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Dexter last won the day on October 30 2018

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About Dexter

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    I am a recent de-convert who is trying to figure things out.

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

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  1. My family didn't actually start out religious. My grandfather came home from WWII wanting nothing to do with god or the church. But for reasons that'll never be known to me, he had a turning point where he jumped in with both feet, joining his wife and kids in their churchly activities and since then, my grandfather has boasted perfect attendance for decades since. By the time I came along, my very large family were deep in Christianity - my father an elder, my mother a youth leader. It wasn't hard to be a Christian. Literally everyone I knew and loved was one. The people I feared for, in terms of suffering eternal hellfire were people who were just less serious Christians. And so it was and so it seemed to forever be. As my family grew and extended ever further out, we did seem to have a knack for finding other very serious and like-minded Christians. A liberal in my family was someone who thought that gay people might actually be spared hell-fire by god. But such views were never discussed during family time. Over this last weekend, after Thanksgiving, a small group of us, 13 in total, spent Friday in Kentucky, at Ken Ham and AiG's Ark Encounter. For those that do not know, this is a $100mil life-sized Noah's Ark that teaches the global flood was real and happened some 4,000-ish years ago. Don't worry, none of us paid to get in. We're all lifetime members due to a $5,000 donation my parents gave during its construction. Afterwards, we went to the Creation Museum which, like the Ark Park, teaches creation is real and happened some 6,000-ish years ago. Don't worry, none of us paid to get in due to $1,000 of my own money that I gave when the Creation Museum was being built. The trip, I thought would be fun irony, and a trip down memory lane of my former beliefs. But it quickly turned sickening for me and I feared the message the young ones in my family would take away from these places. Yes, both places say being gay is a sin worthy of death. As is... metalworking? Seriously, it was on a sign, I don't understand... Anyway, the kids with us seemed to really take it all in and take it to heart. This was extremely disheartening for me as it seemed that my secret apostasy would just be perpetual. Then Saturday came and my side of the family had another get together. It was an informal thing with just 46 of us in total. And during that luncheon, my eldest nephew sought me out because he wanted to have a serious conversation. See, I am now in my mid-thirties and still unwed. The family pressure on me to find and marry a woman, any woman at this point, got so intense that I had to set up some hard boundaries and my family is no longer welcome in that part of my life. It seems that my nephew, now 20 years old, is feeling similar pressures to find a woman and wed. And he started asking me how I've dealt with it. And then, in the seriousness of our conversation, he revealed that he does not hold to the family's rigid traditional views, that, in fact, at least two of the girls he dated would've been rejected by the family. But truly, he just isn't interested in dating and has only done so in the past to maintain appearances. He asked me how important family acceptance was to me. And I told him that it was important to me, but that I would not prioritize it over my own well-being and happiness. It was at this moment he asked me if I am gay. ((No kiddo, I am actually a sexually deviant poly-amorous pansexual who doesn't really care what equipment you got between your legs so long as you aren't a POS and can carry on an interesting conversation)) I actually just smiled and said that it was an area of my life I'd prefer to remain private. I know what conclusion he drew from this but I'm not overly worried about it. Our conversation turned to him asking me how to make the family okay and accepting of someone who might not hold to the traditional social norms but I discouraged him from this hope. While it may be possible to gain family acceptance over social deviation, this will only occur so long as the deviation isn't too extreme from the general direction of the family. He might be able to gain family acceptance if he started dating a Baptist girl, because it's different but... maybe to so different as it can't be rationalized... maybe. But if the social deviation were extreme, like a same gendered partner, no, acceptance will never come because this is a deviation so extreme that the act itself will be perceived as an attack against the family. Is it possible for mutual respect to be rebuilt over time if I or another were to come out as gay? Sure. But there is no fast-forward button over the initial fallout that would be nothing short of calamitous. But this conversation gave me a certain amount of hope over the long-term well-being and happiness of my younger family members. I was locked in my religion for over 30 years. But that nephew, at 20, is asking how to cope with deviating from the family's social norms. His younger brother, who also sees me as a confidant, has the opposite problem, but still of the same extreme. He's naturally charismatic. He has an intensively attractive personality, but it's an intense personality. Girls find him interesting but quickly get worn out and frustrated because the same energy that makes him interesting has no off switch so quickly becomes too much to handle. So he goes through girlfriends at an alarming pace. I think he's had 8 in the past 12 months. But whatever, that's hardly something to get upset over. But the family is upset. His father is upset. Because this does not align with the family's values that he is to settle down and marry. Never mind the youngest of those three boys who has also admitted to me that he finds himself attracted to his male best friend. These are just three in a very large family of many kids. I have 13 nieces and nephews and I am distant to many of them just due to proximity and circumstance. But they all look up to me as the "cool uncle." And many see me as the one they can talk to when they feel their parents wouldn't understand. I am intensely protective of them and I am not at all beyond warning my sisters if I feel any of them are in danger, as once happened when one fell into a bad crowd and I, by pure effing luck, just happened to be at the right place and right time to see. But they also trust me as their secret keeper. And while I will not steer any of their paths, I do try to let all of them know that they have an ally, regardless the path they choose. Even if it leads them away from the family's values. My one fear is that some day I will be accused of leading them astray. That I have become a possessed agent of some goat satyr whose obsessed with kids making their own choices. That by not playing informant to my sisters of their kid's deviations from our family values that I am complicit in their being "lead astray." But all I desire is that they make their own decisions, and that they seek happiness and fulfillment in those choices, even if that means staying in the religion. But in the mean time, I feel there needs to be a foil to the propaganda. And they certainly won't hear it from that god damned Ark Park.
