R_Collins

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R_Collins last won the day on December 1 2017

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About R_Collins

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  • Website URL
    freethinkersbooks.com

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Alabama
  • Interests
    Exposing fallacies and deceptions of Christianity
  • More About Me
    I am an ex-Christian who saw the light of reason when I was in ministerial school studying to be a conservative Christian minister.

Previous Fields

  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    no
  1. I know a large number of Bible contradictions, because I'm writing a book about them. So I try to pick a contradiction that will be appropriate for whoever it is that I'm talking to. My objective is not to "win" and argument, nor do I expect a single contradiction to "convert" them to non-Christianity. My goal is to create some cognitive dissonance and try to make them think about their beliefs. The ancient Stoics had a concept of planting seeds of reason/enlightenment, which hopefully will grow with time. (Christianity plagiarized this concept into a much less effective version, "The Parable Of The Sower".) So I get one of two responses: (1) The Christian gets anxious and unsuccessfully tries to defend the Bible. I know the Bible a lot better than just about all Christians, so I refute their arguments as gently as I can, trying to tread that fine line between convincing them that they are wrong and destroying their argument so completely that they tune me out. In this case, I believe that I have successfully sowed some seeds. (2) The Christian completely ignores what I say and does not even try to refute it. They respond with something completely irrelevant, such as accusing me of not having enough "faith", telling me that I am going to Hell, etc. In this case, I probably have not succeeded in planting any seeds. I have discussed de-conversion with literally hundreds of ex-Christians. I haven't found a single one who was de-converted by a single argument. But, like an avalanche, de-conversion always starts with one thing,(which may be a different thing for every person). One thing that bothers them and they can't explain or feel good about. Then they start thinking about their beliefs, which is beginning of the end of their faith.
  2. The birth of Jesus Christ cannot be confirmed historically, but apologists correctly point out that almost no ancient births can be confirmed historically. It was just too long ago. Are there events that the Bible reports are associated with Christ's birth, and are big enough to be reported by the surviving writings of ancient authors? The Star of Bethlehem (also called the "Christmas Star") is such an event. If it indeed happened, it should be widely reported by even secular astronomers (astrologers) and historians, such as Pliny and Josephus, who do report other astronomical events. The Star of Bethlehem also had huge apologetic and evangelistic value to First Century Christians, because surviving eyewitnesses would have been able to confirm it. We should expect it to figure prominently in the evangelistic sermons that are reported in the New Testament, and in the Epistles that argue in favor of Christ's divinity. Disprove the Star of Bethlehem, and you have powerful evidence against the reliability of the entire nativity story in the Gospel of Matthew. I've created a video that discusses the Star of Bethlehem, and the fact that the evidence for it is so completely lacking that I have not been able to find a single Christian apologist who even tries to defend it. Why Won't Christian Apologists Defend Matthew's Christmas Star of Bethlehem? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNxT--N60-U
  3. Codependence

    Fuego, I read your article "The God Of Abuse". It is very insightful. Thank you for all of the hard work and thought that you put into writing it!!
  4. There are already lots of good comments, so I'm not going to repeat what they've said. Overall, TylerJ, it sounds like you are on the right track. The only thing that I would add is that the process of re-programming your emotions is not uniform or steady. There will be ups and downs. There will be progress and regress. Counselors who work with people recovering from chemical dependency use the phrase "two steps forward, one step back". The important thing is not to get discouraged when you feel yourself slipping back into your old habits. Just take a little time to look at your slip(s), try to figure out why you're slipping and what you can do about it (sometimes there is something you'll figure it out, sometimes not). Then keep on trying.
  5. Codependence

    I agree with Jeff's definition of "codependence" But JehovahJesus does, in many ways, fit the description of a profoundly dysfunctional parent or spouse. - He can be infinitely cruel to anyone who doesn't believe him - He commands his followers to kill people, even little children - He is obsessively controlling even about trivial things - He discriminates against women solely because of their gender - He tells his followers that he will do extraordinary things for them if they just obey him, but when they ask (prayer), he doesn't - He is so arbitrary and his commands so self-contradictory that even his most devoted followers can't agree on what he wants them to do (which is why we have Protestants, Catholics, etc) - etc
  6. Christian apologists' argument that "non-Christians can't understand the Bible" is a theological weapon of mass distraction. It turns a very obviously true statement (that some non-Christians DO understand the Bible) into an ad-hominem attack. It has the obvious appeal of making Christians feel superior. There are two effective arguments against this (that I know of): (1) It does not explain the millions of Christians who read the Bible, prayerfully and obediently ask God to explain it to them, and end up not believing it. (2) It ignores the fact that Christians don't understand the Bible either. If they did, they would agree about what it says. But there are Protestants, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Mormons and many other kinds of Christians who have huge disagreements about what the Bible says, even though the Bible clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit will guide all Christian into the truth. (John 16:13), so they should all agree, unless the Holy Spirit is screwing up. I usually deal with this argument by turning to a couple of passages in the Bible that clearly contradict each other. Then I ask the Christian to explain them.
  7. Thoughts About Sin

