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Everything posted by Lerk

  1. Ah! The parable of the sower! One of the few semi-true things in the New Testament. Right along with "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free".
  2. Zeus has a large stash of lightning bolts. They are made especially for him by the blacksmith Hephaestus -- noone besides Zeus gets them. Have you seen lightning before? What, you've seen it often? Well, that's proof that Zeus exists! Think about that -- there's real, visible evidence for Zeus that is seen quite often! Now Yahweh / Jehovah... what does he do that you can see every day? You say he makes the flowers bloom in Spring? No, that's Persephone. Springtime is evidence of Persephone. Try again!
  3. Sorry if it wasn't clear: I don't believe any of this. I agree that Christians don't know what's in their own Bible. When I was a Christian I studied the Bible a lot, but I always imposed the beliefs I already had on it. I imposed the New Testament on the Old Testament, and I imposed the "logic" passed down from the "restoration movement" onto the New Testament. I imposed the fundamentalist idea that the Bible is 100% consistent from beginning to end upon the whole thing, which basically means that when you run across something that doesn't say what you believe, or that says something that contradicts something else, then either you have to explain why it doesn't mean what it says, or just say "this is a difficult passage" and move on to something else. So when you asked where the gods were, I understood it to be rhetorical. It's just funny to me now because I realize that the oldest stories in the Old Testament treat the gods of other nations as if they are perfectly real gods who are inferior to the god of Israel. Only later does Israel come to believe that there's only one god. And you can see the evolution of belief right in the text!
  4. I've actually seen engraved on their signs, right below "Eastside Church of Christ," the words "Est. 33 AD".
  5. Actually, the Wikipedia article isn't bad. Church of Christ websites probably have more detailed explanation of their own doctrines than any other denomination because they're really steeped in getting their doctrine "right." They claim that they "speak where the Bible speaks" and are "silent where the Bible is silent." This came about because one of the early CoC leaders, Alexander Campbell, believed that there were Christians in all of the denominations, and he was sick of them all (including his branch of Presbyterians) thinking they were the only ones being saved. He figured if everyone would take a few steps back and start over, they'd all come to an agreement and there wouldn't be any more denominations. Thus, they claim that they are non-denominational. And the most ironic thing is that in the intervening 170 years, it has reached the point where the CoC are among the few who think they're the only ones going to Heaven -- Campbell would be turning in his grave. If you want to do some reading, do a search for the initials "ceni". You'll find a bunch of Church of Christ websites about "command, example, and necessary inference" which explain how they treat the Bible. Essentially, they're trying to take the New Testament and distill it down to a "Law of Moses" type law so that they don't have to deal with ambiguity. So much for the "perfect law of liberty!" And if you want to see some real infighting, read the Mental Divorce website! These folks are really nasty to each other when arguing about trivia! (That website's been around since 2000. I was a believer back then and for the life of me couldn't figure out what the argument was about. It turns out that some are super-legalistic, and some are super-duper legalistic when it comes to the "MDR" (marriage, divorce, and remarriage) issue. The fight was over whether the "innocent party" in the case of adultery had to be the one to actually file for divorce in order to be able to remarry. Some argued that it was the principle of being the innocent party that allowed remarriage, and others argued that, no, the Bible only talked about the "innocent" party doing the "putting away," so if the adulterer was the one who filed for divorce, the innocent person could never remarry. No shit. No exaggeration.
  6. No kidding! I can't escape because one of my sons is a minister and it would cause serious problems in our relationship. He knows his brother isn't a believer and he just avoids him. They live near each other, and last week some other family was visiting so the non-believing son went to church with them. My wife listened to part of the sermon online and she felt like preacher-son was preaching at his brother. Maybe someday I'll be honest with him, but I tested the waters once and the water seemed too hot. Kind of a "don't ask -- don't tell" situation at the moment.
  7. Yes! Those things supposedly found in the Bible, the "peace that passes understanding" and the idea that "the truth will make you free" turn out to be real things, only they're found by living in the real world rather than by believing in an unseen world. No longer do I have to ask why things happen! No longer do I have to look at people who don't think like I do (which is everybody, isn't it?) and wonder why they just don't understand! I'm a better, kinder person now, and much less likely to get my feelings hurt. Regarding reading, I'm currently working on "Enlightenment Now" by Steven Pinker. It doesn't deal with leaving theism, but it's a very encouraging look at the progress that's been made in the world since the "Age of Reason." Some accuse Pinker of being hopelessly optimistic, but I don't think they finished the book. And it's really dense, but I'm almost finished and am finding it to be really encouraging.
