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dirwid

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About dirwid

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    I am a 20 y/o agnostic ex-Christian. Anti-religious. Raised in a fundamentalist Christian home. Still in the closet.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
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  1. I just finished reading 1984 by George Orwell, and the whole time I was reading it, I couldn't help but think that so many things about Ingsoc mirror elements found in Christianity. I would not be surprised at all if Orwell made a very careful, in-depth examination of your average Christian's thought processes as inspiration for the belief system behind Ingsoc. It's such a dead-on, eye-opening, and horrifying analysis of Christianity. There's too much to say about it in one post. It's something you really have to read. I felt like the main character, Winston, who for some reason or other did not succumb to the backwards thinking ("doublethink", for instance) required to actually believe all the teachings of the Party. I cannot recommend it enough. To be honest, I think 1984 is my favorite book. I'm not free to say that on Facebook, though. "The Bible" is the only acceptable answer to that question in my circle of friends. :/ How many of you guys have read 1984, and what are your thoughts/favorite quotes?
  2. Back in August, I went to Ken Ham’s Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter with my young earth creationist family. I meant to write about this trip sooner, but college had me busy (and I was too lazy to write about it ). We made it a two day trip. The first day, we visited the Creation Museum, and the 2nd day we visited the Ark Encounter. This post describes my visit to the Creation Museum on the first day of the trip. I don’t know how much you guys know about the museum or how many of you have actually visited it, so I’m hoping this post isn’t full of things you already know. At the start of the museum, visitors are presented with the idea that scientists and creationists have the same evidence (in the form of fossils and whatnot), but the reason they arrive at different conclusions is because they have different starting points. Fair enough, I suppose. There is a whole room dedicated to this idea. However, they hint that the purpose of the museum isn’t about science at all by asking “Do different starting points matter in our personal lives?” They then go from 0 to 100 on the stupid meter right off the bat by referring to the starting point for legitimate science as “Man’s Word” and then comparing it to what the bible says - “God’s Word”, the starting point for creationism. They start off by assuming that the bible is “God’s Word” and is completely factual, as if it is not also “man’s word”. They also ignore the thousands of other religions that also claim to possess “God’s Word”, making their “Man’s Word vs. God’s Word” comparison a false dichotomy. Presently, they try to defend these huge assumptions about the bible in a display titled “God’s Word is True”. Here is what that display said (everything is copied word-for-word, including the capitalization): The first three of these bullet points are not even totally true, and even if they were, they are completely irrelevant to the question of whether or not the bible is true. The last one isn’t true, but at least it is actually relevant to proposition they are trying to support. When I was a Christian, I agreed with conclusions such as “God’s Word is True”, but when I started questioning the faith, seeing supposed “proofs” of the bible like these scared me because I saw how terribly flawed and nonsensical they were. I was scared that after 2000+ years of apologetics, this was some of the best “proof” we had for a book which is the foundation for the entire religion. So once you start thinking critically about your religion, seeing the arguments of apologists such as Answers in Genesis should actually accelerate your deconversion if anything. In the next room, the displays focused on how the bible is under attack on all sides today. I kid you not, one of the first displays in this room read: And underneath this, they mention Satan’s “Did God really say…?” temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden. So yes, people who have the audacity to even question whether the bible is totally inerrant are playing the part of the devil. There were a series of displays following this one, with the following titles: “Attempts to Question” “Attempts to Destroy” “Attempts to Discredit” “Attempts to Criticize” ”Attempts to Replace” “Attempts to Poison” All these displays narrate how the bible triumphantly survived through all kinds of attacks by non-believers over thousands of years, as if the fact that the bible exists and is believed by billions today is somehow proof that it is true and should be believed. In the “Attempts to Replace” display, they claim that “In