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RaLeah

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RaLeah last won the day on February 19 2014

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About RaLeah

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    Female
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    New York, NY
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    Books, politics, science, economics, social issues, science fiction and fantasy
  • More About Me
    I deconverted from Independent Baptist in my 20s, and I know the Bible well enough to answer any trivia question on it. I have an atheist husband who is ex-Catholic and a cat who was never a Christian. Our families are still believers.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    No.

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  1. You're totally right about jealousy for the certainty and passion. But it's hard to be jealous of all that energy focused toward something so totally fake... And ultimately empty. I remember Christians saying that atheists have empty lives. But now I think that Christians, underneath who are trying hard not to doubt, who block out their brains, they are denying how empty the lie they're living really is. Atheism is truth. It faces reality. It doesn't take comfort in the beautiful lies. It acknowledges facts and reality. I'm not jealous anymore, but I used to be. Mostly because I also was living in the south and yeah... They all buy in and so you feel like the outsider questioning your sanity. But that isn't how all the the country or the world is. You have to remember that. This site is here, there are great books out there, and there's lots of communities who support getting out and letting go. So... Hang in there. You aren't wrong to let go of illogical superstitions. You are right. A lot of people would rather keep embracing comforting lies than the cold hard truth. That's how humans have evolved, and that's how it is. We like to belong, to feel like a part of a community. But knowing that, you can set it aside and continue to evolve yourself and find new friends who understand who you are, where you've come from, and where you want to go. There really are a lot of us. Probably there are a lot right around you, but they aren't talking about it just to keep the peace with their own family and community. But don't despair. There are not just a lot of us, our numbers are growing every year. The internet truly is game changing for religion. Superstition can't hold up against science, and Google is right there to help you learn whatever you want to know. A few generations more, and maybe Christians will be in the minority. Don't laugh. It's true. They got to keep evolution out of text books and lie and make up a bunch of pseudo science bunk to "support" their young earth Christian views for a long time... But the Internet and scientific advances are really destroying that in every way. Carbon dating was all new and suspicious when I was in school (I'm 42) and they were like, "Who's to say that's really right??" But now we have DNA, huge advances in genetic testing, etc. and it's just not in dispute in the scientific community. And you know what's even more surprising? There are some progressive Christians who are just embracing evolution and science because they sort of have to if they're comprised of thinking people. Slowly slowly slowly truth wins out. As evidence mounts. It's too hard to deny in an Internet age for people who WANT to know the truth... It can't be suppressed anymore. They'll find it. And that is different from when I grew up. This is awesome and encouraging for our future. So please don't lose heart. You're ahead of your time, but the future will validate you, and the truth will always still be the truth. Hang on to that. It's so much better to live in reality than in a fantasy. Because living a fantasy means shoving down the part of your brain and integrity that knows better until it either dies or explodes. Live in the truth. It's a free life worth living. Hugs to you! -RaLeah
  2. Sorry it ended up posting in the wrong section. I haven't posted in a while, so I must've lost a little of my navigational savviness.
  3. Thought this might be of interest... http://gawker.com/growing-up-fundie-the-painful-impact-of-conservative-r-1716122437
  4. Thank you for your support! I appreciate it. My biggest worry is if my father (the minister) found out how deep the rabbit hole goes... I like your smile in your avatar. It kind of reminds me of this woman: image.jpg Aw, I love Wonder Woman and adore Linda Carter. Thanks. (Love the other poster's pictures of her too!) I worried about my father (a prominent deacon in our 1000+ member church) finding out about my beliefs too. But I lived through our rare conversations about it, and he seems respectful of my boundaries now. You'll get there too. Not just more confident in your own privacy / standing up for your personal boundaries in a gentle but firm way, but also getting other people to respect your limits of what you're willing to discuss / share about your life. It feels really weird at first, asserting your right to privacy and standing firm on your boundaries, but even the most aggressive people do give up eventually after questioning you and bumping up against your resistance. (Also, switching the subject works wonders; a friend of mine taught me the value of distraction in conversation to shift the conversation off you and onto them. You don't even have to answer a SUPER direct question; instead, ask a question instead of answering theirs. It suddenly makes the other person's brain kick in and focus on an answer instead of staying fixed on the original question. You can get really good at this with just a little practice. You'll be surprised at how effective it is. It's about going on the offensive instead of taking the defensive.) You can also just abruptly change the subject. Deflection is SUCH a useful conversation tactic, and so few people know of it, they won't even realize you're doing it. You can avoid answering any question forever just because you don't want to. You can avoid it easily once you learn how: ask another question instead of giving an answer. You'll win. If they keep pressing through, eventually you just shrug and avoid it again. No one can ever pin you down unless you let them. So don't. They hope to wear you down, but they aren't cops, and they don't have you for infinite hours in an interrogation room under arrest. So when all else fails, you say, "Look at the time! I have to go. I'm sorry." And then you leave (or hang up.) The good news is, the more you exercise your right to privacy and determine your own personal boundaries and stand up for them, the easier it becomes. You'll be a pro at it in no time.
