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Everything posted by Geezer

  1. Indoctrination is an amazingly effective and relatively simple way of controlling people and it’s scary how easy it is to indoctrinate people….even highly educated people. Once a person relinquishes control of their mind to another human being they essentially become their puppet. Religion could not survive if it were not for indoctrination.
  2. Welcome aboard suznhynes, or maybe I should say welcome to reality. I enjoyed reading your post. De-conversion stories tend to have a number of similarities. One day a light bulb goes off in our heads and we acknowledge something that has been buried deep inside us for a long time. We have doubts. And then we admit to ourselves that the bible could not possibly be the inerrant word of god. Once we cross that hurdle we begin to acknowledge that the bible says a lot of stuff that makes no sense and some of the stories could not possibly be true in any literal sense. Then some of us begin to study and research religious history. Eventually we find a number of historians that confirm there is no historical record that a man named Jesus of Nazareth ever existed. We also discover the Jesus story has a number of identifiable similarities with a host of other pagan demigod stories. We eventually realize the Jesus story wasn’t new or unique. It existed for hundreds of years in pagan cultures before it was adopted and modified by a sect of Jews. There may or may not be a “presence, force, or energy” in the universe but if there is it certainly isn’t the god of the bible.
  3. We lived in Greenville in the 70’s for a little over eight years. I managed a clothing store that was a couple of miles down the road from Bob Jones University. A few of their students worked for me part time. Very nice people but they dressed and acted like they were living in the seventeenth century. Even married couples could not hold hands in public, at least while on campus. The general population tended to look at the University and the students, to be kind, as “Odd”. They tended not to fit into the general population very well. I’m sure that was by design. As the bible says, "Believers must be in the world but not of the world." I can only imagine what life would be like growing up in that environment. Ugh.
  4. Don't beat yourself up. It's hard to let go. And welcome home!
  5. The original idea of their being Gods was to explain that which the ancients could not explain any other way. Eventually the idea developed that these “Gods” could bless or punish humans. Obviously humans desire blessings more than punishment so the idea developed the we humans had to appease these “Gods” because a happy God would be far more likely to bless us than an angry God. That simple idea has survived antiquity. It is still the basis of most world religions. If there are “Gods” then they can intervene at any time in human affairs and fix things. The problem is they don’t. People get hurt, get incurable diseases, and all of us eventually die. I admit that I like the idea of there being other realities and maybe even other life forms existing in these realities. I like that idea but there is no scientific evidence that such realities exist. Essentially Deism says that “something” planted the seeds of existence and life, and then stepped back and observed the evolution of “It’s” creation. This “something” doesn’t intervene or interfere with the events of “It’s” creation. It simply observes. “It” doesn’t require worship nor does it possess human traits. Personally, as I noted, I like to think there is more to our reality than we can perceive. I like to think that but I also acknowledge there is no evidence that suggest such a thing is true.
  6. The book of Genesis must be interpreted allegorically. If it is interpreted literally the intended meaning and message of the stories will be lost. al·le·go·ry n. pl.al·le·go·ries 1. a. The representation of abstract ideas or principles by characters, figures, or events in narrative, dramatic, or pictorial form. b. A story, picture, or play employing such representation. John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and Herman Melville's Moby Dick are allegories. 2. A symbolic representation: The blindfolded figure with scales is an allegory of justice. Well, duh. Everyone but Christian fundamentalists seems to recognize an allegorical story when they encounter one. The fundies are about the only ones I know of that totally miss the allegorical nature of Genesis and insist that Genesis should be interpreted literally.
  7. I can offer a rather lengthy list of close friends, who were devout Christian fundamentalist, that were diagnosed with cancer. They all had armies of prayer warriors that prayed for their healing relentlessly. In the end their disease ended their life. In their time of need, when they walked through the valley of the shadow of death, their god was nowhere to be found. The bible is a collection of myth, legends, and folklore. It isn’t history and it isn’t true in any literal or historic sense.
  8. I would recommend the book A History of God by Karen Armstrong as a good place to start your search. http://www.amazon.com/History-God-000-Year-Judaism-Christianity/dp/0345384563 Or the youtube version for an introduction http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SmmyFAem2g Google Dr. Bart Ehrman if you want an expert analysis of the bible's flaws. He has a number of excellent books detailing the problems that plague the bible. His scholarship conclusively proves the bible is certainly not inerrant nor inspired. I became so obsessed with this issue that I ended up investing about ten years of my life studying the history of Christianity and the bible but that's just me. I love history. Since you are so young I would caution you that if you ultimately decided to walk away from your faith that will have serious family and relationship consequences. I think it would be wise, should you decided to leave your faith, to keep that to yourself until you are old enough to be on your own. If your family and friends are typical fundamentalist they will likely disown you if they find out you’ve left the faith. I wish you well in your research.
  9. Cults come in a variety of forms that range from abusive to benign. The one thing they have in common is their dedication to indoctrinating their adherents. All religions are cults because their survival requires them to be able to control their devotees. Education is the only way to break the spell they cast over their followers. Deprogramming is often a long, difficult, and an emotionally challenging experience but in the end a rewarding and enriching undertaking that compensates the effort with a restored mind and the experience of enjoying true freedom.
