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superbrady last won the day on March 10 2018

superbrady had the most liked content!

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About superbrady

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    South Carolina, United States
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    Nursing, science, reading, baseball, astronomy, technology, futurism, video games, being outdoors, music, beer, philosophy.
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    My name is Brady and I am a nursing student who lives in the Bible Belt. I am 21 years old and I have been an agnostic atheist for four or five years now. I am an avid reader, an amateur musician, and a geek. Some of my favorite TV shows are It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Star Trek, and Westworld. I also really enjoy watching documentaries, especially about ancient history and nature. My favorite video game is easily TES III: Morrowind. I also really enjoy going to see live music.

    One of the (very few) things I miss about being a Christian is the sense of community and belonging in a group of like-minded people. There are not many atheists that I know in my area (especially in my area of study) so I thought this forum might be a good addition to my life. I look forward to getting to know many of you and learning more about myself in the process!

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?

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  1. Welcome! I am new to the site too and I will say that it has already helped me immensely in finding many like-minded people who are incredibly open and accepting. Just reading through some of the testimonies and discussions here have brought me a lot of comfort and closure. And I think it’s safe to say that we’re all here to help as much as we can! I hate to hear about how difficult your life has been so far. Echoing what others have said, it might be worth talking to a professional if you can, given that this is such a distressing time for you. In the past when I had questions about my faith, I went through a time of emotional turmoil, fear, and anxiety, and would have benefited immensely from taking to someone who is an expert on this kind of thing in a confidential, safe environment. In fact, think everyone can benefit from talking to a counselor or mental health professional when having faith crises, when feeling like you’re under attack by something, or when you are going through deconversion. What you are going through is difficult to do alone and they are here to help you think through and cope with this issue. That said, I congratulate and thank you for being bold and sharing your story with us. In addition to helping you get some relief by posting this on this forum, it may help others in the future as well who are going through similar trials. I also look forward to hearing the rest of your story whenever you are comfortable. Have a nice day and stay strong.
  2. I think you're spot on. This echos a lot of what I read in Pinker's "Better Angels of Our Nature". Though dense, I think it's a really good book and that many of you here would enjoy it. It gave me a lot of hope in humanity's future. I think you're absolutely right here too. When the majority finally catches up and religious fundamentalism moves to the fringe, the future will be bright! Well said, and an interesting perspective! This reminds me a lot of Buddhism's criticism of dualism.
  3. This is an awesome talk, thanks for sharing. I have seen various applications of electrical stimulation to be very helpful for muscle pain, such as with the TENS units you'll sometimes see floating around hospital floors. I have also heard that electroconvulsive therapy can help a lot of patients with mental disorders like bipolar disorder, major depression, and psychotic disorders, though I have not witnessed it's benefits firsthand. I'm excited to see what further applications of electricity in medicine we will see in the future, and hope to continue seeing research in what Tracey called bioelectronic medicine. This seems to me to be a lot more promising than a lot of other nonpharmacological approaches I have seen people trying.
  4. I just wanted to add that it seems paradoxical that 5 point Calvinists believe in the perseverance of the saints (once saved, always saved), yet so many Calvinists worry endlessly about being part of that limited group covered by the atonement. Ironically, most of the churches I went to were probably more Arminian than Calvinist, but I had the same fear... that maybe I reject God without even knowing it, putting me at risk for damnation. Another thing - Calvinists beat themselves up for being infinitely depraved, yet I beat myself up because the Arminian assumption is that man can be restored by God to be almost perfect, and I always came short of that because I felt that I never let go of myself to let Jesus take over. It's crazy how theologies that are almost opposite both lead to the same doubts about salvation. It seems that fear and anxiety about eternity is inherent in the system to motivate unquestioning obedience.
