8/27/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Only God Knows

By Neal

I recall many years ago about a family in the church I was attending had lost their child. He wandered off and was found face down in the mud.

I recall listening in on the conversation with one of the church leaders and the pastor. I then heard the one comment I can't stand to this day — "Only God Knows..."

What? Really? Huh? So why isn't he telling then?

Does not the Bible say that if we ask we shall receive? Does not Jesus tell us we will receive wisdom and understanding just for the asking? Doesn't the Holy Spirit live in Christians and guide them and provide them wisdom?

So why is it after 2,000 years of Christianity and all the millions who have studied it and that in this "enlightened" age, this is still an answer to most tough questions?

What really baffles me is that many church leaders, prophets and other supposed "spirit filled" religious leaders will make some prediction about the end times or make some other prophecy and end up totally wrong. And when you ask why? You get "Well, only God knows."

Sorry I don't buy that. If a person is filled with the spirit of God or the Holy Spirit then their prophecies and predictions would come from God. So either they are not filled with the spirit as they claim or God is totally wrong and doesn't know his own stuff.

Perhaps our religious leaders are just to lazy to really dig for answers?

Well, I guess only God knows...

8/26/2008                                                                                       View Comments

A Sunday Sermon // Hearing God's Voice

By Mc Pickard

Now that you've gone to service, said your prayers and gave God a few Franklins - it's time for a sermon from the other side of the aisle.



The other day, I was at the K-Mart in Oconomowoc, on a little visual research expedition. As I was strolling through the book section, How to Hear from God: Learn His Voice and Make Right Decisions by that church lady from the 700 Club caught my attention. I quickly scanned the back. The book promises to teach you how to hear God's voice in every daily action so you can do "His Divine Will." All for $19.31!

For whatever reason, this goofiness interests me. I did a quick Google and this subject is almost a genre unto itself.

The believer is duped into thinking that a non-stop circle jerk of sanctimonious, self-affirming, ego-stroking is somehow a Bat-Phone to God. This site not only features a downloadable lecture, but "4 Main Keys" to secure direct communication with God. This belief is predicated on one of the later prophets in the book of Habakkuk. A lesser known book of the OT, yet it does contain plenty of violence of that capricious blood thirsty God we've come to love and adore. The Wiki entry states that this book is "The starting point of the concept of faith" which later NT writers grounded their emotional rhetoric and appeals of faith against the Greek tradition of materialist based reason. Paul for example.

As an aside, I did this drawing to illustrate the relationship between my own inner voice, Satan, and God. I measured the decibel levels of each.



What did you expect? Data? Verification?

Anyway, the author states that after praying, fasting, studying the Bible for one year, his previous roadblock of not hearing God's voice had been removed. He claims that "God set me aside" on this year long exercise. If your paying attention, this was before he could not hear Gods voice. Yet, somehow this born-again, Bible-believing Christian receives a directive to do so?

Unfortunately, the author gives no concrete way to confirm that in fact the voices in your head are not yours. Also, he gives no qualitative way to distinguish if the voice in your head is Satan and not God. You think that would be important, the Devil is known to be a trickster. Each step is self-brainwashing. In Key #4 you are to journal, but to "write in faith for long periods of time" and before you do, you should have adequately "submitted to solid, spiritual leadership." The shorthand, if you already believe, you already believe.

Books like this merely reaffirm the self-delusion that one can have a personal relationship with an immaterial, invisible entity that resides somewhere out there and beyond human comprehension. The believer is duped into thinking that a non-stop circle jerk of sanctimonious, self-affirming, ego-stroking is somehow a Bat Phone to God – piece-mailing advice at every trivial decision.

This variety of religious instruction does have consequences. From mothers who drown their children, to anti-abortionists who murder doctors and bomb clinics - we find that God has also a penchant for violence when he's not busy deciding plaids or stripes.

In my deconversion, hearing God's voice was an issue. I never heard God, only the familiar intonation of my own inner-voice. I never wanted to pretend or lie that this was anything but the case. In discussion with my Christian friends, they tell me they do, in fact, hear God's voice.

I have to stop and question the sanity of my friends. Can I blame them? They are victims. We have a history and a society of these flim-flammers, speaking from alleged authority, that this self-induced schizophrenia is real and not imaginary.

8/25/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Factual scientific data vs. "faith" and "magic"

Sent in by Brian

I was raised in a very Christian home, and went to church my whole life. I never had a reason to believe otherwise - there is a God, he is all powerful, and you DO NOT question it. I can remember a few times kind of wondering "Is this for real?", and then praying for some kind of sign - which of course I never got. After I did not receive confirmation of his existence, I immediately prayed and asked for forgiveness for my lack of faith. Who was I to question God?

When you start thinking about the whole question in a logical manner, it is very hard to remain faithful. There are simply too many facts against religion.Well at the age of 24, I started listening to some very intelligent people. I would debate with them about the existence of God, but the entire time, I would feel like I was losing the debate. I would throw out fake "Facts" to back up the existence of God, and bring up faith.. They would be visibly frustrated by my lack of understanding.

Little did they know, but they were chipping away just a little of my Christian foundation with every debate. They made a lot of sense. I would leave questioning things, and feeling a lot of doubt.

This is when I decided to seek the truth. I decided that I would invest in books on both sides of the argument. I would read a book on evolution, and then read a book by a creationist. I would read a book by Dawkins, and then read a "Scientific proof of God" book. I did this for months.

I quickly started to realize that the atheist books were full of factual scientific data, and the theist books were full of "faith" and "magic". I have a very logic-oriented brain, so faith and magic just don't hold up. The Christian books quickly turned in to comedy. As I was reading, I would have to stop and read aloud the particularly absurd passages to my wife. She would laugh at them as well (even though she was still holding on to her Catholic beliefs at the time). Needless to say, I quickly became an atheist. After hours of discussion on the subject, my wife followed shortly thereafter.

When you start thinking about the whole question in a logical manner, it is very hard to remain faithful. There are simply too many facts against religion.

I can understand where religion came from. Our ancestors looked around our world in amazement, and could not understand ANYTHING. They had no idea what that huge ball of fire in the sky was, they had no idea what made plants grow, and water falling from the sky was a "miracle". They had to explain it somehow, so our ancestors created gods. Each civilization created their own gods, and thought the other civilizations were crazy heathens. Sound familiar?

Since your religion is based SOLELY on the bible, doesn't this make you question your own beliefs? Well now that we understand our universe, there is no longer a need for religion. We KNOW what the sun is, we understand the life cycle of plants, we know what causes rain, etc. The things that were previously classified as miracles now have scientific explanations. So why hold on to religion?

If you are a Christian, ask yourself these questions:

- Is the Bible the word of God?
- If it is the word of God, would it not be "perfect"?
- If it is perfect, every part of it should be correct, right?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, read on. If you answered no, then you are already slipping down the slope to atheism, but read on anyways.