  5. Seek ye first the kingdom of god and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. This one sentence alone caused me to be completely unprepared for life in the real world when I entered adulthood. I just thought god would provide for my earthly needs so long as I followed his path. The disillusionment of realizing that it was a lie nearly destroyed me. Yes, yes, yes! Why WOULDN'T you believe that god would provide for you? We had every reason for doing so. It was all laid out crystal clear in God's Word! What a disaster when we realized that wasn't going to happen! What did we do wrong? Didn't we believe it from childhood? Really Christians, WTF! "Consider the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin. Yet your heavenly father cares for them. Are ye not much greater than they, oh ye of little faith?" And sure, those little flowers are thriving there, because you can see them growing. But... um... at the first frost, they die. Nice. Because they didn't toil or spin or build themselves a little greenhouse to survive the winter. But I know a lot of Christians say, "The Lord will provide." And the ones who thrive in the face of great odds stand up in front of everyone and share their stories in church, and everyone says "Amen" and they applaud and cry. (And the ones who were destroyed or wiped out financially or injured fatally... well, they aren't in church, allowed to give their extimony, are they?) Which reminds me... I hate the song: His Eye is on the Sparrow. Yeah. And they die in a couple years. Great job, God, keeping your eye on them while they drop dead. Don't think you're bringing them all up to heaven afterwards.
  6. Thank you for the pin. I really appreciate everyone's kind words and contributions to this posting.
  7. Hugs and love to you, Kameron. It's okay not to burst the bubble of the Christians around you. We all walk our own path. You do. They do. We do. But to be honest inside your own mind, your own heart... that is the most important thing. You don't owe anyone anything about your own thoughts except what you are willing an ready to share. You can spare others around you the pain of knowing your thoughts if you decide it might be too hard for them. After all, you are not trying to de-convert anyone else. But it's not a lie or facade, it's a kindness. It will always be your choice in your own time: Do you allow someone to know you and love who you are completely and validate you... or do you make sure you don't rock their world too hard by dumping too much information on them, more than you think they can bear? So you'll find the careful line in between. Maybe some day you'll feel close enough and trusting enough and regard them as open and strong enough to share your true thoughts, but until then... hang in there and know that you aren't alone. We're always here and you can vent or ask questions any time. That being said, I am sure you share PLENTY with your loved ones that you DO have in common: interests, fun times, events, etc. You can love all of those things about each other. You are entitled to privacy in some areas, everyone is, but I'm sure you have other ways of relating and enjoying each other's thoughts and company. Keep building on those things, because they DO mean a LOT. Hugs and warm wishes, RaLeah
  8. Yep, the "doubting Thomas" tactic: Jesus admonishes Thomas for being such a skeptic he needs to actually touch the wounds to believe it's really the resurrected Jesus... and praising those who believe without needing evidence. (And isn't it sort of gross Jesus came back as a not-quite-fully-healed zombie??) Anyway... All hail blind faith! That message gets drummed into us SO HARD it's truly amazing and wonderful that we were able to escape.
