Why I Stopped Believing In God

March 3, 2009 at 12:22 am 183 comments

The purpose of my rants and opinions is not to change anyone’s mind. There are several reasons I am rather vocal in what I say. I do hope that my posts help people think about what they believe, even if they don’t come to the same conclusions I did. I also hope to better inform those that wish to keep their religious beliefs what those of us who do not have them argue because there is a lot of misinformation out there given by apologetic ministries and the like. My main purpose, however, I think, is to just enjoy having them and not being afraid to express them anymore. Nevertheless, I do occasionally tire from trying to explain everything patiently over and over again to those who have little interest in what I am actually saying, but simply want to dogmatically cling to what they know. In times like those, I remind myself that I used to be one of those people.

It makes me wonder: why did I change my mind when others don’t? I think there are three factors that led to my de-conversion: Humility, knowledge, and misery.

Humility is something taught to Christians, but it is a rare Christian that actually possesses it (at least in the conservative world in which I lived–I never really had much interaction with the more liberal Christians, so from here on, whenever I say “Christian”, know I am talking about conservatives here). I will not say I had an abundance of it–on the contrary, I thought I knew all the answers and could defend them. I was well versed in apologetics and knew every Sunday school answer in the book. Perhaps it was all my schooling in apologetics that made me listen when someone else spoke–I was anxious to prove their argument wrong, so I would listen. Over time, however, I realized that I couldn’t. That apologetics didn’t understand the concepts they were defending, so I had been taught how to defend the wrong ideas. I was convinced that the answers were out there, however, so I started doing some research, which leads me to the knowledge part.

I began noticing: a lot of the arguments for certain ideas tended to end up being fancy ways of saying “Well, we (the authors) like this idea, therefore, it must be true.” My textbook for Old Testament in college contained a good example of this when discussing whether or not the Bible was inspired by God. Over a couple years of personal research, I learned how to think critically. I, like many people, shoved as much of the contradictory evidence out of my mind. I had no desire to stop believing in God, but I did begin questioning. I never expected that my questioning would ultimately lead me away from faith, because everyone questions sometimes. So I waited patiently for my faith to come back. It never did. I began to have some serious doubts.

Another aspect that eventually drove me away was realizing that I was miserable. I did not fit into conservative world very well, at least not outside my home church. I married a minister, who, along with one of his friends and a friend of just mine that I ministered with once, helped me along in my doubts by teaching me about some of the other theological ideas floating around out there. Two out of three of them ultimately rejected those theological ideas–my husband included, but I think it was the “I like this idea, therefore it must be true” mentality that made them stick with their faith. I wound up not having that luxury. Ministry can be brutal, and I wound up serving in one extremely brutal church followed by an extremely apathetic (toward me) church. When we served in the apathetic church, I moved away from family and friends, and all I had was a church that only cared that I attended because of how it looked.  I will probably someday post some stories from those churches, but for now, it is suffice to say that nobody really cared about me at all.

Over time, it was incredibly draining to pour my entire heart into ministry, only to never be good enough for anyone. No one was ever satisfied, and I received no support. Nobody saw ME, they only saw what I did or didn’t do. You can only live in that kind of isolation for so long, especially with a small child who also takes and takes from you. When my marriage fell apart for completely unrelated reasons, the reaction of the Christian community is what finally drove me over the edge. From people I had known my entire life, I received nothing but judgment or silence from the conservative community. I lost all my social footing at a time when my faith was at its weakest point to begin with. I felt like the injured man on the side of the road–people either stopped to tell me it was my fault or walked on the other side of the road pretending not to see me. I stopped going to church, stopped caring whether or not God existed, and stopped caring what the Christian community thought of me. Steve (my fiance) insists that is when I became an atheist, but it took me another year to admit it to myself and to others. Back then, I thought if even Christians who are mandated to love others didn’t love me, then how much less would the outside world? Oh, how wrong I was! The outside world likes me! It amazes me, because for so long, I felt unlikeable. I felt invisible to Christians, but I am not to atheists, agnostics, or apathetics. I fit in!

Of course, I did not know that when I was still struggling. All I had was fear–fear of losing everything. Ultimately, I did lose everything, and it was hard. It took a lot of strength and humility to say I was wrong in what I had built my entire life around. But I can say it was worth it. The fear is gone. The rejection is there, and still hurts sometimes, but it is greatly lessened and I found a niche where I am loved–where loving people means they might actually love you back sometimes. I found a lot of joy and a lot of peace by letting go of the things that are supposed to give you joy and peace, but never did. I blamed myself for so long! I blamed myself for not fitting in, and sure, some of it was my fault, but I have learned that it wasn’t all me. I blamed myself for not feeling the presence of God, for not having my prayers answered, for not being good enough, but to hell with it all. It wasn’t all me!

Will I believe in God again someday? Quite possibly! I admitted I was wrong once, and I am willing to do it again. But God will have to make an effort next time around, because I don’t have the energy to go around searching for him anymore. If he is real, and he is the Christian god, and he wants me, he will have to do the knocking, because I knocked hard and long and the door was never opened. I sought long and hard, but never found. All I found when I sought was that I had probably built my life on lies, and the only door that was opened to me was a door to a new life–far richer and better than the one I left behind.

(This is just kind of a nutshell. I could write an entire book on my experiences and journey to where I am now, but there is some of it anyways.)

- lauradee24

(cross-posted from The Redheaded Skeptic)

Entry filed under: lauradee24. Tags: , , , , .

Happy 2nd Anniversary d-C! A Look at Liberal Christianity

183 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Joshua  |  March 3, 2009 at 1:10 am

    “That apologetics didn’t understand the concepts they were defending, so I had been taught how to defend the wrong ideas. I was convinced that the answers were out there, however, so I started doing some research, which leads me to the knowledge part.”

    Wow. Exactly what happened to me, except I realized that while apologetics claimed to understand what they were defending, they rarely – if ever – understood who they were defending against. Rarely, if ever, did I feel like apologists in debate were actually addressing what men like, say, Dan Barker or Bart Ehrman or Richard Dawkins were *really* saying. Somehow I came to sympathize with them and found myself so frustrated at how weak apologist arguments were. I kept wanting to jump into the debate and “help” them out.

    Eventually I realized this was something that was impossible to do. And then I realized I was basically becoming an atheist for real.

    One day a woman at a Bible study asked me – with a slight smirk – why I believed in God. For a moment every single argument for God’s existence passed before my eyes and I realized none of them made any real sense. I made something up (I don’t even remember) and left feeling absolutely powerless to defend the faith – at all. So much for following Peter’s advice!

    I then knew I had a serious “problem”. Gosh, I was thinking too clearly I guess!

  • 2. Quester  |  March 3, 2009 at 2:18 am

    Laura Dee,

    I can resonate with so much of your story! I was an ordained minister, and a conservative Christian. I debated with atheists and pagans, certain that I had the right answers, only to find they had other questions. I studied scripture and Christian teachings to share with those I ministered to and to equip them to minister others, and began to find all the holes and contradictions. I turned to other Christians, and found that they made peace with these difficulties by choosing what sort of god they wanted to believe in and choosing to believe in that. I’m open to the possibility of believing a god exists, if I see any evidence one does.

    The main differences between my story and yours are that I’m not particularly humble, and I had a lot of support from my fellow Christians when I shared that I was struggling with my faith and had to leave the ordained ministry.

    I’m glad you found some place where you can fit in. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • 3. lovemoren  |  March 3, 2009 at 4:36 am

    Hi,
    The members of the Church you belonged to, did a wrong thing.hey probably taught wrong things too. I believe they were not sincere believers. Had they taught the truth, you probably would have learnt enough truth to aid you withstand weaknesses of other individuals. You probably fell victim to false teachers, who were only in it for money and power. in Matt 7:15 and 16, Jesus warned, saying:

    “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?

    You saw their fruits. They were not what they professed.

    I can assure you, God exists and he cares about you. I had doubts about the Bible but after studying the prophecies written in it, I knew only God could reveal the entire history of the world in advance. I also noticed that what the Bible says is true. My friends and I once prayed for someone who was mentally unstable and could not speak. Immediately after praying, this man got well and we could even interview him. My experiences are many. Don’t let other people cause you to lose focus on Jesus, the saviour. You should have tried another denomination or congregation.

    I once haboured secret doubts but now I’m a believer. I have seen the goodness of God for myself and I don’t have to depend on fellow members (not that I don’t need them) to keep me in the faith. They are just human beings who can make dreadful mistakes.

    you are welcome to visit my blog: amazingtruths.wordpress.com I will soon start dealing with some of the prophecies and other interesting topics that may not have been covered by your former church.

    Have a great day.

  • 4. Quester  |  March 3, 2009 at 4:41 am

    Lovemoren,

    You have no idea what sort of site you just visited, do you?

  • 5. lovemoren  |  March 3, 2009 at 6:19 am

    Quester,

    What do you mean by that?

  • 6. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  March 3, 2009 at 7:44 am

    lovemoran, check out the section with the big, red exlamation point titled “Attention Christian Readers”

  • 7. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  March 3, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Err, sorry. lovemoren, not lovemoran. This is what I get for commenting so early in the morning. ;-)

  • 8. The de-Convert  |  March 3, 2009 at 9:19 am

    lovemore,

    While other “christians” may be an initial cause that allows us to remove some of the blinders from our eyes, in a majority of cases, it’s NOT the reason we de-convert. It’s just a way for us to become open to really seeing what is there.

    BTW, I really hope you don’t believe that you or your church teach “right things.” The Bible is such a vast book written by a large group of authors over a lengthy period of time and has so many logical inconsistencies and contradictions that anyone can claim to teach “right things.” I don’t know if I know of a church out there who believe that they’re teaching “wrong things” yet there are so many radically different thoughts out there.

    Pick a topic and I can find you a scripture to support or contradict it.

    Paul

  • 9. Anonymous  |  March 3, 2009 at 11:47 am

    ((Lauradee,))

    Thank you for your moving story. I can’t imagine what this must have been like for you.

    Do you think that some of these people were reacting from fear? On some level you were a threat to them, and to their faith.

    For me, if Christianity is about anything it’s about loving each other unconditionally apart from performance, and totally resting in God.

    On top of that, didn’t the apostle Paul, himself, say, “That we see through a glass darkly..” Someone who thinks they have the total answer for every question out there, is surely in for a huge shock , to my mind.

  • 10. lauradee24  |  March 3, 2009 at 11:57 am

    #9, I don’t know. My first reaction is “I don’t think so” because at the time, I was not broadcasting any change in religious beliefs. I was doing something they considered wrong (leaving my husband and staying with a male friend) and many of the judgments I received were attempts to parent me out of my sin. My parent’s pastor called me one day and lectured me for about 30 minutes. A good summary of the conversation was his statement, “Now, you claim to be a Christian, and I am going to tell you how to be a good Christian whether you like it or not.” I most certainly didn’t walk up to my parents one day and say “Oh, I am leaving my husband and by the way, I’m an atheist now.”

    I do, however, think that may be part of the reason why many people don’t speak to me now. Interesting insight!

  • 11. LeoPardus  |  March 3, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    lauradee:

    Yours is another of the many great posts around here that so many of us say “Amen” to. Nothing like honesty, openness, and courage to get one out of the faith.

    I greatly agree with your words on humility. It is a primo “christian virtue” but it is NOT practiced, save by a tiny handful.

  • 12. The de-Convert  |  March 3, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Leo,

    It’s actually easier to practice humility as a de-convert than as a Christian… you know that whole being a part of the “chosen” ones, everyone else going to hell, separate yourself from the “world”, etc. all put a damper on trying to be humble – all issues we don’t have to overcome.

    Paul

  • 13. LeoPardus  |  March 3, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    lovemoren:

    Gee your first post and you manage to use one of the Convenient categories. That’s quite an accomplishment.

    I can assure you, God exists and he cares about you.

    I can assure you he does not and you are under a delusion.

    I had doubts about the Bible but after studying the prophecies written in it, I knew only God could reveal the entire history of the world in advance.

    Pshaw! Vaguely worded, ancient texts that can be (and are) interpreted in a million ways. Get real.

    My friends and I once prayed for someone who was mentally unstable and could not speak. Immediately after praying, this man got well and we could even interview him.

    Frankly, and I probably speak for many here, I figure two things explain this. 1- You made it up. 2- You were duped by the dude you think you cured.

    I will soon start dealing with some of the prophecies and other interesting topics that may not have been covered by your former church.

    What a marvelous example of the very arrogance lauradee spoke of in her article. She, like most of us here, could probably keep pace with you or even run circles around you on such topics.

  • 14. Luke  |  March 3, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    i LOVED this post. LauraDee, you are a gifted writer and thanks for sharing your journey within your religious context and how that led to your current conclusions.

    i loved the fact that your cited everything… my fave. is “whenever I say “Christian”, know I am talking about conservatives here”

    too many times people do not make this distinction. this is a great qualification and it is key to understanding the three keys you posit.

    your openness and willingness to think are something we need more of, regardless of where you come out on the “God issue”. if this site is a testament to anything, it’s that people can be good out of fear of God, out of God’s love for them, or just because being good is worth being regardless of a supreme being.

  • 15. Yurka  |  March 3, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic:

    #4 Lovemoren,

    You have no idea what sort of site you just visited, do you?

    #5. lovemoren | March 3, 2009 at 6:19 am

    Quester,

    What do you mean by that?

    What Quester and Leopardus mean is that even if God appeared to them personally and performed miracles, they would resort to idiotic evasions rather than admit the evidence of their senses, so your testimony will have no effect outside of grace working on their hearts. They want proof, and when they’re given it, they don’t want to investigate it. They a priori reject it, which shows they were insincere in the first place in asking for it. They will find a way to evade your testimony.

  • 16. Joshua  |  March 3, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    lovemoron -

    Thank you for the invite, but as you have expressed, many of us have not experienced that form of a church. If we were “lead astray”, we wondered why God would have allowed such a thing when others – like you claim to be – have the gospel correct. This seems more like the work of chance and misunderstanding on the part of human minds than it does the work of deity.

    Those of us who were treated indecently began to feel that this was just a part of life – you know? People are mean to each other because evolution has left us highly evolved animals with animal instincts and desires.

    We truly appreciate those of our fellow men who are kind and decent and gentle – regardless of their background or creed. To most of us, this is what matters – not what a person says they believe.

  • 17. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 3, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Heck, my time as a Christian was nothing but pleasant. I certainly didn’t leave the faith because of other Christians, it wasn’t even a contributing factor.

    I just took a hard look at what I believed, and realized it didn’t make any sense; that I would never have become a Christian if I had not been raised as one through my childhood.

  • 18. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  March 3, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Same here, SnugglyBuffalo.

  • 19. atimetorend  |  March 3, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    It is interesting how many different ways a person can be provoked to examine their faith critically. Once examined though, the same means of examining the faith and the end result can be exactly the same, conclusions based on evidence and rational thought leading a person away from faith.

  • 20. LeoPardus  |  March 3, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    SB:

    I’m totally with you on that. Heck I’m still at church most every Sunday with my family. The folks at the church are mostly very nice people.

    atimetorend:

    Righto mate.

  • 21. Joshua  |  March 3, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    So my experience in the faith was unusual? I mainly remember the suspicions, the judgments, the church splits, the control, the submission, etc. Maybe I’m just selectively remembering. Sure we had church potlucks (nice ones), and most people were pretty friendly.

    Gosh, I just remember being terrified of hell quite a bit of the time.

  • 22. lauradee24  |  March 3, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    You know, commenting on the “my experience with church has been nothing but great” as opposed Joshua’s experience, I think a lot of it has to do with denomination and specific church characteristics. Some churches are filled with kind and loving people. If my fiance wants to go to church, I would go with him to support him in his beliefs as he has done mine because he attends a more open denomination. UU also have a reputation for being more open minded as opposed to say, Assembly of God. Regionally, the South tends to be more conservative and judgmental than the North.

    Also, though, growing up, I had wonderful experiences with church for the most part. It wasn’t until I went into the ministry that I saw a very dark and ugly side to religion. Then, when I who claimed to be a Christian did something that Christians thought was wrong, even those who gave me those wonderful experiences were quick to either run or confront and judge. I think it depends on who you are, where you’re from, and where you go that makes up whether or not you have a positive experience with church.

  • 23. lauradee24  |  March 3, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    (oh, and to clarify, the dark and ugly side to which I was referring was exactly what Joshua had stated as his experience–the judgment, control, submission, etc. And that church is really mostly about numbers and a bit about money to the vast majority of pastors I encountered, though not all, and I know not all are like that. As a whole, the SBC–Southern Baptist Convention, is notorious for over-emphasizing numbers as a measure for successful ministry. I didn’t encounter any of this stuff sitting in the pew.)

  • 24. Joshua  |  March 3, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    “It wasn’t until I went into the ministry that I saw a very dark and ugly side to religion”

    Bingo. You hit a large part of it on the head. Good point. Suddenly money becomes far more important than you realized in the pews. Suddenly control and power become influencing factors.

    It all feels much like business and like there is very little (or no) spiritual side to it at all.

    This what you mean?

  • 25. lauradee24  |  March 3, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Well, there is a spiritual side, but it seems so fake and made up. There IS a lot of business that goes on behind closed doors. But like, even the pastors would flat out make up how spiritual they were. I did not like the first pastor I served under at all, but I loved the second one. Both, however, would pat themselves on the back during their sermons about how much time they spent doing church work. Both estimated about 70 hours per week. Well, I lived next door to the first and I knew what he did all week, and he maybe put in 25 hours. I knew the second one did all the time just because of how it was arranged and he put in about the same. The second one may be at church but reading a golf magazine, not doing any kind of sermon prep or ministry.

    As for money, that does play a pretty big role. Our first church kept us under the poverty level–we had to rely on Food Stamps and student loans to pay for our basic necessities, but they still were very angry that we didn’t tithe exactly 10%. We couldn’t afford to–it was literally pay them or pay for food. So yes, even our $100 per month was incredibly important to them. It was about money and it was ridiculous.

