidence of the existence of god, let alone the biblical gods mentioned in the bible, let alone YHWH who was eventually narrowed down and then believed as the only god (refer to the provided citation). What you are calling god moments, I have regularly all the time. The issue is that I know too much about god and the related issues to think that any of it has to do with the bible or it's theistic conceptions. You are calling basic aspects of human consciousness, synchrocity, and possibly mind over matter situations, "god moments." And that comes from the presuppostion that you do have. Once moving away from the presupposition, there's no good reason for seeing it that way. People often mistake these types of things for theistic confirmation. When they actually are not confirmation at all.
  29. 5 points
    And how logic destroys them. https://medium.com/@joeomundson/13-fallacies-used-to-discredit-ex-christians-971c60a6d79f
  30. 5 points
    Feeling that way is normal because you've been brainwashed and your rational brain and your emotional brain are dueling it out. Eventually your rational brain will win. On the first day of spring, get out early in the morning to a secluded place with a view to the east and watch the sun rise, and with it a new life for yourself. I've posted this several times recently and I hope the regulars will forgive me for posting it again, but I find it worthwhile: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. —Arthur Ashe
  31. 5 points
    Oh for goodness sake. As florduh said, a wake up to what? The fact we're going to "hell", that place that Christianity invented when the old testament books of the Jewish religion wasn't enough to control people? Edit: Welcome to ex-c. Forgive my impatience but I was brainwashed for 36 years about the "precious treasure" of gods existence before I woke up. Why did I wake up? Let's quote Dan Barker again - basically, I refuse to worship evil: "I do understand what love is, and that is one of the reasons I can never again be a Christian. Love is not self denial. Love is not blood and suffering. Love is not murdering your son to appease your own vanity. Love is not hatred or wrath, consigning billions of people to eternal torture because they have offended your ego or disobeyed your rules. Love is not obedience, conformity, or submission. It is a counterfeit love that is contingent upon authority, punishment, or reward. True love is respect and admiration, compassion and kindness, freely given by a healthy, unafraid human being."
  32. 5 points
    Not to be rude, but this verbiage here demonstrates how profoundly you are mistaken about us, how deeply confused you are. We did used to be christian, which means, by default, that at one time we did believe that god exists. But the hard truth is that no one, not even you, actually knows that god exists. That is the hard truth we have all faced. Again, not trying to be rude, or come off like a bull*dozer here. But there it is.
  33. 5 points
    The church I grew up in was determined to restore the original first century church, and to base everything on the bible alone. They also taught things like interpreting scripture in context, and a literal-based western-style-of-logic hermeneutic. But that hermeneutic is not taught in the bible. When the new testament authors quoted the old testament, they frequently took it completely out of context, as if it were allegorical, and sometimes even seemed to get it wrong. The early church (or at least some people in it) clearly believed in allegorical interpretaton, as evidenced by writings such as the epistle of Barnabas; and it came to a sort of climax in Origen, who believed that the bible was so special that anything in it was liable to contain multiple meanings. It is easy to look back on Origen as some kind of weirdo, but the fact is he was very influential in his own day; people believed in his style of interpretation. And even people who claim to use a literal, logical hermeneutic usually end up twisting the bible around to make it fit their beliefs anyway. “God in three persons,” for example, is not taught anywhere in the bible; the trinity as a whole is something that one puts into the bible, not gets out of it. (And we were taught that “eisegesis” is a bad word.) The whole calvinism vs. arminianism, original sin, total depravity, prevenient grace ball of wax is one of the things that started me questioning the whole christian thing; you would think that if it were important, it would be spelled out clearly somewhere; but all the sides of the issue can pull verses out of the bible to justify their beliefs. Maybe the whole thing is a crock of s*#! after all . . . .
  34. 5 points
    The big issue with these how to respond list is that they think we must always "assume god" in all of our conversations with believers. By "assuming god" we automatically lose. They automatically get to control the arguement. They will always be able to come up with some sort of apologetics, or spin to support their beilef set against whatever we choose to present. It is just not productive, nor worrh the effort. Instead, make them justify their god concept to you....and shoot down the logical fallacies like ducks at an arcade when they send them your way. Never ever cede the burden of proof for nothing in return.