  5. I think it really depends on the denomination. Some Christian denominations are really stringent with established church of Biblical rules (level 4) and others are a bit more relaxed, emphasizing the relationship with Christ and listening to what he tells you individually (level 3). I think that, personally, I was in level 3 as a Christian, as I convinced myself that I could "feel" the approval or disapproval of Jesus when I did good or wrong. It's interesting how my misperception of complicated bodily phenomena dictated so much of my life for so many years, looking back. I feel like I "simulated" Jesus in my own mind to fill in the gaps when I felt excitement or the weight of disappointment for some reason. Excited at a Christian rock concert or at a church service? Must be Jesus stirring in my heart. Parents mad at me again? I feel bad so it must be Jesus causing me to see the folly of my ways and to feel that I need repentance. Religious experience for me was ultimately never about religious law to better society... it was about pleasing my imaginary friend that I thought was Jesus. Fortunately, I never felt like it was my responsibility to tell others what to do based on previous divine commands in the Bible, though I'd probably say that morality is determined by God. I just wanted to please who I thought Jesus was. And you are correct in that level 4 is essentially the law and order stage and that it all rests upon submissiveness to rules. And I also think the instructor is right, that Jesus is a good representative of level 4 morality and that level 4 people feel threatened by people who are at higher levels of moral development. It makes sense... most Christians feel that the "objective" morality of God is binding regardless of culture or geography (though God and Christ dictating a moral system would make it subjective). And the next level above, level 5, is the level in which you realize that rules governing society and life are at least somewhat relative and flexible, varying from culture to culture and from religion to religion. I found a couple useful graphics in chart form, one from Wikipedia and one from a psychology site for students, that sum up the major characteristics of each step in Kohlberg's theory for anyone who is interested. I attached them to this post.
  6. I feel like it would take a lot of weight off of my shoulders if they knew. I don't like being dishonest. I mean, I don't lie and say that I believe things that I don't believe, but I also kind of hide the truth from them. And it's really hard for me to bite my tongue sometimes when my parents say silly things about non-Christians. My mom recently signed a petition online that proposed a national holiday in remembrance of Billy Graham. I informed her that it would probably never pass because it kind of goes against the separation of church and state and she said that people in the United States who don't think that this should be a national holiday should just "move somewhere else". Sigh. My university actually has counseling services that are included in the cost of tuition. They're a good resource and I have talked to some of the counselors before about academic stress. "Leaving the Fold" sounds like a really great read! I just added the book to my Amazon wish list. Thanks a bunch for the suggestion.
  7. I just read your letter a few minutes ago! It was wonderful. Thank you for sharing it with all of us. I wish you the best when your parents get back to you. I lost pretty much all of my friends at the church, but it's okay - since they didn't like me for me and only liked me under the condition that I am a Christian, they weren't really a true friend to me anyways. Likewise, if your Christian friends change their opinion of you as a result of your lack of faith, you're probably better off without them. It's incredibly shallow for Christian people to only associate themselves with follow Christians... and I also find it kind of concerning that so many wall themselves off from opinions differing from their own. It's why they have so much cognitive dissonance! It's never good to live in an echo chamber. I was not aware that there is a chat room! I'll have to check it out sometime. I think the Ex-C community is great too. Thank you for the advice, by the way. I really appreciate your input. I will probably go with my original plan and wait until I graduate college considering that I live with my parents over the summer and on breaks. I only have about a year to go until I graduate, though. It will be a better time when I live on my own full time and am completely self-sufficient and, like you said, when we have some space.
  8. TruthSeeker0, this letter was very touching and inspiring to me. You have a really nice way with words. I hope that if and when I break the news to my parents, I will word it at least half as eloquently and succinctly as you did. It must have taken a lot of courage to write and to send this letter.