  10. Welcome. I hope you find this site helpful in your journey.
  11. Maybe you subconsciously figured out the God of the Bible is a myth created by humans. I would think it would be hard to develop genuine affection for something you know, or stongly suspect, doesn't really exist.
  12. The idea commonly promoted by Christians that God is Love is absurd. Believer’s say they love God but in reality they only FEAR God. They do all they can to suppress their human needs and desires in the hope that will be enough to keep them out of hell. Religion ain’t about love it’s about control, fear, and extorting money from gullible and naïve people who are so brainwashed they are afraid to use even an inkling of common sense, read between the lines of scripture, or peer into the annals of religious history to see if there is any valid evidence that would indicate any of it is actually true. The choose instead to believe what they are told.
  13. I was so brainwashed I actually believed the bible was the inerrant, inspired, and infallible word of God and must be adhered to perfectly. The group I was affiliated with were bible idolaters. God and the bible were one and the same thing in their minds. Somewhere in the late 90’s I began to see the flaws and inconsistencies in the bible. I knew such a thing should not exist because the bible was literally perfect having been created by God personally. A perfect book could not contain contradictions and inconsistencies. God simply could not and would not create a flawed instruction manual but the evidence clearly indicated that He did. How could that be? The bible was the foundation of my faith and once I detected its flaws my faith began to crack. In an attempt to reconcile my faith with reality I began to research the creation and evolution of the bible and Christianity. I held on for several years before the strength of the evidence forced me to accept the reality that both the bible and Christianity were manmade and there simply wasn’t anything Devine or supernatural about either of them. The last vestige of my crumbling faith evaporated when I found out there was no historical Jesus; not a single word about any such man anywhere in the annals of ancient history. Thus began my journey towards de-conversion. I was eventually deprogramed through an intense study of religous history.
  14. Literalizing metaphor is the problem, but any other approach to scripture nullifies its perceived sacredness and therefore its authority. When a supposed sacred text, any sacred text, is exposed as a human creation it loses its sacred status. When that happens it becomes the first in a long line of dominos that begin to fall. When all the dominos have fallen there is nothing left and religion becomes essentially meaningless. Liberal Christians, such as Bishop Spong, clearly aren’t Christians because they don’t accept the Divinity of Christ or the sacredness of scripture. By definition a Christian is someone who is a follower and worshipper of Christ. Once Christ Divinity is stripped away he becomes either just another human being or worse yet a myth. When I discovered the bible was a very human creation I tried to make some form of liberal Christianity work for me but I couldn’t. If the bible isn’t sacred and Jesus isn’t Divine then I could find no reason to wear the name Christian or identify with a religion that worshipped a man or maybe a myth. Once Christianity has been exposed for what it actually is and essentially destroyed the only spiritual option left would seem to be some form of mysticism or Deism.
  15. I don’t know much about the Episcopalian religion but Bishop John Shelby Spong is one of my favorite authors. Like many Christians who become enlightened Bishop Spong notes that he is a mystic or more precisely that he leans strongly in that direction. When Christians come to the realization that Christianity is built on a foundation of myths, legends, and folklore, and the bible, at least the new testament, is probably mostly a midrash interpretation or rewrite of old testament stories then mysticism or gnostism, one of the oldest forms of woship, is about the only option left for those who seek some form of spirituality.
  16. Religious Trauma Syndrome this is really a must read for anyone who is experiencing a crisis of faith. I've posted a link to the article below. A video is also linked in the article and I highly recommend viewing it. I left a 27 year relationship with the Church of Christ. They are about as legalistic and controlling as a religion can get. They don't even like or agree with each other. I served at the highest levels of leadership so walking away was one of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life. Based on my experience I highly endorse education, education, and more education. Stop reading apologist and start reading religious historians like Karen Armstrong, Bart Eherman, Robert Price, Elaine Pagels. Fill your mind with the truth of what history records really happened during the birth and evolution of the bible and Christianity. It sure isn't what you were told in Sunday school. If you think the bible and Christianity was divinely inspired I invite you to read "Jesus Interpreted" by Dr. Bart Ehrman a former Christian fundamentalists. If you really want to know where religion came from check out "A History of God", by Karen Armstrong a former nun. And if you still believe the devil (Satan) is real then check out "The Birth of Satan" and/or "The Origin of Satan", by Dr. Elaine Pagels. http://new.exchristian.net/2013/03/religious-trauma-syndrome-is-it-real.html
  17. I don't see anything unusual about what chrisstavrous is experiencing. Deconversion involves both an intellectual and emotional component. The emotional component quite often trumps intellect, logic, and reason. That is quite common and any professional salesperson is aware of it. Add the indoctrination element and deconversion becomes even more difficult. Letting go of something that has become ingrained in your mind as a reality, but is in fact only a belief that is not supported by any empirical evidence, is often the most difficult part of the deconversion process. Brain washing has proven to be an enormously effective tool and it often requires profession help to eliminate that kind of thinking from your mind. And religious groups have proven to be experts when it comes to indoctrinating people. Deconversion is a process and often a long process that takes years not weeks or months to complete. And it usually is experienced in stages. Doubt, anger, frustration, and reversals in the process are probably normal and should be expected. And everyone experiences deconverstion differently. I tend to think chrisstavrous is simply going through a normal stage in the process. I experienced a similar stage and latched onto Deism as my security blanket, but that stage eventually passed too. The bible indicates a believer must work out their own salvation, and I think the deconversion process must also be worked out by the former believer on their own too in whatever way that works for them. And if they ultimately decide to return to their faith that's okay too because they will return much wiser and less susceptible to the forces that want to control them.