the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, the philosopher Voltaire forecast that within a century no Bibles would be left on earth.” This seemed to me like quite a ridiculous thing for a famous philosopher to say, so I looked it up and was unable to find a source for this claim except on various Christian apologetics websites. So it is probably a total fabrication. Not much thought or fact-checking went into any of the displays in the Creation Museum. After all these displays, the exhibit ended with: (Referring to how people don’t believe the universe is 6000 years old anymore.) The next few rooms were dark and scary urban-themed areas that were supposed to show people the terrible consequences of rejecting the bible. The rooms were decorated with hellish graffiti, scary sound effects, and eerie messages in capital letters listing all the supposed horrors of rejecting the bible. They weren’t even subtle about the emotional tricks they were playing on the visitors, but I don’t doubt that many of the visitors are stupid enough to fall for them. On the walls were black-and-white photos of a wolf baring its teeth, a mushroom cloud, a pile of human skulls, a woman screaming in pain from childbirth, etc. On a door with a ridiculous number of locks, the words “THE WORLD’S NOT SAFE ANYMORE” were carved with a knife. A couple of the displays read: This whole exhibit is a prime example of one thing I hate about Christianity, particularly the extreme fundamentalist kind: It divides everyone up into “Christians” and *gasp* “The World”. Kids are taught to hate, fear, and be distrustful of the world outside their bubble of indoctrination. It keeps them feeling dependent on Christianity and discourages them from considering leaving the faith. However, the good thing about this is that when kids grow up, if they manage to leave their Christian bubble and see the world for themselves, they will see how terribly wrong their parents (and this exhibit) were and hopefully begin to question other religious things their parents taught them. There was also an exhibit of a church with a wrecking ball smashing into it. On the wrecking ball was written “Millions of Years”. Next to it was a display describing the dangers of the church compromising with the findings of evolutionary science – the “effects of replacing God’s truth with man’s fallible ideas.” There was another room showing the effects of disobeying God according to the bible. They compared their speculation of what the world was like in the Garden of Eden before the Adam and Eve disobeyed God by sinning with what it was like afterwards. At the end of this tunnel of horrors, there was a display reading “There IS an answer to the sin problem…” I’m sure you can guess where they take this. Farther along, there was an area discussing evolution and natural selection. Creationist theories about natural selection and Noah’s Flood were given and compared with the actual scientific explanations. One thing about the museum that made an impression on me was that they had displays or depictions of dinosaurs almost everywhere. It seemed like they were almost obsessed with them, which is kind of funny considering that they are young earth creationists. It’s like the more ridiculous some component of their faith is, the more proud and showy they are about it. When reading Christian apologist articles online, it seems like this is a common tactic – to act unusually confident when it comes to some argument that is particularly damaging to their faith. They give some rambling nonsensical rebuttal while reassuring their Christians readers that there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Their readers probably end up being convinced by their confidence and authoritative tone. It seemed like most of the people visiting the Creation Museum were families with young kids. I thought that was the saddest part about my whole time at the place – seeing all the little kids mostly incapable of critical thinking being fed a bunch of nonsense. They will probably remember all the visuals and special effects and go home with the impression that the Old Testament stories are true as if they saw them happen with their own eyes, because that’s how it will probably feel to them after the experience. While the Creation Museum was really bad, I think the Ark Encounter was even dumber in a few ways. If you guys want, I can write about what that was like in another post. But I'm done ranting for now. - - Dirwid
  3. @TruthSeeker0 Thank you, and feel free to use my post in any way you'd like! @Tsathoggua9 Thanks! @MOHO I wish I could say that I'll pray for Mrs. MOHO, but that wouldn't make much sense, haha. I hope she changes her mind about things though. @ObstacleChick Thanks! And thank you for sharing your story as well. I wish I could give you advice about coming out to your family, but I am in the same boat as well. We'll make it through! @DanForsman That is actually very accurate now that I think about it! Thanks!