  • 26. lauradee24  |  March 3, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    (this congregation that kept us under the poverty level did so willfully, btw–they had plenty of money! I know because I got to sit in on all the budget meetings. Just thought I would clear that up.)

  • 27. Jeffrey  |  March 3, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    >So my experience in the faith was unusual? I mainly remember the suspicions, the judgments, the church splits, the control, the submission, etc.

    For me it was a mixed experience and depended very much of what part of my life you are talking about. I loved my Christian group at college. I loved the Episcopal group I was in at grad school – they are people whose lives do not seem to be harmed by their faith.

    My “home” church while away at college was bittersweet. I’m happy to see some of the people away from church, but I wouldn’t go back to say hello.

    But growing up in ATI … yeesh. The worst part wasn’t the judgmental attitudes I had to deal with. I was the judgmental attitudes others had to deal with. Sometimes I got an inkling of just how much of a dick I was being, but still I felt compelled to carry on because standing up for God’s standards against even other Christians was the right thing to do.

  • 28. Quester  |  March 3, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Patting yourself on the back can be a survival strategy for a pastor. Without it, people begin to believe you’re doing nothing and add to your duties or dock your pay (or both). *sigh*

    And Joshua, I understand. Sometimes I would cringe internally, but I had to share God’s truth (read: be a dick), or these people might be subjected to eternal torment! It made for some horrible dissonance.

  • 29. Joshua  |  March 3, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    “Sometimes I got an inkling of just how much of a dick I was being, but still I felt compelled to carry on because standing up for God’s standards against even other Christians was the right thing to do.”

    Oh my… I totally understand this feeling. It almost becomes a drudgery – judging everyone all the time for things. Standing up for holiness and finding ways that one can set themselves apart from the world etc. Taking pride in avoiding drinking any alcohol, or not listening to certain types of music, or “waiting” for the right person to come along, etc. etc.

    Man.

  • 30. Quester  |  March 3, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Darn it, I apparently got Jeffrey and Joshua mixed up in my last comment. Sorry!

  • 31. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 3, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Thinking about it, I guess saying it was “nothing but pleasant” is a bit hyperbolic. I definitely had to deal with fear of hell, but it never really controlled my life. I would occasionally feel guilty for not “being in the word” enough, but nothing that would have a significant negative impact on my life.

    As for the people, I certainly saw hypocrites in the church. It was usually pretty minor stuff though, such that it never really made an impact (with the exception of one of the Sunday School teachers I knew who wound up being a child molester).

    I think part of the reason for my personal experience, though, is that I never really felt like I fit in at church. I went to Sunday School and later youth groups, went to Bible camps, and all that fun stuff, but I always felt like an outsider who happened to share the same beliefs. I would try to befriend people, but it always seemed like the only commonality was shared belief. I only have one lasting friendship that started in church. I guess my point being, I sometimes think I may have avoided all the trouble of the Christian community more because I was never really part of it than because of the communities themselves. Of course, this is all hearsay and idle speculation – I guess the real point is that my story is fairly atypical and not a good representation of either good or bad Christian communities.

  • 32. focusing Man  |  March 3, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Hi There, I am very sad reading these posts. Right now I am completing an MA, and part of that MA is exploring my own relationship between Religion Faith and Spirituality.

    With reference to Religion, well I can resonate so much with what has been written. I think that there is a lot of docrtinal corectness, judgmentalism particularly in more conservative ( theologically speaking) religions, and just plane intolloerance, not much of the love that Jesus talked about.

    But in the end I do beleive in God. Not through Religion, but through some intersting experiences. Like when I use to visit my mum in the nursing home, and how I use to read her Little prayers of Mouse which she loved, and how in all th epain that she was in, we both use to sense a presence there, holding us in all the pain. And also at Mum’s funeral, when I was giving the talk at the crematorium, I had the distinct sense of her presence, ( and yes I know there is a ‘materialistic’ explanation for this, but that explanation does not feel right).

    And sometimes, when I do Focusing with people, ( a body oriented appraoch to healing), there seems to be a presence there, that is not just my imagination, the other person feels it to.

    So I am not sure about Religion, or most of what religions teach, but I do sense that there is a greater intelleigance at work in the universe, and that there is a spiritual as well as a material world.

    But of course, if the materialists are right, we will never know as no one would be there to survive the death of the body. And if they are wrong, and conciousness survives the death of the body, as even Jung believed, then we could verify this.

    But of course this is speculation. So I am left with the issue of how I live this life. I recall something my mother said before she died, Love John, its the only thing in the world’. So that is how I want to live my life.

    John T

  • 33. Luke  |  March 3, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    “conclusions based on evidence and rational thought leading a person away from faith.”

    if that isn’t a modernist statement, i dunno what is. i consider myself rather logical and upon examining my evidence, i come to a different conclusion.

    to think there is one way to think is just the other side of the fundie coin.

  • 34. Quester  |  March 3, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    John,

    I’ve been there. It was when I realized that all I had were my personal experiences that I left the church. My experiences tell me there is more to this world than I will never know about, but unless I choose to interpret them with my Christian goggles on, they do not intrinsically point to a Christian interpretation of God (powerful, benevolent and caring about individuals).

    Love is very important. Empathy and reason can help you understand how to best be loving toward others. Best of luck!

  • 35. Quester  |  March 3, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Luke,

    To be fair, he did say “can” be. I think he was just pointing to a commonality of experience, not a hard and fast rule.

  • 36. Luke  |  March 3, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    oh… thanks quester. helps if you pay attention to EACH word. makes the meaning and intent a little clearer that ay ;-)

  • 37. Luke  |  March 3, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    *way

  • 38. the chaplain  |  March 3, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    lauradee:
    Thanks for a great post. It’s hard to be humble when one is part of the chosen few. It’s also hard to do apologetics when one realizes that the apologists have developed answers for questions no one cares about. As for misery, yeah, I get it. But, I realize now that people are just people, muddling through the best they can. Some are likeable and loveable, others, not so much. It’s easier to accept that when one isn’t wasting time and energy begging the Holy Spirit would act in one’s own life, as well as in another’s, to bring your spirits into closer unity.

    If you ever believe in a god again, it will probably only be because there is substantial evidence to warrant such belief. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  • 39. Carolyn  |  March 4, 2009 at 5:23 am

    Your post — and this blog — are far more ‘spiritual’ than than the Web’s plethora of religious sites. My view — as a religious person — is that the foundation of any meaningful spirituality — which isn’t necessarily ‘religion’ — is honesty, being authentically oneself. Only that honest self can have authentic relationships — with anybody, including God. When Jesus said the first would be last, I’m sure our modern Pharisees were among the clowns and hypocrites he had in mind.

  • 40. Yurka  |  March 4, 2009 at 11:07 am

    #39 come on Carolyn, be honest. Haven’t you ever been *ashamed* of your behavior? But that was your authentic self! In order to have *authentic* relationships, you must frequently *suppress* your authentic self, since it is frequently vile. You need to read Jeremiah 17. Given that your impulses of the moment are unreliable, how can you base an *entire* spiritual doctrine on that? Isn’t that just wishful thinking? Listen to Ray Comfort – the worlds worst apologist and greatest evangelist. Perhaps he will be able to shock you out of your simple minded notions.

  • 41. Joshua  |  March 4, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Yurka, please see:

    http://methodicalmusings.com/2009/03/04/ezekiel-prophecy-error/

    Stop quoting Scripture at other guests as if it was trustworthy until you can demonstrate that it is.

    Thanks.

  • 42. LeoPardus  |  March 4, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Just for all of us to enjoy a more productive and healthy blog, can we all together officially recognize Yurka as a troll and stop acknowledging his existence in any way? (Accept perhaps indirectly by asking the mods to ban him if he doesn’t cease and desist.)

    Remember folks, trolls are pathetic beings who depend on others for acknowledgment of their pathetic existence. They don’t care if that acknowledgment is 100% negative. They just need it. So … DON’T FEED TROLLS.

  • 43. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  March 4, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Who?

  • 44. Joshua  |  March 4, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Why the heck is he NOT banned? I’m getting absolutely tired of this. He doesn’t care whether we acknowledge him or not, he will keep addressing other guests and he will keep posting.

  • 45. lauradee24  |  March 4, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Carolyn, I agree. At the end of my time as a Christian, I was feeling completely mixed up and broken, and all I got were these ridiculous Sunday school kind of answers. You might find something useful in Why I Stopped Believing in God Part 2.

    It isn’t about the why, it is just the last thing I wrote as a Christian which is the emotional part of the de-conversion. Probably the most heartfelt, authentic, honest piece I have ever written, and something that many Christians–both practicing and de-converted can identify with.

    And now that I have puffed myself completely up, I will go.

  • 46. lauradee24  |  March 4, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    um, I messed the html up in the link. I am actually pretty new at the blogging thing and not very good at the basic html yet. Take two:

    Why I Stopped Believing in God, Part 2

    And in case I messed up again, here is the link you can copy and paste:

    http://redheadedskeptic.com/2009/01/26/why-i-stopped-believing-in-god-part-two/

  • 47. lauradee24  |  March 4, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    oh, well, I didn’t know I could just link it like the second one is. That is a little embarrassing! :)

  • 48. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 4, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    At this point I wouldn’t be opposed to banning Yurka; hasn’t he been posting this nonsense for over a year now? I’m pretty sure he feels it’s his duty to counteract the “lies” of this website, I’m not sure even ignoring him will make him leave; and guests and newcomers to the site who don’t know his past here will always be there to give him attention anyway.

  • 49. Yurka  |  March 4, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Leo, I don’t read your junk anymore. How’s about just letting me be? Naturally I hope someday you’ll come around.

  • 50. BigHouse  |  March 4, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Can we give Yurka the Barry Bonds treatment and put an asterisk on all his posts? Just so visitors know that he doesn’t speak as a de-con or representative of the site’s administrators.

    However, as others have pointed out, his posts are some of the best evidence AGAINST the Christian viewpoint so I’d hate to lose that ammunution altogether. :-)

  • 51. LeoPardus  |  March 4, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    BigHouse:

    That might be a good idea. His arrogance, defensiveness, illogic, bad temper and attitude, snide swipes and so on definitely show people the very worst that comes from “christianity”. A better “ambassador for Christ” would be hard to find.

  • 52. Jeffrey  |  March 4, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    I’m all for letting Yurka continue to post. Censors are for people who throw out stuff like “you deconverted so you could look at porn”, “you’re a child molester.” Debunking Christianity lifted their filter for a couple weeks – I’m not exaggerating.

    Yurka gives us highly determined irrationality, but to ban someone for that on a site so open seems petty. Maybe there’s a particularly insulting post of his that I missed, but I think he’s far out of banning territory.

  • 53. LeoPardus  |  March 4, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Maybe we could collect his posts and make an article of it.

    “How a REAL Christian REALLY Believes and Behaves”

  • 54. Joshua  |  March 4, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Haha, the Barry Bonds Treatment…

    I echo BigHouse’s concerns. I really don’t care what he says anyway, I just don’t appreciate the fact that he consistently addresses new guests who do not know that he is a troll. That is my major concern.

  • 55. lauradee24  |  March 4, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    When it comes to sites like these, sometimes the biggest objectors are the ones with the biggest doubts. :)

  • 56. Joshua  |  March 4, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Good point lauradee :)

    “Methinks thou doth protest too much” comes to mind…

  • 57. Rover  |  March 4, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Lauradee,

    I enjoyed your post. I hope your new life brings you all the happiness you deserve.

  • 58. paleale  |  March 4, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Personally, I like the idea of having a ‘Collected Works of Yurka’ article. Maybe it could be a sort of ‘greatest hits’ compilation. But I would also like to link some sort of automatic disclaimer to his posts. That way, he gets his acknowledgment but it is understood that he isn’t representative of this site and the disclaimer would be ample reply to his rantings. Is that even possible?

    With that out of the way–

    Lauradee, thank you for sharing your experience with us. I’m sorry that you went through such an ordeal. I went through a similar time just changing denominations. You would have thought I had become a child-molesting, Nazi gangbanger given the reaction and treatment I received from pastors and ‘friends’, even family. I applaud your courage and hope that you find peace outside of the poorly disguised fascism of religious institutions.

  • 59. Erudite Redneck  |  March 4, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Stumbling in from being whupped by fundamentlist Christians as well as fundamentalist atheists. I might hang here awhile if that’s OK. I came around some quite awhile back. I fall under the “skepitcal Christians” rubric — but I confess up front that my fight is with the church generally, and the idolization of the Bible, not with God God’s self, per se.

  • 60. The de-Convert  |  March 5, 2009 at 1:05 am

    ER,

    Welcome back. I did a post a couple years ago on the worship of the Bible as god:

    http://de-conversion.com/2007/04/19/do-christians-worship-the-bible-as-god/

    There are many de-converts who do not have issues with god, per se. They just don’t feel that if there is a god, he/she/it is probably not necessarily like any of the gods as described in the Bible.

    Whether it’s Elohim (walked with Adam and Eve, negotiated with Abraham, wrestled with Jacob, etc.), or Yahweh (warrior god of the Israelites, look on his face and die, thunder and lighting from a mountain, etc.), or Jesus (god-man who preached compassion, love, kindness, and forgiveness)…. even though the nice Jesus would really be the closest definition to the Christian “god.”

    Stick around. The fundies may infiltrate at times and deliver some blows but it only shows their ignorance and really gives examples of the issues we’re discussing.

    Paul

  • 61. lovemoren  |  March 5, 2009 at 6:10 am

    #15 Yurka, you are right. I see that #13 has his mind made up. And will not listen to a different view. The de-converts claim to be more humble than those who still believe… well, thats not what I have seen from the coments on this site. #16 (Joshua), just called me Lovemoron but its Ok. If Jesus could be insulted, I wouldn’t expect to be spared.

    There are many reasons as to why one can give up his or her faith. And I believe all of you who are bashing me know deep inside your hearts the cause for your leaving the faith.

    #13, you claim God doesn’t exist. So how did you come into being? are you one of those who believe they are descendants of bacteria and monkeys? Which one makes more sense?

    Finally, in my earlier post, I was giving possibilities (I even used words such as ‘probably’) I wasn’t claiming to be the super know it all. The comment was also specifically based on the situation(s) highlighted in the story.

  • 62. lovemoren  |  March 5, 2009 at 6:19 am

    Oops! Fogot to close the bold tag.

  • 63. Joshua  |  March 5, 2009 at 9:47 am

    “#16 (Joshua), just called me Lovemoron but its Ok. If Jesus could be insulted, I wouldn’t expect to be spared. ”

    That actually was a mistake. Sorry about that. I really do apologize, it was unintentional. I wasn’t persecuting you.

    “I see that #13 has his mind made up”

    lovemoren, I’m not really sure what you mean by this. Unless, of course, you are implying the entire Ezekiel teaching about a person’s blood being on their own head if they hear the message and reject it. In which case, see #41.

    “Which one makes more sense?”

    Well, up until a year ago, being created directly by God made a lot more sense to me. Then I studied evolution pretty heavily and then deistic / atheistic evolution made more sense.

    So, having studied all sides (six-day Biblical creation, theistic evolution, biologos, God-created-the-earth-to-look-billions-of-years-old-but-its-really-not creation, and just straight up evolution) I finally decided that evolution was true. I just couldn’t find my way around the evidence.

    And you have to consider, lovemoren, that even many of the founders of Christianity admitted Christianity itself didn’t make sense.

    “I believe because it is absurd.” ~ Tertullian

    “Spiritual things do not make sense to the natural man.” ~ Apostle Paul (paraphrased)

    “The wisdom of God is foolishness to man.” ~ Apostle Paul (paraphrased again)

    So arguing that something should be believed because it makes more sense is actually counter to Christian teaching.

    I mean. Think about it. God creates a universe with humans. The humans mess up. God has to send his son to die for the humans? God cannot just fix things, he has to have blood (what does a spiritual God need physical blood for?) And the humans are born incapable of avoiding sin, and then God judges them for sinning? One man’s sin causes everyone to die? Is this not punishing the children for the sin of the father? And then God – rather than telling people the good news that will save them – sends out human emissaries (just what we would expect if it were a human religion) who make mistakes, poorly communicate the message, etc. In the meantime millions and millions of people go to hell who have never heard the message that will save them. I mean, can this be called good news? Seriously?

    I mean, does that make sense? And if you want to claim it does not have to make sense because God is involved… well… then… that just sounds like a cop out. Any religion could say THAT.

    If after thousands of years we still have not figured the basics of our physical universe, what makes anyone think we could have figured out – or even understood via revelation – the basics of an invisible, untouchable, barely (if ever) communicating, untestable, more-often-than-not misrepresented spiritual realm?

    Shoot, I could argue the universe – and evolution – doesn’t have to make sense to us because the universe is beyond our comprehension and we will never figure it all out. And if there is a deity, there is no possible way we could ever claim to understand it because we cannot even understand the universe.

    That makes more sense to me.

  • 64. ArchangelChuck  |  March 5, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Fundies are like bad magicians trying to entertain an audience who already knows their secrets.

    Good post, lauradee24. We have a lot in common.

  • 65. LeoPardus  |  March 5, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    lovemoren:

    I see that #13 has his mind made up. And will not listen to a different view.

    And how would you see this given that you know nearly nothing of me? There are numerous articles I’ve written in the archives. They lay out my reasons for leaving the faith and now holding that the god of the bible is not real. Included in there is the clear position that I would believe if someone actually came up with a real deity instead of a lot of blather. Since I’ve never met a Christian with anything more than blather and occasional claims of supernatural experiences, I see no reason to believe.

    The de-converts claim to be more humble than those who still believe… well, thats not what I have seen from the coments on this site.

