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alpha centauri

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About alpha centauri

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    Family, history, travel, music, science (fiction & fact)
  • More About Me
    "You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice, if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice ..."

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    free will (without fear of hell)
  1. Sorry I'm joining the conversation so late. I would encourage you to explore the classic works of Robert Green Ingersoll, a brilliant man who saw religion for the sham it really is. His inspiring speeches and writings are more than a century old, but stand as timeless classics. Here's a link to one: http://www.robertgreeningersoll.org/works-of-ingersoll/why-i-am-agnostic-1896/ Wishing you the best, Alpha Centauri
  2. Welcome, Mudisco! You've had some rough experiences, but life can and does get better. It's very liberating to be free from the lie of an all powerful, all knowing, vengeful God who is always watching for any signs of weakness or sin and ready to smite you. Life is difficult enough without all the emotional and psychological turmoil imposed by such irrational beliefs. I hope you find camaraderie, good communication and interesting dialogue on this website. It's truly an oasis from a lot of the madness of the world, and the thought control of religion.
  3. I second Deva's reasoning. The deconversion process can be difficult enough to sort through without adding the often immense stresses and pressures that can result from informing loved ones that we've abandoned a belief they still cling to. Each person must decide his or her own approach to leaving the faith, whether that's fully in the open or choosing to be more discreet. I don't think it's so much a matter of intellectual dishonesty as it is just trying to preserve one's ability to cope during such a tumultuous and turbulent time.
  4. Dan, Welcome to this message board. Many of us have Christian spouses, parents, siblings and friends. Almost all of us have struggled through difficulties related to our leaving the faith. One of the great things about the Internet is being able to share our experiences with others and to avoid the trap of isolation that can seem so suffocating. You've found a great place to share your thoughts, your hopes, fears, frustrations and what gives you comfort and encouragement. There are many ex-Christians, and a vast number of others who feel trapped and continue to go through the motions so as not to let down and disappoint others. Each person must make their own choice as to the best way to live their lives. It's seldom an easy road to have freedom, but it's worth it to finally admit and understand there's no magic sky being to control, reward or eternally punish his imperfect creation.
  5. That was an outstanding testimony. Thanks for posting the link! It's always encouraging to see those who grew up brainwashed and in militant fundamentalist circumstances break free. Though it is a painful and very jarring process, escaping the falsehoods, the mind control, the fear of hell and the rigid and backwards constraints of theology is incredibly liberating. I applaud Rachael for her bravery, her sincerity and her intellectual honesty.
  6. Hello, Jess, and welcome. My wife and I were watching the "Hatfields and McCoys" miniseries on Netflix recently, and as you can imagine, when there's that type of blood feud between families, there was a lot of violence. The patriarch of the McCoy clan was deeply religious, and at one point prayed for God to protect his loved ones. When things went horribly wrong, his faith was shattered and at one point, when a minister tried to comfort him, McCoy said something like, "Why would anyone want to worship a god like that?" (Ironically, the program shows "Devil" Anse Hatfield as becoming a Christian much later in life, after all the terrible circumstances). Many times, Christians speak about withstanding trials or about how faith brought them through a tragedy, but the truth is, they survived and faith didn't have much to do with it. I think for many people, Christianity is a "default" situation. They were either brought up in the faith, were led to it later by family or friends (rarely by complete strangers, contrary to the proselytizing efforts of many) or grasped onto it because it is so prevalent in our culture. Very few Christians take the time to actually analyze the foundations and root philosophy of the faith. It was actually a very detailed study of the Bible that made me think that it was a falsehood filled with contradictions and that this supposed god was a vicious and brutal homicidal megalomaniac that certainly was not worthy of worship, but of revulsion. Living in the heart of the Bible belt in Texas, I understand what it's like to be surrounded by people who wear their Christianity on their sleeves and expect others to do so, as well. It's nice to be able to enjoy an oasis of free thought here, and to know that many others are enduring or have endured the same struggles as us.
  7. This situation is all too common. It's why I believe many just continue to go through the motions. I'm convinced the church is filled with unbelievers, but it's often the true believers who act most reprehensibly, because they believe God will forgive them or even justify their actions. After all, look at God's horrific actions from Genesis through Revelation. If people model their lives on that "supreme" being's behavior -- and the behavior of his followers as chronicled by the Bible -- no wonder. Yuck! *** LifeCycle, I like those quotes in red at the bottom of your post. It's much more accurate than the Bible writers' spin.
