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1/30/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Ouch!

By A Freethinking Okie

It seems I have been getting a lot of nasty personal emails from Christians calling me all sorts of names, saying I am bitter, angry, resentful, hateful, sad, bigoted, lost, confused, wavering, over-reacting, disillusioned, schizophrenic, bi-polar, and lactose intolerant. Okay, maybe not the last one, but I keep getting the same stuff everyday. It seems there are lots of Christians out there that feel it’s there duty to rebuke me and put this poor’ lost atheist in his place. Like an average blue-collar middle-of-nowhere small town Oklahoman whose face is easily lost in any crowd is a major threat to their faith. They could just as easily overlook me and ignore me as just another tiny voice of no real threat on the vast global network called the internet. But the emails just keep coming.

I’m certainly no threat to them…or maybe I am. Yes, I think I am. Why?

Well, the more I thought about it today the more I realized something about Christians (especially myself when I was a Christian). I had read on Ex-Christian.net a few weeks ago this idea that Christians are constantly having to convince themselves of the ‘truth’. At first I thought this was incorrect, but the more I thought about it I realized it made a lot of sense.

Case in point: I began to look back at my entire 12 years as a Christian. for the first 6 years (ages 14-20) I was pretty naive. At 14 I pretty much believed what I was told by an adult who was a perceived authority in the matter and certainly wouldn’t steer me wrong. However, as I began to age my naturally curious mind wanted to know how all the pieces fit together. The more I looked at the puzzle the more I realized that things weren’t fitting together like they should. I mean, if Christianity is THE truth then it should all go together nicely, right?

My college years hit me like a bombshell. Christians, if you want your kids to stay ’strong’ then don’t send them to liberal arts universities. The one class that almost did me in was “Logic and Critical Thinking”. I thought I was a strong Christian but I was hanging on to my faith by a thread by the end of the semester. I realized the only way to regain my strength was to totally immerse myself in Christians studies and stop being skeptical. I force-fed myself all the latest in books and CDs. After a while I stabilized and was even more zealous for my faith. But I was never the same. It seemed I had to continue to immerse myself in my religious studies. I couldn’t seem to uproot that small sapling of doubt in my heart. I kept hearing over and over “something just isn’t right” deep within me. I think this is how I ended up crossing over into Christian Hebraic-Roots movement.

I always pressed myself to live beyond the status quo of those around me, to live passionately and full of zeal. I could match wits with any minister I came in contact with because ignorance was not bliss. I knew that traditional Christianity was all screwed up so I knew I had to get back to the ‘roots’, back to the 1st century, back to the way Jesus lived his Christianity. What I didn’t realize is that he lived as a Jew…because he was a Jew. It was at this time that my skepticism became a GOOD thing. I began to question everything I had been taught in traditional Christian theology and doctrine. I also changed a lot of my practices to conform more to how I thought Jesus would have done it. Fortunately for me I let my skeptic muscle get stronger, so strong that I began to question the very foundations of my faith. It came to the point that I could no longer deny all the evidences I had revealed before me. The burden of proof laid with the Christians and there just wasn’t enough preponderance of the evidence to convince me of the ‘truth’ of Christianity. I lost my ‘faith’.

Getting back to why a guy like me is such a threat to some of these people is that I think deep down in their own hearts they have to be violently defensive about their beliefs because if they gave me any inch it would completely unseat their own faith. Just like me, they have to immerse themselves much into their studies to stay convinced. I personally spent thousands of dollars on books to keep me convinced. And I think the more intelligent a Christian is the more it takes to keep them convinced. They need more ‘proofs’. I think this is why Christians have to have thousands of books covering every topic beyond what is written in the Bible. The Bible simply isn’t enough for them.

I have a ‘friend’ who is highly intelligent and a believer. He really is incredibly smart, and much more articulate then I could dream of being. But he also has several thousand books in his library, and he even admits that his daily bible study lacks. Some would say that because he read those books he is intelligent, but I would argue that because he is intelligent, highly intelligent, he needs all those books to stay comfortably nestled in his faith. I think if he for one second allowed himself to think objectively he too would be a strong atheist. But he has way too much at stake, way too much vested interest to change sides now. I think he would rather live and die wrong than live the truth and be rejected by his peers.

Me? Well, I have nothing to lose. And I am not afraid. Life will be what will be, come what may. But I will face reality with open arms and in the end, well, it won’t matter, I will cease to exist, and that’s okay.

20 comments:

Erik said...

