A treatise on re-conversion

June 23, 2008 at 4:28 pm 96 comments

Last week a ‘curious Christian’ asked the question, what would it take to re-convert. I think this is an interesting one, The Apostate noted that this is a little like asking a Christian what it would take to convert to Islam. It’s not an unreasonable challenge though, de-converts have shown themselves open to a change of heart, so I think they must remain open to the possibility of re-conversion.

I’ve always wanted to write a ‘treatise’, I’ve no idea what it means really but it sounds very grand and intelligent, so here we go!! What would it take?

It’s a property of the human psyche to have an interest in any claims pertaining to an afterlife or any ethereal knowledge which could answer the many unanswered questions of existence. Even if the knowledge was ‘bad news’, say that there was a chance of a less than pleasant afterlife I think the reasonable person would rather know than not. Certainly any claims of ‘good news’ opens people’s minds and makes them receptive to a well spun tale. An afterlife where we meet deceased loved ones and a god who has an overseeing and loving plan for us is very seductive.

Of course there are a thousand competing and mutually exclusive claims, so how to determine what if any deity claim is correct and deserving of attention?

Take Jesus & Christianity. Most people on earth don’t accept that the Jesus stories pertaining to miracles, resurrection and god-parentage are true. Only 33% of the worldwide population claim the label Christian, so what of the other 67%?

I’ll attempt to re-create the discussion I’ve had with Christians. Most will tell us we have ‘sin’ which separates us from the wonderfulness of god, and therefore we need ‘redemption’, luckily it also has the answer. By accepting that Jesus was who he said he was and that his death and resurrection was the perfect narrative to save us, we can again be joined to the creator.

First of all, one cannot fake belief in something, deep down we either believe something or don’t. Saying out loud that we believe that there are fairies at the bottom of the garden, doesn’t mean that we actually do believe it, and it certainly doesn’t change the factuality. So either this redeeming faith is granted divinely by god (which doesn’t really fit with the loving god assertion – or indeed the call to evangelise) or we must be convinced that the bible is reliable, at least in terms of the Jesus stories.

Ok, I’m not convinced, not convinced at all. Where do I go from here? As stated, I can pretend to be convinced, but I don’t think that’s really enough.

Am I not smart enough to realise that it is reliable? Is there a level of intelligence god wants in heaven? Or, do I need to lower the level of evidence I require when assessing the bible in order to be persuaded? Is that what the Christian god (if he exists) wants me to do? If yes, then the problem is that I have to be fair and allow the evidence bar to be lowered for all other non-secular claims – exactly how much should I lower the bar?

The other way I could be convinced if I had some external undeniable vision and revelation from god saying, yes… “I’m God, Jesus, as reported in the bible, is my son! Here’s some proof that I am who I say I am”. Again, this like the “faith without first being intellectually convinced” approach is not something I can do for myself, I have to sit back and wait for Jehovah, Allah, Buda or whoever to reveal himself.

Christians certainly do claim to have ‘spoken’ to god and ‘felt’ god in their lives, but they don’t make any demonstrable claims and nothing ever happens that couldn’t just be wishful thinking and co-incidence. This doesn’t convince me, but once someone has lowered their evidence bar re: Jesus then it’s easy to be sure that you at last got pregnant because you prayed about it, or that god is helping you become a better person. There’s a problem though…

By way of encouragement some Christians will talk of their own doubt, and periods of disbelief. This only goes to suggest that they have never had any undeniable experience of god or been fully rationally convinced by the bible. I never have periods of doubt about gravity, aerodynamics or the earth’s cycle around the sun – and those things are minor compared to choosing which creator god to believe in! My evidence bar should be higher not lower surely!

Maybe it’s just that Christians have compromised their normal, wonderful, vital, (god-given?) rationality and lowered the level of proof they expect from a miracle claim. Maybe because they were encouraged to by a trusted parent or a beloved friend, or maybe they did it at a time of life when they felt directionless and in need of some eternal certainty. It just so happened they did it in the nearest church, which happened to be the local chapel or the Baptist their parents took them too every Sunday morning.

I wouldn’t take a lot of convincing, any kind of reliable proof will do.

- QuestionMonkey

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Scientific Method vs. Creationist Method Like Smoking, Atheism is a Health Hazard

96 Comments Add your own

  • 1. rfogue  |  June 23, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    It’s a property of the human psyche to have an interest in any claims pertaining to an afterlife or any ethereal knowledge which could answer the many unanswered questions of existence

    Why do you think humanity in general is so fascinated with the idea of an afterlife, with figuring out the purpose/meaning of life?
    Does that fascination possibly hint at the idea of humanity needing something more, that maybe we have a soul that is eternal? That maybe, we really do need something or someone beyond ourselves to be complete and stop wondering?

  • 2. orDover  |  June 23, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Or maybe it’s just all wishful thinking, eh?

    This reminds me of a conversation my husband and I had just this past weekend. We decided to work out what it would take for us to believe in Jesus and the Christian god. The scenario agree on was this: Jesus (completely with crucifixion wounds) appears before a group of soundminded people (us included), is shot in the head, and doesn’t die. We decided that if god appeared to just one of us, we would assume we were hallucinating before we would accept it was god, hence the need for a group. We also decided that James Randi would have to be among that group of people, to rule out any shady magic tricks. (And please don’t tell me this is just like how Jesus appeared to the apostles in the Bible, because I don’t believe that the Bible contains any true accounts of anything.)

  • 3. Quester  |  June 23, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Why do you think humanity in general is so fascinated with the idea of an afterlife, with figuring out the purpose/meaning of life?

    Because things outside of our control can hurt or kill us, so we seek control in all matters?

    This reminds me of a conversation my husband and I had just this past weekend. We decided to work out what it would take for us to believe in Jesus and the Christian god.

    Proof would be great, but I do a lot without proof. Evidence would be a good start.

    If I could ask for proof, I wouldn’t ask for a vision. I’d ask that every copy of every holy book God wants us to consider authoritative or inspired instantly included a few more pages spelling out a cures for all diseases, and an explanation of why this had not been provided any earlier.

  • 4. Joe Sperling  |  June 23, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    From above:
    By way of encouragement some Christians will talk of their own doubt, and periods of disbelief. This only goes to suggest that they have never had any undeniable experience of god or been fully rationally convinced by the bible.

    I’m not so sure of that. John The Baptist saw a dove come down from heaven and light upon Jesus, and heard a voice say “This is my beloved son, hear him”, and yet shortly before he was beheaded he sent his disciples to ask Jesus “are you the one, or should we look for another?”

    Thomas also saw Jesus do miracle after miracle and yet said “Unless I see the wounds in his hands, I will not believe”.
    We experience “gravity” everyday–it’s a little hard to doubt it’s existence—but even people who have had one huge “experience” of God can still come to a point of doubting—and that is because the other 99% of the time they are walking purely by faith, and not by experience.

  • 5. Jonathan Blake  |  June 23, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Why do you think humanity in general is so fascinated with the idea of an afterlife, with figuring out the purpose/meaning of life?

    Because we like life and wish we had more of it?

    We’ve been endowed with an extremely strong survival instinct. We’ve also realized that everyone dies. Those two things together kind of suck, don’t you think? So we tell ourselves stories about a beautiful, endless existence after death. The stories, if we manage to believe them, comfort us and make life seem less brutal.

    And besides, I’m fascinated by things other than death. Does my healthy interest in sex mean that heaven will include all the sex I could ever want? I also like mint chocolate chip ice cream and reading good books. What does that mean in the eternal scheme of things?

  • 6. Jonathan Blake  |  June 23, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    I have thought of various scenarios that would be enough for me to get back on the religion train. Some are rather spectacular involving moving mountains and such. I’ll settle for much less, however. If I ever prayed that a friend’s lost limb is restored… and it actually happens, then I would begin to believe again. I’m not asking for much.

  • 7. Grendel1470  |  June 23, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Many good points. This has probably been raised frequently before, but I have often wondered if “salvation” or conversion is but an essentially selfish act of self preservation anyway. Even when the fire and brimstone evangelists try to scare people into accepting Christ, they are using fear as the motivator. It is not love of Christ, or of God, but fear of punishment that is the compelling factor. Something about that seems off. Self-centered.

    As far as the afterlife goes, in my fundie experience since childhood, we were taught that once saved, if we accomplished “good works” for Christ, we would get crowns, honor, authority to rule in heaven for ever and ever, etc. Well, isn’t that sort of selfish too? Trying to be recognized, rewarded? Smacks of pride, or a desire for glory, I think.

    Why do I want crowns, and more crowns? And what if I don’t want to “rule.” (Rule over whom? Why? Why bother?) For that matter, what if I don’t *want* any authority? Maybe I am just not interested in that. (Well, I’m not.)

    Heaven, where the streets are paved with gold! All the imagery that impressed us so much. It all sounded so wonderful. But…what would we do all day? Worship? Hmmm..wouldn’t that get…old? Somehow it didn’t seem like a whole lot to look forward to. Too, if gold was to be so plentiful, there, then it stands to reason that it wouldn’t really be very special, or worth very much.

    In Christian school Paul was always held as the example, the one who said so much about practical Christianity(?), how we should live, and what we should teach and believe. But Paul had a miraculous encounter with the living Christ. What a life changing, overwhelming experience that would be! I haven’t had one. Have you? Not like THAT. Paul would have no need to doubt or question. So using him as an example of true faith is not too effective.

    It was so often repeated that we walk by faith, not by sight. Well I wouldn’t say Paul had it quite that way. Or Thomas. Why would it be wrong for any of the rest of us to desire the same level of confirmation?

    To be entirely honest, I, for one, still find myself considering “reconversion” from time to time. There is a big vacuum left after a life centered on being a believer, with family and friends always adding to the pressure. There is sometimes a tendency to miss the comfort and assurance that were afforded by belief. (Although now I realize that the “blessed assurance” may or may not be valid, depending on whose doctrine of eternal security you subscribe to!) Regardless, it seems impossible to go back very far before I start hitting the walls, and seeing the unavoidable inconsistencies that led to the failure of faith and to deconversion in the first place.

