Coping mechanisms

July 2, 2010 at 5:42 pm 118 comments

For several of the many possible reasons, I realized that I could no longer hold fast to the faith that I once built my life around. When this realization struck me, it was emotionally painful. Worse, most of the ways I had coped with pain and grief before were no longer open to me, as they were all forms of prayer- alone, in a group, or with a Bible. I could not really turn to my Christian friends or my Christian family for support, as they saw my doubts and concerns as an attack against them and all that they valued. I could not go to my pastor- I was the pastor!

Things I did that helped me get through this time of grief and pain:

- Go for a walk outside/get some healthy exercise.
– Fill a playlist with upbeat MP3s (Jonathan Coulton, Weird Al, Tom Smith, ABBA, etc), and listen to them whenever possible.
– Pick up an old, creative hobby I hadn’t engaged in for a while (roleplaying, in my case. Yes, I am a geek.)
– Spend time in a social activity with friends (without discussing religion).
– Find ways to help people as I had when a Christian, without the Christian trappings (and realize that I am still the same person I always was).
– Find a support group of people who have gone through similar struggles (this site was a huge help for me!).
– Find people I could talk honestly to (see previous parenthetical).
– Journal (blog) the experience, and/or what led up to it.
– Remember to breathe!
– Meditate.
– Explore different faiths, different fellowships, different philosophies, and find out what I wanted from them, what I could offer to them, and (most importantly to me) what I could put my faith in.

How about you? What helped you through your de-conversion, if it was painful, or helps you through other times of trial now that prayer is no longer an option?

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118 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Analyst  |  July 2, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    I have to disagree with the notion that prayer is no longer an option. There’s nothing wrong with prayer and little to connect it to organized religion. What passes for prayer in churches and the like is really magic spells. If anyone tells you what to say, when to say it, where to say it, how to say it or who to say it with then it is a spell, not a prayer. The only time people pray in church is during a hurricane or an armed invasion. In schools, however, prayer is almost continuous!

  • 2. Quester  |  July 2, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    My problem with prayer is neither its associations with organized religion, nor its associations with magic. Prayer is not an option for me, as I have no one to pray to.

    Meditation, as a relaxation technique and mental discipline, is still on my list.

  • 3. Quester  |  July 2, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Also, Analyst, if it interests you, back in 2008 I wrote a couple blog entries about my trying to discern the differences between prayer, sacrament and spellcraft. At one point, when I was still a theist, these distinctions had been important to me.

    http://ajourneyman.wordpress.com/2008/04/20/christian-magic-part-i-prayer-and-prophec/

    http://ajourneyman.wordpress.com/2008/04/20/christian-magic-part-2-the-sacraments/

  • 4. Wes Widner  |  July 2, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Wow. Yet another upbeat and cheery account of deconversion.You know, coping mechanisms are usually reserved for when someone has lost someone near and dear to them. Like a loved one. Perhaps the fact that such coping mechanisms need o be continually brought up in connection with loosing one’s faith in God ought to severe as a clear and distinct warning sign.

  • 5. Analyst  |  July 2, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    IMO there’s nothing like a near death experience to give you real cause to pray sincerely! I don’t find any need to have a ‘someone’ to pray to — just git ‘er done.

  • 6. Quester  |  July 2, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Analyst, I’m going to assume that I’m misunderstanding you. What, exactly, would one be gitting done? What do you consider prayer to be?

  • 7. DSimon  |  July 2, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Wes, do you have a heart of stone or what? Of course there’s a sense of loss: losing much of one’s community, friends, family, support, and prior sense of steady self-assurance will do that. No deity required.

  • 8. thin ice  |  July 2, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Wes, what, like we should hold on to the fantasy that christianity is, because it’s coping mechanisms are more important than our need to be true to the rational, thinking side of our beings?

    Well, you may be right: I do know people who no longer believe in god, but stay in church, singing and praying because it makes them feel good and helps them cope. But most of the people who frequent this site refuse to maintain that dichotomy.

    Jesus actually said (and I paraphrase) “shit happens, whether you’re good or bad.” This is a site for people who no longer believe in god, OK? And as such EVERYTHING discussed on this forum is related to that, not just life’s misfortunes. We help each other here, just like you help the folks in your church. If you begrudge us that, then you’re just a damn hypocrite & pharisee (“thank you, God, that I am not like those sinners”).

  • 9. Dan +†+  |  July 2, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Emotionally painful? Sounds like the agony trying to convince yourself to eat babies. Just saying

  • 10. BigHouse  |  July 2, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    And they’ll know we are Christians by our love…by our love…yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love….

  • 11. Analyst  |  July 2, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Quester: “Analyst, I’m going to assume that I’m misunderstanding you. What, exactly, would one be gitting done? What do you consider prayer to be?”

    I consider prayer to be a way to focus all of one’s mind on a specific task. I reject the notion that it is religious and refuse to let the theists have control of it. We have a better claim to it that they have.

  • 12. Quester  |  July 2, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    All right, Analyst, so if you are struggling with grief or loss, what do you focus all of your mind on?

  • 13. Quester  |  July 2, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Big House,

    I’m beginning to wonder if the key difference between liberal and conservative Christians is their reaction to the phrase “God is love”.

    Liberal Christians, to stereotype based on my experiences, look at the phrase “God is love”, consider what love is, and reject the biblical descriptions of God that go against their understanding of empathetic, affectionate, passionate, filial, charitable and unconditional love.

    Conservative Christians, for an equally sweeping generalization, look at the phrase “God is love” and consider instead the depictions of God in the Bible, then reject any understanding of love that isn’t domineering, condescending, condemning, patriarchal, sacrificial and otherwise destructive.

  • 14. BigHouse  |  July 2, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    That sounds pretty descriptive to me, Quester.

    And before the soliders of love pipe in with their “Love is rebuking and scolding sometimes..blah blah blah”, it has been clear for the long time that they’ve been coming here, their methods of winning us back to the flock have been an epic fail. If they were truly interested in saving us through love, you’d think they would try different tactics.

    But you know what they call doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results…..

  • 15. Dan +†+  |  July 2, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    God is Love indeed, but that is not saying much, God is logic, God is Law, God is Justice, all equal and all as truthful.

  • 16. Dan +†+  |  July 2, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    >>their methods of winning us back to the flock have been an epic fail.

    Where in the Bible does it say to do that? That certainly is way above my pay grade. Nope, we are to preach the word and rebuke from love.

    Everyone now “”Perfect looooove, is a constant confronteeerrrr.”

    OK, I wasn’t much of a singer.

  • 17. thin ice  |  July 2, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Troll Dan: Preaching the word = winning us back. What other purpose is there for you and Wes coming to this forum? Quit screwing with words, just say it straight.

  • 18. BigHouse  |  July 2, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Thin ice, narcissism and semnatic goofiness are Dan’s specialty.

  • 19. Analyst  |  July 2, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    Quester: “All right, Analyst, so if you are struggling with grief or loss, what do you focus all of your mind on?”

    What cannot be altered must be endured. I see little purpose in prayer in that case.

  • 20. DSimon  |  July 2, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    I consider prayer to be a way to focus all of one’s mind on a specific task.

    But who else besides you uses that definition, or would even guess at such a definition without you needing to explicitly tell them first? It’s not helpful to just come up with random new definitions of words, in fact it screws up the point of having words in the first place.

