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nontheistpilgrim

Watering Holes on my pilgrimage to non-theism

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After months of writing, editing and re-editing, I have managed to produce my 'story' of the journey from fundamentalism to non-theism. In this process I have received helpful advice from a member of this Forum (thank you). It is a long story ( I was a Christian for 60 years, much of the time as a minister) and members who have been atheist for many years will find nothing new here. However, I hope that newly converted non-theists might be interested to compare their story. Certainly I will be grateful for comments from anyone.

Best wishes

nontheistpilgrim

ANON watering.odt

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I very much appreciate your article. Although you and I have very different backgrounds and experiences, your conclusions look very much like mine. And while all of the arguments you make resonate with me, your concluding paragraph is the thing that really does so:

 

Quote

At this point I want to acknowledge that some of my good Christian friends have told me that disbelief in most of these things does not mean that I should throw out the baby with the bathwater – that these factors give no grounds for rejecting the concept of god. For myself, I disagree. The concept of god is central to it all. Some have talked to me about free-will but that seems a circulatory argument and even a justification or rationalisation of difficult questions. And I am inclined to be a person of  'black and white' with little middle ground; I see no reason to manipulate my beliefs in order to accept the existence of god. I am happy to leave it all (well, most of it) behind. I believed it all, utterly and completely and dedicated my life to serving my imagined god. I remember from my youth that it was said ‘God said it, I believe it, that settles it’. I now recognise that as utter debilitating rubbish!

 

 

That is very much my position. I was 52 years old when I realized I'd been practicing mythology most of my life. When I realized that my fundamentalist beliefs were untenable I wondered whether liberal Christianity was more correct, but I didn't consider it long. It seemed to be merely speculation about what a god would be like, if there were such things as gods. It treated the Old Testament as myths and legends, and yet expected us to treat the New Testament as history. And what of the even more liberal theologians who reject eternal torment but accept the resurrection and the need for salvation? Well, I've read their positions and they seem fairly well argued, but their argument in a nutshell is that Hell doesn't make sense. While true, that leaves us with Christianity being based on nothing more than legends and speculation, and there's no reason to believe any of it. It only took me about a month to completely deconvert.

 

Though it isn't what got me started (that was realize that there was no Satan in Genesis 3), further study made me realize that the authors of the older parts of the Hebrew Bible were henotheists, not monotheists. The Song of Moses explains how "the LORD" came to be the god of Israel (it was his portion, bequeathed to him by his father, the Most High God), and it goes on to proclaim that he's a better god than all of his brothers, who are the gods of the other nations. Once I realized that, there was no going back.

 

Anyway, thanks for sharing your story. I very much enjoyed reading it.

 

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Thank you.

I never had a problem with the concept of Satan - which must be unusual in a fundamentalist? Perhaps it was because I was such a perfect person that I had nothing to fear!🤣 And, no, it wasn't the idea that I was assured of heaven so needn't worry about hell. I did link the devil to the ills in the world. Now, of course, i see that the evils in the world are down to us.

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I would love to read your story but my computer nor my phone will open it in the format you have it in. Can you copy and paste it in the thread? I was a minister in the church as well. I wasn't in for 60 years like yourself tho thankfully 🙂 

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On 12/3/2019 at 2:21 PM, Lerk said:

further study made me realize that the authors of the older parts of the Hebrew Bible were henotheists, not monotheists. The Song of Moses explains how "the LORD" came to be the god of Israel (it was his portion, bequeathed to him by his father, the Most High God), and it goes on to proclaim that he's a better god than all of his brothers, who are the gods of the other nations. Once I realized that, there was no going back.

 

This sounds about like the process I went through when deconverting. Finding out the whole story of moses was a myth, plus studying that it all started out as a pantheon of gods under EL. That basically like you said. Ba'al was Yahweh's brother originally. etc. once those things come to light there isn't much else holding anything between the cowhide together. 

 

DB

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2 hours ago, DarkBishop said:

I would love to read your story but my computer nor my phone will open it in the format you have it in. Can you copy and paste it in the thread? I was a minister in the church as well. I wasn't in for 60 years like yourself tho thankfully 🙂 

It seems ok to be opened in Word. As for posting - it is 13000 words and 26 pages long and I doubt I know how to do that!

I will consult with an admin person and do my best.

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41 minutes ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

It seems ok to be opened in Word. As for posting - it is 13000 words and 26 pages long and I doubt I know how to do that!

I will consult with an admin person and do my best.

I see. Probably b/c i'm using chrome book. I'll use one of the work computers, they have microsoft office on them. 

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10 hours ago, DarkBishop said:

 

This sounds about like the process I went through when deconverting. Finding out the whole story of moses was a myth, plus studying that it all started out as a pantheon of gods under EL. That basically like you said. Ba'al was Yahweh's brother originally. etc. once those things come to light there isn't much else holding anything between the cowhide together.