    With your all of a a few days here and having not read much and starting with an apparent strong bias. Is that your humble approach to understanding? And does your “I know better than you” and your “You all have your minds made up” approach reflect “Christian humility” too?

    If Jesus could be insulted, I wouldn’t expect to be spared.

    Oh good. Every Christian who has wandered in here and gets negative responses starts whining about how mean a nasty we are and then slinks off. Quite a testimony for these great followers of Paul, Peter, Polycarp and the like. A bunch of whining wimps. Glad to see you claim not to be one of those thin-skinned, mewly-mouthed, cry-baby “Christians”. When we insult you, slander you, call you names and say all manner of evil against you, you will stand up like Jesus and respond only with kindness and love (and thus heap burning coals on our heads) right?

    There are many reasons as to why one can give up his or her faith. And I believe all of you who are bashing me know deep inside your hearts the cause for your leaving the faith.

    Yes we know why. And I suppose that you, deep in your arrogance, claim to know better?

    you claim God doesn’t exist. So how did you come into being?

    Oh good grief. The kindergarten start to apologetics. OK. I’ll give you the junior high answer (assuming you went to a junior high that did sex ed). My parents had sex and mom got pregnant. That’s how I came into existence.

    are you one of those who believe they are descendants of bacteria and monkeys?

    Oh good grief. The total ignorance of science apologetics. Can’t blame this one on you entirely though. Most schools give such a poor explanation of evolution that it’s no surprise that so many people think it’s nuts. What they were taught probably really didn’t make sense.
    We all came from simpler life forms. There is more than enough phylogenetic evidence to support this. For further understanding, YOU must educate yourself as Josh did.

    Which one makes more sense?

    Which what? You did not present me with more than one alternative. You just asked a couple questions. Please provide me with the alternatives that you expect me to assess for greater/lesser sense.

    Finally, in my earlier post, I was giving possibilities (I even used words such as ‘probably’) I wasn’t claiming to be the super know it all.

    From your post (#3)
    You saw their fruits. They were not what they professed.
    I can assure you,
    I had doubts
    I knew only God could reveal the entire history of the world
    what the Bible says is true.
    You should have tried another denomination or congregation.
    I once haboured secret doubts but now

    Nah. You surely weren’t claiming to be a know-it-all. And you clearly still aren’t despite such quips as:
    I see that #13 has his mind made up. And will not listen to a different view.
    OR
    And I believe all of you who are bashing me know deep inside your hearts the cause for your leaving the faith.

    Like lauradee said,“Humility is something taught to Christians, but it is a rare Christian that actually possesses it.” You’re no rarity.

  • 66. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 5, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    What makes more sense? That small changes in a population could, over time, lead to speciation, and that given enough time it would lead to the diversity of life we have today? Or that an invisible magic man violated the laws of physics to create everything?

    The magic answer might make more sense if we saw God violating the laws of physics now and then, but we don’t.

    Sometimes it’s difficult to not be angry with myself for being so willfully ignorant for so long…

  • 67. LeoPardus  |  March 5, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Sometimes it’s difficult to not be angry with myself for being so willfully ignorant for so long…

    Amen! I feel very much the same.

  • 68. Joshua  |  March 5, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    “Or that an invisible magic man violated the laws of physics to create everything?”

    To be devil’s advocate, if there was a God it would not be a violation of any law to create everything, because – after all – God would have created the laws :)

    Natural laws are only rules we create to describe the consistent patterns of nature. The laws are only our best attempt to understand the way things are expected to happen. As such, it is quite possible they are not always “followed”. There is always an exception…

    Oh gosh, I’m going deist again…

  • 69. lauradee24  |  March 5, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    hehe, Joshua, I tend to agree with you. I tend to go Occam’s Razor on this issue: it is far simpler and easier to believe that the universe evolved out of nothing than to believe a God created out of nothing created the universe out of nothing. People say it’s easier to believe the universe was designed, and I can actually agree with that. It is the infinite regression of who created God and where did those materials come from that becomes the problem, making it make more sense to believe in evolution.

  • 70. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 5, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    My understanding is that the idea that the universe evolved out of nothing is not held by any scientists. All the matter and energy in the universe was held in a particle and released in the Big Bang, and questions such as “what happened before the Big Bang?” are meaningless since time itself didn’t exist except after the big bang.

    The whole idea that atheists believe the universe today evolved from nothing is a pretty common strawman argument used by Christians, but it’s not accurate.

  • 71. lauradee24  |  March 5, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Probably. I actually haven’t done much research that far back to fully understand more than the most basic ideas of cosmology. My point was really to defeat the argument that it is easier to believe that God made the universe than to believe it evolved out of nothing. I definitely need to do some more reading in this area to further strengthen my ideas.

  • 72. Joshua  |  March 5, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo, I agree with you. The question:

    What happened before the universe?

    Is meaningless, given the definitions of the terms.

    However, I still struggle with the notion that something could transcend the universe. Other dimensions, etc. Ultimately an infinite regression is certainly possible, but it does not make sense to me. Multiverse, anyone? It certainly makes sense given the patterns we see in our own universe.

    Not that I would expect any of it to make ultimate sense, mind you, but its interesting to ponder.

    Jeez, I’m talking like a deist again…

  • 73. lauradee24  |  March 5, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    I agree- for me, mere psychology major, the origins of the universe seem mind boggling and baffling. I am sure I sound quite ignorant to people who have studied it, but it is definitely interesting to ponder.

  • 74. LeoPardus  |  March 5, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Nobody can really say how the universe as we know it got started. Scientists have postulated other dimensions, parallel universes, white/black holes, and “we don’t know yet but as soon as we work out a TOE we’ll have it”.

    There are decent explanations that can take us back to 10 to the -34 seconds after the Big Bang, but they are perfect and they are only hypotheses. Still they make sense based on what we know about quantum dynamics, gravitation, etc.

    Frankly I derive no satisfaction out of “some magic dude did it”. That just kills the drive to learn and explore such matters.

    No, I’ll stick to intelligent investigation and theorizing over superstitious assertions any day, thank you.

  • 75. grace  |  March 7, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Hey, Leo Pardus,

    It doesn’t kill it for me, or for other scientists who are Christians.

    This all does boggle the mind. But, if God is eternal, and above time, He was never created. But, the universe is not eternal, and really did begin at a specific point in time.

    Have you checked out Dr. Francis Collins relatively new book, The Language of God, A Scientist Presents Evidence For Belief?

    I”m going away for the weekend, heading for the finger lakes, so I won’t be around for awhile. Enjoyed talking with you, Josh, and Lauradee, too. :)

  • 76. LeoPardus  |  March 7, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    I have not read Collins’ religious stuff. I have read a couple of his scientific papers. He’s a fine and brilliant scientist. His religious works are of no interest to me now. Nor are anyone else’s. You see, I don’t need arguments for God to convince me. I have more of them than most anyone you’re apt to meet. What I would need to convince me is…….. an actual deity. He/She/It could show up in any number of ways, limited only by his/her/its power, knowledge, and imagination. But he/she/it must show up. Sending apologists and old, treadless arguments isn’t good enough.

    So be it a fine scientist, a fundy nut, or a kindly internet avatar, no second/third/etc -hand argument or claim will do. God’s gonna have to get his butt off the throne.

  • 77. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  March 7, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    @ LeoPardus

    One of the things that really sparked my deconversion is apologetics. Why is it that the supposed most powerful being in the universe has thousands, maybe millions scrambling to try to prove his existence to each other and the world?

    Certainly, you’re not trying to prove my existence, and neither am I trying to prove yours, and we’re just regular guys with no super powers.

  • 78. LeoPardus  |  March 7, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    and we’re just regular guys with no super powers.

    Oh! And I thought “Monolith” was your super-hero monicker. You sure you don’t turn into a giant, uber-strong, rock creature who wears spandex and fights evil?

  • 79. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  March 7, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Sadly no, the name came from an online RPG I played many years ago. One of the funniest moments was during a raid, we were all lying around near death, and the guy next to me whispered “I loved you in 2001″

  • 80. Jerome Haltom  |  March 7, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    @61 lovemoren:

    The question of which to believe… a story in an old musty book from 2k years ago that claims we were made because a deity picked up some dirt and did so or an explanation that comes with millions of pages of studies, genetic research, fossil finds, successful predictions, a huge demonstrated tree of lineage, a properly explained mechanism (mutations and selection), huge amounts of tests and lab work that leads to the creation of new medicine.

    Yeah. That’s hard. Really.

  • 81. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 7, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    grace-

    But, the universe is not eternal, and really did begin at a specific point in time.

    Care to provide evidence for that assertion?

    I know at least one theory postulates that the universe goes through a series of big bangs and big crunches, that it always has and always will.

    I don’t know how much credence I actually give the idea, but the idea that the universe is eternal is no less plausible than an eternal god.

    And at least we have evidence for the universe’s existence.

  • 82. grace  |  March 8, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    I believe what I’m sharing is common knowledge among cosmologists, Snuggly. Alot of the data initially substantiating the Big Bang was provided by Edwin Hubble, and then further documentation was provided by Penzias, and Robert Wilson even in the 1960′s. I’m sure you could google all this, and learn more. You could also read, God and the astronomers by astrophysicist, Robert Jastrow.

    You know, I think that God does work in differing ways in different people’s lives, Leo. God first tangibly showed up in my life with this strong sense of His presence, and a flash of insight relating to so many of my questions when I was quite young.

    When my husband first came to faith, God seemed to bring all the right people along, and a succession of seemingly miraculous occurances. Other people seem to need nothing of this, and have always had faith. Sometimes God uses the apologists, and that can be a help to some. It just depends. Others simply read the Scripture, and that’s enough. We’re all unique.

    But, in all honesty, to the vast majority of people on earth, the existence of some kind of God does seem pretty self-evident to them. I don’t think most folks are too concerned about apologetics, one way or the other.

    Are you angry, or irritated with Christians, Leo? I do get that sense from alot of people who post on the deconversion blogs. There seems like quite abit of disrespect, and hostility coming from both sides sometimes. I’m not sure I’m able to always understand why.

    I don’t feel personally hostile, or angry with the atheists, and while I certainly want to show the love of Christ in my life, I wouldn’t want to be coercive, or force my opinion on anyone.

    This will probably be my last comment, but I will hang around for abit to hear any follow-up remarks. Thanks again so much for the discussion. Much blessing on everyone’s path here.

    Pax.

  • 83. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 8, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    grace-

    But, in all honesty, to the vast majority of people on earth, the existence of some kind of God does seem pretty self-evident to them.

    This is an appeal to widespread belief. That the existence of some kind of deity seems self-evident to most people does not make it true. So far the only evidence it seems anyone can give for God is purely subjective experience. I’ve had those experiences, and yet I still rejected the idea of God.

    Regarding the universe, you mention the big bang – perhaps you failed to notice that I did as well? Yes, the big bang is the beginning of the universe as we know it, but what if the universe went through a cycle of a big bang followed by a big crunch before the big bang that produced our current universe? What if that’s been happening eternally?

    And even if it didn’t, going with the more traditional view of the universe and the big bang, the argument that the universe had a beginning does not necessitate a creator. Keep in mind that “prior” to the big bang, time did not exist, and so in that sense the particle that spawned our universe was eternal. It would have existed without time. We have physics to support this.

    As for God, what evidence to we have that he is eternal, uncreated? No evidence, just baseless assertions from various writers and subjective personal experiences.

    I have yet to see any convincing evidence for any sort of deity.

  • 84. GaryC  |  March 8, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    I don’t feel personally hostile, or angry with the atheists, and while I certainly want to show the love of Christ in my life, I wouldn’t want to be coercive, or force my opinion on anyone

    Would you be in favor of having Congress remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as changing the current national motto, “In God We Trust,” back to the original “E Pluribus Unum”?

  • 85. LeoPardus  |  March 8, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Are you angry, or irritated with Christians, Leo? I do get that sense from alot of people who post on the deconversion blogs

    Sometimes I am irritated yes. The silly, irrational, illogical things that are said in making apologetics for theism are annoying. Partly just because they are so childish, but also partly because, in a very real sense, I’m sickened that for so long I carried on such dissonance in my own life. I still cannot understand why I would not see the truth when it was/is so evident. (That anger as self is doubtless part of the sense you get at times.)

  • 86. paleale  |  March 8, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Hi Grace

    Are you angry, or irritated with Christians…? I do get that sense from alot of people who post on the deconversion blogs. There seems like quite abit of disrespect, and hostility coming from both sides sometimes. I’m not sure I’m able to always understand why.

    I can only speak for myself here. There have been times where I have felt irritation, frustration and anger but I wouldn’t say that I go through daily life carrying a feeling of hostility towards Christians. I do feel like more of an outsider than I ever have in my entire life, though. Ironically, I feel more connected with idea of ‘being in the world but not of it’ than I ever did as a Christian– perhaps because I was surrounded by Christians. Of course, I’m still surrounded by Christians. A stranger in a strange land, if you will. And there is also the feeling that ‘this is not my home’. Not that I have another home waiting for me in heaven, but that this was my home and that home has been overrun.

    I was in a very nice bookstore today. It’s an independently owned bookstore in a nice part of town. Three different levels, Pete’s Coffee downstairs. Big, nice bookstore. There was not a single philosophy book in the whole place. Not one. Not even a copy of Utopia or Plato’s Republic. But the Religion section was HUGE. And take a guess at which religion was represented. It should have been labeled simply as a ‘Christianity’ section because it was the only religion there. I’m not saying that the owner doesn’t have the right to stock whatever he wants but to eliminate an entire section and alienate a large demographic from his otherwise excellent business– I was very disappointed and it truly made me feel as though my views were sub-human or culturally deviant.

    That’s just one example. GaryC mentioned a couple of more politically-minded instances. I’ve had friends turn their backs on me because of my views. It’s just been weird and saddening to experience this side of it. In a country where political correctness rules the day and tolerance and inclusion is preached from every corner, it’s still okay to bash the atheist. Imagine how you would feel if you were in my shoes. Sad? Frustrated? Irritated? Angry?

  • 87. The Truth  |  March 9, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    See, I can feel where you’re coming from.

    But, there’s something you need to know, and this is how I truly feel.

    There is a difference between FAITH and ORGANIZED FAITH.

    Your FAITH is based on what YOU believe in, and what will ultimately make YOU happy. I’m happy knowing that there is a God. Whatever his name may be, Elohim, Jevohav, God, Allah, Lucifer, whatever…I believe he/she is there.

    Everything had to come from something. That spark that created life and all the matter in this universe is GOD.

    But when you have men, who ‘organize’ how you believe, when you believe, what you believe, why you believe, and where you believe…that’s when it become a perversion of FAITH.

    Taking a God that is ALL, making your own conclusions about them, and forcing those conclusions on unsuspecting people seeking eternal happiness…using fear and tyranny based on allegorical texts (written by MAN)…

    …well, that’s WRONG.

    In the book of Genesis, God gave mankind the power, dominion and authority over:

    * the land, and the beasts that traverse it
    * the sea and the creatures that swim in it
    * the air and the foul that dwell within it

    Notice…he never gave mankind the power, dominion and authority over mankind.

    And what is organized relgion?

    Mankind attempting to use their beliefs and perceived higher knowledge to gain power, dominion and authority over mankind.

    According to the Jesus myth (who is the Greco-Romanized version of the historical Yeshua Bin Yosef), what was Jesus really trying to do? DISRUPT THE ORGANIZED JEWISH FAITH.

    Why? because it was ORGANIZED and not based on personal belief and experience. Besides, he knew they were corrupt, only robbing the poor, and securing the riches with the rich and so-called elite in their organized faith.

    Constantine had a dream/vision in 325AD where he saw a pagan cross and the words “In the cross, we will conquer”.

    As a result, Constantine and the ailing Roman Empire perverted the story of Yeshua (since he WAS lynched), stole some pagan rituals and symbols (that were being used by the commoners at the time) and RE-ORGANIZED the FAITH to rebuild their empire using spiritual tyranny and political force to control the masses rather than brutal force.

    They chose to scare the ‘idiots’ using superstition rather than threatening them with force this time.

    It’s sad. One-third of the world believes in a man-made regurgitated myth.

    C’mon…the ‘Chosen One’ / “Messiah’ myth…Birth-Death-Resurrection

    It’s been done to death. And the Roman establishment (the bunch of stingy and greedy bastards) recycled this same myth using their perversion of a real guy who stood as the head of the slave rebellion in Roman times.

    And the whole ‘Christ’ thing? Do you know where the word comes from?

    Christ is Greek (or Christos). But the Greeks stole the word from Kemet. In Kemet, they had the whole birth-death-resurrection story as well. Except their hero was the personification of the SUN.

    The SUN of God…hmmmmmm

    Anyway, when the Greeks conquered Kemet, they stole their ideology behind the birth-death-resurrection story, including the ‘Sun of God’ thing.

    But as for the word Christ?

    Well, in Kemet they had a word…KA or KA-REST…which meant ‘Spirit’, your essence, your soul, so to speak.

    So, Yeshua Bin Yosef (Jesus) was given the title of the Ka-Rest (embodying the spirit of a God) and given the life story behind the Sun of God story.

    Yeshua Ka-Rest in Greek becomes “JESUS CHRIST”

    hmmmmmmmm

    The whole resurrection thing, that was done with Adonis, Horus, as well as plenty of fictional heroes that receive the praise and worship as the personification of the SUN.

    In the end, organized religion is nothing more than a closet way of worshiping the Sun, where they rob you of 10% of your income every time you come to worship.

    The only legit way to rob the people, is to shamelessly use superstition to ask for donations.

    Think about it…what happens when a church isn’t making as much as they used to? They start preaching about the tithing. But when you read the Bible, they say a tithe (tenth) of EVERYTHING belongs to the Lord.

    …NOT into the Pastor’s wallet, and NOT into a non-profit organization’s bank account. Oh yeah, that non-profit is the Church itself. Well, in order to live tax-free, they have to INCORPORATE themselves, and be subject to the State. So even your religion is controlled by the State. WOW Big shock.