  8. The mind is incredible, and there are so many things about the brain that we are still learning. One of the things we do is latch on to certain beliefs -- whether rational or not -- and then we can be haunted by trying to leave false or irrational beliefs behind. The key is to approach the basic tenants of Christianity as presented by the Bible through rational analysis. There are so many contradictions that any truly superior being would certainly want no part of it. For example, there is no way to reconcile the commands of unconditional love and forgiveness with an eternal hell. For a perfect God to hold imperfect creations to perfect standards, giving only one escape option and making it so vague and open to interpretation that many different branches of faiths strongly disagree with others, well, that's nonsense. There are many noble elements in religion -- the admonition to altruism, to love your neighbor as yourself, to help the poor, to offer forgiveness and seek a more noble purpose than living only for one's self. But those good elements are contaminated by a climate of fear, control, threats, judgment and constant conditional love (rather than unconditional). There are some things which we still do not completely understand. For example, I've had a number of dreams that have later come true, but they weren't related to religion. And in some cases, I remembered what I dreamed and was able to change my actions. But in none of these dreams was there an element of Christianity, or any other religion. They were often mundane, day-to-day activities. I can't explain how and why the dreams happen (or why they focus on mundane topics), and yet, they do. I wouldn't take one vague word from a dream as a sign that God is giving you messages. Your mind is preconditioned to that course just because of your history, and what we can't explain, we often try to rectify by turning to faith for answers. It's much easier to try to simplify things by saying "God must be communicating with me," and the Bible even encourages that way of thinking with its Old Testament references to dreams and their meanings. Dreams are often the mind's way of wrestling with many of the issues we can't always reconcile, but it's interesting that an all-powerful God wouldn't choose to be more specific and visit you at a time when you are more coherent, isn't it? Hang in there. This process isn't an easy one, and it can seem all too tempting to rush back into a sanctuary of religion in which all the answers are presented to you (or at least a great number of the answers). But it is also very rewarding to know that there isn't a cosmic bully waiting to cast untold billions into an eternal fire just because they didn't stoke his ego by worshipping him. If that religion is true, the greatest crime is that we were ever created at all, just to suffer such a horrific fate. Would this god's worshippers even be safe from such a wrath, and why would they want to worship such a horrific god who would allow such an unspeakable evil to befall others?
  9. I like your comparison of leaving the false beliefs behind to sailing away. There will be some nice tranquil times in your journey, and some stormy times, just don't let the rocks of false beliefs damage the ship. Wishing you all the best in your life's journey.
  10. Hello DarthKoopa, and welcome. You've found an oasis of free thought. Many of us have struggled through similar circumstances and survived, although with battle scars, to be sure. Hang in there, and seek peace/fulfillment in the things that inspire and comfort you, not in false visions intended to scare you into submission. There's a strong nobility in seeking the truth, and in refusing to accept trite, easy answers intended to make you fall in line, rather than to branch out and truly be your best. There may be some worthy elements of your faith that you choose to hold on to (love, charity, forgiveness). The important thing is not to swing too far to the other side and become a fanatic in either direction. But the guilt, hate, fear-mongering insistence on thought control and discrimination ... well, common sense tells you that those are best left in the ash heap of history.
  11. Hunter, what you're experiencing is completely normal and natural. It's hard (maybe impossible) to make a transition from one belief system to another (or to a lack of belief system) without carrying around some baggage. Things will get better, but just like in many facets of life, there will be peaks and valleys. Religion has some decent attributes (like compassion, charity, community) and some absolutely vile and terrible attributes (fear, an insistence on controlling your thoughts/behavior and obsessive guilt/compulsion). It comes down to this: if there is a God/god/creative force/cosmic consciousness/etc., he/she/it has allowed us to develop the gift of common sense, to evolve intellectually beyond the base instincts of the Stone Age/Bronze Age/dark ages. I cannot comprehend of any type of "superior being" whatsoever that would rule by fear and threats (cloaked in the guise of love and "unconditional" acceptance) whom I would care to serve/worship/think happy thoughts about/devote my life to/give two farts about. If there is godlike essence, it is only through true unconditional love/forgiveness that he/she/it would manifest itself. If God exists, he/she/it would almost certainly be repulsed by many of the Christian/Islamic/Mormon/cultic/tribal ways that he/she/it is portrayed. The only thing about Christianity that might make sense in any way is the doctrine of universal salvation. There is no way a perfect being should hold imperfect creations accountable for mistakes and allowing only one tiny loophole to escape eternal damnation. There may be some parts of the Bible that promote love/goodwill, but there are also parts that promote discrimination, slaughter, slavery and abasement. Obviously, it would be better to annihilate imperfect creatures -- or never to have created them at all -- rather than to subject them to eternal torment. So, if any part of Christianity is true, one must use logic/love to decipher, and throw out the rest as rubbish added by control freaks to scare countless millions into submission by using false threats of eternal suffering and punishment. People are imperfect and flawed, so it stands to reason that their visions of god, whether noble or sinister, are also imperfect and flawed. That includes the authors of the holy books, who claim to speak for the divine, but offer no more proof (and indeed, much less) than that provided by mediocre fiction writers.