  9. This is off-topic, but just to tell you how good our memories are.... My first grade teacher was one of the meanest people I have ever known in my life. (Adults called her "strict" which I thought meant "mean" for a long time.) The ONLY time I saw her smile was when another adult or teacher was talking to her. She never smiled at us. My parents were reading a joke book with me once, and they urged me to tell her a joke in the book. (And yes, I still remember the joke.) I was horrified at the thought. No, no, they said, she'll laugh, I promise. I was literally shaking when I approached her to tell her the joke, and for a second afterward, I swear I saw a flash of outrage before it registered to her that my parents had put me up to it, expecting to hear her response to the joke later, at which point, she broke into a forced laugh and smile. I felt total relief in that moment, right after that first horrible moment of paralyzed fear when I saw her annoyance flash first.) And so when my parents inquired about it later, I told them she laughed, and they were like, "See? She's not so awful." Ha. Little did they know. She hated kids though. She hated me. On the last day of first grade, she spanked me for passing a roll of toilet paper to a girl in the next stall who was out of toilet paper, because I rolled it along the floor to her too fast, and it rolled all the way past her to the wall. My teacher made me roll it up again (gross) and accused me of "wasting school resources" and although I was too terrified to ever do anything out of line that might get me a spanking (like so many of my classmates through the year) I didn't get to avoid it that day. I realize later that I might have gotten a pass throughout the year because my dad was a deacon in the school-sponsoring church. Teachers probably went a little lighter on me because of that, but I did still get spanked enough to forever hate the idea of spanking a child. Spankings and swats should never, ever be allowed in school. But in my private Christian school, they were not just allowed, they were over-used... all the way up through middle school. I mean... gross. (Mostly, the swats were carried out in private with one other teacher present as witness to make sure the swats were not abusive.) In second grade though, we had a spank-happy teacher who'd have you stand and hold her desk while she swatted you with the paddle in front of the entire rest of the class (no other adult as witness), and once--I kid you not--she had about 10 kids (nearly half the class, I counted) line up at her desk and swatted one after the other. She accused them of rushing through the end of their literature worksheets (handed out right before recess, and you had to stay and finish until you could go play) so that they could go to recess instead of taking their time to find the right answers in the story instead of taking wild guesses so they could go play. (Like a good little girl, I missed out on 5-10 minutes or more of recess every time to make sure I always answered each question from the text, but I still remember just being floored by her SPANKING my classmates for wrong answers on a worksheet. I mean, give them a bad grade on it, okay... but swats?) I also got spanked the next time for answering a section of 3 questions "incorrectly" on one of those literature worksheets: Unscramble the following 3 sentence from the story. I thought we were supposed to solve it like a puzzle, you know... unscramble... not hunt for that sentence in the text and get it exactly right. (And what a stupid exercise: unscramble a sentence by finding it in the story?? Really? That's using critical thinking skills... not.) So actually, my second grade teacher was the worst person I've ever met in my life. She smiled once in a while though. On the plus side, I got so many spankings that year (along with EVERY single student in my class that year) that this was when I learned how to take a spanking without crying, thanks to the example of some of my classmates. (If you smirked though, you'd get another one, so you'd keep a straight face, try to look a bit penitent, and then quietly take your seat afterward.) Anyway... If you are thinking of sending your kids to a private christian elementary school, because they'll get a better education than they might in a local public school, and what harm could it do or whatever when they're that young, I'd urge you to think about that decision very carefully. I have no idea if this school still employs spanking to this day, but it sure seems to me like a form of child abuse. From my adult atheist perspective.
  10. Getting you to first believe you are worthless and sinful and disgusting and therefore require God to sacrifice Jesus to take the punishment you deserve... is just a vile tactic. Imagine telling a young child they are disgusting and sinful in need of salvation. You're crushing their own sense of goodness and making them think the only reason their conscience guides them to do something nice for someone else is God urging them to do it, and when they feel a pang of conscience when they're considering doing something wrong, they attribute that to God as well, not to their own innate goodness. This feels like a form of child abuse. Demolish a child's sense of self-worth, replace it with a proxy. This is something I would never imagine doing to my son. How my parents were able to justify doing it to me is beyond my imagination. I have no words... I agree, it's horrifying. Also, telling a child they should be grateful to this divine being who did something HUGE for them, and it's sinful and bad not to accept that.... I mean, you're telling a kid they should be grateful someone died for them for something they didn't do and didn't ask for... but they should be grateful... because they are naturally evil and deserve hell... that's so sick. I still remember on my first day of school, my FIRST GRADE TEACHER passing out brand new maroon-colored Bibles to each of us, then telling us this story of our sinfulness and that's why Jesus had to die in our place because we all deserved hell, and me thinking, "What? I'm going to ask my parents about this when I get home. This can't be right...." and then my parents saying, yes, it is. I mean, I grew up in the church, and I'd heard of Jesus dying on the cross, and that meant we could go to heaven, but I hadn't heard that I deserved hell just for being born. I felt crushed. And I still remember that feeling. And I was only 6 years old when that happened. I remember it like it was yesterday, how hard it was for me to understand it. I wasn't Adam or Eve. Why is it fair that their choice meant I was so evil I deserved hell forever? I tell you this: If I ever have children, I will never, ever let them hear that message from anyone in my family. If it means I can't leave them alone for babysitting for even half an hour, so be it. I won't have them go through that.
