ThereAndBackAgain

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ThereAndBackAgain last won the day on May 7 2017

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About ThereAndBackAgain

  • Rank
    Apostate
  • Birthday September 24

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    West Virginia
  • Interests
    Life, the Universe and Everything
  • More About Me
    From childhood Catholic to lukewarm conservative Christian. But now the spell is broken. I've come to realize I was probably always an atheist by nature.

Previous Fields

  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    None

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  1. ThereAndBackAgain

    Contemplating the cosmos

    Yes, I believe I have become immune to Christianity, and I think this community played a big part in reaching that point. When I first showed up here, I was tentatively ex-Christian, but for a while I could have slipped back into an unstable kind of semi-belief. I’m so glad that the people of this community and the information and resources available here helped me to first accept and then embrace my agnostic atheism. We don’t go looking for True Believers to deconvert - that would be both unwelcome and futile - but when people come here, their faith is somewhere in the process of disintegrating. Our mission then, as I see it, is to help them get through the process so they can move forward with their lives without religious faith, deities or dogmas. It worked for me and I look forward to seeing others make the journey, and to helping wherever I can.
  2. ThereAndBackAgain

    Contemplating the cosmos

    Hey Dark Bishop, Glad to hear that you're happy with your deconversion and with this community. I too am very glad I made the journey away from faith and also that I found this group of fellow-apostates. I do feel a special kinship with the people here, which is one reason I generally stay away from the TOT section and the outright hostility that flares up there. There are plenty of platforms to fight over politics and culture (although I’ve been avoiding those too lately), but not many where I can hang out with Ex-Christians! I've also been going to church with my wife - we go most weeks - and I actually enjoy it, even as I have become more comfortable with my unbelief (I am an agnostic atheist) than I ever was in the faith. Sound strange? Maybe, but there are a few things I should clarify... We attend Catholic Mass now, not the fundamentalist Church of Christ where we were members for more than twenty years. We were both raised (indoctrinated) Catholic, so I guess there is that comforting familiarity. There is something moving and calming about the sheer beauty of this particular church, with the paintings, stained-glass windows, statues and organ music. Just stepping inside the building has a soothing effect on me. I do recite the prayers along with everybody else, and I like to sing the hymns. When it comes time to recite the Creed though, I stay silent throughout since I don't believe a word of it - it's my personal, semi-private, profession of my unbelief. I also don't go forward for Communion, and I notice a few other husbands/boyfriends who never go either. I wonder what their stories are - are they atheists, theists or just Protestants? (The Catholic Church asks that only Catholics take Communion). Would I still go to Mass if my wife didn't want to go? Probably not, maybe once in a great while. In spite of everything I've said, there is a part of me that would like to go an extended period, a year at the very least, with no contact with religion whatsoever, just to further cement and affirm my deconversion. But this works for me, it works for my wife, so it's good. If I had young kids, would I take them to Church on any kind of regular basis? No way: I would want them to learn about the many gods and religions - all the better to be skeptical - and maybe experience some religious rituals, but no more than that. I know that attending Church like this could be an occasion for serious Cognitive Dissonance, which most of us Exes are familiar with. But for me, at this advanced stage of my deconversion, there is none: I don't believe: period, end of story, case closed. Which leaves me free to enjoy this religious ritual in much the same way that I might appreciate a Buddhist or Hindu ceremony or the beauty of the mosques of Istanbul or Isfahan. I mentioned reciting the ritualized prayers; for me these are more like familiar mantras than prayers. In fact I have been very satisfied to see that even in my most stressful times, I no longer have any desire to pray. It's not that prayer is such a bad thing: I know that even without anything supernatural going on, prayer can have benefits. It's just that it’s important to me that my religious indoctrination be reversed completely, and losing all desire to pray to a deity is an important part of that. So outside of that one hour each week, my life is happily godless. So is my churchgoing a spiritual experience? Not the way most people think of 'spiritual'. It's more like how it feels listening to beautiful music, or how I feel being in the great outdoors, or maybe even a bit like sex. I wish there was a better word for something-like-spiritual-but-with-no-supernatural-aspects. Maybe 'transcendent'? It's good for those who may fear leaving gods and religion behind to know that practices like martial arts, Tai-Chi and meditation can enrich an ex-Christian life, as they do yours, DB. I've been learning and trying to practice Stoicism and meditation myself. I feel like I've discovered my true self since leaving Christianity. Looks like you have too, DB, and I hope many others follow.
  3. ThereAndBackAgain