  • 8. TheNerd  |  June 23, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    I always find myself thinking “If there is a God who wants me, why can’t I get the same level of personal attention that Thomas got?”

  • 9. Ubi Dubium  |  June 23, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Grendel1470

    But Paul had a miraculous encounter with the living Christ. What a life changing, overwhelming experience that would be! I haven’t had one. Have you? Not like THAT.

    You know, the more I have thought about it lately, the more I think Paul had a stroke. He collapses and sees a flash of light and hears a voice. Then he’s blind and unable to eat for three days. After he comes out of it, he’s still a fanatic, no real personality change there. He just thought he’d had a message from god , and changed his focus. Doesn’t sound like much of a miracle to me.

  • 10. Ubi Dubium  |  June 23, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Sorry – that above post wasn’t done when it posted. I was just going to agree with you that heaven sounds really boring, and to cite the above YouTube reference as an example – it’s from Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in the original “Bedazzled.”

  • 11. Cthulhu  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Grendel1470,

    Many good points. This has probably been raised frequently before, but I have often wondered if “salvation” or conversion is but an essentially selfish act of self preservation anyway. Even when the fire and brimstone evangelists try to scare people into accepting Christ, they are using fear as the motivator. It is not love of Christ, or of God, but fear of punishment that is the compelling factor. Something about that seems off. Self-centered.

    My dad always called late life conversions by his friends ‘fire insurance’. The older I get, the funnier that gets :-)

  • 12. Cthulhu  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Uni,

    You know, the more I have thought about it lately, the more I think Paul had a stroke.

    Maybe late onset schizophrenia ;-)

  • 13. Cthulhu  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    By the way, I would love to hear from the de-Cons…what would you consider sufficient evidence to believe in God again? What is one clear and convincing piece of evidence you would require? I have seen a few statements to the effect – but I would love to hear more :-)

  • 14. The de-Convert  |  June 24, 2008 at 12:05 am

    God sure wasn’t shy about talking to people throughout the Bible. Not sure why it all ended and now it’s just an “inner voice” which could be the hot wings you ate for dinner vs. the creator of the universe speaking to you.

    Miracles were also a dime a dozen. Not sure why that ended either and we have no undeniable miracles today (like someone growing out a new limb not cancer going into remission just to come back at some point in the future).

    Of course, it’s an “EVIL GENERATION that looks for a sign”. Also, “blessed are those who have not seen, yet believed.” How convenient!

    Plus, signs are meaningless since the children of Israel heard the thundering voice of God from the mountain and a whole lot of other signs and yet they built a golden calf to worship. Impossible!!!! If God was up on a mountain displaying himself in great power, who would be down in the valley creating a golden image to worship? (never did buy this one)

    (of course, here is where we hear about how a baby being born is a miracle, etc.)

    One of my moments of reality came when I was watching a Garth Brooks concert on TV and he sang the song “The Dance.” I swear, if you looked at the reaction of the crowd, you’d think they were experiencing God (as I, a charismatic at the time, knew about experiencing God). There were tears. There was outstretched hands. There was a ton of something tangible there and I’m sure it wasn’t God. I remember at that moment, reflecting on all my past “experiences” with God and realizing they were all just emotional responses to “worship” no different than those at the concert.

    I then went on a quest to have a real experience with God and it never came.

    Paul

  • 15. mindboggingly dazzled  |  June 24, 2008 at 7:20 am

    I have de-converted about a decade ago (well, to be honest, I’ve deconverted to about 40% – 80%).
    I am one of those who has re-converted after some months (and I am questioning this re-conversion decision a lot at the moment. I’m glad to have found this blog).

    Here are some reasons for my re-conversion:

    (1) I found just so many inconsistencies in Christianity and so many things in the bible I just couldn’tbelieve – so I jumped the ship. But leaving is one thing. Arriving at a new place is another: I couldn’t make up a more coherent picture of the world without faith, neither. So-called science speaks with so many voices. I saw so many aspects of everything, just a confusing mess of possibilities, truths, seeming-truths and confusion. So, even though I found Christianity not plausible I didn’t find the alternative more plausible.

    (2) Given that I had no faith anymore I felt kind of free; free like a bird :-) I felt like I was a little human with only one little life to live and I had to make the best out of my time on this planet and also: I felt free to make the best out of it.
    But then, what was the best thing I could make out of it? Well – I found going to church and the truly deep experiences there (not just superficially emotionally nice, but truly deep and bright) and the awesome folks I met there to be one of the best things.
    So, as I felt free to do what I liked anyway, and as I felt like joining the Christian life, why not go for it?

    so, these are also things that are an important part of my current ponderings about de-conversion. I was just happy to post them here. If people find them interesting, I can also post more things that hinder me from de-converting immediately even though I’m so fed up with some of claims of the bible.

  • 16. qmonkey  |  June 24, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Joe Sperling
    >>Thomas also saw Jesus do miracle after miracle and yet said “Unless I see the wounds in his hands, I will not believe”.

    You’ve made the mistake of consulting the bible to see why its true. If the bible is true… then that’s game over. I’ll re-convert.

    >>>We experience “gravity” everyday–it’s a little hard to doubt it’s existence—but even people who have had one huge “experience” of God can still come to a point of doubting—and that is because the other 99% of the time they are walking purely by faith, and not by experience.

    That’s kinda the point imm making… if you’re not sure you’ve had an ‘experience’ of god… chances are that you haven’t. We assume magic other-worldly stuff doesn’t happen until proved otherwise.

  • 17. qmonkey  |  June 24, 2008 at 8:36 am

    >>>mindboggingly dazzled….

    If you are convinced that the gospels are a true reflection of what happened in Judea 2000 years ago then you should be a Christian.

    If you’re not convinced, then your not. I guess.

    It’s easy really… based on the evidence (not what other Christians say they’ve experienced) do you believe Jesus was the son of god? A loving god wont damm you to hell for making a rational informed decision… he might do though, if you make an irrational uninformed decision… to follow the wrong messiah based on hearsay.

  • 18. mindboggingly dazzled  |  June 24, 2008 at 11:06 am

    hey qmonkey

    well, thanks for claiming that it’s “easy really” :-)

    I think not all of us are of the kind like you who can say of themselves that: “…one cannot fake belief in something, deep down we either believe something or don’t.”

    I’ve always found myself with a kind of skeptical attitude which is not only unconvinced by the christian stuff, but also unconvinced by anything else! …envying all those people who somehow are able to believe something out of deep conviction.

    (I’m exaggerating a bit to make my point stronger. Of course, there are also some things in life that i believe deeply in, such as gravity or that racism is unjust).

    You might say: Well, if you can believe neither side of the debate, why don’t you become an agnostic, then?! Well, the problem is: as far as belief is concerned we can follow the agnostic way and abstain. But as far as action and life is concerned, we cannot: we must live some way or other. (And, so goes my current confused thinking: why not christian life?)

  • 19. Ubi Dubium  |  June 24, 2008 at 11:12 am

    mindboggingly dazzled –

    What a lovely honest post.

    The first thing that occurred to me – you are not happy with what your church teaches you, but you like some of the benefits of church. Have you looked into other churches? You are not restricted to only the choices of your old church or no church at all. Some of our posters here have found themselves happier in an Eastern Orthodox church. (I can’t speak to that, having never been to one myself.) I can vouch for two other groups – the Unitarians, and Ethical Societies. Neither group requires adherence to dogma. The Unitarians are more “church-like”, Ethical Societies less so. Both focus on community and finding meaning and purpose in life. And a few posters have mentioned finding that Buddhism was more to their liking. So look into something different!

    And – stick around here, too. It’s a great place to work through hard questions, and you can “talk” to people who have been where you are now.

  • 20. qmonkey  |  June 24, 2008 at 11:14 am

    :) fair point… i do actually know that it’s anyting but easy. just a turn of phrase.

    i think you might be over thinking it… there aren’t two points of view.. which you need to decide between…. you don’t need to be convinced of agnosticism … if you are unconvinced that there’s an intervening god, then you are agnostic whether you like it or not.

    No one is asking you to ‘believe’ in atheism. lack of knowledge is our default position as humans (babies)… we learn as we go …
    i don’t believe that god doesn’t exists… i just don’t believe he exists. its in the gap between the two halves of that sentence that you are struggling with. fair assessment?

  • 21. Joe Sperling  |  June 24, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Grendel1470—

    You said:
    As far as the afterlife goes, in my fundie experience since childhood, we were taught that once saved, if we accomplished “good works” for Christ, we would get crowns, honor, authority to rule in heaven for ever and ever, etc. Well, isn’t that sort of selfish too? Trying to be recognized, rewarded? Smacks of pride, or a desire for glory, I think.

    Why do I want crowns, and more crowns? And what if I don’t want to “rule.” (Rule over whom? Why? Why bother?) For that matter, what if I don’t *want* any authority? Maybe I am just not interested in that. (Well, I’m not.)

    Thanks for sharing—-and I understand fully. You mention salvation being “fire insurance”, and speak of the rewards one can gain, etc. But this really isn’t the Gospel. I guess I had a difference experience—-I wasn’t saved through hell fire and damnation. I was saved as I read the Gospel of John for myself and heard of the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep by name.

    I have always been drawn to Christ in that manner—I have strayed, but always remember the tenderness and kindness of the Good Shepherd to me on that day. Some though need to be persuaded by hellfire—this is apparent, for the Bible does teach both things–it says in Jude “with some have a difference, and with others pull them from the fire..etc.”—this seems to infer that some will respond to Christ’s love and need no message about hell, but others will not respond in that manner, and threats may be the only way to get them to turn around and REALLY listen to what is being said.

    Unofrtunately, it sounds like you had to live under that type of preaching quite a bit. And without the promises of comfort, one can look at Christianity as “selfish”, with the believers only trying to escape some fiery hell.