  4. @BobCu If we are fair, I don't think anyone can be "100% certain" that some type of powerful immaterial being (a "god") does not exist. I'm not sure that we can be 100% certain of anything for that matter. I just think an individual should choose the most reasonable/probable explanation for what they observe and when they don't know what the most reasonable explanation is, admit that they don't know and then strive to find out. I am not perfect in this aspect and I don't claim to be. Currently, I have doubts about whether evolution could be unguided. When I was a Christian, I researched the topic and came to the conclusion that life was too spectacular to be a product of unguided evolution. These doubts about evolution still linger from my Christian days, and I still need to thoroughly research the subject again without the blinders of religion. Similarly, I also have doubts that human consciousness and abiogenesis could be convincingly explained without some kind of intelligence involved. Right now I don't believe in any god from any organized religion, but based on my previous conclusions about these topics, I somewhat grudging am forced to admit that I have to believe in some sort of impersonal higher power. But I don't claim to know for sure that this higher power exists. That is why I said I am "agnostic/deistic". These doubts are the only things preventing me from going all the way to atheism. The way things are going for me, I can see myself becoming a complete atheist in the future. This will not happen until I thoroughly research evolution, consciousness, abiogenesis, and other topics again from a naturalistic perspective and ask myself if the arguments I hear in support of these propositions are reasonable. I strive to not accept any belief just because of the social pressure of many other people believing it (after all, many people believe Christianity is true, but as we know, it is not). I want to apply reason to everything, and naturalistic explanations for the world should go through the same test. So sometime I need to get around to seriously researching these things. Yes, there is an overwhelming trend throughout history that people believe a god is behind something they don't understand... only until science shows that a god is not needed as an explanation. If you extrapolate this trend, you will arrive at atheism. But I don't accept this as a valid argument for atheism, because an extrapolation is based on the assumption that the trend will continue. Given the track record of religion vs science, I'd say it is reasonable to expect the trend to continue, but this is still an assumption, not firm, conclusive evidence. But I guess you wouldn't consider it to be an extrapolation, but rather as something that you know from conclusive evidence. And again, I need to research things myself and see the conclusive evidence. I don't want to take anyone's word for it. From what I can tell of that website, it is full of edgy one-liners and quotes, name calling, anger/emotion, and very little real, meaty logic. It's the kind of site that completely turns me off, even if the gist of what is being argued is something that I agree with. I would say always evaluate individual claims individually. Try to stay away from blanket statements - tempting though they may be. You are very condescendingly implying that I do not care about reality.
  5. @JenniferG Thanks for reading and for the kind words! I didn't think of Hebrews 11:1 while writing my post... Should've included it because that verse is a doozy! @MOHO Thank you! I'm glad that you found the bullet points useful. Feel free to use them however you'd like! For the record, everyone is free to use whatever I post on this site in whatever way they want. Also, I'm sorry to hear about Mrs. MOHO. Does she know you are not a Christian anymore? @Geezer Interesting! I didn't know there were that many gospels being considered originally. But somehow I'm not really surprised. Thanks for reading!
  6. How and Why I Left Christianity A few years ago, I used to be a Christian. Now I am sort of agnostic/deistic. And also antireligious. To give you a background:I grew up in a conservative Christian bubble for most of my childhood. All of my friends and immediate family are Christians and most of them are Pentecostal. I don’t know any of them who don’t think the Bible is inerrant. I never (and still don’t) have any non-Christian friends. Religion never felt terribly important to me, and I was slightly ashamed that I didn’t naturally feel religious in my day-to-day life like I was expected to. I would silently thank God for a pretty sunset, but didn’t feel overly-dependent or attached to God. Many people in my life would say that they relied on God for everything down to simply getting out of bed in the morning, and I found this weird because I could go a day without even thinking about God and I would be perfectly fine. I had a hard time believing that every mundane little blessing in our everyday lives was caused by God, or that God was causing good things to happen rather them being a result of our own actions or the actions of others. I secretly thought reading the Bible was boring and I would rarely read it without someone else encouraging or shaming me to read it. I rarely felt excited about my faith like other people in my life were. I couldn’t speak in tongues like some of my friends - even though I asked God many times. I did pray, but I never heard God’s voice like other people claimed to hear. For a while, I was very frustrated because of these things and I felt like God was either arbitrarily silent towards me or I wasn’t saved or I was doing something wrong. I felt like I hardly belonged, and