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Everything posted by Lerk

  1. Hi, AC! Welcome aboard. Looking forward to getting to know you.
  2. Lerk

    My Story

    And he's not even talking about the International Churches of Christ. The ICoC came out of what was called the Boston Movement, and people in "normal" Churches of Christ considered the Boston Movement to be a cult.
  3. I did not, but even when I was a believer the afterlife idea was more "mental assent" than "vividly imagined" to me. I never thought about seeing my grandparents again. I never imagined what Heaven might be like, or worried about winding up in Hell. I definitely believed those places were real, but I guess I'm not the type of person who can really put my mind in a state where places I'm not at seem real. Even life as I'm passing through it seems more like the pages of a book sometimes. (Of course, if you have a vivid imagination, that statement doesn't mean to you what it does to me!) So I was fortunate in that I never felt any loss. And a lot of Christians are terrified that they'll wind up in Hell because they weren't good enough, so I'm glad I never had that fear, either.
  4. Makes perfect sense. Welcome aboard!
  5. I second this. Remember when Jesus got the Pharisees and Sadducees to arguing by bringing up life after death? (It's in Acts 23.) The Sadducees didn't believe that people could go to Heaven because it was unscriptural. By extension, there being no mention of it in the Hebrew Bible (aka the Old Testament), they didn't believe in Hell at all. Somewhere along the way, probably when the Persians ruled the world, the common Jewish people picked up the idea of eternal reward and punishment, so most people in New Testament times just assumed it to be real. Knowing that it was just a belief that the Jews picked up from another nation makes it a lot easier to ignore.
  6. It's not impossible that there are such things as ghosts/spirits/angels/demons/gods/minds-without-brains, but it's highly unlikely. But this I know: Even if there are such things as gods, the Bible doesn't describe a real one / real ones. The Bible starts off with "The Most High" and his sons creating the Universe in 6 days. At some point, those sons mate with human women and produce a race of giants called the Nephilim. At a later point, those hybrids would necessarily die because the Most High causes a flood that drowns all but 8 people. Later, one of the sons who happens to be good, Jehovah, calls Abraham so that he can make a nation of his descendants. When the nation emerges from captivity in Egypt, Moses sings a song explaining how the Most High divided up the people of the world into nations, one nation for each of his sons, and Jehovah (aka "The LORD") gets the descendants of Jacob as his inheritance. The LORD is said to be much better at leading his people than the other gods, who are by implication his brothers. In Psalm 82 we see either the Most High or Jehovah pronouncing that the other gods are going to lose their divinity and will eventually die. NO CHRISTIAN THAT I'M AWARE OF BELIEVES ANY OF THIS, yet it's exactly what the Bible says. There's just flat no reason to think that any of the Bible is anything other than myths and legends. Christians don't believe a bunch of it because it's simply unbelievable. I bet you never heard in church that the Most High is Jehovah's father -- normal Christian theology says that they're the same god -- normal Christian theology denies what the Bible says about the gods. So, no, I really don't believe or even think it's possible that Jehovah is real. Edit: I didn't read the entire thread before posting. I see now that you're not sure whether you believe or not. My conclusion is basically, if there are such things as gods, they clearly don't care whether we know about them or not. But as far as I can tell, every god that people believe in is the product of speculation about what a god would be like if there were such things as gods. Regarding morality, it would necessarily have evolved or the human species would not have survived. Other animals have morals, as well, even though they can't write them down. I highly recommend the book "What it Means to be Moral" by Phil Zuckerman
  7. Christianity: Declaring that hate is love and cruelty is kindness since 33CE.

    1. Aqualung


      Also War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

  8. Long story. It boils down to being in a "don't ask -- don't tell" situation with one son. Maybe not for too much longer.
  9. This was me! It actually started in church one morning when I realized that nobody in the building believed what Genesis 3 said. (Hint: It's an ordinary snake!) I knew, like you, that liberal Christianity didn't treat the fables as facts, but also like you, I couldn't find anything that made me think I should believe anything in the New Testament. If the Bible starts out as myths, transitions to legends, and then to embellished history, at what point am I supposed to start believing that the magic is real? That was 8 years ago. I'm 60 years old now. Unfortunately, I'm still going to church and keeping my mouth mostly shut. But I'm going less and less often, and hoping to see a way to quit altogether.
  10. Welcome aboard! Sharing an account is an interesting concept. I'm looking forward to your posts.
  11. Lerk