  • 21. Analyst  |  July 2, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Explain to me the difference between a church ‘prayer’ and a magic spell cast under the moon or around a cauldron.

  • 22. DSimon  |  July 2, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    There’s not much difference; a prayer is directed at some specific supernatural entity, whereas (depending on the belief system in use) a magic spell might or might not be expected to work “on its own” somehow. They share in common the expectation that a particular ritualistic action will cause supernatural stuff to happen in your favor.

    But, they’re both very different from “focusing all of one’s mind on a specific task”.

  • 23. Analyst  |  July 2, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    We’ll have to agree to disagree (or perhaps you’ll come to see this as I do). Just know that I refuse to allow theists to ‘own’ prayer.

  • 24. BigHouse  |  July 2, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    That’s a strange hard line to take, Analyst, I’m not sure I get why it’s necessary or interesting.

  • 25. Analyst  |  July 2, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    Because the theists will mock you if you allow them to own prayer — right after they tell you you’re a Satanist or some such nonsense.

  • 26. BigHouse  |  July 2, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Does not follow…

  • 27. Cindy Mulvey  |  July 2, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    a utube of Michael Card , Joy in the Jouney was my favorite…….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khrxWs05JSY&feature=related14
    That use to help me when I was in depression as a Christian, I understand, but I do not why it took ,so long to understand that ……

    What cannot be altered must be endured. I see little purpose in prayer in that case.

    Cindy Mulvey
    cin3@me.com

  • 28. Quester  |  July 2, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Analyst,

    Explain to me the difference between a church ‘prayer’ and a magic spell cast under the moon or around a cauldron.

    Not a blessed thing, if you’ll pardon the pun. That’s why I’m saying prayer is no longer an option for me.

    What cannot be altered must be endured.

    And I have written an article offering my advice for enduring at times when nothing can be altered, and asking for other people’s advice on the same. If prayer, as you have chosen to use the term, is not useful here, it doesn’t fit as a response to my article, either.

    Because the theists will mock you if you allow them to own prayer — right after they tell you you’re a Satanist or some such nonsense.

    So?

  • 29. Dan +†+  |  July 3, 2010 at 1:20 am

    >>Because the theists will mock you if you allow them to own prayer — right after they tell you you’re a Satanist or some such nonsense.

    Now don’t get all mad at us because we point out the fact that both atheists and satanists (LaVeyan Satanism) worship the same god, “self”. LaVeyan Satanists consider themselves “their own god.” (They are atheistic.)

    The essence of Satanism is more of living by your own standards. Satanism promotes indulgence, free thinking, and skepticism. It shuns stupidity and conformity. Sound familiar?

    There are also a few other minuscule branches of Satanism such as Luciferianism. They worship the pre-Christian god of Lucifer.

    For the most part no one can tell the difference if you two are in a room describing your beliefs. Sad.

  • 30. Quester  |  July 3, 2010 at 1:56 am

    I never thought I’d say it, but thanks, Dan. I don’t believe in a Satan, but you make Satanism sound so interesting, life-affirming and intelligent that I’m going to go research Satanism now. I want to learn how accurate your description is!

    Have you ever considered becoming a Satanic evangelist?

  • 31. Quester  |  July 3, 2010 at 2:15 am

    There is apparently a Wikipedia article on LaVeyan Satanism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaVeyan_Satanism

    The Satanic rules, sins, and statements may be worth discussion. If one feels a need for ceremony and codified philosophy, one could certainly do worse. These would at least provide a useful reference point for contemplating/discussing morality and ethics, though personally I’d prefer a little more acknowledgement that we are all part of “the herd” and a lot less “magical” language.

  • 32. Analyst  |  July 3, 2010 at 2:39 am

    The Satanists might actually be consistent in their views and philosophy, something the Christians never are. In fact I see little evidence to convince me that the Christians don’t just make it up as they go along, always depending on the circumstances. Situational ethics indeed.

  • 33. Dan +†+  |  July 3, 2010 at 3:17 am

    Quester,

    I thought you might enjoy this from an older post of mine:

    Peter Gilmore, high priest of the Manhattan-based satanism organization said: “Satanism is the world’s first carnal religion, Satanists are thus atheists—not devil worshipers—and we see Satan as being a symbol of pride, liberty and individualism, not a deity.”

    Satanists and atheists, arm in arm together forever, inseparable in that unquenchable fire,(Mark 9:43) outer darkness,(Matthew 22:13) a furnace of fire and a place where people wail and gnash their teeth,(Matthew 13:42) and a lake of fire.(Revelation 20:15) where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched,(Mark 9:48) and where people are in agony in flames.(Luke 16:24)

    Perhaps the most terrifying passage in the Bible describing hell says that men will “drink the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night.” (Revelation 14:10-11)

    Good luck with all of that atheists, satanists, secular humanists, or whatever you’re calling yourselves this week. Please repent before it’s too late.

  • 34. Quester  |  July 3, 2010 at 5:22 am

    Aaaaaand back to same old, same old. Still, one useful comment was more than I expected from Dan. I never had even considered looking into Satanism before, but this LaVeyant stuff looks intriguing.

  • 35. Scott  |  July 3, 2010 at 6:49 am

    What got me through my initial deconversion experience was this site. Seriously. Being able to talk to others who had come to realize that the bible wasn’t “the word of god” and being able to do so without being insulted was a HUGE comfort to me.

    The compassion and understanding I received here was overwhelming and, quite literally, something I never saw in my 30 years as a Christian.

    One BIG thing that helped was Josh’s (I think it was Josh) list of the 12 stages of deconversion (or something like that). He helped me see that the various emotions I went through were not unique to me.

    My deconversion didn’t take long. I had doubts and questions that stewed for years, but once I actually began a study of things, it only took a few weeks to realize the truth. The hard part was coming to grips with that truth. I had to ask myself what I would expect someone from another religion to do if I, as a Christian, pointed out the inconsistencies of their religion. The answer was obvious. I would expect them to renounce their religion and embrace Christianity.

    Well, in order to be intellectually honest, I would have to ask myself that same question. Once I did, the answer was unavoidable.

    As I’ve said before: The problem with the truth is that it doesn’t give a damn about what you believe. It is what it is.

  • 36. Quester  |  July 3, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Woot! It took 35 comments, but we finally have a response to the question from the original article! Thanks, Scott! I’m glad you were able to embrace the truth and that we were able to help!

  • 37. Analyst  |  July 3, 2010 at 10:28 am

    In my case it was more like, “Crap! People have been lying to me about this stuff all along! How annoying is that!!”

    Even if they lied out of ignorance, they still lied and claimed they were sure. Of course I know now they are never as sure as they claim, in fact there are no ‘true’ Christian believers in the USA.

  • 38. notabarbie  |  July 3, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Great post…thank you.
    There were a few things that helped me through. First, this blog site and others like it. Also people here who read my comments and contacted me personally–they saved me emotionally. Setting up my own blog and writing about it–anonymously first and then later, as myself. Reading books that had nothing to do with religion and others that had everything to do with it. In place of prayer, I talked to myself (which is what I was doing all along anyway). :o)Finally, “coming out” and reaching out to others that are where I was a couple of years ago, like some here did for me.

  • 39. noen  |  July 3, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    I de-converted from atheism and am now an agnostic. I do not believe in either atheism or theism. I also strongly reject fundamentalist atheism as well as religious fundamentalism. These are the two dominate belief systems that we see today. Frankly, I see the dispute between the two as more of a schism than anything. Today’s atheists and theists sound to me like two priests bickering.

