Self-Deprecation

June 18, 2010 at 11:38 am 163 comments

Hello everyone, I’m back – if not only for a short time – to discuss something that has been bothering me for the last month or two and with a small discovery I hope will be helpful to others still dealing with the traumatic reprogramming necessary to leave the church you once loved.

It has come to my attention recently that I am an extremely self-deprecating person. When people compliment me, I find it difficult to just casually accept their compliment without either having a completely inflated ego as if starving for attention or wanting to dismiss their genuinely kind words as unnecessary flattery. In other words, I don’t really like to think about myself except in a negative light and as a result of the lack of confidence I tend to rebound the other direction on occasion in full-on arrogance.

Now, I’m sure a decent number of people struggle with this and perhaps you are one of them. What I’ve realized recently is that the Christianity I grew up with almost encouraged this type of thinking. And here is how:

As a Christian, we were supposed to be humble. Part of humility is acknowledging your mistakes. But it is not just enough to acknowledge your mistakes and fix them, we were constantly reminded that we could not fix our mistakes. Over and over and over it was ingrained into our minds that our own efforts were futile – we must rely on the Lord.

As a result, all success is to be attributed to the Lord and all failures are to be attributed to our self. As you can imagine, this does not do much for self-esteem. And a person who has low self-esteem is most likely to cover it up with full-blown arrogance. The only personal success is to attribute all success to God (Proverbs 3:5-6 anyone?).

Now, when I left the church at first I was ecstatic about the opportunity to start “clean”: the world was my oyster and I was full of confidence. And it worked. I got a job I wanted,  a girl I wanted, new friends I wanted, a blog I wanted, and more. But as time has gone on, little mistakes have begun to pile up and are beginning to get to me and it had begun to put me into a slightly depressed and angry funk. For an example, see my recent blog posts. Not pretty.

Basically, I can’t stop thinking about my failures and insufficiencies. But why?

So I decided at the advice of some friends to begin writing down all my thoughts. Every time I had a thought I would write down “why?” and wait until the answer came to me. In the process I discovered that I was retaining half of my Christian mentality – the part that says I’m a loser and failure. And, as any person can imagine, that will lead to depression.

But then I thought about it, and ‘lo-and-behold’ (got to throw in some sort of prophetic Christianese banter) I discovered that that is exactly the attitude Christians wanted me to have. The more self-deprecating you are the more you can give glory to Jesus and fall into his arms. Remember Jesus’ words? A man who has sinned much will love much, so the more you think of yourself as awful and unworthy the greater a lover of Jesus you will be.

There’s only one problem: there is no Jesus there, so if  I am not careful a person with my mentality can fall into a complete epistemic and self-deprecating funk.

So, now that I’ve made this discovery I’m going to begin the process of finding ways to replace my self-deprecating mindset with a more healthy self-esteem.

Have you ever felt this way? Do you still feel this way? If so, I hope what I’ve written can be of help… and feel free to chip in and give others some advice on ways to develop a healthy self-esteem not based on the ridiculously self-deprecating mentality that leads to arrogance that is found in the beloved – and hated – doctrine of the human incapacity for anything but sin.

Cheers all :)

- Josh

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Jehovah’s Linguistic Land Grab Arrogance

163 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Analyst  |  June 18, 2010 at 11:45 am

    When I was about 14, a HS teacher wrote on the board, “Nil Carborundum Bastardii” (this looks like Latin – it isn’t).

    Asked to explain he said it meant, “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”!

    Over time this became my life’s motto. I take no prisoners. You are what life made you. Let them deal with it.

  • 2. TonyR  |  June 18, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Josh,

    Brilliant job.

    What you said …
    “As a result, all success is to be attributed to the Lord and all failures are to be attributed to our self. As you can imagine, this does not do much for self-esteem. And a person who has low self-esteem is most likely to cover it up with full-blown arrogance”.

    This comes from my mouth on many occasions when talking to Christians and it is met with great hostility, and usually ends the conversation.

    The fact that you found the reason for your “up and down” emotional roller coaster ride, because of introspection, is the reason for your organically evolved de-conversion. Which to me is 99% of any true de-conversion. It HAS to happen organically from within. Outside forces only prove to wrap the coat around themselves tighter.

    BUT…. be careful. Remember. The Jews invented self-deprecating humor and it is THE basis for great humor and comedy.

    Getting it all under control is impossible. Control is a mirage and will create new issues if a person is looking for complete control… of anything. Now that you see where it comes from you can begin to heal that part that has been manipulated.

    Best Regards,

    T

  • 3. Dan +†+  |  June 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Josh,

    Self-deprecating mentality that leads to arrogance? Really? Do you have any evidence of that bare assertion at all?

    You did bring up an excellent subject that I would like to drive home though. I might even post about it. I will go on tangents but I will get to point soon.

    There is a movement that is called the “self esteem movement” (just Google it) and it is riddled throughout our school systems and secular teachings. Like Analyst’s teacher writing “Nil Carborundum Bastardii”, it is very detrimental to one self but not the way that you think.

    As an example, I don’t know if you have ever watched American Idol. You see these kids “writing off” and cussing at Simon who honestly told them they are horrible, which was the truth. They get all huffy and go back to their mom’s who say “it’s OK baby, you are the best” and they storm off cussing profanity to the camera and Simon.

    It was Scott Peterson’s mom Jackie who raised him in a way to let him think that he could do no wrong and you obviously see how destructive that was. She was very open about it also. Jackie Peterson held Scott up as her ‘golden boy’ that could do no wrong. She didn’t show love towards the boy. If he did something wrong she covered it up for him instead of reprimanding him. She raised him to have “high self esteem”

    Matthew 22:39, Leviticus 19:17-18 tells us how to treat people. It takes far more love to confront then to ignore the situation, perfect love is a constant confronter. Coddling someone, like Jackie did, is not love at all. I believe God holds us accountable to our actions as it states in Ezekiel 3:20.

    Most people don’t realize this but a bullies, most often, have very high self esteem. They are views as “cool kids” and destroy many lives in their growth.

    Today parents are raising pure monsters and our society is paying the price for it. Kids need discipline and guidance in truth. Not some inflated self esteem that goes unchecked.

    I am sure you have heard the term inflated ego. Swollen heads are what makes people fall hard after they have been popped. To be humble is a very good thing and it will keep you grounded in life so know thyself (Proverbs 27:1), and stay on the ground.

  • 4. TonyR  |  June 18, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    “”Most people don’t realize this but a bullies, most often, have very high self esteem. They are views as “cool kids” and destroy many lives in their growth.””

    This not only is backyard psychology but it is completely wrong.

    It is a psychological fact that bullies [often very complected] have an abnormally low self esteem and punish others for what is missing in their lives. very complected indeed.

    Research indicates that adults who bully have personalities that are authoritarian, combined with a strong need to control or dominate.[17] It has also been suggested that a prejudicial view of subordinates can be particular a risk factor.[18]

    Further studies have shown that envy and resentment may be motives for bullying.[19] Research on the self-esteem of bullies has produced equivocal results.[20][21] While some bullies are arrogant and narcissistic[22], others can use bullying as a tool to conceal shame or anxiety or to boost self esteem: by demeaning others, the abuser him/herself feels empowered.[23]

    Researchers have identified other risk factors such as depression[24] and personality disorders,[25] as well as quickness to anger and use of force, addiction to aggressive behaviors, mistaking others’ actions as hostile, concern with preserving self image, and engaging in obsessive or rigid actions.[26]

    It is often suggested that bullying behavior has its origin in childhood:

    “If aggressive behaviour is not challenged in childhood, there is a danger that it may become habitual. Indeed, there is research evidence, to indicate that bullying during childhood puts children at risk of criminal behaviour and domestic violence in adulthood.”[12]

    Bullies may bully because they themselves have been the victim of bullying.[27][28][29]

  • 5. Dan +†+  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    TonyR,

    To my, ”Most people don’t realize this but a bullies, most often, have very high self esteem. They are views as “cool kids” and destroy many lives in their growth.”

    >>This not only is backyard psychology but it is completely wrong.

    >>It is a psychological fact that bullies [often very complected] have an abnormally low self esteem and punish others for what is missing in their lives. very complected indeed.

    I provided links to my points how about you?

    I think you went to Wiki. Your logic is suspect. Is it possible that wiki is wrong?

    The self esteem movement is dead, hopefully.

    Anyway, its a post now on my blog

  • 6. Dan +†+  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    “In contrast to a fairly common assumption among psychologists and psychiatrists, we have found no indicators that the aggressive bullies are anxious and insecure under a tough surface” (source)

  • 7. Analyst  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    It was Scott Peterson’s mom Jackie who raised him in a way to let him think that he could do no wrong and you obviously see how destructive that was. She was very open about it also. Jackie Peterson held Scott up as her ‘golden boy’ that could do no wrong. She didn’t show love towards the boy. If he did something wrong she covered it up for him instead of reprimanding him. She raised him to have “high self esteem”

    Bad example. This psychological analysis is absolute rubbish unsupported by any facts or any competent examiner. Scott Peterson is a peacemaker, a man who has never hit anyone in his life and does his best to avoid confrontation wherever possible (something I cannot say about myself). Even if the state hadn’t convincingly proven him innocent with their own witnesses and evidence his character alone should give anyone grave concerns as to the validity of the ludicrous accusations made against him. All of your claims about Scott and his mother are false, they are based mainly on the words of a half sister with her own psychological problems and they are claims made for money and not out of any sense of duty.

  • 8. Joshua  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Wow Dan, sorry, you should probably read the book How To Win Friends and Influence People because you broke tons of rules in your comment. I didn’t even bother finishing reading it.

    Thanks for the sermon though. I really should just go back to lunch.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond Tony, your comments are very insightful :)

    That said, I will say something.

    I will take a moment to explain how stupid simple the concept is that low self-esteem leads to arrogance.

    LIving beings tend to overcompensate for weak areas by building up strength in others. If you you lose your eyesight, you’ll build up extra sensitivity in hearing. If you were called stupid over and over as a child you may begin to try to appear smart – even if you are not. A person in a wheelchair may grow inordinately large, muscular arms. Is that person arrogant about their upper body strength? Well, someone who has a skinny upper body might think so.

    If you know you have an internal weakness, you will tend to overcompensate by emphasizing your strong points to the extent that you can defend – or hide – those weak points. This desire to hide your weaknesses from others by always emphasizing your own strong points can come across as arrogance.

    Case in point. I know a girl who spend an inordinate amount of time on her looks. I’ve known this girl for a while now and deep down she is terrified about how she looks. Her dad used to hound her about how plain she looked and how she needed to lose weight to the point where she was completely broken and felt worthless about it. So to compensate, she spends more time than usual focusing on it.

    To someone like you, that will appear to be arrogance and self-centeredness. To someone like me – who takes half an ounce of time to get to know those people – I see it for what it really is: low self-esteem caused by pain. They feel weak and worthless in that area so they try to overcompensate.

    Take a person who is always emphasizing their degrees or their pedigree. Is that arrogance? Sure. But they are probably doing it because they feel useless without those things. They want to show those off because they are afraid others will think they are nothing without them – which is not true. And my hunch would be that in most cases these people were probably hounded by their parents that they are basically worthless with a degree or perfect upbringing.

    So a Christian who thinks he is worthless (original sin, etc.) will “overcompensate” by spending an inordinate amount of time talking about how great God is, how great their Savior is, how much God has saved them from, and how confident they are that their view cannot be wrong. To anyone on the outside who has seen through it, that is arrogance revealing their internal insecurity about their worthiness to even be called… human.

    Anyway, feel free to correct me… I’ve been wrong plenty before :)

  • 9. Joshua  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    I might also add that I think this conversation has gotten off track.I think there is a vast difference between a bully and an arrogant person.

    Lot’s of arrogant people are not bullies. Lot’s of bullies are not necessarily arrogant.

    I’m not sure how that connection was ever made.

  • 10. Dan +†+  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    “From early on, the bully can do whatever he wants without clear consequences and discipline.” (source)

  • 11. Dan +†+  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Josh,

    >>I didn’t even bother finishing reading it.

    Denial of truth is probably what got you in this predicament in the first place. A pattern is now showing. Interesting.

  • 12. Joshua  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Yeah, but Dan, that bully is not necessarily arrogant. An arrogant person overestimates their ability and this will lead to a “fall” (as the Bible says) because they will step out to do something they cannot accomplish. The smartest and best bullies, however, normally get their way quite frankly because they are *not* arrogant. They know their limits and eventually become the best crime lords the world has ever known through great care, intelligence, and an accurate view of their abilities.

    Quite frankly, I think Jesus was a bully… telling everyone else they were wrong and that they should submit to him or else they aren’t worthy of God. Based on your reasoning, Jesus is arrogant.

    And how are you going to respond? You’re going to say that it’s not arrogant because it is true.

    And there I rest my case.

  • 13. TonyR  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    I agree… off topic is an understatement. Off into the weeds as they say….

    But… LOL… The bullies I know [that bullied me as a kid, my son for all of 6th grade, my neighbor's daughter in the 7th grade and many more] are as far from people with high self esteem than a person can get.
    K, I’m done.

    Being at ease with my thoughts and actions didn’t come until about ten years ago, in my 40s. I think what you [Josh] are going through is a normal metamorphosis of any thinking human. Looking inward to find reasons to things that bother you, and examining the exterior influences you were so deeply involved in as tangible proof that you are what your religion made you is part of becoming a thinking human being.

    Good for you.

  • 14. Joshua  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Everyone, notice how Dan is treating me. See the pattern? This was a continual problem in the church… everyone biting and smacking me, accusing me of arrogance and bad attitudes for expressing myself in the clearest way I could see possible.

    Also notice my response, I’m becoming offensive because Dan is hitting a weak spot – my confidence in my own ability to be right. Yes, that is right, that is my weak spot. My weak spot is my confidence in my own ability to be right.

    When I was little my friends over and over would hound me on how I was unintelligent and by default “wrong” because I was homeschooled. It created such a low self-esteem in that area that I worked hard to compensate for it… year after year studying extra things to try and reach their “level”, feeling insecure about my ability to be right about anything just because I didn’t have the same type of education.

    Then, when I seem confident in something, people say I’m arrogant. Well, screw the bastards, maybe I am wrong… but I don’t let people push me around anymore by stupid assertions like Dan’s about how because I was disobedient to his imaginary friend he can dismiss everything I’m saying.

    That’s about as stupid as saying because I was homeschooled by Christian parents I am, by default, probably wrong and unlearned.

    So my apologies for overcompensating for my low trust in my own ability to be right and coming across probably arrogant. It’s true, I’m both insecure and arrogant. I’m working on it.

  • 15. TonyR  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Dan said,
    “Josh,

    >>I didn’t even bother finishing reading it.

    Denial of truth is probably what got you in this predicament in the first place. A pattern is now showing. Interesting.””

    This IS arrogance in its most obvious form. The truth as Dan sees it. Who is Dan? I am going to go out on a limb and say that Dan believes that any religion or religious belief other than Christianity will result in a punishment stated in his book of truth. Arrogant x [big number]

  • 16. Andrew  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Dan, it’s good he didn’t finish reading it because it wasn’t relevant. What do bullies have anything to do with his post? The part about the self-esteem movement is actually correct, and may seem relevant, but it’s not actually. Josh is talking about his personal experience with Christian doctrine and how it affected his self-esteem. That has nothing to do with the self-esteem movement in parenting and schools that are negatively affecting children.

    Josh, about a year ago I went through the same process you just have, although I can only relate to the low self-esteem part, not the arrogance part. Congratulations on reaching this breakthrough! You are using principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, although you probably didn’t know that.

  • 17. Joshua  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Haha, exactly Tony.

    And Dan, my point about not reading it was just that your tone – your arrogance – put me off so much I didn’t want to read what you wrote. That’s all I was saying. You come across like you cannot be wrong. That’s a huge put-off.