I feared for my salvation for a while. I did everything I needed to be saved and I did truly believe the Bible, so finally I concluded that I did my part and if God didn’t accept me then that’s not my problem. Now that I’m agnostic and I look back at this, I’m still not quite sure why I never became “on fire for Jesus” like most other people in my life. I was “going through the motions”, as they say. Maybe I am innately too rational to fool myself into believing I was actually having experiences with God. I don’t know. By growing up always surrounded by conservative Christians, I used to always hear only their side to every religious or political argument. When I heard about what other people believed in religion and politics, it was always a warped, negative, misrepresented picture of it from someone who was against it. It was a classic case of indoctrination. When you are younger, it is forced on you. But once I got old enough, I was given permission to surf the internet on my own. That is when I started being exposed to information outside of my bubble of indoctrination. I began reading countless debates on creation and evolution online, and I also tried to defend my belief in young earth creationism in the comment sections. Through this, I got a sense for the rigidity and formality of debate, learned to spot fallacies, and realized in a way I hadn’t before that I could discover truth by logical reasoning and testing the validity of various arguments. This was incredibly important in my path towards irreligion. These online debate often drifted off into a debate about Christianity and Biblical inerrancy. I found myself having doubts about the accuracy and inerrancy of the Bible (not just about the book of Genesis but countless other parts of scripture). There were so many arguments that seemed to refute different passages of the Bible, and it felt like there were a bunch of leaks in a dam and I was scrambling to plug them up. Every time I found a satisfactory or at least partially satisfactory answer to a question, two more leaks would form. Some arguments against Christianity seemed solid at first, but after researching them, much to my relief it turned out that they were very flimsy. So I tried to encourage myself with that thought: That all the unanswered questions I had were nothing to worry about at all, and a good answer for it would come but I just hadn’t found it yet. Soon, however, I began thinking about the doctrines of Christianity many times a day, forming connections and trying to piece things together. I started daring to come up with new problems for Christianity myself and seeing if I could find an answer to them. To my horror, I found that there were whole realms of questions that led to other questions, all which I could think of few or no answers to. Searching for answers online didn’t help much either. Gotquestions.org and other sites failed me more and more often, and I started seeing logical flaws in the answers I received from them. I felt annoyed and uneasy when sites like Answers in Genesis would answer a scientific question with the Bible more than they did with science. I personally accepted the Bible, but I knew that the atheists I was debating would not, and I didn’t have much of a reason to give them as to why they should accept the Bible as well. The answers I got from Christian websites would only address part of the problem, and the main part of the problem would go unanswered. Or they would give an answer that relies on circular reasoning. Or they would give emotional reasons or other reasons that are irrelevant. Or they would simply say something along the lines of “I don’t know why this is the case, but we’ll just have to take it on faith. After all, it says here in the Bible that God cannot lie, so we can trust Him on this.” However, I saw that faith didn’t work very well in debates. Atheists wouldn’t accept it and I couldn’t blame them for it, so this answer always left me unsatisfied. Faith became a topic to avoid. I was on the same side as those using faith in arguments, but I was embarrassed by them. Faith was like a currency that only had value in my little Christian bubble, and outside it, it was worthless. People who believe different religions use faith to support ideas that contradict with Christianity, and I had no answer to why my faith should be accepted but theirs rejected. But logical reasoning, I saw, was like a universally accepted currency. Logic was incredibly useful. It is what enabled every scientific advancement. It allows us to truly understand the natural world. I relied on it more in my day-to-day life than I did on God. Logic was also necessary to be a Christian, else you could not even read and understand the Bible. I was reluctantly forced to admit the obvious to myself: Logic was superior to faith and it made no sense to make faith superior to logic in special cases. This was an important step in my de-conversion. I had liked to point to creation as the proof that God existed, but I realized that it told us nothing about which god (if any) created the world. Christianity didn’t really have any advantage over other religions. I realized that a great way to show yourself whether or not some argument in support of a religious claim is valid is to think of what other religions say about the matter, and ask yourself what logical reasons you have to think Christianity is correct about the issue and all the other religions are wrong. If you bring up Christian claims of miracles, supernatural experiences, or words from God, then just consider its equivalent in some other religion. If you don’t consider a Muslim’s supernatural experiences as evidence for their claims, why shouldn’t yours