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9/23/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Cherished Beliefs

By Bill J

The hardest thing about letting go of cherished beliefs is the reality that you are now responsible for your life. There isn't a god trying to guide you toward his/her will. It's very difficult for most people to give up what gave them definition. I would like Christians to understand that every former Christian on this site made a tremendous and courageous decision to leave something very near and dear to them. Most if not all of them studies, prayed and gave their lives to serve god. Then they realized, for whatever reason, and there are many, that Christianity is not real. They began to leave their cocoon and look beyond the subtle and not so subtle brainwashing that had happened to them.

Once you get into arguments about the bible and god you will be tempted to forget that this isn’t just about what you believe. It will become personal and a quest to prove that you could not have been duped or fooled. It is very hard for the Christian to stop and put themselves in the shoes of an ex-Christian. It’s nearly impossible for current Christians to believe that anyone on this site was ever a Christian in the true sense of the word. Yet, we were and we left the faith. We no longer respect or value the former beliefs. Most Christians think we are deluded by the enemy or fooled by our own sin. Or they will simply believe that we were never really Christians to begin with. Whatever the case, I doubt you have the ability to step back and rationally accept us. As long as you hold true to supernatural beliefs and theologies you will never be able to understand us.

However, do me the favor of calling the elders of the church to come forward and pray for the sick. Tell me if the sick are healed. Show me the arm, leg or eye regenerated by god through pray of the faithful. Give me absolute proof like Thomas was given. Most if not all of the proof Christians have of the reality of god is emotionally driven. I hear over and over Christians say, I believe because god speaks to me and impresses me by his/her spirit. I have actually read about a Christian apologist, whom I know personally, claim god spoke to him verbally. It’s hard to refute supernatural beliefs because they can assume any shape to refute the rational person. I saw it happen when I did my student ministry at the Institute for Creation Research The other side of the coin is the fact that belief simply trumps truth. People believe what they want to believe. It takes a lot of cognitive dissonance to undue belief. Some people are just not capable of letting go of what they believe because the fear of the unknown or possible punishment from god is too great.

Most Christians were converted in their childhood and youth. The brain is extremely susceptible to fantastic beliefs in childhood. The ability to think long term and make good judgments doesn’t develop until a person is in their early 20’s. This is a common problem with youth. Can you imagine the power religion has over people when they are converted in their youth? When they become adults they have to fight their natural development to put away childish thinking and keep believing in things they can never prove or demonstrate.

It’s unbelievable the kind of thinking and that goes on in Christian circles today. I know because I was apart of them for decades. I’ve seen everything from casting out supposed demons to praying for paralyzed people 24 hours straight with, of course, no results. I’ve seen families judged by the church because there teenage daughter got pregnant. I’ve seen people abused sexually, emotionally, physically, financially and so on. I’ve witnessed the failure of good people who, even though they were indwelt with the Holy Spirit, do hurtful things to other Christians. I’ve seen the mentally ill treated with contempt for not overcoming their illness or for taking psychotropic drugs. I’ve seen prejudice and hate all in the name of god. The list goes on and on. The average Christian will tell you to look to Jesus but they conveniently put aside the concept that Christians are supposed to be known for their love. Christians don’t turn the other cheek; they support war if they believe it is a just cause. Our president claims to be a disciple of Christ and he started this war in Iraq. Christians often fail to see how there own cultural upbringing influence their beliefs. They become ethno-centric and equate their way of life with god’s way of life. They don’t give their all to serve their god; they give what works for them and forget the rest. They do what makes them feel superior and just.

The truth of the matter is, that for religion to be real and a conduit to the truth it needs to demonstrate universal consistency and rationally based evidence. It doesn’t and there isn’t anyway to do so. There is too much of “us” in religion and no real supernatural, rational, believable god behind it. There is no second coming, no mountains being moved, no arms or legs regenerated by god, no walking on water, no consistency in theology, eschatology, or doctrine and no ability to demonstrate that they, the Christians, have anything even close to proof that their lives are better, happier, purer, healthier, more moral or ethical or anything else that could be used to measure them by. Those cherished beliefs are no more than that. They do not equate to any measurable or quantifiable proof that god exists for indwells the believer.