    No offense Dan, I don’t have a problem with arrogant people anymore because they do make some sense to me. It’s a natural human response that can be understood. I’m not attacking you as a person, I was just trying to write an article to help others who were struggling with the same thing I was.That’s all. Wasn’t looking to start a cat-fight at all.

    Anyway, cheers. I’ll now walk away from this one.

  • 18. TonyR  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Andrew,

    Dan was relating in one of his posts how bullies realtes to Josh’s self esteem battle… Dan stated:
    Most people don’t realize this but a bullies, most often, have very high self esteem. They are views as “cool kids” and destroy many lives in their growth.

    But Dan’s assessment is completely up-side-down.

    Anyway, that where it all started.

  • 19. Joshua  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks Andrew! I would appreciate any advice you have… I’m really trying hard to change my attitude about myself and not be so down on my every failure as if trying to leverage looking at my mistakes as a way to feel good about my humility.

    How did you go about gaining a better understanding of yourself?

  • 20. BigHouse  |  June 18, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Dan has a long track record of preaching and posting from the safety of his theistic bubble. Don’t let him get you down, Josh.

    And BTW, welcome back!

  • 21. TonyR  |  June 18, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Honestly, want to feel better Josh? Dump any remnants of pride and ego. They are gateway emotions.

    And the fact that you KNOW how you feel is 99% of the act of getting it figured out.

  • 22. Joshua  |  June 18, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Thanks BigHouse, he is not getting me down at all. Perhaps two months ago his psychological tactic of trying to undermine my credibility by hinting at some sinful attitude would have worked on me, but not anymore. I got pretty down and depressed after my last posts and the Christian response and exhausted myself trying to defend against them. Since then it’s been nice to take a break and realize they use empty words to leverage power.

    And thanks, it feels good to be back :)

    P.S. I have to confess that this discovery is rocking my world and I already feel ten times better.

  • 23. Mystery Porcupine  |  June 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Hi Josh – I didn’t read the comments, don’t really have the emotional energy to watch people beat you up today, and I assume that is happening again?

    The sin mentality had me so down by the time I quit church that I basically could not sit in a church without sobbing. So yes, I know some of these feelings.

    Christianity emphasizes so much the personal relationship, the uniqueness of human beings and of God, all of this intimate stuff. It is actually a pretty self-centered way to operate. It’s all about my sin, my needs, my God, my faith, my works. I have found that taking a step back and seeing myself as just another human among millions, just another animal among all animals, is actually very freeing. All people make mistakes, bad judgment calls, etc. All people have needs and wants, and they learn through experience. I think the reason we had such complexes as Christians is that we were supposed to be “special,” yet we were not supposed to take credit for anything. What if we are not special at all? What if we are just people doing our people-thing in a world full of people? Why so much pressure about how much ego to have or not to have, how much self-esteem to have or not to have?

    I have taken a few cues from buddhism and have shifted the emphasis from self to happiness in general, my own happiness and the happiness of beings around me. Not much in this world really revolves around me or depends on me, and that is incredibly freeing. At the same time, I have opportunities all the time to enjoy life and to increase the enjoyment for those around me. There is no need to be self-deprecating or self-confident if you realize that you are just another person doing what people do. Focus on the joy and the learning! Focusing on the process is much more interesting than focusing on the self. And besides, my “self” can change at any time and doesn’t have to be strictly defined. I do often remind myself that I am resilient, just like all people are, and can adjust and handle most any situation when I am present.

    Coming out of Christianity, I did not need to gain faith in myself, I think I needed to gain faith in humanity in general, a different view of people and even of animals. We are all marvelous creatures!

    Enjoy the trip – it’s much too short. :-)

  • 24. TonyR  |  June 18, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Mystery Porcupine….

    “I have found that taking a step back and seeing myself as just another human among millions, just another animal among all animals, is actually very freeing.”

    That is the real connection to the universe we live in. And it brings with it a contentment and true peace that is overwhelming.

    It almost brings tears to me eyes to see people find themselves amidst all the noise and pressure from outside sources

  • 25. Joshua  |  June 18, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Hey Mystery, couldn’t agree more. It is so sad to me that my feelings of emptiness and anger at my father mostly stem from the fact that he was so caught up in focusing on himself – and HIS relationship to HIS God, that he never really gave me the love and attention I desperately wanted.

    So he sits back and sobs about his failings, but never realizes that even his sobbings and apologies are now so self-centered and related to making himself feel better that I finally realized that he is not interested in my genuine happiness – unless it makes him feel better about himself.

    And that is the pain of that self-centered attitude that the doctrine of total depravity brings. It leaves everyone feeling empty unless you are spending all your time mortifying yourself and praising your savior. In the meantime, you only make other people happy if their happiness is in line with you.

    Oh well, Nil Carborundum Bastardii.

  • 26. Mystery Porcupine  |  June 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    You know what Josh? My dad didn’t give me the love I needed either. I’ve come to realize that most people who don’t love their children well aren’t really able to do so. They are too caught up in their own stories or drama or pain. The sooner you are able to see your father as a person completely separate from you and your needs, the happier you will be. As an adult, you are free to do that.

    When I think of my father and mother, I no longer think of them in relation to me. I think of him and his job and his long, hard life. I think of her and her disappointments and her hopes. Because they don’t have to do anything for me anymore. Whatever they succeeded at or failed at with me is in the past. How they treat me now just says something about who they are and what they value – it isn’t a big deal to me. I’ve chosen my life-long partner, and I’m responsible for my own happiness now.

    Explore the possibilities of letting go of your need for parents. Become your own parent – care for and heal your own heart. Let them become ordinary people, because they always were. It’s just that we see them as gods (and expect them to be) when we are younger and dependent. It messes us up.

  • 27. Sarah  |  June 18, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Wow, josh. you could be talking about my mother. except that she is so focused on her depravity and shortcomings that continues to blame all of her children’s ideosyncrasies on herself, forgetting that we are adults and CAN make choices in spite of our upbringing.
    Its a double edged sword- on one hand, all our problems are her fault and God’s for making us this way. We aren’t responsible, only passive recipients. On the other hand, if we were more surrendered, we would be perfect. So, it is all our fault for not being more passively receptive.

    The other day when my mother was apologizing (again) for being a horrible mother, I told her that the most damaging thing she had done was to cut herself down constantly in front of us. To which she responded with agreement and more self-condemnation. Some jokes aren’t funny when the other person doesn’t get it. well, maybe a little funny. :p

  • 28. Cindy Mulvey  |  June 18, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    GOOD, but too bad I could not see that until I left the self deceiving Christian mentality, I sure you know what I mean, hope it helps somone.

    Amen
    Josh
    Coming out of Christianity, I did not need to gain faith in myself, ……..
    We gave it to Jesus , it comes back , it takes a while but………

  • 29. Cindy Mulvey  |  June 18, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    LOVE

    Faith

    self esteem

    To thine own self be true………
    TRUTH

    “To be is to do.” Plato
    “To do is to be.” Aristotle
    “do be do be do.” Sinatra

    To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.
    William Shakespeare

  • 30. Eve's Apple  |  June 18, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    What timing. I just got off the phone with an old friend that I hadn’t heard from in a while, and it was–like most of the conversations I have had with her–full of self-depreciation. She is a horrible person who has done evil things, blah, blah, blah. Need I add that she is a Christian or tries to be one (she says). She knows that I am a deconvert, but not the extent of my deconversion.

    Tonight’s theme was remorse and guilt and not being able to make amends like the Bible says one ought to. I said wait a minute. Who is saying you ought to? Well, she is in a Christian group. I told her that in my opinion there is a lot of damaging nonsense being perpetuated under the “forgiveness” label and that sometimes all you can do is move on. I shared with her about a certain situation in my life that had I not been under the lingering influences of “Christian” thinking, I probably would have seen its reality much more clearly and ended it much much sooner. Instead I kept giving these people another chance until it became quite clear to me that no matter what they said or did otherwise, they were no friends to me and probably never had been. That they had been playing me as a fool all this time, but I did not want to admit it. No one does.

    As far as bullies are concerned, I do not have fancy academic credentials or references, but I do have ample experience with them, so I kind of like to think that I just might know something about them. Yes, I have heard that tired old line about bullies not having self-esteem, and as far as I am concerned, that is absolute horseshit. I do not care how many references you drag up. A bully is a bully because he or she can get away with it. Bullies do not choose their targets randomly. They know exactly who it is that can be bullied, and why, and more to the point, they–and everyone around them–know that they can not possibly be mistaken for one of their victims. For example, picking on “retards”–a popular sport when I was growing up (and still is). Picking on “retards” is socially acceptable, because after all, they are “retards”; very few people in authority will do anything about it (if they even see it at all). And here’s what I want to make clear: the bully can do this precisely because he or she knows that he or she is NOT at risk for being labeled a “retard”. He or she knows where he or she stands in the pecking order, and it isn’t at the bottom of the heap. Far from it. A bully is a bully because he or she CHOOSES to be, because he or she has the social position to be. “Retards” don’t become bullies because they lack the social position and power to do so. It takes power to become and maintain a bully, and power comes with self-esteem. A person who truly has low self-esteem does not have the drive that it takes to become a bully, But then, as I have said, I don’t have any academic credentials or references, only personal experience and observation of the species.

  • 31. Ubi Dubium  |  June 19, 2010 at 10:22 am

    “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love anyone else?” – RuPaul

  • 32. Joshua  |  June 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Ubi, somehow a RuPaul quote seems to eloquent right now.

    And Eve, after reading what you said I would have to agree whole-heartedly. That does make sense.

  • 33. Richard  |  June 19, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Hi Josh –
    I am so glad you put up this post! I firmly believe emotional issues such as this are far, far more important to the creation and maintenance of Christian faith/belief, than are the logical fallacies and cognitive errors that atheist web sites almost always focus on. What motivates someone to become and remain a Christian has much more to do with emotional (not cognitive) psychology; the logical issues are just brought into play to defend that.

    A while ago I wrote a post on this topic: http://de-conversion.com/2008/10/19/the-psychology-of-apologetics-rebellion/ . The following post, on sin, is also connected. You can substitute the word “pride” for rebellion and it all works just as well; rebellion is just the behavioral consequence of pride.

    Anyway, the short version is that CS Lewis said somewhere that Christianity has nothing to say to the man who is not first convinced of his own sin. Mere Christianity, after all, argues throughout for Christian faith based on morality, not on evidences for the Gospels. He has several tactics: he broadens the concept of sin (any self-interested thought or feeling is sin – i.e., sin is not just about behavior, it is what you feel as well), & he deepens sin (is is cosmically bad, worthy of eternal damnation; we are “horrors” to God. There is no “small” sin.).

    Young children cannot clearly distinguish between thoughts/feelings, and reality, or from actions. Thus, for a child, to *feel* bad is the same as to *be* bad. A lot of psychological maturity is in learning to draw these distinctions: just because I feel angry right now does not mean this is all I have ever felt, or all I will ever feel, or that I am a fundamentally angry person, or that the object of my anger really deserves it. Emotions are just emotions; not necessarily true reflections of reality. And just because I feel guilty or shamed right now does not mean I truly *am* guilty, or worthy of shame.
    Christianity works very hard to erode these distinctions: your deepest sense of guilt, shame, and inadequacy is the truest sense you have. If you feel guilty or inadequate, it is because you are. There is no such thing as irrational guilt, in Christianity. So, like you said, you should attend to your guilt and ignore your confidence or self-esteem. The former is Truth, the latter is Pride.

    And its even worse than that: most forms of Christianity (esp those that focus on depravity) tend to teach that depravity even reaches to your reasoning itself. You cant trust your own “worldly” logic, “worldly” learning because it leads away from God. Obviously, this gets the cart before the horse: human reasoning leads away from God, who is Truth, so it must be corrupt. This is probably why you, and so many other decons (myself included) had such difficulty learning to trust ourselves. We were taught it is not only impossible, it is immoral even to try. Trusting yourself is the definition of pride. In other words, reason is pitted against guilt. Guess which one wins.

    So, I don’t mean to try to give an exposition here, but *this*, rather than spending endless hours wrestling with Empty Tomb arguments or whatever, was absolutely central to my own deconversion, so I have thought about this a lot.
    My advice: recognizing the psychological manipulations involved, as you are doing, is a great start, I think. It wont automatically create self esteem from scratch, but it goes a long way to undermining the automatic self-deprecation youre identifying. You wont instantly feel good about yourself, but you can stop believing the attacks and undermining thoughts your mind will continue to create, and stop discounting the good in you that you do identify.

    Second, be patient with yourself. As paradoxical as it seems, try to accept and tolerate the self-attacking thoughts that you will continue to have. Do try to pretend they aren’t there, because they will be. Just observe them, and remind yourself that your thoughts and feelings are not necessarily true. They are just thoughts and feelings. Remind yourself of the years of indoctrination and, lets use the word, brainwashing you endured under this worldview. It wont go away overnight. You come by this honestly, so have compassion on yourself when you slip back into the mentality.

    Third, the Christians are right about one thing: who you “fellowship” with is important. You need people in your life who do not mock the concept of self esteem. Even now, years later, I can hardly type that word without feeling a twinge of derision. (But that feeling is not an accurate assessment! ;) )Self esteem is relentlessly mocked in Christianity precisely because it is so threatening. It goes at the very foundation of the belief system. But realistic self-esteem is important, and it is good. Note the qualifier “realistic”, and this is what distinguishes the concept from its caricatures: self esteem is not empty warm fuzzies or blind, uncritical self-congratulation. It is a reasonable, balanced self-assessment based on a realistic appraisal of strengths and weaknesses. It is a tolerance for imperfection.

    Finally, remember that the Christian claim of certainty in its judgments and beliefs, and its insistence that certainty is the goal and standard for knowledge, is wrong. Certainty is not needed. You can have a reasonable, “good enough” assessment of yourself and your beliefs, and that’s enough. The fact that you doubt yourself sometimes, feel unsure and tentative, is human, and normal, and nothing to be ashamed of. It is not a failing. Christians pretentions to certainty are self-deluded, and a product of their own desperate need to shore up their confidence. They are victims of their toxic ideology, just as you and I were. Their self regard has been undermined, too. That’s why they need to feel so sure. But when you have a reasonable, balanced, humane self assessment, its okay not to be sure. Its more honest, in fact.
    Bottom line: youre only human. Embrace it! It’s a gift — without a giver.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble for so long, but this issue touches near to my own heart. You seem to be a sensitive and humane person, and clear-headed thinker to boot. Id love to hear your thoughts!

  • 34. DSimon  |  June 19, 2010 at 11:48 am

    That’s some excellent advice, Richard. Wish I had more to add than that, but just consider everything Richard has said seconded. :-)

    Ubi Dubium, I wish I could get some “RuPaul for President” bumper stickers.

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  • 36. Joshua  |  June 19, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Richard, that is some of the best advice I’ve received recently.

    What you said reminded me of something a friend said to me recently. She kept telling me to stop being so hard on myself. Thing is, I would immediately then want to be hard on myself for being hard on myself and realized this was crazy-making.

    That line of thinking is what lead to this post.

    But that is just the way it works for a lot of Christianity that I knew. It’s an addiction that cannot ever be fully satisfied. You get addicted to confessing (because it makes you feel better), addicted to finding fault in others (because it makes you feel better), addicted to your support group (because they tell you you are doing better than you think you are), and more. It’s a place where you can beat yourself up left and right and then get a high about getting over it. I don’t really feel like I ever solved much. This site, however, has helped me resolve a lot and I’m hoping someday we all don’t need it anymore.

    So now I think you are right, more than anything I need to be patient on myself, not hard on myself, careful with myself, but mostly just patient.

  • 37. CheezChoc  |  June 19, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Cindy Mulvey:

    De doo doo doo, de dah dah dah —The Police :)
    ——————————————————————–
    Seriously:
    1. FWIW, I must agree that too much emphasis on self esteem makes kids into self-absorbed, whiny jerks when they’re older. I’ve seen this up close with many college students, who act like babies if they earn a poor grade.
    2. The flipside, though, is that if you are told all the time by your preacher (like we all were in the Baptist church) that you suck and are evil and wrong and wicked and deserve to suffer, after a while you start to believe it. It just makes you feel like crap, and these feelings can go on for years.
    3. There is no point in trying to argue with Dan; his blog reveals that he does not believe anyone can be a deconvert and that anyone who calls themselves that was never a real believer to begin with.