Good post. I have often wondered myself why zealots have put so much energy into "defending the faith". After all, if it's true, then why do you need to protect it? Sending their kids to special schools, banning books, censoring media, intense apologetics, and so on. It would seem that faith is not as strong a quality as they insist, but in fact a very delicate thing that needs to be kept behind very thick, high walls of self-delusion.

Susan (Ayame) said...

I agree, it's an excellent post. It really addresses a lot of what I've wondered, too. I always wondered why people of faith were so rabid about protecting their faith.

Your realization about truth needing to make sense, to fit together in a rational way is a good way to look at it. Things that claim to be true should make sense. If they don't then people spend enormous amounts of time trying to make the pieces fit together when they really don't.

I think your post also shows something that you only hint at: that atheists need to be more vocal. There are probably lots of people out there who are looking at faith and wondering why it doesn't fit together. Those people are looking to embrace reality, but are unable to find the key to making sense of it. They might be afraid that they are alone, that there are no others like them out there.

We are so anonymous as atheists. We are so different from what people of faith can comprehend, yet we are there, in the midst of the crowd, living our lives.

I like Erik's insight, too: that faith is a very delicate thing.

Excellent! :)

jim earl said...

Thanks for some good ideas. I enjoyed your post and the comments from Erik and Susan. I agree that faith is a very delicate thing. If it were the truth, there would be less need to defend it or hold it as untouchable.

We as non-believers should be willing to expose the truths that we have learned through study and experience and not sit back and allow the religious to set all the rules.

Spirula said...

I think this is why Christians have to have thousands of books covering every topic beyond what is written in the Bible.

Coincidently, I was in Raleigh this weekend and noticed how many shelves in a Barnes and Noble were dedicated to Christian books. I made the comment to my friend "There seems to be no clearer witness to the ambiguity and conundrum that is the Bible than how many books Christians write explaining it. It would seem that if it was "the Truth" you'd only need one book." Apparently, God likes to play a cruel game with humanity by condemning them if they don't believe in him, but making it extremely difficult to "find" Him and His "truths".


After all, if it's true, then why do you need to protect it? Sending their kids to special schools, banning books, censoring media, intense apologetics, and so on.

My childhood and early adulthood in a nutshell. Interestingly, what started to make me question Christianity was the behavior of Christians toward each other (gossip, backstabbing, lying, adultery (yeah, a lot of it) judgemental attitudes, inability to get along, church splits, dishonesty in science) that made me slowly move away from them. I was sent to both a Christian Junior/High School and College, so I was kept very insulated from the "challenges" to my faith. I credit Christians for demonstrating the fallacy that is Christian beliefs.

Jerome said...

Great post and excellent feedback so far. Christians attempt to make Ex-Christians and Atheist feel as if the Ex-Christians and Atheist are the ones missing the point to life, when in actuality, it is the Christians that miss the obvious point that they have no proof of this phantom god. None.
I'm happy for this site and what it represents. In my journey, battle, to rid myself from this insidious belief, it was this site that provided me comfort. This site, where people express their experience, made me see that my experience was not unique. We all had similar experiences. We continue to speak-up. Continue to say "The Emperor has no clothes on". I read a quote here that stated that if we remain silence, the Christians may have an argument that we don't exist. I say, let's continue to express ourselves. We're not the trees that fall in a forest and there's no-one around to hear the sound. I dream of the day when ALL ex-Christians and atheist can walk proud with their chins up and state emphatically as the Christian does their position on faith. I believe that time is coming. I see this here is the grass roots movement of a resurgent free thinking movement.

twincats said...

Okie wrote "...I would argue that because he is intelligent, highly intelligent, he needs all those books to stay comfortably nestled in his faith. I think if he for one second allowed himself to think objectively he too would be a strong atheist. But he has way too much at stake, way too much vested interest to change sides now. I think he would rather live and die wrong than live the truth and be rejected by his peers."

Amen, brother! I think that's why the new mega-churches are getting so popular with their movie theatres, child-care centers, schools, coffee shops and bookstores (to show films and sell books/music that support their world view) which keep them and their delicate faith insulated from the mean, nasty, untidy, secular real world.

Funny how the rest of us do just fine in a society where we're inundated by Chrstianity. If we were that weak in our un-faith, we'd be running back to church in herds every Christmas!

Steven Bently said...

"I think he would rather live and die wrong than live the truth and be rejected by his peers."


Absolutely!! Very insightfull post!

Here's the thing, they were all paraded, (at their expense of total embarrassment and mental psychosis)in front of their peers, like little guinea pigs and belittled to worthless mush to conformity and then to prove their worthyness by their unnvited announcement they must proclaim,
"I Am A Christian" this is their good deeds and works to be a witness to their cause.

