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RaLeah last won the day on February 19 2014

RaLeah had the most liked content!

About RaLeah

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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?

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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. For YEARS I had dreams... nightmares really... about talking to my parents about my non-belief. I've now mentioned it, subtly and carefully, more than a few times, and they seem to know, deep down, where I stand (don't go to church, won't ever go again, don't believe the way they do politically or religiously) but they still seem to have amnesia when we talk in person. I just calmly, gently remind I won't attend the Christmas service when they invite me during a visit, etc. I'm lucky that we all just want to get along. I know they worry about my soul. I don't rub it in or antagonize. But if they push too hard, they will bump up against my boundaries. You can see from Facebook that all my Christian conservative family post about their beliefs. I post about my life, family, friends, activities, etc and don't post anything religious or political at all. I just leave it out. I find overall that atheists are more respectful and thoughtful of religious people's beliefs than they are about non-believer's non-beliefs. I understand why too. They think we are risking eternity in hell. We think they are risking... well, nothing but a silly belief in a pretty afterlife for themselves that doesn't exist. If they are wrong, when they die.... the same thing happens to them that happens to us. Nothing. They think if we die, and we're wrong, eternity in hell tormented in a lake of fire. I just feel sympathy for them, because that's a really sad, factless fear. I'm relieved of that fear, and that's way better than a promise for heaven. None of my relatives are going to suffer for eternity. I'm more than happy to give up the idea of heaven for me in exchange for no hell for them.
  4. Thought this might be of interest... http://gawker.com/growing-up-fundie-the-painful-impact-of-conservative-r-1716122437
  5. Some people have an emotional bullshit detector. Others have a logical bullshit detector. Doesn't matter as long as the detector works. You got out = Proof it works.
  6. I have to admit, if I were you, I'd find a time and way to grill my mother about my father's family. I would start out telling her I love her, she did a great job by herself as head of household, I'm super proud of her rising to the challenge of being a single mom, etc. I have some questions though, and not because I want something MORE than her, I just want to fill in the blanks of my heritage. No one will every replace her or mean more to me than her. And then I'd ask. Try to be as judgment free as possible. Because, honestly, suicide can be sort of contageous. Not genetic so much as traumatizing and then having a rippling effect. I think your mother was probably just trying to protect you. Right or wrong, I think she was shielding you from the stigma and uncomfortably awkward feelings others in your family would have maybe (at least in her fears) projected onto you. But here's the thing: you've gotta be curious. That's not a betrayal of your mom's love. It's super normal and natural, and you should feel free to explore or not as much as you want. Meet or not. Chat on email or the phone or not. Take it at your own time and pace. You are in control of how much you let into your life. Family isn't magical. They're human. Your mom is. The others you haven't met are too. Who they are has really very little to nothing to do with you, who you are, the person you've become, what you've accomplished, etc. Try to keep an emotional distance on that. They are just genetically related to you, no more, no less. Still, that might be interesting. Someone might have your same sense of humor, fashion, talents, interests, or whatever, and that could be illuminating, fun, interesting, or just good to know. Try not to be scared of it. (Easier said than done, but really, just try not to build it up in your mind as something too huge or meaningful. It just is what it is, no more, no less.) Good luck to you. I hope you reach out, just because I think more information is better than less information. But that is all. (If you're wondering, a cousin of mine is in a really similar situation, so I'm sort of advising from stuff I know from her.)
  7. "An ancient book of myths (many of them quite brutal in nature) written by superstitious primitive humans, whose texts have largely been disproved by science as well as being historically inaccurate, is still believed by many modern-day people to be literally true in whole or in part, despite the fact that the texts contradict themselves, condemn the majority of humans who were ever born to eternal torment, and also claim that the God that condemns those people (as well as commanding the genocides of many others) is love." I don't think love means what they think it means.
  8. I had my first OBE right after my appendix was taken out. (I was on Tylenol-3 with codeine to manage the post-op pain.) I dreamed I floated out of myself and out my window into the sky and floated up into some trees and every color was so super bright and vivid and it FELT really good to be so light and happy and weightless, and then when I decided I wanted to wake up, I was back in my bedroom looking down at the foot of my bed and saw a girl with her eyes closed lying on a blue pillow, and I realized my perspective was from the foot of my bed looking at myself sleeping. I woke up in surprise, and it felt like I swung back into my body and it made a sort of chime sound in my head when my conscious self clicked back into place and I opened my eyes. It was a pretty trippy trip. But it was just an altered state of consciousness. I taught myself how to do it (without drugs), somewhere between awake and asleep. (And I found it easier to do during a daytime nap than at nighttime.) But none were quite as vivid as the first one. (Probably because my brain can't make those kinds of chemicals without drug assistance.) Scientists can also replicate the experience by stimulating the brain with electricity. Our brains are capable of a lot of quirky and amazing things. Every night when we dream, we are in an altered state of consciousness, "experiencing" something that isn't really happening. OBEs are similar to dreams, but with more awareness / lucidity. We can teach ourselves a lot of nifty brain tricks with meditation and relaxation techniques. I don't see it as proof of a soul existing independently of the body though.
  9. This would've been my reply: Oh no, Dad! Your argument just proved to me that Greek mythology is true too! (Flawed characters--not just the humans, because even the gods themselves are flawed--and a complex underworld and rules for rescuing someone from it, etc. By your logic, dad, men couldn't have made that up either. And lots of other mythology pre-dates Christianity, so I guess it's even more true than the Bible, huh?)