    But I suppose it’s worth it for all the hot makeup sex after huh?

  • 40. Joshua  |  July 3, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Gosh Quester, good post.

    I have to admit that it must have been even harder for you since you “were the pastor”. Did you ever get that feeling that you were letting everyone down by no longer believing?

  • 41. Joshua  |  July 3, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    You know, I remember at Moody Bible Institute one of the guys in another room had a Satanist Bible. I remember thinking “Hey, if I am going to be a witness to these people I should at least understand what they believe.”

    I began to read the book and was a little taken aback at how much sense some of it made. The thing with Satanists is that they are really just making fun of organized Christian religion by using Christian’s silly beliefs to make themselves appear more evil than they really are. Saying “eh, I don’t believe in your god” is more boring than saying “ah, fuck it, I’m your mortal spiritual enemy” and then going off and laughing at the fear in the Christian’s eyes.

    There have been moments I’ve thought about studying witchcraft or whatnot just for kicks and giggles. It would certainly make dealing with Christians more interesting and colorful. Since they won’t listen to argument I suppose I might as well play on their worst fears and get a laugh out of it.

    God, I sound devious. Haha.

    I’ve had fantasies about arguing with some old Christians from my old church and publicly blaspheming the Holy Spirit in a very demonic fashion and then pretending like I’m being struck to death by God. The look on their face after lying on the ground and twitching and then looking up with a smirk and saying “Aw, guys, I’m just fucking with you” would be priceless.

  • 42. Quester  |  July 3, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Analyst were you equally upset at yourself for “lying” to others, as a believer?

    Notabarbie Thanks! I can’t believe I forgot books! There were several that were very helpful.

    Josh Thank-you, as well. Yes, I felt that way a few times. Actually, I was leaving the ministry because I was not able to piece together a coherent image of God or God’s will, nor a sign of God’s presence, using scripture, tradition, reason, or the world around us. It wasn’t until I was feeling like I was letting everyone down by leaving that I realized I didn’t believe any more. I felt so horrible because I truly did not believe that there was a god in whose care I was leaving them.

    There were some pretty bad moments like that.

  • 43. Analyst  |  July 3, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Quester: “Analyst were you equally upset at yourself for “lying” to others, as a believer?”

    I can’t recall a single occasion where I did this. Even at 8 or 9 I wasn’t convinced of anything except that for some reason everyone seemed to somewhat believe this stuff. I assumed they had good reasons, but could never figure out what they were and never heard any. I did meet some nice people who seemed convinced – and some a__holes who claimed to be (one Catholic priest comes to mind). I even attended a Billy Graham crusade meeting — all very emotional but still not convincing. I certainly put no time into trying to convince others.

  • 44. 4riozs  |  July 3, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    To get through the pain of realizing I had lost my faith, I used different coping methods also. I searched on the internet for other people who lost their faith and came across this blog and some others that have been very helpful. It’s nice to have a place where we can debate and read other people’s opinions- even if at times people try reconverting us.

    I did alot of reading at my worst time. I read about Buddhism, Taoism, Yoga, Meditation, and even about energy.

    I joined the gym and looked for opportunities to excercise. My pain wasn’t only in losing my faith but in finding an unforgiveable sin that lead to my deconversion.

    Writing has also been helpful. I keep a journal where I write what I’m thinking.

    Sad as it was, I got away from friends who were hurting me- people who unintentionally hurt me by obsessing over religion.

    I believe their is something; an energy, I just don’t think Christianity has it right- everything is too simply answered and in the end leaves you searching for answers.

    (Excuse my grammar, when I back space my words are eatting each other.)

  • 45. Notabarbie  |  July 4, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Well, I hate to bring up Dan, in fact, from now on I am going to refer to him as dick. But I was thinking, he obviously comes on here to get attention…is there some way we can all make a pact that no matter what he says, we just ignore him? It typically worked for my kids when they were small and we all know that dick is small….oh so small. I for one am going to continue to ignore small dick. I hope others will join me.

  • 46. Dan +†+  |  July 4, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Barbie,

    >>Well, I hate to bring up Dan…

    Who are you trying to convince, me or you?

    >>It typically worked for my kids when they were small and we all know that dick is small….oh so small.

    Your kids have small dicks? What a shame. I wouldn’t say that in public if I were you though, they have lives to live in the future. Let them decide who to tell that to. You are being insensitive…again.

  • 47. prairienymph  |  July 4, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Denial is another coping mechanism I’m playing with.

    For the first time in my life I feel hypocritical. I know the right language and will pray with people when they ask me. Right now I think it is rude not to.

    I’m revelling in the relief that the cognitive dissonance in the Bible does not need to be explained in order to preserve my worldview, but I’m doing so in silence. No one is concerned that I’ve stopped going to church since I have a newborn.

    I can tell those closes to me that this is a phase I’m going through in order to make my faith stronger, to learn the other side so I can speak the language of non-believers…

    Hypocrisy, in the name of keeping the peace.

  • 48. Quester  |  July 4, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Prairienymph,

    Back in highschool, I remember going for a walk with some friends. Two of us were walking slightly faster and drew ahead of the others. To encourage us to slow down, one of the friends behind yelled out, “Snobs!” Laughing, I yelled back to the larger grouping, “Conformists!” Both are derogatory terms, but how could one fail to be one or the other?

    To me, your decision between being a hypocrite and being rude looks very similar, in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t sort of way.

    On the other hand, perhaps a distinction can be drawn between being tactful and being a hypocrite, or between being honest and being a shit-disturber.

  • 49. Quester  |  July 4, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    Analyst,

    So you are defining “lying” as claiming to be certain of something without sufficient reason?

  • 50. Quester  |  July 4, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    4riozs,

    That’s a really healthy sounding list. Thanks for sharing!

  • 51. Analyst  |  July 4, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Quester: “Analyst, So you are defining “lying” as claiming to be certain of something without sufficient reason?”

    Why wouldn’t I?

    “Trust me, Saddam Hussein has WMDs everywhere”. 5,000 American dead and $3 trillion later does “Sorry” cut it?

  • 52. Joshua  |  July 4, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    I just got done watching The Big Lebowski today and I think this quote from Walter Sobchak is appropriate:

    “Am I wrong?”

    No, Walter, you’re not wrong, you’re just an asshole.

    The irony, of course, is that Walter was normally wrong in the movie, he just was not wrong given the perspective he always skewed things toward. And then, he just kept thinking that the few times he was 100% certain and 100% right made him right all the time. Then when he was wrong he made a complete ass out of himself and ended up hurting people.

    So no, it’s technically not “lying” to be 100% certain and 100% wrong. However, it just might make you an asshole which is an equivalent in my mind – at least now it is.

  • 53. Analyst  |  July 4, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Joshua says: “So no, it’s technically not “lying” to be 100% certain and 100% wrong. However, it just might make you an asshole which is an equivalent in my mind – at least now it is”.

    When one person tells you the earth is flat you can judge the opinion fairly. When everyone says it then it makes it hard to come to a reasonable conclusion. Darwin funked his work for years even when he had realized the truth. I disbelieved early but was troubled by everyone else’s compliance.

    Until recently I had assumed there was a ‘Jesus’ although I disbelieved his miracles but thought the gospels were somewhat biographical. Now I realize they are totally fictional and that those who wrote them wrote of what might happen, and not of what had happened.