  11. Yes! This exactly. Everyone around me just believes without a second thought. Doubt anything - even Christianity - but God exists. God always exists. It's so nice to join people who realize that that's not a given. I hate that the Bible says, "Lean not unto thine own understanding" and variations on that theme all throughout. It's wrong. It's drummed into us, and it's 100% wrong. What should we trust more than our own brains instead? Other people? (Pastor, parents, friends?) The Bible--why? Our emotions? Sure, all that, but definitely not our own brains. No way. Rationality is the most rational thing we have. Somewhere during my letting go of Christianity, I realized I don't always have to have the answer for everything. It's okay to say, "I don't know." It's okay to say, "I'm not sure, but for right now, I think X, Y or Z makes the most sense." And to keep updating my understanding with evidence, information, and logic. Feelings can certainly be misleading. Other people can be wrong. (Pastors disagree with other pastors even.) I do tend to give some credibility to experts (historians, scientists, psychologists, etc.) particularly where there's a consensus. So, for what it's worth, I would say that trusting reason and critical thinking is the best option we have to understand ourselves and the universe around us. (No one ever discovered a vaccine by praying for an answer; they got it by using their brains and the scientific method.) ====== Thanks again, everyone, for all your comments! I'm enjoying the discussion very much. Thank you very much for the insight, RaLeah - I must agree that your posts are very edifying indeed! "Lean not unto thine own understanding" has always bothered me too. When forced to go to church on Sunday, our pastor was giving a sermon on how "The Bible says that those that don't believe are going to hell. I find it incredibly distasteful, but the Bible says it, so that proves it." And I'm just sitting in the pew like I do think my panic has to do with the OCD and anxiety that I suffer, and I will just have to learn that I will never be able to "prove" reason, it just works and works well. Easier said than done, but hey, that's deconversion. Also reading Bertrand Russell's Problems of Philosophy and seeing if that helps. I know you guys will be here for me though Yep, they get you young, telling you that you cannot rely on your own mind, your own brain, your own ability to reason. You can't even trust a fact. You can't even trust your own eyes. You can't trust thousands of experts all over the world... not if they aren't Christians, filtering all information through a Christian point of view. This one hurts me the most, because I know there are many Christians who will never, ever be able to enjoy a science program on Nova without scoffing at it if it contradicts their Bible. Not refuting it with counter-factual information, no, but with their beliefs. Not refuting it with actual information and knowledge, but just dismissing it outright without giving it any consideration whatsoever. They "know" it's wrong about the age of the earth, the fossils, etc. because they've already concluded that if it contradicts the Bible, so then it must just be a guess, or they're just making it up out of thin air, rather than asserting a verifiable fact. That's so.... wrong.
  12. Thank you, everyone, for such thoughtful replies and kind words. Getting you to first believe you are worthless and sinful and disgusting and therefore require God to sacrifice Jesus to take the punishment you deserve... is just a vile tactic. Imagine telling a young child they are disgusting and sinful in need of salvation. You're crushing their own sense of goodness and making them think the only reason their conscience guides them to do something nice for someone else is God urging them to do it, and when they feel a pang of conscience when they're considering doing something wrong, they attribute that to God as well, not to their own innate goodness. This feels like a form of child abuse. Demolish a child's sense of self-worth, replace it with a proxy. This goes along with the above: crush your trust in your own logic, substitute the pastor's counsel for your own. Don't question authority. Blindly obey it. (Yeah, THAT sounds healthy!) This is a great point and one that I left out: But God is right up there with mom and apple pie for patriotism. They seem to imply: You aren't a REAL American if you are an atheist, gay, minority, etc. You can feel included as an American. It also works as a fear tactic: We don't want communism, do we?? Be afraid! Thanks, Margee. Yes, it can be VERY confusing trying to figure out what God wants you to do... or whether it's your own sinful nature or the devil. How confusing was that?? I remember praying about which career to choose--if I were a REALLY good Christian, wouldn't I be a missionary in some 3rd world country serving God in poverty? I felt guilty for choosing something else. But that awful paranoia about the devil... it can really paralyze you in your decision making. It's awful. I'm glad our eyes are opened now. Thanks, Ravenstar. Yes, it makes me think of Stockholm syndrome too. Thank you too for expanding on the brainwashing techniques, the break-down of self, the isolation, the pressure of conformity... it's subtle, indeed. That first one, "your atheist professors are clever and can trick you," that scared me away