    During the year or so that I was evolving from Christian to ex-Christian, I ran across Romans 7:7-9, which says, ""Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "YOU SHALL NOT COVET. But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;" This is a direct admission about the true function of "sin" to a Christian. Sin is the ultimate marketing tool. Sin is the tool that Christianity uses to create its own demand. Compare "I would not have come to know sin except through the Law", to cigarettes, "I never felt like I needed nicotine until I started smoking". In other words, "I was doing fine until you told me that I was a depraved sinner." This also explains why Christians cannot reach a consensus on what "sin" really is, or even what actions constitute "sin". Those are not the point at all. The point of "sin" is to make you feel bad so that you will be susceptible to (and financially support) Christian leaders. I know from personal experience that if a Christian ever gets "perfect" enough that he/she is not committing enough sins to make them feel guilty enough, Christian leaders either invent new things for you to feel guilty about, or suddenly change the rules so that you will have a whole new set of things to feel guilty about.
  8. Bart Ehrman has written several books that explain the cause of many of the inconsistencies, contradictions and incoherencies in the Bible. Forged, Misquoting Jesus and Jesus Before the Gospels each provide some well-documented answers.
  9. I have created a couple of YouTube videos demonstrating that the Bible contradicts itself. Each video takes only about a minute to watch. Psalm 136:10 A Bible Verse That Contradicts Itself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7dF6jWZRLM 2 Samuel 24 & 1 Chronicles 21 Three Bible self-contradictions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-RgJf6MSgs
  10. No. I went to some Charismatic/Pentecostal worship services when I was a Christian. They were all transparently fraudulent, like a magic show given by an incompetent magician, except that they took up an offering. That part worked really well!! I even talked my college roommate out of being being Charismatic. I did a pretty good job there, because he has been a member of a Calvinist Presbyterian church for the past 40 years. (After I became an ex-Christian I tried to talk him out of being a Christian, but Calvinism was stronger than Pentecostalism, so I had less success. He's pretty liberal for a Presbyterian, though.) God never answered the prayers of any Christian that I ever knew, beyond the coincidental occurrences that randomly coincided with their prayers. I went to lots of retreats, revivals, etc, (Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, various para-church groups). Lots of people had ecstatic experiences at those meetings, but "God told me" that they were all just making fools of themselves. Actually, I'm a lot more "spiritual" now than I ever was as a Christian, if you define "spirit" in the ancient sense of "alive". (The Hebrew word for "spirit" (ruach) is the same as the word for "breath", and means "alive", which makes sense because in the good old days, if you didn't breathe, you weren't alive.) I feel a much stronger connection to nature and all living things, and I am now able to feel much more empathy and closeness to other human beings, since becoming an ex-Christian. There's nothing mystical about that. We all live on the same planet, breathe the same air, etc. Christianity promised inner peace, purpose and love, but it actually gave me the exact opposite for all of these things, and took away what I had had of them before I was "born again". I am now able to much more sincerely, strongly, and healthily, experiences all of those things, because I no longer depend on a vindictive, controlling, nonexistent Jesus to do it for me.
  11. I hate to tell you this, but very few of those "friends" give a damn about you. Rather than speak about my own personal experience (which does support my previous statement), I will tell you about my grandmother's experience. Despite the fact that she continued to be a devout Christian, her church abandoned her when they could no longer use her. Read on..... My grandmother was a member of the same conservative Christian church for most of her adult life. She was very active in her church - she worked in the nursery every Sunday morning for several decades, helped cook hundreds of church dinners, accompanied her children and grandchildren on dozens of church trips, etc. She always tithed, and often gave extra for missions and special offerings. Her service to her church ended abruptly at the age of 73, when she broke her back in a car accident. Afterwards, for the last 10 years of her life, she was homebound and could not go to church because of this injury and declining health due to old age. Her mind was just as sharp as ever, and her faith was just as strong, but her body wore out a little more every day. Near the end, when she was in hospice care, she decided to plan her own funeral. We were all surprised when her funeral plans completely excluded her church and everyone associated with it. When we asked her, she explained. "For the past 10 years, NOT ONE person from my church has ever called me, come to visit me or sent me a note to tell me that they cared about me. Not one