  35. 5 points
    I suppose this is a good place to add my story, So here I go. My last Ayahuasca ceremony back in October was the most profound and deeply healing expirience I ever had, I've suffered from deppression anxiety and OCD my entire life, as well as alot of hate and anger issues and suicidal thoughts. Aya completley wiped those clean, I felt as if the old me had died and I was reborn. My brain felt squeaky clean and refreshed, I was able to think far more clearly and deeply, I even felt smarter too. I was filled with a sense of happieness peace and love and an innser sense of calm that had eluded me all my life. Everyone else at the ceremony also had an amazing life changing expirience and the desire to make real changes in their live. There was an alcoholic who said he didn't want to drink anymore, And an Iraq war vet with severe PTSD who had given up on life Who now had a completley new outlook and desire to live! For me it was all about thinking, I didn't see any visions but many others did. It is said by many that Ayahuasca is a plant spirit, A divine female being. And a few people at our ceremony even communicated with her directly. I didn't, I was one of the very few Christians there so i'm thinking that was a block keeping me from fully connecting with her, However that is no longer the case, And I can't wait untill my next ceremony to see what a difference that makes! When I returned home all of my friends and family were shocked at the changes they saw in me, I was a completley new man. I went to church the week after I got back and they were also shocked at the changes, I told a few of them what I had done, But they dismmissed it as just being god's work. It was then that I started feeling very disconnected with these people and disillusioned with the whole church and what they were preaching. So I started thinking why am I going here? Why do I believe in a god that I cannot see or hear when I could belive in this divine goddes that ACTUALLY SAVED MY LIFE? So that's when I decided to stop going to church and stop reading the bible, And I grew more and more distant from the faith. And guess what? It felt SO GOOD and natural. A few weeks later I had a dream where I was visited by a woman who told me that the medicine loves you, You're on the right path, Keep up the good work. This past month I started becoming very bothered about all of the hypocrisy in christianity, So I looked online for articles about this, I then came across stories of people who had left the faith and I became more and more interested. I read about a man who had been a pastor for 25 years and then left to become an atheist, He mentioned Ex-christian as the main source for his inspiration, So I came here and read a bunch of testimonials and arguements against the bible and how the whole damn thing just doesn't make any sense, Feelings that I had harbored deep inside for years but never felt I was able to accept, Until now. It was then that I decided it's time to leave this bullshit behind, So I did. And it felt amazing! The feeling I got from renouncing the faith was incredible, I would say atleast half as good as I felt after the Ayahuasca ceremony, which was completley unexpected. My mom took notice and was supprised, She asked me why are you so happy and upbeat? Are you stoned? I said no mom, I can tell you why but you're not going to like it. I won't like it? She asked. So I told her, I renounced my faith and she was shocked, WAIT YOU DID WHAT? After her intial shock she calmed down and seemed to take it better than I expected, She seems to be ok with it, But I know deep down it's killing her. She's the only family member I have told, But I told most of my friends and the support I got from them was overwhelming. Except for a few believers that were dissapointed, But the ratio of 25 positive reactions to 3 negative ones ain't too bad I figure. This one guy tried to reel me back in with something called the book of Enoch, Saying that it proved some of the stories from the bible. I told him politley but sternly NO, I just escaped from that prison and I am not about to lock myself back up. He then backed down and said that he hoped my decision brought me the peace and happiness I was looking for. It sure as hell did! I really want to tell the rest of my family but I understand the dangers of doing so, I see being an Ex-christian as a badge of honor, But i know they won't see it that way. Well anyway there's my story, I hope you liked it. If you want to write me off as a rambling lunatic pushing hallucinogens on people that's fine. But I know what worked for me when everything else failed. If any of you are interested in drinking Ayahuasca please feel free to contact me I will be glad to offer any advice or answer any questions you may have. I think it would incredibly useful for anyone struggling with the de-conversion process, Aswell as anyone with trauma or emotional issues, Or anyone who just wants to find out who they truly are. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
  36. 5 points
    I was posting to @TABA and others in the rants section about a funny interaction at work with an HVAC. Long story short, he felt like throwing in some plugs about how he's a christian. But he's not good with reading. He will fall asleep if he reads the bible, he told me. Then he went in to some unrelated direction about how he teaches HVAC at the college. And how he teaches from the book, but then teaches where the book is wrong and real time work force experience differs. The reason, he told me, that the HVAC manual is off is because one person will write one chapter. Someone else will write another chapter. And the two are just expressing personal opinion and will contradict each other in places. My snappy come back line: Well, if you stay awake long enough to read through the whole bible you may find that the HVAC manual and the bible have a lot more in common than you have been aware of. I laughed. He laughed. But he didn't seem to comprehend the full extent of the joke. So now I'm leaving it alone. But I wonder if he will read the bible, suddenly see the contradictions, and get what the joke was about. Of course the bible was written not very differently than the HVAC manual - different writers contradicting one another over what are essentially their own personal opinions. If he finally does get the joke, hopefully he'll say something. And if he does, I'll post the response here.