  2. Ah yes, that delicious feel like you are doing something wrong but yet it's still kind of fun to feel like you are breaking some kind of rule. I'd say embrace it. Imagine that maybe you are courting the devil. Just don't forget that he is just a myth and that all you are doing is overcoming your own biases. But it's ok to "be bad" for awhile so long as it's nothing too illegal.
  3. Well, much of the trouble is that the dominant themes are all over the place so neither inference is objectively wrong. But I suppose I always worked backwards in my logic. If god creates only things he intends, and I as a thing god created values freedom and freewill, therefore god values freedom and free will. Or so my thinking used to go.
  4. Ok, so I am taking some liberty on the General Christian Theology topic because this is a little more abstract theology based on a C.S. Lewis book. I'll be giving away some spoilers to the 7th book in the Chronicles of Narnia series so if you wanted to read that you may want to skip this one. So, some setup: *SPOILERS* In the 7th book of the Chronicle's of Narnia, The Last Battle, a talking Ape finds a lion pelt left behind by some hunters and conceives a plan to gain power and influence. He lives with a talking Donkey who's a simpleton but a loyal companion. The Ape convinces the Donkey to wear the lion pelt then starts a cult saying that he is a representative of the great lion Aslan (the Christ allegory of the story). He builds a hut that the Donkey hides in during the day and at night, he brings the Donkey out to show everyone that Aslan had returned to Narnia. Well, as Narnia is a theocratic autocracy, this caused problems. Near the climax of the story, four dwarves demand to enter the hut to see Aslan, not for any love of him but because they felt it was owed them. They enter the hut just before the real Aslan shows up and starts the apocalypse cause he ain't having any of this. For some clever story symbolism that is lost in this very short synopsis, Aslan turns the door to the hut into the portal to his homeland (heaven) as all the creatures of the world gather at the doorway and he judges whether they can enter through or not. After the last are judged, Aslan and the protagonists pass through the portal where it is forever shut behind them and Narnia fades into oblivion. But after the story protagonists enter heaven, they notice the four dwarves not far from the doorway huddled together. So a female protagonists approaches them and expressed how beautiful the land was. The dwarves didn't understand what she was talking about and asked how she could call a dung-filled barn beautiful. She was confused and insisted that it was a bright day. They said that it was dark and they couldn't hardly see their hands in front of them for how dark it was in the hut. She then plucked a fragrant and aromatic flower and put it to a dwarf's nose and he knocked it away cursing at her demanding to know why she put a piece of dung under his nose. Aslan then approaches and explains that because they never believed, all they can see is the hut. They cannot experience heaven. Now, sorry for all that build-up. On to the theology. Even as a kid when I read this, I wondered, how would the protagonists know that the reality they are experiencing is actually the real one. All the have is Aslan's word that theirs is the real one and the reality the dwarves were experiencing wasn't. But how could you test that? And not to mention, you have an externally imposed bias. Based upon my reading of the books, I'd expect Aslan to get very angry if he was asked to prove himself. The reason I bring all of this up here is because Aslan is an allegory for god, or at least, C.S. Lewis's understanding of him. And so I apply this same thought experiment to god as well. God says that his word is reality and any other is not. But was basis do we have to go by this? Well, his word that it is. Yet if we were to task god to prove this, historically it has made him very angry. So how could we actually test for and distinguish realities without enraging him who has the power to cause eternal pain and torment if questioned?