  • 54. Amy  |  July 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Wes-

    Any change, whether good or bad, induces stress. New baby- stress and coping, but GOOD! New job- stress and coping, but GOOD! Quitting cocaine- stress and coping, but GOOD!

    And speaking of coping- it is a very difficult thing to decide something that will break the hearts of your friends and family, because in their mind their loved one is destined for eternal torment. Christianity does a VERY good job at making de-conversion stressful and hurtful, by the very nature of it’s prostlyizing theology and threats of eternal torture.

  • 55. Quester  |  July 6, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Amy- Well said!

    Analyst- 5,000 American dead and $3 trillion later does “Sorry” cut it?

    So if the consequences of being wrong are high enough, being wrong turns into a lie? No, sorry. I’ll go with negligent in seeking out facts, in some cases maybe criminally negligent, but I just can’t go with redefining words just to make punishing easier.

  • 56. Analyst  |  July 6, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Recently I bought some frozen chicken nugget dinners – 83 cents each. Only the ‘chicken’ isn’t chicken, it’s fake stuff, leftovers ground up, battered and fried. Still, it’s only 83 cents.

    Those who risk the lives of other mother’s sons and daughters have a higher duty of care. There’s no evidence they met that duty. Sorry doesn’t cut it.

  • 57. Quester  |  July 6, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Analyst,

    You are using the word “lying” to mean “incorrect” or “negligent”. You are using the word “prayer” to mean “concentration”. This may aid you in condemning people, but it sure doesn’t help with communication.

  • 58. DSimon  |  July 6, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Noen: You keep using that word, “fundamentalist”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Notabarbie: I’m totally in with that idea. Consider it pinkie-sworn.\

    Analyst: I’m not sure it should count as lying when a person is lying to themsevles as well as to others. Irrational, negligent, silly, even lazy, yeah… but not lying, which implies deliberate deception.

  • 59. Scott  |  July 6, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Your welcome, Quester!

    Another thing that helped a lot was reading books from former Christians once I was able to accept that such people actually exist and actually have something to say.

    Dan Barker’s Godless was a breath of fresh air! I couldn’t believe that someone else thought what I was thinking! Then I read John Loftus and I was done!

  • 60. Quester  |  July 6, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Scott,

    I haven’t heard of Loftus. What’s he written?

  • 61. Scott  |  July 6, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    The book I read was “Why I Became An Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity”

    It was a very timely book for me to read especially after having just read Barker.

  • 62. Philip  |  July 6, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Quester:

    Loftus’ blog, Debunking Christianity, is in the links here. He has a new book out, The Christian Delusion, and is working on another one.

  • 63. Quester  |  July 6, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Thanks, both of you. I’d read some of the blog, but had forgotten the name.

  • 64. Tomas S  |  July 8, 2010 at 6:03 am

    On the OP, I’m not sure how “fresh” this need for coping is for you (or the people reading.) I’m struck on one hand that I deconverted over 15 years ago and in some ways am still dealing with it, and on the other hand, how different everybody’s experience is, even if there are many common elements.

    I don’t remember a strong need to “cope”. (I’m not saying there wasn’t, but I just don’t remember.) And by the way, when we say “cope” do we mean coping with life’s difficulties in general, or coping with the loss of what we liked about being Christians … or both?

    As far as prayer still being an option (or not), the last few (3) years, I’ve been trying out calling myself a pantheist. There seems to be as many definitions and understandings of pantheism as there are pantheists, but when I say it about myself, I mean that I am an atheist, but I see value in using God as a metaphor.

    For a long time, a believing friend of mine would doubt my commitment to living a “thankful life” if there is no divine mind I can be thankful to. The pantheist viewpoint cleared this up for me. I usually like to explain this with an analogy (which my believer-friend insisted on taking literally.)

    Imagine you bought a new item (a fan, toy, power tool, whatever) with some assembly required. You’re trying to get tab A to go into slot B, but it’s not going. Finally in frustration you blurt out “oh come on! Get in there.” You know in your head that the tab can’t hear you or obey you, yet it feels good to say this.

    If you can talk to a tab-a that can’t hear you, then you can be thankful to a Creation which doesn’t hear you or care about you. I suppose you can also pray to it, but I’ve never tried that. I think the difference is that cries of frustration and feelings of thankfulness come from the heart and verbal prayer comes from the mind. In my pantheistic worship, I usually keep my mind focused on the fact that there is no supernatural.

  • 65. DSimon  |  July 8, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Tomas, I’m not sure “pantheist” is quite the right word for that; in fact, I don’t think I’ve heard that analogy before, and I think it’s kind of cool. It may need a new word. How about:

    Anthropomorphosist
    Holotheist (as in “hologram”)
    Metaphorist
    Representationist (since you’re using “God” as a kind of artistic representation, and the word “artist” is already taken)
    Pseudotheist
    Loopbackist (computer joke; a “loopback” is a communication device that just sends data back to yourself)

  • 66. Tomas S  |  July 8, 2010 at 9:36 am

    I decided to use the word “pantheist” after seeing http://www.pantheism.net/. Truth told, I haven’t studied the web page, I’m not a member, and at moments it sounds a touch more environmentalist than I probably am, but the word has served me.

    The word holotheist does appeal to me, especially if I can put the accent on the O and pronounce it aaah — hoe-laaaaaaaath-eist.

    Same goes for “Sue-daaaaaath-eist.

  • 67. Philip  |  July 8, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    DSimon: Your entry of holotheist reminded me of something else I had run across in reading about process theology: hylotheism, the identification of god with matter.

    Link

  • 68. DSimon  |  July 8, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Philip, interesting link. I don’t think much of the author’s claimed adherence to empiricism, though; his argument mostly seems to consist of “I can make the word ‘God’ mean anything I feel like and expect other people to buy into that definition because *mumble mumble*”.

    The rest of his arguments follow from his arbitrary redefinition of God to mean “the metaphysical basis of the universe”, which sets the game up so that remarking upon the fact that the universe exists is enough to demonstrate the existence of that “God”, without actually saying anything about any actual religious or spiritual beliefs.

  • 69. noen  |  July 8, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    DSimon — “Noen: You keep using that word, “fundamentalist”. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    A fundamentalist is someone who engages in black and white, either/or thinking. There are two types, religious and secular. The New Atheist movement represents the latter. The disgusting rhetoric and outright hate on display by members of the New Atheists lead to me de-de-converting to agnosticism as a way of registering my utter revulsion for the New Atheists. I refuse to be associated with this filth.

    Sorry you don’t like that Simon, it’s the truth though. I think you have a problem. On certain liberal blogs that I go to atheists who start ranting about religion and the rest of your crap are no longer welcome. That’s going to start happening more and more I think.

    There is a downside to exposure. People get to see you as you really are. How did that cesspool forum known as Dawkins dot net work out for you?

    Maybe it’s you?

  • 70. Analyst  |  July 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    noen says: “A fundamentalist is someone who engages in black and white, either/or thinking. There are two types, religious and secular. The New Atheist movement represents the latter. The disgusting rhetoric and outright hate on display by members of the New Atheists lead to me de-de-converting to agnosticism as a way of registering my utter revulsion for the New Atheists. I refuse to be associated with this filth”.