be rejected in the same way? I felt like I knew Christianity was logically true somehow (else I would reject Christianity) and I was grateful for being born into a Christian family so that I could grow up knowing the truth. Yet it scared me that in the 2000 years Christianity has existed, there were still no answers (that I could find) to some of the basic questions such as the problem of evil and others. You’d think that if there were good logical answers, everyone would be using them and I would have found them. I was terrified when some of my Christian beliefs could be logically forced into a corner where there were only two options: Believe in spite of the evidence to the contrary or admit the Bible is not perfect and Christianity is built on a foundation of sand. There was a growing pile of things that forced me (because of my indoctrination) to choose the first option, and this required me to have more and more faith that I was still right and all the answers were just hiding somewhere. With anguish, I started seeing that irreligion was winning over Christianity. I quickly became scared that I was losing the faith. I didn’t know if I was still a Christian or how anybody could know for sure that they were. I became afraid I would go to hell. I was afraid of my parents and friends finding out. I was afraid of people asking me about something that would force me to tell them about my doubts. I wanted to remain a Christian. I still wanted to believe in the Bible, but it was becoming difficult. I became depressed thinking that I might be going to hell for having doubts about the Bible, for not letting myself just stop asking questions, and for not being able to take everything on faith. I saw that praying for more faith wouldn’t solve the problems with Christianity – It would just sweep all the problems under the rug. I started constantly praying in my head, “Forgive me of my sins, God”. With all these thoughts about going to hell, my questions turned to the concept of hell, and that opened a whole can of worms for my faith. Thinking things through, I finally realized how evil and senseless God would have to be for him to send a person to hell. I realized the double-standards God has between the rules that he expects us to follow and the ones that He himself has to follow. It seemed that God could do whatever He liked and it would still not be considered sin. I began to see that Christianity essentially blackmails a person into making a low-information decision to follow Christ. It appeared like religion prevents a person from thinking critically about many things - keeping them in a self-perpetuating way of thinking that is almost unable to correct itself. I fully realized that truth is something that must be tested and shown to be true through research, discussion, and lots of logical reasoning - not something logically indefensible, unfalsifiable, and must be believed by blind faith and threats. I tried to console myself with the thought that Christianity only resembles a scam by some sheer coincidence. I used to think along the lines of “It sucks that a place like Hell exists, but that’s just the way things are”. But finally it occurred to me that God chose to create hell and set up all the rules that we follow, and being omnipotent, He could have chosen any number of other ways to set up His world. I thought that if God really loved us and He was omnipotent, He would have never created hell. But if somehow you can defend that He would, He could have made it temporary and bearable or He could have made it so that humans would never end up there. But if somehow you can defend this as well, God could have simply never created us. With the vast majority of humans supposedly going to hell, that seemed like such a terrible tragedy beyond words. I felt like it would have been better if humans never existed at all than for even one person to have to experience that barbaric, merciless punishment for any reason. What could be more important to a loving God than caring for his creation’s fate? For what could He possibly consider all this tragedy to be a net gain? For his glory. That’s it. God wants to be worshipped forever by a small, questioningly-chosen subset of his creation. This seemed to me like the most selfish, hateful act imaginable. Now to me, Christians were always the last people on earth who would try to justify sin. But when asked questions about hell or God’s terrible atrocities in the Old Testament, you could watch even a sweet old Christian lady transform before your eyes into an apologist for murder, torture, hate, rape, slavery, and abuse. But only in specific cases – namely, when it was God doing it or ordering it. At this point, it seemed to me like God was the ultimate hypocrite. I began thinking about the way God set up the rules for us: God determines what is sin and what is not sin. He makes many things to be sin so it is easy to sin, even accidentally. God gives everyone (or allows everyone to have) a sinful nature. A sinful nature ensures that you are tempted to sin and will sin at least once in your life. God decides the punishment for sin – hell. Due to the above two points, everyone is guaranteed to sin so everyone’s default destination is hell. God thinks it is a good idea to create man even with all the cards stacked against them like this. He doesn’t give them a choice of whether they want to be born into this world or not. A loving, omnipotent God would not set up everything so that hell is the default destination, I thought. If He loved us, He would not create hell. But if somehow you can defend this, he would at least set up the rules so that it is nearly impossible for anyone to go there if they didn’t want to