    Pretty much, all I have to say is…there is a God. He’s in YOU. If God is all and all is God, then you are God, and so is everything else you see, smell, taste, touch and feel. PERIOD.

    My warning is, GOD is not in church…for a church is only a non-profit organization who has a beautiful hall to practice superstitious rituals away from public view and scrutiny.

    A pastor said this at the end of his sermon that made me start thinking HMMMMM…about organized religion.

    He was preaching to come to God and Jesus through faith and faith alone because, “by being JUST a member of a church, the only thing that’s guaranteed to you is NOT salvation, The only thing guaranteed is that you get a venue and a free meal for your funeral. Too bad you won’t be able to enjoy it.”

    Maybe it was God who was finally reaching out to me in the midst of all the ‘sheep’ who were being LEAD by the shepard (the Pastor)…

    Who knows? There is a God. He’s not in church, though.

  • 88. grace  |  March 9, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    I would feel all those things. (((Paleale))

  • 89. paleale  |  March 9, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    The Truth(?)

    Man, you can’t just walk in here and start tossing the word ‘truth’ around at a bunch of skeptics, even if it is in your moniker. No matter how certain you may be of the existence of a divine being, it’s still just your subjective experience and in the end simply a choice you made to believe a certain way.

    It’s no different than believing that space aliens make crop circles. Has anyone ever seen a space alien destroying someone’s crops for the sake of cosmic art? No. But thousand and thousands of otherwise sane people believe that extra-terrestrials are trying to communicate with us through making pretty designs in Farmer John’s wheat field.

    Most people believe in the supernatural because it makes them feel more comfortable. I believed in God A: because I was taught to believe from a very early age and B: because it felt good to think that an all-powerful being took interest in my affairs and actually loved me and wanted me to be in heaven.

    No one has proof that any of it is real, just like the crop circles. And also like crop circles, there is a strong base of empirical evidence to support the idea that it is a man made hoax, or at least an invented worldview to neatly tie up loose ends of questions about our existence and the world in which we live. It was probably pretty easy for early man to ascribe personality to the sun, or to a volcano or the ocean. It was probably an easy leap to organizing that personification into a belief system that involved rituals and ceremonies. I’m sure that somewhere there’s a group of people that have regular meetings in an attempt to commune with the alien crop-circle makers.

    It’s all fine and good if you want to take your life’s experience and orient it towards a belief in the divine. But to quote the venerable Thom Yorke of Radiohead, “Just ’cause you feel it doesn’t mean it’s there.”

  • 90. paleale  |  March 9, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Grace,

    It’s nice to know that empathy is alive and well :-)

  • 91. Agnostitician  |  March 10, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Great post lauradee24. All religions are parasitic organisms by their very nature. You are ‘awake’ now and can observe the writhing form of the worm that ‘was’ as a yoke upon you cast away! QUESTION EVERYTHING! DREAM AND DISCOVER! Those who cannot or simply will not (more’s the pity) are as you have found them to be in your experience: bound inexorably in mental servitude to antiquated, irrational, irrelevant thought processes spawned from bronze-age tribal conventions in the traditions of dominance, control and conformity. Ain’t free-will grand? :)

  • 92. Ubi Dubium  |  March 10, 2009 at 8:45 am

    I actually find myself in agreement with a few of the points “The Truth” made.

    Like that it’s wrong to force your conclusions about god(s) on other people. That a large part of Chrisitianity is simply earlier myths, re-hashed. And that organized religions are about controlling people and separating them from their money.

    I don’t agree about the existence of a personal god. But at least “The Truth” has reached the point in their journey of deciding that it’s OK to reject the tyrrany of organized religion and unquestioning veneration of ancient texts.

    Keep thinking for yourself “The Truth”! But your basic premise is “There is a God”. Be sure that you have thoroughly asked yourself why it is that you believe that. If it is for the same reason that the church-goers you decry believe in their dogmas, then give that premise a good hard re-think. Be sure that it makes sense to you, for some other reason than it’s what you’ve always been told, or that lots of people believe it. The “everything has to come from something” line sounds like one fundamentalist creationists use. If that statement is true, then where did “god” come from? If god didn’t “come from something”, then that argument doesn’t hold up. It’s OK if you want to believe in a god, as long as you really understand your reasons for doing so.

    And do be cautious that you aren’t

    ” making your own conclusions…, and forcing those conclusions on unsuspecting people …

    This is a good place to talk, but not to preach.

  • 93. paleale  |  March 10, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Don’t get me wrong, Ubi. I agree with several of ‘The Truth’s’ points as well, namely the plausibility of organized religion simply having been galvanized as a theocratic racketeering scheme and way to keep the populace subjugated. Also, I recognize the common themes between Christianity/Judaism/Islam and early ‘pagan’ religions and the probability of gross plagiarism.

    I just get miffed when I hear someone talk about absolute truth consisting of something completely unobservable and based on subjective experience and good vibrations.

  • 94. paleale  |  March 10, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    By the way, is your full name

    Ubi Du Scooby Dooby Benubium?

  • 95. Ubi Dubium  |  March 10, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    No, but a big “thumbs up” for that name, even though it’s the silliest name ever! :) No, I stole my handle from “Ubi Dubium, Ibi Libertas” (“Where there is doubt, there is freedom”) . I thought it suited me. Then my family glommed onto it also, and my spouse is now Ubi Dubius, and you may also occasionally hear from UbiDubiKid#1 or UbiDubiKid#2.

    I agree with you on the comment from “The Truth”. I get annoyed when somebody comes in here so full of themselves. Declaring that the churches have it all wrong, but using many of the traits I see from Fundamentalist commenters (Proclaiming they have some sort of lock on “truth”, using tired catch-phrases like “something can’t come from nothing, and using ALL CAPS at us as if shouting is going to make their comment make sense). Perhaps this is somebody who has just broken with Fundamentalism, is resentful at having been lied to, but has not yet managed to dump the Fundie “I must convert you” mindset. I’ll give commenters like this one chance to stop preaching and start talking. If they don’t, I’ll just ignore them like I ignore Yurka.

  • 96. paleale  |  March 10, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Good call. Having just “broken with fundamentalism” myself, relatively speaking, it’s easy for me to want to shout my opinions. I’ve tried to ‘mind my manners’ as my mother would say but sometimes I still get a bit prickly. Sorry if I come off rude. I’m working on it :-) !

    By the way, the silly name thing was a reference to a spoof of the Star Wars franchise called “Thumb Wars”. All the characters are the film-maker’s actual thumbs, in costume with super-imposed facial features. Sheer genius. The Obi-Wan Kenobi character is portrayed as “Ubi Du Benubi” who’s middle name is “Scooby Dooby”. It’s a great gag when ‘Thumb Luke’ put all the names together.

  • 97. Ubi Dubium  |  March 11, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Don’t forget The Blair Thumb, and Thumbtanic!

  • 98. the chaplain  |  March 12, 2009 at 10:35 am

    I don’t need arguments for God to convince me. I have more of them than most anyone you’re apt to meet. What I would need to convince me is…….. an actual deity. He/She/It could show up in any number of ways, limited only by his/her/its power, knowledge, and imagination. But he/she/it must show up.

    Well said, Leo. I may use this to kickstart a post at my blog, if you don’t mind.

  • 99. LeoPardus  |  March 12, 2009 at 11:15 am

    I don’t mind at all. Go ahead.

  • 100. Isa  |  March 14, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Look up Islam. You’ll find the truth there.

  • 101. John  |  June 28, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    What a moving story. I was born into a Christian family. My mother told me that I had to go to church or I will burn in hell. She was a wicked woman and to this day I have no contact with her. I went to Bible college and became disillusioned with Christianity. After studying philosophy and reading Nietzsche and Sartre, I realized that Chrstianity is not truth but a lie. How can a loving God condemn so many people to hell because they do not believe in Jesus? I will return to this page and read more of your comments. Did you ever remarry?

  • 102. Looking for truth  |  July 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    I am new to all of this. I was brought up a Christian and am just starting to doubt or at least question the ideologies I’ve been taught. I’m 41 years old and this is a really hard place to be. After a split (and then another pastor took over and then they left and now there’s in-fighting and on and on) in my church and lots of drama that ensued, I felt it best to leave. Through my own (subjective) experience, I thought that I saw God around every corner and with every good (and bad) thing that happened. I have read the above posts with great interest and have found the arguements quite convincing and scary at the same time.

    I’m curious how people got over the guilt (I’m being honest and sincere). I feel (note: feel) that I’ll be condemned in this life for not believing in what has always seemed to be an obvious truth. My husband bought some books recently on questioning all of it and I find myself wondering all day and night if I have stumbled onto the truth or have fallen into a pit. I’m not attacking anyone’s belief or lack thereof.

    This is a true turning point in my life and I’m not taking it flippantly. I attended a “UU” church last Sunday and that’s about as flaky as I’ve ever seen. (Not to be mean, I just do not understand. Not right or wrong, I just don’t understand) Get in or out of the boat is my opinion (note: my opinion). I truly don’t understand atheists going to church, I cannot wrap my head around it. I would appreciate thoughts, not mockery, in my journey and search for what is the truth.

  • 103. Quester  |  July 23, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Welcome, Looking!

    I chose a similar username for a similar reason when I first joined this site. I appreciate the care you have taken in being polite in your questions, and I will attempt to do the same in my responses.

    I don’t mean to imply that I have all the answers, but I can share my perspective.

    Doubting and questioning is a good thing. This is how we get closer to truth, whatever it might be. It can be a painful thing, however. Especially if the truth is not what we once thought it was. For most of my life, I was a Christian. I went so far as to go to seminary and was ordained a pastor. For years, I saw God everywhere, in everything that happened. I felt, from my subjective experience, God’s closeness. Over a matter of years, I began to reinterpret my experiences and realize I knew nothing about God- not His will, not His character, not even whether or not He exists. This was horribly painful for me. Luckily, I had help getting through.

    You can read my post, Fighting the Fear of Hell and Eternal Torment to see some of what helped me deal with my fear of condemnation. The comments under the post recently took an unfortunate turn, but I hope the post might still help.

    When I finally hit the point where I realized that I no longer believed in God, I went through a period of intense mourning of about a year’s duration. I am only just getting past it. For me, gathering with those like the Universalist Unitarians or the Religious Society of Friends was part of the mourning process. Others, perhaps, can “get in or out of the boat”. I needed some time in a lifeboat before I could feel secure swimming on my own, if you don’t mind me stretching your metaphor. Others may attend churches because humans are herd animals. We’re social creatures and celebrating rituals and life moments is part of how we build community, and thus how we build ourselves. It also provides us an established group with which to help others. I may go back, some day, to some church or church-equivalent, for reasons like those. Others continue to attend church for the sake of family members who still believe. Sometimes, a church like the UU is a compromise for a believer and a non-believer who are part of the same family unit.

    I hope some of this helps. Feel free to stick around and continue to read and question!

  • 104. LeoPardus  |  July 23, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Looking:

    Welcome. Glad you found us. It’s precisely for folks like you that this site was made.

    You are indeed right in the middle of the really hard part of the process. Not that you are necessarily going to leave the faith -some have indeed gone back. None the less, where you are right now is a stressful place. So first off, let me say that this stage will pass.

    It sounds like you’re saying your husband is having some of the same doubts/questions. If so, that’s very good. Working this stuff through together is far better than going it alone. Be sure you two communicate plenty on this, but at the same time allow each other plenty of room to pursue thoughts, actions, paths at your own paces.

    Do go ahead a talk to believers whom you know well and trust. At the same time, feel free to talk with people who have different perspectives.

    And for now, don’t worry too much about the guilt feelings. There is absolutely never anything wrong with looking for answers to honest questions or doubts. …. You may however be right about being “condemned” in this life; by people who haven’t the honesty or courage to face doubts or ask questions. But do you really need to be bothered by such people? Nope.

    About atheists going to church: There are various reasons.
    -Some find the services enjoyable, quieting, or familiar. (This is more often the case with liturgical Christians that with most Protestants.)
    -Some go because family and/or friends are there and it makes a good gathering place.
    I happen to fit into the latter category mostly, though the service (the Divine Liturgy of the EOC) is peaceful and meditative.
    Hope that gives you some perspectives on the matter.

    As Quester said, please hang around, read, and ask questions. We’re here to help if we can.

  • 105. Tlemasters  |  November 2, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    lauradee24
    Job 2:10 “should we not accept good from God and not adversity.”
    I feel your pain when you talk about the people from your church not accepting you. Please don’t be discouraged by people because they have no authority over our lives. God is the authority and I think he will use your situation for you benefit.
    It is hard to feel Gods presence some times but this does not mean he is not there. How will we grow in faith if God does not leave us to hardship? God has to break us down so he can build us back up stronger than before.
    If you have a shack made out of sticks for a house and you want to remodel it into a bigger two story house, you are not going to build on top of it. You are going to tear it down and start over again because the old shack cannot handle the weight. And when you expand the next time you will tear it down again.
    It takes a lot for people to change their character and when people are given things without working for it (like Gods presence) they take it for granted. In (Genesis 4:9) Cain killed his brother Able. God knew and asked him where Able was. Cain responds “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Is this really how someone who knows God personally would talk to God? We cannot handle faith without struggle because we take things for granted, will not appreciate, and are sometimes just plain rude. I know you can see this in other people’s lives today. Poor people who work for their money appreciate the value of a dollar much more than the rich.
    I just want you to know that you ARE loved by God. He knows who you are and he is with you RIGHT NOW. All you have to do is turn toward him and surrender. I feel his presence daily and have seen countless examples of his existence. And believe me when I say I am a critique. I have a really hard time believing anything if I haven’t seen it.
    I really think you should read (1 peter 4:12-13) for yourself. “When the fiery ordeal arises among you to test you, don’t be surprised as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead as you share in the sufferings of the messiah rejoice, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of his glory. “
    (1 peter 5:10) “Now the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ Jesus will personally restore establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.”
    I will pray for you and I hope you will do the same for yourself.

  • 106. Jim  |  November 8, 2009 at 5:52 am

    God may or may not exist. It is a choice whether you wish to believe or not. Most people just believe because they were forced to by family. No one should be forced to have faith in anything without be able to analyze WHY. And if God does exist, the Bible’s claims about him very well could be wrong. It could just very well be a story written up by several people; a story that they wanted to be passed down as a prophecy. We need to educate people in critical thinking, how to not fall for fallacious reasoning and things like that.

  • 107. Ned Harkey  |  July 9, 2010 at 10:44 am

    In a similar fashion I started questioning my Christian beliefs after viewing the Bill Maher film Religulous. I started searching and researching to see if the facts he delivered were accurate or not and came across a book by John Armstrong called “God vs. the Bible”. His research was so detailed and his argument so strong that any intelligent person who reads his book will be freed from religion. The book can be read for free at the following URL;

    http://www.godvsthebible.com/book

  • 108. Seeking the truth  |  November 11, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    I’ve been spending the last 4 to 5 months reading and learning all about atheism, Christian, Islam, Judaism etc… torn between Dawkins and Darwin, Creation or Evolution, Bible, Quran. One god, no god, 3 gods in one entity…

    My searching and journey for the truth and true meaning of life is not finished yet. However, the more I read, the more I learn the more convinced I become that God is there. God exists.

    At the beginning I was so afraid to start this journey. I feared giving up my faith or ending up with believes that are totally different to what I’ve always known. The sooner I started to learn more, I realized how ignorant I was and how little I knew about my religion and about other religions and believes.

    I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything.

    I would just want to ask you to read Quran. Just give it a chance. How could you judge something you never read or learned about? Read the bible, read Dawkins’ books and watch his TV shows. Read and compare – you’ll get there.

    My journey has been very rewarding, very enlightening. I was a muslim and still one. The difference is that I was muslim cause I was born as such but now I’m muslim because I’m convinced to be so.

  • 109. BigHouse  |  November 11, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Seeking, I’d be interested to know what you have learned since undertaking your journey that you didn’t know before, that has solidified your beliefs.

  • 110. ACN  |  November 12, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Seeking,

    I’d be interested also, especially since in the months its been since I left christianity, reading thinking etc has led me in the opposite direction as you.

  • 111. Joe Baron  |  November 19, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    What do you do with conscience? If you state that you are an atheist and don’t believe in a god or higher power, fine. Nonetheless, what do you do with your conscience with real guilt for something you have done? Guilt is real and must be taken care of whether we simply justify our actions, try to forget, or go and make some form of restitution. I am reminded of the Dateline episode that came out several years ago with Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort debating two atheists about the existence of God. In the end, Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort had their good points (points that I would agree with), but they came across laughable to their debaters and to the crowd. The remarkable thing is that God was proven not through the debate and solid arguments of two solid personalities, but through the response of the atheist debaters. In an interview following the debate, both of them responded that they felt they had been somewhat cruel in their responses to Kirk and Ray. In fact, they went and apologized for their actions and tried to make some mild form of restitution for their actions. This displayed their guilt. The reason they went and apologized is because they didn’t want to go home that night and wrestle with the offense of their own guilt and harmful actions to another.

    This is the essentiality of the cross. The Christian looks at the cross when they begin to feel guilty for past sin. 2 Corinthians5:21 states that “he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God”. Naturally, the only response is worship and joy for the gift of the cross and resurrection of Jesus.

  • 112. phyllis  |  November 19, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    @lovemoren
    so being descended from a rib or dirt is better then being descended from a chimp?
    @Joe Baron
    I try not to do things I feel guilty about, if I do and I do, I apologize to this person I feel I have wronged. It’s pretty simple really. I still do it without getting a cookie too.
    To me God has nothing to do with feeling guilty, it’s our sense of personal responsibility or sense of right and wrong. Just because atheists don’t believe in God, doesn’t mean they don’t know right from wrong and won’t correct their own actions.
    I’ve also seen Christians who have such a sense of entitlement because they believe themselves to better then the rest of humanity. They have no sense of guilt of belittling a homeless person or anyone else, because they’ve been saved.
    I also know this isn’t the case for everyone. I’ve seen atheist asshats as well as Christians who amazing people and don’t try to convert at every chance they get.