  10. Well, they're all pre-atheists. Because dead people can't believe in god anymore.
  11. That is SUCH GOOD NEWS!!!!! Thank you for keeping us in the loop. You've been in my thoughts a lot lately, and I'm so glad for the update!
  12. I am not so cynical to think they didn't have real feelings of love for you; but their fear is greater. If you hope and expect validation from people who have a high stake in not validating your current path, then you will be disappointed sometimes. That's okay. They're human. It's hard for you. It's hard for them. (Who knows? Your pastor might be having secret doubts himself, but he has too much at stake to "come out" whereas you don't... but perhaps he couldn't really engage with you because of his own suppressed insecurities.) When you can see other people as just humans trying to do their best, you'll have sympathy for them and not require any more from them than what they are willing, able, and comfortable giving you. I know it hurt me a lot to lose closeness with friends or family who stayed in the faith when I left. I'm not saying it shouldn't hurt. I'm saying you can understand where they're coming from if you think about it a little bit. And maybe that will help you forgive them and make new friends who are more capable of supporting you where you are as you support them. I do know I'm more empathetic and much less judgmental myself for having gone through that. I try to see people where they are and respect their limitations while accepting what they can offer to me and accept from me. I try not to push or pry or judge or start a fight. I try to be respectful, even in a disagreement. I try to be gentle in how I bring up a counter-point or a personal story to help them think differently. I don't mind if I don't succeed. (Maybe they'll mull on it and it will matter later.) I also know when to keep quiet or walk away from an argumentative situation. You'll get a feel for this. You'll find friends you can really count on, through thick and thin. You'll learn not to expect more than people can give due to their own personal limitations and still extend love to them anyway without being hurt and angry that their love and support has its limits. Most of all though, I applaud your bravery in coming out. You're doing great, and I know any time you post here, we'll all be happy to be on your side through everything. We know what you're going through, and we know it's hard. Lots of love and hugs to you, and a tip of the hat to you for your courage!
  13. You know, if you're really interested in taking out the fear, superstition, and paranoia power of these stories.... You can research hoaxes and especially mass hysteria. There's a lot to learn about our brains, and studying psychology really gave me the answers I needed to not be bothered about stories like this. Our brains can trick us. We can buy into ghosts or demons or hauntings and really freak ourselves out. The more attention we pay to it, the more "valid" those fears become and manifest in our behaviors and take root in our beliefs. The Salem Witch Trials were one of the worst / best examples of this kind of mass delusion / hysteria. Did people believe it? Sure, they did. I don't think everyone prosecuting the "witches" were just evil people who felt like putting their fellow community members to death for the fun of it. No, but seriously. Do some research on this and put your mind at ease. We know so much more now about how our brains react to stress and paranoia and dangerous superstitious beliefs... Don't live in the dark ages with people who didn't have access to our modern day information. Imagine those young girls who were messing around with their housekeeper's stories of voodoo -- probably bored girls with too much time on their hands, and so they were just having a little chilling fun with themselves, like telling a good ghost story around a campfire. But once other people caught wind of it, the girls messing around with rituals and naked dancing in the woods... and the girls started getting attention... it just sort of fed on itself. And then once they were getting pressured to say who had cast spells on them... and they were really under pressure and scrutiny... they had to start casting blame on others... so they may have even believed what they were saying. Their minds needed scapegoats, so convinced them that old pious ladies who kept to themselves must really be secret witches. The girls shook and cried and acted "possessed" because they had to. They were in too deep by this point, and they probably bought into it themselves, being impressionable teens. (And after all, if all the adults and ministers were taking it seriously... it must be real, right?) It took investigation from an outside community to put the smack down on that town and shake them back to reality. Because the outsiders hadn't been slowly convinced with one mental slippery slope step at a time that what was gripping the town wasn't total nonsense and hysteria. Anyway, do a little internet research on it. It's fascinating, so you'll enjoy the reading. And it will help you understand stuff like this a whole lot better, which will put your mind at ease.
  14. You don't have to have all the answers. Not right now, and not ever. You can think of life as a journey and you gather information as you go along, and enjoy yourself along the way. It can be jarring at first, going from the projected "certainty" of Christianity to standing on new ground. (Think of it like stepping into a boat and getting used to the new balance, or stepping out of a boat onto solid ground again... it takes a few steps to get your "sea legs" or readjust to being on ground that isn't moving.) The difference now is that you don't HAVE to know everything with absolute certainty. There is zero pressure to hurry up and figure it all out. Christianity is so absolute: You must believe, you must have faith, you must believe it all right now and ask Jesus into your heart. Agnosticism or spiritualism or atheism don't have that kind of pressure. You can take your time without feeling rushed or frustrated that you don't have all the answers. The world, life... it's not black and white. There are so many other colors. You are allowed to slow down and stop and smell the roses and just enjoy good company, happy experiences, learn and grow, and be patient and thoughtful along the way. Enjoy the journey, wherever it may take you. Lots of love and hugs and support from all of us!
  15. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to your wife with us, Bob. She sounds like an amazing woman, and I hope you'll continue to remember all the happy memories you made together. I also wish you lot of good wishes in staying close to the family while staying true to yourself. It sounds like you've already done a remarkable job of that. Love and hugs to you!
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