    You mean the hateful way they keep pointing out that after 6,000 years and millions of hours of study and search there is still no evidence for anything except the natural world we live in? The filthy way they point out that there is no evidence that any ‘Jesus’ of the gospels ever walked the earth? The disgusting way that they point out that there is as much evidence for every ‘god’ as there is for any ‘god’?

  • 71. Ubi Dubium  |  July 8, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    I refuse to be associated with this filth.

    Best not hang around here then. Some of us might just be “new atheists”, whatever that is supposed to mean. The only difference I can see in someone that you would characterize as a “new atheist” from any other atheist is that they refuse to hide anymore. You would like them to pretend that atheists don’t exist, or that they are sorry for lacking faith.

    So have at you!! I militantly engage you in rational conversation. I cling tenaciously to the idea that people should not be required to devote their lives to fairy-tales if they don’t want to. Doubt is good and blind faith is bad. Religious ideas should receive no special privilege from being scrutinized. So there!!

    (How was that? Did I cause the troll utter revulsion? I’ll be good now and stop feeding it. But that was too fun.)

  • 72. Richard  |  July 9, 2010 at 2:30 am

    Thomas- I think the term youre looking for is “religious naturalist.” it is someone who, in essence, maintaons a religious sensibility but has no belief beyond the natural world. It can range from just (“just!”) a sense of awe and wo der at the world (probably too broad, as that would make many people religious naturalists who do not like the term, to people who go to church, talk of god, and even pray.

    They just understand it all differently. Church can serve a unique and perhaps needed social function. God is a projection of human ideals and hopes. Prayer is a kind of meditation and affirmation of those ideals.

    One of the few remnants of my own fundy upbringing is that it still seems to me that thinking of ourselves as “children of God” is an enobling concept. Or.saying that we contain “sparks of the divine”. I think the word God, used in this sort of context, can impart a power, depth, and poignancy thar few other words can.

    I would refer you to Don Cupitt from the christian side, as well as john shelby spong. I got a lot out of Mordecai Kaplan, who is Jewish, but has some amazing reworking of religious images and symbols for a secular purpose. A guy name mitchel silver wrote a book called “a plausible god” that examins these ideas philosophically, albeit again from a jewish perspective.

    Essentialy, its an aesthetic sensibility. How do you like to talk about the most important things of life. Religious language is, lets admit, well suited to that. It’d be a shame to give it all over to the fundys!

  • 73. Richard  |  July 9, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Noen – I actually agree with you that what makes a fundy a fundy is a rigid back-and-white, us-vs-them mentality. An intolerance for ambivalence or imperfection. Its all psychology.

    So, in that there are atheists who engage in a “science good religion bad” routine, and refuse to draw any distinctions or acknowledge any nuance among different forms religious expression, and show no tolerance or empathy for the human need and human frailty that underlies religion, and narcissistically devalue those who are religious, the yes- those folks are atheist fundamentalists.

    But your rhetoric here comes very close to the kind of hateful, hostile condescention you appear to be railing against. An otherwise good point is going to get lost when you blast both barrels indiscriminately. We’re not the bad guys. May I humbly suggest you soften your tone?

  • 74. DSimon  |  July 9, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Richard, I don’t know if “fundamentalist” is quite the right word either. I mean, it fits your definition, but that definition doesn’t match what I think most people think of as “fundamentalism”: strict adherence to a code of conduct with no possibility of disagreement.

    The atheists you describe in your 2nd paragraph, I’d just call them “jerkasses”. :-)

  • 75. Richard  |  July 9, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    DSimon-

    Agreed. Its not the standard use of the word. I guess my point is that the psychology that drives each group has striking similarities: in essence, a need to reduce complex and difficult issues/questions/phenomena into simplistic good/bad dichotomies. It seems to serve a kind of narcissistic superiority complex :”X is true, and youre a deluded idiot if you dont agree with me”. It also seems to justify a kind of crusading fervor. Peaceful belief-pluralism is not the goal of either group.

    So, yeah, I wouldnt use the phrase “atheist fundamentalist” very much, because it would just engender confusion, but I do think it fits in some important respects.

  • 76. noen  |  July 9, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Analyst
    “You mean the hateful way they keep pointing out that after 6,000 years and millions of hours of study and search there is still n evidence for anything except the natural world we live in?”

    No I don’t mean that, I could care less about it. I’m talking about Sam Harris who advocates a nuclear first strike against Iran and argues for torture. About Christopher Hitchens who was also pro-torture, friends with a holocaust denier and a right wing fascist neocon. And finally the real beaut that is Pat Condel whose spittle flecked racist diatribes on YouTube are a thing of legend.

    Sam Harris — “some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them,”

    We have a word for people who advocate murdering others based on their religious beliefs — Fascism.

    Let me repeat this so that maybe it’ll sink in. You have a problem. People are rejecting you more and more. Not because your arguments are bad, they aren’t, but because *you* are bad. Whether you like it or not people associate leaders like Harris and Hitchens and others with your movement and they don’t like what they see. It might be in your interest to figure out why.

  • 77. Quester  |  July 9, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    For those who want some context for noen’s Harris quote, here’s an article from three years ago helping clear up the “controversy”.

    http://aloadofbright.wordpress.com/2007/05/08/misquoting-harris/

  • 78. Quester  |  July 9, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Tomas,

    As far as I’ve read, religious naturalism can easily fall under the heading of pantheism, so I support your use of the term. I consider adopting it myself, sometimes- or the more tongue-in-cheek “irreverent pantheist” (someone who sees everything as sacred, or potentially so, and thus ripe for being made light of).

    As for the opening article, I was asking for general advice/anecdotes regarding deconverted coping, be it coping with the process of deconversion or something utterly unrelated. I’ll admit that, as in your examples of thankfulness or frustration, cursing the inanimate or non-existent can be a useful coping mechanism.

  • 79. Analyst  |  July 9, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    noen says: No I don’t mean that, I could care less about it. I’m talking about Sam Harris who advocates a nuclear first strike against Iran and argues for torture. About Christopher Hitchens who was also pro-torture, friends with a holocaust denier and a right wing fascist neocon. And finally the real beaut that is Pat Condel whose spittle flecked racist diatribes on YouTube are a thing of legend. We have a word for people who advocate murdering others based on their religious beliefs — Fascism.

    That isn’t the word. The correct word is “theist”.

    As for people and their “friends”, almost half of the USA voted for G W Bush – twice – and he started two pointless wars in the Middle East resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries. And his “friend” was the Prime Minister of Great Britain who helped him.

    Bush also moved the USA as far as he could towards a Fascist government yet he is no atheist (he claims). So it seems your complaint is without merit.

  • 80. Analyst  |  July 9, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    On reflecting on your original post, AFAIK I never bought in to the whole ‘god’ thing. It all seemed as believable as a Superman comic book (ironically) and as likely I would wind up in one situation as the other. There was a brief time when I was very young when I was distressed that I wouldn’t be going there – a sort of “Everyone who is going to Disneyland take one step forward. Not so fast, Analyst!”

    So when I finally gave up on the notion that there ever had been a ‘Jesus’, with or without magic powers, my sensation was mainly one of annoyance, as if I had been told as a child that I could plant candy and grow candy bushes.

  • 81. DSimon  |  July 10, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Noen, so you can pick out some atheist leaders who are assholes in ways that don’t have anything to do with their atheism. That doesn’t say anything about us being “bad”. Just because Harris and I both atheists, are his views now taken to be representative of my views? If Harris liked Rocky Road ice cream, should that be assumed about me?