  5. When I was a child, I was on a mission trip to Haiti. I was in Jr. High by then and I had recently outgrown my fear of monsters in the dark. Or at least, comically ridiculous ones. Yet it was after midnight an I had to go to the bathroom. My tent was on the roof of the compound and the nearest bathroom was two levels down. As I was returning to my tent, I heard a tune. Something eerie and unsettling that I knew from childhood that used to frighten me. And this was strange. I felt like something was behind me. This seems like a monster in the dark situation so I sucked up my courage and walked like I had nothing to fear. But the fear kept building. I went up the stairs to the next level and looked down the stairs to face this monster of my imagination that I was no longer going to be frightened by and said aloud for it to leave me be. The something at the bottom of the stairs looking up at me didn't budge, didn't flinch and it felt more powerful and real than any monster I imagined leaping out from me from around a corner. And I was scared. I quickly looked up and around for help and my eyes settled on the "prayer chair." It was a chair that we manned 24/7, everyone, for 1 hour at a time and while on shift, you read the Bible, prayed for the mission, prayed for the people. Point was, never at any time was there someone not praying for the mission. And as soon as my eyes focused on the prayer chair and the person there praying, the song in my head stopped instantly, all sense of dread vanished instantly and suddenly the sounds of crickets and cicadas that I hadn't even realized I wasn't hearing anymore flooded back into my ears. Once my father was working on a dishwasher at a customer's house and he found that the installers had stupidly wired it backwards. He thought he had killed power to the appliance but as he was disconnecting the electrical power, he felt his muscles clench up as he started shaking violently. He couldn't let go. He couldn't do anything. He felt himself start to leave his body as his life's memories played in fast forward, slowing down when they got to his wife and kids. As his memories finished, he heard a voice that told him, "It's not your time yet" and suddenly he felt himself back in his body and he found he had control of his legs, and he kicked hard and knocked himself off the live circuit that was electrocuting him. My grandfather is dying. He has slipped so far into Alzheimers and dementia that we bought him a plastic children's tool set to help him "build" all the projects he's been working on at the nursing home. And he's been happy as can be. But my mother was ravaged with guilt feeling like she failed him. He never wanted to go to the nursing home and the day we moved him, it must've been the cold weather that got his heart rate up and rushed blood to his brain, but he had a moment of complete lucidness and shouted, pleaded, then broke down crying that he was sane, that he wasn't losing his mind, and that he didn't want to leave his home. That was four days ago as of the writing of this. My mother had spent every day in tears since, wanting to explain to her father, wanting his forgiveness but he wasn't lucid after that and didn't know who she was. Yesterday she and a few other family members were eating supper with my grandfather at the nursing home and he asked if he could pray. And in his prayer he thanked god for his family, for being there with him "...in this new situation..." referring to the nursing home and thanked my mother for being there for him. He recognized her. Only in moments of prayer does he show such lucidness. I could go on with story after story. All my personal experiences (well, the second one was my father's). I came up with nearly a dozen. These are just three I chose. Now, I know the average Christian will hear these and be shocked that I am not a believer. I have had so many personal experiences that confirm god's existence and his influence in my life, right? Well, here's the problem. God so far has been completely indistinguishable from anything other explanation. Let's say I have no bias whatsoever. I merely had these experiences and convey them to two people, a Christian and an Atheist. Haiti Story: Christian: These was a demon stalking you and he fled when god's protection fell upon you. Atheist: So satan took time out of his evening to send a demon to mildly frighten a 13-year-old? Sounds reasonable. Out of curiosity, did you get sick on that trip? Maybe run a high fever? (I do not recall if I get sick on that trip, by the way, but it was not the last time I went and other trips, I did get extremely ill) Out of Body Experience: Christian: My dad had nearly died and god sent my dad back to do his will. (This is what my father believes) Atheist: Near death experiences are very well documented in people of all faiths and non-faith. What's special about this one? My Grandfather: Christian: The power of god shows itself through prayer. Those lucid moments are evidence of the power of god and the power of prayer. Atheist: Praying, for him, is likely something that invokes a lot of powerful memories and emotions. He isn't brain damaged so it likely brings him back to a state of recall briefly. So how do I distinguish which one is true? I do not have an explanation for any of these things. They are experiences, yes. But what makes it god and not something else? And ultimately here's the issue I have. Why does god feel it necessary that when he manifests his power, to make it completely indistinguishable from other possible explanations? Why does he make it impossible to test his power? I know I know, Deuteronomy 6:16, Luke 4:12 and Matthew 4:7. But at what point does god's edict not to test him become a coverup? Why is god not able to convey his presence well enough that it's drawn into question under the smallest scrutiny. Anyway, I am going long but there's my thoughts on personal experiences.