  9. The negative emotions haunt me too, following behind me like a shadow. Day by day, gradually, the shadow seems to shrink, but it has taken a long time. It certainly has left a wound on me... on almost all of us, really. Even a few years after deconverting, I am still incredibly hard on myself, I still take little things way too seriously, and I still set unrealistically high standards for myself. I believe it all stems from my religious upbringing. It basically taught me at a young, vulnerable age that I need to be as perfect as possible and I need to repent of my imperfections. It's really messed up. Between age 8 and 18, when the religious indoctrination seems to take its toll for most, nobody needs to be told that they're not good enough and that key elements of normal human development are a part of some kind of sinful, fallen nature contrary to holiness and Godliness. I was essentially told to shut up and repress my feelings about these things and a lot of that remains today. It's really great that you have gone to therapy to get help. It is also wonderful that you are chipping away at the negative effects of religious trauma every day... I try to do the same. I'm very, very happy that you have made so much progress and will continue to make progress each day. I'm also glad that you made it out. It certainly was a sacrifice. I lost a ton of close friends after I lost my faith, and it stung for months afterward. What they didn't get is that I did not choose this... none of us chose to come to this conclusion. And the conclusion is inescapable. I am very grateful that everyone in my current friend group is aware that I am not a Christian and they accept me unconditionally. However, I fear the same falling out that happened with my high school friends from church might happen with my parents if I tell them everything sometime soon. When it comes to my parents and immediate family, I am still in hiding. I love my parents a ton and I do not want to lose my relationship with them... but my spirituality seems to be a grave matter to them. When I had that long-winded argument with them regarding my skepticism years ago, my stepdad threatened to kick me out of the house because he saw himself as the "spiritual leader of the house" (in his own words) and my skepticism interfered with the spiritual unity of the home. I'm not sure if he meant it or if he just said it because he was angry, but it still worries me that they might cut me out of their lives if they know that I'm an atheist. They already know I have a lot of differing opinions with them about religion, politics, and the like, but they don't know the complete truth. In fact, I still occasionally attend church with them. I'm unsure about when I will tell them if I tell them at all. What do you think I should do?
  10. I am so happy to hear that my story has resonated with you so much. I want to tell you that in my life, I have observed this "coming close" phenomenon to be somewhat common. I have seen many become more open-minded for a couple years, only to revert back to Christianity shortly after. I'm not entirely sure why, but it's very interesting to me. My best friend (an agnostic atheist like me) had a really bad breakup fairly recently. His ex-girlfriend was always Christian, but she started having fairly liberal beliefs in college and even started to believe in some form universal reconciliation. However, one day out of the blue, she decided she wanted to revert back to her Christian fundamentalism, and she felt that dating my friend was interfering with her "reconnecting with God", though he never pushed his beliefs onto her. He was absolutely crushed, especially since she started cozying up with a Presbyterian grad student within two days of their break up. Also, like I have said before, I attempted to revert back to Christianity a couple times to no avail, throwing out my rationality for a couple days for purely emotional reasons instead of finding stronger, more reliable solutions for my problems. Of course, your story is very different, but hopefully these examples help you to rest assured that you're certainly not alone. It's incredibly tempting to be a part of a group of people that is really kind, seems really happy, and is the largest religious group in America. Still to this day, some days I feel like I'm missing out on something and that maybe ignorance is bliss. It's interesting to consider that those doubts you had at the very beginning before you took a leap of faith and became a baptized member of the church reemerged at a later date. I really enjoyed reading this and it brought me a lot of comfort as I was reading. I'm also really happy to hear that you still found joy in those twenty-five years after baptism. I hope that I do not give the impression that my life was dull and dim before becoming an agnostic atheist. I have had a very good life and am very fortunate to have been born in these circumstances. And, though Christianity caused a lot of anxiety and created incredible amounts of tension within me, I was quite happy most of the time. Deconversion certainly yields to a lot of contentment when you realize how much pressure is taken off of your back and how much less dishonest you are with yourself afterward. So much more tranquility than I ever had with God. Like you, finally feel like I can be me, as I truly am... and I don't have to obsess about an afterlife that probably isn't there. I can live for today and make this life great. I don't have to hyper-analyze all the media I consume, questioning if it is somehow poisoning my thoughts and predisposing me to sin. I don't have to try to model the impossible ideal that is Christ. I don't have to worry about pleasing any church groups or religious mentors, telling them what they want to hear. I love your analogy... I can say the exact same thing about myself. Like any major change in life and routine, it was scary to come to this conclusion at first, but now, it brings me so much inner peace in countless ways. I'm really lucky to have been born into a time where there are so many great resources on atheism and science available on the web and in print to help me deprogram. We were born in different times and in different circumstances, I'm incredibly glad that despite these differences, we both eradicated the faith virus and inoculated ourselves so it will not reemerge in the future. I'm excited for both of us that we can look forward to the rest of our lives with fresh eyes, without any of the unnecessary frills and guilt associated with the Christian belief system. And I'm glad we both care so much about the truth, evidence, and living the good life. I hope to become someone as wise and warmhearted as you someday. I have enjoyed communicating with you, answering your questions, and hearing your story in the short amount of time that I've been on this forum. Thank you!