    Some atheists are jerks, but that doesn’t mean that atheism is jerky.

  • 82. noen  |  July 10, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    “so you can pick out some atheist leaders who are assholes in ways that don’t have anything to do with their atheism.”

    I think it has everything to do with their atheism.

    “Some atheists are jerks, but that doesn’t mean that atheism is jerky.”

    I keep getting told by online atheists that there is no such “thing” as atheism but that there is such a thing as “religion”. Which justifies atheists cherry picking history and put the blame on (typically) Christians and yet at the same time never EVER admitting that the crimes committed by atheists have ever has anything to do with atheism. Because, you see, in their minds and yours, atheism doesn’t even exist.

    That’s not just nonsense, that’s nonsense on stilts. One of the primary marks of any belief system or ideology is the inability to see ones beliefs AS beliefs. That after all is the function of ideology, to render itself invisible to it’s adherents. Your ideology tells you that your own subjective feeling and emotions are not merely yours, they are REAL. That is exactly how the New Atheism works today and the Sam Harris quote is a good example:

    From Quester’s link

    “The link between belief and behaviour raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live. Certain beliefs place their adherents beyond the reach of every peaceful means of persuasion, while inspiring them to commit acts of extraordinary violence against others. There is, in fact, no talking to some people. If they cannot be captured, and they often cannot, otherwise tolerant people may be justified in killing them in self-defense.”

    The poster there goes on to say:

    “Harris is simply saying that when people hold beliefs that lead to them committing acts of violence and murder, and killing them is the only way of protecting our selves, then it may be justified.”

    No, that’s not what Harris is saying. He is saying that we are justified in preemptively killing people who hold dangerous ideas or beliefs. “Certain beliefs place their adherents beyond the reach of every peaceful means of persuasion”. This is total bullshit. Sam Harris is here trying to give intellectual cover to the Bush Doctrine of preemptive military aggression.

    “Does this sound like the sort of reasoning that inspired the Inquisition? ”

    Yes, as a matter of fact “certain beliefs place their adherents beyond the reach of every peaceful means of persuasion” sounds EXACTLY like something the grand inquisitor would say to justify torture. OH! That’s right! Sam Harris has also been a big proponent of TORTURE. And no, he didn’t try to pretend it was something other than what it was. He went out of his way to specifically advocate the torture of those dirty brown Mooooslims who are sitting on top of all our oil.

  • 83. noen  |  July 10, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    So to recap, with just this one prominent New Atheist we have the advocacy crimes, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The justification of torture, the persecution and murder of people based solely on their religious faith, and last but hardly least, Sam Harris gives his whole hearted approval for nuclear genocide. (He advocates a preemptive nuclear strike against the nation of Iran.)

    Ya know, you can play all the semantic games you like, but the fact remains that to most people it matters a great deal what kind of company you keep. If I were you I’d think long and hard about who it is that you are getting in bed with.

  • 84. noen  |  July 10, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Oh! No wonder I could smell that stench from over here. From the “Load of Bright er Shit” website front page we have this gem:

    “I am in the process of reading heavily on Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. As I agree with everything I’ve read so far,”

    Explains a great deal.

  • 85. Analyst  |  July 10, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    noen says: “Sam Harris gives his whole hearted approval for nuclear genocide. (He advocates a preemptive nuclear strike against the nation of Iran.)”

    So do the Israelis; and Bush actually started a preemptive war against Iraq based on lies and faith in Jesus. Various Arab states have started many wars and terrorist actions.

    noen says: “Ya know, you can play all the semantic games you like, but the fact remains that to most people it matters a great deal what kind of company you keep. If I were you I’d think long and hard about who it is that you are getting in bed with.”

    You’re getting into bed with Ted Haggard and Jimmy Swaggart. Better you than me. That’s a 3 way I want no part of.

    I’ll stick to the atheists. You can tell them they are stupid putzes and they won’t whine about religious persecution.

  • 86. DSimon  |  July 10, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    “Because, you see, in their minds and yours, atheism doesn’t even exist.”

    And here is the point where I leave the conversation: When I say “I don’t think X” and the other person says “No, you totally do think that no matter what you say, so there!”, whatever productive part of the discussion there might have been is now dead and gone.

    As my final word (since I do so love having the last word): Yes, I think Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens are assholes. I strongly strongly disagree with them on many political issues, including (as you mentioned) pre-emptive war and torture. If I had an opportunity to invite them to a party, I totally wouldn’t.

    But what the heck does that have to do with atheism, again? Atheism is a lack of belief in gods, and the conclusion in general that religious hypotheses are mistaken. It’s apolitical, except possibly re specific issues like state-church separation. Perhaps you’re thinking of “humanism” or “rationalism”, which are broader frameworks that actually have the necessary scope to talk about things like torture and human rights.

    Anyways, to return to the main topic of the thread: I like this item from the list:

    “Pick up an old, creative hobby I hadn’t engaged in for a while (roleplaying, in my case. Yes, I am a geek.)”

    There’s nothing to be ashamed of in geekiness. :-)

    And even beyond many other fun geeky activities, I think roleplaying specifically is very appropriate for working through tough times in real life. It’s a level of escapism that goes beyond that found in merely reading a novel or watching a movie; you aren’t just involved in someone else’s story, but you’re creating your own story as you go, and participating in a world created on the fly by you and your friends.

    It might be particularly valuable for a de-convert because a lot of RPG settings include religious or semi-religious elements. Quester, do you feel like seeing religion and spirituality through a lens of imagination and fiction helped to lessen the blow of losing a big chunk of your real-world belief structure?

  • 87. Tomas S  |  July 11, 2010 at 8:11 am

    re:72: Richard, I would not be opposed to being described as a “religious naturalist” – except for the not-insignificant detail that “naturalist” means different things to different people (including “nudist”).

    But I did recently told someone (to whom I did not want to be out as an aheist) that I went through a “crisis of faith”, and when he asked me about now, I told him that i consider myself “very religious” — and I do, in the sense that religion is important to me.

    Another hesitation in accepting that term is that “religious” often suggests regular observance, such as “going to church religiously.” I don’t do that.

    > How do you like to talk about the most
    > important things of life. Religious language
    > is, lets admit, well suited to that.

    I tend to think that religious language almost by definition means different things to different people, so the first step in any religious discussion should be to define terms.

  • 88. ACN  |  July 12, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    “It might be particularly valuable for a de-convert because a lot of RPG settings include religious or semi-religious elements. Quester, do you feel like seeing religion and spirituality through a lens of imagination and fiction helped to lessen the blow of losing a big chunk of your real-world belief structure?”

    Begin Geek-Out.

    I think it does/did for me. It is kind of curious playing in an RPG setting where the laws of physics are arranged so that gods and such really do get involved with reality. A friend and I were actually just laughing about this the other day, no sensible character in most DnD settings could be an atheist because the influence of the gods is so pervasive. Clerics of gods can actually cast magical spells, avatars of gods walk the mortal realms along with player characters, the most powerful spellcasting characters can even see deities on their home planes! Heck, if the so called gods of earthly religions really and truly wanted everyone to believe in them, they would just have to make Earth more like DnD. :)

    End Geek-Out.

  • 89. DSimon  |  July 12, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    ACN, there’s a really interesting modern-era take on that idea in this story. It’s a world in which God (and angels, and various other supernatural entities) obviously exist; there aren’t any atheists, but there are still people who are non-religious.