minister, not one deacon, not one of the church members who I worked with for all of those years and I thought were my friends. I worked very hard for them when they needed me, for many, many years. But when I needed them, they pretended that I didn't exist." "There was only one exception. One time an Assistant Pastor came by, only stayed for ten minutes, and spent the whole time telling me to 'remember my church in my will'". That was my grandmother's experience with her church "friends". When I became an ex-Christian, I contacted three of my Christian friends who I felt were truly my friends. We all agreed that we wanted to continue to be friends. We are still good friends, despite our theological differences, now, over 35 years later. So, when you "come out" as an ex-Christian, you will learn who your true friends are. They will care about you no matter what you believe. Don't worry about the rest. Their "friendship" is not worth having.
  12. Wow. I've been listening to de-conversion stories for over 20 years, and yours is probably the most unique one I've ever heard!! Based on your post last Saturday 11/25 (in the "What has been the hardest part of your deconversion from Christianity?" thread), things appear to already be getting pretty tense. You aren't going to be able to keep your and your husband's de-conversion secret forever. (Let's call it "enlightenment", not "de-conversion". Enlightenment is more descriptive of where you are going, instead of where you've been.) Also, you only have about 3 years before your oldest goes to college or is able to start being financially independent, so you don't have much time. Therefore, you and your husband have to come up with a plan. Your children are probably as smart and inquisitive as you are, so it is likely that at least your two oldest are already starting to think about what they're being taught. Studying the Bible has turned more Christians into Atheists than anything else. (That's what happened to me.) So one potential approach would be to have them study the Bible analytically instead of devotionally. Devotionally studying the Bible means cherry-picking a verse here and there to "prove" and "get a blessing from" what you've already pre-decided to believe. Analytically studying the Bible means relating its parts to its (in)coherent whole, reading entire chapters and books and comparing them to each other and to known facts about history, mathematics, archaeology, etc. That is, reading it like you would read any other book. This would give your children a smooth transition from what THEY know about the Bible, to what YOU now know about it. Once they have made that journey themselves, they will better understand your journey. True story: When my daughter was 13 years old, her mother, who is my ex-wife and very very fundamentalist, was pressuring my daughter to join her church. I did not try to talk my daughter out of it. I just said, "Your mom's church believes the Bible, doesn't it?", "Yes", she replied. "Have you read all of the Bible?" I asked, "Not all of it", she replied. "So do you think it would be a good idea to read it before you said you believed it?" I asked. My daughter agreed with me. So I bought her a modern translation (New American Standard), and suggested that she start with either Genesis or Matthew. She did, and that was the last time I ever heard her say that she wanted to join her mother's church. She is now 27 years old, and is not religious. BTW, I have a YouTube channel, with videos which might be helpful to you. https://www.youtube.com/user/freethinkersbooks I also have a web site, freethinkersbooks.com You can also get a lot of good info from web sites like skepticsannotatedbible.com and infidels.org . I also think that books by Bart Ehrman are very well written and informative. Ehrman also has a web site. That leaves the issue of your relatives. That is a tough one. There's just no way that you are going to be able to keep this secret. Obviously, you and your children love the grandparents, and you do not want to hurt their feelings. I spent a lot of time teaching my children about religious tolerance. For them to have the right to believe as they believe, they have to recognize that other people have that right too, even if their beliefs are different. My children have close friends of several different races and many different religions. So that part of it worked well. With their mother and her family, all of whom were hyper-fundamentalist, this had mixed results. My daughter has always had good relationships with her mother, mother's parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. My son's relationship with them has not been as good, but that is for reasons unrelated to religion (which would be off-topic and inappropriate to discuss here).
  13. NowWhat: "I am IN the worst part of my deconversion, right now. I'm angry, depressed, confused, anxious." Lots of folks, including me, know what you are going through. Soon after my deconversion (which I call "Enlightenment") I heard the following parody of John 8:32 "The truth will make you free, but first, it may make you miserable". That helped me. I hope this helps you. LIFE DOES GET BETTER after enlightenment. Just keep at it. (Also, giving yourself some "alone time", to think, would probably be a good idea, if you can.)
  14. Buying a religious gift - yay or nay?