    As for rewards, if you read Revelation you will see that the very “crowns” that are received are thrown at the feet of Jesus. They are not crowns one wears for their own glory—for the one will realize that he never deserved or “earned” a crown in the first place—-all the glory belongs to the Lord who offered the salvation, and the Spirit that did the good works through us. To see rewards as something we gain for ourselves is to interpret and understand them in an uncorrect way.

    As for what we will do in heaven. I was thinking about this last night. Heb 1:14 says of the angels “are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who will inherit salvation?” Their whole purpose is to minister—-and they LOVE to do it. Angels are made out of LOVE, and love desires to GIVE—so the angels rejoice in ministering to others. I believe that we who go to heaven (since we are literally taking the place and seats of the fallen angels) will also become “ministering spirits” in some sense. Who knows with the vastness of even the physical Universe, and then the vastness of the unseen worlds, what God has planned for us. There may be myriads and myriads of other created creatures we know nothing of, whom we will be sent to minister to. I do not believe Heaven is a dull place, where we will sit around playing harps, but a wonderful, beautiful place, where we will all have our specific work which God gives—–and we will LOVE to do it, because we will be made of pure LOVE. As the Bible says “God is Love”. Just my take on all of it. :>)

  • 22. orDover  |  June 24, 2008 at 11:31 am

    mindbogglingly dazzled’s post reminded me of a short but very poignant post on the Effect Measure science blog (which skepchick linked to), comparing religion to knitting.

    “So in the spirit of summer laziness, here’s what I like about the knitting analogy: it suggests the conditions under which religion would be relatively harmless, maybe even useful. Knitting is a private, or at least personal avocation. Knitters don’t want everyone else to be a knitter. They are satisfied to knit on their own or with other people who like to knit. A knitting club. It’s social. Knitting is a way for many people to relieve tension, or, when times are tough, to occupy themselves. For these people, knitting is comforting. If you’ve ever seen the products of really good knitters, it can also be creative, so knitting is a source of creative inspiration. Knitting is socially acceptable. It doesn’t set a knitter apart from their non-knitting fellow citizens. Whether you are a knitter or not isn’t a matter of personal worth. It is assumed that knitters are just as good people as non-knitters.

    In short, knitting is unobjectionable because it is kept personal, it is not the source of invidious distinctions, it can be fun and lead to pleasant social interactions, it is a comfort for many people, and is a source of creativity and even inspiration. If religion were like knitting, I wouldn’t object to it.”

    I completely agree. If religion could be something approached without dogma and a passion to convert others, then I could see it as a positive force. I know people need the sort of comfort and community religions offer, I just wish the communities were less in-your-face, and more like a knitting circle.

    Here’s the link to the full blog entry: http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2008/06/freethinker_sunday_sermonette_104.php

  • 23. Obi  |  June 24, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    I’d never re-convert to Christianity, or convert to any other religion, for that matter. Ever. Being an atheist has given me clarity in these things. I’ve been able to step back from being cooped up in my tiny compartment of beliefs, and realize that humans have been creating religions and gods for thousands of years. It’s simply human nature to engage in this wishful thinking of gods, devils, angels and the afterlife.

    But it’s nothing more than that — wishful thinking, and I say this with absolute certainty. All religions make claims of answered prayers, miracles, visions of god, having the one and only truth, et cetera. It doesn’t take a fool to stand back and realize that it’s simply human nature to do these things, and sadly it’s often human nature to blindly follow those who do these things.

    This isn’t even mentioning the other reasons I gave up Christianity specifically, which include things such as the contradictions between the jealous, genocidal, and vindictive God of the Old Testament and the loving, peaceful, and “turn the other cheek” “God” of the New Testament, Jesus.

    Of course man-made social constructs such as religion are necessary for our species, because we depend on social interaction. I simply think we should take a hint from the “knitting club” another poster mentioned and do it without the dogma and foolishness of gods, devils, and what have you. Start a chess club where the church once was.

  • 24. Joe Sperling  |  June 24, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Obi—

    You said:

    Being an atheist has given me clarity in these things. I’ve been able to step back from being cooped up in my tiny compartment of beliefs, and realize that humans have been creating religions and gods for thousands of years.

    Are you sure you aren’t actually cooped up in a smaller compartment now? From a “compartment of beliefs” to a compartment of “my own beliefs”(or to be more concise–a compartment of my own wisdom, my own understanding, and my own take on the world)? One can come to a place where they remove God from the throne, and put themself on the throne instead. It can be awfully lonely on the throne. :>)

  • 25. Blog Jumper  |  June 24, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    I was an atheist for almost 20 years. Most of that time was before the internet. Debate was face to face and sometimes, it got pretty nasty. There were several guys I knew who would get together fairly often and debate religion. I loved it. I used almost every argument there is against religion. I thought the debate was too easy because they could never offer me any proof that backed up anything they said. I was seriously arrogant and offensive towards them, and I never understood why they kept inviting me to come back.

    I didn’t soften my position with age either and why should I? I ignored every decent thing I saw about religion and locked in on every negative story I could find. It would have been a difficult task to find someone more “hard-core” than I was.

    Then a rather unusual and unsettling thing happened one day in the winter of 1999. I went from the hard-core atheist I had been to a “no doubt whatsoever” theist in the span of about 10 seconds. I won’t explain how it happened here, or anywhere else because there is no reason for me to do so. It wouldn’t serve to convince anyone, and that’s not my intention anyway.

    You can bring up history, dogma, conflicting “holy” texts, and anything else you can think of. None of it matters. These things are all examples of flawed humans trying to grasp things that can never be understood fully. Practices and beliefs change over time as we do. As long as the context and the ideals are remembered, texts such as the Torah and the Christian Bible will be forever relevant.
    As far as an “afterlife” is concerned, I have no idea. No one knows because there aren’t many people who die for a few months and then come back to give us updates from the “here-after”. It’s not much of a motivating factor for belief though.

    Having lived my life from both sides now, I have to say that there is no place I would rather be. I have no regrets though because the decades I spent as an atheist did two important things for me. I can understand the arguments better. So much so that I cringe every time I see someone throw Bible verses at an atheist. I laugh and usually say something like “oh crap, you really don’t want to do that”. I know they mean well, but … oh, you know what I mean. On the other hand, I know now how empty my existence was before. I wonder how many times (as an atheist) I told people how liberating it was to be free from religion. I smile at that thought these days because in the end I was only fooling myself. Spiritual freedom is not granted or taken away by believing in God. We make ourselves slaves to whatever we choose. Spiritual freedom only comes when we make the decision to cut through our own personal BS (which nearly every religious and non-religious person has in spades) and try to figure out who we really are.
    Hmm..that ended up being a lot longer than I intended. Sorry if I put anyone to sleep :-)

  • 26. SnugglyBuffalo  |  June 24, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Blog Jumper

    Spiritual freedom only comes when we make the decision to cut through our own personal BS (which nearly every religious and non-religious person has in spades) and try to figure out who we really are.

    That’s exactly what led me to leave my faith behind. After I cut away the personal BS, I found there was no longer any reason for me to believe.

  • 27. SnugglyBuffalo  |  June 24, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Looks like I forgot a forward-slash…
    This blog really needs a preview button.

  • 28. Ubi Dubium  |  June 24, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Are you sure you aren’t actually cooped up in a smaller compartment now? From a “compartment of beliefs” to a compartment of “my own beliefs”(or to be more concise–a compartment of my own wisdom, my own understanding, and my own take on the world)? One can come to a place where they remove God from the throne, and put themself on the throne instead. It can be awfully lonely on the throne.

    No – not smaller at all. Not for me. It’s more like the followers of each religion have their own god-box and see everything about the world from that perspective. They are happy in their boxes; I have no need to bother them about it. But I got out of my old god-box, and now I see that there are thousands of different god-boxes, and I have no desire to get into any of them. I have the freedom to think what I want to think, not just what I am told is true by some preacher or some old book. Without supernatural beings, no idea is sacred or immune to logic or scrutiny. My world got much MUCH bigger.

    I didn’t just remove god from the throne – I realized there is no throne. No higher power – just personal responsibility – to ourselves, to each other, to the future.

  • 29. Cthulhu  |  June 24, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Blog Jumper,

    On the other hand, I know now how empty my existence was before. I wonder how many times (as an atheist) I told people how liberating it was to be free from religion. I smile at that thought these days because in the end I was only fooling myself.

    Having lived 20+ years as a Bible thumping evangelical and 2 years as a non-theist – the last 2 years have been far more fulfilling than the previous 20. Having no need for a god does not make me feel empty at all, while my religion made me an intolerant, sometimes guilt ridden, pain in the neck. I wouldn’t trade back without undeniable evidence that god exists.

  • 30. Cthulhu  |  June 24, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    I agree with SnugglyBuffalo – we need a preview function!!! Especially because my typing stinks :-)

  • 31. Blog Jumper  |  June 24, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo,
    I did say that in respect to “Spiritual freedom”, it has nothing to do with belief in God but knowledge of self. So where is the problem?

    The only thing I want new atheists to understand is like it or not, when you throw religion out the window, you’re not unloading a great burden, but creating a large hole. You are going to feel the need sooner or later, to fill that hole with something central or important in your life. Some people (like me) replaced religion with anti-religion. It’s easy, in a short period of time, to become something far worse than the “burden” you unloaded in the first place. That’s why it’s so important to know yourself. If you are doing it to become a better or more enlightened person, make sure you know what that really means first.

  • 32. orDover  |  June 24, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    I’ve been an atheist for 5 years now. I might still be considered a “new” atheist. I don’t know. Regardless, I have never felt there was a hole in my life. But at the same time, I never felt like de-converting unloaded a burden. Have I filled a hole that I didn’t realize was there with anti-religion? I don’t think so. I come to this blog, but not to debate theists and build up my concepts of anti-religion (although that might seem surprising), rather I come here to converse with those who have gone through the same things that I have. I think we’re rare, those of us who have moved from completely faithful Christians to agnostics and atheists, so it’s nice to be able to swap stories.