  • 113. Ubi Dubium  |  November 19, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    I also have seen many xians who, after doing something harmful to someone else, feel they can totally clear their conscience if they just apologize to god hard enough. No apology to the person who was actually harmed, no attempt at undoing the harm, no attempt at compensation. As an atheist, if I harm somebody, the only way I can clear my conscience is actually to make it up to them. To do something about it myself instead of asking my invisible friend to take care of it. There is no forgiveness coming from anywhere else. That’s also a strong inducement to avoid hurting people in the first place. As Terry Pratchett has said so well: “There’s no justice. There’s just us.”

  • 114. Ron  |  June 12, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Despite my IQ, I got tired of rationalizing Gods existence through complicated proofs, logical loopholes, thought experiments, etc. Instead, I just let the burdening questions in my heart go. Where does a pure relationship with someone start? Between the two. No translations, no word on paper, no love notes. I quit believing in God when I simply asked, “Do you love me?” and if I wanted an answer in any form, it was and is always a feeling of despair.

    And, as someone else pointed out, maybe the OP; I got tired of the same old thing with Christians, also. Like, “I’ve felt really distant from God lately.” Instead of a simple, “Oh, I’m so sorry, lets pray together.” or something of that nature it was always brought down to accusing me of something I had done wrong (and going to church was going to fix that). I’m tired of that. Very few, if any, Christians are willing to have the strength of their faith tested because in reality their beliefs are as tentative as mine. This is a significant weakness in (any) faith because it really does negate the search for something so pure, so clean, so beautiful, and elusive. The truth.

    I don’t know if I can make it without a God. I mean, what are we then? Apes? Sickening, stinky, ultimately selfish, pagan, heathen, animals adhering to the rules of evolution. And with that notion simply looking around you is proof that our species is not getting better. Smarter, perhaps. More intellectual. But some of the worst people were brilliant. And finally, that means that there is no justice, although there should be. I want someone I can call Dad. Someone I can say, “I love you.” and know its not meaningless. I also want belief in someone else’s motive to be the best people/person that I can be because in my humility, I know that as an animal ultimately any move or thought I have is only designed to what, ‘Increase my ability to mate’? Phuck that. Sorry that my post is so late. And. It really doesn’t matter if anyone reads it anyways.

  • 115. Ubi Dubium  |  June 13, 2011 at 7:10 am

    @Ron

    “Sickening, stinky, ultimately selfish, pagan, heathen, animals adhering to the rules of evolution”

    Apes aren’t like that. They’re social, creative, and sometimes altruistic, They make war on each other much less than humans do. If you spend some time studying them, you might find they are quite admirable.

    “I know that as an animal ultimately any move or thought I have is only designed to what, ‘Increase my ability to mate’?”

    There’s more to life than that. As a social animal, we are completely dependent on other human beings, and the well-being of the society we are part of affects our own well-being. So although we compete with each other to survive, our survival also depends on our ability to cooperate with one another.

    “Someone I can say, “I love you.” and know its not meaningless.”

    Saying “I love you” to an invisible friend is what is meaningless. No matter how much we might say “I love you” to, Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, we can’t make them any more real that way. If god doesn’t exist, you can’t make him real just by wanting it really badly. Save the “I love you’s” for real people that can love you back.

    Without a god, you have the opportunity to create your own meaning and purpose in life, rather than having a canned purpose handed to you. If we want justice, we have to make it ourselves. Yes, we are animals, the descendents of millions of generations of winners in the struggle to survive. God didn’t put us where we are; we pulled ourselves up by our own bootstraps. And look how far we’ve come, how much we’ve learned and accomplished. We can do so much more if we cast aside the old superstitions that divide us and hold us back, and actually look for truth. Keep using that brain of yours, and insist on answers to your questions that actually make sense.

  • 116. Anonymous  |  November 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    @The Truth It seems to me that your core argument is based off of the (what you think of as) fact that Faith is men trying to gain power over other men. I’m sorry, but I don’t see that making any sense at all. Organized faith isn’t meant to be domineering or to give certain men any power over anyone else. It is men trying to help other men down the same path of faith that they feel. (also note: Jesus told Peter that he would be the rock on which the Church would be built, (Pope) and that is why being a Roman Catholic is the way to go for me.[otherwise known as it is my FAITH] This was shown to me by other people, but as I learned more about it and studied it for years, I realized this was what I wanted and it was my FAITH, which happened to coincide with ORGANIZED FAITH. Nobody is controlling me in that faith, nor do they have power over me. It’s just me and Jesus. And a few million people who also believe this way.) (P.S. I only lightly skimmed your article, so if some of my observations about your article are wrong, please let me know in a calm and organized manner.) Thanks for sharing all your views, guys! Really enlightening!

  • 117. Anonymous  |  January 19, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Liberals possessing humility? Don’t make me laugh! Liberals, while claiming to be enlightened, educated, and all-tolerant people are often the most bigoted people in the world. The only difference between a liberal and a conservative is that a conservative will go out and admit they hate while a liberal hides their hate (very poorly) behind insults and straw man arguments. Both sides of the political spectrum are equally deplorable.

  • 118. Anonymous  |  May 5, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    I strongly believe there is God; however, faith is personal and it should never be enforced nor should people be coerced to believe.
    A person needs to take a stance to evaluate his or her faith- sooner or later one’s faith will be challenged by intelligent, brilliant, and critical thinkers who know the bible extensively. Faith is irrational and subjective; therefore, before getting involved in any ministry or debate, it is imperative to have a personal testimony about God. A person should ask the question if he or she personally knows God. It is my opinion that theological understanding is not good enough to sustain ones faith…it is a matter of time before it buckles.

  • 119. Remi  |  June 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Hi, if I stop believing in G-d, then I never had true faith. The truth according to the bible is that we know there is a G-d (Romans 1), but we want to do our own way. I was raised as an atheist and sometime I was saying I was agnostic (Ignorant) but I knew. I just didn’t want to face it. I would only say to all, please repent and believe in the gospel. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly, The wage of sin is death, but Jesus paid it all if you would only repent and believe.

    And for anonymous 118 who says faith is personal, I would just encourage you to make a study on religion to realize that all the faith are totally diffrent, if one G-d is true, the the other must be idols and the L-rd said, you should not have other gods before me. There is only one true G-d, Jesus said, I am the (only) way, the (only) truth and the (only) life.

    Only by faith and not by work for you not to boast.

    For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” -Ephesians 2:8,9

    So that is the difference between a real relationship with the G-d and Creator of the univers and work salvation.

  • 120. cag  |  June 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Remi #119, so if it is written in an old book it is true? Does this mean that Aesop’s Fables is more true than the bible, after all it has survived longer. Using the bible as proof of the bible is circular reasoning. Before you can use the bible as evidence for god you have to provide evidence that the bible is true. Any book stating that the earth was created before the sun can be immediately dismissed as fiction.

    Why would an entity that is omnipotent need humans, sin-riddled, unworthy humans, to do its bidding? Would not an entity capable of creating all of existence do its own bidding instead of depending on a bunch of sinners and screw-ups?

    There are no supernatural beings, only overactive imaginations and deluded people, you being one of them. You’ve been lied to and had your pocket picked, wake up and throw off the yoke of unquestioned belief.

    Remember that the mantra of the conman is “trust me”.

  • 121. Anonymous  |  June 5, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Faith is the evidence(proof) of things not seen heb 11.1

  • 122. Anonymous  |  June 5, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    the devil says i have to see it to believe it first, but God says believe in me first, then i’ll prove that i am real!

  • 123. cag  |  June 5, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    The conman says “Believe me and you will be rich, but I need you to prove that you believe by giving me money.” Religion makes unrealisable promises if you have faith and give them money.

    Quotes from a disgusting fictional work does not constitute evidence.

    There is no god and no devil, no angels and no real saints. No ghosts, no supernatural beings. Spew your lies elsewhere. Your god is a no-show.

  • 124. Alban  |  June 6, 2012 at 5:05 am

    So right on so many fronts, yet so off base on others. Are you looking at all within yourself, or is all outside of that realm?

    It is where you look first more than what you judge outside yourself that can reverse your conviction. Understanding, simplicity and true beauty are beholden not believed.

    So yes to your assertions, no to your conclusion…(although ghosts are a different phenomena in a different discussion)

  • 125. cag  |  June 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Alban, religion affects me from the outside. When I pay my property tax, I am paying a portion of the taxes not charged to religious institutions. When a religious fanatic threatens to kill all atheists, I am affected from the outside. When I see so called religious leaders lying about their imaginary god, I am affected from the outside. When I see people struggling to feed themselves because the church demands its tithe, and the Benny Hinn types are wallowing in luxury, I am affected from the outside. On the inside I can see that all religions are just scams to give some people control, power and easy money. On the inside, I know there are no gods, I know that the thousands of gods that are no longer in fashion are the same as the gods currently in fashion – imaginary.

    As to ghosts, they are just as much a product of superstition as all the gods, angels and other religiously invented crap.

  • 126. Anonymous  |  June 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    you are right about religion! Jesus said the religious tradition of man makes the word of God(the bible) ineffective. Matthew 15:6

  • 127. Anonymous  |  June 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    3 yrs ago at 38 yrs old, I decided to give my life over to God. Before that, my lifestyle was crazy! I was in a rock band and lived my life like a rock star. I tried all of the drugs there was, drank all the beer I could. Jaeger – bombs were my favorite. I slept with over 100’s of women. I was addicted to pornography. I was addicted to sex. I stared at women at the malls, Wal-Mart, anywhere in public. I was like a predator looking for my next victim to devour and have sex with. Every woman that passed by, I undressed her with my eyes. I had a very foul mouth. GD and F bombs were my favorite choice of words. I was very selfish. I did not care about anybody but myself. My favorite saying was “I don’t need God to be a good person.” In February 2008 I got pulled over by the police at 4am and got my 2nd DWI. The next day I started realizing that I have to turn my life around. I knew about Jesus Christ because my mother took me to church when I was little even though I didn’t like church. So I finally decided to give Jesus a chance and asked Him to come into my heart and tale over my life.

    Suddenly I got a bible and started reading. At first it did not make sense, but eventually it started coming to life. I have never even read a book in my life, but I started getting addicted to reading the Word of God. Sexual Immorality was my first junk in the closet that God told me needed to be cleaned out.

    Today, I am married to a beautiful blonde woman. We are having our first child together in July. She has two boys with autism. Well, God has removed autism from one of the boys within our 2 yrs of marriage and He is working on the other one now. God instantly took away my foul mouth and He instantly took away my desire to drink. I have not had one sip of alcohol since 2009. It took awhile for God to remove my porn addiction. Over time God has shown me that He created us men as protectors of women NOT predators. When I see women now, I look at them in a totally different way. I thank God for creating beautiful women. I pray for them. I went on Facebook and found a lot of women that I had slept with in the past and apologized to them for using them in a sexual way. I care for people all the time now. I pray for people I don’t even know. I tell people all the time my story and how God has changed my life. Thank you Jesus for changing me into the man You created us to be!

    God is good – the devil is bad!

  • 128. cag  |  June 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    #127 Anonymous, you have changed your life, not god. I’m 70 years old, never tried drugs, never been drunk, married once. It all depends on us, not some outside source. You had the desire to change and you did. No gods required.

  • 129. dianestranz  |  June 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    “I felt like the injured man on the side of the road–people either stopped to tell me it was my fault or walked on the other side of the road pretending not to see me.”

    This is exactly what happened to me in the wake of my first divorce (1997) with everyone I knew, whether they were Christian or not. I’ve always been a ‘people-person’ who has gone out of my way to be there for others, so the fact that literally EVERYONE I KNEW jettisoned me so as not to have their lives affected by my suffering caused me to lose a lot of faith in humanity (not God, but humanity).
    The fact that this is how you were treated by members of your church is yet more evidence that 99% of Christians are not any better than anyone else and that their religiosity is ‘much ado about nothing.’

    I have a personal relationship with God — the same God, I believe, that Jesus experienced as his ‘Abba’ — but I’m willing to admit He could be a product of my imagination. Even some scientists who are atheists believe we live in a highly responsive Universe chock-full of information and intelligence which seeks incessantly to communicate itself to us — and like Mary Katherine Gallagher (Molly Shannon’s character in ‘Superstar!’) who experiences Jesus talking to her but understands him to be a projection of her unconscious (like what happens in dreams), I can accept that maybe my experience of God is just nature’s way of getting my attention (since I believe in God and have turned to him as friend, confidante and moral superior regularly throughout my life).

    I live in the heart of the Bible Belt (Central Texas) and am appalled at so much of what is done ‘in the name of Jesus’ (have any of you seen the documentary ‘Jesus Camp’? It is horrifying the amount of indoctrination and true child abuse which is done in the guise of religious instruction). I am thankful I grew up in a low key Catholic church which did not try to shove the Bible down our throats, and I am especially thankful I attended secular public school and learned to think objectively and scientifically about the world.

    I am also thankful it never occurred to me I had the right to ask God to “do” anything for me (I mean, who am I to think God owes me anything when He has already given me the awesome gift of life, right?). So my idea of prayer was simply one-sided personal dialogue, with a God I assumed was there listening, about the events of my life and my struggle to be the best person I could be in His eyes. This type of prayer, which is essentially the type of searching moral self-reflection Socrates believed is necessary — is not the type of prayer which can really go “unanswered”, and over time I SAW the ‘answer to prayer’ in my positive character growth and growing ability to act in accord with moral convictions.

    Most of you will say “you did that yourself and this does not prove a God exists which actually listened to you and helped you change,” and that may well be true. I felt like writing this comment, though, because it bothers me that too often we assume that if existing religions are bogus, then that means God does not exist and Jesus did not, in fact, act out of a close and intimate relationship with a genuinely transcendent reality. It is my personal opinion that Saul/Paul, an arrogant, self-important ‘hater’ who was the force behind the creation of Christianity, was the one who was deceived and taught heretical ideas Jesus would have never supported. If you look closely, the more conservative, dogmatic and out-of-touch a Christiant congregation is, the more they quote (almost exclusively) from everything in the New Testament which was influenced by Paul and is NOT directly about Jesus’ life and teachings. They are also the ones who emphasize praying for things to happen outside of one’s self (which I believe we have no right or cause to do); talk about hubris to presume that the Intelligence of the Universe needs us puny creatures to suggest to Him what needs to happen/be done!

  • 130. cag  |  June 7, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    dianestranz #129

    but I’m willing to admit He could be a product of my imagination.

    At least you got something right. Imagine if there actually was a god, what kind of a horrendous monster it must be. All the child mortality, blindness, mental illness, debilitating disease and amputations must then be the fault of a being who has the power to change things with the lifting of a finger. Do not deflect blame upon imaginary satan, your imaginary god is the one with the ultimate (fantasy) power to resolve all things. For your god/jesus to exist and allow all the suffering and inequity in the world does not reflect well on them. Thankfully neither god or jesus ever existed.

  • 131. Be True  |  June 8, 2012 at 4:52 am

    @cag, It is not God doing all that you profess as so bad. It is not His will that, that kind of suffering is evident in this world. If it is God’s intention to cause disease, sickness and infirmity then Jesus would have been the biggest rebel, as every where he went he healed all.

    The reason some people do not receive their healing is they choose to believe the lies of s@tan above the truth of Jesus. Isaiah 53 says he died for all our sicknesses and infirmities, it is for us to lay hold of our inheritance already accomplished.

    If you do not obey the Lord your God then there will be curses, not brought on by Him, but by the fact that you leave the sanctuary of His protection as written in Deut. 28:15

    As for you Cag the very reason you are so opposed to Jesus is your stubbornness, you are caught in the web of lies sold to you by our arch enemy. God is spirit therefore you could only experience Him in spirit. Therefore you are ignorant of these things and therefore make carnal judgements on your Creator, yes your Creator.

    Time is Up!

    Yes, I get it, your response is going to be – You don’t believe in these so called fairy tales, why would you? 200 hundred years ago man never knew they could fly, as a result of engineering brilliance man discovered aerodynamics. Now people hop into planes as if it is a Sunday drive…

    Was aerodynamics always there? and man only discovered it later

    What if God was always there?

  • 132. cag  |  June 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Be True, you quote the bible to prove the bible. This is referred to as “begging the question”. If your god is so weak and frightened that it cannot, as an omnipotent being, overrule weaker, non existent, beings, what good is it. Christians always have a handy excuse for the failure of their imaginary god. I’m sure that there were many in ancient Rome that had excuses for their imaginary gods as well. How many gods have to be discredited before they are all discredited?

    How many times must you be told that there are no supernatural entities, no gods, no satan, no angels and no heaven or hell. As long as your “reasoning” presupposes all these supernatural entities you will never understand reality. There are over 5 billion people on earth who do not buy in to christianity. Admittedly many of them are besotted with other woo and gods, but their lives are no different than that of the christians who live among them.

    I’m opposed to the idea of jesus. As one of the characters in the con game called religion, I’m also opposed to the idea of gods, angels, ghosts, satan and any other non existent entity designed to make humans subservient to an inside group.

    If god were always there, it would not have “inspired” humans to write a sales manual so filled with errors that a child can refute it.

    You accept that the earth was formed before the sun. Such willfull ignorance makes you unworthy of being believed.

  • 133. Alban  |  June 10, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Cag – if there were ever to be a “sales manual” it would have to have been written for a child to understand it, NOT to refute it. Anyone can refute anything. People all the time yell la-la-la going out of their way not to listen.

    BUT what, in this instance is actually listening? We always push the divine off to a third person, but what if that 3rd person kept pushing back that the message was about the connection of what inside each of us IS listening to what already exists inside each of us?