  • 38. Analyst  |  June 19, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    3. There is no point in trying to argue with Dan; his blog reveals that he does not believe anyone can be a deconvert and that anyone who calls themselves that was never a real believer to begin with.

    True, because there are no true believers, just Pascalians. The only thing Christians truly believe is that they can trick their omniscient god by doing ‘good things’ while he’s watching. How odd is that!

  • 39. Quester  |  June 19, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Christianity can be very good for promoting an unhealthy self-image, or worse, two, contrasting, unhealthy images.

    First, we are not so worthy as to come to thy table, oh merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but beg as dogs for what scraps may drop from Your grace.

    Second, we are created by an omni-everything being with a plan for *our* well-being and salvation!

    We are damned for sins we did not commit, for those we could not fail to commit, and for failing to perform deeds we can not perform. But, because we are undeservedly loved, we are lifted higher than angels, to the pinnacle of all creation, *despite* who we are, what we have done, and what we are capable of doing.

    How the hell can a Christian develop a healthy self-esteem from a foundation like that?

    Josh, like you, I have struggled with self-deprecation. I do struggle with self-loathing. Decades of bad thought habits can not be thrown as easily as erroneous conclusions and the trappings of superstition. At least, not by me. Giving God all the glory for the successes in my life, despite my sinful nature and glaring flaws has left me having a hard time with justified, healthy self-esteem.

    But, I’m working at it. I’m working at helping my friends as well. Low self-esteem has struck me as epidemic over the last decade or two, leading to eating disorders, suicides, and other self-destructive behaviours. I work at complimenting my friends, honestly, at celebrating people and their achievements, and at accepting compliments from others in the manner I hope they will accept them from me- if only on the surface. Self-deprecating humour is in many ways my constant companion and often enemy.

    Best of luck.

  • 40. Volly  |  June 19, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Just today I watched a Dateline rerun on MSNBC, profiling Carlton Pearson. An evangelical protege of Oral Roberts, Pearson was suddenly struck by a revelation that clarified the absurdity of the classical Christian theology on the subject of hell and damnation. He is now an apostate from the evangelical community. While IMO he has some ways to go to shed the outer trappings of the megapastor, I am still encouraged by the compassion and open-mindedness he now exhibits. He is currently the interim pastor of a New Thought church in Chicago.

    The show got me to pondering about personality and theology. Does one shape the other? Did Pearson detach from conventional Christianity because deep inside, his nature could not accept the notion of exclusion? Or, did that one step outside of convention effect a total transformation of his thinking?

    This connects to the subject of Josh’s post. I vividly recall, nearly 8 years ago, the moment of my own lightning-flash de-conversion experience. And at the core of it was that question: CAN I SURVIVE IF I DO NOT LOVE MYSELF? When the answer came back as “no,” that’s all it took. I immediately understood that becoming a Christian 15 years before had been a matter of WANTING to snuff out my ego (for personal reasons, largely having to do with feelings of guilt and failure). I understood equally that for me, “dying to the self” was NOT an option. It never was, which is why I always felt like I was holding back during the more fervent worship services. It wasn’t, as I’d often assumed, due to my Catholic upbringing. I simply was not about to surrender.

    And yes, self-centeredness still is, and always will be, a problem for me. The only difference is, I now fully recognize it, own it, and understand the importance of tempering it THROUGH MY OWN EFFORTS, not by sitting around and waiting for an invisible sky dude to work dat ole holy juju on me.

  • 41. DSimon  |  June 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Volly, yeah, Carlton Pearson is an interesting guy, and the difference in treatment he got from the evangelical community after he changed his mind on an issue of dogma is very telling. There’s a great This American Life episode about him.

  • 42. Sarah  |  June 20, 2010 at 12:06 am

    There does seem to be interesting correlations of personality and theology. I’ve noticed different types of people are drawn to different types of churches (my church has much higher numbers of mental illness than the general public), but had never thought of different personalities being more drawn to theism or atheism.

    In my own case, I felt so utterly disgusting that I rested my self-worth on pleasing other people. I’m terrified of failure, so I won’t try much that I can’t be the best at.
    After being suicidal for too long after the birth of our first daughter, I started looking at things differently. At first I thought most of my self-hatred came from worshipping a false version of god who apparently dislikes women, or at least never values them as much as men. Maybe its more than that- maybe its morally wrong to tell ourselves we have no worth apart from God?

    gosh, and here i am struggling about whether to post this, and whether my thoughts have any value. or maybe my hesitation is that my thoughts aren’t any more profound than anyone elses ;)

  • 43. Quester  |  June 20, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Maybe its more than that- maybe its morally wrong to tell ourselves we have no worth apart from God?

    *Applause*

    Well said, Sarah.

  • 44. Eve's Apple  |  June 20, 2010 at 9:07 am

    I struggle with self-esteem issues as well so I can relate to what is being said. I am not a big fan of Ayn Rand, but I found her book “The Fountainhead” to be a big help in finding my own way through all the crap. It’s a thick book and a dense one, but it does touch upon these very same points. There is a very manipulative character who spends his time pulling strings and telling people the same kind of crap about denying themselves and not being selfish, that is often disguised as Christianity, even though he is not identified as being a Christian or having any religion in particular. Towards the end of the book he gives a long speech, and it is this speech that was the real eye-opener for me.

    Now it is many years since I have read “The Fountainhead” so I am paraphrasing here, but the crucial paragraph goes something like this. “If you want to know the difference between a true and a false prophet, beware the person who talks about sacrifice. (This is coming from a man who throughout the book has urged his followers to sacrifice their dreams, their ideas, and their goals to him, and who has opposed Howard Roark because Howard won’t go along with him). Because he intends to be your master and you his slave.”

    Wow! That really opened my eyes. Anytime anyone anywhere, whether under the guise of religion or not, asks you to sacrifice what is dear to you, to die for self, they are putting themselves in the place of master! Ask yourself–who benefits when people constantly depreciate themselves in the name of religion? Power, as we have been warned, corrupts; it is also addictive. I am sure that most Christians, when given a “baby” Christian soul to mentor and guide, don’t think about power. They are not consciously seeking it. And they can rationalize what they are doing. After all they went through the same process. But when you step back and you see how little by little the new convert is encouraged to give up his or her individuality in order to fit into a mold–especially women–then all this talk about taking off the old man and putting on the new man suddenly takes on a new sinister cast. Why, exactly do we have to change ourselves so radically? I’m not talking about self-improvement and overcoming bad habits which we all could use. I am talking about a way of life that micromanages every little decision you make along the way and evaluates it in light of a book or a group.

    Finally, in all this talk about self-esteem–true self-esteem, like respect, is earned, not given. True self-esteem is acquired by accomplishments. Simply because you are on this planet does not mean that you are entitled to feel good about yourself and demand the respect of others regardless of your actions. It does not work that way. I see so many young men in my neighborhood who are so touchy about being “disrespected” (especially by a woman). Yet, when I look at these young men I see: uneducated, unemployed, criminal records, drug abuse, dead-beat fathers, moochers off their relatives and so-called friends (who allow it) and the rest of us (who don’t have a choice). These people have accomplished absolutely nothing of value in their short lives; they have contributed nothing to society, but they think that their shit does not stink and the rest of us ought to bow down to them and walk around them on tippy-toe. Because God forbid that anyone disrespect them!

  • 45. Joshua  |  June 20, 2010 at 9:09 am

    In my own case, I felt so utterly disgusting that I rested my self-worth on pleasing other people. I’m terrified of failure, so I won’t try much that I can’t be the best at.

    Wow, Sarah, I’ve felt this way since I was about 12 or 13. I remember distinctly when this feeling began to take over my life. It made me depressed. A lot of it stemmed from an internal struggle I had over humility vs arrogance. I thought that if I felt happy and ecstatic about an achievement then I was being proud and that was wrong. So I always tried to downplay – or hide – my achievements. In the process, I lost self-respect because I wasn’t accomplishing much and became super sensitive to the opinion of others.

    Come to think of it, this may very well be where a lot of my depression came from in high school. I began to loath my own achievements – to do nothing but find fault in everything I did. I would beat myself up where others would not. I would try to make myself humble – or what I thought was humility. During that time all my friends began to take off and accomplish all sorts of things in sports, musical instruments, school, etc.

    Obviously depression is a lot more complicated than that. Personally I’m beginning to think that depression is triggered by a series of things that removes motivation to succeed in anything.

    But think about it. If you accept certain Christian doctrines, the only motivating thing that a person should have left is Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. So I mean, it would make a lot of sense that Christians who actually achieve that would end up depressed. They can only be motivated by Jesus telling them to do something. And if they are the introspective type, they will always be doubting their conclusions about what Jesus wants them to do. This means that all motivation is cut off and they end up like me… spending almost all their energy and time trying to figure out what the hell God wants. That would make me depressed and not want to try anything.

    Maybe? Maybe that’s what goes on for a lot of us?

  • 46. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Sarah,

    >>Maybe its more than that- maybe its morally wrong to tell ourselves we have no worth apart from God?

    Yea, we will get started on building that golden human right away.

    Watch out, breaking the 2nd Commandment is brutal to thy soul.

  • 47. Joshua  |  June 20, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Dan, we don’t need a golden human. With the way you act, apparently we already have one.

    You go from cutting Sarah down to proclaiming your self-righteousness in two short sentences. I will from here on out be deleting any comments you make on my posts.

    Cheers.

  • 48. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Yea, wouldn’t want to interrupt that dogma you spew, now would we. People that delete comments are cowards and are frightened of truth. I perfectly understand. It is your MO now.

  • 49. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    >>You go from cutting Sarah down to proclaiming your self-righteousness in two short sentences.

    Back up this bare assertion. Explain yourself. This is not what I have done.

    Warning out of love is certainly not cutting Sarah down. Perfect love is a constant confronter. It takes far more love to confront then to ignore the situation. I guess you do not love me since you are choosing to ignore my comments. Thanks for revealing your true colors and solidifying your true nature. That was a fathers day present that I will cherish.

  • 50. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Oh and since you deleted your newest post I hope it means you have come to you senses.

    I was commenting on it when you did, again out of love I say this:

    Josh,

    >>In conclusion it is really nice to not have to worry about how close I am to achieving the perfection God wants from me.

    No wonder you completely misunderstand the Bible.

    The whole point of the Old covenant and the New covenant is to show how impossible it is to be Holy and achieve perfection.

    Romans 3:20 says “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

    No matter what you do you cannot, and will not, achieve perfection. The Law is that proverbial mirror to show the state of the proud lost. Its a mirror, not a gauge. You’re just confused. The only way to achieve perfection is to be a part of the Body of Christ. Then, and only then, you are made perfect. God knows you and your inability to achieve perfection, that is why He came as a Man and died on that Cross to be perfect for you. Perfection is a gift waiting for you for the taking, but you are complaining about the struggle to open that gift. Really?

  • 51. Joshua  |  June 20, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Dan, you don’t understand anything (related to this post and our conversation). All your assumptions in your above comments are wrong.

    I don’t care if you interrupt my “dogma”, as long as you contribute to the discussion rather than just preaching to a bunch of people who have already considered and rejected your dogma.

    I’m not afraid of your comments in the least, they just trigger a super strong reaction because of the way certain people have treated me in the past. Pavlov. It makes me want to convince and argue, convince and argue until I drain myself of all energy.

    I did the exact same thing when I was a Christian arguing with atheists. It has nothing to do with being frightened of you. None whatsoever, other than I’m scared it will devolve into you beating me into submission like other Christians have done. That’s what I’m scared of.

    And I didn’t delete the “Arrogance” post. After I posted it, I realized it is Father’s Day and maybe someone else would want to post something else related to that. I’ll repost the arrogance post next week.

    As far as your little sermon on the difference between the OT and the NT… I used to preach that stuff. That was the core principle behind the NTM through the Bible teaching.

  • 52. TonyR  |  June 20, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    I don’t mean to butt in but I have to say something, then I’ll go. After reading all the posts here I feel like I am from another universe looking in at a strange new world. I am an atheist, but first a Roman Catholic, then 30 years later after studying comparative religion, a confident atheist.
    I will never understand Dan or the devout, and for the voluminous reasons that would take up way too much disc space on your server.
    But I also don’t understand all the “lostness” of the de-converted either. I know that isn’t a word but since this is a new universe to me …wth.
    I “get” that the issue is that de-converting is a bit like moving from a place well known to a place not known at all. But people do that all the time. I get that talking about your feelings is good BUT it’s a small percentage of what your life should consist of.
    Being introspective is good right up to the point of when it isn’t. Acting as though you [no one in particular] are so important that a study of you should be done is arrogant. When you start feeling bad about who you are because of your upbringing, pull your head out of whatever area it is in and read about the women of Saudi Arabia and their problems. Read about the children of almost ANY 3rd world country and the battle against famine that continues to this very moment in countries like India.
    Too much self esteem, not enough self esteem, too arrogant not arrogant enough, and the attempt to balance them out…
    I surfed for 25 years, and if you surf you know it can be unbelievably terrifying when the waves get big. Example is Mavericks in No Cal. I was considered a good surfer, but not a great one, and I did it for the love of it. But there was a barrier that I could not get across. It was fright itself that held me back. Mind you I was 19 years old at the time. At one point after surfing for 5 years [with breaks in between :)] my best friend turned to me and said the words I already knew somewhere deep inside. “Why did you puss out on that late take off”? What he meant was why did I not ride the wave of the day, which surfers know could in all likelihood be the 1 greatest wave of a surfers life.
    I didn’t like hearing it AT ALL. And I was angry at him. But those words festered in me for weeks. Then a calm came over me. And I accepted fear for what it is… an emotion. Then I was able to remove it from my life. As much as I hate to admit this… I owe that revelation to my friend Mike and his sometimes caustic comments and what seemed at the time to be a really unfeeling statement at a beach in Ventura at 3 in the afternoon. I now know it to be a statement of truth and love from the heart of the dearest friend I will ever have, and still have.
    So it is with same love and hope that I say:
    You sound like a bunch of crybabies. Slap some water on your faces and go tackle the big wave.

    peace

    And my best to all

  • 53. CheezChoc  |  June 20, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Berating people and speaking in a condescending tone is what Dan also does on his blog. I read enough of it to figure that out.

  • 54. DSimon  |  June 20, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    So it is with same love and hope that I say: You sound like a bunch of crybabies. Slap some water on your faces and go tackle the big wave.

    TonyR, what the heck do you think we’re doing? It’s the same process you went through: exploration of the motivations behind, and usefulness of, our emotions. That’s what the site is for, dude; people who are looking for some support while going through a difficult process.

    Just because you had a fairly smooth time moving out of religion and into atheism doesn’t mean everybody else will. People differ; situations differ.

    I appreciate that you mean well, but walking into what’s essentially a support group and telling everyone there that they’re wasting their time and why don’t they just buck up and who do they think they are to deserve all this attention is pretty damn rude.

  • 55. TonyR  |  June 20, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    The sound you heard was my comments flying right over DSimon’s head.

    Missed it completely.

    And since this isn’t about me, I will take my leave.

    Best of luck to Josh. You may want to look into becoming a writer. You write quite eloquently.

    peace

  • 56. Quester  |  June 20, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Tony,

    It took me a long time to accept that there are people who think differently than me. Not people who come to different conclusions. Not people who start from different premises. Not people who see things differently than me. People who have completely different modes of thought. But I have come to accept this, largely through my wife, who does not think like me at all. So, I believe you when you say that you are capable of choosing how much introspection you engage in. I believe you when you say that you can consider another person’s pain without simultaneously running tracks of introspective thought. I believe you when you say that you’re able to stop your introspection, step away from your feelings, and just live. I’ll even believe that you can remove emotions from your life at will, without becoming an inhumane jerk.

