Posts tagged ‘fundamentalism’

De-Converting? Embrace Nietzsche’s “Say Yes to Life!”

Yes-1As mentioned in my previous post, God, Zombies, and the Meaning of Life, when I was in the long process of leaving Christianity, one of the most overriding questions on my mind was this: if there is no God, what meaning is there in life? Christianity, as we all know, teaches that the saved are integral players in a grand cosmic drama, the unfolding of the telos of all Creation. Giving up on that illusion is, to say the least, jarring. It cannot help but leave one wondering how one’s life can have meaning at all, if it is not given from on high.

More psychologically minded individuals may reflect on a deeper way in which Christianity seems to provide the meaning in life. Children learn that they are important, that they matter, just by being seen – i.e., acknowledged and attended to – by their parents. Hopefully, of course, that attention will be loving and positive. But even if the attention is negative, critical, or even abusive, it is, from the child’s point of view, usually better than being ignored. Children will almost invariably prefer any attention to no attention, because that says that they are at least worth criticizing. So it is not hard to imagine how simply being seen by God is enough, in and of itself, to infuse one’s life with meaning and a sense of worth. It’s how many people support their feeling that they are valuable: you matter because God takes note of you. Giving up God, then, is clearly – viewed from this additional perspective – a powerful loss…

Continue Reading March 18, 2008 at 10:36 am 42 comments

I might have become an atheist

EC Pic‘Emerging’ Christian Commentary

Beginning toward the end of college and continuing through grad school into my years as a youth pastor, I went through a radical rethinking of all my conservative evangelical beliefs. I had grown up thoroughly immersed in the evangelical subculture, and as a teenager was an on-fire, committed Christian eager to serve God and share my faith with others. I attended Wheaton College, a conservative evangelical liberal arts school, where ironically, I was introduced to ideas that led me to start questioning key aspects of my conservative faith – from the nature and reality of God, to the inerrancy of scripture, to the existence of “absolute truth” or even “universal morality” free from cultural influence, to the inherent rightness of the Republican party, to the nature of salvation as merely a “get into heaven free” card.

Thanks to postmodern philosophy, as well as friends and professors who led me to look at scripture itself in a different light, by the time I finished undergrad and graduate school at Wheaton I as thoroughly cynical and disillusioned with the faith with which I had been raised. I had learned that doubt and uncertainty were an unavoidable part of the human condition, and that questioning my faith was actually a good thing…

Continue Reading March 5, 2008 at 9:23 pm 134 comments

Fundamentalism, Psychotherapy and De-Conversion

Freedom1In my own de-conversion, I found that being in psychotherapy was enormously helpful to me in overcoming some of the indoctrination I absorbed in my fundamentalist church. In fact, I was so impressed with the outcome — I quit writhing in neurotic self-flagellation as a Christian and actually started enjoying life — that I went on to become a psychiatrist.

I do not believe psychotherapy is a panacea for all the ills of the world. However, it surely represents a step forward from the morass that is fundamentalist Christian counseling.

The issue of Christian psychotherapy is complex. In fact, most religions, especially conservative ones, have a built-in psychology. This is the means they use to peddle their wares. Fundamentalism must first convince you that you are sick before its cure will have much of an appeal. To accomplish this task, it utilizes time-tested methodologies. For example, it teaches that your worst feelings of guilt and shame are the truest intuitions you have about yourself, so you should listen to them. In fundamentalist thought, there is no such thing as neurotic or misplaced guilt; guilt is the bite of a God designed conscience. It demands repentance, not an understanding of *why* you feel guilty…

Continue Reading March 2, 2008 at 10:43 pm 19 comments

Fundamentalism: A Disease of the Mind?

Disclaimer: This article is my opinion only, based on my own literary and theoretical research (M.A. in Lit.) and is not intended as “scientific research.”

memes-danger.pngThe more I interact with Christian fundamentalists, either in church or on the Internet, the more I become convinced it is a disease of the mind, or at least a self-replicating meme or “mind virus.” Having been a Christian fundamentalist myself, I can honestly say that you aren’t in your right mind when you are caught in the throes of religious fundamentalism. As a fundamentalist you close your mind to anything but what ancient texts say. You only listen to certain things and filter everything through the lens of your chosen religion. How can this be normal when we are born without filters of any kind (except pain and pleasure)? Being a fundamentalist is like confining all your thought to the works of Archimedes or to Shakespeare (that might not be a bad idea) and refusing to accept information past that point. It’s like insisting that Greek culture is the only true culture and channeling all of your efforts to seeing that it becomes our culture now.

That being said, there is a certain thrill in suddenly “waking up” and realizing you’ve been deluding yourself for many years. What I once did to become a fundamentalist, I have now done in freeing myself from it’s grasp. You slowly begin to grasp that the fundamentalist rituals you are using are designed solely to keep those delusions fresh and ever present in your mind so that you will quickly fall into line if you have doubts…

Continue Reading February 15, 2008 at 12:08 pm 189 comments

Atheist or Anti-Theist?

Anti Religion BadgeWhen I first started to self-identify as an atheist, I held several positions that I have since rejected. An example of one of these was the notion that science answers “how” questions and religion answers “why” questions. Although I was unaware of him at the time, I would have agreed with Gould’s non-overlapping magisterium. Now I don’t. I don’t actually believe religion has anything worthwhile to say on anything.

Religion never shied away from making bold claims about the world when it was talking to an ignorant unscientific audience. If religion doesn’t overlap with science today it is only because the religious are rightly afraid to compete with science; a battle they have historically always lost.

Some fundamentalists aren’t happy to remain on their side of the playground however; they actively undermine legitimate science and try to have their view of reality supersede any other. Finally, religion makes numerous claims that are incompatible with scientific knowledge. Some theists rationalise these incongruities by appealing to symbolism or non-literalism. That’s their choice, but I don’t think you can justify every contradiction, and indeed if religion was true, why would you have to?…

Continue Reading February 4, 2008 at 8:00 pm 89 comments

Rationalizing Faith

Never in my life would I have ever imagined that I would go through so much change. I have caused pain in close friends, and felt much inner shame at myself as the result. What can I say? I have been a fundamentalist Christian at least 3 times in my life. I have also been a nihilist, an atheist, an agnostic…

I can recall many times I have almost died, and escaped death by sheer luck. So many times those have been ways of pushing me into a superstitious worldview that some deity was looking out for me. Other times I would look at my character traits and compare them to my astrological sign and be convinced that astrology is indeed true. The truth is that astrology is a fraud, and I can’t prove at all that a magical deity saved me from near death.

I believe that I just am conditioned to look at things with a faith-based mindset. I also believe that I have a passion for fantasy and imagination which compliments the conditioning quite well. Sometimes, the greatest feeling of awe and excitement comes to me when I believe in the magic. The magic that I create in my head, the magic in movies, the magic in the Bible, and the magic in everyday life. By magic, I mean illusion, and nothing more. The illusion of imagination is beautiful in a way. It is kind of mystical and mysterious, and yes, it reminds me of falling in love…

Continue Reading January 9, 2008 at 1:18 pm 6 comments

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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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