  37. 5 points
    Yeah, this is a situation where when people are ready they gravitate towards the non-believers. Like joining this site or something similar. I'll toy with our apologists at times. Jab them about crossing over to ex-C's. But there's no converting people to ex-christian or atheist. Not in the evangelizing christian sense. What there is, however, is mental sparring. Demonstrations of who has the upper hand in a given debate or religious issues. There's always someone demonstrably on the short end of the stick in these encounters. Someone lacking much, much more on their end. And these things can be very transparent. And what can happen is that people can realize, via getting their own ass handed to them, that they are not on the dominant side of a given argument that they previously assumed they once were. Classic example is 15 year old me, summer before shipping off to christian boarding academy. I found myself in a situation where an outspoken atheist at work had me pinned down. There was no clear way out of it. I was pissed off. I resented the guy. And it was harsh, honestly. My sister had died and some one was talking heaven at work and this guy didn't really know the context, but he chimed in an unloaded about how people invented god, heaven and hell, and the afterlife in general due to our own fear of death and dying. Now I didn't want to hear that. Not within 6 months of my own sister dying, especially. And a Muslim guy shut the conversation down calling the atheist an idiot for saying that in front of me. And the atheist let it go and excused himself when he realized the context that had been going on. But I could not for the life of me stop replaying it in my mind. It bothered me until I took it to the youth pastor. I figured he'd have an nifty, "gotcha" response to the atheist. He did not. What he had were poorly thought out apologetic's. And I started seeing it unravel. I knew the truth inside. She was dead. That's it. Dead people are not going to reanimate, or float up out of graves fresh and new. There isn't going to be a host angels in the sky or anything else described in the bible. I struggled with that realization. But then it got to where I couldn't pray without seeing it as myself carrying on inner dialogue. Wishful thinking and grasping at straws. Everything just sort of vanished and I was facing the world without god belief. Now this guy didn't convert me to atheism like a religious person would convert someone to a religion. But his influence caused me to face what I had not faced previously. It was something like a "pay it forward," moment of sorts. I had no idea at the time how valuable that harsh lesson would be towards the remainder of my life. I'm grateful for it.
  38. 5 points
    Yeah I love Sunday mornings now too (I should mention that I often go to mass with my wife but that is generally on Saturday evening, followed by a dinner date). The dogs get me up pretty early but then they and I go back to sleep on the couch so we don’t wake my wife back up again. We sleep until we wake - no alarm - and then it’s coffee - in front of the fire in these winter months. It’s bliss. Weather permitting (meaning the trails aren’t too muddy), I like to go for a two or three mile hike in the woods nearby later in the morning. Being in the outdoors is something like a spiritual experience for me, but free of the baggage of religious dogma. Long may you enjoy your Sunday mornings! P.S. Where do you live that you’re thinking of mowing the lawn in January???
  39. 4 points
    Good luck but it appears to be a losing battle and here's why in my opinion: in America the Christian religion is still seen as the "norm," in particular among white people, a great many of whom have an interesting take on American history: that they and their norms (white Protestant middle class) are what makes America great, and that anything different (and true equality with others) is dangerous. Trumpism involves white evangelicals much more than black and for a good reason. I just watched The Great White Hoax, which examines why divide and conquer has worked in America historically, and why it's working now. Under such a system, how do you create change? Tell the people who their enemies are and the uneducated, dissatisfied, ignorant ones (there's a lot of them) will run with it, in particular when they are religious. It all explains why the current leader of the White House is where he is and why secret organizations such as The Family are rejoicing in that. The way I see it is that Americans are involved in an ongoing battle about what it means to be American: progressive multiethnic multi-religious, diverse society of equal rights and privilege (many whites refuse to see how white privilege operates) vs some version of a white Protestant 1950s style America as normative, that in it's most dangerous form is explicitly racist and has no shame about it. One only needs to watch Trumps campaign speeches from the last election to figure out which side of this battle he has appealed to.