    New athiest

    Welcome aboard! I'm glad for you that your husband is on the same page. That should make things much easier for you. There are people here with all sorts of experiences, so your story will resonate with many and you'll receive good advice and plain-old encouragement.
  12. Shelley Seagal Tim Minchin
  13. Ecclesiastes 12:13 (ESV): The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. To which I ask: That's all you've got? I've never set goals. Really! Oh, I did finish college (after changing my major 3 times), but I've always lived my life a day at a time. And I've always found my "meaning" in my responsibilities. I have work, I have family, and I have things to do. What more meaning do I need? Well, I know what's going on in the world and have discussions about it, and contribute to causes and organizations that I feel are important, and I vote -- so there's more meaning. I'm thinking more and more about how I'm going to be able to retire and I should have made that more important many years ago, but even now I wouldn't call it a goal. I need to get as much put away as I can, but I don't really think I want to retire. I just know that I'll have to some day. The meaning in life just comes along. I have grandchildren and I love to spend time with them. I love having grown-up conversations with my kids and their spouses. I enjoy spending the evenings with my wife, even when it's boring, because we're together. I enjoy listening to music, but not as much as I used to. I listen to podcasts in the car while commuting every day. All of that stuff is just there, but it has meaning. Largely, this day-to-day attitude that I was either born with or picked up somehow has meant that I never thought about Heaven or Hell, and certainly never imagined what they would be like. Apologists sometimes say that without eternity, life is absurd. Maybe that's so, but eternity is absurd, also. How can sitting in front of a throne worshiping a deity forever and ever be meaningful? "Meaningful" is making things work, getting things done. Meaningful is enjoying a good meal. Meaningful is enjoying a fast-food meal. Meaningful is laughing with your friends and family. Meaningful is laughing at a TV show or a movie. Meaningful is experiencing anything -- a relationship or a story or anything -- that brings out emotion, happy or sad or just deep. Meaning and purpose are found in the everyday tasks and entertainment and relationships we experience. No ultimate goal is required. In fact, believing that there's an ultimate goal takes away from the true meaning, which is found in the everyday. And after life is over? Meaning is for the living who remember you. Maybe you're young and don't have some of those things, but you still have a 24-hour day that's full of meaning. Over time, the meaning changes, but it's there already, every waking hour.
  14. "6. You never studied hard enough to understand the truth of Biblical teachings" They say the best way to make atheists is to get Christians to read their Bibles. Of course, many Christians do study their Bibles. I certainly did -- but I studied it in order to fine-tune what I already believed. I studied it with certain beliefs imposed upon that study, the first being that it was 100% consistent from beginning to end. If you start with that requirement, then you have to explain away all of the ways the authors' beliefs evolved from beginning to end. You have to just dismiss certain things by saying "this is a difficult passage" then moving on in order to live with the cognitive dissonance. But if you just read it (rather than doing some sort of directed study) you'll run across those same passages you thought were difficult and realize that in their context they're quite clear, and they say things that Christians don't believe.
  15. It sounds to me like what you're saying but trying to seem like you're not saying is that without the right kind of "experience" it's likely that we aren't "ex-" Christians, but were never really Christians in the first place. There's no way to say that in a way that isn't disrespectful. It's said that the best way to make atheists is to get Christians to read their Bibles. A whole lot of us here had that experience. We believed. We had believed our entire lives. We had things happen in our lives that we were convinced couldn't have happened without the god being behind it. And we had studied our Bibles our entire lives, but it was always with the goal of trying to understand a god that we just assumed was there. Why that assumption? Because our whole lives it was never questioned. But then, perhaps sitting in church listening to a sermon or participating in Bible class, something jumped out at us that made us realize that what we'd believed since we were old enough to believe anything at all was, actually, impossible. Your second-to-last question is important: "... what made you want to leave." While some people had bad experiences that made them start thinking maybe it wasn't real, for most it wasn't that they developed a desire to leave. Instead, we just realized we'd been believing in mythology. We'd believed in "one god" and somehow thought the book we were reading consistently painted a picture of this one god, when, in fact, the Bible reflects changing beliefs about gods over the time-span it covers. It starts out with the "Most High" god and his sons creating the universe, then transitions to a point where one of his sons, named Jehovah, becomes the god of Israel, and