  • 90. ACN  |  July 13, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Nice DSimon! That was the conclusion we came to also, no reasonable person in such a fictional world could be an atheist, but reasonable people could still hold the henotheistic view. I don’t think this word is exactly right here because it means a belief in many gods but a worship of some subset; but I wanted to use it for the implication that existence is not a sufficient condition for worship and thought it was cool that there was a word for it.

  • 91. GaryC  |  July 18, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    I was about 5 years old when i found that the belief in a God was a mental sickness. That a God did NOT exist and what all that people said about a God was just simply crazy thus those that believed in a God were in fact crazy. The stories of Jesus were just that stories, fairy tales and those that believed those fairy tales were not very smart. Even at that age i knew i could not fly even though i would like to like in the TV shows and comic books of Superman who had God like powers and wasn’t real and God, Jesus, etc. wasn’t any different.

    Religion IS a mental sickness and ALL who believe in any religion are in FACT mentally sick, delusional, psychotic. There is reality and reality is the same for everyone. If it is not reality than it is a delusion, illusion or hallucination, dream, wish but NOT reality. That is a fact regardless of what anyone may psychotically believe.

  • 92. GaryC  |  July 18, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    As far as coping mechanisms are just another way to delude oneself. Drunks drink to “cope”, Druggies us drugs to “cope.” Mentally healthy people “deal” with what ever problem they may encounter and not just “cope” with them. Coping is like putting a ban-aid on a gun shot wound. It covers it up but leaves one bleeding. One needs to remove the bullet and stitch up the wound for it to heal properly. In other words coping is the same as rationalizing. Many think other wise then they have problems that are never resolved.

  • 93. Scott  |  July 18, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    I wonder how Gary really feels.

  • 94. Xtine  |  July 19, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    I blog about my former fundie self – when I want/need to. I also have started a group to encourage former fundamentalists in my area. I didn’t like feeling victimized and hope to turn the experience into something empowering to myself and others. During times of trial – exercise/yoga helps – as does being aware of emotions instead of suppressing or ignoring them – observing the self. I try not to be too hard on myself. Therapy is also helpful at times – or someone to talk to who doesn’t turn everything into a sign from god or evidence of the end times or an example of man’s sinful nature.

    Sometimes I get really tired of my own Hot4Jesus schtick and religion is the last thing I want to talk about – but other times I embrace it because there is so much to study about how we humans process our mortality… This whole Christianity thing is such a tiny blip on the charts of humanity – and yet religion has so much power to destroy so much – it fascinates me to study ancient civilizations – it helps put things in perspective.

  • 95. Quester  |  July 20, 2010 at 12:24 am

    Xtine,

    Thanks for your post! You’re right about how studying, especially history, can help provide perspective.

  • 96. Quester  |  July 20, 2010 at 12:30 am

    DS@86

    Quester, do you feel like seeing religion and spirituality through a lens of imagination and fiction helped to lessen the blow of losing a big chunk of your real-world belief structure?

    Actually, I had the lousy timing of being invited to join a game about fallen angels who were dealing with the dilemma of a God who no longer seemed to be acting in the world, not for over a thousand years. An interesting setting, but not good for me to try to immerse myself in two months after leaving the church.

    But, yeah, sometimes playing a character who could actually talk to his deity, and expect answers to prayers, was therapeutic.

  • 97. GaryC  |  July 20, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Don’t COPE with your problems DEAL with them. REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy) will teach you how to DEAL with your problems not just COPE. For all of you that may think you know more I suggest you get therapy since you are obviously delusional. As for prayer. Pray in one hand and S%&t in the other and see which get filled. Prayer is a rationalization that the mentally sick use to delude themselves that every thing will magically be OK, fixed without having to do anything. Those that pray are seriously mentally sick and require anti-psychotic medications. Any belief in God/s, Devils, ghosts, or anything of the like and that includes aliens from another world, are mentally sick. They are delusional, psychotic. All religionist are mentally sick and are also pathological liars since they have learned to lie all their lives, rationalize. So when and if they learn that all the religious hokum they have been conditioned, propagandized, brainwashed to believe is just sick they become disillusioned. Since they no longer have the rationalization of religion to fall back on knowing it is sick and never having learned to think objectively, logically, rationally and scientifically they have nothing to use to DEAL with the emotional void that they once used religion to delude themselves and feel better by. That doesn’t mean that they can not learn to think in a way to deal with reality. They can learn to be mentally healthy and have an enjoyable life without deluding themselves to be happy. But it does take work as anything does. Even the best sport players, musicians, engineers, etc. have to work to get to be the best. Mental health takes work to become mentally healthy.

    Now all those that are mentally sick respond to this. All you will prove is how sick YOU ARE! Nothing negative about what I wrote will be about me but show how badly you need psychiatric help.

  • 98. Frreal  |  July 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    LOL @ Gary. It certainly is a tragedy that so many 5 yr olds are trying to fly out their second story bedrooms these days. Everyday another headline as yet again an unenlightened 5 yr old plummets to their death. Such a shame. I weep.

  • 99. DSimon  |  July 20, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Gary, I get the strong feeling you didn’t actually read the article beyond the title.

  • 100. GaryC  |  July 21, 2010 at 2:15 am

    To Frreal and Dsimon As i wrote you are showing how mentally sick YOU ARE! Both of you need psychiatric help and anti-psychotic medications. Then maybe some day you will grow up. Until then keep your childishness to you self.

  • 101. Blue  |  July 21, 2010 at 3:00 am

    The caps make GaryC’s message extra special.

  • 102. GaryC  |  July 21, 2010 at 5:15 am

    No blue you are obviously special. Then all mentally sick people think they are special. You will never get it. That what you write about me just shows what YOU ARE. You are to mentally sick to write anything sensible about the topic of coping So you children make your childish remarks and think you are smart, cool and everything someone that has delusions grandeur, is narcissistic, paranoid, antisocial and or border line personality disorders would do. Yours and the others remarks are what is called projection. I’m sure you know what that is don’t you. To put it in words you might understand you and the other two are losers! Yet you like most all mentally sick people are to deluded, in denial about how sick you are. You need to get psychiatric help sooner or later.

    I use much of what those like you write for a topic in my book on psychology. I haven’t read all of the posts but from the ones I have read no one that has wrote here or many other sites have the knowledge, the objectivity, logical, rational or scientific thinking to wrote anything intelligent. I am sure they think they do but in reality they don’t. That is why it is interesting to me. I have been studying how people deluded themselves for years now and it is just remarkable with what they come up with. Still some, unlike you Blue, are at lease attempting to be constructive and not just making childish remarks.

    Good by children of de-conversion.

  • 103. Ubi Dubium  |  July 21, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Wow, does Gary have a chip on his shoulder. He comes to a support website for those recovering from religious delusion and proceeds to rant about what a delusion religion is. Tell us something we don’t know already! Does Gary go to AA meetings and rant at the members about how they should give up drinking?

    Gary, you are ranting at the wrong people. Read a few posts before you comment. If you can’t be bothered to know who your audience is (hint, read the post next to the big read exclamation point) then buzz off.

  • 104. Scott  |  July 21, 2010 at 11:16 am

    “That what you write about me just shows what YOU ARE.”

    Et tu, Gary?

  • 105. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 21, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Yours and the others remarks are what is called projection.

    “Kettle? This is the pot. I have something I’d like to discuss with you regarding your hue.”