So if the bible is infallible, how do you explain the following biblical "mistakes":

- According to the bible, the world was covered by a great flood, which killed all living creatures. Noah took 2 of each animal on to a ship, rode out the storm, and then dropped them of in the middle east.

If this is true, how to you explain life on Australia (since it was never connected to the rest of the land masses)? How did the animals make it from the middle east to Australia? Did they swim across the ocean? How can you explain the unique animals that only exist in Australia (Evolution took different paths on this segregated land mass)?How do you explain the fact that there is not geological proof of such a massive flood (which would be very obvious to archaeologists). And to point out the most ridiculous part of this story - there are millions of species of animals. How did Noah fit all of those on to a single boat, and keep them from killing each other?

- According to the bible, the universe revolves around the sun.

Do you think this is true?

- According to the bible, the earth is only a few thousand years old.

How can you explain the overwhelming evidence of millions of years of existence? How can you explain dinosaurs?

- According to the bible, god created man and woman and all of the animals.

How do you explain finding the bones of our ancestors which show the evolution of humans? If God created man and woman in his image, wouldn't all of our ancestors look exactly like us?? Why are all animals and humans still changing and evolving? How do you explain absolute PROOF of microevolution?

- The bible condones slavery, misogyny, ritualistic sacrifice, and human atrocities.

Was this written by a loving God, or mortal men?

- The bible refers to the earth as flat, and a non-moving entity.

Do YOU think the earth is flat, and that the universe revolves around it?

- The bible describes the hydrological cycle in terms of magic and fountains from heaven - showing a clear lack of knowledge of where rain, snow and hail originate.

Do you think that rain comes from a fountain from heaven?

- The bible is full of mathematical inaccuracies.

Don't you think God could figure out Pi, handle basic addition, and measure properly?

- The bible makes numerous prophetical statements that never came true.

Again, is this written by an infallible God, or a mortal man?

- EVERY major story in the Christian Bible can be traced back to earlier pagan religions. Stories such as: Born in a manger, virgin birth, born under the north star, visited by kings, brought 3 gifts, water in to wine, fish and bread to feed thousands, crucified on a cross, rose again after 3 days, etc, etc, etc - these can all be linked to religions that existed LONG before Christianity. Just look up Mithras for a quick comparison.

So, if you acknowledge that the above references show biblical inaccuracies, then you are admitting that the bible is not "perfect". Therefore it cannot be the word of God. Since your religion is based SOLELY on the bible, doesn't this make you question your own beliefs?

You have two paths that you can take here:

1. Open your mind, and find out for yourself what you REALLY believe (not what you were told to believe).

- OR -

2. Be a good Christian and close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and sing "Jesus loves me" as loud as you can.


If you choose path number 1, congratulations! In your search of truth, please try to disregard magic, faith, mysterious ways, and the like. Use your logical brain! Trust me, it is better on this side. It is like a huge blanket of guilt and dread is lifted off of your shoulders.

If you chose path #2, enjoy your life of ignorant bliss.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not all-powerful.

Is he able to prevent evil, but not willing?
Then he is malicious.

Is he both able and willing?
Then why is there evil?

Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

All the Rage

By Astreja

As much as I enjoy the dialogue at Ex-Christian.net, I've noticed something that's a bit worrisome. I have become a BibleBotherer-Seeking Missile with an extremely short fuse.

My own experiences with Christianity are somewhat milder than the norm. Although nominally a liberal Protestant in childhood, I didn't get the fear of Hell beat into me by parental units, teachers, friends or neighbours. I didn't invest decades of precious life time in the Christian cult, although I did later deconvert from another belief system and can identify with the pain of going from belief to non-belief.

So what's with the intense, blood-boiling fury that I've been feeling lately?

One possible explanation: Uninvited proselytizing and evangelizing is abuse, psychological torment, and what I'm feeling is natural -- Counter-aggression in the face of a perceived attack.

At this point, I would expect one of our Christian visitors to say "Attack? But we're only trying to heeeelp..."

This is the usual rationale for invading our space. But let's take a closer look at the nature of this so-called help, using recent examples from Ex-C itself:

"Why do you have so many hatreds in your life? Why are there so many broken relationships in your life? Why won't you accept reconciliation with certain people in your life?"

"There is nothing that I can say or do to convince you that Jesus died on the cross for you..."

"A so-called Atheist reading the Bible is like a english-only literate person reading chinese."

"Mother, father sister, brother, freind, spouse they will all forsake you. God is the only one who truly loves and adores you."

"It is truely sad when I see the lack of truth in some of these comments."

"Friends eternity is forever, and much too long to be wrong."

"Sorry your feelings were hurt. Hope you can explain it on judgement day."

"As long as you and the others continue to do what you know is wrong, you prove that the world would be a better place without you."

"Well fuck you all, God loves you and he will forgive and take care of every last one of you for ever and ever, wether you like it or not... and if you dumb stupid apes are tou blind and stupid to see this, then I don't know how to help any of you."

Do you see what's going on here, folks?
  • Unfounded accusations, usually accompanied by mind-reading
  • Guilt trips
  • Insults
  • Attempts to cause us to doubt the fidelity of the real people we know and love
  • Unwarranted criticisms
  • Threats
  • And completely off-the-wall rants.

These are all manifestations of emotional abuse and are perceived as attacks upon one's person. Our visitors' evangelizing is triggering the adrenaline rush of a fight-or-flight reaction.

(cracks knuckles) And they wonder why I'm not glad to see them...

8/23/2008                                                                                       View Comments

8/22/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Do you believe in evolution?



Bill Maher asks Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor whether or not he believes in evolution.

This is a clip from the movie Religulous

Religulous is a documentary directed by Larry Charles and starring American comedian Bill Maher, host of Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO. According to Maher, the title of the film is a portmanteau derived from the words "religion" and "ridiculous," implying the satirical nature of the documentary that is meant to mock the concept of organized religion and the problems it brings about.



Religulous is scheduled for release on October 3, 2008

8/18/2008                                                                                       View Comments

A conversation with John Loftus & Robert Price

Part I:


Part II:


This is a round-table interview with John W. Loftus author of "Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity." John is the founder of Debunking Christianity. Robert M. Price talks about his book "Top Secret: The Truth about Today's Pop Mysticisms." Robert is also author of "The Reason Driven Life," and many other greats.

Discussion topics here include: the New Atheists, family values of Jesus, prosperity gospel, Joel Osteen, Creation museums, New Thought, New Age movements, Oprah, Genesis, modern science, etc.

Part one is approximately 90 minutes long. Part two is 30 min.

8/17/2008                                                                                       View Comments

The Christian god, the Jewish god, or no god



A meaningful dialog between Dinesh D'Souza, Christopher Hitchens, and Dennis Prager. The debate was held in the spring at the Bat Yahm Synagogue in Newport Beach, and the audience was predominantly Jewish, with a fair representation of Christians and atheists.

Video is approximately two hours in length.

8/16/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Priest Off!



The sexual abuse of children by ordained clergy may now be combated using this convenient spray repellent.