  11. Very well said! The crazy part is that the impossibly high moral standard they try to impose on others isn’t even very high to begin with. The Inqusition is a great example of full force Christian morality in action. I feel like secular morality is far superior to Christian mortality in its treatment of LGBT+ individuals, in its treatment of women, and in it’s opposition to war and violence, to name a few points of contention. This discussion also brings in the Euthyphro dilemma proposed by Plato... is morality derived from what God commands, or can God only command what is morally good? If he is only able to say and do what is moral, this is in conflict with his omnipotence. If morality is derived from God, then we are required to accept a number of moral atrocities in the Bible. I do not and will not ever condone slavery, child abuse, killing witches or anyone who disagrees religiously, or the mistreatment of women or homosexuals as outlined in the Bible, and most modern Christians would say slavery is immoral and child abuse is bad (though they’re wishy-washy about gender roles and LGBT+ people). It’s weird to say that most humans have a morality that is superior to God but I wholeheartedly believe that to be true.
  12. 99% of Christians that you and I have met are hypocrites. Modern Christians are buffet line Christians... they choose to embrace the passages that are comfortable to them and throw out the rest. Yet they’ll tell you the Bible is the infallible word of God. There’s a reason why Christians focus on the mercy and love bits instead of orders by God on how to keep slaves of many kinds, to kill homosexuals, throwing babies against rocks, hitting your children with rods, and so on... nobody would take them seriously if anyone espoused these views. So they water them down and claim that those are non-issues today since Jesus came and we need to examine the historical context or whatever (though there’s no historical context to justify these behaviors... they’re morally depraved). And, in the modern world, many of those pesky laws wouldn’t be adopted by many Christians in my area... they love their pulled pork sandwiches. So they often say that Paul says that you’re saved by faith and not works, and by extension, the laws are no longer taken into account... even though the Old Testament says the law is eternally binding and Jesus says that not one “jot or tittle” is to be removed from the law and that he did not come to take away the law. You’d think Jesus would have more authority than Paul, a person who never met Jesus in real life, on these matters but I guess not. And when Christians has want to “sin”, such as to have sex before marriage for example, they will always say “oh, Jesus will forgive me”, often while condemning the vices of other people that they do not have. It’s pretty ridiculous. It seems like Jesus to many Christians is often an excuse to do whatever the hell you want, as long as you ask for forgiveness afterward. The ironic thing is that I felt like I was solely following Jesus in the events leading up to my deconversion. I felt that Jesus “lead” me to read the Old Testament. And it eventually lead to the death of my faith because I couldn’t get myself to accept the moral monster Yahweh is in the Bible.