    Anyway, I think Blog Jumper’s comment is building on that new agey idea that all people need to have some sort of spirituality in their lives. I always hear people say, “Oh I don’t believe in god, but I’m a spiritual person.” Most people do feel a need to believe in something greater than themselves, whether that be god, the human spirit, mother earth, space aliens, the collective conscience, etc. Most people do, but not all do.

    Instead of saying religion left a hole in my life I feel that it is more apt to say that religion was a spot that I removed. It didn’t leave a hole, it just left me the way I’ve always been, minus one big spot.

  • 33. Blog Jumper  |  June 24, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    orDover and Cthulhu
    Who am I to say you’re wrong? I felt just like that too. I did get a chuckle by the “new age” comment though. Oh well, this is the internet so it’s hard to disagree and not come off like an a-hole (a general statement..not intended for anyone here!) and it’s difficult to talk positive about religion without sounding like a “new age” astrologer or Jack Van Impe…lol

  • 34. SnugglyBuffalo  |  June 24, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    I’ve never really felt a need for God or religion. I always believed in God because I assumed he was real, not because I wanted or needed to.

    Now, as I de-convert, I don’t feel any hole. At worst I feel a bit of confusion as I try to establish views on morality and ethics without using the Bible as a crutch. At the same time, I find that the majority of my views on many issues were not based on my faith anyway.

    I quoted you, Blog Jumper, because I did exactly what you say to do there. I cut away the personal BS, and I found that personal BS was the entire basis of my faith. And now, I feel Spiritual freedom, by having freedom from meaningless Spirituality.

  • 35. Blog Jumper  |  June 24, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo said…
    “I’ve never really felt a need for God or religion. I always believed in God because I assumed he was real, not because I wanted or needed to.”

    Indeed, a lot of people operate that way. It’s human nature to act like we are on “auto-pilot”. I know a guy who, after 35 years at his job, woke up on morning and realized that he really hated that job. So yeah, I can easily see that.

  • 36. Grendel1470  |  June 24, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Joel Sperling –
    Some though need to be persuaded by hellfire—this is apparent, for the Bible does teach both things–it says in Jude “with some have a difference, and with others pull them from the fire..etc.”—this seems to infer that some will respond to Christ’s love and need no message about hell, but others will not respond in that manner, and threats may be the only way to get them to turn around and REALLY listen to what is being said

    Perhaps the Jude passage implies what you suggest, but I am not sure. In any case, if someone has to frighten you into loving them, or having a relationship with them, I think that indicates a problem.

    if you read Revelation you will see that the very “crowns” that are received are thrown at the feet of Jesus. They are not crowns one wears for their own glory—for the one will realize that he never deserved or “earned” a crown in the first place—-all the glory belongs to the Lord who offered the salvation, and the Spirit that did the good works through us. To see rewards as something we gain for ourselves is to interpret and understand them in an uncorrect way.

    First, I doubt anyone has a real handle on understanding Revelation. (If a giant such as Luther had such a hard time with it, why should we non-theologians accept it or attempt to explain it so readily?) But to the point — so we are rewarded, then we give the rewards back, since the good works weren’t our doing anything in the first place, but Christ and the HS. Okay. I am familiar with this basic explanation, but really, it is so convoluted! And how many crowns can someone wear?

    I believe that we who go to heaven (since we are literally taking the place and seats of the fallen angels) will also become “ministering spirits” in some sense.

    Taking the place of the fallen angels??? I have never heard teaching or seen any scripture supporting this idea! Have you, or is it merely conjecture?

    Yes, the “LOVE” concept is wonderful but…hard to really know what it actually means, or what “ministering” means. (Ministering to WHOM? I thought everything was supposed to be perfect. Complete.) Dunno. I tend to agree with Paine, or else figure that, since I didn’t exist before my life, it may just be the same thing hereafter.

    – JG

    “Im inside-outside-upside-downside happy all the time!
    Im inside-outside-upside-downside happy all the time!
    Since Jesus Christ came in, and cleansed my heart from sin,
    Im inside-outside-upside-downside happy all the time!”

    How likely was that, really… And honest? (Ah, who cares. The kids still love it.)

  • 37. Grendel1470  |  June 24, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Apologies, Joe. Botched your name.

  • 38. Justin  |  June 24, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    just noticed that many of the comments revolve around seeing a physical miracle in order to “reconvert”.

    I think everyone knows just as well as I do that seeing an arm magically grow again on a person is out of the question. The Bible contains stories through illusions, hidden pictures, curiosity & interaction, truth in humor, paradox in poetry, and truth in paradox regarding spiritual formation and other such lessons.

    so i think it’s safe to say that reconversion for the lot of you won’t be happening haha.

    God Bless,

    Justin

  • 39. LeoPardus  |  June 24, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Blog Jumper:

    Just curious; what did you convert to? A particular religion like Christianity, or a more general theism based on your experience, or ……. what?

  • 40. LeoPardus  |  June 24, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Joe asks a good question:

    Are you sure you aren’t actually cooped up in a smaller compartment now?

    Fact is that we are all still cooped up in the small compartment known as ‘our own minds’. I think that I have a clearer view, Joe thinks he does, I used to have a view like Joe’s and thought it was very clear.

    In the end, I simply must be honest about what I can see, experience, think, believe, etc. At present it is impossible for me to believe in any sort of “personal” deity. And an impersonal one wouldn’t interest me.

    Until some deity chooses to make itself more obvious to me, I have to walk my current path.

  • 41. Joe Sperling  |  June 24, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Grendel1470—-

    Actually by choosing Jude I spoke out of turn. Jude is actually addressing Christians concerning apostates–who they are, how they’ve fallen, and their fate (should they not turn back). So, most likely, when it says “with some make a difference, and with others pull them from the fire…” it is referring to these same people.

    But I must say, that we do not know the reasons for a lot of things which God both allows, and states will happen. Bad things happening to good people, the devil and why God would allow him to exist, and why a devil at all? Why a hell? etc. etc. We really don’t know, and will not find out until the last day. I can say that the Lake of Fire was not originally made for man, but is “for the devil and his angels”.

    But God created man with a free will. He can choose to come to Christ and be saved “freely”, or he can choose to reject him and turn away “drawing back onto perdition”. God does not “will” that any should perish–that is not his desire (I do not believe anyone was predestined for hell). “God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance”. Unfortunately though, due to free will, some will perish, as they willfully continue in their ways, and ignore the route to salvation.

    But God will use any means to try to turn them. He isn’t trying to scare them into loving Him—-he is trying to keep them from choosing a road that lead to eternal destruction. “God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that through him they might be saved”. Some turn back willingly, filled with joy—thankful Jesus died for them. But some continue to reject the message, and all God has left to use is “threats” in an attempt to turn them back. And again, he uses these threats due to his great love, not because he desires anyone to be scared into loving him. But unfortunately, many are like the horse who sees a fire in the barn, and instead of running away, runs back into the barn.

    God even says in one of the Psalms “be not like the horse or the mule” referring to stubborness and possibly bad decisions (as the horse will make sometimes during a fire). This is the reason that hellfire is preached—-unfortunately, some preachers take it upon themselves to make that their main message, burdening those who believe with great and unnecessary fears.

    As for my statement about Christians taking angels seats—-that was all conjecture–and I admit it. A third of the angels fell—man has been redeemed to a higher place than those angels had it says in the book of Hebrews. 1 Corinthians says “Know ye not we shall judge the world?” and also “Know ye not ye shall judge angels?” so it would “appear” that God is replacing those who fell with redeemed men. But again, this is all conjecture, and there is no scripture to back that. I didn’t mean to infer that was scriptural—sorry.

    To end—-God uses the threat of hell to turn only those who absolutely will not respond to his message of love. He has already done everything for us—-he died on a cross, and provided the “gift of salvation”—it’s our own fault if we wind up in the lake of fire. How foolish to turn down a gift of salvation just because you don’t understand it. When a gift is offered normally one receives it. That’s all God asks from us.

  • 42. Obi  |  June 24, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Joe Sperling –

    “Are you sure you aren’t actually cooped up in a smaller compartment now? From a “compartment of beliefs” to a compartment of “my own beliefs”(or to be more concise–a compartment of my own wisdom, my own understanding, and my own take on the world)? One can come to a place where they remove God from the throne, and put themself on the throne instead. It can be awfully lonely on the throne.”

    No, I’m sure I’ve escaped those tiny compartments, mate. Absolutely and totally sure. However, I always find it laughable when Christians state that people in hell “chose” to go there. Perhaps it’s just me, but is anyone else absolutely certain that no human being who has ever lived would “willingly” thrust themselves into a lake of fire for the rest of eternity?

    But anyway, step back and take it all in mate. Look at all of the thousands of religions, gods, devils, angels, et cetera. You’ll realize that yours is but an insignificant speck among many.

  • 43. OneSmallStep  |  June 24, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    But God created man with a free will. He can choose to come to Christ and be saved “freely”, or he can choose to reject him and turn away “drawing back onto perdition”.

    How “free” is this really, though? If I offered you a free cruise, and you rejected it, you’d still go on with your life. There wouldn’t be some horrible consequence attached for refusing.

    But to say that God has given free will, and the consquence of using that free will is that one can land up in hell, I see a contradiction between how the word “free” operates and what the potential outcome is.

    How foolish to turn down a gift of salvation just because you don’t understand it. When a gift is offered normally one receives it.

    Yes, one normally receives the gift, provided that one understands the reason and nature of the gift. I don’t just accept random things from random people, unless there’s some understanding involved.

    But not only that — to say that it’s our own fault for ending up in the lake of fire. Really? If we have someone who deliberatly and willfully chooses to go into a lake of fire, even though we tell them how to avoid the lake of fire, do we still think that person is behaving rationally should the person go to the lake? Or do we think the person is behaving irrationally?