  6. Your requirements for proof a quite good, if god is a personal god. However, this does not preclude the existence of a deistic god who simply doesn't care about you. For example, I was making yogurt today and in doing so, I create an environment where I pasteurize my milk to kill off all microorganisms then add in a live bacteria culture to then, be fruitful and multiply as it were. If, say, one of these bacteria became aware and asked me what it was, I could tell it that it's a bacteria in a pot. Being alarmed and confused it may accuse me of lying. As a comparative god to it, I'd find that amusing. ((NOTE: If I were YHWH, I'd be screaming at the pot, adding sanitizers to it to kill untold numbers of bacteria and demanding their praise and obedience for creating their world and the lives they have.)) If this bacteria started demanding that I demonstrate my power to it, I may rightly say that I have far more important things to worry about than answering to the demands of a bacteria in a pot. If after awhile there were countless numbers of them, all petitioning me for everything from finding their lost possessions to changing the very world they live in, demanding answers, praising me, cursing me and every which other, I may eventually just shush the pot and put a lid on it so that I do not have to listen and their world continues on has it has, as I made it. In this instance, the lack of demonstrable evidence of my power does not preclude my existence. Neither does belief or non-belief in me really matter to me in the slightest. But how would the bacteria who cannot leave the pot truly know if I am real or not? Well, there's a good chance they could never know unless I returned and started interacting with their world again. But unless I do, my existence actually doesn't even matter. What would it take for me to believe again? Well, definitely a god interacting with the world. But the only concept of a god I have now still wouldn't care about my belief or non-belief. If it reappeared and said, "Yup, I am the one who created life." I'd fully expect that if I started demanding answers of it, I'd be ignored. That god would do whatever it's motivation is to do and there isn't much I can do about it. Now, if YHWH is real and then shows himself to me, I'd first assume I was crazy and ask for external confirmation. If I receive that, my next question would be, "WHERE THE F*** HAVE YOU BEEN?!"
  7. I HAVE ALWAYS WONDERED THAT!!! I never grew up believing it but I knew many who did and I had no idea where it came from. I mean, they cited the story in Matthew 24 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding ((mind starts to wonder......... hot)) with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. But this was a pretty long leap into full on rapture for me.
  8. Whoops, got happy with keyboard shortcuts and accidentally made it double-post. Oh well, I'll edit this one. But anyway, that's how I would've counter-argued you as a theist.
  9. This sounds like something my best friend Chris would and has said to me in the past. Of course, were I still a Christian, I'd counter-argue like this. That if that's what god wanted, he'd just have created robots. That god wants a personal relationship with everybody and to have that, both parties have to have the ability to choose to reject each other. Otherwise it's just mind control. If I program someone to adore me, do they truly adore me? It is not so much more important that a person chooses to adore me when they do not have to and could adore literally anything else?
  10. Fun fact, discrediting Paul is also a popular way of claiming the Bible, or at least the New Testament is pro-homosexual (or... at the very least... neutral on the matter). Yes there is Leviticus and Deuteronomy but, hey, that's all old covenant stuff and Jesus made a new one. And Jesus really didn't speak a word on homosexuality. So far as we know anyway. His message was grace and compassion so clearly it's graceful and compassionate to allow people to love whomever they want. The only New Testament passages written explicitly about homosexuality were written by... hold your breath and wait for it... PAUL! So, if Paul was a false profit, then the NT is notably quiet on the matter of homosexuality. I mean, "sexual immorality" is still mentioned but that's open to wide interpretation. Now, all that said, this is still some pretty impressive mental gymnastics to try to get the Bible to support homosexuality but with Paul out of the equation, it gets a lot easier (and infinitely more problematic at the same time). But whatcha gonna do?