  • 106. DSimon  |  July 21, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Ubi, the exclamation mark is actually a little harder to find than it could be, because you have to scroll down before you see it. Maybe the amount of misinformed comments would drop (slightly) if it were moved to the top of the sidebar?

  • 107. Ubi Dubium  |  July 21, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Dsimon, that’s a good idea. I’ll suggest it to Roopster/The De-con and see if he wants to change it.

  • 108. BigHouse  |  July 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    The exclamation point move plan has been at popular proposal stage for a loooonnnggg time.

  • 109. Blue  |  July 21, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    A deranged mind is so cute to read. All that impotent anger, all that desperate need for validation and meaning. Thank you GaryC for the giggles.

  • 110. Accounting Courses  |  August 2, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Prayer has always been an option for me and it will never change. if I were in your shoes, I might have tried to do things differently as well. Your life may be kind of monotonous and maybe you need to some time to try something new. I guess the most important thing you have to keep even if you are planning to change your lifestyle is your Faith.

  • 111. athnostic  |  August 5, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Thank you for this blog. I’m really glad I found it.

    I’m currently in the process of breaking ties with religion. Strangely, I felt much more anxiety changing denominations than I have getting rid of god altogether; perhaps because I no longer live in fear of doing it wrong and ending up in hell. I will mourn deeply the loss of respect, friends, family members, and just plain having people be nice to me. Christians are truly the nastiest most judgmental group of people in existence and so I’ve largely kept my thinking quiet.

    I will continue to visit since this seems like a truly welcoming place for those undergoing “the change.” :)

  • 112. Lyra's Alias  |  August 6, 2010 at 4:12 am

    ^That last sentence made me think of getting your period for the first time.

    I laughed pretty hard.

  • 113. Dan +†+  |  August 6, 2010 at 4:49 am

    The last day will feel a bit more painful then cramping though. Period.

    Revelation 20:15

    You need the “flow” of good blood that will save you. Revelation 19:13

  • 114. Tomas S  |  August 6, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Mr Pluscrosspluss — eewwww! I bet you’ll get a few extra days in purgitory for that blasphemy – the daughter of god “bleeding” on the cross for the life of the world.

    Lyra – you must be young. If you’re over 30, “the change” usually refers to the kind of change that brings hot flashes.

  • 115. HeIsSailing  |  August 6, 2010 at 7:08 am

    athnostic says:
    Thank you for this blog. I’m really glad I found it.

    Glad you found us. I rarely visit this site anymore, but it was here at the season in my life when I desperately needed it. Ridding your life of Jesus and Yahweh was a fresh new beginning, and the last 3 years of my life without worrying about supernatural or spiritual creatures spying on me have been wonderful. Write an article and and place it here if you feel the need..!!

  • 116. Lyra's Alias  |  August 9, 2010 at 2:08 am

    Dan – I’m sorry, I can’t even be irritated at that one. It’s just too funny.

    Tomas – Yep – all of 21 years.

  • 117. Volly  |  August 29, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Prayer was the weak link in my chain of faith. Eight years ago, after nearly 15 years as a born-again Christian, nothing was going right in my life. Finances were a disaster; I could only get temp work. Every time I landed a new assignment, I’d do the usual giving thanks, and the very next day, it seemed, the assignment would end. One day I asked myself what would happen if I didn’t pray? Sure enough, I got an assignment that stretched into nearly a month. And as soon as I gave thanks for that, the next day I was informed that the assignment once again had ended. So it started with me being “angry at God.” But the next phase was during one of the later temp assignments, when I sat idly at a desk with time to think, and reflected that I had felt happy as myself at some point, long before. I wondered where that “me” had gone. And then it hit me that things were pretty good, even if not perfect, back before I became a Christian. Everything started falling to pieces after my conversion. It wasn’t just circumstances, though — it was my entire sense of self. I had been so caught up for 15 years in a cycle of self-loathing and self-denial. No wonder I hadn’t succeeded. At that quiet little moment on a Friday afternoon, I felt the fragments of myself pulling back together, and I declared myself to be in charge of my own life and destiny, leaving “God” out of the picture, whether or not he existed. And yes, the following Monday a temp-to-perm job came through, and that led to something very permanent just a few months later. Everything came together; I was never unemployed again. I felt better, stronger, and more optimistic. I actually thought I still believed in God at that point; just didn’t want any part of him. I guess you could say I deprogrammed myself. The longer I stayed away from prayer, church and Bible, and just lived my life without any supernatural suppositions, the more energy I had to concentrate in a rational way on my life situation and take real steps to fix it. “If it is to be, it’s up to me” became my motto. It wasn’t until I joined the UU church for the social connections and fellowship that I began to meet numerous ex-believers and realized that I had already found my own way to freedom. I have not looked back since.

    I believe in an ordered and mostly predictable universe that sometimes throws us a curve or gives us a break we didn’t ask for or expect. I do not believe there’s a humanlike intelligence behind this. It’s just an “I-don’t-know.” That’s the spiritual thing we all understand on some level, the thing that religions attempt to quantify and build elaborate structures around. When life is challenging, I remind myself that nothing I am experiencing is unique; billions of people on earth now, and countless others before me, have gone through whatever it is. We are all in this together; we all have inherent worth and dignity, and there is an interdependent web of existence, of which we are all a part. I conclude that the outcome of a problem has more to do with my approach to it and my attitude than anything else. And then I wait, if there is nothing more I can do. I look for opportunities to act and try to take the right steps when the situation begins to change. It’s not a perfect world, but it is manageable, and without turning ourselves inside out with theology. …Sorry this was so long-winded!!

  • 118. the anti_supernaturalist  |  December 16, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    God is irrelevant to prayer — you can pray whether it exists or not. Miracles are irrelevant. You are meant never to get a response from God.

    what is prayer? — it’s not about what you want — it’s what others demand from you

    The lack of a direct response to prayer is not a response of ‘no.’ It’s simply a non-response. Moreover, it is really important that “God” never respond directly. To hear God speaking to you — or drinking water while suffering a hallucination that it’s wine — makes you a likely schizophrenic not a saint. (Obviously…how could a non-existent being respond?)

    Jesus admonished his followers against prayer as asking-for-stuff — “consider the lilies of the field” — or prayer as public performance — “they have their reward.”

    Once rid of dead formalisms, prayer amounts to a purported alignment of a person’s intentions with “the will of God.” Or YHVH, Allah, Ahura Mazda. Pick your favorite 1-god from the big-4 near eastern traditions.

    Prayer, basically, is one fat red herring. The word ‘prayer’ simply gets redefined until the action it points to becomes attitude adjustment (or, openness to the will of a god). Just how one explicates the concept of “God’s will” and how one would know it are further entanglements in the webs of God-as-Spider.

    All that matters is your attitude — are you prepared to submit to an authoritarian god proxy (priest-pastor-evangelist) and authoritarian institution “guiding” your life? Are you prepared to submit? (‘Islam’ by the way means ‘submission’.) Well it’s your problem. Or better yet, you are your problem.

    Yes, you have a problem with adapting to a schema of institutionalized authoritarianism — and the xian diagnosis is always the same — the problem lies with you, not the 1-god of the big-3 monster theisms.

    Xianity and Freudian psychiatry are one in creating fictitious “illnesses” (‘sin’ and ‘neurosis’) for which each offers sham cures at premium prices.

    the anti_supernaturalist

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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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