    Help Me Understand

    Well maybe it’s partly a matter of respect, for the younger folk to put forth the effort, but maybe it’s also a matter of logistics: perhaps she doesn’t like to drive much anymore? Or is getting around otherwise an ordeal for her? On re-reading your post though, it doesn’t sound like she has trouble getting to the casino, so there goes that idea. Maybe she likes the idea of hosting them in her own home, the idea of providing the hospitality?
  4. ThereAndBackAgain

    Iron Horse-Michael C.

    Adam, I’m so sorry for the loss of your dad. I’m glad you have such good memories of him. My sincerest condolences to you and your family. Thanks for letting us know: it’s always tough when somebody just disappears from a forum like this and everybody is just left wondering.
  5. ThereAndBackAgain

    Polarize this!

    As much as I might wish that monotheism was a step closer to atheism, I’m afraid that’s probably only true mathematically. Monotheism was much more useful in controlling societies than polytheism, which might be likened to herding cats. I think that we as atheists might be much more comfortable in pagan/polytheistic Greece or Rome, where all you really had to do was pay lip-service to the preferred god(s), than we would be living in Christian or Islamic societies, where every jot and tittle of morality is ordained from above.
  6. ThereAndBackAgain

    "A Unique Moment in History"

    And remember that the Stoics’ concept of God was rather different from that of most theists in later eras. It was more like the ‘Providence’ that many Enlightenment-era figures (including some of America’s founding fathers) invoked. Maybe Marcus Aurelius was more Deist than anything else. And knowing as little as they knew about the universe, what else could one be?
  7. ThereAndBackAgain

    "A Unique Moment in History"

    I think the Romans and Greeks had a more sensible approach to gods than the civilizations that followed: they generally didn’t regard gods as both all-loving and all-powerful, maybe seeing the obvious problems in that area. They didn’t see gods as dictators of morality and givers of law the way today’s theists do. You picked a god that you liked, paid your respects to it, and that was it. You didn’t have much in the way of a ‘relationship’ with a deity. There’s no doubt Christianity, when allied to government power, was more ‘successful’ than the old-time religions, but it was a step backward for humanity, IMHO.
  8. ThereAndBackAgain

    "A Unique Moment in History"

    I’m not sure that the piece was asserting that Stoicism was solely responsible for Rome’s success or that Christianity was to blame for its demise. I think the point was that a successful framework or philosophy does not require any gods. I think Stoicism does not call for suppressing anger but rather for not letting it arise. The Stoics did accept that feigned anger might be useful on occasion. But most enduring philosophies tend to see actual anger as nothing but destructive.
  9. ThereAndBackAgain

    "A Unique Moment in History"