27 comments:

freethinker05 said...

Dear Bill, even though I never really felt that I was saved through my, (about 30 yrs. of christianity), I still tryed to hold on to a belief, that god would evenually bring me out of my doubting state of mind, until I started studying and researching Atheism. That was the starting point of realizeing that there is no god that would help me through all my trials and tribulations. It hurt like hell for a good while, to find that christianity and biblegod where all lies, but, I could never go back there. I sometimes still read about "universal salvation", but, I doubt that is even true, as much as i'd like for it to be. For some people life can be so sad, and then to find out, there's no god to help them is a mother-fucker. Peace, Roger A/A

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think most atheists derive great comfort from thinking that they will never have to answer to any final judge.

Of course, that is just psychological observation, and not an argument for or against.

AtheistToothFairy said...

Anonymous wrote:
Actually, I think most atheists derive great comfort from thinking that they will never have to answer to any final judge.
---
Hey anon,

Xtians get their fringe benefits; all those healings, talking in tongues for some and so forth, so it's only right us atheist get a fringe benefit to.

If you're implying that we turned our back on god just to get this 'comfort' of no final judgement, you're sorely mistaken
We don't fool ourselves by pretending there is no god, just to get out of this god's end-wrath.

In contrast, xtians pretend there is a god so they can go to heaven.



ATF

Huey said...

Anonymous said"

"Actually, I think most atheists derive great comfort from thinking that they will never have to answer to any final judge."

That is a christian conceit! One that leads to the argument that now that we don't know jesus, we are going to lie, steal, rape and murder. If the only reason you live a responsible life is because you look forward to answering to a final judge, then I am very glad that you worship a god!

I, like the rest of my peers here at this web site and around the world, don't even think about it.

Clytemnstra said...

I was raised an atheist, so I cannot relate to a lot of what goes on here. I would like to respond to what anon. had posted.

I do not get "great comfort" from knowing that I will not face a final judgement. The judgement is an ancient fable and has no place in civilized discourse. It is like saying that I get comfort from knowing that there is not a boogeyman in my closet who is going to jump out and rape me. I was not raised to believe in either gods or boogeymen, and there is no comfort in not believing in stuff that I did not believe to begin with.

liniasmax said...

Bill J said: It is very hard for the Christian to stop and put themselves in the shoes of an ex-Christian.

Yes - this is the problem for me at the moment and why I lay low and just...well...pretend. Bill J, this is so where I am at the moment, and full of excellent observations. Did you read my mind? Anonymous - I found comfort in escaping the fiery torment, so I got no immediate satisfacton from losing my home in glory. You do demonstrate an important point, though. Christianity is, without a doubt, at the core, a religion of fear. And the home in Glory sounds so not glorious.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote: " Actually, I think most atheists derive great comfort from thinking that they will never have to answer to any final judge."

It is the fear of going to a hell more than hope of going to a heaven, in my experience as a former Xian, that drives the belief in god. Atheists take responsibility for their actions, they raise their children and are responsible members of society who no longer are giving emotional energy to such irrational beliefs. By replacing faith with reason, they are free to contribute to making the world a better place, without feeling they are under duress from some tyrant in the sky.

Rob said...

Excellent article. Succinctly put.

Steve Parker said...

"...every former Christian on this site made a tremendous and courageous decision to leave something very near and dear to them."

Didn't quite work that way for me. They pushed me away, with their incessant talk of love and unloving behavior. But I still believed in God until my late 20's.

Then I came across a book about the church prophet, E.G. White, called "The White Lie", that gave pretty strong evidence that most of the words written by this person were plagiarized, including the visions from God.