  • 44. Blog Jumper  |  June 24, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    LeoPardus,
    I spent an awful lot of time talking to people. At the time of my conversion (I can’t think of a better term at the moment), the internet was around so I started the long process of gathering information. I made appointments with a few clergy to discuss my issues and questions. For a while I was considering Judaism because I was having difficulty resolving the concept of the Triune God of Christianity.
    The last person I saw was the last person in the world I thought would have any answers to the questions I was asking at that time. Father Casey was a Priest from the local Roman Catholic Church in town. To be honest, I made the appointment with him thinking that I needed to be as thorough about this as possible. I had almost no knowledge at all about Catholic doctrine. What little information I got growing up in the United Methodist Church had been limited (to say the least) about the differences between Catholic Christianity and Protestant Christianity. My expectations were low.
    Father Casey turned out to be much different that I thought he would be. We talked for several hours about everything I could ever think to ask him. Science. Philosophy, Dogma. The Crusades. The man was very friendly, and he was no one’s fool. After we spoke that first time, I knew where I needed to be. I took the RCIA classes and was made a member of the Roman Catholic Church the following year on Easter Sunday. I have been there ever since.
    The only downside to this story for me is that my younger sister, who was/is also an atheist, became quite upset when I told her about my plan to become a member of the Catholic Church.. As of January 2000, she has refused to speak to me or communicate in any way.

  • 45. mindboggingly dazzled  |  June 25, 2008 at 9:32 am

    thanks everybody for some comments, thanks also, Ubi Dubium, for the good words. This blog actually is an interesting place: honest, serious and different view points are welcome. Stimulating, too.

    qmonkey –
    yes, that might be one of the steps I or others have to make. Acknowledging that I am an agnostic as far as convictions are concerned – whether I choose to be one or not, whether I want to be one or not, …
    (What I might still choose then, is the atheistic or deistic or christian course of life, but as far as convictions are concerned, I might just have to face the inescapability of calling myself agnostic?!)

    orDover –
    Very interesting. But at the same time I see a problem with the knitting comparison. Many people like knitting because its the epitome of a non-serious activity. it’s so unimportant, it’s just some diversion, superficial leisure stuff for nice winter evenings. Knitting is great and I understand people who do it. But: It’s not something serious.
    And this is where the analogy with religion gets difficult. Is religion still such a great thing (as it is to some, like it was to me at many points in my life and still is) when it’s not taken as something serious? Religion is something dramatic, something deep, adventurous, possibly life-changing, something with implications for both personal and societal life. And if it’s not taken as something serious – …well, we might still call it religion. but it’s like taking the colour out of a painting…

  • 46. Joe Sperling  |  June 25, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Obi—

    You said:

    Perhaps it’s just me, but is anyone else absolutely certain that no human being who has ever lived would “willingly” thrust themselves into a lake of fire for the rest of eternity?

    i understand your sentiment. But would any living human being willingly thrust themselves into a place where they have to steal from friends to pay for heroin addiction? Yes–they do. They continue buying the heroin even though they could get free if they wanted to. But it is almost impossible, as the addiction cycle has taken over, and they can’t seem to break free, even though at heart they want to. But the fault is entirely their own—they are in the predicament they are in because of a “choice” they made. Unfortunately, after you make the choice to use heroin, you become addicted, and it becomes something beyond your control.

    The “sin cycle” (my own definition) is the same. The Bible says “the wages of sin is death”. We are caught in the addiction to sin and will wind up in “death” if we are not set free. Jesus died to set us free from sin and death. If we accept the “gift” we can be set free. “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”. But if we refuse, just as a heroin addict will refuse help, we will face death. “But you will not come to me that you might have life” said Jesus to the Pharisees.

    You have probably heard this example before, but it is very logical. If you were drowning or adrift, and someone offered you a life preserver, would you turn it down? Would you ask if everyone else got there life preserver first before you took the one offered to you? (people say “I can’t believe because what about all the people who have never heard the Gospel, etc.–I always ask “but have you heard it? Yes-you have–have you received it? Don’t refuse the Gospel based on what happens to other people—just receive it and let God take care of them).

    Basically, God is saying “I can;t explain the whole scenario right now. Yes—you have plenty of questions about evil and why it exists, hell and why it exists, about myself and how I work, etc. But I’m telling you—I did not come and die on a cross for you for no purpose. The stakes are real–if I did not die you would perish. But you have free will—that is part of my plan–I can’t explain it all–I am asking you to believe me. I have created a way to salvation—-all you have to do is receive the “free gift” I am offering. If you don’t you WILL perish. You can argue about the unfairness of it all, make excuses for why you can’t receive or believe, but if you don’t receive the gift, you WILL perish. If this wasn’t true, I wouldn’t have suffered and died for you. You are finite–you cannot possibly understand the mind of an Infinite being—just believe me and receive the gift I am offering”. (I do not pretend to speak God’s words—-this is just an attempt at a paraphrase of what the simple message of the Gospel says).

  • 47. SnugglyBuffalo  |  June 25, 2008 at 11:43 am

    The problem is, Joe, that there’s no way to know for certain if any of what Christianity offers is true. If I’m drowning, I know with certainty that I am drowning and will die if my status doesn’t change, and that a life preserver will save me.

    I cannot be certain that God is real and that I am a sinful being destined for Hell. You’re asking me to receive a gift that I have as much reason to believe in as homeopathy.

  • 48. Joe Sperling  |  June 25, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo—

    I understand—perhaps another analogy might help (maybe not–it appears I’m not very good at them LOL):

    What if a large fire truck came down the street and men ran up to your house and said “evacuate now, there is going to be a flood”, yet you have no sign of anything wrong? The neighbors are watering their lawns and barbecuing. You say “How do I know you are really the Fire Department and how do I know what you are saying is true?” The man responds “Listen, I cannot prove I am from the Fire Department—except for this engine, and our clothing. You are going to have to believe me regarding this—a flood IS going to come, and if you don’t leave NOW you will most likely be killed. We have provided a van over there–FREE transportation to take you away right now—either go now or stay and face the consequences”.

    So, do you wait until you have some ID to prove it, and let the van drive off, or do you get in and take the free trip away from an area that might be under water in a matter of minutes?

    ****Before someone posts, I will post the joke response beforehand (PHONY HEADLINE)::

    CITIZEN FALLS FOR PHONY FIRE DEPARTMENT SCAM, TAKEN FROM SCENE AND ROBBED

    Now that the joke is out of the way—–what would you really do? Wait and possibly perish, or go with the van to safety?

    I know—probably another bad analogy–but just curious.

  • 49. qmonkey  |  June 25, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Joe Sperling

    There is an orbiting invisible spaghetti monster, who loves you but if you don’t pray to it every day and tell it that you love it back… ultimately when you die you will go to hell.

    thats probably not true, but it might be …why take the risk?

    (oh and by the way, there also might be another invisible underground pasta being who will condemn you to hell if you dare to annoy it by praying to the orbiting spaghetti monster)

    what do you do? how do you assess it?

  • 50. Ubi Dubium  |  June 25, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Joe Sperling –

    From my point of view “sin” is an idea that was foisted upon us by the inventors of religion. It’s a good tool to scare people into being faithful. It’s classic marketing – invent a problem, then sell everybody a solution for it. I’m not buying it.

    Preachers would have us believe that all people are inherently “sinful” and must be “saved” or we’ll go to “hell”. I’m sorry, I look at people, and I don’t see “sinners”. People have to make decisions in their lives. Some decisions have clear good results, some clear bad results. Most are somewhere in between. We all have to live with the repercussions of our decisions.

    Is theft a sin? (Preacher says “Yes!”) What if it’s a mother stealing to feed her starving child? (“umm…”) What if the person she is stealing from is making a living by cheating the poor? (“umm…”)

    Is killing someone a sin? (Preacher says “Yes!” ) What if killing that person will save the lives of many others? (“umm…”) Would it be a sin to assassinate Osama Bin Laden? (“umm…”)

    Is suicide a sin? (Preacher says “Yes!” ) What if the person has a terminal illness? (Preacher says “Still a sin!” ) What if the person is in constant pain that no medicine can relieve? (Preacher says “Still a sin!” ) What if the care of the terminally ill person is a tremendous burden and expense to his family, and the terminally ill person wishes to die to relieve them of this burden? (Preacher says “Still a sin!” ) Go away preacher. Let the terminally ill and their families make their decisions based on love and compassion for each other, not on what is or is not a “sin”.

    “Sin” divides things into black and white. Life is not black and white – its mostly shades of grey, balancing the good and bad of each decision. I think people (except perhaps the mentally unbalanced) all have as much capacity for good as they do evil. (They don’t always use it, though.) It’s hard enough to balance our everyday choices without also having to consider whether the choice that appears to have the best all-around results might be considered a “sin” by the pious.

    Joe – it’s OK with me if you want to believe in sin. Really. If it helps you be a better person, fine. But I just want you to understand that if you try to convert me by saying my “sin” needs “redeeming”, well I don’t believe in “sin” anymore than I believe in “god”, so those arguments don’t have any effect on me.

  • 51. Ubi Dubium  |  June 25, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    OK – I don’t know where all those smiley’s came from. They were supposed to be parentheses. Sorry.

  • 52. SnugglyBuffalo  |  June 25, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Joe, I don’t think you’re bad at analogies, but I do think that analogies are a poor way to describe Christianity. Analogies of this sort are trying to compare the supernatural with the natural, and it just doesn’t work.

    If the fire department warns me of a real threat, I will believe them. If a homeopath comes to me and tells me to take a homeopathic remedy, I’m going to kindly ask him to demonstrate on himself that remedy’s efficacy as a suppository.

  • 53. SnugglyBuffalo  |  June 25, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Ubi Dubium
    Another point in support of a preview button!

  • 54. Ubi Dubium  |  June 25, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    qmonkey –

    Oh yes – don’t be misled by the “anti-pasta”! I for one am sure to eat noodles and talk like a pirate every Holy Friday, lest I be cast into the hell of stale beer! Just in case, you understand. qmonkey – I can see you have been touched by the Noodly Appendage!
    RAmen!