  40. 4 points
    Greetings and salutations, board members! My name is Micah and I am an Ex-Mormon, and current Agnostic Buddhist. While "Book of Micah" is not one of my usual net-handles (I also go by Jason Tandro and FearAddict on other communities), I felt it was an appropriate / punny name to use here, given the biblical origin of my namesake. I have a tendency to babble so I'll try to keep this introduction posts into short bite-sized chunks with headers so you can skim to the areas of my introduction that matter to you :) My Basic (Non-Religious) Details I presently reside in Virginia, USA. I'm 31, divorced and with a five-year-old daughter. I am employed as a Night Auditor for a local hotel where I work, quite literally, seven days a week with the occasional day taken off for my mental health (one or two a month). I have been using the income to dig myself out of debt, a journey which I'm happy to say is mostly done. I live in a "hippie co-op" apartment with a couple of friends. I am also a writer, who got his start in fanfiction and has since written a few short stories of some note, mostly horror (under the FearAddict pen name). I was also commissioned to write a fan novella for a Final Fantasy community event along with another author, which earned me a free trip to London and has made me some great connections. Working on original content with the hopes of making it big one day, but until then I'm playing the hand that I'm dealt. My Religious Background I grew up in a Mormon household and was a semi-active member until the age of 24ish. I give myself a bit of a break during my childhood which is rife with its own trauma, the details of which I won't bore you with on my introduction post. However from high school age until my deconversion I was a very different man. I was heavily conservative, and held a lot of values that I now find fairly repugnant, most notably a low-level homophobia which I had to work past, especially given that three of my siblings are various shades of LGBT. I bought hook-line-and-sinker the lie of "love the sinner, hate the sin" which I have since interpreted to be one of the most insidious lies of certain faiths, and can be better phrased as "judge the person with a smile on your face". Around age 24 I started having doubts about my beliefs brought on by a number of things, most important being some very good friends who were patient with my haughty arrogant nonsense. I was pretty full of myself and certain that my religion was correct because I held my intellect and logic in such high esteem that I couldn't possibly be wrong (I was that insufferable.) Even with my conservative views waning and my mind slowly opening, I didn't fully deconvert until age 26 when the church passed the controversial law preventing children of same-sex couples from being baptized and receiving blessings. It was at this point that I just snapped and said "okay, I can no longer consider myself a moral being and excuse this blatant targeted bigotry." So I made a big declaration of my intent to leave the church and began a sort of spiritual journey trying to discover what I did believe. My Journey I don't mean to step on any of the toes of ex-Christians here, but I consider Mormonism to just be "Christianity with a lot of extra rules", and by this time I'd had my fill of the whole lot of it. Some of the elements of Mormonism made Christianity more palatable to me, rather than less, and so I decided that mainstream Christanity held no interest to me. I had extended this idea to the entire Abrahamic trilogy, and didn't pay any attention to Judaism or Islam. My focus was on other worldviews completely separate from the western big three. I started, most for a chuckle, with The Satanic Bible as my wife at the time was Levaen Satanist (funny aside, on our first date she said our relationship was like the beginning of a joke: "A Mormon and a Satanist walk into a bar..."). While the book actually had some pretty reasonable ideas, there were elements of it that I found personally distasteful - particularly a version of self-idolotry. I'm actually more okay with that idea now than I was then, but even so I don't quite think that brand of philosophy is quite for me, though if there are any Satanists here, you guys are cool with me. I then studied Hinduism, reading through the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. I also read some of the Vedas, but by this point I had come to the conclusion that it wasn't really what I was looking for either. It does have some wonderful mythology though, and the Bhagavad Gita in particular is definitely worth a read for its literary merit. I kind of stuck with this eastern philosophy bent for a while, picking up some Daoism and reading the Tao Te Ching which I also rather liked, and I tried to pour through the I Ching but i quickly lost interest. I also poked my nose briefly into modern Pagan and Wicca but I must confess I had a bit of a personal bias against these right off the bat, as - hypocritical as it might sound from an