from going straight into a secular university (leading to 2 semesters of hell at Christian colleges.) But like you, I discovered many of my professors were Christians as well. But this is really just trying to protect you from a competing idea at odds with Christianity. If you're never exposed to other ideas, you can't consider them. If you never consider them, you can't change your mind. And that "you just want to sin" drove me crazy! I did not. But just to prove it, while I was de-converting, I went to church, tithed, didn't drink, stayed chaste (bleh), and basically did my very best to live a life above reproach. Not just to prove it to them, but to prove it to myself that the quest for truth came first, and not because of any other lesser desire. (But looking back... so what? I mean, it didn't hurt me to abstain from stuff, but I didn't really need to do that after all.) And so what if some ex-C's motivations for questioning their beliefs was because they wanted to do something the Bible condemns? Why would that motivation be any less valid than another? I say, whatever it takes to give people the ability to form a reasonable doubt about their Christian beliefs, it's a good thing. I hate that the Bible says, "Lean not unto thine own understanding" and variations on that theme all throughout. It's wrong. It's drummed into us, and it's 100% wrong. What should we trust more than our own brains instead? Other people? (Pastor, parents, friends?) The Bible--why? Our emotions? Sure, all that, but definitely not our own brains. No way. Rationality is the most rational thing we have. Somewhere during my letting go of Christianity, I realized I don't always have to have the answer for everything. It's okay to say, "I don't know." It's okay to say, "I'm not sure, but for right now, I think X, Y or Z makes the most sense." And to keep updating my understanding with evidence, information, and logic. Feelings can certainly be misleading. Other people can be wrong. (Pastors disagree with other pastors even.) I do tend to give some credibility to experts (historians, scientists, psychologists, etc.) particularly where there's a consensus. So, for what it's worth, I would say that trusting reason and critical thinking is the best option we have to understand ourselves and the universe around us. (No one ever discovered a vaccine by praying for an answer; they got it by using their brains and the scientific method.) ====== Thanks again, everyone, for all your comments! I'm enjoying the discussion very much.
  13. I'm sure variations of this topic have come up before. But I wanted to start this thread to pick apart as many barriers as I could think of that are used as scare tactics (intentionally or not) that are used to keep Christians from questioning their beliefs, searching for knowledge outside of Christianity, or accepting new evidence. Here were my top mental barriers (as I remember) but please add more or elaborate if they applied to you: 1. Don't look at what people who believe differently have to say: They might trick you or the devil gains a foothold. Look at everything only through a Christian filter. This works on us in several ways: Tribalism (stay with your own kind and stay similar to them) as well as fear of the unknown (devilish trickery.) I was also worried about displeasing God by seeking the wisdom of man, since this is often warned against in the Bible. But doesn't God give us the discernment (with the Holy Spirit) to know truth from lies once we are "saved"? But it scares enough Christians to make them refuse to look at evidence directly from a scientist rather than through a Ken Ham sort of apologist. He comes across as smart and well-studied... let's just take it from him that he looked at it and decided it was foolish and has answers to rebut all of it. Relying on a Christian expert is easier than looking at the evidence yourself directly and coming to your own conclusion... especially if that conclusions may be different from your family and community and church. 2. I can't be wrong about God existing--haven't I "felt" God during worship service, during prayer? This is about putting aside logic and embracing emotion and feelings. Once I studied psychology (and read a lot about "supernatural" experiences) I came to understand how easy it is for us to delude ourselves or to have feelings that are neurologically generated, but not supernatural. Moving music can make us cry, even if it's just a musical... not fact based. We cry during sad movies we know are fiction. Also, we can feel a transcendence in crowds. Also, we can dreams that feel very, very lucid and convincing as signs. But they are just products of our brain chemistry. 