  • 55. Joe Sperling  |  June 25, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    qmonkey—

    Nice try—-but the orbiting spaghetti monster is your imaginary invention. I am talking about a God mentioned in a book written by 40 different people over thousands of years. I think the warning coming from that book far outweighs any “orbiting spaghetti monster” that you might bring up in your imagination.

    I appreciate the humor though!

  • 56. Obi  |  June 25, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Joe Sperling

    Your firetruck analogy may seem quite clever to you, but look at it from my perspective. You aren’t the first person who’s ever told me that there was a disaster coming. You say there’s a flood, some people over there say it’s a hurricane, others say it’s a tornado — and each and every one of them say that they’re right and I must listen to them. Listening to anyone else will get me killed.

    This doesn’t even mention all of the thousands upon thousands of people who in centuries past have gone around yelling of fires, floods, hurricanes, and the like. You reject all of their warnings, yet say your warning is the correct one. To me, it’s all foolishness, and indeed that’s what it is in reality. It seems that human beings have a penchant for buying into disaster warnings.

    And Joe, qmonkey wasn’t joking. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is realer than you think. I believe in Him as well, and all He wants from you is love. His gift is free — you must only chose to accept it. Regardless, what does the age of the Bible and number of authors it has have to do with the Bible’s veracity? It would have been better to have fewer authors, because it’s riddled with so many contradictions and massive errors that it really can’t be taken seriously at all.

  • 57. Ubi Dubium  |  June 25, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Joe –

    qmonkey did not invent the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The FSM (sauce be upon him! ) has his own church, his own book (The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – written by only one person, so it is much more internally consistent than the bible), holidays, holy food, chosen people, everything. You can learn more at http://www.venganza.org. I even have an FSM decal on my car (a pirate fish).

    It’s a brilliant satire, and a wonderful tool. Any argument for the existence of god that could apply equally to the FSM is not really much of an argument.

  • 58. Joe Sperling  |  June 25, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Obi—

    You said:

    It would have been better to have fewer authors, because it’s riddled with so many contradictions and massive errors that it really can’t be taken seriously at all.

    Can you be more specific? I’d like to hear some of the “massive errors” you are talking about.

    Ubi—

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster is real. He sent his emissary, Chef Boyardee to speak with me just the other night. :>)

  • 59. Joe Sperling  |  June 25, 2008 at 2:27 pm

  • 60. Ubi Dubium  |  June 25, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Joe –

    Perhaps you have really been touched by His Noodly Appendage! But careful – remember #7 of the Eight “I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts” :

    7. I’d really rather you didn’t go around telling people I talk to you. You’re not that interesting. Get over yourself….

    Being a Pastafarian is easy! Flimsy moral standards, pirates, spaghetti and beer! And a God who really doesn’t care much whether people believe in him. Glad you get the joke! People get too serious around here sometimes. :)

  • 61. Joe Sperling  |  June 25, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Ubi—-

    I agree—I love humor. On this other site I post on (it is a Bulletin Board for ex-members of a cult-like church I use to attend several years ago LOL) I often post in the guise of a person named Reverend Burt O’Leary, a charlatan, who turns everyone of his posts into a way to ask for money. I’ve been told by others that they got great laughs from it.

    I also started a recent story revolving around the apostles. In a recent entry Jesus calls Matthew, who was a tax collector–and it goes a bit like this:

    Jesus: “Peter I’d like you to meet Matthew”
    Peter: (looks at the Lord, glances back at Matthew) “Oh, Hello Matthew, nice to meet you” (Peter smiles, but thinks to himself ‘Oh crap, that’s the dude who did my taxes last year!’)

    Matthew: (smiles, glances at Jesus and looks back towards Peter) “Hello Peter, Glad to meet you” (he thinks to himself ‘this is that fisherman who wrote off way too much mileage on that fishing boat of his last year–he got one hell of a good check in the mail for that one as I recall’)

    And the story continues—-but you get the picture.

  • 62. Joe Sperling  |  June 25, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    I didn’t put the smileys there—–they were just supposed to be parenthesis marks.

  • 63. Joe Sperling  |  June 25, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Of course, Peter (after he was soundly converted) most likely would not say “oh crap” so I am using some artistic license. :>)

  • 64. qmonkey  |  June 25, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    sorry Joe, you’re not really re-converting me.

    Maybe im not smart enough to understand. guess it’s hell for me… god only wants the smart people like you. oh well.

  • 65. Joe Sperling  |  June 25, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    qmonkey—

    I could never reconvert you. I guess you’re trying to be sar-
    castic. Whatever—it’s just that your reference to a flying spaghetti monster vs. a God that has been recognized for thousands of years just seems like a silly argument to use is all. So what is hell to you, being eternally sent to the bubbling hot marinara sauce for eternity by the Spaghetti Monster? :>)

    I’m just kidding by the way—it appears I ticked you off a bit earlier–didn’t mean to.

  • 66. Experience God….Really? « de-conversion  |  June 25, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    […] there was an interesting treatise posted on re-converting in which using experience with God as evidence of His existence is seen as […]

  • 67. orDover  |  June 25, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    …it’s just that your reference to a flying spaghetti monster vs. a God that has been recognized for thousands of years just seems like a silly argument to use is all.

    You think his argument is silly, but your argument is the ad antiquitatem logical fallacy. At least his is based in sound logic.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_tradition

    And if you want to go down that road, then we best worship Dionysus because people recognized him from 2700 BCE onward thousands of years, even to this day…that’s a full seven hundred years before Abraham, if Abraham even existed.

  • 68. Ubi Dubium  |  June 25, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    Joe

    So what is hell to you, being eternally sent to the bubbling hot marinara sauce for eternity by the Spaghetti Monster?

    Oh, no. the Flying Spaghetti Monster does not send people to eternal torment. His Heaven has a beer volcano and a stripper factory. Hell is just like Heaven, really, except that the beer is stale, and the strippers are ugly and have STD’s. :)

    And even though the FSM has only been around for three years, consider that at one point christianity had only been around for three years. Did its’ newness make it less valid? People worshipped Isis and Osiris for much longer than christianity has existed – so is that religion more valid? Hinduism is older too. I don’t think the age of a religion should really be considered evidence of greater validity.

  • 69. Obi  |  June 26, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Hahaha, I feel sorry for you, Joe. It seems you’re caught in the middle of something quite nasty there, mate!

    The largest contradiction in the Bible is one that is quite apparent to any who read it — the stark difference between the jealous, vindictive and murderous God of the OT and the “turn the other cheek” pacifism and understanding of the God of the NT, Jesus.

    God unflinchingly slaughters children (Egyptians come to mind), animals, massacres every human on Earth with a Flood, et cetera. Jesus tells us to suffer the little children, help people, et cetera. For a supposedly Triune God, why do these two parts of the same, supposedly unchanging deity behave so differently?

  • 70. Joe Sperling  |  June 26, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    And if you want to go down that road, then we best worship Dionysus because people recognized him from 2700 BCE onward thousands of years, even to this day…that’s a full seven hundred years before Abraham, if Abraham even existed.

    orDover—

    Come on. You’re using Dionysius as an example? Where in the heck are the worshipers of Dionysius? Christianity has been around 2000 years, and the religion it sprang from, Judaism, for thousands of years before. Christianity is one of the top 3 beliefs in the world——Dionysius? LOL–Ok go that road if you want to—but it is actually quite silly.

    Obi—don’t feel I’m caught in the middle of anything actually. i really don’t buy into the logic you or qmonkey is using. The worship of Osiris may have existed (with the Egyptians)—but Judaism existed at the same time and STILL DOES, along with Christianity for the last 2000 years by ALL PEOPLES of the world. I doubt you’re going to find anyone worshiping Osiris (accept for die-hard people who study old Egyptain religions maybe LOL).

    I am seeing this same argument used all over the board. “Changed christians don’t prove God exists, because people change in OTHER ways too!” “Christianity isn’t necessarily real, because OTHER religions have existed for extended lengths of time in the past too!” It is basically using a negative argument that will allow you to deny any belief in God for any subject that arises.

    “A couple of people have told me that in their experience Honda Accords are great cars due to their resale value, but a friend of a friend of a friend told me that Corollas are just as good”. Then after making this statement the guy doesn’t buy anything and rides the bus.

  • 71. Obi  |  June 26, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Joe Sperling, the logical fallacies just keep rolling in for you, eh? Now you’re staging a popularity contest, an argument ad populum, so state that Christianity is correct. But again, take it back 2,000 years. Christianity was a tiny, upstart religion. Did it’s new age and lack of followers make it any more or less true? I’m sure you’d disagree with the latter, mate.

    Do you know why those religions still do? Because of luck. That’s it. They were in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. It isn’t some sort of divine providence, mate. Hinduism dates back much, much farther than Christianity, and it’s still being followed today. Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion. Does that say anything for their truth value? Obviously not.

    The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is being spread like wildfire, due to the internet. Christianity took 2,000 years to spread around the world, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster already has. Where’s your God now?

  • 72. Ubi Dubium  |  June 26, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Joe

    “A couple of people have told me that in their experience Honda Accords are great cars due to their resale value, but a friend of a friend of a friend told me that Corollas are just as good”. Then after making this statement the guy doesn’t buy anything and rides the bus.

    And he rides the bus why? Because maybe he has figured out that he doesn’t actually need a car at all. And if you have no need for a car, then the relative merits of different cars become irrelevant to you.

    But if a die-hard Accord-lover tries to convince him that only Accords are, or ever were, worth buying, he might point out the other choices available. And then keep riding the bus, just the same. And that’s as far as I care to push this metaphor.

  • 73. Obi  |  June 26, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Hmm, I don’t exactly like how I wrote that comment. I think I was quite overcome with laughter after reading Joe Sperling’s post, so my post came out somewhat disjointedly.