  11. This is where the early cracks in my faith started to form. First, I conceived of hell as a place that was outside of god's presence. That's all. To clarify, I believed that god sustained this world. That without his presence, goodness, empathy, compassion, etc. would not exist. That even evil people can experience goodness on this earth because god's spirit permeates all creation. So hell was a place god set aside that was outside his presence and spirit of goodness. Descriptions of wailing and gnashing teeth, of fire and torment weren't god actively torturing people, but rather metaphorical descriptions of what it would be like to exist outside of god's presence. That it's literally indescribable as no one has that frame of reference, but that it would be misery and pain. This also helped me resolve the mental gymnastics of why god would "send people to hell." I reasoned that he doesn't "send" anyone, but rather everyone has the opportunity to choose to be in god's light or choose to reject god and leave his presence. So, hell made more sense to me then. God isn't "doing" anything, just allowing people to choose their own fate so to speak. But there was one fatal flaw. I met too many people who didn't get to choose. Or rather, their choice would've been so heavily influenced by the tragedies of their lives. And it was one young man who I was witnessing to (trying to convert him) who was sobbing in tears because someone he loved was going to hell because they were openly gay. This person didn't know much about Christianity (he assumed I could interpret his dreams because he thought they taught us that in church) but he knew enough and I did too. I remember then trying to justify in my own mind why the being gay didn't really matter but I caught myself and realized I was rationalizing. And while this young man cried without dignity or grace, the cracks in my faith started to form. Was the dead man given the choice and he rejected it? Then I did something even worse to the certainty of my faith. I started googling. I looked up the man who had died and found his blog that was still online. And I read. Years worth of posts. Rants. Successes. Musings. His parents were Jehovah's Witnesses. They take an even dimmer view of homosexuality then mainline Christianity and I read about how his mother kicked him out and disowned him. At the one year anniversary of his death, there was a memorial service was I invited to and learned from the people there that an invite had been sent to his mother but she replied that her son had died years ago when he rejected Jehovah. So I was left with my own thoughts on this. With all the tragedy in his life, was hell justice? Did he really get to choose? If he did, was his choice truly an informed choice, understanding everything clearly and not obfuscated? Was this right? Was this justice? And what do I tell the man who was suffering? Jesus comforted those who were suffering. Yet the Bible makes it clear to tell the truth, that lies are evil. I could think of no truth to comfort him. To comfort him would be evil? And the cracks deepened.
  12. Giving credit where credit is do, I actually do respect and admire Ray in one thing. Having watched countless hours of Creationists speak, I feel confident in saying the following: Ken Ham is more interested in being right than being genuine. Ken would watch you go to hell and just smile and say, “I told you so.” The Hovind’s are criminals. Literally. I have serious doubts they actually believe any of it. Maybe they do... but regardless, they have found out how to make a money racket out of it and they lose no sleep at night scaring people into giving them money. Ray... goddamn... I think Ray ACTUALLY gives a damn about people. Like, he’s always so earnest and genuine in how he speaks (despite dubious video editing ethics), I think he actually cares about the people he talks to.
  13. Oof! Shots fired! But hey, I love Ray! Oh yee? Have ya ever lusted afta a woman? Ye ever committed adultry? Ye like yur pown? You see, you know in yur heart that god is real but you just like yur pown too much and can’t let it go! Y-yes Ray, I uh, I do like my, um... porn.
  14. Yes In time. Sigh... In due time. I actually did this somewhat. I was playing with semantics. She asked if I was debating AiG and I said I was not, but rather debating the people in the comment threads as AiG (wisely) does not engage in their own comments. But I said I was countering bad arguments to try to improve the overall dialog by addressing the stupid ones first. She pulled up one such debate and I was trolling a flat-earther (who are very common on AiG forums). She decided that maybe my dismissal of that person was justified. Oh Ray is my homie! I love Ray! He’s like the clueless friend you have but still keep around because he’s just fun to hang with. Ken is my Creation daddy. Taught me everything I know about Creationism. As for Inmate # 06452-017, I only recently became aware of him. I wonder where he’s been all my life? Probably in jail now that I think of it.
  15. I’ve been caught! My mother has been snooping my Facebook feed and has seen me trolling the Answers in Genesis Facebook page. She doesn’t fully understand what I am saying but does recognize that I am not giving them my blind undying support which resulted in a very serious and almost whispered conversation about what I was trying to do. So what am I to do now that one life’s great joys has been taken from me? Use my lifetime membership to the Ark Encounter and start hot glueing feathers to their dinosaurs?
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