  13. Weezer, I really enjoyed reading this document. It was an incredibly worthwhile read for me. There is so much I can relate to here. Thank you so much for sharing! The conditioning is the only reason I think people take Christianity so seriously. The intellectual arguments aren't that compelling from the outside. They're only compelling from the context of a believer. If all of us weren't conditioned and manipulated emotionally, I believe Christianity would have died centuries ago. Exactly! I was always given the impression that I'm not educated enough to ask questions and that God would somehow be mad at me for questioning him. I also was taught that that the philosophical questions related to God's nature and existence did not really matter because I had a real relationship with him and could feel him and that should suffice to be convinced of his existence. I was also haunted by Pascal's Wager for a long time in my life, terrified of the possibility of eternal conscious torment. I now know it's not a very good argument, but at the time it seemed pretty convincing. Anyways, the point is that I felt that God had it all figured out and I just needed to make sure I was doing all that I could to please him. That is what I believed our whole purpose was in life - to bring him pleasure. A lot of this stuff sounds like childish questions to me now. In nursing school, I have learned and continue to learn a lot about psychological models of human development. The relationship between man and God reminds me of one of the stages in Kohlberg's stages of moral development. There are six stages total, and stage three is known as the "good boy/good girl" orientation, which basically consists of conforming to rules of a parental figure in order to receive approval and avoid disapproval by the parent. This orientation usually occurs in school-age children before they develop to understand morality in terms of social-contracts and abstract principals like "justice", "equity", and so on in adolescence and adulthood. It's interesting to see the moral development of many believers appear to be stunted in relation to God. One thing I find really interesting to see is my eleven year old sister start to ask really intelligent questions about God. At a supper I shared with my family about two months ago, she asked about the dimensions of God and where he came from. She asked how big he is, if anything is bigger than God, and who created God before God created everything. It was actually kind of funny to me to see my parents get frustrated because they could not give her satisfactory answers. I tried really hard not to laugh and just sat quietly without getting involved. I don't think they had thought about it much. She kept asking "why" after the answers they gave and it just increased their irritation. "Why? So what did God do before he made us?" The final answers were basically "God has always existed" and "it's just the way it is". I can tell that's not what my sister wanted to hear. I love to see how curious and skeptical she is already. I wish I asked questions like that at her age!
  14. I think reading the Bible in 1600s English makes it sound more magical and that many pastors get an ego trip from being able to read and understand what some of the clumsier passages in the KJV are trying to say. Also, it's one of those things in life that people have always done without question so they cannot possibly imagine doing anything different.
  15. IIRC, there's a few different words for hell used in the Bible and each author probably had a different idea of what hell is. I'm not an expert on this stuff, but what we were told about hell in church and at home when we were Christians is probably not what the original authors meant. It's what people like Augustine, Dante Alighieri, and later popular literary and church figures thought it meant. In fact, the word "hell" is used in English translations of the Bible in place of a number of different terms that mean very different things. Sheol, hades, gehenna, and tartarus are all terms used that are translated into "hell". It seems like the Bible itself doesn't even seem to have a clear consensus or description of what hell is, which suggests to me that our modern understanding of hell is an invention more recent than the writings in the New Testament. Sheol is basically a dark place Jewish mythology where it was believed that all humans went, good or bad. Hades is the realm of the god who shares the name in Greco-Roman mythology where, like in Sheol, all souls go, regardless of merit, to rest until they are forgotten. Gehenna is described by Jesus as a place where the body is utterly destroyed and is distinct from and not a synonym for Hades... Gehenna the name of a cursed place where children were sacrificed by fire to pagan gods. I have also heard theories that Gehenna in Jesus' time was a place where trash was burned and the fire burning said trash never went out (because it never ran out of fuel). Tartarus is another place from Greco-Roman mythology where pesky titans who played a big part in some of the Greek creation myths are tortured. These are all gross oversimplifications but the point is that much of our current understanding of hell is from extra-Biblical literature, pop-culture throughout the centuries, imported religious beliefs, and folk tales. What early Christians believed hell was like is most definitely not what we imagine hell is like... with pitchfork-wielding demons with red skin, hooves, and pointy tails and all. And if you think about it, hell is a useful concept to manipulate the emotions of churchgoers to get them to stay in church and get the religious movement to survive. Who knows what the hell (no pun intended) the authors of these books were trying to say, but I think we should consider it to be as nonsensical as we pretty much unanimously agree the Norse, Greek/Roman, and Egyptian tales are. However, I gotta say... I think the pantheons and stories of these polytheistic religions are far more interesting than anything that the monotheistic religions have to offer, at least as far as I have seen.
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