ex-mormon - I wasn't really interested in the mysticism. My Buddhist friend lent me a copy of the Dhammapada, which he bluntly described as "a little handbook about how not to be a c*nt". Earthy recommendation notwithstanding, I actually found the book to contain several principles that I felt were ultimately true. But while I found them interesting, I also acknowledged that their moral code was good independent of the gnostic elements of Buddhism. I don't believe in Nibbana or an enlightened state of humanity, nor am I convinced that Siddharta Gautama attained such a state. Therefore I adopted the title of Agnostic Buddhist (what you might consider Secular Buddhism). What Do I Believe Now While I do meditate and read from the Dhammapada and other Buddhists texts, you could consider me an Agnostic Atheist in the sense that I am not convinced and do not know that a God exists. I deny the claims of basically every theistic argument for God I've heard. I, being a fan of the ridiculously tortured metaphor, describe myself as "Agnostic with a rich creamy Buddhist filling". Basically it boils down to three core tenets of my theology (or lack thereof): 1. I don't know that a God exists, and I will never know which - if any - God is true. 2. Therefore I should not concern myself with the question of God or the afterlife as I will never know a definitive answer, and subsequently should not base my life decisions off something I have no evidence for. 3. Furthermore if God does exist and expects more of me than to be a good person, and would punish me with eternal hell for not believing in him, is not a God worth worshipping. My morals come from the same place as any human being, except I do not call them divine in origin. I try to live my life as good as I possible can, maximizing the wellbeing and happiness in the world for those around me. I also consider telling my story about leaving the Mormon church and how my views dramatically shifted to be important because I want to be as vocal a proponent for equality and justice as I was for the misguided ideals of my youth. Why Am I Here Well as the title says, I'm still learning. I think understanding how people believe and what led them to their conclusions is important. The study of humanity is the study of our various belief structures and I think the only way we can grow is to take in as much experience as possible. I'm hoping to make a few friends, have some lively conversations, and to share my terrible puns and dad jokes with the board. I spent much of my childhood incredibly sheltered and censored by my loving but strict parents and so I have vowed since I was 18 even to be an open book about all things. You ask a question and I will answer bluntly and honestly. If you have questions about the rat maze of Mormonism, I will answer to the best of my ability with the caveat that I did not progress far enough in the priesthood to see all the sordid details of the faith, not did I attend a mission where the BITE model goes from "a light touch" to "full blown cult". Either way, thank you for listening to, as Q would say, my "dull, plodding and pedantic" speech (much love to the Star Trek TNG fans out there). Peace!
  41. 4 points
    Since losing my faith and religious beliefs, I have noticed some things changing for me. I feel more connected to the earth and the universe. Not necessarily in a spiritual or mystical way. I want to say primal, but I can't quite explain it. My life long depression seems to be be noticeably better. Any similar experiences?
  42. 4 points
    When we lose a false view of reality, we have an opportunity to change a lot about ourselves at the same time (because that view of reality included our selves). We are all a part of nature, although humans often spend a lot of time wrapped up in mental abstractions like jobs, money, appearance, fitting in with groups, sports, and so on. At our most basic, it is like TEG said. The other forms of life on this planet don't really seem to look for a purpose or meaning, they simply are alive and go through the life-cycle they have genetically coded within. Humans have a strong ability to think abstractly, so we crowd a lot of that into our lives for better or worse. I became a lot more free when my sense of reality no longer had demons/angels/gods/devils and a constant sin/repentance cycle. It is possible that I am still wrong about reality in several ways, but for now I am free to test things with my mind instead of believing that my mind is no good and I have to accept a myth as ultimate reality. I LOVE being in nature, and recently had to spend about 5 hours out in the rain installing a gizmo for my work. It was wonderful. Very quiet, birds chirping, wind in the trees, and utterly soaked by the rain. Where I live, there are two busy airports, a highway, neighbors with subwoofers that go all night, so quiet is rare and technology is constant. Nature breaks are food for my being, and I appreciate insights that help me see through any lies I currently believe are reality.