    I wish I could do the same. But I can’t. I can’t shut off the introspection. I can’t choose otherwise. I can’t drown it out by comparing my pain to pain that is worse. And I can’t leave it all behind and go live, because this is my life. For me, Tony, there is no wave.

    Let me say that again: THERE IS NO WAVE. For me.

    All there is, is this. Thanks for trying, though. Count your blessings that you neither understand our “lostness” nor the devout who think they are found.

    And, hey, enjoy your wave. There are times that I envy people like you and wish I could do the same, but, meh, I’m me.

  • 57. Richard  |  June 20, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    “Warning out of love is certainly not cutting Sarah down. Perfect love is a constant confronter”

    Another beautiful, beautiful example of narcissistic condescention crusading under the rationalization “love.” I wonder if this is the same “Dan” that insulted and demeaned — er, sorry, I mean “lovingly confronted” — us in a recent thread.

    Regardless, here is something to keep in mind when dealing with individuals like Dan: most Christians self-esteem is tied inextricably to their religion. Outside of it, they feel they are worthless. When they are in an honest mood, they will tell you this.

    But this is not a truly solid, internalized self-esteem. It is precarious (because external) and, on some level, they know it. So, when they come across those who *have* managed to develop a reasonable, healthy self-regard, they feel inferior and envy them for it.

    This is why they have to tear them down, like Dan tried to do to Sarah. There was nothing in Sarah’s post that was self-inflated; it was quite reasonable. Even more, it was thoughtful, honest, courageously self-disclosing, and phrased tenatively. But that was too much for poor Dan; it threatens him to see someone less beat down than he is.

    Of course, it doesnt fit with his self image to actually admit this is what he is doing, so he finds a way to rationalize/moralize it. “This is for your own good” is a time honored way to do whatever the f*** you want, while trying to hold on to the moral high ground.

    Just keep thesse dynamics in mind whenever he opens his mouth. We all know true love when we see it. Check me out and see if this isnt right.

  • 58. Richard  |  June 20, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    “You sound like a bunch of crybabies. Slap some water on your faces and go tackle the big wave.”

    Theres a difference between a loving challange to a friend and rationalizing your own intolerance of difference. Quester is right: people are different. Some struggle more than you did at leaving religion; and Im sure there are some things you struggle with more than others. C’est la vie.

    Theres also such a thing as tact. Im glad youre a surfer rather than a psychotherapist. “Just get over it” can –very, very occasionally — be effective mental health advice, but dont you think, after all the time spent struggling with this, we have heard that by now?? If that were going to help,none of us would be on this blog.

  • 59. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Josh,

    >>rather than just preaching to a bunch of people who have already considered and rejected your dogma.

    Finish the statement: rather than just preaching to a bunch of people who have already considered and rejected your dogma to replace it with our own dogma.

    We all know that neutrality is an illusion postulated by the dishonest.

  • 60. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    CheezChoc,

    >>Berating people and speaking in a condescending tone is what Dan also does on his blog. I read enough of it to figure that out.

    Bare assertions are worthless. Any evidence to this claim?

    “If we accept mere assertions of bare logical possibilities as grounds for truth we should believe all mere assertions.”

  • 61. DSimon  |  June 20, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Argh, I should know better than to feed the troll, but here goes:

    Dan: you keep on using this word “dogma”. I do not think it means what you think it means, but that’s largely because I have almost no idea what you think it means. If you’re going to call atheism a dogma (as you appear to be doing), I’d like to ask you to respond to the following questions

    1. What precisely do you mean by “dogma”, in this context?

    2. In what way is atheism a dogma?

    3. Do you feel that it is bad if an idea is dogmatic? If so, do you also have a problem with dogmatic ideas in religion? If not, then what problem do you have with atheism supposedly being dogmatic?

  • 62. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Richard,

    >>“This is for your own good” is a time honored way to do whatever the f*** you want, while trying to hold on to the moral high ground.

    Isn’t that exacly what the atheists are doing in relation to God? Professing no God is a time honored way to do whatever you want, while trying to hold on to the moral high ground.

    Food for thought. Pot meet kettle.

  • 63. Analyst  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Dan +†+ says: “If we accept mere assertions of bare logical possibilities as grounds for truth we should believe all mere assertions.”

    Which is a good enough reason to reject all religion. And if you want to argue that, you should do it here Are the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke) historical? for example, since comments on a blog are not a good place for this discussion.

  • 64. letjusticerolldown  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Rejecting the answers of Christianity Version 235.67x does not answer the existential questions of Humanity 1.0

  • 65. DSimon  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Letjusticerolldown, are you suggesting that we should never reject an incorrect answer because that action isn’t itself actively finding a correct answer?

  • 66. DSimon  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Sorry, that was badly phrased. What I mean is: are you suggesting that we should hold onto poor answers for a question instead of honestly admitting when we don’t know the answer, or even if it’s the right question?

  • 67. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    DSimon,

    I appreciate your questions.

    >>1. What precisely do you mean by “dogma”, in this context?

    Synonyms of dogmatic include rigid, inflexible, narrow, authoritarian. Atheists hold to their beliefs just as firmly as religious people do; after all, they are zealots that have made conclusions about the same subject.

    >>2. In what way is atheism a dogma?

    Some dogmatic claims of atheists are The universe is self-existing and self created. The Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Life began as a result of spontaneous generation. Mankind is a result of organic evolution. Morality is an artificial construct of humans-there is no transcendent moral standard Religion and religious belief/dogma is harmful to human development Religion is antithetical to reason. Science is an authority. You can only rationally believe in that which can be scientifically proven.

    Sounds pretty dogmatic to me.

    >>3…

    Is it wrong? The conclusions, Yes. Is it wrong to be dogmatic? Not necessarily, if you are certain you are right. Are you absolutely certain that you are right? Is there absolute certainty within your worldview? I think being dogmatic in an atheistic worldview is very inconsistent.

    An, evolving, chance universe cannot account for absolute, unchanging, universal, and eternal laws. How is it possible to know anything for certain, enough to be dogmatic, according to YOUR worldview?

  • 68. Analyst  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Dan +†+ says: “Isn’t that exacly what the atheists are doing in relation to God? Professing no God is a time honored way to do whatever you want, while trying to hold on to the moral high ground.”

    Exactly wrong. Experience teaches us that the “time honored way to do whatever you want while trying to hold on to the moral high ground” is to claim you love Jesus and hate gays – and that’s how Ted Haggard winds up snorting crystal meth off a gay hooker’s ass while running his mega church.

    (You really ARE clueless, aren’t you?)

  • 69. Analyst  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Dan +†+ says: “An, evolving, chance universe cannot account for absolute, unchanging, universal, and eternal laws.”

    No worries, since there are NO “absolute, unchanging, universal, and eternal laws”.

    “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity ….. and I’m not sure about the former”. — Albert Einstein

  • 70. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Analyst,

    >>Which is a good enough reason to reject all religion.

    Wrong. We are not to accept mere assertions, I agree, but did you see what you just did? You merely asserted, or inferred, that all religions do not have any evidence. God certainly wants you to examine the evidence, and the evidence points to a Creator. (Romans 1:18-32)

  • 71. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Analyst,

    >>No worries, since there are NO “absolute, unchanging, universal, and eternal laws”.

    How do you account for the universal, abstract, invariant, and eternal laws of logic?

  • 72. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Analyst,

    Clarification: Are you claiming that the laws of logic are not absolute, unchanging, universal, and eternal?

    What about science?

    As far as science goes, science is dependent on the uniformity of nature, or no scientific prediction could be made. Problem is, no atheistic worldview can account for the uniformity of nature, the very foundation of science.

    Oh and denying logic, includes denying the law of non-contradiction. If the law of non-contradiction does not necessarily apply, then by denying logic, you are actually affirming logic, since contradictions are allowed.

  • 73. Analyst  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Dan +†+ says: “God certainly wants you to examine the evidence, and the evidence points to a Creator. (Romans 1:18-32)”

    Wow! The bible says the bible is true. Quelle surprise. That’s like going with the hooker who says, “Me love you long time”! You don’t have a clue what actual evidence is, do you?

  • 74. DSimon  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Dan, so what you mean by “dogma” is being so confident that a belief is true that one is totally unwilling to consider the possibility that it’s wrong? I don’t think that describes very many atheists at all.

    For example, there are lots of things that would make me reconsider my atheism. I largely agree with Ebon’s list of things that would convince me that a religion is true, or at least convince me that it was worth seriously investigating; I can think of others that aren’t on his list as well.

  • 75. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Analyst,

    >>Experience teaches us that the “time honored way to do whatever you want while trying to hold on to the moral high ground” is to claim you love Jesus and hate gays – and that’s how Ted Haggard winds up snorting crystal meth off a gay hooker’s ass while running his mega church.

    Hey that was my line (see d/c post What Would Yoda Do? comment #329).

    Plus, I love gay people. Enough to be honest with them.

    Like my latest post says:

    Matthew 22:39, Leviticus 19:17-18 tells us how to treat people. It takes far more love to confront then to ignore the situation, perfect love is a constant confronter. Coddling someone is not love at all. I believe God holds us accountable to our actions as it states in Ezekiel 3:20.

    So can Dawkins call himself an atheist and still believe in God and Tithe in a Church? Doesn’t the action have to fit the description?

    Is it right for a coward, that gets every soldier in his platoon killed, be honored with the congressional medal of honor?

    Can a bank robber be called a honorable citizen? If not, then why do you think a false convert like Ted Haggard be accepted as a Christian when he doesn’t even act as one.

    You’re very illogical.

    (You really ARE clueless, aren’t you?)

  • 76. Analyst  |  June 20, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    DSimon says: “For example, there are lots of things that would make me reconsider my atheism.”

    Indeed. If someone could point me to Euler’s Identity anywhere in the bible that would give me pause. Statements that you can cure leprosy by sprinkling the blood of pigeons here and there don’t have quite the same effect.

  • 77. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    DSimon,

    >>Dan, so what you mean by “dogma” is being so confident that a belief is true that one is totally unwilling to consider the possibility that it’s wrong? I don’t think that describes very many atheists at all.

    Nice try but No, what I mean is what I said. A dogma is proclaimed as true without proof. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from. Again, things such as:

    “The universe is self-existing and self created. Life began as a result of spontaneous generation. Mankind is a result of organic evolution. Morality is an artificial construct of humans-there is no transcendent moral standard. Religion and religious belief/dogma is harmful to human development. Religion is antithetical to reason. Science is an authority. You can only rationally believe in that which can be scientifically proven.”

    These are definitely dogmatic positions held by the vast majority of atheists.

    Folding your arms and saying that the evidence that exists and presented is “not enough” for you is disingenuous. Show me the evidence that life began as a result of spontaneous generation. If there is none, then why hold, or defend, that belief? The atheistic worldview cannot hold any other belief other then that, and that is why its dogmatically defended. Atheism is a religion.

  • 78. Analyst  |  June 20, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Dan +†+ says: “These are definitely dogmatic positions held by the vast majority of atheists.”

    No, they aren’t. Few, if any, hold dogmatic opinions. All they do agree on is that there is zero evidence for any ‘god’, whatever that is. All other matters depend on their scientific knowledge.

    When I go to my car in the morning I expect it to start. If it doesn’t, I don’t pray over it. I try to analyze the fault and, if required, I have a mechanic repair it. That’s the difference between science, which almost always works, and religion, which never has and never will.

  • 79. DSimon  |  June 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from.

    On the contrary, I’ve already given examples of evidence that, if found, would make me seriously doubt my atheism. I try to make sure that all my beliefs are falsifiable in this way. For example:

    Mankind is a result of organic evolution.

    This statement is not dogmatic, because we know in advance what would cause us to change our minds about it. Here are a few examples:

    * If we found that there were fundamental biological differences between human beings and other animals in the tree of life, such that there’s no path of small changes that could lead from hominids to humans.

    * If we found human fossils in a geologic layer that’s way earlier than humans could’ve evolved.

    * If we found biological features in a human which are not coded for anywhere in the genotype (this one’s a little tricky; it might mean that humans are partially evolved, but also partially modified by some external process).

    I’m sure a biologist could come up with lots more.

  • 80. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Analyst,

    >>That’s the difference between science, which almost always works, and religion, which never has and never will.

    You’re so blinded that you do not even see what you are saying. Statements like “which never has and never will” is itself dogmatic. So the conclusion that you just made was refuted by your own statement that you just made.
    XD, >_<

    BTW, science almost always works huh? You do understand that science has unleashed the most horrific forms of violence and death, and let's not forget, environmental degradation, in human history. It was science that got us into the mess in the Gulf. So I think that I find the faith that Atheists place in science and reason as a route toward human salvation to be delusional.

    Chris Hedges said "That's what leads Hitler to try and breed humans and apes to try to create an over sized warrior or to send expeditions to Tibet to find a pure, Aryan race. I mean, that's not science. It's the cult of science, and I think the New Atheists also make that leap from science into the cult of science, and that's a problem."

    Thanks for the laughs, boy even though we don't celebrate Father's Day, I feel I have receieved some presents.

  • 81. DSimon  |  June 20, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Also, Dan, a lot of the beliefs in your list are stated incorrectly, or just kind of “off”. If you’re going to try and convince us that some of our beliefs are wrong, it would be helpful to start out with a good understanding of what our beliefs actually are.

  • 82. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    To be read “received”

  • 83. DSimon  |  June 20, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    ?

  • 84. DSimon  |  June 20, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Oh, you were talking about the end of #80.

  • 85. Richard  |  June 20, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    >>“This is for your own good” is a time honored way to do whatever the f*** you want, while trying to hold on to the moral high ground.

    Isn’t that exacly what the atheists are doing in relation to God? Professing no God is a time honored way to do whatever you want, while trying to hold on to the moral high ground.

    Apologetical rhetoric in motion. Belief is moralized. Q.E.D.

    This is one of the time honored tactics Christians have used to defeat critical, autonomous thought and thereby ensure the perseverance of the faithful. Disbelief, if wrong, is not a mistake — it is a mortal sin. You are *immoral*, not merely incorrect, for not believing.

    Reason versus guilt. Works like a charm, most of the time. Except that when you see the process, the tactic begins to look a little less like an argument to be engaged and taken seriously, and a little more like any other ideologically blinkered religio-cultish brainwashing around.

    Dan, you must be reading from the playbook. Though I imagine you dont even know it.

  • 86. Analyst  |  June 20, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Dan +†+ says: “You’re so blinded that you do not even see what you are saying. Statements like “which never has and never will” is itself dogmatic. So the conclusion that you just made was refuted by your own statement that you just made.”

    In 6,000 years of recorded history there is not one reliable example of religion ever working. Every claim it has made, every ‘proof’ it has offered, all have been refuted.
    XD, >_<

    Dan +†+ says: "It was science that got us into the mess in the Gulf. So I think that I find the faith that Atheists place in science and reason as a route toward human salvation to be delusional."

    FAIL. It was religious hatred that brought down the twin towers. Science had nothing to do with it.

  • 87. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Analyst,

    >>FAIL. It was religious hatred that brought down the twin towers. Science had nothing to do with it.

    Thanks for the Red Herring, it was delicious.

    Atheist making dinner, who would of thunk.

  • 88. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    (sarcasm)Atheist making dinner, who would of thunk. (/sarcasm)

  • 89. Analyst  |  June 20, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Dan +†+ says: “Thanks for the Red Herring, it was delicious.”

    So, I’ve completely defeated you then? Wow, quicker than usual. Practice makes perfect indeed.

  • 90. Lyra's Alias  |  June 20, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    The whole thing about people clinging to Christianity because they would think themselves worthless without it reminds me of this one meeting of a leadership group in my campus church, during which one of the pastors talked about how a family with whom his family is close lost their young daughter to leukemia that weekend. It was quite touching, and while on the edge of crying he said there was no way he could get handle these sorts of events without God.

