nontheistpilgrim

Don't want to stop learning

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Hi!

After 60 years as a Christian I realised that I could no longer make sense of GOD (I'd given up on church some years before that but had stayed as I felt I was getting somewhere in trying to bring about change). After reading (David Boulton, Karen Armstrong and others) I adopted non-theism. Within this philosophy I can accept that the beliefs of my friends are real for them and I can respect them, although this doesn't mean that I need to accept that I cannot challenge them if they will allow this. Which is the crunch, I have found (more later).

For most of my working life I was in some form of Christian ministry; a minister in both UK and overseas and a Christian community worker. My Christian life began in fundamentalism and slowly moved to liberalism and radical Christianity. Then to nontheism.

I am not on a crusade but I miss my old fundamentalist friends. They cannot seem to get beyond the stage of telling me that they are praying for me to return: they will not engage with my (written) reflections on my journey, they don't seem to have 'grown' since the fundamentalist days of their / our youth.

 

Having just found this Forum, I would like to ask folk here what authors / writings / books they might recommend to someone who is sad about the loss of friends and, secondly, writings that might help me to understand my own journey. When I adopted nontheism I was 'surprised by joy' and that has stayed with me although I still don't fully understand what has happened (and still is happening as I become stronger in my nontheism).

 

Thank you.

 

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First off, Pilgrim, welcome to our community!  I think and believe you'll find this to be a welcoming place with plenty of people who "get" you in a way that your fundamentalist friends never could.   One book that I personally have not read - but which I keep seeing recommended by others - is Marlene Winell's "Leaving the Fold".   One that I CAN personally recommend highly is "The Reason Driven Life"  by Robert M Price.  Price is best known, especially among non-theists, as an outstanding Bible scholar.  He has written a lot of books dealing with the Old and New Testaments.  He is able to effectively dismantle Christianity - especially Fundamentalism - but he does it gently and with humor that is quite different from some of the better-know atheist writers. The book I am recommending though is a bit different from most of his work: it's a rebuttal of the bestselling "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren.  Although I get why he titled it the way he did, it should have a subtitle that says something like "How to have a life of Meaning, Purpose and Joy without any god-belief".  I'm only part-way into it but I have really been enjoying it.  I think it would help any ex-Christian become more comfortable in their non-theist skin.

 

Again, welcome and I hope you'll be an active member!

 

TABA

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5 hours ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

When I adopted nontheism I was 'surprised by joy'

 

Yes! Those things supposedly found in the Bible, the "peace that passes understanding" and the idea that "the truth will make you free" turn out to be real things, only they're found by living in the real world rather than by believing in an unseen world. No longer do I have to ask why things happen! No longer do I have to look at people who don't think like I do (which is everybody, isn't it?) and wonder why they just don't understand! I'm a better, kinder person now, and much less likely to get my feelings hurt.


Regarding reading, I'm currently working on "Enlightenment Now" by Steven Pinker. It doesn't deal with leaving theism, but it's a very encouraging look at the progress that's been made in the world since the "Age of Reason." Some accuse Pinker of being hopelessly optimistic, but I don't think they finished the book. And it's really dense, but I'm almost finished and am finding it to be really encouraging.

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8 hours ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

Hi!

After 60 years as a Christian I realised that I could no longer make sense of GOD (I'd given up on church some years before that but had stayed as I felt I was getting somewhere in trying to bring about change). After reading (David Boulton, Karen Armstrong and others) I adopted non-theism. Within this philosophy I can accept that the beliefs of my friends are real for them and I can respect them, although this doesn't mean that I need to accept that I cannot challenge them if they will allow this. Which is the crunch, I have found (more later).

 

Welcome aboard nontheistpilgrim! 

 

I take it that you are referring to Armstrong's work on the history of god(s) in western religion. The jews being polytheistic and gradually evolving towards monotheism, mainly for political reasons. That pretty much lays the god(s) of the bible bare. Hands down, no question, man made as santa claus or anything similar. Yes, even santa can be real for some and you can find some type of respect for those who believe it if you try hard enough. But at the end of the day we're looking at respecting pure make believe for one reason or another. I'm not against finding ways of respecting someone else's game of make believe, so long as it remains entirely clear that it's make believe that we are striving to find some respect for. 

 

8 hours ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

For most of my working life I was in some form of Christian ministry; a minister in both UK and overseas and a Christian community worker. My Christian life began in fundamentalism and slowly moved to liberalism and radical Christianity. Then to nontheism.

I am not on a crusade but I miss my old fundamentalist friends. They cannot seem to get beyond the stage of telling me that they are praying for me to return: they will not engage with my (written) reflections on my journey, they don't seem to have 'grown' since the fundamentalist days of their / our youth.

 

Some don't grow at all. I sometimes find it odd to see people from my old church group posting on facebook as if every bit of their fantasies are true in any way. I find it odd because of the length of time between now and then. The rise of the internet and smart phones. And how they've managed to remain stagnant in some type of dark ages mind frame over the last 3 decades since I've left the fold. They still think SDAism is true, Ellen G. White an inspired prophet, and so much more. There's so much information available today for anyone who so much as looks for it. But that's probably just it - they are the one's who simply haven't gone looking. 

 

8 hours ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

Having just found this Forum, I would like to ask folk here what authors / writings / books they might recommend to someone who is sad about the loss of friends and, secondly, writings that might help me to understand my own journey. When I adopted nontheism I was 'surprised by joy' and that has stayed with me although I still don't fully understand what has happened (and still is happening as I become stronger in my nontheism).

 

There are deconversion stories out on youtube. Lot's of people here to talk about it with. What I did is go through just about everything from Joseph Campbell on comparative world mythology and religion. Israel Finkelstein on biblical archaeology. You already mentioned Karen Armstrong on A History of God. Richard Carrier and Robert Price are very interesting to read and digest. I like to read Sam Harris on the atheist front, or nontheism if you will. 

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WELCOME!  Sounds like our age is similar, and our life stories are similar.  Glad you are here.  Be sure to check out the "Testimonial" section.

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Thanks everyone.

I very much like the look of you all! Please hold on while I try to navigate around this ship - not easy for an old 'un.

I found and dipped into the Testimonials area and so much resonates. 

I received what I think must be a 'private message' from Weezer: thank you, I am grateful but have no idea, yet, about how to reply. That will come.

For now, thanks again.

Joshpantera: yes Armstrong on GOD is a great read..

I have seen a lot about 'Leaving the fold' but I'm not sure that it would be a good buy for me. I will look into Robert Price.

I'll think about writing something more of my story but it might be more comfortable for me if I let it out slowly. I am not a well known person but Google finds me very quickly if the right words are input!

Thanks again and I look forward to chatting and learning.

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Welcome aboard, Pilgrim! :) (imagine me using my best John Wayne voice lol)

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