go. God’s gift of salvation, the loophole to escape from inevitable torture after death… Maybe having this option available to everyone justifies the way God set up the world for us? And as shown above, God created the problem to begin with (because of the way He set up the rules and the way He created us), but does this loophole actually fix the problem? I began considering the way God set up salvation: Killing Jesus was needed to enable all-forgiving God to forgive us. But this doesn’t actually mean we are forgiven: God made sure that His forgiveness is conditional – depending on whether or not we accept this wonderful offer to solve the problem that He created. And don’t blaspheme the Holy Spirit – the omnipotent and merciful God is unable or unwilling to forgive that. In order to be saved, we have to believe God exists. If God exists, He makes His existence unprovable and requires us to go against what our rational minds tell us by forcing us to believe a huge collection of myths and legends without a shred of evidence. He calls this belief without evidence “faith” and chose to make it the backbone of the Christian religion. Why would God give us rational minds if they tend to lead us to reject the existence of God and therefore cause us to be damned? Why would He give us rational minds if He loves us and wants us to go to heaven? Not only does God give us no good evidence in support of His existence, He allows there to be plenty of evidence that leads us to believe that the Bible is wrong about many things and that God doesn’t exist. Many Christians say that God is testing their faith through this. But why would He want to do this? What is valuable about blind faith? Doesn’t God know that by doing this, He is gambling with our eternal destiny? Again, if God loved us, why would he make it hard to go to heaven? God chooses to give us the gospel message in a book written by mere men rather than a book written directly by himself. This causes rational people to question whether it is actually from God and this in turn causes them to go to hell. God allows there to be many competing religions in the world and does nothing to make His religion seem any truer than any of the other religions. This causes a person’s eternal salvation to come down to the chance that they will choose the correct religion. Again, why would a loving God choose this? God causes people to be born in a situation (geographic location, for example) where they will live their lives without ever hearing the gospel message and go to hell for no thought of their own. Why would God choose this? God chose to make his plan for salvation dependent on a person’s ability to understand His gospel message. Yet God chooses to create people who are mentally incapable of understanding it. Why would God choose this? God allows his gospel message to message to be distorted. This can cause people to go to hell. Why would God choose this? God does not spread the gospel message himself. If He did it Himself, it would simultaneously solve the problem of there being no evidence for God, the problem of His gospel message not being heard, and the problem of His gospel message being distorted. But He doesn’t do this. Why? Nearly everyone would go to heaven if He did this. Isn’t that what He wants? God lets Christians and non-Christians alike to sometimes die young. If He wanted more people to go to heaven, He would go to great lengths to allow non-Christians more time to make a decision to become Christian. If before we were born God gave us a choice about whether or not we wanted to be born and we knew the following: Endless torture would await us by default We most likely wouldn’t find or accept the loophole in our lifetime ….Then I don’t think anyone would choose to be born into this world. None of these things make any sense or have any reasonable answer if you are looking at them from the perspective that Christianity is true and God is omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving, perfectly just, and merciful. However, all of these points DO make an astonishing amount of sense if you consider them from the perspective that God does not exist and Christianity is an ingenious self-perpetuating scam. Suddenly I began thinking that things in Christian doctrine aren’t just the way they are because that’s the way they are, but they actually serve the purpose of keeping people dependent on the faith and spreading the scam. For example, verses like John 15:5, Jeremiah 10:23 and Matthew 4:4 demolish a person’s sense of control and self-esteem and leave them dependent on Christianity. Verses like Hebrews 6:4-6 keep them fearful of leaving the faith. Verses like 2 Cor. 10:4 and Matthew 12:31 discourage them of even thinking of leaving the faith to begin with. Verses like Proverbs 22:6 and Ephesians 6:4 encourage Christians to indoctrinate their kids while they are vulnerable to that sort of thing, thereby spreading the scam. Verses like Mark 16:15 also serve this purpose. Verses such as 1 Cor. 3:18-20, 2 Cor. 10:4, Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 55:8-9, James 1:6, etc. encourage Christians to reject “human reasoning” in favor of faith in God and His wisdom - thereby preventing you from questioning the Bible. It suddenly makes perfect sense why verses like Luke 4:12 and Deut. 6:16 would tell you not to put God to the test, when putting God to the test would lead to the salvation of many people if God actually existed and answered prayers. You are encouraged to be like a sheep and to have the faith of a little child. The concept of infinite reward is a bribe to draw them forward in hope of gain, and the concept of infinite punishment serves as a threat to push them forward