    I felt sad, both that this pastor – who is a kind, gentle man – was experiencing such heartache, and that the motivation for never truly asking questions was exposed so bare: he would not be able to handle the situation without belief. I’ve heard people say similar things about being kind to others, or getting involved with social justice in one way or another: they wouldn’t have done it without God.

    This is morally disturbing to me, that certain humans cannot think they have any worth, or bring themselves to do things to relieve the suffering of or increase the enjoyment experienced by other creatures (and therefore act as though others have worth), without the presupposition of a deity. I wonder if the emphasis on depravity informs treatment of others as well as the self-esteem issues discussed in your blog, makes people convinced that they have no innate desire or ability to help others without this moral background as a prerequisite.

    A good friend who knows I am questioning deeply asked me once why I wanted to intern with the organization I am now interning for, which is a social justice organization. She is a Christian of pretty typical/traditional evangelical thought, and she didn’t seem to get that I would want to help others regardless of my philosophical bent. I told her the most basic, intuitive sense of wanting to stop the horrific suffering of other human beings was deep motivation which did not depend on my current religious status. She said something like, ‘So, the nobility of it?’ and I was quite frustrated that she seemed unable to believe I could possess a sense of altruism without having a solid Christian belief, which seems so backwards. Lack of belief doesn’t expect reward, while belief does have the ulterior motive. Plus, I feel basic, real experience of life should inform most anyone that people of all different beliefs (or lack of belief) can be empathetic and passionate on behalf of the poor and oppressed. This seems pretty evident to me.

    Anyway, I got totally off-track, so I apologize. Your blog did help me think about things, so thank you, Josh.

  • 91. Tomas S  |  June 21, 2010 at 6:30 am

    Lyra’s – What are the chances that people say that, believe that, but really don’t think that. That is, we put a layer of Godliness over our natural goodness and give credit to God every time we’re good or have strength to get through the inevitable hard parts of life. I’m sure I would have said something similar to that pastor when I was a believer, but my personality and motivation did not change when I became a former Christian.

    On the OP, my thought is that self-depreciation (and especially not being able to accept a compliment) is a temperment and personality issue. I won’t swear that religion and religous upbringing couldn’t make it worse, but rather than worry about where it came from, recognize it in yourself and practice working against it in small baby steps. If someone compliments you, say “thanks”, then hold your brreath, count to ten, and don’t say anything else. It might seem hard for you, but it’s not hard for the other person. They complimented you because they think you deserve it.

  • 92. letjusticerolldown  |  June 21, 2010 at 9:11 am

    The best I can tell, all humanity has some form of an internalized message about not being good enough. When I was five my kindergarten class had foot races around a little track that was lined out on the grass. On the last turn I slipped, fell, and got grass stain on my pants. I cried out, “I stained my pants,” with tears running down my cheeks.

    It wasn’t the stained pants that caused the tears. It was children running in front of me. I internalized a message that if I always did well enough “to look good” but did not do my best, I could then always say, “If I did my best I would likely be the best.” But I never had to take such risk again; in the safety of hiding.

    The STORY of Adam and Eve captures this as it relates their desire to have a godlike capacity to judge good and evil; and to experience shame as they applied such judgment.

    Every human has it.

    Every product marketed (from Coke to Marlboro’s to BMW’s) aims to drive home that you are not good enough–unless, of course, their product is purchased.

    Is Christianity sold the same way. Yes.

    Some would argue it is legitimate because it is the one product that delivers.

    I would say it is mostly a “No, it is not legitimate.” What is being sold is the human confiscation of Jesus. It is when I take Jesus, and do Christianity well, and look in the mirror and proclaim–“Well, look at me. How good I am.” Or say “I am so much better than___________________ and the rest of the folks I bully.” Or say, “You wretch in the mirror.”

    A phrase at a church I attended (where many recovered from spiritual abuse) was, “Jesus is a ‘Yes’ to everyone who has been told ‘No.'”

    I have no doubt many on this site very much needed to ‘de-convert’ from Christian churches that pounded a “No” into their minds and hearts.

    My image of a relationshp to Truth or God is that of a seeker on a journey. My image of salvation is not that persons are “In” or “Out”–but “moving towards” or “moving away.” And that it is our responses to the invitations of God that move us along.

    I ‘de-convert’ pretty much everyday because I am prone to take my deeply held faith and turn it into a ‘badge of honor’ that I use to cover my shame–which is a bastardization of Jesus’ good news.

    I think true seekers and rigid fundamentalists come in all forms. Being Christian or being atheist does not guarantee which I will be.

  • 93. DSimon  |  June 21, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Letjusticerolldown, and what does an atheist “rigid fundamentalist” look like?

  • 94. Dan +†+  |  June 21, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    DSimon,

    >>and what does an atheist “rigid fundamentalist” look like?

    Ugly, hunch back, with bad teeth. Richard Dawkins is a fine example.

  • 95. BigHouse  |  June 21, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Fantastic ad hominem, Dan, well played.

    If it walks and talks like a troll….

  • 96. Analyst  |  June 21, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Dan’s our bitch. Reduced to impotent insults, he can make no reasoned argument based on facts and logic. Another theist bites the dust!

  • 97. Dan +†+  |  June 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Analyst,

    “Reduced to impotent insults, he can make no reasoned argument based on facts and logic.”

    >>Dan’s our bitch.

    How Ironic.

    Your sardonicism is sharpened well my friend. Well played if intentional. If not…XD

  • 98. Blue  |  June 21, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    I wonder if Dan’s a Poe really. I mean he’s obsessed with atheists, shows constantly what a good Christian really is, and can’t put together an actual coherent thought or argument.

  • 99. Joshua  |  June 21, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    So I have a theory that relates to this conversation. There’s a quote I once read that went something like this:

    The most vicious arguments are fought over things about which there can only be opinion.

    The truth is we won’t convince each other because the subject of the argument is ultimately nothing. It’s about after death stuff, about feeling guilty, about self-worth, about everything that is ultimately subjective to the individual’s perception.

    And you can’t make someone else see things through your eyes. You just can’t. There’s no way to do it. We can’t make Dan “see” from our perspective because quite frankly he does not want to even try. And Dan, hard as he may try, can’t make us “see” – and I’m sure he damn well knows it. But he’ll continue to hound at us until we kick him out. It’s really that simple.

    Heck, I’m sure he wants the thrill of being persecuted. So I say, let’s give it to him. It will make him happy to suffer for Jesus, and it will make us happy to finally get rid of him.

    Dan, you’re not welcome on my posts. Please leave. I’ll ask you kindly. If it makes you feel better, I’ll tell you I’m persecuting you. Maybe that will make you happy. From my perspective, though, you’re just an ass.

  • 100. Blue  |  June 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Joshua,

    Thank you for a good post. Getting over the crap that Christian culture puts its people through in regards to any sort of self esteem can be incredibly difficult. I finally found after about 6 years out of Christianity that I could start just looking at myself somewhat normally.

    Someone mentioned Ayn Rand before and there’s a quote from Atlas Shrugged that I think is particularly potent here. Hope I get my tags right.
    “We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them…you create a nation of lawbreakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden.” (2.2.3.39)

    Sound familiar to anyone?

  • 101. Dan +†+  |  June 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Josh,

    >>We can’t make Dan “see” from our perspective because quite frankly he does not want to even try.

    Sure I do, I try to understand, I was an Atheist myself at one time myself after all. I do care though. Granted, I play around for entertainment purposes but you cannot fault me for that, can you? Are atheists bland and boring and too sensitive to take some ribbing? Give me a break.

    Truth is that the Blog’s title is completely illogical. There is no such thing as a de-convert. In fact I may be a de-false convert also (A Christian) but there is no such thing as a fallen Christian or an ex-Christian, as you all know, I posted about it. It is impossible and just wrong.

    So, its comical that y’all have a community gathered based on a lie or falsehood. Y’all may be ex-false converts which means you no longer wish to pursue the, once pursued, Salvation of Christianity. De-converts sounds catchier then De-False Convert but the latter is more accurate, less misleading, and more honest.

    Anyway, if you wish to take your ball and go home, fine. Don’t get into a huffy just because you are living in a lie and do not want to seek truth.

    Like the late, great, C.H. Spurgeon said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”

    You cannot stop me praying for all of you. I will remain hopeful for each and every one of you and hopefully we will all be in Heaven someday having some good laughs about these times here.

  • 102. Philip  |  June 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    I started to write this as a sort of agreement with DSimon (#93), but halfway in writing this I realized that letjusticerolldown (#92) might be right.

    I’m using Martin Marty et al’s work with the Fundamentalism Project as a sort of jumping board. According to the FP, there are a few categories that seem to span all the work the contributors did with fundamentalist religion.

    The fundamentalist sees a threat to his or her core identity coming out of modern culture.
    The fundamentalist sees it as an all-or-nothing fight – if the core issues are lost, the world is lost. It is us-versus-them mentality, no mercy or lenience.
    The fundamentalist ties his mission to a forgotten, ideal past. (Implying that people are fundamentally the same but have all been deceived)
    The fundamentalist fights out of a conviction that their way is the way it must be. In Marty’s terms, “the participants are convinced that they are called to carry out God’s or Allah’s purposes against challengers,” and notes that even Buddhist fundamentalist movements make some sort of transcendent reference for their actions.

    If atheists by and large identified themselves by their atheism (if you want a positive term, you can replace atheism with “rationalism,” “skepticism,” “naturalism,” or whatever), saw themselves as a functional community because of that identification, felt it was their mission to fight for a particular set of values that have been in existence since the beginning of time, excluded anyone who differed from their viewpoints in the slightest and labeled them as enemies, and would not rest until the world was brought under heel, I’d say calling us fundamentalists was warranted.

    But I do think that letjusticerolldown’s right on this one – atheists can be fundamentalists, but not all atheists need be such.

    That said, I’m hardpressed to find a group of atheists who would qualify. Hardcore Marxists could feasibly fit all the criteria with no problem, but I think they’d be alone. Even the Horsemen would have to be crammed in there; a movement that ultimately calls people to think for themselves may not have the staying power of a sustainable reactionary culture.

  • 103. Blue  |  June 21, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Dan you’ve been asked politely to leave. Doesn’t your mangod Jesus have advice in Matthew 10:14 about leaving where you’re not wanted? But you’re not here really about Christianity or anything else are you? You just like being a troll. Feels good doesn’t it, to hurt and defile Jesus’ name and teachings. Heck you’re one of the best things to keep people leaving your little faith and little world. But please, leave. No one listens to you.

    Now I’ll try hard to ignore the troll.

  • 104. Analyst  |  June 21, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    101. Dan +†+ Says: “Sure I do, I try to understand, I was an Atheist myself at one time myself after all.”

    No, you weren’t. There’s no such thing as an atheist who became a Christian. Never happened, never will. You were just a crappy Christian – so no change really.

  • 105. Analyst  |  June 21, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    102. Philip says: “But I do think that letjusticerolldown’s right on this one – atheists can be fundamentalists, but not all atheists need be such.”

    Not by your definition, “The fundamentalist sees it as an all-or-nothing fight – if the core issues are lost, the world is lost.” I’ve yet to meet an atheist who says no proof would suffice. In fact, most can give you a list of things that would suffice – I’ve quoted a couple myself, and then there’s http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/theistguide.html amongst others. I suspect even Madalyn Murray O’Hair could have been convinced by real evidence. It’s just that there never is any.

  • 106. Dan +†+  |  June 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Analyst,

    >>In fact, most can give you a list of things that would suffice – I’ve quoted a couple myself, and then there’s http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/theistguide.html amongst others.

    Utter garbage. Goal post moving is all ebon musings is doing here. “if only there was this” So, “anything else”, other then what is presented would suffice? That is intellectually dishonest for the simple reason of your presuppositions that will now allow you to examine any of the evidence without bias.

    The Bible was right in the parable of the rich man (Luke 16:19-31)

    Luke 16:31 “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

    Lets give it a try, I did a post that gave the scientific evidence that you require. I made the case that the Bible may have been speaking of DNA.

    So, do you wish to be a Christian now? Let me guess, not enough? Who are you kidding here? Better yet, who are you trying to convince, me or you?

  • 107. Analyst  |  June 21, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    106. Dan +†+ says: “Utter garbage. Goal post moving is all ebon musings is doing here.”

    No, goal setting is what he is doing. Goal post moving is what theists do. When the universe was shown to be very old, when evolution was shown to be true, when the flood was shown to be a myth they scurried around trying to find some alternate explanation which still allowed for their particular ‘god’. They failed.

    Dan +†+ says: “So, do you wish to be a Christian now?”

    Don’t be silly. There’s a long list of religions which are preferable to, and often more believable than, the mystic Jewish-like claptrap that Christians invent. You can’t even get two to agree on what they believe! They all pick different things, showing that all Christians are cafeteria Christians.

  • 108. Philip  |  June 21, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Analyst:

    I’m not sure about that last sentence of yours. People do go from unbelief to belief of some sort for what they see to be convincing reasons more often than we admit; in fact, there was a fairly recent post on Friendly Atheist detailing one example from the spouse’s perspective. Otherwise, though, you’re absolutely right.

    The problem, though, is that the definition I cited didn’t discuss the strength of their beliefs, but something related – how closely they identify with their beliefs and how they handle opposition to said beliefs. I think that’s a better indication of fundamentalism than mere certainty. I don’t know if it matters if you’re a 6 or 7 on Dawkins’ God belief scale if you’re fully convinced of the religious world as your enemy.

    Do you see the distinction I’m trying to make here? A fundamentalist atheist would be someone who has neatly divided the world, who sees the increasing influence of religion in world affairs as necessarily a bad thing to be fought against by any means, who sees anyone who doesn’t think like him at all – INCLUDING OTHER ATHEISTS – to be deluded or weak in the cause of human freedom or justice or rationality or nihilism or whatever sort of atheism his investigations have led him to.

    Note I’m not claiming that a person like this is necessarily right, or even sane. I’m just trying to craft a picture of what one would look like.

    I chose Marxists as an example in my last paragraph for a reason – as far as humanistic movements go, it is rare in having a narrative of history, set of values, and a statement of what the world should be like – something with a whole lot more content than atheism qua atheism. The flip side of that particular example, though, is that they do look enough like a religious movement – I think it was Jacques Maritain who called Marxism a Christian heresy – that it might well fall back into the religious sphere.

    And that was the best example I could find, which might mean that even an atheist fundamentalist, if what I wrote is coherent, must in some basic way be religious.

    But a side note: Even if they say otherwise, people who are religious fundamentalists can be convinced of the falsity of their claims – we have a lot of stories from people here that show that. Would that make them any less fundamentalist back then?

  • 109. Joshua  |  June 21, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    So I thought I’d give you guys an update. Since writing this post, I think my attitude has improved drastically. I find myself thinking far fewer deprecating thoughts and feeling ten times more mature about just about everything. I’m sure I’ll still be struggling, but the hardest part about solving a problem is admitting its there, right?

    I mean, I’ve been focusing on just changing my thought patterns and it’s working. Rather than finding myself focusing on all the things I don’t have perfect (my MO for years), I’m trying to just basically do what TonyR said (dude, you are right, btw) and just face the waves fearlessly. Yeah, I’ll fuck up, but who cares? You don’t get anywhere unless you’re genuinely willing to fuck up.

    Just go out and do shit. Sure, I may be behind socially, mentally, emotionally, and whatever else because I was so sheltered, but bemoaning that fact isn’t going to do me any good. Watching everyone else surf fearlessly while I’m just terrified of the water isn’t going to get me somewhere. I’ve got to jump in the water and be wiling to get made fun of and attacked and get hurt if I ever want to live life the way the average Joe does outside of my little sheltered community. Just deal. I know this is right, but I think the tiny little kid inside of me that loved my sheltered Jesus environment is still emotionally dependent – and hoping – that it will still exist. I’ve been hoping that someday this big, bad harsh world will all turn out to be an illusion when the illusion was my little, sheltered perfect world. I’ve gotta get out and do shit and stop feeling sorry for myself.

    So kudos, TonyR. You’re comment hurt a little at first but at least for this kid, I think you’re right.