8/12/2008                                                                                       View Comments

An elfin allegory

Sent in by Geoff

Cars move because Elves push them.

How come we can't see any elves?
--Their magic makes them invisible.

How come they don't leave any fingerprints?
--They wear gloves.

Elves are little aren't they? They couldn't possibly have enough strength to push a car.
--They work in teams.

I happened across this on a message board on myspace, all credit goes to this person: LINK.
--Geoff--
Still... some cars can go over 200 mph. Nothing can run that fast.
--They're magic, remember?

But humans invented cars didn't they? It's nothing to do with elves.
--The Elves INSPIRED people to build cars.

If Elves push them, why do they have engines?
--It amuses the elves to make us think we need engines and fuel.

Isn't that a bit evil of them? I mean this is a multi-billion dollar industry that ravages the environment.
--The ways of the Elves are not our ways.

So all those engineers and scientists working on hydrogen
engines and electric cars are wasting their time?
--The elves will provide, but it amuses them that humans think they're running the automotive industry.

But nobody's ever seen an Elf.
--They're invisible, remember?

Cars don't run without engines or petrol.
--Because if you don't play the game the Elves aren't amused. They might help you along a bit further on the fumes in your tank though. If you believe.

I don't believe, but I've made it just to the petrol station on fumes a few times.
--That's them giving you a sign they're real and asking you to believe in them.

But I'm sure people who do believe in them sometimes run out of fuel, even when they ask the Elves for more.
--Elves are capricious, sometimes the answer is no or they heed your call in a different way later on.

But look, fuel does burn and explode under the right conditions. Clearly it does relate to the ability of cars to go. Plus we make plastics and things out of petrochemicals. What gives.
--The Elves have evil rivals, Pixies, and they do everything they can to undermine Elf power and belief. Including using their magic to make it seem like petrol burns and explodes.

People die from it!
--Pixies are evil.

I don't believe you, this is ridiculous, give me any evidence at all Elves exist.
--Prove to me that they don't! They're in lots of books. Take Lord of the Rings for example.

That's just fiction and those elves can't turn invisible.
--It's a work by fallible, ill informed humans. You can't expect it to be 100% accurate but the inspiration for Elves had to come from somewhere. That's proof they exist!

So you don't have a single shred of evidence for Elves, do you?
--Your car moves doesn't it?

By internal combustion and human ingenuity, not elves.
--So you think, the Pixies have gotten to you, I know THE TRUTH. Still, you believe what you want and I'll believe what I want.

What else do these Elves do?
--They speak to me in whispers.

Ooookaaaay... what do they tell you?
--That pixiess are evil, that we should stop solar cell research and that I should lobotomise your children with a chisel.

Ummm... then we can't really each believe what we want can we? --Your beliefs are going to screw things up for me.

Help! I'm being persecuted by the A-Elfist! He won't let me express my legitimate beliefs!

He's BACK!



He is known variously as Vissarion, The Teacher, and Jesus of Siberia and his followers believe that he really is the Messiah.

From Wikipedia:
Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop (Russian: Сергей Анатольевич Тороп), (born January 14, 1961) known by his followers as Vissarion (Виссарион), is a Russian mystic. He founded and heads a religious movement known as the Church of the Last Testament with its head church in the Siberian Taiga in the Minusinsk Depression east of Abakan, in the southern Siberia Kuraginsk district of Krasnoyarsk territory. He has around 4,000 followers (called Vissarionites) in around thirty villages in the immediate vicinity of his base at Sun City, while having approximately 10,000 followers around the world.

Vissarion claims to be a reincarnation of Jesus. He teaches reincarnation, veganism, and the impending end of the world, or at least of civilization as we know it. In May 1990, aged 29, Vissarion claims to have experienced a mystical revelation. He first spoke publicly in Minusinsk on 18 August 1991. He founded the "Church of the Last Testament" (Церковь Последнего Завета Tserokvy Poslednego Zaveta), also known as "Community of Unified Faith".

He was born in Krasnodar; after service in the Red Army, he settled in Minusinsk. He worked as a traffic policeman before losing his job in 1989. In 1991 he was "reborn" as Vissarion, the returned Jesus Christ. In his system this does not make him God, but instead the word of God. His religion combines elements of the Russian Orthodox Church with Buddhism, apocalypticism, collectivism, and ecological values. His followers observe strict regulations, are vegans,[1] and are allowed no vices such as smoking or drinking alcohol. Money is banned. The aim of the group is to unite all religions on Earth.

Vissarion is also a painter.

Tiberkul, the settlement in the Taiga, was established in 1994 on a territory of 2.5 square kilometres, and today counts some five thousand inhabitants, largely living autochthonous and on ecological principles. It is centered around the villages of Petropavlovka and Cheremshanka, at ca. [show location on an interactive map] 53°53′N, 93°45′E. The settlement is now also called Ecopolis and has a three-tiered structure: the Town itself (Abode of Dawn), the Heavenly Abode, and the Temple Peak.

Vissarion's sect is estimated to have some ten thousand adherents, with claims of up to 50,000 adherents in eighty-three communities spread over 150 square kilometers.

Since 1992, biographer Vadim Redkin (born 1958) has published an annual volume detailing Vissarion's activities. Vissarion has attracted a number of followers from Germany's esoteric subculture, and seven volumes of Vadim's account have been translated into German.

The Suffering Of God's Earthly Children: A Heated Debate

By SConnor

I, recently, had a heated debate at the excellent blog, Debunking Christianity, http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/07/genesis-221-25-woman-from-rib-and.html?showComment=1217981580000#c2183258380688335035 with a zealous, Pastor Harvey Burnett, http://www.blogger.com/profile/15315686602819371111.

I wanted to share with you some of the exchanges, I had with Harvey, to illustrate, what lengths, some delusional, Christians will take, to protect their feeble beliefs. As you will see, Harvey -- not being able to refute the specifics of my germane, arguments -- habitually, relies on absurd, non-sequiturs, hemorrhages equivocations and diverges, at any cost, including disparaging me and my relationship with my son Connor.

For those who do not know my story; my ten year old son died from a heart attack, related to leukemia -- a devastating blow, that has left me emotionally crippled and overwhelmed my family with grief. http://exchristian.net/testimonies/2007/10/where-are-you-god.html
In the ensuing, year, my obsessive search for god, why we suffer and some tangible evidence of an afterlife, led me to studying the bible. I first went to the bible for comfort, but only found it repulsive. I still can't believe Christianity is based on this horrific book.

I've been told by clergy and by bible-defending apologists -- in an attempt to vindicate their creator -- "god created us, so god can kill us". With that information and after experiencing the egregious pain and suffering my son went through, only to die and then having to live with the indescribable, grief my family suffers with, to this day, I have to ask, why does an all-loving bible-god, cause his earthly children to suffer before he kills them? Why didn't this bible-god take into consideration, that when he punished his people because they did not obey, by killing them, he left in it's wake the innocent, surviving families, to linger, in the long lasting effects, of severe misery and horrendous grief? Additionally, why does god continue to create his earthly children, sending them to a planet, where he knows, they will be forced to endure, sadistic, vile, mass suffering?