is much more powerful than his brothers (read the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32), and eventually the authors (and the people of the time) came to believe that Jehovah and the Most High was one and the same. There's even Psalm 82 where either the Most High or Jehovah (it doesn't say which) takes the other gods' divinity away from them! That's not what anyone believes, but it's what the Bible says. It's not impossible that there are such things as gods, but it's clear that the god/gods in the Bible are the product of people's speculation about what a god would be like, if there were any such things. And that time when my job situation turned out well when I was sure it was going to be bad, and I attributed it to this god? Turns out that some really good people were behind that. That period of months and months, maybe over a year in my life when I was really depressed and never went to a doctor because I was convinced that it was my situation, but I finally got over it? A god didn't fix that, either. Otherwise it would have happened suddenly and sooner instead of gradually over a long period. Job says "the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." If there's any reason to disbelieve in this particular god, that's it -- either this god is impulsive and uncaring, or it just simply doesn't exist. The latter seems more reasonable. Nobody simply wanted to leave. We just realized that what we believed was wrong. For many, it felt like a great loss. For others, life suddenly made sense and we never felt any loss at all.
  16. I didn't even know that was there! Thanks for pointing it out.
  17. Yes! I never felt any sense of loss! There's a lot of stress involved due to family and societal expectations, but realizing it wasn't real was such a relief! I never felt like I had lost anything at all!
  18. I've read a little bit about stoicism, enough to know that it isn't what we think of (which would be "just don't get excited about anything, either positive or negative"). I need to read more about philosophy, though. Thanks for your input.
  19. But believers take those and say "therefore, everything else Paul said is commanded by the god." *sigh* It also makes me think Paul was a lot like people today who think their god is talking to him. He had thoughts and just assumed they weren't coming from his own brain?
  20. Thanks, TABA. I logged in and was wondering what all of the notifications were!
  21. I am reading a blog post on Patheos by an Evangelical author, Philip Yancey, called "A Time to Doubt" here. The post doesn't allow comments, which is not unexpected given the subject and some of the things he says. The comments section could easily get out of hand and really would serve no purpose, but I want to comment on the article on my own blog, so here goes: One paragraph says "Often seems silent." I would have worded it this way, also, when I was a Christian. Jehovah often seems silent. But eventually I realized that those times he seems silent are the times I'm expecting an answer. All of the times I'm expecting an answer. The times you don't notice Jehovah's silence are the times you're not expecting anything. In other words, the reality is that there's never actually a word from Jehovah. When I was a believer I didn't actually go through many periods of doubt that Mr. Yancey is describing here, because I didn't actually need anything. And when I first deconverted, it had nothing to do with Jehovah's silence, but shortly afterward I realized the truth -- that (as Annie Laurie Gaylor says) nothing fails like prayer. As a Christian, convincing myself that "God's will is always done" was pretty easy, and so when any struggles didn't actually get resolved (simply delayed for later) I accepted the caveat that it wasn't the god's will, and that it would make me stronger, or more patient, or some such. Only afterward did I realize the obvious -- that nothing magical or supernatural ever actually happens. Life is just life. Yancey writes about the Jews who had escaped from Egypt: Of course, the author of the books of Exodus and Numbers are writing many years later of the legends passed down to them, not about current events. For the most part, historians doubt that the descendants of Jacob were even in Egypt. But even if they were, go back and read the accounts in the Bible! The Bible says these people doubted even though they'd seen obvious signs of Jehovah helping them. I can't help but think that this is the author's perspective, passed down to him through many generations, and specifically related to him by a believing elderly relative. The more likely conclusion is that the people who doubted never actually saw any evidence. If anything like the events recorded as the Exodus actually happened, the people caught up in it very likely saw nothing that made them think this god of theirs was real. Further in the article, Yancey says Again -- proof within the Bible itself that the evidence isn't actually there, and wasn't there during the time the events were supposedly happening. And there's the real evidence against there being any such being as Jehovah. The people alive at the time weren't convinced. The writers who came along later claim that the evidence should have been enough to convince anyone alive, yet they admit that those living at the time didn't actually find it to be convincing! It's only by asserting, after the fact when no actual witnesses to the time are alive, that all of the miracles