That was when I decided I better just take it from the beginning and reconstruct a belief system. I started with "I believe in nothing" and progressed to "except what physically is." Well, that's science.

There is no evidence to support the assertions of any of those mystical middle eastern religions, nor any religion at all. So I don't believe none of that crap.

So, my deconversion came with a little bit of pain, but no big losses like some others here have described. You who were far more entwined, such as ministers and the like, I don't know how you did it. You are awesome.

trancelation said...

On The 'Great Pleasure':

As an atheist, each day is an affirmation of the non-existence of a final judgment for me. My escape from Christianity was the ultimate realization of this, that there is no invisible man in the sky waiting to punish you based solely on what you THINK. But does the knowledge that:

1. There is no Christian God

2. There is no Christian Hell

3. There is no Christian Heaven

4. Ergo, there is no final judgment

. . . give me 'great pleasure'? Let me focus on this right now, and see if it does.

. . .

I can't say that it gives me 'great pleasure'. It would be like saying I feel 'great pleasure' in the knowledge that I am not a phone book, a swimming pool, or a box of raisins. It's like saying I feel 'great pleasure' at knowing there is not a Jessica Simpson look-alike riding around in the sky on a chariot made of hot dogs, farting rainbows from her finely-sculpted white girl ass as she controls the weather with her baton of . . . weather control. Why would I feel 'great pleasure' in knowing these things do not exist? The same thing goes for the fact that there is no final judgment awaiting me.

*shrug*

It's just a fact. Water is wet, the sky is blue, grass is green, there is no Heaven or Hell. Nothing more than a fact.

I suppose the comment is more of a jibe in the direction that because atheists know there is no final judgment, they can do whatever they want. I have certainly never know any atheists with this attitude. Hitler and other so-called atheist dictators had this attitude, but Hitler and other so-called atheist dictators were completely, 100%, totally fucking insane. So their example does not count.

What does give me 'great pleasure' is the knowledge that we as human beings in a natural world are responsible for ourselves and the actions we take towards others. I need no divine 'final judgment' to take responsibility for myself. If I am cruel or malicious, HUMANS will have a final judgment waiting for me, not a God. Death is final. It is the end. No one in their right mind would seek death, which is why Christianity is such a mental disorder: Christians treat life as nothing more than a vehicle, a waystation to a supernatural reward beyond our own world. Life is pointless and meaningless to Christians, and yet the mind control machine of the Church will not even allow them to commit suicide. It's pathetic.

And that is something else I do not feel 'great pleasure' towards.

matineeidol said...

final judgment, eh? i find it really interesting that, of all the points in Bill's discourse, that was the one most responded to. Oddly enough, the "reason argument" is why I decided to have faith. I struggled as a child with not being able to grasp concepts in toto, like infinity, omnipresence. As a young adult I struggled with the fact that for all my desiring to, I did not "love" God. I didn't cherish my belief structure, didn't see the need for it, and couldn't impress it upon my heart. Then, I drifted into agnosticism/nihilism, and soon realized that believing there was no higher purpose for my life was driving me slowly insane, in a literal way. It contradicted something that was much more intrinsic to me than belief that I'd like to call humanity if it's not too presumptuous. So, in an act of self-preservation, I chose to reclaim my faith, at least the parts I could believe--leaving the parts I had struggled with to be dealt with later, one at a time. I don't really care if I never believe all of my bible, or if I end up being "wrong". At the point of judgment or non-, I'll either be glad I believed, or I won't exist. And if I end up not existing, well, at least I will have gone through life attempting to live as I thought best.
Just as I cannot prove that God exists, neither can an Atheist prove the opposite; he or she has also simply made a choice based on who they are and what they've experienced in life. I've seen some pretty terrible things from people who call themselves Christians and that doesn't negate my faith. It means that people suck, as we all know. People screw up, and people lie, and people go against what they've professed to believe because it's more comfortable, just as sometimes it is more comfortable to believe. I've heard people say that Atheism is selfish. But oddly enough, I think I chose my faith out of selfishness. Out of a desire to believe that I was created uniquely and live for a reason that is about as graspable as infinity, or omnipresence.
As a side note, I have no interest in proselytizing. I respect the opinions of everyone who has posted here completely and doubt that the choice was flippantly made. I just like to converse with people who don't share my viewpoint; I think it's really important to not insulate myself in anything, even faith.