    Also, glad I could connect with you there, Blue.

    And Phillip, fantastic points. I think that is exactly what fundamentalism does do. Basically fundamentalism, in my mind, says this:

    You are part of the enemy if you do not agree with me on X, Y, and Z.

    The rest just sort of happens. So what do people do with perceived enemies? You try to convert enemies, get them to your way of thinking, or fight with them, keep others from them, proclaim them to be dangerous, reason with them, pacify them, use psychological warfare on them, insult them, persecute them, defame them, try to destroy their reputation, dig up dirt on them, pretend to be their friend just to get close so you can weasel them into your way of thinking, write books about them, etc. … it’s all really simple, really. To some extent I can’t believe I didn’t see how simple this all is before.

    I mean, I’m not going to convince any person, ever, that I’m right. And nobody is going to convince me, ever, that they are right. All answers have to come from within, from a strength of our own making, not leaning on any ideas (atheist or theist) to give us strength.

    Christians do this, they just identify that strength as coming from the Lord. And I say, whatever. If they find that strength, let them have it. The problem is not one of source, but of identification. Call a spade a god and it’s still the same object and still does the same thing.

    So what are we fighting about? Not much, really. We’re all just fighting for recognition, naming rights, vocal prowess, and most all – self-importance. We want to feel significant and a great way to do that is by selling an ideological product that others will buy. When others buy into our product – our understanding – we feel important.

    At least, that’s how I’m seeing it right now.

  • 110. Analyst  |  June 21, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    108. Philip says: “Analyst: I’m not sure about that last sentence of yours. People do go from unbelief to belief of some sort for what they see to be convincing reasons more often than we admit; in fact, there was a fairly recent post on Friendly Atheist detailing one example from the spouse’s perspective.”

    The reason I make such a declarative statement is this: EVERY person who says they “were once an atheist” ALWAYS ‘becomes’ a Christian. Considering the large number of current religions that is an impossibility on a statistical basis. Until I see an equal distribution of conversions I remain unconvinced by any claimed ‘conversion’ – and even that may not be enough. Any such conversion is as credible as someone who claims he once believed in gravity but now believes he can flap his wings and fly.

  • 111. portwes  |  June 21, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Analyst, don’t fall into the same kind of brain-dead sorry-ass argument that Dan espouses, which is basically: no one can ever change their mind about the existence of a divine being. Saying one can never alter their worldview implies that we are puppets with no ability to think independently. (Calvinist) Christians are logically terrified of admitting that can happen, because it implies they also could theoretically de-convert, so they deny it’s possibility. Atheists, on the other hand, have no such barrier. So when an atheist converts, which is rare but possible, it’s usually because of some emotional crisis for which they feel a need for supernatural help.

  • 112. milehigh  |  June 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    “Dan’s our bitch”

    hahahahaha! That’s hilarious. My first good laugh of the day :)

  • 113. DSimon  |  June 21, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Basically fundamentalism, in my mind, says this: You are part of the enemy if you do not agree with me on X, Y, and Z.

    So, for example, does that make me an anti-child-rape fundamentalist? I think it’s reasonable that anyone who disagrees with me about the immorality of raping children is my enemy.

    I mean, I’m not going to convince any person, ever, that I’m right. And nobody is going to convince me, ever, that they are right. All answers have to come from within, from a strength of our own making, not leaning on any ideas (atheist or theist) to give us strength.

    Josh, I disagree strongly. Have you never changed your mind due to hearing what someone else had to say? I sure have; often times it doesn’t happen right away, but sometimes really good ideas will stick in the craw of my mind until I resolve them, leading me to a conclusion I probably wouldn’t have figured out on my own.

    Yes, it has to be you who changes your mind… but it’s not as though that decision can’t be influenced by the words and actions of others.

  • 114. DSimon  |  June 21, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    The reason I make such a declarative statement is this: EVERY person who says they “were once an atheist” ALWAYS ‘becomes’ a Christian. Considering the large number of current religions that is an impossibility on a statistical basis. Until I see an equal distribution of conversions I remain unconvinced by any claimed ‘conversion’ – and even that may not be enough.

    Analyst, I don’t think that’s a reasonable expectation:

    (a) Your sample is biased. The people you interact with are almost certainly more likely to be exposed to Christianity more than any other religion, and so are therefore more likely to join that religion.

    (b) Religions work differently from each other. Some religions are highly un-evangelistic (i.e. Jainism), and so are unlikely to have many converts. Other religions tend to have less tolerance for atheism in the societies where they are prominent (i.e. Islam), and that reduces the number of atheist converts as well. Christianity is right in the middle: evangelistic, and also more often in contact with atheists.

  • 115. DSimon  |  June 21, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Lets give it a try, I did a post that gave the scientific evidence that you require. I made the case that the Bible may have been speaking of DNA.

    Dan, your argument is in the Genesis passage “and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof”, the original word for “rib” might’ve actually meant “curve”, and therefore was referring to DNA.

    If you want, I can explain in detail why this is really really flimsy evidence. But honestly, I expect that you’d just ignore my response and then insult me, so I’m going to wait until you ask for such an explanation before devoting the time to it.

  • 116. BigHouse  |  June 21, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Good to see the No True Scotsman fallacy being shot down, regardless of the proffered direction of conversion being challenged.

    Theramintrees’ video on youtube on the topic covers that well.

  • 117. Dan +†+  |  June 21, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    BigHouse,

    I have had my rounds with Theramintree, to the point he has blocked me from discussing things on his videos. Quite cowardice if you ask me.

    I have said to him but was blocked:

    In order for you to have been a true Christian, Christ Himself would have to been a liar. (John 10:28-30)

    So you are wrong. Jesus was not a liar and therefore you were never a Christian (tinyurl.com/ExChristian)

  • 118. Dan +†+  |  June 21, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Allow me to address the “no true Scotsman” claim again, that many atheists droningly follow, that some atheist dude made up.

    The reasoning that Theramintree uses is flawed because he moves the goal posts, yet again, as his example of sugar on the porridge shows.

    Sugar on porridge does not negate a Scotsman, I agree, but that is not what is being said. He is using a flawed analogy that compares apples to a socket set.

    I am sure we all agree to determine what a Christian is, or is not, would involve the description by Christ

    A person swinging an axe at children screaming “I am a Christian” would never be confused with a Christian. That is not “Sugar on porridge” that is the definition of a Christian by Christ Himself. (1 John 3:15 )

  • 119. Joshua  |  June 21, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Silly Dan, such a simple argumentative attempt at smashing the No True Scotsman Fallacy – but with a massive flaw. It’s so big, I won’t even point it out because it’s funny watching someone who can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a tank at 5 meters. It’s so funny, it’s almost cracking me up.

    Do it again! Do it again!

    I’m almost starting to like this kid for the pure entertainment value.

    You try to help people so much and then there’s nothing left to do but laugh at them when they fail (Proverbs 1:26).

  • 120. ACN  |  June 21, 2010 at 5:57 pm


    In order for you to have been a true Christian, Christ Himself would have to been a liar. (John 10:28-30)

    Or he could have been mistaken. Or misquoted. Or been a legendary figure who didn’t really say anything but rather had all sorts of saying and narratives ascribed to him.

  • 121. Dan +†+  |  June 21, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Josh,

    >>It’s so big, I won’t even point it out because it’s funny watching someone who can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a tank at 5 meters.

    Lee was right. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

    By not countering an argument, that is a forfeiture of the debate. You lose the debate. Again perfect love is a constant confronter. Since you do not confront then you are showing your hatred towards a fellow human instead of helping me understand.

    I guess that is understandable with someone that claims “And nobody is going to convince me, ever, that they are right.”

    Thanks for reveling you true “Scotsman?” colors.

  • 122. Joshua  |  June 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    By not countering an argument, that is a forfeiture of the debate.

    Proverbs 17:28

  • 123. BigHouse  |  June 21, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Dan, your 117 is so awash with logical fallacies it doesn’t deserve a response.

    And given your general tone on this blog, you’re surprised you’ve been blocked on youtube?

    Someone else once wisely posted that Christians themselves are sometimes the best advertisement for de-conversion. I submit Dan to you all as one for the ages, making Madison Avenue proud.

  • 124. Ubi Dubium  |  June 22, 2010 at 12:46 am

    He’s a shining example alright. I still wish he would shake the dust off his sandals already, and leave us to talk without having to duck the troll barrage.

    Or maybe his god could go ahead and rapture him now? Please? :)

    (/offtopic) Back to self esteem, and how to rebuild it. For me, when I am facing a task that I feel inadequate to complete, I think back to all of the things I have managed to do successfully in the past. For instance, I’m scheduled to be on national TV on the 4th of July, with a huge audience, which occasionally scares the willies out of me. But then I think back to having been on TV before and not having blown it, and I feel much better. I’ll be fine.

    All those times when you were in church and did something difficult, perhaps relying on the “holy spirit” for support. Those were all you! Every time you had the courage to preach, speak in public, knock on doors, etc, that was all your own courage. Every time you wrote or sang or performed or wrote a song, that was all your own talent. The “holy spirit” was like Dumbo’s “magic feather” – you had the ability, the courage, the talent within you all along. Whenever that nagging voice of unworthiness creeps into the back of your head, remember something great you did, and that it was you alone that did it.

  • 125. Analyst  |  June 22, 2010 at 1:22 am

    124. Ubi Dubium says: “Or maybe his god could go ahead and rapture him now? Please?”

    Oh I hope so. I can’t wait for the rapture. I’ll get my Jesus freak neighbor’s new car, his barbecue AND the hot secretary he sneaks into the house when his wife is out of town! :P

  • 126. Joshua  |  June 22, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    I think sneaking a hot secretary into my house would be a great way to build self-esteem.

  • 127. Joshua  |  June 22, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    It’s probably only a delusion on my part, but I think mentioning that Bible verse calmed Dan down… it’s been a little while and he hasn’t responded.

    I guess the best way to deal with Christians is to appeal to their need: to please their imaginary friend. There’s enough contradictions in the Bible anyway that you can always find *something* wrong with their attitude and use it to your own gain. You can just accuse them of being too arrogant and not gentle enough when you want them to shut up, or of being too meek and not zealous enough when you want them to speak up. Or you can press them to always be ready to give a defense of their faith when they refuse to debate, or point out that they are not relying enough on the Holy Spirit when they won’t stop debating.

    A Christian’s self-esteem is entirely wrapped up in how obedient they are being so you just have to get out the lash and start pointing out all their failures when you want to change their behavior.

    And, of course, the Christians who refuse to submit to this manipulation are probably the closest to the leaving the faith – or they are leading it.

    So sad that I was once there… easily manipulated by any indication that my obedience to God was sub-par. So glad I now see it for what I was: a whipped puppy being used by others.

    *Queue Dan’s return to defend himself since I revealed all my cards*

  • 128. Joshua  |  June 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    You know, I might also add that the discovery that accusations of sin were used to manipulate was a major part in my freeing myself from the power-struggle in churches. If you didn’t like someone’s behavior because it was uncomfortable to you, you just start making accusations of sin to get them to change. Presto. Then if they didn’t like the fact that you accused them, they can just tell you that you are too judgmental. Queue church split.

    So here’s to you, Dan, I hope you figure it out and wise up to the influence you are under. It’s a lot more freeing out here… except for having to deal with people like you.

  • 129. Dan +†+  |  June 22, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Joshua that was spoken like a true evangelistic atheist.

    *sigh

    Remember if you are judging me to help me be a better person then I am all for it. I guess it depends on your motives, I cannot judge your motives. If you care enough about me to lovingly rebuke me the I cannot ask for a better friend. If you are just doing it to “win” or for self gratification to put someone down then shame on you. I will let you decide which scenario is your motives and hope for the more honorable of the two.

  • 130. Rosita  |  June 22, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    There is a nasty tendency for evangelical Christian types to pontificate on matters that are better dealt with by behavioral scientists. What they have to say may be completely wrong or, worse, have some grain of truth which has been distorted in order to make it consistent with their distorted world view.

    Dan is an excellent example of the second type.

    He is correct in stating that the “self esteem movement” creates more harm than good. These have been enumerated by behavioral scientists.

    Dan’s assertion that bullying is a major consequence is not supported by valid research in the are. Bullying is caused by a range of things, as outlined quite nicely by TonyR. I don’t believe it needs any further discussion since it has no bearing on Dan’s hidden implication: that the Christian worldview that leads to low self-esteem is healthier. It is not.

    Ironically the self-esteem movement, born in the U.S., appears to be a misguided response to the Christian message of innate worthlessness. Both views are psychologically unhealthy but in my clinical experience the Christian position results in worse psycho-pathology.

    The healthy position is learning to evaluate oneself as a necessarily fallible human being who nevertheless has a range of strengths of varying degree and type, the expression of which varies with a range of circumstances beyond the total or reasonable control of the person. At one extreme are sociopaths, the most evil of humans, have a genetic defect that puts them at a huge disadvantage for developing and expressing normal social skills. At the other extreme is the two year old who is throwing a tantrum because because he is overtired or because his level of language development is insufficient to enable him to express his needs in a way which causes them to be met.

    Humans are necessarily fallible because making and correcting mistakes is how we learn and adapt to our environment. A person who makes no mistakes is either brain dead, asleep, acting on innate genetics or an android pre-programmed by something outside of themselves. A person who makes no mistakes never makes anything useful.

    One of the major flaws of the contention that Jesus of Nazareth was “sinless” is that he could not have developed as a child if he never made a mistake. Socialization and an understanding of what the particular society considers to be “good” and “evil” is learned along with language. Social behavior is learned by seeing how others behave and by noting the consequences of one’s own behavior on those we depend on for sustenance and the development of healthy (as opposed to contrived) self-esteem. Moral development parallels cognitive development. This includes the ability to see things from more than one perspective, see things from someone else’s perspective, the ability to consider many perspectives, the realization that the application of external rules may cause injustice, and so on. The morality associated with conservative Christianity is halted at the early stages of intellectual and moral development: acting exclusively on rules given by external authorities. If we have been well socialized ourselves, we recognize this heirarchical development by treating children differently from adults when apportioning blame for acts which hurt others.

    If Jesus were sinless then he could not have had a childhood. He would have been born with fully developed language, fully functioning cognitive abilities and a fully matured moral viewpoint. The Biblical tale about Jesus staying behind to talk the Pharisees without first informing and asking permission from his parents, is a case in point. That was not mature or responsible behavior. The mature response would be: “Mum, Dad, I’m sorry I caused you to worry about me. I should have let you know where I was and I should not have allowed myself to be distracted so much that I did not realize that you had left without me. It won’t happen again.” Instead we are told that the 12 year old replied: “I was about my father’s business”. It’s a wonder his devout Jewish parents didn’t stone him to death for rudeness. In this century he would probably have got a cuff on the ear from a “good Christian” parent with the appropriate “family values”.

    So, if even the Jesus-god couldn’t behave perfectly, why do you imagine that you should? And if you did, how much do you think you would fail to learn in the process? What would happen to your creativity? Your thirst for knowledge? Your curiosity? Your ability to love and have compassion for others?

    Perhaps you should celebrate your ability to be imperfect, along with your ability to learn glorious things from your mistakes. It is what makes you wonderfully and remarkably human. Rejoice!

  • 131. Joshua  |  June 22, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Dan, it’s both.

    Edit: Why can’t a person win and get self-gratification by building someone else up? I feel fantastic and like a winner when I help other people and improve my reputation at the same time.

  • 132. Joshua  |  June 22, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Rosita, I think Dan would probably argue that a True ™ Christian has perfect health esteem (not low health esteem) since his view of himself is enlightened by God, who knows all things. So if you truly understand God’s view of you, you then have the best esteem of yourself possible.

    Correct me if I’m wrong Dan.

    And fantastic points :)

  • 133. Lyra's Alias  |  June 22, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    (91) Tomas, I would say that is the case for many, but that there are also many who sincerely don’t think they possess goodness apart from God. I feel like there are many that would fall somewhere in the middle, having confused/contradictory thoughts about the nature of their own goodness.