    Since my deconversion, I've taken a growing interest in the philosophy of Stoicism. It provides a framework - a compass - for living that can be especially useful for those of us who have left religion behind. I get daily e-mails from DailyStoic.com and I wanted to share today's message here because it specifically addresses how Stoicism provides an alternative to theism... The observation from Flaubert about a little discussed pivot point of Western Civilization. “Just when the gods had ceased to be, and the Christ had not yet come, there was a unique moment in history, between Cicero and Marcus Aurelius, when man stood alone.” What he is referring to is the period between the fall of the gods and the rise of God. Flaubert isn’t strictly correct, as Christianity was a rising, powerful sect well before Marcus Aurelius (Seneca’s brother Gallio is in the Bible), and indeed one of the most shameful parts of Marcus’s regime is his persecution of Christians, but Flaubert’s point is generally an interesting one. Because there was this period between polytheism and Christianity as we know it, and that period included some of the most glorious days of the Roman Empire. So what did these people do instead of worshipping God? Well, many of them practiced philosophy. The Cynics, the Stoics, the Epicureans. This was their heyday. In fact, we can see Stoicism as a kind of civic religion, a guide for behavior and a framework for living. It was a time when man was alone in the universe and forced to come up with, on his own, an answer to that timeless question: What is the meaning of life and how should I live it? Why we turned away from the Stoic answer cannot be said (though it is clear that the Christians cribbed from and incorporated many philosophical insights into their teachings), but an amateur historian can’t help but look back and ask how things might have been different, for better or for worse. (Discuss)
  10. ThereAndBackAgain

    Jesus lead me to reject him

    Superbrady, your ex-timony has really resonated with me and I think it's because you figured things out while you were still so young, just on the threshold of your adult life, and because I think to myself "That could have been me!". Because I have always been a rational guy (I'm an engineer) and came close in my 20's to rejecting the religion I had been raised/indoctrinated into. Close - but no cigar. In my mid-20s I thought of myself as agnostic. Not an agnostic atheist as I am today, or even an agnostic theist, just an agnostic: a shoulder-shrugging, not-interested-in-religion agnostic like so many people are. I neither embraced Christianity nor rejected it. I had no 'relationship' with God, I rarely prayed and - because my job involved traveling around the world - going to Church was usually inconvenient and often impossible. I like to think that if the information that is so widely available today - atheist or agnostic books and blogs, and communities like this one - had been available then, that I would have firmly turned my back on Christianity and theism before I was 30. Instead, the faith virus was lying dormant in my system and when the conditions were right it emerged, took over part of my mind, and sent me on a 25-year detour before I finally shook it off just past the age of 50. The 'conditions' were my settling down in a new city where I knew nobody and made friends with a really nice family who invited me to Church with them. I was swept up in the friendliness of these people, the feeling that I suddenly had access to a community of good, friendly, trustworthy, hospitable people. They welcomed me and fed me home-cooked meals, and there were even some nice-looking young ladies that got my attention. I started a Bible study (I had been raised Catholic and didn't know much at all about scripture) and although I started to see some problems with the whole thing, and started to cause concern among some that I would never 'make a commitment', I finally stopped resisting, set my doubts aside and asked to be baptized. I have fantasized recently about calling the minister the way I did, but instead of telling him I was ready to be baptized, I say instead that I've concluded that Christianity doesn't make sense and that I can't believe in or serve the god of the Bible. And never to darken the door of a church again. The twenty-five years that followed were by no means unhappy. My faith lived inside a walled-off section of my mind, mostly immune to the reason I applied to all other areas of life. I eventually met a wonderful woman at Church and married her. We've been together twenty years now and we are still happy, maybe more so than ever. But just within the past five years, the doubts that had always been there came back to the surface somehow, and to make a long story short, I eventually took a deep breath and accepted that I was no longer a Christian and no longer believed in God. The relief that comes from no longer having to pretend to believe, no longer making excuses for God's failure to show up - that relief is huge. I finally feel like I've come home to my true self, who was never cut out to be a believer. I've used this analogy before: I feel like a guy who for decades wore only a suit and tie and dress-shoes that were a half-size too small - and now I'm hangin' out in shorts, tank-top and flip-flops, finally comfortable! Well this has been more About Me than I intended, but I wanted to say why I am so happy that you have done the deep thinking and examining of what you were taught while you are still so young. You can go forward as yourself: you had false 'knowledge' planted in your mind through childhood religious indoctrination, but you've reversed it already, with your whole life ahead of you! And most importantly, unlike me and many of us when we were your age, you know what you believe and don't believe and WHY you don't believe it. That is so important, whether it comes to religion, politics or whatever. It may be good to see more and more people, especially younger folk, living without religion, but anybody who hasn't thought about it enough is vulnerable to be either sucked back into their original religion or into some other religious or quasi-religious belief system or cult. There are plenty of young people who reject Christianity but then embrace some other nonsense that is equally irrational. So congratulations my friend. I'm really happy for you. You know that it's not all a bed of roses, but you clearly have a smart, open, questioning mind that will serve you well. I've appreciated your various posts since you introduced yourself, and I hope you'll be a regular contributor to our community. All the Best, TABA
  11. ThereAndBackAgain