3. Look at all the people who don't believe in God... they have nothing to live for, and no morals. They drink and smoke and swear and have sex and get pregnant... and their lives are miserable. This one got debunked as soon as I got my first job in the real world, meeting people of all ages who weren't religious but good and kind and happy. They weren't supposed to exist. I'm alarmed that so many parents now get their kids religious jobs (working for their church or Christian bookstore or Chic fil A or whatever...) and then ship them right off to a Christian college so they never get a peek into real people's lives who aren't Christians just like them. (And for the record, I knew more Christians who got pregnant as unwed teens than non-Christians. And the stigma from their loving community was awful shaming that's unimaginable to me now.) 4. All these people (in my community, state, country) can't be wrong. I mean, my parents believe it, and they're older and wiser than I am. They can't be wrong, can they? Yes, they can. When you're in a red state surrounded by other Christians, you feel crazy at first by even questioning what everyone else believes to be true. But mass delusions happen. And it's big world out there... if you're born in another country, you'll have just as much evidence that another religion is correct... because everyone around believes it. But if you disagree with the majority religion... you might lose your family, community, or job. There's too much to lose by exploring or questioning, so if sometimes you doubt the whole thing is true... just shove those doubts away and don't ever admit it to yourself or anyone else. 5. My teachers say that evolution is not proven. It's actually dis-proven. Carbon methods for dating don't work reliably. Sometimes people believed an entire hoax of a fossil based on one tooth. Evolutionists are just grasping at straws trying not to believe in God. There's a huge world-wide hoax of scientists in on it, trying to trick people into giving up God. There's no real evidence for it. It's "just a theory." My teachers were wrong. They probably didn't even know they were lying. The textbooks had old hoaxes (but not newly discovered fossils, and by newly discovered, I mean in the past 50 years) that verify evolution beyond any reasonable doubt. I mean, it would hold up in a court of law as evidence. But it was withheld from me, and I was lied to. I don't know if the textbook writers meant well, or not. I just know it was factually incorrect and very, very incomplete. And it repeated Christian hoaxes, like a footprint of a dinosaur and man in the same creek bed. (Found to be a hoax before it was taught to me, but went unacknowledged in my textbook... so Christian hoaxes are okay, but evolution hoaxes are a sign that it's all built on lies. Okay.) That "just a theory" argument makes me the most angry. A theory in science is a fact. It's the highest you can ever hold process. I don't know why we ever started saying, "I have a theory..." when we mean "I have a hypothesis." A hypothesis is a guess. A theory is a well-documented fact based on evidence. 6. Satan / the devil is very smart and powerful, and he can trick you. Don't trust your own senses, your own mind. Nothing like a little paranoia to seal the deal to keep you from questioning. No one wants to be a "doubting Thomas." 7. If no God... no heaven. Maybe no afterlife. You've been looking forward to eternal bliss... and now it feels like if you stop believing... it's like going to the doctor and finding out you have terminal cancer. This one is hard. Loss of a promise of eternal life of bliss with God. You were counting on that. Now you have this let-down of realizing Santa isn't real. The very same sadness and loss. Maybe even panic. But we know heaven isn't up in the clouds (like the story of the Tower of Babel assumed) because we know what's up in the clouds, and it's just... space. 8. If you're wrong... hell. It doesn't matter if you're a "good" person. Works can't save you from God's wrath for rejecting Him. And it's worse, because you heard the gospel message and then rejected it. God will have no mercy on your soul. You deserve fire, flames, and torment for eternity for not being able to believe in God with all your heart. At first, this is really scary. Your whole life, this has been a literal place to you. It's only when you've been outside for a little while that you see how truly awful and ridiculous the whole idea is. And it doesn't happen immediately. You think people who don't believe in hell are in denial so they can do sinful things... you don't realize they're searching for truth and realized that hell can't exist, that it comes from previous historical superstitions, that it's absurd for a God to send anyone there (unless it was super sadistic and evil anyway) and that it can't possibly exist anywhere. I mean... where would hell BE? We know what's inside the earth, above the earth, and in outer space. It's not there. 9. The Bible should be taken literally. Adam (which literally means "a man") and Eve were the first humans. Ignore fossil evidence and dating methods and history and tree rings and ice cores. Once I found out that history pre-dated the Bible... I was stunned. But there it was. Truth. Stonehenge, you name it. The world was happening long before humans, and human history long before the Bible. We just forgot and became ignorant of that or willfully rejected the truth. 