    I feel like most of the Christians I know would be pretty uncomfortable answering the question “Am I a good person?”

  • 134. Richard  |  June 22, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    “Again perfect love is a constant confronter. Since you do not confront then you are showing your hatred towards a fellow human instead of helping me understand”

    Lets see a show of hands: who feels bowled over by Dan’s “love”?

    If I re-convert, will become a condescending, demeaning, self-contratulatory narcissist too? Sign me up!!

    The funny thing is Dan thinks we secretly long for what he has. “The whole world wants to be like me. The world is lost and in despair, and they see the light in the Christain and dont understand it, hate and fear it, but also long for it.”

    Dan, I said it once, I’ll say it again: its really tragic how deeply and thoroughly you rationalize your anger and fear of inferiority by convincing yourself your insults and aggression are “love.” It is not love. You dont seem to have any real concept of love. I dunno; maybe you dont act like this in your personal life. I hope not.

    You wont believe this, of course, but maybe I can plant a seed here: love does not rigidly, dogmatically, aggressively demand the “perfection of the beloved.” Thats narcissism — self-love. I want to re-create you in my image.

    This will sound like touchy feely psychobabble to you, but what they hey. Maybe it will stick.

    Mature love is engaging with a Thou, which necessarily involves an Otherness. It is a delicate dialectic between a deep and thorough acceptance, and a gentle encouragement to the Other to grow, mature, and actualize one’s potential. Love requires a profound humility — an awareness of one’s own imperfections and limitations, and acknowledgement that even the standards and goals toward which we strive are tenative and unclear. And thats not so bad. We dont need certainty.

    And we certainly dont need to get in the face of those we love and mock them for their efforts, and their struggles, and their emotions, as you do in virtually every post.

    You’re a pretty angry dude. I hope you find peace.

  • 135. Tomas S  |  June 23, 2010 at 6:23 am

    Lyra’s [133]

    but that there are also many who sincerely don’t think they possess goodness apart from God.

    Why “but”? I thought that was my point.

    They sincerely don’t think they posess goodness, but we know they do, and deep down they know they do too — just like someone can “sincerely believe” that Aunt Bertha is going to heaven, but deep down they know she is not because they’d rather have her here sick and suffering, and don’t shout for joy at her death (which is the best job promotion anybody can ever hope for) when it finally comes.

    A few passing comments on the rest of the thread:

    I know it’s too much to hope for on an electronic forum, but I”d love to see the unbelievers here give the Christians enough rope to hang themselves — then leave them alone. An ex-christian does have something to be angry about, but let’s not feed into the believer’s expectation of us.

    Let’s be respectful of the fact that Josh kind of bared his spirit here. There was a time, I’m sure, when he would have talked this over in Sunday School prayer time, but where does he go now with those thoughts? He comes here. I enjoy a flame war as much as the next guy, but the OP got lost in the noise here as far as Im concerned.

    Dan Pluscrossplus cracked me up when he tried to bully people out of dropping out of his flame game. It simply is not true that the person who speaks last wins. The fact that he would make this suggestion is enough to let me give him the last word.

    On Christian teachablity. When I was a believer, I found the hardest time to recognize that God was trying to teach me is when he used not a the gentle rebuke of unbelievers, but the open comtept of people who hated what I stood for. I believed that God could use anything to teach me, and the fact that my “flesh” railed against Teaching in those circumstances didn’t make it any less true.

  • 136. Richard  |  June 23, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Almost missed it…… Ubi? National TV? Dude- you cant leave us hangin’ like that. Maybe a teeny hint?

  • 137. Zoe  |  June 23, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Ditto what Richard said in # 136. :shock:

  • 138. BigHouse  |  June 23, 2010 at 11:32 am

    I’m pretty sure Ubi is a dudette, Richard.

  • 139. Ubi Dubium  |  June 23, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Thanks, Bighouse. Yes I’m a dudette. And a dudette who’s just got a slot singing in the chorus for the big 4th of July show at the Capitol. It’ll be on PBS, live. We already had Reba McIntyre on the program and they’ve just added Gladys Knight to the lineup. It’s a HUGE audience, but I’ve done the show before and not screwed up. I’m psyched.

    Now back on topic, sort of. Tomas, I love your rendition of “Dan pluscrossplus” . I’ll remember that If I need to refer to him in the future, which I hope I won’t. And Rosita, love to see your comments, you always make so much sense.

  • 140. Rosita  |  June 23, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    = = =I think Dan would probably argue that a True ™ Christian has perfect health esteem (not low health esteem) since his view of himself is enlightened by God, who knows all things. So if you truly understand God’s view of you, you then have the best esteem of yourself possible.= = =

    If this is what Dan would argue then it is an insidiously evil viewpoint. It leaves the responsibility for fathoming the will and nature of god entirely up to the hapless Believer. The divinity is absolved of all responsibility for clarifying things or teaching these things in universally effective ways. The Believer must possess the inhuman quality of infallibility in order to get this right. That makes for a very childish and irresponsible divinity.

    Every True ™ Christian believes that they have been given a dose of this personal infallibility by their version of god. They sincerely, and ridiculously, believe that this leads to a perfect bull’s-eye when it comes to determining the nature of god, the interpretation of holy writings, what writings are divinely inspired, and what aspects of the beliefs held by other sincere believers are similarly divinely inspired or can be attributed to “the work of the devil”. It never occurs to them to wonder why what their god believes is always consistent with their personality, cognitive flexibility, educational background, intellectual prowess, stage of moral developmental and general view on life. They simply believe that their view is correct and that every other Believer or Non-Believer is wrong. It’s an extraordinary arrogant stance to take but it provides a wonderful sense of self-justified superiority and self-esteem. This applies to all Believers, especially those who prefer their own personal mix of religious beliefs in preference to those offered by what they choose to define as “organized” religion. “Disorganized religion” has no more claim to truth than any other brand.

    The problem with the logic of this self-glorifying stance is that it makes this version of god out to be an obnoxious and powerless idiot whose favorite person is whichever Believer we are talking to and who detestably keeps the others in various levels of ignorance. The only logical explanation is that these people are having “personal relationships” which their alta egos, not some external being.

    That leads to a whole lot of other uncomfortable observations and questions. What evidence do we have, other than the conviction of a sub-set of Christian Believers, that the Christian god is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, all-loving, optimally moral and personally interested in the lives of every human being who ever lived on earth? There is an abundance of evidence that this particular collection of Believer-Derived Attributes is logically impossible.

    The best known expose of this is known as the problem of evil. This was summed up by some Greek chap who asked how evil could exist in the world if there also exists a perfectly good, all-knowing and all powerful god. He then asks why we would wish to worship a god without these properties.

    This expands into questions of why the god described in the Christian Old Testament created evil, why it is less powerful than the evil it created or why it chooses not to restrain this evil. The text book answers are incredibly weak because they require random suffering of innocents with no protection offered by god belief in order to benefit god believers who wer not so unlucky. Gross.

    If you believe in a Creator-god then the problemcontinues in such questions as why an all-powerful and all-knowledgeable divinity would create beings and environments which are stupidly designed and frequently ensure needless and pointless pain and suffering. Why design meat-eating animals that have to kill and cause pain to other animals in order to survive? Why design an earth which is subject to earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, hurricanes and tsunamis? And so on.

    We continue into asking why an all knowledgeable and all-powerful god seems to be so ignorant of the basics of behavioral science as discovered over the last century, why his demonstrations of “moral” behavior as so crude and under-developed and why this divinity makes the salvation of mankind dependent on hearing the details explained in your language by people who have interpreted it from copies of lost manuscripts written in languages which are not spoken any more and which were never dominant world languages anyway. Stupid.

    Why did the Jesus-god never write anything down himself? Why did he choose illiterate disciples who also failed to write down the details? Stupid, again.

    Why are the messages which did get written down so contradictory? Why are they so vague and unclear that there are just about as many contradictory interpretations of them as there are people in the world? Stupid.

    And so it goes on.

    All the evidence points to a very flawed and imperfect “god”, in which case why would you want to worship it? Or else the “god” has been imbued with divine characteristics at the whim of humans, and these characteristics have then been accepted uncritically by the bulk of humanity. Most people do not have the time or the capacity to evaluate them.

    Logically, there can be neither a perfect divinity nor infallible interpreters of this divinity. That puts Dan-pluscrossplus in the category of a deluded demi-god along with Bin Laden and the current Pedophile Protector Pope. He has lots of company, but most of the others have been led by the spirit of his fickle (or fictitious) god to disagree with him. It’s not a convincing scenario for someone who has learned to objectively evaluate ideas. In order to believe this you need to possess the ability to protect your religious beliefs from critical evaluation and obective exploration. That requires a personality that can construct cognitive compartments – a mild version of that seen in extreme in those who suffer from multiple personality disorder or who have two distinct brains in their head because of an inborn failure of the hemispheres to grow connecting cables or because these cables have been surgically severed to contain otherwise intractably severe epileptic seizures.. Interestingly, people with these disorders have two or more distinct individuals housed in one body that, in many cases, have differing religious beliefs or none at all. If there were such a thing as a “soul” which is judged after death, what happens to these people? Which one gets the body? This degenerates into further absurdity when it is considered that the “pains of hell” would be impossible to experience without a functioning body.

    Finally, one of the Biblical writers suggests that we should judge people by their “fruits”. That scrubs out the Yahweh god described in the Old Testament who was a bloody tyrant by today’s more enlightened and civilized standards of morality. It also scrubs out a whole heap of self-congratulating Christians who believe that their version of god encourages or commands them to hate those who do not believe or pratice life as they do. It is a recipe to hate homosexuals who practice their “god-given” sexual bias and doctors who abort unaware cell clumps that have little potential for living a normal life if left to develop, or that will cause extreme hardship to others if left to develop. Worst of all, it glorifes those who promote falsehoods about the usefulness of condom use in preventing AIDS and an inevitable lingering death from starvation in countries where condom use could prevent millions of tragedies from occurring. Fail!!

  • 141. Dan +†+  |  June 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Rosita,

    First, I will be the first to tell you how much of a wicked and wretched man I was. I say was because there was a noticeable difference once saved. We all notice it. It doesn’t mean its an over night thing either. Mayhall, once said:

    It only takes but a moment to become a Christian, but it takes a lifetime to be the Christian one becomes. It is vital to study God’s Word on a daily basis, to learn from it, and to grow in it.

    You cannot develop Christian perspectives without the daily disciplines of prayer and study and meditation on the Word of God.

    >>If you believe in a Creator-god then the problemcontinues in such questions as why an all-powerful …

    That is one of the reasons why I started my blog. Many of your questions have been answered/addressed in some of my posts in the past.

    That is if, big IF, these are actual question that need answered by you. Sometimes I feel that these type of questions, that have been addressed exhaustively, are still used by atheists to trumpet their beliefs to whoever will listen. Without trying, or unwilling, to understand the answers to those questions, that is. Once answered does it satisfy, or will the question be repeated by you?

    >> It is a recipe to hate homosexuals who practice their “god-given” sexual bias and doctors who abort unaware cell clumps that have little potential for living a normal life if left to develop, or that will cause extreme hardship to others if left to develop.

    Once again, like a broken record, I love homosexuals, enough to speak truth. So is it OK to be gay? I address it.

    >> They simply believe that their view is correct and that every other Believer or Non-Believer is wrong. It’s an extraordinary arrogant stance to take but it provides a wonderful sense of self-justified superiority and self-esteem.

    Funny, that is not what the Bible says. I have no clue where you are getting this false information from, but it certainly is not from Christianity and God’s Word.

    >>What evidence do we have, other than the conviction of a sub-set of Christian Believers, that the Christian god is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, all-loving, optimally moral and personally interested in the lives of every human being who ever lived on earth?

    That is a great question. God doesn’t want us to blindly follow Him. He wants us to use our abilities to examine the evidence and come to the conclusion where logically, The Bible is Supernatural. (tinyurl.com/LogicBible)

    >>Worst of all, it glorifes those who promote falsehoods about the usefulness of condom use in preventing AIDS and an inevitable lingering death from starvation in countries where condom use could prevent millions of tragedies from occurring. Fail!!

    First, please don’t lump Christians with a false church like the RCC. There is a huge difference. Second, if those people would take the advice of no fornication there would be no epidemic of AIDS in the first place. So there you go, yet again, blaming God for man being evi,l “frequently ensure needless and pointless pain and suffering.”

    I wish you, all of you, will peruse my blog to get those questions answered once and for all, since you refuse to read the Bible that is. :7)

  • 142. BigHouse  |  June 23, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    That was a treasure trove of good insights, Rosita, thanks!

  • 143. Lyra's Alias  |  June 24, 2010 at 2:47 am

    (135) “They sincerely don’t think they posess goodness, but we know they do, and deep down they know they do too — just like someone can “sincerely believe” that Aunt Bertha is going to heaven, but deep down they know she is not because they’d rather have her here sick and suffering, and don’t shout for joy at her death (which is the best job promotion anybody can ever hope for) when it finally comes.”

    I would totally say that’s true for the vast majority of people; I just want to leave open the possibility that, due to the strength of their convictions, some people have really lost/could really lose (whether that ends up being a temporary or permanent loss) the deep-deep-down knowledge or belief or whatever that there really is goodness in them outside of some specific religious conviction.

  • 144. Rosita  |  June 24, 2010 at 9:41 am

    @Lyra’s Alias= = =.some people have really lost the deep-deep-down knowledge… that there really is goodness in them outside of some specific religious conviction.

    Of equal concern is that these religious convictions cause such people to convert any act, no matter how heinous by normal standards, into an example of superior moral rectitude if they believe is was performed or commanded by their version of god.

  • 145. Joshua  |  June 24, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Rosita, or they mentally convert any good act by someone who does not share their convictions into “filthy rags”. I’ve done it before. I remember railing against the good work some non-believers were doing to help in the Darfur (?) crisis because they were not putting the gospel “first”. Somehow I managed to ignore everything they were actually doing and subjugate it to my doctrinal judgment.

    Honestly, it annoys the crap out of me that people do this now. I know that no matter what good deeds I do, my family will think they are coming from a wicked intentioned heart. How in the world can I feel accepted and loved when someone has that attitude toward me? At the end of the day, I just have to ignore what they think because it doesn’t matter.

    To some extent, I feel like these beliefs are what drive some teenagers to just go nuts. I mean, if nothing good I do is going to get my parents affection and they will think that deep down I’m an evil person who needs to accept their doctrine or else I’m going to hell… why not start stealing? Why not start lying up a storm? Why not start acting like the complete fuck up that they predict I am deep inside?

    Obviously I’m not doing that, but I seriously understand the temptation now. If someone tells you you are a wicked person over and over regardless of how good you are acting, you may just start acting wicked out of spite.

    I’m really curious if this is what makes someone like Marilyn Manson (who grew up in a super conservative Christian environment) act the way they do.

    Thoughts?

  • 146. Rosita  |  June 24, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    This is so very sad, Joshua. We are all programmed to seek our parents’ support and appreciation. It is how we develop self-esteem. I am so sorry that it is no longer forth-coming from the sources which should be providing it without strings attached. It is horrific that uncritically accepted religious beliefs can make parents harm their children. That is not normal, and definitely not moral.

    You are not alone. It took me many years before I stopped trying to get my mother to assure me that I was a worthy human being. LIfe has been easier since I restricted my search for affirmation to people who care for me unconditionally.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make up for the damage which others do to us, either intentionally or unintentionally.

    There are therapists who specialize in providing what bad parents neglect to do for their children.

    Actively seek out people who appreciate you for what you are. The best ones are those who see, appreciate and acknowledge your good points without requiring that you share their world view. But it is also important that you spend time with those who do share your current world view. They will provide you with a comfort zone where you are free to be just who you are and be accepted and valued for exactly that.