Now they must prove to the world that they are indeed a "Christian" to turn back to original sanity would make them appear to be less than what they were, before becoming a Christian.

Of course no Christian would even think of investigating the background nor the bloody history of the Christian movement, before making the pledge of becoming a
full fledged fundy.

Since it is assured to them that being an Atheist is destined to be certain eternal hell torment.

It's plain to see that Christians and any other religious sect is brainwashed to reject reality and to live in a mental cocoon of
delusion.

The people that wrote the Bible knew they could do just that, control masses of people with fear of the imaginary external God looking down on them and ready to judge them right there on the spot should they wonder away from their force-fed thoughts.

How this disease, (mental trap)has survived this long is beyond my comprehension.

Andrew Hawkins said...

Christians have to work hard to maintain their faith”. Why? If it were true, then why would it need so much work to maintain? If it were true it would stand up to rebuke and it wouldn’t need reaffirmation.

It says somewhere in the bible that only with the Holy Spirit living within you can you understand the word of God. If this is so, then why all the need for study? Surely the living spirit of the one true God would imbue you with perfect knowledge.

I remember Sam Harris in a debate stating that Christians aren’t stupid because they believe in a falsity. Many very clever people often have stupid ideas rattling around in their brains.

Why should the devil have all the good arguments!

R said...

What? Another Freethinking Okie? With a sense of humor? Are there more of us out there?

Greetings from Tornado Alley, where if your Christian mobile home gets demolished, it's God testing you, and if it's an atheist mobile home, you're lactose intolerant and God hated you anyway.

I hear you, as far as the books go. Seems like everywhere you go now, Christians have slapped a label on everything from bookstores to loans to plumbing services to penis enlargements in order to reassure themselves. Ok, I made that last one up. Shouldn't be too long before they claim that one too.

If you posted before, sorry I missed it. Why are you getting nasty emails? Did you "come out" recently?

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. Thank you sharing your thoughts. And you don't seem to be a bitter person at all, to me, you actually seem cheerful and glad to be out of it. I have lost friends and acquaintances because of my "falling away" (as they call it) but don't regret it. It's better than believing the lie.

A Freethinking Okie said...

Thanks for the positive reviews.

R, Yes, there a lots of us freethinking Okies here in the Sooner State, although you know as well as I do we are SEVERELY outnumbered by far. I hope to help change that in my little corner of the world.

Anonymous, I really am not bitter but I do have to admit I am somewhat angry, but more with myself than anyone else, but it will pass.

Yes, I did actually 'come out' recently, in fact I was very involved in a serious online study forum...we did alot of academic/scholarly approaches. When everyone found out I had 'lost' my faith they even set a nice little forum thread that I can't view. I found this out because they posted my personal blog on the thread and I saw on my stats that they came to my blog from the secret thread. A few of them tried to engage me in some "deep intellectual discourse" but I wasn't interested and told them to get bent, and that's when the nasty emails began. They said I can't be a true 'freethinker' if I wasn't willing to talk to them. Oh well, screw them!

Anti-Almost-Everything said...

Excellent post. This gave me insight into some family members of mine. My father is very intelligent, very religious and has thousands upon thousands of those books!

Anonymous said...

I love your article, and I'm glad you wrote it. But unlike the other fans of this piece, I'm one of those intelligent Christians who has lots of theology books on my shelf.

I believe I can answer at least one question for you guys, if you're really interested:
Why do Christians have to "defend" their faith? You probably know, if you think about it. sometimes it's for the same reasons you defend athiesm. Some people feel 'alone.' Others are stupid or misinformed, and some are just jerks who like to argue. Be honest, we have them on both sides of the faith issue.

A few of us, however, aren't so much defending our faith as we are firmly convinced that those who don't believe are doomed. Our zeal is like that of a mother who sees her child slipping into dangerous drug use - no good mom wants her kid to live (and die?) like that.

Your article reminds me of one of my friends in my Mensa club. He's intelligent (enough to be in Mensa), and has lots of books about physics. that's his passion, but many people think he's just a moron wanting to reinforce his ideas about the nature of the universe. He, on the other hand, calls these critics 'names,' especially when they deny the realities he knows to be fact. Just the other day he saw a kid attempt to deny gravity, and another rejected the law of inertia, and he called them foolish and stupid. I heard him!

don't you just hate people like him?

.:webmaster:. said...