    You have got to allow space to overcome your rock solid doubt or your innocent one underneath won’t be able to accept the possibility of its own birthright…whether you choose to accept or not!

    The argument and the answer coexist in this life – that’s the playing field. Some are satisfied with the belief system and others need proof- and not for purpose of debate, but because it is their time to know. Sooner or later the knowing and accepting IS the objective.

    It never has been or will ever be be who is right or who is wrong, it has always been and will ever be about what it is you (as an individual) truly want. Lay the pride and its piss down and get real. Let the believers believe and do not judge. Be selfless in your attainment of acceptance which in a semantic way seems selfish, but is in reality consistent with survival/thrival in essence. First rule of lifesaving is save yourself, then if safe, reach out to the drowning.

    I hope this bead you are on has more to do with what I allude to rather than an exercise of practical doubt without purpose other than to beat people up. You can’t possibly live under that kind of rock, or do you?

  • 134. Alban  |  June 10, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Anonymous 127…don’t make the devil separate, As the good exists in you, so does ignorance of it. Both will contiue on in your life. If you compare the devil to a never ending sword yielding genie that forces requests (similar to our own minds) request that he construct a pole and then he go up and down on it until you tell him otherwise. This is a pearl of wisdom. Just remain in the place where gratitude in that continued direction highlights the source of the gratitude rather than the implication or the fear of what could happen if you don’t.

  • 135. cag  |  June 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Alban, the bible is a sales manual written by committee. Some of us have grown past the point of believing in fairy tales, fairy tales that many people pay a tithe to be lied to. In case it wasn’t clear to you, this site is for people who do not believe in superstitious nonsense. We are not seeking “Truth”, we are seeking knowledge. Religion is all about suppressing knowledge and replacing it with faith. Faith doesn’t fare very well in the real world, only in the world of delusion.

    Children can be abused into believing the ridiculous message that emanates from the scam artists “godly”. That doesn’t work on all of us. Your message is considered and rejected.

    What I truly want is to never have to be bothered by the religious, never having to pay a share of the taxes that churches are exempted, never having to pay a share of the income taxes that have to make up the exemption given to protection payments “charitable” religious donations. I do not want to subsidize through religious tax exemptions the sending of mafia recruiters missionaries that corrupt people not infected with religious nonsense. I want children educated in what is rather than what some religious fanatics wish things to be. I want religions to provide irrefutable evidence for their teachings or stop lying. I want religions to stop abusing children. I want to be part of the solution which is secular, not part of the problem that is sectarian. I want humans to stop believing in nonsense.

  • 136. Andrew  |  August 10, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    I didn’t see Mary’s hymen break from a baby. I didn’t see Lazarus rise from the dead. I didn’t see Moses with a shining face. I wasn’t there when those signs and wonders supposedly happened on Egypt. In the book of John it says something like “you won’t believe unless you see signs and wonders.” in the Torah it says the testimony of two or three is valid. If the Torah exodus story, with all those signs and wonders, is not confirmed by another source contempory with the time of Moses, then by Torah, the Torah’s testimony is not valid. Trespass of unverifable religious dogma such as sabbath and kosher should be guiltless, since the Torah is not coupled with another witness. If three see a man working on the sabbath, and say “we shall off him according to Torah!”, and one go and slay that man, the avenger of blood ought to lawfully say “if you have irrefutable evidence of the divine origins of the Torah, and furthermore evidence that God commanded to kill a man for working on this day, and furthermore evidence that today IS the sabbath, then make it known. If no evidence, then your blood be on your own head because you guessed it to be righteous to kill another human.”
    I have gone to church. Believed Paul to be a false prophet. Started observing Torah. I have learned and experienced something: love.
    I understand the guidelines for utopian relationships with true friends.

    Mutual servitude, continual kindness, sufficient communication of what one desires their friends to do, and what one desires their friends not to do, willingness to obey each other, selflessness, no greed, not desiring praise from each other, no pride, no desire dominating you. Love involves the desire to gratify your friends desires above your own. I advise to cheerfully gratify, not begrudgingly.
    God is real and it’s obvious apart from the bible. God is artistic. There are so many spiritual analogies. The human population is like a night sky, mostly darkness with small points of light. The moon is like a man reflecting God’s life giving teaching. Deer chewing cud is like a man regurgitating knowledge and applying it. Extreme conditions accentuate obscure truths. The logic of woodline trees growing their branches towards the field more than to the woods.

  • 137. cag  |  August 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Andrew #136, please provide evidence for your god. There are billions of people who do not accept your god as real. The bible, which claims that the earth was created before the sun is a work of fiction, making scripture useless as evidence of anything.

    God is real and it’s obvious apart from the bible.

    So where is the evidence if it is so obvious. Your words are shallow and not backed up with any proof. Anyone can assert any absurdity, it is a different thing to prove your assertion. You have asserted an absurdity, now provide the proof, proof that would convince a non-believer who is not a child and is not threatened by grievous harm. Hint, evidence is not the same as flowery prose, it requires that you provide more than your beliefs.

    Your god, who craves adoration, is so impotent that it can’t even be bothered to convince billions of people of its existence, thus losing all that it desires, worshippers. If your god is unable to convince all those people, what makes you think that you are in any way convincing?

    The logic of woodline trees growing their branches towards the field more than to the woods.

    You do realize that plants use sunshine as part of photosynthesis, so growth will be greater where there is an abundance of sunshine. No miracle there.

    Bad information leads to bad conclusions.

  • 138. ubi dubium  |  August 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Mutual servitude, continual kindness, sufficient communication of what one desires their friends to do, and what one desires their friends not to do, willingness to obey each other, selflessness, no greed, not desiring praise from each other, no pride, no desire dominating you. Love involves the desire to gratify your friends desires above your own. I advise to cheerfully gratify, not begrudgingly.

    I can agree with some of this, but not nearly all:
    “Mutual servitude…” – nope. That implies doing what others order you to do. Servitude is always a bad idea.
    “…continual kindness, sufficient communication of what one desires their friends to do, and what one desires their friends not to do…” All good. I’m fine with those.
    “…willingness to obey each other…” Heck no. This implies that you will do what you are told, even in violation of your own common sense. That’s right out. Willingness to assist each other, fine.
    “…selflessness…” Only to a point. People should assist each other, but not be complete doormats.
    .”..no greed…” Our economy is built on greed.
    “…not desiring praise from each other…” Why ever not? Sometimes we are motivated to do wonderful things simply because we will get positive feedback from others.
    “… no pride, no desire dominating you…” Pride and desire can also be positive motivating factors, in moderation.
    “…Love involves the desire to gratify your friends desires above your own. I advise to cheerfully gratify, not begrudgingly.”
    Again, only to a point. People need to find the balance between taking care of others and taking care of themselves. Otherwise they will be able to take care of nobody. As the airlines say, “Secure your own oxygen mask before attempting to assist others.” Or as RuPaul so wisely says “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love anybody else?”

  • 139. Paul Bergen  |  October 11, 2012 at 4:58 am

    I don’t believe in God or any ‘supernatural’ power. It is only our human need to extend our existence beyond our death that drives this obsession. But having said this, I am still fascinated by the story of Jesus Christ. The character and storyline is very unexpected to say the least. Someone who teaches the ‘greatest will be servant of all’, a hero who dies as a criminal…all this in a culture which was marked by dominance of one group over another. So even though there is not enough evidence to support the christian God entity, I still wonder who would have penned such a counter-culture tale? any thoughts

  • 140. ubi dubium  |  October 11, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Hi Paul,

    Most of the storyline of christianity is lifted straight out of other religions of the time. The dying and rising god appears over and over again in many cultures, so it’s use in christianity is not surprising.Same with the mother goddess imagery. My thoughts on why they used the “greatest will be the servant” is that the religion originally spread among those who were already servants – women, slaves, the poor. Among these groups the idea that the “last shall be first” is pretty powerful, and something they could relate to. In a culture of dominance by one group over another, a religion specifically tailored to appeal to the oppressed could gain quite a following.

  • 141. Alban  |  October 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Religion can always be economically tailored. A “divine” teacher or “God” (or even an extraordinary person) who can reveal the self to individuals who want to know, is not concerned with a seekers economic status!

    You have always gotta go back to the base message of the divine figure in most religions despite historical accounts that are largely sanitized to obscure that message. The message boils down to ‘what you really want in life is already in you’.

    The sanitizing is done to promote controlled behavior parameters that that allow for regulation of societal law. Establishing religions merely divert the quest of attempting to know one’s self. Better to throw that subject into the lions’ den of philosophy or just exterminate the very notion of it being possible! Most people would not know what to do with it if they discovered a sovereign freedom existing within each of them…not coming from a perspective of the value of what that is…which itself is sourced in the sincere desire to even know it. Does that make sense?

    So when the divine figure shows up he or she is not welcomed with open arms or easily understood in terms of the base message. With Jesus it was “The Kingdom of God is within you”. Fortunately for some AT THE TIME, they got it, received it, enjoyed it and then history reconfigured their own descriptions while the murders and the destruction of all associated writing was underway..

    My take on the words last and first therefore are associated with individual religiosity, Those publically religious accepting their religion’s doctrine as sufficient would be the “first”. Those questioning religious doctrine not for argument sake or or out of curiousity. but from a sincere place of wanting to find unconditional happiness truth, fulfillment- whatever term… of course would be looked down upon in the religious sense. hence being “last”.

    As is not unsual, the context of the terms first and last is not accurate in our historical agreement of mutual understanding. Even the symbol of the divine teacher being killed is more toward the notion of societal rejection. Being brought back to life obscures the actual physical presence of that teacher still doing his or her thing (from breathing life to breathing life) always allowing that pursuit to exist, The fable creating essentially an idol – a legend of disproportinate abilities – a false “God”.

    There are some who contend that IF that pursuit and the breathing teacher did NOT exist, that pursuit being so significant to the continuance of the human race, we may as a race have more evolved like wild animals, never getting advanced enough technologically to even consider obliterating ourselves.

    So what kind of mercy, what kind of humility sustains even the possibility of knowing ourselves and thereby living a whole lot better than we do now? (not to mention the sustinence of all life) Something I might suggest that has alot more faith in us than we do in ourselves or in it.

  • 142. cag  |  October 11, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Alban says

    Does that make sense?

    No.

    a false “God”

    You are repeating yourself.

  • 143. Alban  |  October 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    cag, the term, God is a label for identification of something we can only imagine from all the stories, legends, religions and to some degree observing and dealing with nature. This “God” therefore is one we created making ‘him’ in our own image. We’ve had our good moments with creating things, but this creation along with other notable projects like the developement of nuclear weapons is regrettable.

    As innocents we come into the world with we are told, the stain of original sin. Many of us are programmed into overcoming our human foilables that emanate from that innate weakness, creating a God in the process who approves or disapproves of our actions from a largely micromanagement perspective. In the end our individual review by this god will determine future residence. Sounds a little narrow, plastic in its foundation and in its follow thru.

    For me there was also a sense as some of the contributors here have mentioned of something best but vaguely referred to as a ‘feeling’ of a presence in my life and sometimes in my actions that I couldn’t accurately label. I did sense it was valuable but had no way to evaluate it. Throw in the religious upbringing and the whole potential picture in my understanding created only a potential platform from which to live vs first wanting to know that still vague variable.

    As a child without alot of skepticism, I came across a desciption of god that neither science, ministers nor family members could explain…’what has no beginning and no end’. Somehow that description intrigued me and more importantly assured me that there was a connection, an inherent in me that no one was addressing (that I knew of) BUT that had been addressed by Jesus in his short ministry. I wondered why no one talked about it in church.

    The prospect of investigating this gave me a confidence and the real hope that the ability to actually know what has no beginning and no end was not just a 3 1/2 year gig a couple thousand years back. So why wasn’t anyone showing people this? And later on… why were people using the function of Jesus as though it was his last name? (End of part one)

  • 144. cag  |  October 15, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Alban, god is nothing but a campfire scare story gone viral. Jesus is a construct that allows some people to control and profit from others. Neither is real.

  • 145. Alban  |  October 15, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Part 2. Like most of us that visit this site, as christian upbringing requires there is more significance placed on Jesus’ death and what believing that can do for each of us more than the core message of his brief ministry. The explanation never connected the dots for human potential. It only extended the notion that we are all sinners making the crucifixion more of a hiccup (a weak justification of a murder even with the resurrection) than opening the doors of the prison to let the captives free.

    What I came to realize years later with the help of one who has the ability to inspire, to reveal and to continue inspiring the discovery and uncovering of the source of this feeling (mentioned above) is that it is wonderful, fulfilling, awe inspiring and manifests a gratitude which is truly indescribable. There is no halo, no saintly lifestyle, no transcedance of physical law but there is one discernable miracle and next to life itself I believe it is the greatest miracle of all.. that it is possible for an indivual to directly know and feel a simple and pristine peace. One that cannot be explained but one that is there for the knowing and for the enjoyment in its acceptence.

    Not a wishing well nor a manual on how to live, rather a tool essential to the full acceptance of self and its connection to all life. A built in basic part to savor when I am ‘there’. The “hour of power”( the source of that “ceremony” {Eucharist} with a different way to consume) and breathing provide points of access to ‘there’.

    Words are not real disclosing in this arena, but sometimes the words can take you ‘there’ even before the doors are opened.

    So cag, you have to be ‘there’ to get your proof. No one can go ‘there’ if they don’t want to and not wanting to is not right or wrong or continuance of original sin. It is simply an option.

    There is a point sooner hopefully than later where the value of this ‘knowing’ – being ‘there’ does take hold in our understanding and the term God takes on what I can descibe as more of its original meaning and practicality. Simply a way to know the timeless – what has no beginning and no end. Somehow for me there is no guess in that realization…and no giant guy with a long white beard seated on a throne.

    There’s nothing plastic or opinionated about this. Obviously it is not embraced by any religion but in this day and age I’d attribute that to overlook more than purposeful action. Afterall this knowing and religion or its debunking do not exist in the same sphere. One is a mixture of truth, physical law, imagination, belief and explanation. The other is what it is – pure unconditional joy (and bigger than capital letters – not bound by our pinhole perspective)

    Hopefully some will realize this knowing is not a choice within a choice like good and evil/ right and wrong. Shakespeare summed it up nicely. “To be or not to be? That is the question.” Obviously ‘not to be’ is where this world is at right now.

    One terrific thing to imagine is what could our world become if a lot of individuals invested some time prioritizing the connection to this standard feature we each have, recognizing the abundance of life and love within each other, embracing the different expressions of our similarities not so much the problems in our differences. Our time to celebrate life here is too short.

    The sancity and preciousness of life yearns to be felt and consciously utilized, not ignorantly manipulated politically, economically, and militarily in their narrow often selfish unintended consequenced perspectives.

  • 146. cag  |  October 15, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Alban, so your message seems to be “You have to believe the bullshit before you understand the bullshit”. I cannot believe in anything so absurd as the supernatural, as there is nothing there to believe. Every one of the thousands of gods (or whatever you want to call them) are imaginary. Belief in higher powers is a sign of immaturity, needing a father figure.

    If you can’t explain your position in a way that a moderately literate individual can understand it, perhaps you should make your message more coherent.

  • 147. Alban  |  October 16, 2012 at 5:12 am

    Most of us are caught in the shadow of the (make) believe society. I have always trusted my instincts and they have not failed me -ever. I know they can but they have not to this point. I guess you could surmise I trust myself.

    I never bought the sales pitch but I felt the subject and I ‘knew’ there HAD to be a way in, not emotionally or within the complex judgemental supervision laid out. Just practically – simply. The hope of that inspired me to keep a vigil while I was indoctrinated into the belief and parrot balony following thru in the expectations of others for me. Somehow I knew this stuff I really wanted but I had forgotten…that’s another conversation.

    Practically speaking I knew somehow what meant the most and what I was lacking was close to me but I didn’t put the obvious to the quest. The clarity at a young age was not there for me to grab the prize. But its absence surfaced periodically and bothered me sometimes emotionally like an agent on a mission with the money drop so critical and so close but I wasn’t able to grasp the how. I had assumed somehow it would be dropped very obviously in my lap.

    I inadvertantly learned patience and just about the time it didn’t seem to remind me inwardly anymore of something I needed to know, someone far from the intimacy of the subject but somehow tuned into world news blurted out to me that the missing link to my dilemma was being made available. It was a moment I’ll never forget on a staircase in a highschool between me and him in the 15th yr of my life. i wanted him to relate the info to a number of my varsity football teamates hangin out in front of the library nearby. He did but it did not move any of them. That is when I realized how singley tailored this possibility was. I was on my own. Why oh why could only I hear this among trusted friends and teamates? This opportunity was not going to flood the marketplace and alot of courage and clarity needed gathering within myself. It took me 5 years of self imposed soul searching, a tad of research, conversation and debate to finally ask to know myself and 20 years more until a number of friends, aquaintenances and family realized I was not on a soapbox,but was obviously enjoying life despite a rash of complication…perhaps more challenged in a number of areas where they were glad they had not been so struck… the outward results not obvious in acquired stature.

    On the very bright side I am able to touch something within that few want or could even imagine. I know that there are people like you and ubi dubium that write off the ultimate in both results and in possibilities of fulfillment if you cannot validate. More than hope I have lived thru adversity, been tried and tested and can still say the part within each of us that remains invisible only on the outside and only to our judgement is actually quite available to validate on the inside unlike blind faith. Celebration of life is like rising water. Sooner or later you either let go and accept in an almost sublime yet dignified fashion or drown in ignorance as time expires.