I have edited the debate, removing any extraneous tangents that did not adhere to the "suffering premise". Also, I made additional comments, not part of the original debate, highlighted in *bold*. If you would like to read the debate in it's entirety go here, http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/07/genesis-221-25-woman-from-rib-and.html?showComment=1217981580000#c2183258380688335035 This is where I jumped into the thread to debate Harvey.

I've reproduced -- in part -- this debate, as a testament, for anyone to read, exposing, just how far, a deluded, Christian will go to salvage their god's reputation. enjoy.

*This is where I jumped in.*

Harvey -- Anyway, for your long rants you already know the answers for the Midianites...guess what, God's standards of morality and justice are much greater than yours and all your little "whiner" atheist friends who just CRY over the fact that those Midianite children had to die...no mention of the fact that they would have been sacrificed or become animal food otherwise.

S -- It is telling how you have to do mental gymnastics and jump through hoops to salvage your god's reputation -- a desperate act that has the eloquence of trying to bash a big square peg, with a sledgehammer, in a tiny, little hole.

S -- What you do not take into account, about the Midianites and other vile accounts in the bible, such as the killing of the first born, in Egypt and the Amelak Massacre, is the devastating long-lasting suffering, that all the families must endure, because god killed their children. Did god not take this into account, when he decided to curse the first born Egyptians or ordered genocide? I can attest, to the anguish and monumental grief of losing a son. My ten year old son died from a heart attack, related to leukemia and everyday, sometimes every minute of everyday, the tsunami of grief makes my blood run cold and my heart turns to lead. For me it has been a crippling grief, where I lost everything; my job, my friends, and my identity. The egregious pain is parroted in the support group, I belong to, called Compassionate Friends -- some have divorced their spouses, some harm themselves, by cutting into their arms, some drink themselves to death every night, some use illicit drugs to block out the pain, while others, like myself have been institutionalized, in mental hospitals and some have even succumbed to the egregious pain and have killed themselves. To this day -- wanting to kill myself -- has become a part of my very existence. Along with my suffering, my daughter suffers; never to have her big brother in her life, destined to be an only child and emotionally scarred for life. She too suffers everyday, dreading to go to sleep thinking she will die, like her brother did. She feels her throat closing in and thinks she can't breathe. She suffers with night terrors and also sees a psychologists, regularly. This, too, is what god wrought upon his earthly children, when he killed the first born of Egypt and ordered the massacres of his earthly children. So while god was supposedly, "saving children from sacrifice and becoming animal food" and or, leading his chosen out of bondage, he left in it's wake, a devastation, so great, because so many families were affected -- the untold suffering, where joy and hope have been obliterated, is unimaginable. A god that would do this, is nothing less then, a repugnant, vile, torturer of souls -- a megalomaniac, that is both utterly contemptible and thoroughly indefensible.

S -- I've heard all your bullshit apologetic, pat, answers, but nothing addresses the aftermath suffering.

S-- Why did god create the babies and children, in the first place, knowing he was going to kill them, anyways? And god, just, didn't kill babies, he caused them to suffer! Why does an all-loving god cause babies and children to suffer? Why does a god allow babies to suffer? Presumably, god is all-powerful and all-loving, he could, easily, have waved his hand and magically made the babies and children disappear, without suffering, into his awaiting arms, but no -- egregious suffering was his will and he still left the families to wallow in their unimaginable, grief, until they died. I find that utterly vile and contemptible and I find you equally reprehensible, for condoning his atrocious acts, in a vain attempt to salvage your psycho-fuck god's reputation.

Harvey -- I have every bit of feeling for you and your situation. I have an 11 year old son that I also love with my life. I do not minimize the pain or the reality of your situation IN ANY MANNER. Your grief is in accordance with how I believe that I would feel if the same or a similar thing happened to me or my babies (That’s what I call my children)

*Several paragraphs later, Harvey, changes his tune and does, indeed, minimizes my pain. And his "feeling" for me, diminishes as well.*

Harvey -- I will submit this to you…your situation and that of your precious son was not what I was commenting about and is totally unrelated to God dealing with the SIN of Midian. I understand better now any negative feelings, but you must know that the events of the bible and the events of the life or your son and family cannot be and should not be reconciled in discovering this topic and subject, they are unrelated.

S -- That is complete and utter bullshit. You simply avoid and dismiss the correlation I made, because you do not have a tidy way of coming to terms with it.

S -- There are several examples (thousands of examples), in the bible, like the ones I offer, where god either kills his earthly children or orders their death, at the hands of barbarians, thus leaving monumental suffering in it's wake -- sin or no sin. Not only were innocent people dispatched, they also, suffered egregiously, in the process. Specifically, the remaining families, the brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, who were not killed in cruel and barbaric ways, are now left to suffer, in their monumental grief. The same grief my family is crippled by today.
*Then Harvey went on a ridiculously, long rant, that I'll briefly show, but won't bore you with it, here.*

Harvey --The Midianite problem was spiritual, which led to sin and sin, caused death (James 1:14) Sin is a real enemy not just a condition or state of mind. God was not exacting judgement upon...They are not considered RAPED. That is a “strawman” to stir emotion and again shows complete self-righteousness and no consideration for the real argument.

S -- Your loquacious rantings, said a whole lot of nothing and completely avoided my main argument. Now if you can refute, specifically, to god's negligence, of not realizing, that by killing or ordering the deaths of so many, that he would synonymously inflict undeserved suffering -- profound, devastating, grief -- on his earthly children, who survived the many onslaughts -- I'm all ears.
I await your many diverging/avoiding tactics, and convoluted reasoning.

Harvey -- I have an understanding that God is soveriegn and every twist of the dagger of sin into human life only brings me one step closer to the ultimate goal. So yes, I pain like others, but I have assurance of my future...

Harvey --
There are a lot of questions and things that people suffer and they are ALL WITHOUT EXCEPTION a result of SIN. So God is never and has never been negligent in any of his ways...they are past us and past our rationalizations and understandings.

Harvey -- I am under NO obligation to you so don't get it twisted, that's a part of the ground I walk on and I learn to "shake the dust" well. As I said, Prayer changes things situations and people...and it also ministers to US that are left as a result of tragedy to sort out the pieces. So the very children you name I was one of them...you offer me no useful analogy and maybe you should find out who you're talking to before you suggest that I find out how to cope with things that I am personally acquainted with.

Harvey -- No, everything doesn't always go our way, but God is in control no matter what...Speaking of all those situations in the hospital...that's part of who I minister to and that's me...I'm not an ivory tower Christian...I'm in the trenches...that's why I'm here, to shed some light in this dank darkness...

Harvey -- So in short...you walk with me and you'll be walking with somebody because I don't play, and I live what I preach and believe...I have been delivered from sin and this is REAL not a delusion.