  8. It is provisional in that it gets refined, but it almost never gets completely overturned. Individual hypotheses get overturned, but whole theories, not so much. There's no such thing as "just a theory." The theory of anything is the entire body of knowledge about it. People colloquially use the word "theory" in place of the technical term "hypothesis," so it is confusing. So although we don't know everything about evolution, and bits of what is believed get replaced with better information, the entire theory isn't going to be found to be incorrect. Although scientists technically won't talk of facts, the whole body of evolutionary theory has been confirmed well enough that it can be considered fact. And the approximate age of the Earth and of the Universe are not in doubt. The Universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old. It could be 13.7 or 13.9 billion, but it can't be 10 billion, or 2 billion, or 1 million, or 6000.
  9. Welcome aboard, Lefty! We don't have a lot in common, except that (like others have said) it was reading the Bible that made atheists out of us. Like several here, I was in the Church of Christ. Unfortunately I was 52 years old before I realized it was just mythology. As to your question, where did all the gods go -- Psalm 82 says that one of the gods (presumably either the Most High God [El Elyon] or Jehovah/The Lord [Yahweh/Adonai]) demoted them. Because they hadn't judged righteously and had favored the rich over the poor, he made them "like princes," meaning that they were still higher than common people, but they were no below the angels and no longer immortal -- they were going to eventually die. How many Christians know that's in the Bible?
  10. The “Universalist” part of UU means “everyone goes to Heaven.” Originally just the Unitarian Church, they were not Trinitarian... didn’t believe in the separate Father/Son/Holy Spirit. Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams were Unitarians, having been Quakers before switching. Today, they don’t really have a creed. Lots of pagans attend UU churches, and lots of atheists, too. They celebrate everyone’s holidays! Never been to one — it’s just something I’ve read up on.
  11. Before I deconverted, we had already both decided that the Church of Christ wasn't the "one true church," so that was helpful. We tried doing a study together with a preacher (her cousin) and I was asking questions that she didn't think he was giving very good answers to. She was actually getting discouraged. Once we got past the first subject, we didn't end up continuing the study, and after awhile she resolved the cognitive dissonance in her mind -- so she's still a believer. I don't know that I'd say her beliefs really have shifted much, but maybe some. CoC is very much into what is scriptural and unscriptural (which is why there's no piano), but the other day we were having a conversation about the church fathers and how they were trying to come to conclusions about certain doctrines, and during the discussion she sort-of seemed to understand that the church fathers didn't have a canon to rely on. They had the some of the books of the NT that we have, plus some more that didn't make it into the canon, and there were contradictions. (There are contradictions in the canon, but that's another topic.) So she does think about that kind of stuff -- not something we would have considered at all 20 years ago. She gets more upset when she suspects that our older son and his wife aren't going to church (and taking our 2-year-old granddaughter). I think they do go sometime, but not to a CoC (fortunately!). She still believes in Hell and is terrified that she herself will wind up there because she doesn't do enough. (Isn't being a Christian supposed to make a person confident in their salvation?) So, I don't know. I don't really have a good answer.
  12. That was very important in my own relationship. My wife sees that I haven't fundamentally changed in the 7 years since I realized the Bible wasn't true. I don't believe the same things, but I haven't become some sort of evil person. In fact, I've become a better person. But the fear of what's going to happen to the relationship is real because of what we were always taught as believers. It takes time for a believing partner to realize that that there's no basis for this thinking. In my case, arguments still erupt from time to time, but they don't last as long as they used to and the next day we're okay. And although I wouldn't have done it at the beginning, somewhere along the way when the subject of Hell came up I just said "that. is. not. real." But it really took a long time to get to the point where I could say that to her.
  13. I don't know that I'd ever even heard any atheist arguments! But I'd heard/read liberal Christian arguments, from believers and scholars who knew that the Bible wasn't 100% consistent from beginning to end. I've mentioned before that my path to non-belief started one Sunday morning when the preacher read a few verses in Genesis 3 and I went ahead and read the whole chapter. It struck me that there was no Satan there — that it was just a snake talking with Eve — and within a month I was an atheist. Although I don't recall what I may have read before that day, I have no reason to think I had original thought. It's quite likely that some prior exposure to real Biblical scholarship caused it to jump out at me when a relevant occasion arose.
  14. Welcome! I wasn't AoG, but I'm East (or Southeast) Texas! Not sure where the dividing line is. I was raised in Port Arthur (Southeast), but my wife is from Vidor (10 miles away, but probably considered "East"). Yes, that Vidor. Glad you escaped both the AoG and Texas!
  15. Lerk