 

Besides the song of Moses, a lot of the psalms sound like they were copied right out of canaanite henotheistic literature.  Jesus even quotes Psalm 82, “You are gods”; and it is the word theoi, gods, not angels or any such.  And it is the same in the septuagint.

 

Psalm 86:2
Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord;
Nor are there any works like Your works.

 

Psalm 82:1
God stands in the congregation of the mighty;
He judges among the gods.

 

Psalm 82:6-7
I said, “You are gods,
And all of you are children of the Most High.
But you shall die like men,
And fall like one of the princes.”

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3 hours ago, TEG said:

 

Besides the song of Moses, a lot of the psalms sound like they were copied right out of canaanite henotheistic literature.  Jesus even quotes Psalm 82, “You are gods”; and it is the word theoi, gods, not angels or any such.  And it is the same in the septuagint.

 

Psalm 86:2
Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord;
Nor are there any works like Your works.

 

Psalm 82:1
God stands in the congregation of the mighty;
He judges among the gods.

 

Psalm 82:6-7
I said, “You are gods,
And all of you are children of the Most High.
But you shall die like men,
And fall like one of the princes.”

 

I love Psalm 82! i don't know if it was intended to, but taken as part of a certain context it seems to be explaining how the other gods lost their powers! Only thing is that it doesn't say whether it's supposed to be El or Yahweh talking. If it's El, then Yahweh isn't around anymore.

 

I like thinking of Jesus as El's grandson (Yahweh being Jesus' dad), but maybe El killed all of his original sons and spawned Jesus later. Oh, no, wait, John says that Jesus was around for creation. Of course, in John, Jesus is the Logos, which is the Greek god that replaced the Greek pantheon.

 

It's all so confusing! It's like a work of terrible fiction!

 

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4 hours ago, Lerk said:

 

It's all so confusing! It's like a work of terrible fiction!

Yep

 

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Nontheist,

 

I printed off your testimony last night at work and have been reading it since then when time permitted. First I have to thank you for such a detailed paper on the process you went through in your pilgrimage. It was very interesting and a very enjoyable read. 

 

I find it amazing how you took the truth. I can relate to you as how your various christian friends are reacting as I think that is a similar story across the board here at ExC. But I was amazed at your acceptance of it without regret. I applaud that. I was very broken when I first deconverted and was bitter, not necessarily toward Christianity, but that I had spent so many years denying myself and who i really was when I didn't need to. For a God that doesn't exist.

 

I was also surprised to see the similarities between fundamentalist christians in the UK and fundamentalists here in the US. Apparently fundamentalism is about the same no matter where you are on the globe. 🙂 

 

I noticed you mentioned a few bible instances  that influenced you along the way such as the walls of Jericho falling and how it could have been by some natural way. I'm sure you will come across some of the same article's I've read as you progress on your pilgrimage. I was surprised to find out that archeologists have determined that Jericho wouldn't have even been built during the time frame of the exodus. And if it was there it would have been a small village. Here is an interesting article I just found on the subject. 

 

https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/MAGAZINE-is-the-bible-a-true-story-latest-archaeological-finds-yield-surprises-1.5626647

 

I like the terminology you use (Non-Theism). I've been calling myself agnostic buy I think your terminology is more correct because I don't believe in any "God" per say. or even any entity that would have an influence in the lives of man. If there is anything out there it is very hands off. 

 

It was great to see you giving credit to EXc for the parts this website played in your pilgrimage as well. This website has been so instrumental in the lives of people going through this process. I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't found this community when I did. It made things a lot easier knowing that I wasn't alone. The wealth of knowledge and support here is what makes this site so great.

 

I do have a question. I know you mentioned your wife and your marriage several times in the testimony. It seemed that christianity played a huge roll in both your lives. How has she taken the progress into your non-theism?

 

Thank you again for your Extimony and I hope you enjoy the rest of your pilgrimage as much or better as the past. 

 

Sincerely,

Dark Bishop

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DarkBishop:

 

Thanks for taking the time to read through my paper. Like me you have stamina! Thank you for your comments which I do appreciate.

 

As for my keeping calm, not having regrets...I get periods when I think how foolish the people are, that they cannot see the falsehoods in their beliefs, that they focus on the myths and dreams of the non-existent and so on. But I don't look back on my time as a Christian and say "if only....". Except I do regert having led people astray, but, again, I believed it wholeheartedly so I was simply being true to myself (is that a reason?). I remember a lesson I learnt many years ago: I visited a mentally disturbed man who was crawling around the floor picking up specks of dust the whole time we talked. His regret was that he had sold his parents' house instead of renting it out for profit. I reflected to myself how silly that is (but real for him) and the lesson I learned was that we all make decisions which, at the time, are right so there's no sense in crying over spilt milk... it's done, it cannot be undone, so get up and get on. I've told that story because I think it says a lot about my attitude in life.
 