    You can be demanding in your approach to this subject, but when it gets laid out in terms of accepting you must find real sincerity and real humility to get your proof. That is tough for the hardest of skeptics. And I am speaking from the other side of skepticism where I was certain there was access but I was suspicious. Only my own validation would be concurring. I’ve never been big on hearsay and humility was not easily forthcoming…like a ”deserving” child who believed there was entitlement…perhaps like a spoiled brat…take it on its own terms or ‘foget about it’ ( not coming off that harsh but I understood I would be priveleged but not entitled and overcame that quickly in light of what I would be shown…knowing in an inexplicable way it was worth everything and laying down pride was not hard when that JOY touched me! It was like it had become never an issue!!!!( yet that same pride still sits offstage and ready to throw in its ignorance and I am aware of that – not fearful of it)

    It was and is now so astounding and so beautiful!

    Excuse the tangent – what kind of coherence would you want?

  • 148. cag  |  October 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Alban, imagination is fine as long as you know it is just imaginary, It appears that you have crossed that line.

  • 149. Alban  |  October 16, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Short hopefully coherent version: You are alive. 3 components make up that animated product. Your awareness, your body and a sustaining force or energy. Without the last component the 2 others are lifeless.

    Your awareness most significantly can see touch hear and behold this force directly. The ability to appreciate at that point expands it horizons and a simple magnificent peace becomes present.The gratitude and perspective that the connection reveals is indescribable and very practical in day to day life..

    Although this has always been a possibility for all people to know and know about, most are not aware of this possibility at all oddly enough.

    We have been conditioned heavily to not only look outside of ourselves for contentment but to ignore the same part of us where that connection is made and which does indicate the desire to be connected to the awareness in similar respects to thirst or hunger.

    Investing time in this subject will provide many answers, Some pertinent to this website.

  • 150. Alban  |  October 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    cag- guess we were cross writing. Imagination cannot be present when placing awareness on the energy that sustains us. The extraneous nature of imagination is absent in the connection like entering a cave without a flashlight. That cave has its own light in what seems like a small space at first. The flashlight cannot “fit”. Any thought is too big. Only the naked awareness ”fits”. There are no “borders” and what you perceive is what is there, in its “vastness” and not with any kind of commentary from the mind. Time disappears until you consciously think about it and you end up outside again at that moment. This is truly natural. Supernatural is chocked full of imagination. the words id by ” ” are not exactly as it is but you get a rough picture -ironically using your imagination!

  • 151. cag  |  October 17, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Alban, I get my “sustaining force” from the food that I eat. It is a process that I am not aware of unless you call hunger a “sustaining force”. My dog is happy without being aware of any force. He gets fed twice a day. That sustains him. He takes me for walks, which gives me exercise. I have no need for any “energy that sustains us” other than what I get from the mammalian act of eating to maintain the body.

    Supernatural is fiction, used by the unscrupulous to enslave the credulous. That is not imagination, that is callous manipulation.

  • 152. Alban  |  October 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Interesting reply. Have you ever calculated the number of breaths that come your way each minute-each day? What is the difference between a stillborn baby and a living baby? Is it that the process of functioning (of which breath is a component) is absent or that the breath didn’t come to begin the functioning?

    Breathing is an amazing thing. In accounting you’d term the process FIFO – first in first out. Animation of your dog began with the first breath and will end no matter the reason for death with a final breath. Interesting…I guess breath is more like the wind. where it comes from and where it goes is a mystery.

    We seem to have a measure of control over our breathing but as you may know with stillborns for instance, occasionally their bodies are developed normally and oxygen was utilized in the womb without breathing. Upon delivery though they are not breathing. We don’t say “the breath didn’t come.” like we own the process. Breath is not a result of the living process, it initiates animation outside the womb.

    Most of the time there is a physical reason for the process of life not to be able to live on the outside with a stillborn, so breathing would not have been able to sustain the life anyway.

    To what degree do we each ‘own’ this process? Yes we are able like Arnold has said to self terminate, but how much ownership is actually available at the 2 key points of birth and death? That doesn’t change our nature in between, does it? Some people think they are free and some think they are not. Neither in most cases would appreciate pure freedom if it were offered to them on a silver platter…even if they had asked for it

    Your dog does reason but can’t understand the difference between permanent and temporary, as reason has nothing to do with that distinction. He can only imagine permanent, although up to speed on temporary. He’s pretty selective with food and I’ll betchya he’s pretty creative when it comes to collar choice for you. He likes you to look your best when exercising.

  • 153. cag  |  October 17, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Alban, what you describe are natural occurrences, Nothing special, breathing has a beginning and an end. It is an autonomous process which can be partially but not fully controlled by the breather. Makes perfect sense to an atheist, no supernatural intervention required.

  • 154. Alban  |  October 18, 2012 at 4:28 am

    “Not fully controlled?” Is that like mostly dead but somewhat alive? The scale probably needs recalibration. In the example of a stillborn the process can be fully functional. but the ignition never ignited…the process is not autonomous without without a beginning – in this case the ‘spark’ of the breath. And it aint over till the breath leaves which does make artificial life support an interesting conversation…how much natural breath is enough…do people keep breathing after heart stoppage…or is it the breathing that goes first- then the heart? (might want to talk to a heart surgeon)

    Sorry cag, I dont see supernatural anything in this process. The coming and going of the breath is simply a fact of life and the biological mechanisms work from that impetus. And nothing I have mentioned about knowing what has no beginning and no end is mystical or supernatural. It is certainly invisible to most now and seemingly mystical or supernatural in concept only to the disinterested or the judgemental.Some people’s concept of the world a while back was that it was flat. How did that get disproven?

    There are players and there are those who granstand. Does the combination of fear with group agreement or acceptance move our race toward fulfillment or does that combination just produce better hecklers from the peanut gallery?

  • 155. cag  |  October 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Alban, it is impossible to hold one’s breath until dead, the body will not allow it. Again with the no beginning and no end, what does this mean?

  • 156. Alban  |  October 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    “self terminate” from the Terminator movies relates to suicide not holding breath to death!

    What has no beginning and no end is not a mystery. We all have it -self contained. What has become the mystery since time immemorial is the how to perceive it part.

    It is not about curiosity, the phenominal aspects of it or using it once known, for selfish gain. The access and the desire for it must be genuine. That component or rather its lack was brought on by the ignorance of our ancestors. And then the subsequent ignorance we all know so well – the consciouness (the measuring stick) of right and wrong, good and evil etc,. Reason has had its day in evaluation of existence and is a relatively sound determinant in everyday life.

    However the common sense component changes fundamentally when the connection to what has no beginning and no end is attained and maintained in genuine appreciation. It is far easier to exist in unconditional contentment amidst the challenges we all face in existence. And there comes a unique perspective on the possibility life holds for each of us that is beyond the relative hope(s) of our society as in a big picture format.

    So the meaning of what has no beginning and no end is not that we are the beginning and the end, We simply can have access to it within ourselves if we really want to. And yes you do have the ability to access it without ‘belief’ of it or imagination about it.

    It’s always been impartial to creed among a plethora of other judgements (measuring sticks) we harbor as people.

  • 157. S.  |  December 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I know this was a long time ago…but be careful not to let others ruin what could be a wonderful thing for you. The “Christians” you described in this..are very similar to modern-day pharisees. They themselves do not understand the love of Jesus. I am a liberal Christian. Please don’t take this as forceful, but I would really encourage you to take the time to reevaluate other sides of Christianity. Real Christianity. Where love is freely given and judgment is not. Best wishes to you. And although it may possibly not mean much to you, I’m praying for you.

  • 158. cag  |  December 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    S. #157
    Please leave your sanctimonious blathering somewhere where it is appreciated. This site is for sane, rational individuals, not for deluded gullibles that believe in an ancient book of lies. Do you really believe that the earth was created before the rest of the universe? Do you believe that it took 5 days to create the earth and only 1 day to create the rest of the universe?

    Christians claim that their holy book of prevarications is either the word of god or, for some other denominations, inspired by god. Too bad that your imaginary god didn’t proof read before publishing.

    We do not have to reevaluate christianity. We already know that of the thousands of gods postulated by humans and found to be imaginary, your god is among them.

    You betray your own words when stating that judgment is not given. You judge us as requiring you to convince us that knowledge and rational thought is inferior to unwavering surrender to an unevidenced entity that power and money hungry individuals invoke to control the unthinking masses.

    Don’t pray for us, do something useful instead. Think.

  • 159. Alban  |  December 10, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    S…thank you. I’m guessing you might be referring to Presbyrterians or generally protestant which I was brought up in though I have mostly aimed at the foundational gaps in catholicism and evangelical christianity. So it is not the repore in or the acceptence of the belief structure, nor is it the judgement that we are all so capable-expert in rendering- it is the mystery of why people lack the fundamental desire to know themselves and in that pursuit discover the only permanent asset we can posess.

    The results of that quest within me have been fulfilling to say the least and has lead me in some free time to investigate the gaps in history that surgically removed the predominance of referance to this pursuit, simply stated, the quest for happiness.

    Trouble is we don’t get much past face value in this arena and tend to rationalize this desire with behavioral parameters and what we glorify as ‘the mystery of faith’. It is far easier to settle for a process that is mutually agreed upon and handed down generationally to placate our fundamental desire…much like parking the car at the sign that says HEAVEN vs driving into the actual location.

    Blind faith had its day as the be all for alot of good people. Obviously there have been hypocrites and opportunists that misuse the purpose and the trust that comes with that faith on a huge scale. Overall the majority of believers are generally decent people. What happened over the last 2000 years or so that pidgeonholed us into the be all state were huge issues of personal safety, the lack of fast and adequate communication and transportation…in a nutshell.

    A caged person can decorate the cage with pictures of hope and affirmation of such even speculating that the door with heaven written on it is a sure bet. That doesn’t change the fact that the cage is still a cage and that person is still a prisoner. Throw in our busy-ness for order and survival with our handicapped creativity – are we really happy? Relatively sometimes, but no.

    What if you could walk thru that door? What exists beyon the cage, possibly purpose, perhaps Fulfillment. And answers to the meaning of life..believe me we cannot fathom simple and unconditional contentment and all its implication.

    We can however, wish for it sincerely within ourselves! Without a prove it to me stance (its discernment obvious without reason as it is immeasurable, timeless and unimagineable so we cannot use a ruler, a clock or voices in our head for instance, to discern) or flip curiosity we must find the part within each of us that wants to be truly content independent of circumstance.

    Imagine having that desire filled, enjoying it everyday then living life instead of living for “it” and/or betting everything on a heavenly afterlife.

    We are here now. There are no safety concerns, communication or burdensome travel challenges for the gift-giver or those interested in this pursuit. We each do have the possibility to exit the cage. First we each need to feel and understand the part of us that wants this and not be satisfied by our pictures and our signs. We need the real peace now; not the imagination, rationalization (whichever way) or procrastination of it any longer!

    There is an interesting 14 minute video clip at bit.ly/practicepeace

  • 160. cag  |  December 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Alban, all I have to say is: there are no supernatural entities, no gods, no angels, no devil and neither heaven nor hell.

    Your noise to signal ratio is 1000 to 1.

  • 161. Cindy Stewart  |  December 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story, I have recently come “under fire” so to speak for renouncing any belief in God, faith, etc. I have tried for many years to build a relationship with “God” only to realize I was making a fool of myself. The only thing I became assured of was that religion was the biggest disappointment in my life, and no amount of prayer or faith was helping me at all. It’s nice to see someone share their experience.

  • 162. S.  |  December 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Cag, to be honest…you don’t know me. Therefore you can’t automatically judge me and assume that I’m some ridiculous gullible and incompetent human being. I do think. And I have taken lots of time to think on my beliefs and why I believe them.

    Do I believe all that? Yes I do. Do I think that scholars have written things in their own interpretations? Yeah, some things. An example of that would be homosexuality. I think gay people have the right to marry just as much as anyone else does. But that’s besides the point. I’m not going to preach and teach to you. That’ll do absolutely nothing besides annoy you. I’m not going to try to change your opinion, because I won’t. But I would like to share just a few reasons why I personally believe.

    As a child, I was sexually, emotionally, and physically abused. My family didn’t believe me. I didn’t get the mental help I needed. It was just a mess. I’m sure you can see how upsetting the lack of support could be for me, and how the whole situation would obviously be traumatic, not to mention no family support. I was 15 when I came out about the abuse. No one was there. No one. Except God. He carried me through. He gave me strength. As far as healing and forgiveness…I am far beyond what I should be. I’ve healed sooo much and it’s all thanks to Him. The change in me is all the proof I need. I’m on my way to being a scientist, so no…I’m not ignorant when it comes to fact. But simply all the times that God has been there for me, not just during that…but during all times…science will never prove. The love that comes out of me the closer I get to Him…that’s all the proof I need. Please don’t get irritable and insult me again. Once more, I’m just expressing why I believe what I do. I understand why you don’t, and you are entitled to that opinion.

    Cindy, religion never did a bit of good for anyone. Religion has caused wars, death, and judgement. An intimate relationship and religion are totally different. If you have Facebook you’ve probably seen it…but there’s a video called, “Why I hate religion, but love Jesus.” It’s a really good watch. I wish you the best.

  • 163. cag  |  December 29, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    S #162, inner strength does not prove god. If belief in an imaginary entity helps you with inner strength, then go for the comforting lie, but it is still a lie. How many people have to die from hunger before your god decides to do the right thing? If you believe that there is a god, what kind of monster must it be to ignore such atrocity? You are not any more special than the millions of children who die every year because of hunger, hunger that an actual god, not an imaginary god, could resolve without effort.

    If you believe that the earth was created before the sun and that the earth had light before the sun was created then you need more knowledge and less faith. The sun is more than 330,000 times the mass of the earth. The gravitational effects of the sun being created after the earth (the sun being placed in a firmament above the earth) would be fatal for the earth. You really should check out the contradictions in the bible to understand why some of us conclude that the bible is fiction.

    Do you not find it curious that the feeding of the 5000 ((Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:5-15) was never documented until decades after the event? Would not such an event be deemed newsworthy and documented at the time?

  • 164. Alban  |  December 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    cag- good point about feeding the 5000. I think the Ascension falls in that same category as well.

    What I would disagree with at this point because I think it can and will change, are the ungodly hunger and starvation scenarios that are present in our world. Approach this 2 ways.

    God or no god people have free will. Those that are responsible or who usurp responsibility for economic oversight or regulation choose not to distribute plentiful amounts of food that are available for in their own minds sound stewardship. Fiscal responsibility. I call it murder. It is cheaper to let food supplies rot than to effectively retain their freshness and distribute them. It is strictly a business decision. And these same people are able to sleep at night.

    In a conscious society God or not – sounds contradictory doesn’t it?… the value of human life itself is the utmost priority. It wlll rank above power and greed. It will be a compassionate society but one where other lesser human agendas are worked out, not fought over.

    Without the current focus we have on money, medical decisions and care including preventative as well diet and food supplies and their safety will be top of the line. But there is only one problem…

    Second point is where does the consciousness come from? We know what’ sbeen said about good intentions and once you hit 30 in the civilized world you understand the pitfalls of human nature. Without a source of clarity, a source of inspiration independant of human and universal parameters, mankind itself can never be conscious. Before you write this off as woo, consider the value of life as a priority. Where does that value begin?

    In each one of us it’s obvious. So if the value of life is not present who is really to blame for the prevention of human atrocities? We are.

    If that value exists and I am sure you would not suggest it doesn’t, where would that source, that determinent be found? Within each one of us. And that conclusion is as conscious as any great thinker non secular, non theologian has ever gotten. What is missing is the practical application; first being at least as intimate with that component as we are with our own sometimes clear and extraneous thoughts. but as a race we do not know how to do that! We can’t find the essence of the diamonds amidst all the coal. Once in awhile a diamond pops up. This essence, this ingrediant of pristine value exists in us as long as we live. We can pidgeonhole it but some we are unable to capture it. On their own no one EVER has.

    But lets say we understand our responsibility first to ourselves and then our fellow human beings (and that is a stretch) to accept the value of life at least in theory, wouldn’t it make sense to accept a little help if it came our way? Trouble is we are not good at accepting this kind of help.We are a stubborn arrogant race that has rejected this help including alot farther back than 2000 years. ago.

    So if there were a god and he knew (obviously) that we contain this component this essence that can turn out ‘diamond’ after diamond, would HE or SHE step in on our behalf and remove our free will and turn our world into utopia. No, that is our responsibility if we so choose, but what can we do if we don’t WANT to perceivably accept and learn (not read or believe) at least become acquainted with our greatest asset?

    When that dilemma ends so will human atrocity. And that is only the gift wrapping. My take is each one of us needs to own up to that resposibility to ourselves. There is no one else to blame.

    So find the wish and the conviction in you to WANT to know yourself. It is right there at that juncture where value takes on a whole new meaning.

  • 165. cag  |  December 29, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Alban, you are right that humans are responsible for atrocities. Humans are also responsible for good. No gods required, no gods exist.

  • 166. Alban  |  December 31, 2012 at 5:58 am

    cag-pretty consistent (again) affirmation at the end. Try this one. Do it eyes closed (addressing yourself) Say this sincerely and humbly 5x a day. “I want to know if complete contentment is within me”. Remain still about 30 seconds or more and pay attention to the sensation not the inner commentary. We all know the commentary way too well.

    The ‘noise’ you (and we all) identify with, can be distinguished from this subtle sensation. You are not assessing-just noticing for those brief moments. Then assess. May take a few days to notice. No rush.

    This is a peeling not a triggering exercise. Important to distinguish the 2.

    Happy New Year!

  • 167. cag  |  January 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Alban, it is impossible to utter your saying when laughing out loud.

    What exactly is complete contentment?

  • 168. Alban  |  January 7, 2013 at 5:18 am

    Laughing isn’t always derisive. Sometimes it begins in the reflex of uncertainty…kind of a nervousness associated with an indeterrminate outcome.