to avoid loss. Conflicting statements about what is required to be saved are probably unintentional, but nevertheless they serve the purpose of setting a believer down the path of ever increasing devotion to the faith just to be sure of their salvation (I know because this was my situation at one point). There are dozens and dozens of other conclusions I came to about Christianity and religion in general, but it would take me forever to write them all down. Most of them have to do with Old Testament laws, a few New Testament verses, details of God’s actions and overall plan for the world which contradicted with His supposedly perfect nature, contradictions in the Bible, God’s inaction today, the deliberate unreasonableness of most Christians, blatant misinterpretations of the Bible by Christians in order to avoid having to accept the obvious falseness or evil in particular verses, etc. With zero evidence in favor of Christianity, an ever-growing mountain of evidence against Christianity, and a convincing alternate view of what Christianity is actually about and how it even exists, I eventually found it impossible to believe any more. This deconversion that I had did not occur immediately, but occurred gradually over a period of almost 2 years. It was partially my fear of hell and my fear of what the Christians in my life would say if they found out about me that made the process take so long. By the end of that time, I considered myself to be irreligious. Then I soon became antireligious. My morals and politics have changed here and there for the better with my rejection of religion. However, I am still in the closet about all of this, so I still try to pretend to be Christian. It can be a really unpleasant business. Now I see everything that happens today as perfectly explainable by natural causes. I find it very silly to believe that some god must have been involved in the events of the world in order for us to be able to explain why something good or something bad happened to someone. The world looks the same as it would if there wasn’t any god at all and if the world just operated on its own. The laws of nature don’t attach any significance to whether a bolt of lightning strikes a tree or if it strikes a person. Only we do, and I don’t need religion to cope with that. Because there is no God directing my fate, I am fully responsible for making this world a better place. It is no longer forbidden to apply reason to subjects like morality and politics, and because of this, I have a method to improve the world rather than being dogmatic and stuck in the past. I consider that a good thing. I’m sure I could think of a lot more to say if I took the time, but this post is long enough already. Thanks for reading! - - dirwid
  7. Hello, I just thought I’d share a story from a few years ago. This is a very vivid example of the confirmation bias and general lack of logic used by many Christians. In this case it’s my first-hand experience with Pentecostal Christians so maybe it will be more interesting and different than most of you ex-Christians here are used to. This experience made a sizeable impression on me and later helped point me toward agnosticism. A few years ago (2013?) when I was still a Christian, I was in a Bible study group. Now, the people in this group (including myself) were a dozen or so homeschooled Pentecostal Christian teenagers lead by two of the parents. A smaller subset of this Bible study group would have this special prayer/evangelism time once a week. They would ask God for a person's name, their prayer need(s) (such as a specific part of their body that needs healing), an article of clothing that the person was wearing, where the person was located, and any strange identifying bit of information about the person. Each person praying would pray until God gave them info about several different people to pray for. They would write everything down. After praying, they would actually go out on the streets of our town, supermarkets, and nearby places (wherever God told them to go to find the people on their lists), locate someone who matched the description, and pray for them. Hearing the leaders of this event (the two parents) summarize what happened during these events to the members of the Bible study who didn't go, you'd think God was doing crazy things all over the place, showing them exactly the people to pray for, that they would find people meeting that exact description on the street, that crazy coincidences (God working) would happen, and lives would be miraculously changed after praying for them. But after attending one of these events, in the back of my mind (I tried to push the doubts away for a while) I saw that nothing could be farther from the truth. Extreme amounts of confirmation bias were used (it was like an unquestioned habit) and various excuses were used to explain away things that didn't happen the way they should have. It was unreal. Even though I was still a Christian at the time (though with doubts), I couldn't help notice these things and be uneasy about it. The leaders were clearly confident that it was God working, and being a Christian, I couldn't just accept the obvious, because that isn't acceptable thought. So I went along with them (they were confident, strong, spirit-filled Christians - they must know what they were talking about when they say it was God at work) and I made excuses as well. I felt smart coming up with clever excuses. But I was uneasy and unconfident about everything the whole time. Looking back, everything that was happening and everything I was feeling makes perfect sense. I couldn't admit that 2+2=4. I couldn't honestly confront my doublethink. Indoctrination with religious