In the 17th century, Nicolaas Hartsoeker, after squinting though his microscope at ejaculate, became so convinced that each sperm was actually a little man (homunculus), he produced detailed drawings as shown on the right.
When his imaginative drawings were brought into question by those suggesting that such a notion leads to an infinite regress as each little man himself must possess sperm that also held other smaller little men ad infinitum, bible believers defended the drawings by invoking scripture. The sin nature was able to pass from Adam to all humans since all humans once swung in the testes of Adam.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. —Romans 5:12-14
Incredibly, scientists today have rejected the theory of Mr. Hoarsoeker. Scientist now claim that sperm do not at all resemble little men. But the track record of biblical insight into natural phenomena has suffered very few setbacks as fundamentalist will attest. It was simply a misunderstanding or misapplication of scripture they will inform you. They’ll get it right next time.
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!
– 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?
Wow, my titles are getting more depressing though I think my content is more hopeful. This post should not be an exception – I hope.
The more I’ve been thinking about dealing with the arrogance versus humility issue, the more it has pried open an issue which, ironically for me, has become somewhat tautological. Suppression.
I’m pretty sure that every person deals with this on a daily basis, but I’m also pretty sure that conservative Christians are masters of exacerbating it. In fact, I was heavily on my way to becoming a guru when it came to suppressing everything I felt and wanted. And here is how I have been setting myself free.
For the most part I’ve identified two major areas of suppression in my own life: physical and emotional. Intellectually I suppressed some things – like how I considered evolution to be beautiful and immediately thought it was the devil speaking to me. But for the most part, I did not feel like the intellectual side of my mind was hindered too much by the Christianity with which I grew up. And if my intellect was suppressed, I feel that I have sufficiently dealt with that. Many of you may notice the change in tone of my posts – that I used to be much more analytical. So that leaves me with physical and emotional suppression.
Physical suppression revealed itself most strongly in sexuality. I remember distinctly being terrified of my first sexual thoughts. In my early arrogant Christian days – at around the age of 9 – I remember looking up to the teenagers around me in disgust. Who are these apes, gallivanting about all stupid and shit? I won’t be like them. I’m a good Christian. I’ll never look at porn. I’ll never commit adultery. I will never have sex before marriage. I had not yet learned that only the arrogant say “I would never”…
The topic of humility versus arrogance has been – for the longest time – a major blocker in my own thinking as I am sure it has been for others. I remember wrestling with this issue for years as far back as when I was thirteen or fourteen. At that time I would hear others talk about it and try to sort out what it means and how to achieve it.
As I remember, the struggle went something like this. I had been told multiple things about humility – and as with all Christian doctrine – I noticed through recurring headaches that there were strong contradictions in what I was taught.
One of those major contradictions was the impossibility of pursuing ones ability to be humble if a humble person does not think about their humility. A lot of people told me not to think about being humble, but I knew I was commanded to be humble. This, naturally, made me introspect to figure out whether I was. Then I would remember that a person who is humble cannot know it. But how am I supposed to pursue humility if I cannot think about it?
Naturally I wanted to resolve this contradiction. I mean, if it hurt my head that much surely resolving it would help others, right?
But there was a problem. The Bible. The Bible was the problem. First of all, the Bible never said that a humble person does not recognize his humility. In some places it implies the opposite. If you believe Moses wrote Deuteronomy, then you have to believe that a humble man can honestly – and in humility – write that he is the most humble man on earth. Noticing this, I began to garner a general distrust for Christian memes, since it seemed like people were ultimately pulling their end ideas out of their ass and these normally contradicted the Bible in some way…
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…
Is your god patient?
Not if he’s the god of the bible. According to the theology of most Evangelicals, Jehovah’s wrath is so intense over the first offense of any human that he immediately deems the offender deserving of eternal torture. No joke. One offense by any offender is sufficient to incur a divine wrath so terrible that “there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” for eternity awaiting that offender when they die.
“Can’t god do what he wants?” you may ask.
Sure. There is nothing illogical about a malicious god. God can be as mean-spirited as he wants to be. But in addition to being malicious, the god of the bible is then also a liar since he claims to love the very humans he damns to hell-fire over a single offense. This god of the bible unequivocally claims in 1 Corinthians 13:4 that love (agape) is patient. If god loses his temper over the first offense, and deems eternal torture the only thing that will appease his anger, just how much space is left over for patience?
Normally when we think about patience and impatience we think of 2 extremes with a soft delineation somewhere in the middle such as is shown in the following image.
Here patience and impatience fall on a normal continuum. Because words belong to human convention, the standard for the extremes ought to reflect human sentiments about patience and impatience. For example, (more…)
I’m not really a people person. Like a lot of atheists (supposedly), I’m quite an outsider, as much of a hermit as I can get away with, in fact. I have never liked going out in crowds or socializing with large numbers of people. But I help run my local atheist group and am coordinator of the Morgantown Coalition of Reason.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I have realized something that I want to share with you. Even though I’m a curmudgeonly hermit-y atheist, I love going to the 3 atheist/freethinker/skeptical meetings we have every month. That’s 3 Sundays a month where I happily leave the house and go socialize with a small group of people. And I look forward to it. The one or 2 Sundays where we don’t meet I miss it.
Even people like me benefit from social community and contact. The beauty of the atheist/freethinker community is that we are relatively like-minded. We have a foundation of common ground. But we are also quite different, of course, which is good because that makes things interesting. The added bonus of freethinkers, skeptics and atheists is that we seem relatively level-headed (overall – there are exceptions, of course) and we argue and discuss matters with interest and fairness. No drama llama is invited! So it’s actually fun and mentally stimulating.
I think we all need some type of community, which is one thing that religion has in its favor that being a lone atheist or nonbeliever does not.
But this is easily remedied. I thought I’d share some thoughts on how to get involved with a secular group of like-minded people. If none exist in your area, you can start one up…