Spirula said...

Actually, I think most Christians derive great comfort from thinking that they will never have to answer to anyone as long as they ask for forgiveness from God. And, subsequent to their asking, if you don't forgive them, you are at fault.

Cool system. You behave simply to avoid punishment and then, even if you destroy the lives of other innocent people, the slate gets wiped clean by a simple little prayer. After that, any issues are the victim's failures.

Bill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill said...

Anonymous wrote:

"Actually, I think most atheists derive great comfort from thinking that they will never have to answer to any final judge."

Actually I'd suspect that you are projecting your own thinking into an agnostic or atheists thinking trying to rationalize your superior beliefs.

Just a thought.

Bill J.

Bill said...

I just re-read my post and noticed some of the spelling errors. Forgive me, I hate it when I do that. I have never been great at editing my own stuff. :)

Bill J.

Jamie said...

Then I came across a book about the church prophet, E.G. White, called "The White Lie", that gave pretty strong evidence that most of the words written by this person were plagiarized, including the visions from God.

Hey Steve, are you a form Seventh-day Adventist? I'd like to learn a bit more about White's plagiarism (I've looked into it enough to know it debunks her as a prophetess in my eyes...I'd just like to have better tools for explaining what I believe.)

mike said...

Hey Bill I love the idea that you wrote of:

However, do me the favor of calling the elders of the church to come forward and pray for the sick.

For the last thirty years I have been in a wheelchair due to a drunk driver. When healing does not come christians always have excuses after excuses. They love to sweap away the failures and popularize the seeming successes. But the fact is the retarded child, or the one with a true spinal chord injury, or downs syndrome etc, never get healed. But hey they will always tell the person god loves you and has a great plan for your life! Bullshit ! After thirty years of crying out to god to end the pain, well all I had gotten was pure silence.

Monk said...

To matineeidol:

I don't know you, and I don't mean to be harsh, but it seems to me that you are a perfect example of Pascal's Wager. By reading your comment, I get the sense that you are driven more by fear (to me, a mostly negative emotion) than by any positive or constructive emotion or feeling. That doesn't seem all that healthy in the long run. Does it ever bother you that a significant portion of your life philosophy derives from fear? Or do you ever consider it?

Once again, I'm not trying to be cruel or contemptuous...I'm really curious.

**********************************

To Spirula:

Brilliant! And it's the perfect excuse for a society that LOVES to pass the buck onto someone else. There is no sense of responsibility in the average American. We're all just sooooo perfect, so we could never do anything wrong: it must be someone/something else's fault. That's why American's need "god" so much...the ultimate being on which to pass the buck instead of doing something about it themselves.

Excellent!

Rick said...

matineeidol : "Just as I cannot prove that God exists, neither can an Atheist prove the opposite; he or she has also simply made a choice based on who they are and what they've experienced in life."

Look. Atheism isn't about proving or disproving god. It's about looking at the claims put forth by believers and recognizing that they fail when examined. Religion makes a claim and atheists don't buy it.

True, you cannot prove or disprove god - however, you can look at specific claims of god and determine their worth. When believers start putting attributes, history, and stories behind their gods then it gives us something tangible to examine. In this manner it gives the skeptic the ability to deny specific gods as described by specific claims.

I cannot say for a fact that a "god" exists or not, but I can say, after looking at the claims of various religions that the god described by those religions does not exist.