  43. 4 points
    Learning that just because I make mistakes doesn’t make me morally wrong at the core is one of the most liberating ideas I’ve read yet on here. I’ve always felt that everyone was good at heart and just made bad decisions because we’re not perfect, and we’re learning as a species. I’ve been avidly reading material on here these past few days and it’s been very thought provoking and forced me to really critically think on things I believe. Lol, there is only logic, not special logic. Something that made me both laugh and also helped me realize a few things myself. Thanks I read the first two chapters of that book, and it’s amazing. I need to get my hands on a copy ASAP and read it through - it’s one of my goals this week.
  44. 4 points
    @TruthSeeker0 If anything, rather than being a magic pill that fixed everything, religious faith, for me, was more like smoking a big fat joint once a week and getting a buzz for a few hours afterwards (without helping much during the week). Depression and anxiety have both been constant things I have had to deal with for most of my life, with periods where they are better and periods where they are worse, but looking back now, I don't think that Christianity necessarily made my problems worse, it just gave me a good high without fixing my issues, since the Bible merely confirmed the negative view of myself I already had as being true. The buzz that I got from the religion mainly came from being at church and singing the worship songs, but usually by the end of the week, it had been a long time since it wore off, so I was ready for that next hit when Sunday came along. Anyway, I appreciate your concern because I am doing a lot better at the moment. I have also been working with professionals for the last few years to deal with these things, since a significant portion of my problems were caused by things outside of religion. Thank you.
  45. 4 points
    Well, heh heh, I never BECAME Eastern Orthodox. And with those βρωμικοί και κλέπτονες παπάδες (dirty, thieving priests), I'm lucky I steered clear.
  46. 4 points
    I have looked into other explanations. The main hub of it is that we just don't know. Everything on the table is based on speculation. But there are more than just two choices on the table, as far as that goes. Existence itself may well have the capacity for experience. From sub atomic particles forwards. Inner experience. Which translates all the way through to the sort of experience we are experiencing. Something inherent in the physical universe itself. And it could be that there's life abroad. Again, we don't have confirmation that there is or there isn't. But if there is, all of it could boil down an existence where experiences are always taking place at various levels and life coming into fruition where it's possible to do so could be common and probable. Again, that's another option. And we could get into more. This is you speaking to yourself within your own mind. Asking for something. Then in like fashion what you were asking yourself within your own inner dialogue, transpired. Not understanding the broad spectrum of explanations involved in such a thing, you divert to taking it as a god granting your prayer. I see it very differently, however. I'm looking at it from a consciousness perspective. I'm going through a book entitled, "Synchronicity," by Kirby Surprise. You may want to read it as well, if you're interested in looking at different perspectives about the very thing you're describing. Synchronicity and syncronistic events. Your description is a standard example. You're calling it "a god moment." I don't think they're as rare as you're suggesting, actually. Again the book outlines that general type of phenomenon. Almost everyone experiences these coincidences. And some people tend to experience them a lot more than others. And more consistently than others. I'll just say this about attributing these sort of things to a god. After decades of non-belief I have looked into a lot of things, like the RP and others. Most of those things tend to lead back to breaking down what it is people mean by god. It's an eternal, infinite, beginning and endless sort of concept. Not just that, but an eternal consciousness of sorts. And the deeper people take it, the more pantheistic the god becomes. Where I'm at with it, is that by the time you keep pursuing this line of thinking the god melts into existence itself. The more you think about that, the more obvious it can become that existence is not a god in any literal sense, it's just the sum total of everything. The beginning and endless sum total of all that is. The totality of everything. And consciousness may well be inherent in all of that. But again, that still doesn't constitute a god. A god is merely a way of trying to visualize and think about the sum totality of all that is. The sum total of all that is couldn't very well be some particular entity, or deity, or any other mythological type of symbol. It's well beyond any of that. Those are finite visualizations (entity, deity, being) of something that is supposed to be beyond finite. People who make it this far down the truth seeking path, or god seeking path if you will, tend to see past all of the symbolism and mythological oriented word and concept usage. That's why in some eastern traditions they are considered atheistic. Because at these deeper levels of contemplation, one can realize and understand that it's never about any literal deity, or male or female personage up and away in some far off place, or any of that. And what's more, is that when people make it these levels of consideration about god, they are very unlikely to return back to the mentality they were at before getting down to these further understandings of the bigger picture involved in such contemplation. Because they can see through the surface level presentations of mythological symbolism. Where gods are personified and taken literally as concrete facts. Does any of that make sense to you?