happened, that people can be convinced. The people who were alive at the time saw only life as usual with nothing supernatural going on. Yancey makes the typical objection that we were all taught to make as Christians: It's nothing but a "get out of jail free" card for Jehovah. The truth is that the Bible makes specific promises about what this god will do. When those things don't happen, Christianity has evolved the mechanism of accusing the accuser -- of saying "you have no right to 'test' God". That came along early, too -- before Christianity even -- in the book of Job, where the god basically tells Job he's just a stupid human and has no right to question the god. A paragraph further on, in his outline of an article, is entitled Now here, Yancey is correct! The famous statement in Hebrews about faith ("faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen") makes it clear, if you pay attention to what the author is actually saying, that faith is a substitute for substance and evidence. As a Christian, I'm not sure I ever had faith. I was most certainly a believer -- a true Christian! But I thought there was evidence for my beliefs. Faith is what happens when you just assume something to be true without evidence. It's belief for no reason other than that someone told you so or you read it. Yancey then makes a blatantly false assertion: No. "Unbelief" is honesty. "Doubt" is the path to unbelief and honesty, but that path is often not traveled due to the fear instilled by the religion itself. The meme of Christianity has evolved to continue to exist by overtly stating that doubt is caused by external, evil forces -- by a powerful being (somehow not credited as being an evil god) who has the power to literally plant thoughts in people's heads. "Reason" is of the Devil, Christianity asserts. The moment you start to wonder whether the god is real, your Christian indoctrination makes you think that doubt has been implanted in your head by the evil god Satan. But that's not what's happening. The god Satan isn't real. The gods Jehovah and Jesus aren't real. You're doubting because you can plainly see that the claims of the Bible about Jehovah and Jesus are simply untrue. Yancey then talks about Mother Teresa: She knew! She knew it wasn't real! She knew Jehovah wasn't there, doing anything at all on the Earth. Yancey goes on: She conducted her life in order to help people, "despite her doubts". I would say, "despite her eventual coming to terms with the fact that her faith was baseless". In the end, she was good without god, as we all are, really. People are generally good -- no gods required.
  22. " those evangelicals who are enraged at Christianity Today for calling out Trump’s abuses of power aren’t enraged because they think Trump’s good outweighs his bad. They’re enraged because they think he is all good. " If I believed in spirits and demons and gods and such, I'd think that the evangelicals had literally sold their souls to Satan. The god wouldn't give them the judges they wanted, so Satan came along and said "I'll give you more judges than you ever thought possible! You just have to let me pick the president! Oh, and you have to be completely loyal to whomever I pick. Oh, and you go to Hell when you die. But you'll get your judges!" It's almost enough to make me a believer! (Okay, not really, but I've been really tempted to post something like this on facebook where nobody actually knows that I'm an atheist.)
  23. Interesting, but it seems to me that any such document would have a stamp of some sort. Checks get cancelled. Legal documents get notarized or stamped in some other way. Ever since 2000, I've written out the full year anyway, so I guess I'll just keep doing it! The hardest thing for me to wrap my head around this year is that the Y2K hysteria was TWENTY YEARS AGO!
  24. I'll be 60 next week, Weezer. I'm an old guy at work, but pretty young on bulletin boards of this sort! Younger people are on tumblr. I'm in okay health. I have a tachycardia condition that is fixable, but I don't like the fix (they go in and kill some nerve endings), so they gave me a beta-blocker to help control it. It's something that happens only a few times per year, anyway. But my sister died of MS almost 2 years ago, and my brother found out that he has a tumor on his liver and another on his lung. Surgery number 1 is next week. Our mother is still hanging in there. She's 91, and has been on hospice about 7 or 8 months, but the condition that sent her to the hospital a couple of times in the spring (which is why she chose hospice -- no more hospitals) has been under control since then. I find myself wondering if she's going to outlive a second child. Anyway, the mortality is right in front of us. I"m actually more afraid that I'm going to live 25 years beyond my wife and siblings. Truth is, I'm done. A year ago I wanted to see my grandchildren grow up, but somewhere in the last few months I've quit caring how long I live. But, like you, I realize that I'm not at all worried about it. I cannot imagine life after death -- that we merely cease to exist seems rather obvious to me. The "mind" is an emergent property that requires a physical brain. A few years ago I had my gallbladder removed. As I lay there waiting for them to start the anesthesia I realized that I wasn't the least bit worried. I thought I was supposed to be, but I just wasn't! Maybe that's a sign that I don't have much of an imagination.
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