"Just the other day he saw a kid attempt to deny gravity, and another rejected the law of inertia, and he called them foolish and stupid. I heard him!

don't you just hate people like him?"


I hardly think denying gravity or inertia compares to disbelieving in talking snakes and donkeys, flying chariots, angels impregnating women, floating ax heads, magic cloaks and sticks, or a stories about a flying, un-dead god-man.

Is comparing scientific exploration and theory to religious myths stupid?

Yes. Absolutely.

spirula said...

Our zeal is like that of a mother who sees her child slipping into dangerous drug use - no good mom wants her kid to live (and die?) like that.

Yeah, and all the while you're worshipping a "Father" that allowed death and suffering to enter the world, promised to punish for eternity the billions of people who don't worship him, even though, as a putative omnipotent and omniscient being, he could change all that. But he doesn't.

Wicked smaht there.

Alan said...

Anonymous wrote:

A few of us, however, aren't so much defending our faith as we are firmly convinced that those who don't believe are doomed.

Here's hoping one day you might see the absurdity of that conviction.

Dante said...

I don't believe that there is any real concern on the part of most Christians for the souls of atheists. They have nothing to gain if they lead an atheist back to Jesus Christ, because Heaven is expected to be unspeakable in its pleasure anyway. What I think instead is that they simply want to win for the sake of winning, because that gives them confidence that their side of the debate is the right side.

But remember, athesits spend a lot of time defending THEIR beliefs as well, this site being one of the many examples of this. Perhaps there is some fear left over from their days as Christians that they're going to Hell for leaving Christianity, and they need the positive reinforcement of other atheists.

.:webmaster:. said...

Dante,

This is not an atheistic site. This is an ex-Christian site. Not everyone who posts here is an atheist. However, everyone who posts here has come to the opinion that Christianity is just another phony religious cult. Granted, a hugely successful phony religious cult, but nonsense, none-the-less.

What this site is about is deprogramming from that cult. It is not about defending atheism, or any other ism. There is no set organization of dogma and beliefs that unites the regular posters on this site except that most were once Christian and are no longer Christian.

Your assumption that everyone who is against Christianity is an atheist with "beliefs" betrays your Christian fundamentalist religious worldview. If you are not a Christian, then you too need a considerable amount of deprogramming.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Okie! It answers why my incredibly articulate, creative, (otherwise) clear-thinking, (otherwise) rational, supportive, good-humored Christian friend is as ardent in this nonsense as she is. I never understood that, and it's the one thing I wonder about. I remember sitting at a lunch with her one day after we'd first met, and she showed me the bible, and started talking about the "word". And how the word was god, and therefore god was the word and was god, or something to that effect. I had to look at her sideways. All our other conversations are clear and simple but she got me on that one. Anytime she discusses religion, she's incomprehensible; anytime she discusses day-to-day life, she's as clear as a bell. I may even one day decide to challenge her, but I'm afraid, like your friend, she's dedicated to her defense.

Naomi

Nvrgoingbk said...

Uhm Fundy Anonymous Christian:

What exactly are you trying to save us from? You used the example of a mother and a child using drugs. Poor analogy, man.
First of all, my life is no less moral than when I was a CHristian, and second of all, Lucy, you've got some 'splaning to do, when it comes to the despicable acts that have been carried out by your brothers and sisters of the faith and continue on even to this day. If you need any proof, please read through the numerous articles bringing to light, the inhumanity of your leaders and fellow believers. Pick up a fucking history book.

Are you trying to save us from the wrath of your angry God. Good luck, so are the Muslims. I hear Allah's Hell is hotter.

And by the way, can you please tell me why I'd even want to spend eternity with your blood-thirsty, bigoted God? I don't get it. I mean, let's be honest...He allows that wiley old serpent to "decieve" his child, when she didn't even know what sin was, "He" kidnaps Jonah in the belly of a fish, He kills 7,000 people because David took a census that God himself ordered him to take, He ruins a man's life over a "bet" He makes with Satan, He continually contradicts himself and his own commands, He demands animal sacrifice and permits human sacrifice, genocide of entire nations, rape of foreign virgins, infanticide, slavery, and abuse to women. This great God NEVER answers prayer, allows his "Word" to be confusing enough that his own worshippers can't even agree to it's commands and precepts, AND sits back on his lazy ass as children are raped and tortured, nations fight in his name, people are brainwashed, pastors and priests fleece the flock, tsunamis kill hundreds of thousands, families starve, and babies are born with debilitating disease and deformity for no other sin than being born! I hate your fucking idea of God!

No thanks, I'd rather hang out with "sinners" in Hell.