Actually it is more difficult for me now because I cannot be true to myself for much of the time...until the rest of the world comes round to my point of view 😜 and in a sense, although I think the world would be a better place without religion, there are more insidious influences that result in harm to human beings (hint: we now have a megalomanic mophead ruling over us English xenophobes and he is a friend of your clown).
 
Concerning my wife: you will note that we have been married for over fifty years and we remain very much in love and supportive of each other. Perhaps I am waiting for her to see the light! Meanwhile, all is fine for both of us. As I said to another member of this Forum, we've been through some tough times and have appreciated and benefitted from sticking close together, it has kapt us strong.
 
You will have seen that the term 'Non-theist' is not mine but David Boulton's - and a very good one, I think.
 
Thanks again. I may come back later.
 
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6 hours ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

Concerning my wife: you will note that we have been married for over fifty years and we remain very much in love and supportive of each other. Perhaps I am waiting for her to see the light! Meanwhile, all is fine for both of us. As I said to another member of this Forum, we've been through some tough times and have appreciated and benefitted from sticking close together, it has kapt us strong.

 

That's Great! I only asked because it was very different for my wife and I when I de-converted. We were both "fallen away" up until that point and it caused her to spiral back into the church. It came close to causing a divorce. But we made it through and I believe we are even closer now. I think her biggest fear was that I was going to lose all sense of morality and start cheating, beating the kids, and doing drugs like all the heathens without Jesus do (<sarcasm intended) Almost 3 years later, I'm pretty sure she sees that I'm not going to do that and I do genuinely love her. In fact this past year we celebrated our 10 year anniversary. 

 

DB

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2 hours ago, DarkBishop said:

 I think her biggest fear was that I was going to lose all sense of morality and start cheating, beating the kids, and doing drugs like all the heathens without Jesus do (<sarcasm intended) Almost 3 years later, I'm pretty sure she sees that I'm not going to do that and I do genuinely love her. In fact this past year we celebrated our 10 year anniversary. 

 

DB

It's odd, isn't it, how Christians define those who give up the faith.? I think this is connected with why I don't call myself an atheist - such a dirty word!

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Yes Sir,

 

If you tell a Christian (most christians anyway) that your athiest. You might as well have said that you worship satan and practice infant sacrifice to the devil on your off days. LOL!!

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On 12/13/2019 at 6:16 AM, DarkBishop said:

I find it amazing how you took the truth. I can relate to you as how your various christian friends are reacting as I think that is a similar story across the board here at ExC. But I was amazed at your acceptance of it without regret. I applaud that.

Yeah, well, it ain't easy when your (fundamentalist)  'best friend' sends you a Christmas card with the words 'Yours in the Lord' and one of the teenagers who was converted under my ministry sends one of those horrible video cards with angels flying around lighting candles around the crib. Yukkkk. They do know of my conversion although they have refused to engage with my story. I try to live up to my motto about 'accepting others as they are' but when they totally ignore / choose not to understand / provoke me :fdevil:

I bite my tongue but I don't smile and I hope they stay where they are - a hundred miles away.

 

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30 minutes ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

Yeah, well, it ain't easy when your (fundamentalist)  'best friend' sends you a Christmas card with the words 'Yours in the Lord' and one of the teenagers who was converted under my ministry sends one of those horrible video cards with angels flying around lighting candles around the crib. Yukkkk. They do know of my conversion although they have refused to engage with my story. I try to live up to my motto about 'accepting others as they are' but when they totally ignore / choose not to understand / provoke me :fdevil:

I bite my tongue but I don't smile and I hope they stay where they are - a hundred miles away.

 

 

It is irritating. But I try to keep in mind that in their way they care about me and want me to go to heaven. My old church is the same way. Always inviting me to church if i see them out in public. I don't get it from family b/c they don't know. I decided not to make it known to family until whenever my mother and father pass. I don't want them dying thinking that I won't be with them. I know their beliefs and they are VERY fundametalist. They make the women wear those little round doily's on their head. they wear dresses. aren't allowed to speak in church, etc. They are good people but the brain washing is very deep there. Even when I believed we couldn't discuss religion because it would still cause a fight. If anyone believes anything different from them and tries to talk about it, it turns into a debate. They also believe in a class system in heaven. Their church will be in the city because they are the true bride, but all other churches will be in heaven, just not in the city. 

 

yeah i know. its messed up. I can't risk ruining what time I have left with my parents by dropping that bomb on them. I'm very close to them and what most would call a "mama's boy" LOL

 

DB

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You have more grace than me! I like your attitude towards your parents.

I've never heard of the class system in heaven that you describe. In some ways it's convenient if they don't have to actually deny that other churches possess truth ... that's a better stance than some (RC's included).

The people I'm talking about know my position but still say these stupid things, so it seems they don't accept me - and they pray for my return to their Faith.

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