Just as you deny the existence of Ra, Zeus, Shiva, etc because of the claims and stories are obviously made up we can look at the stories of Allah and Jesus and Jehovah and come to the same conclusions.

The end result is that the claim of no Christ or no Allah or no Jehovah is quite valid and representable. That does not eliminate the possibility of god, simply your version of it.

samanthamj said...

Interesting post, and comments. I agree with all the feedback regarding what Anonymous wrote:

"Actually, I think most atheists derive great comfort from thinking that they will never have to answer to any final judge."

I'd like to add that not only is that not the reason I don't believe in God and heaven and hell... but, it's also not always so comforting.

Along with not believing I have a judge to answer to, I also can't believe in the "perks" of having one. Like.. ummm... living happily ever after? Yeah, that's a biggie. And, of course I would love to believe that I would see my loved ones again that have passed away. I just can't make myself believe it.

How comforting is that?

Still, I'd rather be realistic... enjoy my life now... then to think I will get this 2nd chance that never comes..

~smj

freethinker05 said...

Spirula, I made a comment last night about liking your name, not knowing you were a male. I could have sworn that you told di wilson you were a girl. I must have got you mixed up with someone else.Not that I was trying to come on to you or anything, just trying to be polite and make conversation, and maybe friends to a few others on this site, thats all. I hold nothing against gays although I am not. Anyway, my apologizes. Roger...P.S. Still a nice name though,LOL

freethinker05 said...

Heh Mike, I know what you mean. If God has a plan for your life now, Goddamned, I'd hate to see what he has in store for you next. Your right,even though I think alot of christians are sincere, it ain't nothing but a bullshitting cover up for them. Peace, Roger, A/A

Passerby said...

Nice to meet you Spirula, I never thought I'd meet someone that actually qualifies to cast the 1st stone! Anyone that can speak so flippantly about forgiveness has clearly lived a faultless life and never had to resort to the humbling act of asking someone for forgiveness.

I congratulate you on your perfectly righteous life. It must be quite a joy to be around you!

Rick said...

Passerbye : Anyone that can speak so flippantly about forgiveness has clearly lived a faultless life and never had to resort to the humbling act of asking someone for forgiveness.

Yah, cause its so much harder to ask forgiveness from a mythological invisible man in the sky rather from those that you have wronged.

Jayne said...

Intriguing comments and thoughts. Personally, I became a much happier and heartfelt person the minute I stopped waiting for the lord to come and save me, to make things better, blah, blah blah. It's almost as if I emerged from that choking smog and discovered that Heaven and Hell are the choices I daily make in how I choose to live my life and interact with others. Have I lost my optimism? No... Do I still awaken each morning with my goofy smile? Yes, most of the time. Do I still have hope? Yes, because of my fellow non-believers who make a difference in the lives of others, daily! Thanks for the dialogue!

Spirula said...

freethinker05

I am a guy. And straight.

The name is from a species of squid I find fascinating. Google images and you'll see one of its intriguing features that you can occasionally find on the beaches around the world (I have one from the Gulf of Mexico).

passerby,

Read the whole comment thread?

Anyway, you 'righteous' clowns constantly come by and drop some fundy quano about "atheists have no morals" blah, blah, blah. We see it all the time.

In fact, you are the ones with the pathetic, lame basis for morality. You "behave" (at least as far as fundy arguments go) based of fear of eternal punishment.

I "behave" based on compassion, sympathy, empathy and cooperation. It's innate. As social animals, we've evolved these traits to survive.

And, during my fundy years, personally witnessed victims of adultery, gossip and backstabbing being strongly pressured to forgive their transgessors, despite their hurt and anger. Why? Well, because the transgressor had been forgiven by god. So, now the victim was a transgressor. That's messed up.

(And yes, I do get along well with others and was a very popular teacher as well)

Passerby said...

It appears there are two Passerby's on this site now. I usually end my posts with Cheers.

Cheers