    Newbie to the exChristian world

    Are there many Sevent Day Adventists in your part of the world? You’re in Florida, right? I don’t know that I’ve ever met any SDAs. Good on you for the influence you’ve had. Of those that have left, have any left religion/theism completely? Seems like you would be pretty persuasive in that direction...
  12. ThereAndBackAgain

    Jesus lead me to reject him

    Superbrady, you did invite questions, so I do have a couple about your deconversion experience... You’ve made the journey from being a devout Christian to being an agnostic atheist. Was there a time when you no longer thought of yourself as a Christian but did not yet consider yourself an atheist? Many of us, myself included, passed through a phase like that so I was wondering about your experience with that. Also, how did your prayer-life make the transition? Presumably you don’t pray at all now, but did you stop praying abruptly, or gradually, or did you pray more intensely for a while as your doubts grew? In my case, I stopped praying rather abruptly as I started questioning. It’s almost as if a switch in my brain flipped from Faith to Reason, and I stopped praying because I felt like it would ‘muddy the waters’ and make it harder for me to come to a conclusion. Later on, I did pray maybe once or twice for God to somehow reveal himself to me if he was really there. I didn’t expect that he would, and of course he didn’t.
  13. ThereAndBackAgain

    Jesus lead me to reject him

    Hey superbrady, welcome to our community! Your ‘ex-timony’ is terrific - reading it with my morning coffee got my day off to a good start! Thank you for taking the time to write it: it will be an encouragement to others whether they’re active members or lurkers. Most of all I’m sure it felt good for you to describe your journey and to express your unbelief to people who ‘get it’. You know how difficult the deconversion process can be, but I think you’re also seeing how rewarding it is. I’m happy for you - and I’m happy that we’ve gained a new member who does such a damn good job at expressing himself. Yes, those Evid3nc3 videos are great, aren’t they! I hope you were able to let him know how much they helped you. I wish stuff like that had been available when I was your age! Anyways, welcome again. I’m looking forward to hearing a lot more from you! All the Best TABA
  14. ThereAndBackAgain

    Books on Secular Morality

    The twin pillars of my post-Christian life are the philosophy of Stoicism and the practice of meditation (mindfulness). Stoicism predates Christianity and provides a compass for living my life. It's not an Old Testament-style list of Thou-Shalls and Thou-Shalt-Nots but rather a set of principles and practices than can be applied in all areas of life. The modern meaning of the word 'stoic' wrongly suggests that it is an austere, rather grim approach to life, but it's really not so. I'd recommend three books on Stoicism: A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine The first book is a comprehensive guide to the philosophy. The second has short daily readings. I haven't read "Happy" but it comes highly recommended and sounds like an easy read. The website The Daily Stoic is a good place to get started.
  15. ThereAndBackAgain

    Hey! Ex-Muslim here, but...

    Welcome RavanKiani! I feel a special bond with and respect for those who have left Islam, especially those who have become atheists and especially since the consequences can be so much more severe than any of us ex-Christians have had to deal with! I stand in awe of the courage of atheists in Muslim countries. Some of my heroes include Armin Navabi, Ali Rizvi and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Majid Nawaz too, even though he still calls himself a Muslim. It has occurred to me that even though this is an “Ex-Christian” community, an ex-Muslim atheist would fit in here much better than an ex-Christian Muslim would! I will follow you on Twitter for sure and look forward to hearing more from you, whether here or there! I’m glad you said Hi!