    Complete contentment independant of circumstance or emotion. Complete is fullness and unlimited abundance. No holes, no fires, no termites, no thieves, no destruction or construction, no visitors. Just you and it connected…in the same “room”

    The suggested exercise helps to clarify a pure want as opposed to a jaded one. Something in each of us wants that kind of contentment, that kind of union, but the seemingly more influential part of us says “impossible, no way”

    Remember all those scriptures describing the human body as a temple? Most people miss out on the complete tour of the temple. The tour guide is ignored quickly as survival and those choosing to prioritize that one pointed focus ditch the tour. At that point the only options for focus are outwardly directed, the only inner tie highlighting the ‘in’stinct to survive.

    That instinct isn’t nutured enough to facilitate remaining open to ALL of its capacity. The lack of nuturing is not done on purpose but is maintained in ignorance nonetheless.

    I am not exxagerating when I tell you that dynamic is changeable and can happen quickly. Religious communities are and will be the last to consider though it is in the choice of individuals to touch that part of themselves that ‘wants’. That is not the area from where judgement originates. It is a reality that simply exists. Too simple for our complexity. And learning to become simple is not classroom oriented.

    Assessment after the fact is much more revealing than guessing beforehand. cag, I do understand we all- me included, have (had) a hard time with that one. There is a gut instinct-feeling to want the ability to touch and determine, because that ability DOES exist.

    So leave the laughing at the door. You will be able to pick it up on the way out if you want. Just enter with your own impartiality (for 30 seconds) and ask the question..

  • 169. Joey  |  April 22, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    I’m feeling like Gods not real to me anymore and feel like he’s gonna strike me down for it. I was saved in 05 and was into Jesus and the Church but i gotta be honest with my self and if there’s a God he already knows I have serious doubts. It is impossible to please God without faith. But is it possible to please God with faith? I tried asking God what should I do where should I go, do I have a purpose? And he’s been silent for so long it seems harder and harder to pray anymore. I just wanted to know since you stop believing did life get worse as if someone put some black magic spell on you or have you been more (blessed) I mean successful. Cause you know the scripture says you can do noting without me.

  • 170. ubi dubium  |  April 22, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Joey,

    Consider this: If god’s really there and really all-knowing, then he already knows about your doubts, and knows exactly what it would take to allow you to believe again. And an all-powerful god would be able to send you what you need. A loving god would want you to be able to believe. But there’s nothing, only silence. So either god is hiding from you on purpose, or is a jackass who doesn’t care about you, or, and this is what I think is the most likely, was made up by men and never existed in the first place. And none of that is your fault, so don’t beat yourself up over it.

    The bible is also just a collection of books written by men who thought god talked to them. It’s not “holy scripture”, it’s just a human book and you don’t have to believe what it says. There’s no “black magic spells” either, that’s also pretend.

    Your purpose in life is whatever you decide you want it to be. That’s the real Good News: Your life belongs to you, not to a church or the pastors or their invisible do-nothing god. Create your own purpose, make your own meaning.

    I recommend checking out ex-christian.net. It’s a really active website, and full of people who have been exactly where you are now, and they can help support you. This “de-conversion” blog is no longer moderated and has largely been taken over by spammers and trolls, so I don’t recommend trying to get into serious discussions here.

  • 171. Alban  |  April 23, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Joey, I think it’s significant you came to this website. You wanted to know about purpose, where should you go and what should you do.

    Many come initially to this site to commiserate. Over the last 3 years some have discovered that belonging to a club of malcontents (with the Mormon or any other christian church) wasn’t satisfying the basic questions you have cited.

    You may want to explore first and foremost, yourself…WHAT IN YOU has prompted those questions? The questions are valid! Was it an ideological curiosity or something of a driven sincere nature? I suspect the latter.

    Curiosity can be tamed by commiseration and rationalized by accepting futility or “that’s just the way things are…check out my/our agreed upon rationalization”. That is ubi dubium’s selection, a site or a ‘club’ which seeks to demystify God by dismantling religion and for the really smart ones, explaining living without the crutch of God.

    You may remember that Jesus as The Christ, stated (sorry proponents of the Bible’s general inaccuracy, but the following is a diamond of wisdom) “The Kingdom of God is within you”. And that on the surface alone seems to be an amazing claim!

    But what about beneath the surface? Could it be, in the most simple way, Joey, tied into the sincerity of your questions? The DISCOVERY of (not the belief of) THAT and its simple daily perception within you, will completely answer your questions…each one and more you may not have even thought of yet. Neither ‘Biblegod’ nor Moroni touch this.

    This is not about club membership or group agreement. There is no ‘independent’ 3rd party verification like ‘Consumer Reports’ The only testing is done by you and you alone with your own 5 senses. It is not for the curious. The ‘one’ who inspires and shows within you what I am referring to was called in the time of Jesus, “The Christ”. If you regard that as a gifted function rather than a one time legend, it helps simplify understanding.

    So Joey, witness on a website where both primary perspectives of God (exists or not) are discussed, put up for dissection and sometimes ridiculed when a clinging believer chimes in, a voice of something unimaginable shows up to offer another alternative.

    The oldest and most obvious one. Right under our noses…ourselves (inside). Must reiterate in case it is not obvious. Each one of us contains (and is kept alive by) the literally perceivable access which reveal answer(s) to those questions you directed to God!

    To call it “God” as we have contrived it to mean throughout our history as a definition, limits the beauty, the joy and the application of our greatest asset. And an appreciation you have to see and feel to believe. Totally different than the God(s) we created- mythical capricious and disturbing in judgement.

    Check out tprf.org then scroll down to the You Tube link for videos.

  • 172. Sarah  |  April 23, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Don’t give up just yet Joey. Sometimes we all experience doubt. Sometimes God is silent. I promise you He is there. I know it can be so difficult when you feel like you can’t hear Him, but I encourage you to take some time and just listen. I know this can be such a rough spot. My husband struggled for a long time, and claimed Atheism for about 4 years. He still struggles, but he has come around back again. Now his struggle is getting past the mean Christians, which is totally understandable. Just know it does get better. Hang on just a little longer. Praying for you, Joey.

  • 173. ubi dubium  |  April 23, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Sarah,

    That’s the same answer that Joey is going to get from his church, and probably has already gotten many times over. “Just believe harder”. If that were all he needed to hear, he would not have come here in the first place.

    Joey, if you are finding the things your church is telling you unbelievable, it’s not your fault. You don’t need to believe harder. If the dogmas are unbelievable, the problem is with the dogmas, not with you. Focus on finding out what is true, not on just sticking with what is comfortable or easy or traditional.

  • 174. Sarah  |  April 23, 2014 at 11:19 am

    I understand what you’re saying. Perhaps I should have worded it differently. I don’t mean believe harder. It’s already difficult enough when you are struggling and confused. I’m just saying you don’t have to make any decisions right away. It’s the very most intimate personal thing, and I guess I was just saying take some time. Ubi Dubium you are right, the church probably has said that, and sometimes the church just makes things worse. All I am saying Joey, is basically just take it easy. Your faith is your faith, no one can make you believe or not. If it has been something that is important to you, I just want to encourage you to just reevaluate, take time to listen, pray, even explore what else is out there.

  • 175. ubi dubium  |  April 23, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Sarah, I agree with all of your suggestions except for “pray”. For someone who is getting no answer back, continuing to pray can be a frustrating exercise in futility. How long do you knock at a door with no answer before you give up? Does being encouraged to keep knocking help at that point?

    I would suggest maybe “ponder”, “reflect”, “meditate” or “think” as being more productive. And I absolutely encourage learning about as many religions as possible, as well as exploring alternatives to religion.

  • 176. Alban  |  April 23, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Sarah. Your responses are very thoughtful and compassionate. And ubi dubium, the last paragraph is surprisingly open minded. Maybe ex-christian.net has soothed some of the edginess. There are some excellent posts there for sure.

    The best place to find any kind of credibility is first within ourselves. This search is not like ‘soul searching’. It would seem to our logic that the search I am describing is for some kind of independent variable as undoubtedly theologians, philosophers and their offspring, religions have been searching the soul for a long time and have hypothesized that God or the answers we seek are somehow separate from human beings.

    Even the classic picture described by many Christians of Jesus knocking on the door of your heart is external…as though he will then ‘enter’ if you open the door….but if the ‘knocking’ is from the inside, it could describe something already there.

    That knocking takes on manifestations such as searching for a purpose to life and what should I do etc; Like Joey, it is frustrating and confusing when you ‘hear’ that knocking or feel somehow an absence or an inability to effectively address that particular sensation. When we conceptualize that feeling we set ourselves up for lofty explanations.

    What we all for the most part agree on here, is that Christianity has its pat answers, a lot of well thought out explanations handed down thru centuries. The determination of the seeker to KNOW has been pacified in most cases by dogma largely created by the early catholic church and maintained to a lesser degree by the curators of modern Christianity.

    This has always amazed me. It is like the greatest trick the church ever did was to convince people that the greatest treasure of life ALREADY WITHIN, does not exist THERE!! Rather it can ONLY EXI$T outside and is available only after death pending conditions are met. A sales job not done by selling down the reality, but by first destroying anyone and anything that could point within from firsthand knowledge, then upselling all the future benefits by mortgaging a speculative future reality.

    I would call that “predatory blue sky selling” What is left to this day are some not so nice old men in assorted costume and clergy repeating- mostly sincerely- the same dogma as though it is factual.
    This contrived falsehood was so powerful (a little less so today thank you all variety of skeptics) that the essence of our collective thinking, almost like altering DNA does not ‘believe’ that knowing one’s self within, is even possible!!!!!!!!!!

    Until a public offering is presented. Then if the time is ripe for that individual to dive in and enjoy, the answers to his or her deepest questions being answered without dogma, and with an extremely satisfying clarity. At that point, speculation fades quickly and the promised celebration in and of life begins. Simple joy, appreciation and wisdom on a platter to consume as much as desired.

    From where? The ‘knocking’ and the answers come from WITHIN each of us. Like hunger and food, thirst and water, except that both elements exist together. Hunger and thirst are good things when there is an endless supply of food and water readily available.

    Left unsatisfied, our thoughts then revisit apps that redirect the longing we each have inside to tired old external explanations and some new ones as well, based on everything else other than what comes “standard” in each of us..

  • 177. ubi dubium  |  April 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Alban,

    I’m open-minded, but not to the point where my brains have fallen out. I still think you post walls of text without any clear meaning in them. (But at least you aren’t pushing christianity. At least I don’t think you are, sometimes it’s hard to tell.)

    When someone shows up to this blog hurting, I try to provide compassionate answers. When someone shows up trying to “challenge the heathen” and push apologetic nonsense, I push back.

  • 178. cag  |  April 23, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Joey, imagine yourself in fourth century Rome and finding yourself doubting the power of Jupiter and all the other Roman gods. You would find any number of people urging you to just believe, have faith. Have a look at http://www.godfinder.org for a list of gods that people originally started to doubt with others pressuring them to just believe. Where are these gods now? You are on the right track to doubt.

    The list at godfinder is over 5000 entries. What are the odds that even one of those gods, unseen, undetectable, with no different outcome for either believer or sceptic, is real? I would put it at 0%. Ignorance creates a fertile ground for religion. When you understand that all gods originated in the minds of humans they become easy to reject.

    Ignore those who would keep you ignorant. They do not want you to be aware of all the false gods out there because they are all false. Someone like Sarah wants you to swallow the same poison that is killing her innate curiosity, replacing it with the lies of the clergy.

    Ask yourself why an all powerful god would need imperfect humans to get its message across.

    We hear a lot about “love your neighbor as yourself”. Remember the admonition of jesus in Luke 14:26 “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Would you want to be the recipient of “love your neighbor as yourself” from somebody who hates themself? That to me would not be on top of my list of favorite things.

  • 179. Alban  |  April 23, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    cag, I suggest that verse in Luke originally contained the idea of leaving behind family and personal life more in the sense of detachment, although the physical leaving was necessary for discipleship at that time. Many would travel with the gang in hopes to be shown the kingdom within, were then shown, and returned to their families and their everyday lives. I saw some of that in my early experience. Travel technology and mass communications have eliminated any need for that in this day and age.

    In the same way, should the family and the disciple’s former life’s activities reject that person for their sacrifice of physically following Jesus, then the disciple would have to move on whether actively ‘spreading the word’ or not.

    Think about the term “hate”. Nowadays it seems cut and dried in meaning, but in earlier mideval times it had more to do with finding certain behaviors offensive or burdensome. Hence detaching oneself from the sources of that behavior would be common sensical. Yet not for most at that time as identity was cemented to family and work. So a mutual ‘hate’ was better left behind Thus it was nearly impossible to follow the Master of the time.

    Add on to that the hunting down of many of those first hand knowing disciples over the next 50-60 years and no, it would not have been a pleasant circumstantial existence. The church didn’t mind painting the whole discipleship thing as out of kilter. The church of course would be the solution, the balance needed to ‘help’ people become subservient to God and eventually the roman empire. All for “Heaven’s sake”, a weak imitation discipleship was crafted.

    Loving (knowing) yourself is what I have been describing in previous posts. Recognizing that presence in others whether they do or not, is genuine respect for the dignity of all people. Loving yourself naturally breeds that respect. Loving oneself needs no handbook for behavior. Any simulation or imitation has to draw up boundaries or there would be chaos.

    The message of “an all powerful God” IS FOR the imperfect people as a significant possibility for all individuals. That love when felt and perceived runs both ways. More or less that is a description of bliss, the connection of the finite and the infinite. Hard to describe or imagine, but indeed possible in human life!!

  • 180. cag  |  April 23, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Alban, is it any wonder that the fiction called the bible is so straight forward and perfect that there are only about 35,000 different interpretations. That’s quite a stretch between hate and detachment. I’m sure that Fred Phelps would have the same interpretation as you.

    If it’s all the same to you, I don’t want the kind of love that an all powerful god provides. When someone all loving will send you to hell for not believing absurdities, then it is fortunate indeed that your god does not exist. We are all imperfect – the message is not for me.

  • 181. Cindy  |  April 23, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    I completely agree with Laura- I left Christianity( or rather, it left me) a long time ago. I have never experienced a kind, loving God and am proven further daily that I never will. I stand firm that any time I have spent on prayer was wasted time I’ll never get back and nothing will ever make a believer out of me.

  • 182. Alban  |  April 24, 2014 at 9:44 am

    cag, there is no hell to go to, but some unconsciously live it here.

    Cindy and cag, what is,is! You can believe or not believe. Doesn’t change what is. Belief in anything is not a determinant of its existence. If you are going to pray for anything, try (unconditional)Happiness. Prayers go in rather than out.

    And that will be where the answer emanates from. The more simple you can be, in order to feel and understand the easier it is to distinguish between simple clarity and absurdity from your own mind.

    In any space of awareness, clarity and absurdity cannot coexist. Like light and darkness. Clarity like light, fills the space. Don’t worry about belief. Knowing, which is perceiving, in this regard is like light and clarity. Belief is inconsequential. Knowing however not only fills the space, it is the space!

  • 183. Alban  |  April 26, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    lauradee24 in the original post cited humility, knowledge and misery as reasons for stopping her belief in God. From her perspective full of indoctrination and inundation by her faith, it’s hard not to agree. We simply have to separate out knowing from believing.

    This isn’t brain surgery or some ‘heavy’ realization. It is SO simple, it is almost humiliating to have overlooked it. Humility BTW, does not have to be a result of poor choices, nor does it need to be taught to us. It is already there inherently in life itself.

    One of the biggest misnomers is that believing leads to knowing. That is backwards and represents an absence (more like a runaway freight train) of humility. How many times in our lives when opinion comes from belief, do we act therefore unconsciously? When knowing does not clarify belief sometimes we ‘guess’ right but more often than not, we are wrong or off base in the accuracy of decision making. Like wars in the name of religion.

    Knowing has a different origin than believing. If I repeat an experiment over and over again with the same results I can claim to know the results. I can also claim I know how to obtain the same results. When I repeat a psalm verse for instance: “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”, if I repeat it enough, I BELIEVE I know it is true. “It feels right and good” I know how, not to want… the ‘results’ being the agreement by the congregation that is right and good.

    If I ‘stand on’ this belief, is it factual…do I really know it to be true? NO!! Even though thousands of times hundreds of parishioners have reverently repeated the same verse. Say it enough and it’s true!!??

    Eastern religion is associated with the concept of “oneness”. Christianity, the ‘marriage’ of the Lamb and the Bride. So assume for one minute they are describing the same thing. One brings Nirvana, the other, (a predicted celebration of) Salvation. Would it be fair then to assume that KNOWING has something to do with a literal union or an observable connection of sorts? Yes, likely.

    So follow the train of thought for a few moments. If the body rather than a building is the temple of ‘God’ would it not make sense to want to find a way to enter? Prayers are well and good but they are only thoughts and wishes that are directed inwardly (although many think they are going outward) but do they ‘enter’? An altar of flowers and requests at the door, but no.

    What if YOU can ENTER? Maybe you and your internal essence of sight, sound and feeling can simply perceive what is there, noting AFTERWARD, a subtle, possibly distinct, possibly more, simple awareness of joy/contentment/humility/strength/peace. Imagine also afterwards that the sounds you heard there are now recognizable in the external awareness of life? As one songwriter wrote, “above Earth’s loudest song” or as I note sometimes, above (my)our loudest noise.

    What if you could feel the inner feeling while you live your outward life for no other reason other than it’s there AND you want to?

    The perspective gained would be experiential, not theoretical. I am staying away from belief and implication at this point. Just a simple hypothesis.

    Then, to take it one step further… if knowing is entering/connecting to some thing that is already there and it is perhaps more joyful, more present than anything else one has ever experienced, even in its subtle moments, might that influence our human tendency to want to permanently label that experience? (people that hear about it 2nd, 3rd hand etc; wanting to personify it-God?)

    Could that experience put belief into a more accurate understanding? Maybe knowing precedes belief and humility is innate, not acquired, JOY EXISTING independent of results. Simple!

    And misery? Only a result, a manifestation of not knowing, seemingly never too far from an unknowing belief, perhaps a tamer version of Jekyll and Hyde?

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

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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