  • 74. Quester  |  June 26, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Christianity and Islam are spreading (have spread) while other religions are not (have not) because Christianity and Islam encourage proselytizing. What other religions do you know of that the members actively try to convert people? That’s not a validation of truth claims, but a validation of marketing techniques.

  • 75. Ubi Dubium  |  June 26, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Oh, and Joe –

    “Christianity isn’t necessarily real, because OTHER religions have existed for extended lengths of time in the past too!” It is basically using a negative argument that will allow you to deny any belief in God for any subject that arises.

    We only brought up the age argument because you used it first: to say the FSM was silly, because it was new and your god has been around for thousands of years. We are just pointing out that the age argument really doesn’t prove anything either way. (The FSM is silly, but that’s rather the point of it.)

  • 76. Joe Sperling  |  June 26, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Obi—

    You may draw laughter from the post, but I seriously do not understand why. if you are going to argue using extremely old religions(that have since fizzled out) as a basis for not accepting one that has existed for a very, very long time(and is still growing) I don’t understand the logic.

    And if you then are going to say—“well there are (3) that have lasted a very long time and are stil growing (Islam, Hinduism and Christiantiy) so that is no reason to accept Christianity either—i still do not understand the logic.

    Then if we have it whittled down to the (3) religions—-why not compare them? See which of them appear to be closer to fantasy, and which could possibly hold the real truth.

    Islam is based on Judaism and Christianity already, so we have Christianity in the mix there already. Islam does not teach a personal God, and it’s heaven is a completely physical realm filled with earthly delights. Hinduism is based on complete fantasy, most of it espousing reincarnation, which greatly induces a “caste system”—these people are rich and deserved because they were good in a former life—this guy was born deformed because he was bad in his former life etc. Again, there is no personal God.

    Christianity has a God looking for us. A God who loved each of us so much he died on a cross personally for us. A very personal God who wants fellowship with us.

    I know you will refuse to believe in all 3 of them. But if I were going to choose out of the three major religions, I would choose Christianity—and I think many muslims and Hindus would to if they were more aware of what it actually taught.

    As for the Flying Spaghetti Monster—I don’t care if it has gone all over the world on the Internet, it will fizzle out within a couple of years like every other atheist fad has done. “God Is Dead” used to be a headline—-haven’t seen it for ages.

  • 77. Quester  |  June 26, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Taoism, and Confucianism are all thousands of years old and still existant today.

    See which of them appear to be closer to fantasy, and which could possibly hold the real truth.

    Well, if we are going to go by *that* standard, Confucianism has no fantastical beings or events such as gods or miracles. I suppose it could possibly hold the “real truth”. I’ll have to investigate it more.

    Christianity has a God looking for us. A God who loved each of us so much he died on a cross personally for us. A very personal God who wants fellowship with us.

    I’m not sure what standards you’re using here for “closer to fantasy” or closer to “real truth”. Personal preference?

  • 78. Joe Sperling  |  June 26, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Here is a famous quote from an agnostic/atheist who lived from 1694-1778:

    One hundred years from my day there will not be a Bible in the earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity seeker. —Voltaire

    As one can see his great vision for the future, so steeped in
    wisdom, has come to pass just as he said it would. :>)

  • 79. Joe Sperling  |  June 26, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Quester—

    I’m not sure what standards you’re using here for “closer to fantasy” or closer to “real truth”. Personal preference?

    What I meant (I guess I’m not very good at really expounding in one sentence what I am try to say) is when you look at the main religions which one appears to reflect a God in keeping with what we know is good within our own hearts.

    Example—-we as Fathers and Mothers love our children dearly—when one has failed we still call them “son” or “daughter”, and we want to know them personally—we want to be involved with them and take care of them. Which religion (without coming back with a OT vs NT God–I’ve heard that argument, and the responses too—I am talking about the merciful and loving God spoken of in both OT and NT vs the god of Hinduism, or Islam, or Buddhism, etc.) comes closest to reflecting a God who loves as we desire he would do within our deepest heart of hearts. Which God would come the closest to a God we would WANT to exist if we could only believe in him? A non-personal God? A god who is a force that causes you to live life after life until you reach nirvana? Or a God who loves you so deeply he would even die for you? I’m sure if you look deep you can answer that question of the heart.

  • 80. Quester  |  June 26, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Joe! You mean that people predicting the future can be wrong? Oh my goodness! That changes everything!

    ((my own attempt at humour, there))

  • 81. Obi  |  June 26, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Joe Sperling said, “Islam is based on Judaism and Christianity already, so we have Christianity in the mix there already. Islam does not teach a personal God, and it’s heaven is a completely physical realm filled with earthly delights. Hinduism is based on complete fantasy, most of it espousing reincarnation, which greatly induces a “caste system”—these people are rich and deserved because they were good in a former life—this guy was born deformed because he was bad in his former life etc. Again, there is no personal God.”

    Joe, you must realize that I’m using those arguments to rebut the logical fallacies you yourself are committing. You were using arguments ad populum and appeal to tradition, both of which are logical fallacies because they do not address the truth value of a specific argument. You were stating that because Christianity has been around for thousands of years and many people around the Earth believe it, it is more valid a belief than believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I countered by showing you that there are religions much older than Christianity still existing today (Hinduism, Zoroastrianism), as well as faster growing religions (Islam).

    Regardless, you continue to commit more logical fallacies, as in the segment of your post that I quoted above. The specific one here is an argument from final consequences, which states that if you simply do not favor or do not like the conclusion that a specific argument (in this case religion) entails, it must be wrong. That’s immensely foolish. Simply because there is no personal God in Islam does not make it any less true than Christianity. That’s a non sequitur, your conclusion that it is false does not follow from your argument.

    Regardless, I could care less about what you think of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and “atheist” fads. Again, that’s not the point of the argument here. The point is that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is every bit as credible and backed up by evidence as your God is. As in, there is zero evidence nor reason to believe in the Christian God over the FSM, save for choosing by yourself where you want to invest your blind faith.

  • 82. Quester  |  June 26, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    How about a God so wanting to manipulate you that he forces you into a no-win situation then attempts to drive you into mindless obedience through unnecessary guilt by needlessly torturing himself on a cross and telling you it’s for your own good?

    Joe, over-simplification only works with someone who has not investigated the cause you are speaking about.

  • 83. Ubi Dubium  |  June 26, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Joe
    I just don’t see how Hinduism is based on a complete fantasy, and christianity not. Karma and reincarnation do not sound any sillier to me than what the christians teach. The idea of cosmic brownie points that get you a better life next time if you obey the will of the gods in this life? I find that no sillier than a god who gives you only one chance, and if you don’t believe exactly the right things you are consigned to eternal torment. At least in Hinduism, they believe that if you mess up, the gods give you another chance to do it better next time. Sounds better to me. You are just used to hearing the christian message, so all the others sound silly.

  • 84. Joe Sperling  |  June 26, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Quester—

    Joe! You mean that people predicting the future can be wrong? Oh my goodness! That changes everything!

    ((my own attempt at humour, there))

    Come on now. You can’t laugh that off all that quickly. It is not that Votaire predicted it and was completely wrong, it is the sarcasm and true belief he held that the Bible was “bunk” and would just “fizzle away” in a hundred years that is in play here. Voltaire is greatly respected by atheists, and many others too. But he was in the end a scoffer, and his scoffing was so far off the mark it is incredible. Those who believe the Bible is nothing but a book written by man will most likely continue to make such statements and show that though they are peceived as wise men they are really fools. (“The fool hath said in his heart their is no God”)

  • 85. Joe Sperling  |  June 26, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Obi—
    You said:
    I countered by showing you that there are religions much older than Christianity still existing today (Hinduism, Zoroastrianism), as well as faster growing religions (Islam).

    I guess we could go in circles here forever. :>) But as I pointed out on another thread recently, Jesus said “All that ever came before me were thieves and robbers”(speaking of the past), and then warns in the future that there will be many saying “I am Christ” but not to believe them (speaking of those who come after him).

    So, in effect, he is saying that Hinduism and Zoastrianism(before him) were founded by thieves and liars, and that Isalm and Buddhism and Flying Spaghetti Monsters(after him) are false religions.

    He denies all of THEM, yet they all ACKNOWLEDGE HIM as a great teacher, great man, or incarnation of former great teachers. I know this does not prove anything to you—but it is extremely interesting to note that THEY revere him, but he calls all of them FALSE. (perhaps the Flying Spaghetti Monster does not acknowledge him—I’ll give you that LOL)

  • 86. Joe Sperling  |  June 26, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Spaghetti Monster:

    “I have chosen you twelve meatheads, I mean, meatballs, to take my message to the rest of the Italian culinary community. After that you are sprinkled from above with parmesan, you will go by twos to each pizza oven and spread the message of garlic and onions to all. If they will not receive you, shake the very olive oil off of your feet. And you, who do you say that I am?” “You are Sapghetti, the son of Baked Zitti” said Luigi, who is called Pepperocini.

    Sorry—-couldn’t resist.

  • 87. Obi  |  June 26, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    To me Joe, that only reflects poorly on Jesus. I don’t see why you’d especially point out how Jesus disrespected all who came before and after him as if that’s some point about his teachings to be lauded. However, this all makes sense when one realizes that most of what people think they know about Jesus today has been greatly mythologize and exaggerated — however, it also seems that he was quite the arrogant “prick” in his day.

    I don’t really respect that.

  • 88. Anonymous  |  June 26, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Obi—

    To me Joe, that only reflects poorly on Jesus.

    Actually, it only reflects poorly on Jesus if what he is claiming isn’t true. If all that came before him WERE thieves and robbers (as he definitely says in John 10–read it for yourself) then he is merely stating the truth, and that would not reflect in any negative way whatsoever.