    Finding Hope

    Ha! In a recent episode of "Young Sheldon," Sheldon's dad is offered a coaching job at a college in Oklahoma, which is quite a step up from a high school in Deep East Texas. The narrator (Jim Parsons) mentions how Texans feel about Oklahoma, and in one scene Sheldon expresses how nervous and unhappy he is about the prospect of moving. The teacher mutters "OKlaHOma?" I laughed out loud, and I seldom laugh out loud. I grew up thinking EXACTLY this way. But I used to work with a guy from North Texas and I discovered that North Texans are OU fans. Go figure!
  16. Yes! Wonderfully stated! We live on, not as spirits, but because people remember us, and because of the things we pass on. Our descendants look and sound like us, and may even have the same mannerisms and values, so even generations who never knew a person can still be affected by them. I'm trying to make memories for my grandchildren, not so that I can be "respected" after I'm gone, but so that hopefully their entire lives will be richer for my having been there. Glad to have you aboard, Bug!
  17. Lerk

    Finding Hope

    We're still in the closet! Or if not, we keep very quiet. Congrats on getting out of Pentecostalism, Christianity in general, and Texas! I'm 59 years old, lived in Texas my whole life, but maybe in a few years I can retire and escape.
  18. There are people who actually believe that the illusions (aka "sleight of hand") performed by magicians are real magic. Magic is sometimes referred to as "the dark arts" and people believe that demons are making things appear and disappear. Even people who don't think it has anything to do with demons seem to think it's real sometimes. If you've ever seen magicians performing on "America's Got Talent" (and probably other shows like that) you'll notice that the judges seem to think -- not that they're seeing amazing illusions, but -- that they're seeing real magic. Even when I was a Christian I never believed that kind of thing, so I was really shocked when I found out that some people did!
  19. Is that another way of saying “I know you are, but what am I?”
  20. That’s about the only thing I appreciated about the Church of Christ. They insisted that we were not told to tithe. It’s “give as you are prospered.” You get to decide how much is appropriate.
  21. 21. No one has ever said, "If only I had taken a drink, things wouldn't have gotten out of control." That’s probably not true. One drink is known to reduce stress. I remember a study back in the 80s (when I was a tee-totaler) that showed that men who had a beer on the way home from work were less likely to have an accident than those who didn’t. Why? They were less stressed! Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find it online anywhere. Car and Driver magazine has twice done tests with their writers and other employees (about 30 years apart) intended to show the effects of drinking and driving. Each driver picks their drink (wine, beer, spirits). They set a baseline time in a course with cones having practiced some, then doing it first before drinking. Then they have a drink (equivalent of one oz. of alcohol, regardless of type) and wait their turn, have their BAC checked, drive the course again, etc, until they’re legally drunk (or maybe beyond that). Both times this experiment was run, everyone did better after one drink than with none. Performance with two drinks was about the same as with one. After that it was all downhill. I can’t find it on their website, but the 1978 test is referenced here. 46. I should never look to the glass or bottle for joy, which can only be found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then you should never have dessert or tell a joke, either. Clearly those things can’t bring you joy.
  22. It’s had 2000 years to evolve to be that way!
  23. Christianity is all about authority, so it’s definitely going to lead to some of that.
  24. I'm so very sorry about your struggles. As far as anyone knows, things won't repeat. It's never happened before, so there's no reason to think it will now. Religion will seriously mess people up. I don't think religion messed me up much, but I was still really depressed in my late teens. It's just a really hard time of life for many of us! I hope you find some real friends on this site, and also in real life. And please take some hope from the fact that part of your struggle stems from the fact that you really are at a tough age, and that as you get older things should get better, to some extent, by themselves. I know you've not found any help from counselors, but have you tried a psychiatrist? My wife could not live without her SSRIs, and the appropriate medicine may really change your life for the better. Mental health is physical health. Your brain is an organ as much as your heart and liver. If you were diabetic, you'd take insulin. If you had high blood pressure, you'd take something for that. If something is available for your mental health, take advantage of it.