  18. I don't remember ever being angry at God, but his "followers" constantly drove me nuts. I often found myself angry with the dogmatic screwballs that were part of the particular group that I was affiliated with. Committed believers was the right term........many of them desperately needed to be committed..... to a mental institution.
  19. Religion, any religion, is about mind control obtained by a methodical indoctrination of the adherent. This technique has proven to be so effective it has also been used successfully by educational institutions, political groups, and the military to name a few. Any group that promotes blind obedience to their dogma should be viewed with a great deal of skepticism.
  20. Religion is based on emotion not logic, reason, or evidence. Because religion is based on emotion it is difficult, and some would say impossible, for a believer and a non-believer to engage in an objective adult discussion about virtually anything having to do with religion. It appears that religion is a subject that only like minded people can discuss and even then they often end up in an arguement.
  21. Welcome aboard DrGuitar. Our stories often contain a number of similarities. Christianity’s ability to brainwash, even highly educated people, is truly amazing. I think that demonstrates we have a lot more in common with the ancient cultures than what we’d be comfortable admitting.
  22. Lucky for Tor and K they didn’t stumble on a group of snake handlers hold’n a meet’n. Things could’a got real interesting when they started pass’n round them rattlesnakes, moccasins, and copperheads. Everbody be praise’n God for sure then and a few likely be peeing in their pants too.
  23. I was a dedicated follower of Christ for more than forty years. Eventually, like many others have noted, things began to unravel. I saw the inconsistencies and contradictions. The group I affiliated with was extremely legalistic and cultish. Dr. James Fowler wrote a book about this process called, “Stages of Faith” Many people experience clearly definable stages when they are going through this process. And anger is one of those stages and, for many people, so is a period of grieving after the relationship has been severed. If there is a cure for this I am unaware of it. As in any grieving process it just takes time. As others have already noted it would probably be helpful to develop new interest and focus on the positive aspects of your new life now. I think it is quite normal to experience separation anxiety when anything that has been such an intimate part of your life has been eliminated. Hang in there. It will get better.And sites like this, with likeminded people who have had similar experiences, should be helpful. We get it. Been there and done that.
  24. As you read more deconversion stories here it will probably become apparent that the deconversion experience is an evolving process. It takes time, and often quite a bit of time, to deal with each of the issues that will likely confront you.Few people simply stop believing without experiencing ongoing residual issues and problems. Deism is often the option chosen by those who have recently experienced some level of deprogramming. It is generally very difficult to quit cold turkey. The desire to find something “spiritual” to hang onto is often an overwhelming need that demands to be addressed. The discovery that we are truly all alone, there is no supernatural deity protecting or loving us, it’s just us and our anxieties is also something that has to be dealt with. The realization there is no such place as hell is often an exhilarating reality, but that is tempered by the realization there is also no heaven or afterlife either. It often takes time for people to process all of that and emotionally come to terms with it. I don’t think anyone is obligated to label themselves. Identifying yourself as an ex Christian or former believer is probably more than sufficient. And at this point in time in your life that is probably the most accurate alternative. Glad you found us and welcome aboard.
  25. I’m sorry for your losses notaxtian, but I’m pleased to learn how you are dealing with them and your prior religious indoctrination. I referenced this incident in a prior post. I still attend church with my wife and one of the Elders son (age 21) died suddenly one night. He passed away within minutes of his parents driving him to the emergency room. It was later determined he had an undiagnosed heart abnormality. The Elders wife has struggled with the loss of her son and the Elder confessed to the congregation that his wife hates God now and asked for prayer on her behalf. When a person unconditionally believes in a personal omniscient, omnipotent, deity that has a specific plan for every believer they are emotionally unprepared to deal with senseless tragedy if it occurs in their life. In her mind God could have and should have saved the life of her son. That fact that he didn’t is unfathomable to her. How could a loving God betray her and her believing son so callously? This is an example of the ugly side of religion. Believers are indoctrinated to believe that anything they ask, in the name of Jesus, will be granted. They unconditionally buy into the teaching that God has a specific plan for their life and that their loving God has them safely in his hands 24/7. Then, when reality strikes the cliché fallback position is taken by declaring that it was just God’s will. It was simply not God’s will that her son would live. Just accept that, suck it up, and continue to bring your tithes and offerings to your loving God and pray for wisdom and guidance and to know the will of your loving father. And be bolstered by the knowledge that you will be with your son again someday in heaven, unless of course, you can’t get over this hating God thing. You don’t even want to think about what God will do to you if you don’t. As has been noted numerous times in other posts religion has built in safe guards to protect them and insure their survival.
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