    I point it out Obi, not to “laud it” as you say, but to make a very important distinguishing difference. Everyone recognizes Jesus as either a great man or teacher or Avatar in the other religions, but he does not recognize any of THEM. Nowhere, in his teachings does he talk of “another teacher”, or another man of wisdom to follow. He says “I AM the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but BY ME”. That statement only reflects poorly on Jesus if it isn’t true–but why would someone all the other religions accept as a great teacher make a statement like that? I think it is because He IS the way, the truth and the life.

  • 89. Joe Sperling  |  June 26, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    it happened again—–the above is not anonymous—-it is me. Apparently, sometimes I need to re-enter my name and other info or I become “anonymous”.

    –Joe

  • 90. SnugglyBuffalo  |  June 26, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    …why would someone all the other religions accept as a great teacher make a statement like that?

    I rather doubt that most other religions accept that part of his teaching as valid. Believe it or not, it’s possible to think a man is good and wise in general, but still believe that a few of his teachings were off the mark (I’m sure most other religions reject the notion that Jesus was God).

  • 91. orDover  |  June 26, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Joe,

    I love how you ignored my ACTUAL criticism of your post, the fact that you were using a logically fallacious argument, and focused on the small detail I used to illustrated how unstable your line of reasoning is. You wrote:

    Come on. You’re using Dionysius as an example? Where in the heck are the worshipers of Dionysius? Christianity has been around 2000 years, and the religion it sprang from, Judaism, for thousands of years before. Christianity is one of the top 3 beliefs in the world——Dionysius? LOL–Ok go that road if you want to—but it is actually quite silly.

    Alright then, let me defend my answer. I chose Dionysus for several reasons:
    1. He can be dated back much further than a Christian or Jewish god
    2. He was worshiped for nearly 4 thousand years from 2700 BCE until around 1000 CE when Christianity worked to blot out all of the old cults. 4 thousand years is long that Jesus has been worshiped, and even longer than Judaism has been around (ignoring the fact that, according to archaeological data, the Jewish religion actually grew out of much older Mesopotamian religions, merely changing a few letters of the god’s name.)
    3. Modern cults to Dionysus are still in existence today. It’s even thought that Free Masonry descended from a cult called Dionysiac Architects. Currently there is even a sect of Free Masonry called the Revived Order of Dionysus.
    4. Even if you argue that he isn’t worshiped as a god, he is RECOGNIZED (and has been since way back in 2700 BCE), which is the word that I used, and also the word that you used.

    Logical fallacies don’t cut it. I’m sorry. Several of us have pointed out which ones you’ve made, and you are ignoring our criticisms of your reasoning.

  • 92. Obi  |  June 26, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Joe Sperling —

    Since we’re on the topic of Jesus and his supposed greatness, I’d like to point you to a great article (and site in general) that deals with quite an embarrassing prophecy that Jesus spoke of during his time. It deals with how Jesus prophesied that he would return about 2,000 years ago, but as you know, nothing has happened yet. It’s an interesting read indeed: http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/2000years.html

    But anyway, I agree with orDover. I noticed that you skipped over my rather large post dissecting your arguments up to that point, which I didn’t really appreciate, because I took a few minutes to type it up. You really should glance over it mate, you could stand to learn a few things about debating.

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  • 94. Alban  |  March 9, 2014 at 12:20 am

    Seems like this treatise could use a reawakening. Re-conversion… not exactly.

    The message of Jesus as a historical “Christ” possesses a unique function IF that one person until death, chooses to offer it. That is to inspire and reveal the knowledge of self. If your predacessor had been crucified, would you want to be in public view? No. And I’m pretty sure the ‘second coming’ has more to do with public offering not a celestial circus. Modern mass communication has alot to do with this possibility, a simple possibility. Nothing more!!!!!!!

    The knowledge of the self is available today. The evidence required of the existence of God is already there in each of you. Self is where the 2 meet. We all have the capacity to turn our 5 senses within. That is where you will find your evidence. BUT when you try to on your own, nothing happens, you might say… if you do try… There is a very thorough teacher who is quite enjoyable on videos and even more in person, who can make the introduction and who inspires the entire journey..

    Being shown how to do this is necessary. I understand (not having the inclination to do the research) that there are written descriptions of these techniques. Not that it would do you any good. Why?

    Like the movie ‘Starman’ with Jeff Bridges who essentially comes here from outer space, he knows nothing about human beings other that what we put out into space (think it was the NASA Explorer Probe) to invite any alien species here. Recordings, records, pictures, letters, books, movies etc.

    Until he takes a human form he cannot understand humanity. He hasn’t lived as a human, so he doesn’t know. As he learns, he’s on the run from scientists who want to capture him after we shot down his spacecraft. It is both funny and a sad reflection on our society. Invite then destroy? “Do deer eat people?” after bringing a slain dear back to life from a hunter’s car. A thoroughly entertaining movie!

    Until we as individuals learn to perceive within, we cannot assess, judge or objectively/scientifically prove this “Knowledge” is even possible. Imagine Jeff Bridges in that character trying to explain to others of his kind what living as a human is like. He could not have put his experience on a dissection plate. If they really wanted to make an assessment, they would also have to become human. No shortcut and no mind melds. No independent 3rd party verification..

    This is NOT meditation using an external vehicle like a word, a mantra or a prayer. And you will not have any sense of satisfaction or proof that you want by reading about it. You can only examine it by entering yourself. In “Starman,” Bridge’s character accepts the invitation from earth, so he took the trip. He WANTED to check it out. The invitation to this perception is the same. Wanting differs from curiosity.

    When Jesus was doing what an anointed gifted “Christ” does (if he so chooses and without charge)…literally showing interested people the self within (uh…so many names!…but then it was “the Kingdom of God) he didn’t make it a ‘believe’ experience. He made IT a show me (and THEN tell) experience. From that experience which is a daily focus, not just a one time phenomenon, descriptions like ‘without beginning’ and without ending’, timeless, infinite, eternal light, ‘immaculate’ all are uttered. It can be more but always at least a not so subtle contented feeling without a reason! Simple.

    The only entity that did not want this and would literally go to the ends of the earth to prevent people from knowing this experience is possible in perpetuity, not only at that time but BEFORE his time and AFTER, are the originators of orthodox Christianity and their attendees at the Nicene Conventions (325 CE and 349 CE) which produced the blood soaked, politically correct final version of the bible. Their descendants are now known as the Catholic Church.

    Very simple experience to enjoy. It’s already there and you do not ”attain” it. Just go into your “closet” everyday. Extraneous thought may distract because it can’t go in, but your WANT to feel what you feel is much stronger. (if curiosity was your prompting it will surrender to your thought) So it is different than a discipline. And check out some videos of the teacher when possible.

    This is not and was NEVER intended to be a religion. Don’t know that it will send you running back to church although some do- me occasionally-like the music at Christmas and Easter.

    Best of all, it will help you really value life like never before. And discover answers you didn’t know you had questions about!! It makes everyday fresh amidst all the ups and downs of existence.

    Learning to savor the essence of being will provide all the evidence anyone would need to know there is the kingdom of God already here. And EVERY human being is invited by birth and by breathing. The concept of ‘the elect’ is gone. Thank God.

    From this experience, you can assess more accurately the distortions of Christian heritage brought on by early leadership and perpetuated in an indoctrinated ignorance. Then inspire others to find (out,) themselves. (The purpose is Fulfillment NOT a judgement on religion, but perspective provides an interesting perception on theology and philosophy concerning it)

    This is my short take after almost 40 years. My 2 oldest sons got it in a few days after being shown and we didn’t indoctrinate them, being careful to preserve their youth and their enthusiasm in just being kids. Rules and regs, nightime prayers and an introduction to church and conversations with and without God and the universe without coordinated timing. My oldest loves this Knowledge and yet has his own take on God that leans agnostic. The younger one enjoys occasional discussions of the Qu’ran which he studied as a philosophy major in college, so go figure.

    Find our commonality as individuals and as a race, still maintain a strong sense of individuality, but help to heal the results of our collective ignorance and cease blaming what gives us life for our own ignorance, and do with our lives as we see fit in this unique clarity.

    It won’t happen overnight, but Peace on Earth is not a stretch. I have noted websites in previous submissions on 33 reasons.

  • 95. cag  |  March 9, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Alban, the easiest person to fool is yourself. The supernatural does not exist. At least you got it right about religion and the “blood soaked” bible. The rest is like instructions with all the relevant parts redacted, meaningless.

  • 96. Alban  |  March 9, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Finding the one thing that is more brilliant than your own mind with all its chatter, suggestion and sophistication is NOT easy. Even when shown and inspired over and over again. Most people believe they are what they think. To separate the actual constant from what appears in the mind to be constant, is not supernatural at all.

    We don’t create that constant, but we have inherited the creation of our own thoughts. To see what is not created, the focusing has to be exact, but even when it is not exact, the effort itself has a yield that truly words do not accurately describe. In this effort you understand the adversarial nature of your mind as though it’s purpose is to prevent this very focus.

    Surgeons have instruments which keep blood from gushing into the surgery site. When you find the target within, you go in amidst the gushing of your thoughts. There is no instrument in this endeavor to stop the gushing until you are in. Then when in, the outside is inconsequential because it CANNOT go in. It is the only time in life when the ‘volume’ of your life is ‘louder’ than your mind other than sitting in front of the teacher when that teacher is speaking about this subject.

    So no, this is not easy and not supernatural. Religion is easy. Supernatural is mystical. I have lived long enough to know both of those categories have practicality for some in everyday life. I have personally witnessed 2 exorcisms. Very ugly. I also have a psychic friend who has located kidnapped victims for the FBI but even she admits it is not close to 100% accuracy.

    What I can say with 100% accuracy is very simple. Each of us contains the most beautiful, most extraordinary element that is unimaginable. A simple yet astounding love in the midst of a heck of a lot of confusion.

    Yet in our sophistication we say it is not possible. Formidable adversary, eh? I won’t go as far as calling it evil. (much, much more refined than demons- which are akin to parasites) It is expert however, at distraction in this specific area of self knowledge. Up until this point in our history it’s track record has been just about impeccable. ALMOST.

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Attention Christian Readers

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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