S -- And yet, god keeps creating more earthly children, sentencing them to endure egregious pain and unimaginable suffering. EXPLAIN THIS!

S-- I, also, am still waiting for you to -- without equivocating -- address, specifically, to god's negligence -- in the bible -- not realizing, that by killing or ordering the deaths of so many, that he would synonymously, inflict undeserved suffering -- profound, devastating, grief -- on his earthly children, who survived the many onslaughts -- whether they were a "just" punishments or ludicrous ways to save babies and children from the evils of other religions -- god still left indiscriminate, suffering and monumental grief, in the wake of the destruction. God caused the suffering of untold millions.

Harvey -- [Already addressed...

S -- In your mind, maybe.

Harvey -- ...and your moral court is NOT greater than God. HE has authored life without your assistance

S -- And you speaking for god is not recognized, thusly, you have no authority to even utter that statement. You do not possess any special knowledge of god or his morals. And the knowledge, you think you have, is creative interpretation, coupled with deluded imaginings, based on your idiosyncratic, views, of your spurious, bible. Get it through your thick head, you have zero authority, with me. Anything you say about god carries no weight.

*Later in the discourse*

Harvey -- ...if he takes it IT'S HIS to take no matter how we feel about it...blatant, yes...but it's the way it is...We are all subject and noone has a free pass, God is not some cosmic belhop waiting for our demand...you got it twisted...but that's ok...

S --That's your dumb-ass argument, that doesn't address the god of the bible, who causes his earthly children to suffer, egregiously, in grief, because he killed people or ordered the killing of others.

Harvey -- [Ooh, it more addresses your self-exaltation and your twisted view of humanity being there at your beck and call]

Harvey --
[You and your posterior are not the object of the conversation, but all one has to do is let you ramble aimlessly so that you can show that posterior for what it is...please try to produce something at least beneficial to the reader next time.]

S -- Which is just your way of relinquishing, by diverging, because you can't argue the specifics of a bible-god killing, his earthly children, causing thousands and thousands of the survivors, to mourn in misery, for the loss of their loved ones.

Explain why it's OK, for your all-loving god, to cause such misery and crippling grief caused by the after-effects of god killing people or ordering barbarians to kill people.

Harvey -- [First God DID NOT cause misery. Unbelief, rebellion, and disobedience (aka SIN) and man’s choice of SIN did that...so your whole premise is baseless]

S -- Ecc. 7:14 -- "In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him."

S -- Which means: When times are good, you should be cheerful; when times are bad, think what it means. God makes them both to keep us from knowing what will happen next.

S -- The Hebrew word for "Adversity" is "[r '', meaning, bad, evil bad, disagreeable, malignant bad, unpleasant, evil (giving pain, unhappiness, misery)

S -- Also if god was not there, who would have smote all the first born of Egypt? I know you have a difficult time with hypotheticals, but try really hard and think of a non-evasive, answer.

S -- Exodus 12:29 -- the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon

And after god smote (hkn -- to strike, smite, hit, beat, slay, kill ) the first born Egyptians -- the surviving families, the brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts, grandfathers and grandmothers all lived in misery -- unbearable anguish and grief -- because of god's actions.
Just because you emphasize god "DID NOT" cause misery -- doesn't make it true.

Harvey -- [Just because you emphasize that God DID cause misery DOESN'T make it true either, in addition you have to twist scriptural messages to support your assertions, I don't.]

*Funny, it says, "the Lord smote". Seems to me, the buck stops there. God did cause misery -- no doubt*

Harvey -- [God has a host that he uses to do his bidding. Death is one of those enemies that was given birth by the SIN, rebellion and deliberate turning of man away from God.(Jas. 1:14-15) That’s why death is our enemy and it will be obliterated( 1 Cor. 15:26, Rev. 20:14 )

Harvey --
Death was sent to do the bidding of God. Was God in control?...Yes, that's why none died but the firstborn, which refrenced Jesus. Could God have stopped it?...Yes,but there would have been no freedom without that event, this also refrences Jesus. The whole story points to the redemption of all people by blood and the sacrifice of the firstbegotten or firstborn which God himself would step up and accomplish...Your point has NOTHING to do with the issues of the scripture]

S -- ...conveniently, avoiding the scripture, that says god does cause misery:

S -- Ecc. 7:14 -- In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.

*Harvey never could explain that verse, from Ecclesiastes.*

*Continuing.*

S -- We are both in agreement egregious suffering inflicts the world -- the world is full of vile, horrible, suffering, and yet, god keeps creating earthly children, to send on to that abysmal planet, of suffering. Why does god keep creating more earthly children, that he sends into this sinful world?"

S -- Your answer -- true to form -- incessantly, diverges, makes inaccurate analogies and makes faulty conclusions.

Harvey -- Why do you not stop eating, because you know there are people starving? Why not stop drinking, because someone is thirsty? Why don’t YOU sell you home and live outdoors because someone is homeless? You’re a bleeding heart liberal, with your own preconceived brand of morality based on you your totally irrational assessment of what you think life should be to you.

S -- Whaaat?
I'm not asking god to stop eating or drinking, I'm asking why does he continue to send his earthly children, into, what he knows is, a land of suffering, levels of egregious pain, more egregious, then the first?

Harvey -- Arguments as such do not make sense and further leave the burden on you to be what you require everyone else to be.

S -- Is this a comment on your arguments? Sure fits the bill.

Harvey -- WHAT HAVE YOU GIVEN UP FOR THE COMFORT OF OTHERS? What have you done to befriend someone else’s living child? Are you a mentor at a school? Or are you just further totally absorbed in your self and your desire for everyone to bow down to you?

S -- This has nothing to do with my philanthropic endeavors, we are talking about god sending his earthly children, to an earth, where there is mass suffering -- remember?
God does not have to give up his comfort, to send his earthly children, to a planet, that he knows is full of sin, evil, and vile suffering -- why does he continue, to send, his earthly children, to a planet, where there is egregious, vile suffering?
Diverge, diverge, diverge.

*Other points examined.*

S -- Is it your assertion, that your all-loving god -- the one who created life has a right to cause you to suffer in egregious pain?

Harvey --[ABSOLUTELY and there is no army THAT CAN STOP him if he so wills]

S -- Unbelievable. Then every vile, unimaginable, reprehensible, act that god could perpetrate, is perfectly all right and condoned by you?

And how far are you willing to take it? Since god created my 7 year old daughter, is it HIS right to anally rape her and smear shit on her face, for the rest of her life?

Harvey -- [That is a psychotic question from a psychotic mind and since there is no precedent set ANWHERE in which God anally rapes or authorizes anal raping. The argument is lacking and is only an emotional strawman you’ve constructed to medicate yourself…TRY AGAIN.

S -- How dare you insinuate, that I used this example to soothe my emotions or feed my libido. It is a perfect example -- lewd and vile -- to make my point. I know it is a vile example. Just because I bring it up, does not make me a psychotic. There are thousands of examples that are even more vile. This is hyperbole, to be sure, and another hypothetical you can't answer. I knew you would diverge and use the, "It's not in god's nature argument".