    It really depends on the people, the gift and the situation. I'd never give a religious gift to children if I could avoid it. They might take it as my endorsement of religion. For adults, it is really a matter of (1) What is my gift saying to them? (2) How likely is it to change their beliefs or behavior? The original post mentioned a Catholic Trivia game. It's hard to see how this is going to hurt any Catholic adult who has already made up their mind about their beliefs. Hopefully, they would see it as an expression of friendship from the giver, not as an endorsement of any belief system. When my Great Aunt had to go into a nursing home, I realized that she was losing her eyesight. She did not have a large print Bible, so I bought her one. She was a liberal Christian (Methodist) but she was very sincere in her faith. She knew that I was an Atheist, and she interpreted my gift not as agreement with her beliefs, but as an expression of my love for her. But I have some friends (and former relatives) who have very unhealthy relationships with their beliefs. I have never given them a religious gift. It might feed their problem.
  15. Faeryn: I was a 30 year old, confused ex-Christian not so long ago. Every person is different, but I believe that I understand some of the things that you are feeling. I would like to share with you some things that worked for me. First, Christianity appeals to a person's emotions, not their intellect. I'm sure this comes as no surprise to you, because you are feeling the cognitive dissonance that results from your rational mind telling you some things and your emotions telling you the exact opposite. That is actually a sign of progress. When you were a Christian, your emotions were in charge and your Christian leaders were constantly trying to deactivate the part of your mind that can actually think. Your emotional brain and rational brain are actually associated with structures that evolved at different times, millions of years apart. Emotions are more associated with the limbic system, which could be called your "dog brain" because it pretty much runs things in lower mammals. Your rational mind is more closely associated with your cerebrum. (This is an over-simplification, I know. If there are any neuroscientists watching, please understand that this over-simplification is due to space limitations.) The point is that these two brain functions are very different. I used that knowledge to devise an effective treatment that worked for me. More on that in a minute. Second, you are experiencing classic symptoms of "hypervigilance", which is the state of being always afraid that some little detail is going to have catastrophic consequences. Hypervigilance often afflicts children who grow up in dysfunctional families (e.g., chemically dependent parents), because any little excuse can make the parent explode into an irrational and often violent rage of emotions. Based on your statements, your dysfunctional parent was Jesus Christ, who monitored your every thought and action, and threatened horrible consequences if you were not perfect in every way. My solution for both of these (rational vs dog brain, and hypervigilance) was conceptually very simple, but a lot of hard work to implement. I could see it start working almost immediately, but it took years for it to scrub all of the Christian dysfunction from my dog brain. I found out that I just had to slow down and make a conscious effort to keep my rational brain in gear at all times. The "slow down" part was very difficult because, after all, I was very hypervigilant. But it was essential to slow down, otherwise, I did not have time for the next step. The next step was to keep my rational mind consciously watching over my emotions. I found that the easiest way to do this was to be hypervigilant about rationally watching my emotions. Whenever my dog brain started replaying any of my old Christian dysfunctional thought processes, I'd mentally take a step back, tell myself "that's my dog brain at work", and then have a little mental dialogue between my dog brain and my rational brain about what I was feeling. I always made sure to try to determine how much of each individual dog brain thought was caused by my old dysfunctional Christian programming. That was an important data point in my mental dialogue. Sometimes the feelings were valid and my rational mind let my dog brain express itself. Sometimes the feelings were invalid and I let my rational mind ignore the feelings. Sometimes, there was give and take on both sides and my emotions ended up somewhere in the middle. The important thing was to slow myself down so that I could look at my thoughts, continually, all day every day. It was a LOT of work at first, and it was not always effective. But it is important to be gentle with yourself when things don't work, and just keep trying. Pretty soon, it got to be a habit and so it got a lot easier. As I said, I started to notice small improvements almost immediately, but the whole process took years before I had scraped all of that Christian dysfunctional thinking out of my dog brain. It was well worth the effort. One more thing. You said that your psychotherapy "isn't going well so far". It is very important for you to understand that good therapists/counselors are rare. After a month or two you should see at least a little progress. If not, find another counselor. The only exception is if your therapist has any religious beliefs (even if they are not Christian). If so, find another counselor NOW. Religion caused the problems you are having. You don't want to trade one set of religious baggage for another. I hope this helps!!!