    All others are “conditional friends” who make their love and appreciation conditional on whether you conform to their wishes or make them feel good in some way. The minute you threaten their good view of themselves or their emotionally held beliefs they will withhold their affection from you. If these people are your significant others then this hurts like hell., and don’t they know it! It’s emotional blackmail at its worst. Avoid these people whenever possible. If you cannot, then learn to accept that no matter how wonderful a person you really are they are too damaged themselves to acknowledge this. Feel sorrow for them. Your verbal response to such slights can be something like: “I am so very sorry that you feel that way/believe that. It must make life very difficult for you.”

    I think you are doing the right thing by airing some of the pain you feel right here. There will be many readers who can empathize.

    Consider keeping a journal for a few months where you end each day by listing the good you have done, or have tried to do. On days when you fear you may have done something bad (and we all have these days) then make a note of it. Give yourself a realistic break by acknowledging that you may not have had the skills, experience, environment or luck to have done any better that day. Then write down anything you can think of which could help you to prevent the problem or deal with it better the next time (if there is one). Alternatively, think of creative ways to undo the damage or to turn it around so that it is a spring board to something good. Amazing things can result from someone’s attempt to fix up something they stuffed up!

    The idea is to turn mistakes into important learning experiences, not disasters which impede your progress towards a happy and useful life. If you are going to be of help to others then you need to be kind to yourself, first. Think of the advice the airlines give passengers: in an emergency put the oxygen mask on yourself before trying to put one on your children.

    Every month do a review of your journal. You will be surprised to find how your perspective changes. The horrid things never look so bad after your brain has had time to put them in reasonable perspective. You need several nights of good sleep to do that. We now know that the brain uses this time to consolidate learning and to sift, resort and ameliorate emotionally meaningful events. The suggestion to “sleep on it” makes more sense than its author could have known.

    The good things may surprise you, especially if your life experience has taught you to automatically forget or belittle them.

    After several months of this you will have retrained yourself to think more positively about yourself and what you have to offer to the world. Are you aware of how much good you have already done, just by hosting this site?.

    If is very difficult to “re-parent” yourself entirely on your own. It will be next to impossible to see through all your well conditioned blind spots. Reach out to others and let us help you reframe things from an external perspective and applaud you for what you are really worth.

  • 147. Analyst  |  July 6, 2010 at 2:33 am

    As usual, ‘Dan +†+’ continues to do as much damage to ‘Christianity’ as he possibly can. Terms like prat, moron and buffoon come readily to mind as his self indulgent rant goes on and on and on and on. Is it possible to imagine that anyone, ever, could be convinced by such sadly inadequate ‘thoughts’ into changing their viewpoint in the slightest? Like an end-of-the-world sandwich board wearer he talks only to hear himself speak.

  • 148. Rosita  |  July 7, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Re 141. (Dan)
    Rosita,
    First, I will be the first to tell you how much of a wicked and wretched man I was. I say was because there was a noticeable difference once saved. We all notice it.
    This level of self-disgust is pathological and requires prolonged professional help in order to remediate it. Unfortunately the state is encouraged, amplified and exploited by evangelists in order to gain converts. It seems that you were such a victim.
    Hysterics, people with low self-esteem and those who fear social disaproval are good targets for evangelists. (Galanter, 1982). Highly emotional, even frankly psychopathological states, are common precursors of religious conversion. (Christenson, 1963; Linn & Schwartz, 1958; Salzman, 1953)
    Frank and Frank (1993) state: “We would characterize the period before religious conversion as one of severe demoralization. This may be so intense that the person becomes confused and attributes inner experiences to the outer world, entering a state of transient psychosis. Dominant affects include despair, hatred, resentment, and helpless fury… The candidate for conversion may be tormented by self-doubts and guilt… Many feel estranged from other people. The person in such a state longs to submit to an all-powerful, benevolent figure who can give absolution and restore order to his or her assumptive world. “ (p81)
    The evangelist plays on the person’s fear and discomfit. When these states peak he offers instant relief if the person will accept whatever group norms and rituals he is advertising. The hapless victim is thereafter tied to an authoritarian system which will splint his broken self only as long as he toes the line. If he questions the efficacy of the “treatment” or the underlying authoritarian scenario, then the ‘treatment” stops working and the pain returns.
    The personality change is superficial, assumptive and precarious. Unless the convert is locked into a confirmatory social mileau which restricts the person’s access to disconfirming evidence, the conversion is emphemeral. About 2-5 percent of the audience at a Billy Graham revival meeting would make a “decision for Christ”. Only about half of these converts were still active a year later and only fifteen percent of these (that is, about one percent of the original audience) remain permanently converted. (Argyle, 1958) That makes revival meetings woefully ineffective compared to psychotherapy.
    The better solution is psychotherapy and social interventions which re-parent and build up the damaged individual so that they can eventually venture out on their own without the mental splints and diverting mind games which religions and ideologies provide.
    There is no objective evidence that religious conversion is more successful at treating such pathology than well applied behavioral science, and considerable evidence that it is not. (Persuasion and healing: a comparative study of psychotherapy. J.D. Frank and J.B. Frank, Johns Hopkins, 1993).
    It is vital to study God’s Word on a daily basis, to learn from it, and to grow in it.
    You cannot develop Christian perspectives without the daily disciplines of prayer and study and meditation on the Word of God.
    The maintenance of any religion or ideology is dependent on the continued practice of prescribed rituals and continuous uncritical and unchallenged exposure to literature which is controlled and interpreted by the leaders of the group. This is as true of ideologies such as communism and libertarianism as it is of mental perspectives which posit the existence of a supernatural being.
    People filter incoming information through assumptive systems that emphasize confirmatory experiences. Contradictory information is either ignored or quickly forgotten. The methodology of science attempts to counter this tendency by requiring that scientists make special efforts to search for and note instances which do not fit the original hypothesis. Religions do everything possible to dissuade converts from engaging in this type of behavior.

    The difference between continuing converts and de-converts is that somewhere along the line the person begins to question the veracity and authority of the group leaders and the sacred writings. This is persued with a scientifically orientated intellectual integrity which takes note of inconsistencies and refuses to ignore them or sweep them under the metaphorical carpet.
    Those who go on the make such a critical analysis of the basis of their beliefs find that they do not stand up under such challenge. For many of us who came from a Christian system of thought, this involved reading the whole Bible, and reading it in large unexpurgated chunks. It meant exposing ourselves to interpretations which were not developed and promulgated by the leaders of our group or by others who had a emotion or financially vested interest in ignoring or deliberately obscuring other perspectives.

    I love homosexuals, enough to speak truth. So is it OK to be gay? I address it. (link removed)
    I read your blog posting. Your idea of “love” is very disturbed and so is your attitude towards the expression of sexuality. Unsurprisingly, your version of god reflects these perversions. Like every other person who identifies themselves as god-follower, your god reflects the unique elements of your personality. Like them, you make god in your own image.
    Our innate biological make-up requires that we touch and be touched regularly and that we engage in sexual acts from puberty onwards. If we do then we suffer from a whole heap of emotional and physical problems, including failure to thrive and the expression of violence. Societal violence, like that seen in the U.S.A., has been clearly linked to lack of physical touching in infancy and childhood and a repressive attitude towards sexuality, especially when practiced outside the society’s traditional reproductive unit. Your attitude denies those who are sexually orientated towards their own gender the means of satisfying their biological needs. This robs them of the ingredients they need to thrive emotionally and physically. This is discrimination on the basis of biological difference. This is the equivalent of denying people who are innately left-handed the ability to engage in any behaviour which others do with their right hand. It is a disgustingly cruel attitude and certainly not consistent with real “love”.

    .God doesn’t want us to blindly follow Him. (Assertion without proof.) He wants us to use our abilities to examine the evidence and come to the conclusion where logically, The Bible is Supernatural. (Assertion without proof.)
    Most of the people on this forum have used their abilities to examine the evidence and have come to very different conclusions than the ones you espouse. The difference appears to be that they have examined a whole range of evidence which you meticulously and sanctimoniously avoid. If your version of god exists then he has done a very poor job of leading those who critically evaluate the basis of Christian beliefs to conclusions identical to your assertions of the nature of this hypothetical being. We get back to your arrogant belief that your interpretation of “god’s will” is the only possible correct one. The entire world is deaf and blind except you and your cronies. That’s serious cognitive immaturity, man!

    First, please don’t lump Christians with a false church like the RCC.
    There is no logical reason why members of the Roman Catholic Church should not be described as Christians. Nor any reason why they should be considered to any more false than those who split off from that tradition.

    Second, if those people would take the advice of no fornication there would be no epidemic of AIDS in the first place. So there you go, yet again, blaming God for man being evil.
    Sex is a strong biological urge on a par with eating and drinking and crapping. Sanctions against it as are unrealistic as expecting thirsty people not to drink contaminated water. This is evident in the spectacular failure of abstinence only sex education programs and in the significant increase in abortion rates in U.S. States which teach it.
    And there you go again, assuming that it is only clergy from the RC tradition that sexually exploit their parishioners. Mental health professionals are well aware of the fallacy of that one. The only difference is that the extremely repressive sexual atmosphere associated with RC clerics exacerbates the condition and leads to cover up campaigns which protect clergy rather than parishioners. Protestant traditions do not put quite so much pressure on the clergy, unless they are gay. Nor is it quite so difficult to defrock one.
    If you had been keeping up with the news from a source other than Fox you would be familiar with a whole spate of sexual scandals involving devout Christians from Protestant evangelical traditions that were exposed during the final years of the Bush Regime. These included mega church leaders as well as prominent government officials, and the crimes ranged from hetero-sexual to homosexual to pedophilia. In other words, your version of god is no better at enabling your brand of Christian to avoid sexually exploiting others or tragically beginning the development of a life which would be significantly disadvantaged if permitted to continue. That makes your version of god out to be evil, incompetent, stupid or all of these.

    I will peruse my blog to get those questions answered once and for all, since you refuse to read the Bible.
    If you had understood and remembered what you read on this forum then you would know that many of us here are more familiar with the Bible than you are. It is you are engaging in reading refusal. You insist on ignoring enormous chunks of your religious literature or else you insist on engaging in convoluted semantic gymnastics in a sad effort to sanitize the horrific and uncomfortable parts of the Bible that do not fit your particular fantasy about the existence and characteristics of supernatural beings.

    I pity you for your hard-line ignorance and condemn you for the pain that you inflict on others in the name of “goodness” and “love”. It’s quite sickening. If a god does exist I hope that it is nothing like the one painted in the Christian Bible, or even like the bowdlerized version that you imagine exists. Neither example is well socialized by today’s advanced standards and neither is worthy of worship by civilized humans. What that says about you I will leave others to decide. Be aware that it is unlikely to be consistent with the positive image that you mistakenly believe that you are projecting.

  • 149. DSimon  |  July 7, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Rosita, your reply is very cogent and well-put, but I would discourage you from directly engaging with Dan. Regardless of the content of his arguments, his behavior is that of a troll, and responding to him is just a recipe for getting sidetracked.

  • 150. Quester  |  July 7, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I agree, DS, but if feeding the troll is going to get the rest of us such a gourmet meal…

    Thanks for sharing, Rosita. That was well worth reading. Do you have a blog or anything where you share thoughts like these (not necessarily thematically, but as well-thought out and expressed)?

  • 151. Rosita  |  July 7, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    @DSimon

    Your point is taken. Yes, the man is certainly a troll, and a very arrogant and insensitive one at that. He has been asked to leave by the site owner on several occasions but is so thick-skinned and deluded that he cannot see what incredible damage he is doing to his cause by his ill-considered crusade. I am happy to use the hanging rope that he so obligingly supplies. He will not feel the noose himself, but it might help someone like Josh recover from the damage which people like him do to others in the name of “love”.

    @Quester.

    Hello, old friend. You’ve always had nice things to say about my postings on the various forums that we frequent. Thank you. I enjoy your posts also.

    I reproduce some of my stuff on my AN Home Page but don’t host a de-con site open to the public. I deconverted over thirty years ago and life has filled up with all kinds of things since then. I was silent until I moved to Gawd’s Own Country ten years ago. If I had not thought my way out of god-belief beforehand I am sure that the shock of what I have discovered here would have done it. I have become increasingly horrified by the depths of human misery and the expanding educational ignorance which appear to be caused in very large part by egocentric government empowered religious groups.

    While I have been unable to keep my horror from exploding into print on other people’s web pages, notably those whose intellectual journey parallels my own, I don’t think I am sufficiently prolific on these topics to warrant hosting a site of my own. Maybe this will change.

  • 152. Quester  |  July 8, 2010 at 12:19 am

    I feel I should know what you mean by AN Home Page, but it’s not leaping out at me.

  • 153. Rosita  |  July 8, 2010 at 12:35 am

    AN = Atheist Nexus. See if you can find me :-)

    BTW, I’ve finally joined the de-con on-line community – as LaRosita.

  • 154. Sarah T.  |  October 20, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Hey Josh,

    I read and reflected upon your entire post. I absolutely struggle with this exact same feeling of poor self-esteem due to my own inadequacies as defined by the church.

    I am, however, reaching some sort of breaking point in my life wherein I recognize that I needn’t feel shame about who I am. I was born because my parents banged (shudder) and I’ve lived a natural life. This means I’ve had issues and joys both. I’m no different than any other homo sapien that’s breathed this earth’s air. No better and no worse by inherent nature; it is my personal choices and intentions that define who I become. I AM ME… I am not a Christian Mennonite or an athiest or a Hindu or a Buddhist… I’m just another person living my life as well as I can. And that’s okay.

    Again, I read your entire post but only started into the comments section. I really have had enough Dans in my life to know that it isn’t necessary to acknowledge him. He accidentally provided a great example in the sex thread but for the most part, it seems he’s just here to fuck with us,. That’s not our purpose here. He doesn’t seem to be contributing anything valuable to our conversations. This is me ignoring him. :) I hope everyone else will, too. :)

  • 155. Anonymous  |  June 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Joshua,

    What you are referring to, this dilemma of extremes between self deprication and full blown arrogance, is explained by Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I’m not saying you have this, LOL, but the symptoms and manifestations all come from a place of extreme inferiority and a need to regulate poor self esteem, which then flies off the handle into domination, arrogance, and inflated ego. The best example of this disorder would be Yahweh himself. With a model like that, it becomes clear that the “chosen ones” simply mimicked their maker. “Dan” obviously considers psychology as demonic, so I wouldn’t waste my breath explaining it to people like that. Best of luck, as I too am having to catch and delete thoughts that the “Church” approves.

  • 156. Andrew Demert  |  June 9, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Joshua,

    What you are referring to, this dilemma of extremes between self deprication and full blown arrogance, is explained by Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I’m not saying you have this, LOL, but the symptoms and manifestations all come from a place of extreme inferiority and a need to regulate poor self esteem, which then flies off the handle into domination, arrogance, and inflated ego. The best example of this disorder would be Yahweh himself. With a model like that, it becomes clear that the “chosen ones” simply mimicked their maker. “Dan” obviously considers psychology as demonic, so I wouldn’t waste my breath explaining it to people like that. Best of luck, as I too am having to catch and delete thoughts that the “Church” approves.

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  • 159. Truthful Nacho  |  January 19, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    It’s so cool and hip to not like Ayn Rand these days. When hardly anyone alive has read her anymore. Atlas Shrugged is like the 2nd highest selling book behind the Bible. AS, by the way, was intended to be a romance novel, as stated by Ayn herself. So those who say it reads like a schoolgirl’s writing just to put her down? Yeah it’s a ROMANCE NOVEL. That’s how they read. Read it for what it is. (But no I don’t like the rape scene- ok now all the little churchdudes here are gonna go read it.)

    Most people just don’t get her writing. It doesn’t click. Or it does and they just lie.

    TRY READING SOME OF RAND’S NON FICTION. Like Anthem, or my personal fave, Los Comprachcos.

    And yeah woman did not come from Adam’s “curve” or rib or any other body part. That story was written solely to tell reversal-lies to us. Direct reversals of the truth. That’s the bible for you. I’ve read it cover to cover. I’ve taught scripture. It’s trash and it’s smut. Religion is mental illness and the men preying on congregations need to

    STEP DOWN.

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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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