  47. 4 points
    Hello LMTO (if I may), in your last two sentences, you talk about our senses and the evidence they provide. But there are many kinds of experiences, and within the experience there is what is in our head, so to speak, and there is the content of the experience, that we think maps or represents something outside of our head. It's not usually a problem when, say, you are on a hiking trail and standing in front of a tree stump looking at it. You have the mental image of the stump, your mind classifies it in a category it has constructed in the past from other mental images, etc. etc. But say you continue down the trail and suddenly, you freeze. It looks like a bear down there! OMG. Your heartbeat picks up, you wonder whether to run or stand still or back up slowly ... you make motions to people behind you to be careful, and you mouth to them, "There's a bear." However it happens, suppose you discover after having gained more data that what you saw and thought looked like a bear was in fact another tree stump, strangely shaped. Later experiences give more clarity, from which you're in a better position to evaluate the content of the earlier experience and separate the sensory data - a shape - from the conclusions you drew about the data. So what I'm saying is consistent with the latter part of your post. I am not jettisoning the evidence of the senses! Just the opposite. We often discover after later reflection and further inquiry that we were at first wrong about external causes of what had gone by on our mental screen. It should be obvious where I'm going with this. On later examination I found that things I had experienced, such as the Whoosh of the first time I spoke in tongues, were pretty clearly psychogenic. Other religions have these or similar phenomena, for example. My pastor used to point out that Paul indicates that the Corinthians had spoken in tongues and the like even before they were converted. And I found I could pretty much turn on and off the glossolalia. After a while even as a fervent Christian it sort of faded in importance. Ditto other phenomena. Answered prayer is VERY hard to establish as such - I won't even go there, it's a topic so often discussed. I think, for starters, the Bible itself provides so many defeaters that supposed evidence from what we interpret as encounters with the divine is poorly equipped to overthrow skeptical conclusions about the religion's claims.
  48. 4 points
    With regard to the bible: Who put a tree of the knowledge of good and evil smack dab in the middle of the garden of eden, then told two people who did not have the knowledge of good and evil not to eat from it? Who allowed a serpent to talk to Eve about the fruit? Who created the serpent? Who got angry when those people ate from it anyway? Who decided this event was a sin? Who cursed all of Adam and Eve's descendents for a crime they didn't commit? The world is broken because God deemed it to be so. He could stop being a drama queen and just fix it. From a reality perspective: People are mean , shit happens , Christianity is nonsense. Anyway time for bed. Take care.
  49. 4 points
    My father made an interesting comment after he retired. He was a church of christ elder, a building contractor, built 2 buildings we worshipped in, and did lots of work for church members. One day he told me he came to dread doing work for church members. Said he had more trouble working for them than anyone else. He just could not understand why that was so. And in my experience I now avoid doing business with businesses who use the Christian "flag" to attract people. If that is all they have to attract people, they may not be very good at what they do.
  50. 4 points
    Plank was on to more than he probably realized. At least in terms of how that general concept spans out from science to religion and any number of things. So here's a funny story. I was talking to the HVAC instructor at the local college. He was working on my store's a/c after work the other day. I was talking to him about my oldest step son's interest in going the trade school route and enrolling next year. While discussing that with me, he made a few plugs about being christian, god, and his beliefs. I just let it go and didn't engage that direction of discussion any further. He mentioned how he can't read the bible without falling asleep. Then went off into talking about the HVAC school books and how he teaches. He was outlining how in the school books one person will write one chapter, and another personal will write another chapter in the book. And each chapter is based on the personal opinions of the person who wrote each chapter. And how they often 'contradict one another and don't amount to any more than personal opinion.' He was saying that he teaches from the book but then teaches how to be practical and work in the field. I couldn't resist!!!!!! I told him, well, if you stay awake long enough to read through the whole bible you may find that the HVAC manual and the bible have a lot more in common than you have been aware of. And I laughed. He laughed, but looked like he didn't quite know how to take the jab. He's in his late 60's. What will be interesting is if he goes and reads his bible now and then suddenly "sees it."


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