Evidently, there are limits to what your god could inflict.

Harvey -- [No it’s a perfect example of the depravity of your heart to use your son’s tragedy as an instrument to disrespect humanity and people such as myself who didn’t reach out to you as a religious leader but AS A MAN AND A FATHER...THAT’S LEWD AND VILE!
Your contemptuous behavior and self-exaltation of you and your pain above all men and women, Christian and non-Christian is loathsome.]

S -- I know it is a vile example, it's suppose to be. Just because I bring it up, does not make me, vile or a psychotic.

Harvey -- [I beg to differ with you sir...This shows the epitome of insolence, a desire to grandstand, and a callous approach toward the pain of others who may have experienced events you describe...but that doesn’t matter to you, only your weird, preconceived self-exaltation, behavior above all humans and perverted desire to try to prove that you have an intellectual superiority which the exact OPPOSITE has been demonstrated here.]

*Trying to keep it focused, if that's even possible with Harvey's equivocations, we continue.*

S -- Do you have limitations on what is acceptable for a supreme being to do to his earthly children? Don't give me the bullshit, pat, answers, like, god would never do that or god is not capable of doing that, it would go against his nature.

Harvey -- [MN says if it happed before it can happen again right? God has NEVER encouraged or allowed the psychotic events that your SIN nature conjures up, therefore it is not likely to be a future event...strawman!]

S -- You already set limitations, on what your god can do, to his earthly children -- you just can't admit it.

*Continuing.*

S -- Let me guess, you think you are helping, in some, idiotic, delusional, way.

Harvey --
[No, I don’t claim to be helping you at all...I just wanna see how overrated you actually are, obviously you need to vent, and you could be telling a lie using a tragic event to grandstand...I wanna be front line and center so that world can better see the depth and emptiness of a godless heart as it exposes itself.]

S -- More of your deluded psychological idiocy. Spare me the psychological analysis.

F-you Harvey, you deluded psycho. Now your delusions of grandeur stifle you with suspicion.

*After Harvey's, blatant, erroneous, speculation, that I was just making up my tragedy, I provided a link to my son's Obituary. What disturbing, lengths, some delusional Christians will go to, in an attempt to diverge -- disgraceful and contemptible!

*Harvey, now, has to resort to a straw-man, associating my unbearable, grief to me being crazy (alluding to my stay in a mental hospital, because I suffered from major, clinical depression. Harry must conjure up stereotypical images of dilapidated insane asylums), generalizing, I'm too crazy to argue my points -- another diverging practice.*

Harvey -- [You do that yourself, you’ve already said you’re crazy, (and demonstrated it somewhat) I’m just looking and asking you to talk about it]

S -- I, most assuredly, do not need your kind of help, nor do you have the proclivity or expertise to deal with the complex issues of my grief. I have sought the help, I needed. This is the ultimate straw-man for you Harvey, but I can assure you my mental faculties are intact and I would appreciate that you do not use my grief as a leverage tool -- it is an unfair practice and again it does not forward your many, illogical, arguments.

Harvey -- [I believe that by your own words you have proven to be the DELUDED PSYCHO and continue to demonstrate such with your inability to articulate any reasonable argument that doesn’t use profanity or require individuals to worship you.]

S -- If this is any indication how you minister to the sick, grieving and suffering, again both you and your god are, apathetic, incompetent, malfeasants.

Harvey -- [This is how I minister to individuals who exploit pain and use tragedy to support their presuppositional biases. You have no free pass on suffering. If your sons life meant as much to you as you say it does you wouldn’t disrespect his memory in the self-centered manner that you do. Pain is one thing. You have NO LOCK on pain and suffering and your experience IS NOT above humanity and more specifically MINE. I won’t bow down to worship you as you require that Christian do, you’re not God and you certainly have NOTHING of value to offer but a story that is COMMON to me and others. As I said OVERRATED! I’ll further add EMPTY and WANTING.]

Harvey -- [All I’ve asked for you to do is expose yourself, which you’ve done quite well and more specifically in a rather embarrassing manner for yourself]

Harvey -- Since you don’t quite know how to "go there" without becoming vulgar, and showing showing your vile and empty emotionalism, I’ll just be specific as this will be the culmination of my interaction to you, because you have demonstrated, against my hopes, that YOU are more valuable to you than anyone including your son.

Harvey -- I don’t know you and you certainly don’t know me, but to come off as you have has demonstrated the real problem. That problem BEGINS and ENDS with YOU!

Harvey -- As I said from the beginning, your son is FINE he’s quite OK. But you like pharaoh, have exalted your intellect to a place where you feel that you are unapproachable and above all humanity. Yet you’re just like us...a person with vile thoughts and expressions that cannot deliver yourself. YOU NEED GOD, for you will be the only problem that you will continue to face in life.

*Anybody else feel like he's, vehemently, preaching a sermon?*

Harvey -- Stop exploiting the tragedy of your child as if that gives you a license to disrespect and act contemptuously or some special knowledge above all humanity.

*It is painfully obvious that Harvey can not address why the bible-god, unjustly causes the innocent, surviving, families, to be inflicted with long lasting grievous, suffering, as an after-effect of god's killing sprees, throughout the bible. Nor can Harvey explain why god still creates and sends his earthly children, to this planet -- sentencing them -- to suffer in countless, egregious ways.*

*Harvey crosses all kinds of barriers and shamefully, accuses me of disrespecting and devaluing my son.*

*My Last, Follow Up Response*

S -- Your accusations and conclusions based, on my vulgar, examples are unwarranted and wholly illogical. To conclude I am psychotic because, I offered up a dramatic and vile representation, of what really happens, in this cruel and violent life, is a heinous tactic, that associates the story teller with the crime they are talking about. You might as well condemn any person (survivors of the Holocaust, rape victims, who were brutally, tortured for years, victims of sexual mutilation etc.) who give vivid, testimony of the vile and vulgar atrocities, perpetrated against them. The only reason you, lower yourself, and resort to maligning me, falsely accusing me to be in league with the atrocious acts I mention, branding me psychotic, is to blatantly, misdirect the viewer from the real arguments and paint me as immoral -- which is absolutely not true. It's a devious, underhanded trick, revealing, your inability to argue my specific points -- demonstrating fully -- you got nothing.

S -- We are lucky as agnostics, atheists and the non-religious, that we have a testament of your unethical and illogical equivocations, encapsulated, in writing -- forever exposing your colossal, ineptitude and inability to, honestly, answer questions, that even most Christians would find wholly, absurd and interminably, fallacious.