dogma from a young age does that to a person. Here's what happened during the prayer event I went to so you can get a taste of the insanity: About a dozen of us met at a church to pray. When I prayed, I couldn’t tell the difference between my thoughts and God speaking to me, so I just wrote down a few random names that popped into my head. For the locations where we were supposed to find these people, a store in town came to mind. I also thought of articles of clothing they’d be wearing and things in their lives that needed healing. Lastly, I thought of a few strange things that might have to do with them somehow. For this, I thought of a traffic cone. I was very unsure about the details I had scribbled on my paper, but the leaders comforted everyone by saying that it takes practice to be able to hear God’s voice clearly, so we shouldn’t feel bad about it. Everyone praying had between 3 and 5 different people they thought of, so this meant 3-5 sets of names/clothing/location/issues/strange for each of the dozen people there. Next, we split up into groups and headed to town to find the people we were supposedly told by God to pray for. We went to the high school first since there was construction work going on and there were traffic cones sitting around like I got during the prayer time. We speculated on what would happen. Maybe we’d see a construction worker who fit someone’s description and was standing next to a traffic cone? But there was no one there. Our leader explained to us that God doesn’t lie, so what He told me about the traffic cones must have some other explanation that we didn’t know about. Now what we did was mix and match the different sets of information God supposedly gave to us rather than consider them as fixed. For example, if Sally received from God a picture of a middle-aged man named Hank wearing a white shirt who sells propane and propane accessories and needs healing for his Diminished Gluteal Syndrome, they would still consider it a match if we came across a middle-aged man in a white shirt whose name is Bobby (a name someone else in the group came up with) or at least someone related to him is named Bobby, and he has a broken leg (something another person came up with). Now, you can see that there are now hundreds of possible combinations rather than a few dozen. We could rather easily find someone who fit some combination of the different attributes and when we did, we would pray for them and then walk away thinking that God orchestrated the whole thing so that we would meet the right person at the right time. Everyone in our group was so excited about what God was doing when these mundane things happened. One of the other groups found a lady wearing a polka dot shirt like God told them, and they were able to pray for her. The lady apparently broke down in joyful tears afterwards. She had just gone outside the store for a quick break between two shifts when the group found her. They took that as evidence of God’s perfect timing. Some middle-aged couple we met on the sidewalk checked a couple of the boxes so we asked them if they wanted prayer for anything and they said we could pray for their son Alexander – for safe travels as he came home for Thanksgiving. So we did. Later I told a leader that “Alex” was one of the names that I received while praying. She was really excited. Later the leaders mentioned that to the Bible study folks and said I should remember it as a good faith-building experience. Nothing was mentioned about all the names and attributes that turned out to be false information. Our group was expecting miraculous coincidences, and we got them – by ignoring all the failures. Thanks for reading this. I’ll get around to writing my “ex-tamony” sometime soon and about my recent visit to Ken Ham’s Creation Museum and Ark Encounter. Hopefully I can get those posted here before the end of the month. Cheers! - Dirwid
  8. There's no option to set your profile picture on the registration page.
  9. Oops, it must have pulled the picture from my Gravitar account rather than the Gmail account. It turns out I'm using a different photo for gmail.
  10. Just went to Ken Ham's Ark Encounter with my family. Whoo boy... Lots of circular reasoning. I'll probably post about it when I get back home. 

    1. Margee

      Margee

      So glad to have you here with us dirwid! Looking forward to hearing about this! Welcome!

    2. dirwid

      dirwid

      Thank you! :) I'm glad to be here! 

  11. Hello, I'm a new user and this is my first post. This is just a slight complaint/request relating to the registration process. Hopefully this is the right place to post this. Anyway, several hours after registration, I realized that this site pulled the avatar I use for my gmail account and automatically used it as my profile picture without me knowing it. Since I am an in-the-closet agnostic and all of my friends and immediate family are fundamentalist Christians, I was a little alarmed to see my face and username I use all across the internet show up as the profile picture on this site without me knowing it. I'm glad I caught it as soon as I did since I want to remain anonymous. So my request is that this site refrains from automatically setting your avatar during registration so you don't unintentionally reveal your identity like I did. I don't mean to be a complainer - I just would like to help improve this site even if it is something little. It seems like a nice site and I just need someplace where I can express myself. I intend to post my testimony of how a became agnostic sometime soon and hopefully become somewhat active on this site. Thanks mods for reading. Cheers!
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