  12. Thanks for sharing your story, Henry -- very interesting! Although I was a child of the 1970s, I was very close to my great-grandmother who found stations that played a lot of the old radio shows. I really enjoyed listening to them, and still recall "The Shadow," "Suspense" and many others. There was also a radio show in the 1970s and '80s called "Mystery Theater" which continued the legacy of the old style radio programs. I loved it, but the stories sometimes cared the crap out of me. I feel a strong sense of kinship with liberal Christians, as well as freethinkers. Those who have rejected the horrors of an eternal hell as incompatible with a loving God, but who still value the strong sense of community and love that the best of Christianity is supposed to engender. Unfortunately, many Christians become judgmental a-holes who vilify anyone who dares to disagree with them or question the validity and inerrancy of the Bible. Fortunately, there are those who are Christians who have rejected the militancy of the faith. I just wish there were more of them and less of the psychotic, raving lunatics who threaten eternal damnation and are obsessed with the rapture. Welcome to this website! Glad to have you aboard.
  13. I also wanted to offer you a belated welcome. You're in good company. Many people have struggled through similar circumstances, and a lot are still struggling. It's not an easy path to diverge from what others in your life want and expect from you. It often leads to either broken relationships or going through the motions to keep the peace, and either way there's pressure, stress and difficulty. Fortunately, there are people out there who care about people for what and who they are, regardless of religious beliefs or lack thereof. Wishing you all the best.
  14. Welcome CoralPeachy! I second William7Davis's sentiments. If you are too young to reject biblegod, why aren't you too young to go through confirmation? There definitely seems to be a contradiction there. The key -- even at 14 -- is to think for yourself. No, you won't have all the answers (none of us ever has all the answers), but stay open-minded. My biggest problem with Christianity is the fear tactics and threats of an eternal hell. I just can't accept that a loving, gracious forgiving god could sentence anyone to such a horrible eternal fate. So either hell is a myth to scare people into conforming, or this god is an evil being who we wouldn't be able to trust to keep his promises anyway, and who allows terrible suffering in this life, as well. It's very weird that your mother would even bring up divorce in relation to your lack of faith, almost as a threat to keep you in the fold, unless there are other issues or she blames your dad for your beliefs and wants to punish you both. Very strange, indeed. We're glad you found this website. We certainly aren't interested in leading anyone astray, but challenge people to truly examine their core beliefs rather than simply going along with religious dogma without considering other possibilities. In the end, the choice of faith or freethought is up to each individual, and this site is a great place for discussion, contemplation and encouragement. All the best to you, Alpha Centauri
  15. A belated welcome, chrisstavrous! Many of us have struggled through similar experiences. Breaking free can be a long process, but it is well worth the effort. All the guilt, the fear and lies that the religion is built upon are a trap, a prison cell that we have the ability to leave behind. I agree that I don't need fear or threats to motivate me to do the right thing, to treat people with kindness and acceptance and not to beat myself up over imperfections. If this supposedly perfect god can only create flawed creatures, and can't -- or won't -- do anything to fix things, and demands worship (must be incredibly insecure), well, that's not a very good god at all. Good thing biblegod isn't real. To help you process all the biblical stories that have no doubt filled your head, I suggest you check out the Skeptic's Annotated Bible and The Brick Testament (which depicts Bible stories in Lego format). The Brick Testament's depiction of Revelation and biblegod's sadistic actions is certainly a sight to behold. All the best, Alpha Centauri
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