Next:

S -- Let's review; I opened up and bared my soul, giving real-life examples, of my intense grief and how others are affected by the death of their children. I used these examples to lend a sense of verisimilitude, to the aftermath of god's actions, resulting in the misery and unimaginable grief, the survivors had to endure. The examples I used, solely, serve to illustrate the devastating effects of grief; specifically, the grief that cripples parents, who's children have died. The small sample, I shared, doesn't even -- remotely -- come close, to clarifying how monumentally, overwhelming and tragic it is, to lose your child. Mark Twain -- who lost two of his daughters -- wrote that, you could use every word, of every language, and still, not convey the unbearable loss, of your children. The pain and misery is ineffable.

S -- The only reason, I used the examples, I did, is to express, to people, who couldn't possibly, comprehend or imagine the heart wrenching, crippling, pain parents trudge through, when their child dies. Everything I do and everything I say -- everything -- comes from the perspective of my son's death. So when I took to studying the bible, all I could see is, god's supposed "just" actions of punishing his earthly children, by killing them, had a truly reprehensible side effect, that is not conveyed in scripture -- the surviving families must, now, live with unimaginable grief and pain, because of what god wrought. The magnitude of overwhelming, grief and anguish is staggering.

S -- This is an observation, that I became painfully, aware of, while reading the bible, with the perspective of having to watch my son suffer and die, coupled with the dreadful, long-lasting, suffering, of intolerable grief, I live with, to this day.

S -- Shamelessly, you accuse me of exploiting the pain and tragedy of my son's death, when I am consumed with nothing but the incredible loss of my child -- which if you learned anything from the article I presented http://www.athealth.com/consumer/disorders/parentalgrief.html -- you would understand, is normal. When confronted with what I read in the bible, it would have been criminal for me not to make my comparisons and arguments, while expressing the suffering I've gone through.

S -- I have to wonder, how, any book on suffering (the Holocaust, atomic bombing of Japan, slavery, war etc.) could convey the horrific suffering, without personal testimonies, that which you condemn me for?

S -- Then with all the eloquence of a cantankerous, pompous ass, saturated with grave insensitivity, that only a callous, cold-hearted, depraved and delusional, asshole, could vomit up, you unabashedly, maligned and slandered me, by accusing me of disrespecting my son's memory, and devaluing him. You are -- with out a doubt -- a despicable, cruel, little, man, a reprehensible, cretin, who -- in me -- evokes an utter, disgust and repulsion and what's truly, pitiful, is you are completely, oblivious, to your uncaring, insensitive words, having no idea how disgraceful and hurtful you are. You are beyond reproach and have made it perfectly, clear, you could never come to me with the compassion of Christ -- it is entirely beyond you; a never-ending chasm.

S -- Do not use my son against me; you have no right to do so. I don't care about the jabs leveled at me, specifically, I can tolerate those, but using my son, in the loathsome, way you did, is crossing a humongous line, in a malicious, hurtful way -- way, way out of bounds. Refrain, from that behavior or the discourse will be terminated.

*After my last response, the thread was terminated.*

*There is plenty more. If you have the time, I highly encourage you to read the entire debate, in context. There you can witness Harvey bombarding me, with more insane, equivocations, on god's love and prayer.*

Before the debate really got going Pastor Harvey Burnett sent me this heart-felt message, at my blog, http://secularscott.wordpress.com/2007/11/26/bobs-praying-for-me-fervently/#comments

S. Connor,

Thank you for sharing that powerful and very emotional life situation with me on DC. I want to make myself available to you personally to talk about this situation at length. I LOVE my children will all my life and I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would feel similar to you. I can’t imagine the pain, it is truly beyond me. BUT the God that I serve is real and is not a cosmic hater.

I don’t mind your statements of anger, all I ask is that you allow me in, not as an adversary to try to blast your mind or manipulate your thoughts but to be a companion along with you. There is no guarantee that the show won’t be on the other foot one day and I would hope that I could find a friend atheist or not, in all of the turmoil. That’s what I offer.

I believe God, but I also know how to minister to and love people. I don’t know what to say I will only offer that there is a fountain full of compassion that fills my life and reason for living. I only wish to extend that fountain to you also. Thank you.

And by the way, prayer does change things. I am a living witness of the fact.

Pastor Harvey Burnett

*His kind message, compared to the way he talked, to me, in the debate, suggests he is in desperate need of bi-polar medication -- he's the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Christianity.*

8/08/2008                                                                                       View Comments

8/07/2008                                                                                       View Comments

So do you believe in God?

By Marlene Winell, Ph.D.

I get this question so frequently, I’ve decided to make a better effort to reply. To be honest, I don’t like the question because it presumes we know what those words mean. Here are some responses, touching on more or less serious aspects of the topic.

1. Which god? Do you mean Zeus, Baal, Athena, Shiva, Allah, Jehovah, or some other? If you mean one of those, then no. I am not a theist. I don’t believe in an individual being that created and now controls the world.

2. What is belief? Is it a cognitive conclusion that I have reached basic on logical consideration of evidence? That would assume I have access to all the information, and I do not. Is it an emotional feeling for something beyond myself? Well, my emotions vary, and some days are hopeful, other days are dark. Emotions are a rocky basis for “belief.” Do I make a leap of faith, not knowing anything really, but simply wanting to “believe,” and putting stock in a “scripture” to give it support? This is also difficult because knowing about the origins of “scripture,” I know the complexity; they were not simply dictated. Also, the strength of my blind faith can also vary and I’m not sure how completely I am supposed to convince myself in order to say I “believe.”

3. The concept of “God” usually meant by this question is some sort of being that exists “out there.” The god of the Bible is very separate, superior to humans, but anthropomorphic in many ways. Other gods are also considered “out there” and have controlling powers we do not have. A more New Age notion of god includes “the divine” in all of us, and still involves the notion of “spirit” infusing people. There is an assumption in most approaches to spirituality of a kind of “force,” which can be called by different names, but which is a thing in a universe of other things. As such, I do not resonate with this idea of “god” as an entity.

2. What is belief? Is it a cognitive conclusion that I have reached basic on logical consideration of evidence?4. If I must use the concept at all, I would equate it with the “nature of being.” This is close to “ground of being,” a phrase coined by John Robinson many years ago in Honest to God. For me it involves a perception of existence grounded in the profound science of modern physics. Most ordinary people do not know much about this. Yet, we now know from findings in both relativity theory and quantum physics, that the universe is much more strange and incredible than we ever realized. It calls for massive humility because there are things no one understands, yet we now have good reason to question all of our basic assumptions about “reality.” The difference is bigger than finding out the world is not flat. We have evidence for questioning our ideas about matter, linear time, cause and effect, and more. String theorists agree there are eleven dimensions. Yet the general population operates all day every day assuming things that are completely out of date. The knowledge has not reached the masses. This is akin to having everyone act as if the earth is still flat. The issues are intensely profound, with implications for everything we do. The big words for me are “mystery” and “possibility.” Feelings are humility, awe, and excitement. There is no religious description of “god” that matches the grandeur of the universe as it is – elusive, ever-changing, impossibly mind-boggling. And this includes us. We are part of the fabric; there is no separation. If this is believing in god, then by all means, a hundred times YES! But I’m still not drawn to the language.