10. Cognitive dissonance: I already know the truth and I believe it. I can't change my mind now, and why should I? I know I'm right. This is where most of my family is. They are simply not interested in exploring. Maybe once they were intellectually curious, but now they are comfortable in their beliefs, set in their ways, their minds are made up, and they aren't interested in changing their mind, seeking new answers when they already have one that works for them... and can't you please quit talking to them about it when they aren't interested in that nonsense? They don't want it. They don't want to look at it. They don't want to think about it. They already know what they believe. If you point out how they are wrong with real examples, they'll get mad and double down on what they already believe. Or they'll leave the conversation. Or they'll resort to sarcasm or name-calling, because they're uncomfortable and don't know how to answer you, so they'll fall back on the easy answer: I believe in God and the Bible. I don't have all the answers, but God does. We'll all figure it out some day when we die and we're in heaven. Until then, don't discuss it. And that's that. 11. How could an atheist's life have any meaning, devoid of God or spirituality or purpose? I could only figure this one out after de-conversion. But life still holds beauty and fascination for me, joy and delight. Life is even more precious to me. My actions are even more important. My purpose becomes mine to define: How will I contribute to life, humanity and the world? 12. Without eternal consequences, why wouldn't everyone just turn into serial killers and rapists and drug addicts? In my heart, I believe people are still basically good. Ann Frank was right. The Bible says that humans are basically wicked, and sure, there are sociopaths in the world, and whether or not they are Christians, they will do bad things to people without any pangs of conscience. Their brains are damaged or scarred or just not functioning like the majority of us. But the good people out-number the bad. The Bible is just flat-out wrong about the evil nature of humans. If you are brought up in a loving, secure home with supportive and kind parents (and sometimes even if you aren't) you are programmed to be a kind and loving person yourself. You'll do good, and others will do good to you in turn. You'll create loving bonds with others, and you'll feel secure, happy, and joyful. You'll do your best to contribute to your family, community, and the world. No life is devoid of suffering, but you'll strive to survive as all life does. And isn't it amazing to be connected to life that way? I'm happy I broke through the scare tactics. I'm sure there are some more I left out, and I'm sure some of the above applied to you too if you managed to break from Christianity to ex-C. For me, it took learning about history, science, psychology, and other religions to break free. I also had to overcome my own internalized fears and brainwashing in order to summon the courage to even look outside in the first place. How about you? Please share.
  14. You are an adult and these are your children. If your parents choose to cut you and them off, that is not your decision. What should be your priority is bringing up your children with critical thinking skills, lots of love and support from your husband and you, and the best education that's available / affordable to you. If you are making a checklist of priorities, your parents' approval should be way down on that list. Having happy, healthy, loved, well-adjusted children should be your highest priority as a parent, not making sure their grandparents are comfortable with your decisions to get them there. I know this sounds simplistic, but it also sounds like your parents' approval means way too much to you in the grand scheme of things, to an unhealthy extent. If this sounds harsh, I'm sure others will weigh in as well, and you don't have to take my advice at all. It's just what I would do in your shoes, and of course, I am not in your shoes. You are. But I think you should discuss with your husband what's best for your children, and then do that. Your kids are not going to praise or blame their grandparents for bringing them up religious or not; they will have to become adults based on your decisions on their upbringing. Choose wisely. Do for them what you'd want a parent to do for you. Some day they'll be adults, and they'll have to sort out what they were taught with how the world really works. Do you really want them to have to undo all the religious guilt and stress and fears? (I don't know about you, but I had bad dreams about hell from the time I was old enough to grasp the concept. Do you want your kids to have that? If not.... you already know what to do.)
  15. Oh, man. I get forwards like this in my email so much.... I just delete them. But it reminds me of the one about the guy who has a dream where he goes to heaven and God shows him how he spent his life... it's all in a big filing cabinet... how many hours he listened to music or watched TV and worked and slept... and he's embarrassed that so little of it is the time he spent in prayer, reading the Bible, or witnessing, etc. So he wakes up / gets to go back to earth and determines he'll spend more time doing God's work, praying, reading scripture, witnessing, etc. And I was like.... what is this, some sort of weird guilt trip for having a life??? AAARRRRGGGHH! I So hate that stuff. I used to respond to every stupid forward with, "Are you kidding me? Here's what's wrong with that...." but then I just asked people who were sending that to stop it because I was "too busy" to read them, and most of it has stopped. Also, I refuse to log onto Facebook. I've been off it for about 10 months now and it's much easier. (And probably better for my blood pressure.) But ugh. Sorry about you reading that story. If you didn't tell the person who posted it that they were a contender for the dumbest person on the planet, I salute you for your restraint.
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