A couple of quotes that I find consistent with this:

“How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant’? Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”`
-Carl Sagan


“I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
-Albert Einstein


5. Dispensing with the “god” word, it makes a little more sense for me to address “spirituality,” although this word has often meant a focus on other-worldly things. I prefer to describe spirituality as a way of living which is here-and-now. These are attributes rather than a definition. They involve feelings and perceptions and experiences which depend on openness. This openness can be chosen and developed. Rather than escaping into a different realm, I think of spirituality in terms of how we live our lives – the choices, the consciousness, the texture of daily life. There are several aspects of this:

Accord. This is the experience of feeling attuned with the rest of existence - a feeling of belonging on earth, being a part of the rest of nature, and in harmony with everything around. When you are in accord, you move along with the vast river of evolutionary change, feeling connected in a fundamental way with the harmony and power of the whole. You feel as though you are tapping into a rich resource that is beyond you, much larger than yourself. Your inner spring of god-within connects with the vastness of god-beyond, a "deeper power" rather than "higher power," a subterranean aquifer connecting all of life. This produces a sense of trust and safety, a knowledge that you fit, that you have a place.

Awareness. With awareness you are alive and awake, fully experiencing life. This means being totally grounded in the here and now. Your sensory experiences are vivid, and you notice what is happening when it is happening, both around and inside you. You do not reject uncomfortable experiences or deny pain; you are open and embracing of all that life has to offer. This makes it possible for you to enjoy things more intensely and to learn from difficulties. You are not trying to be on some other plane of existence, but are willing and happy to be here now, like a curious child.

Growth. Growth is a natural process. You are not static or inert; you are a changing, growing being. And your experiences can propel you to develop further. As a plant needs the attention of water and food to grow, you need to attend to your needs and consciously make opportunities to learn and change. This aspect of spirituality is active, complementing the more receptive elements of accord and awareness. As humans we are granted the exciting option of making conscious loyal commitments to move in positive directions. Learning will often occur anyway, as a neglected plant will often survive, but informed with a sense of accord and awareness, you can take action on your own spiritual behalf.

Transcendence. There are moments of awe for us in life, those times of being overwhelmed with wonder at beauty, or love, or natural power. At these moments you get clues about the immensity of the cosmos, like pinpricks in the veil around your limited consciousness. You are humbled and thrilled as you gaze at a sunset or a torrential waterfall. A moment of pure love can be ecstatic. Let your vision extend into the night sky, and you may experience a blissful dissolving of your individual ego. Not needing to understand or control, you can experience a sense of total Mystery. These moments are gifts that reflect your spiritual capacity, gifts that become more available as you open to your sense of the ultimate. This is not ultimate in the sense of above or better, but simply beyond your usual mode of consciousness. These are moments of realization knowing that the sense you have of “god” within is not only in contact with but one and the same as the transcendent “god”-beyond. You are a wave in the ocean, individual in a sense but also part of something much bigger – the immensely huge and powerful ocean of existence. You don’t understand and you don’t need to understand. All of this is multiverses away from “believing in God.”

So even though I would have to say I don’t believe in God and I am an atheist in the true definition of the word, ie, not a theist, I obviously feel compelled to question and reclaim the language being used and make this rather inadequate stab at describing my lived experience. It’s a bit defensive and that’s because the stereotype of the cold, shallow, hedonistic, selfish atheist needs to be challenged. In my opinion, it’s all about how we live, and not what we “believe.”

What do you think?

Kind regards,
Marlene Winell, Ph.D., psychologist and author of "Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion" and facilitator for retreats for religious recovery called "Release and Reclaim" The next one is Aug. 15-17 in Berkeley, CA

8/04/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Great News! By The Book Comics is officially not a spammer!

Blogger corrected the error and even sent an apology (below):

But first, I would like to thank everyone for the positive feedback. I really appreciate the kind words, especially from people who understand why I would create such a blog.

Christians tend think I'm just slamming them for the fun of it or that I'm a hateful fuck working for satan or something. But most of you understand that the real reason is to spread truth, not lies.

Thank you for your support!

-DocMike

Message from Blogger:

"You Are Not Spam
August 2, 2008 — permalink
You knew that already, and now we do too. We have now restored all accounts that were mistakenly marked as spam yesterday. (See: Spam Fridays)

We want to offer our sincerest apologies to affected bloggers and their readers. We’ve tracked down the problem to a bug in our data processing code that locked blogs even when our algorithms concluded they were not spam. We are adding additional monitoring and process checks to ensure that bugs of this magnitude are caught before they can affect your data.

At Blogger, we strongly believe that you own and should control your posts and other data. We understand that you trust us to store and serve your blog, and incidents like this one are a betrayal of that trust. In the spirit of ensuring that you always have access to your data, we have been working on importing and exporting tools to make it easier to back up your posts. If you'd like a sneak peek at the Import / Export tool, you can try it out on Blogger in Draft.

Our restoration today was of all blogs that were mistakenly marked as spam due to Friday's bug. Because spam fighting inherently runs the risk of false positives, your blog may have been mis-classified as spam for other reasons. If you are still unable to post to your blog today you can request a review by clicking Request Unlock Review on your Dashboard.
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Spam Fridays
August 1, 2008 — permalink
While we wish that every post on this blog could be about cool features or other Blogger news, sometimes we have to step in and admit a mistake.

We've noticed that a number of users have had their blogs mistakenly marked as spam, and wanted to sound off real quick to let you know that, despite it being Friday afternoon, we are working hard to sort this out. So to those folks who have received an email saying that your blog has been classified as spam and can't post right now, we offer our sincere apologies for the trouble.

We hope to have this resolved shortly, and appreciate your patience as we work through the kinks.
— Brett "

8/03/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Low cost spaces available at recovery retreat!

Hello everybody,

A while ago I sent you a notice about this weekend workshop for recovering from religion. I'm pleased to say that we have some space available for some "pay what you can" participants. The room and board would still be $125 but beyond that is negotiable. So get in touch soon if you'd like to come!

Warmly,

Marlene Winell

Here's the notice again.

LEAVING YOUR RELIGION?

It's not the end of the world! Join us at a recovery retreat.

"RELEASE AND RECLAIM"

August 15-17, 2008, with Dr. Marlene Winell

Do you feel alone in your struggle for healing? Come to a supportive and powerful weekend with others who can understand you -- an oasis from dogmatic teachings and judgmental groups. We'll rant and rave, tell our stories, discuss the issues, visualize, role-play, dance and draw – whatever it takes to think for ourselves and reclaim our lives. A joyful, empowered life is your birthright and you can start now.

WHEN: FRIDAY, Aug. 15, 7PM - SUNDAY, Aug. 17, 3PM.

WHERE: A beautiful house in Berkeley, California,
with hot tub and other amenities.

COST: $320 for the workshop, $125 for room and board. Financial need considered & options available.

TO REGISTER: Call 510-292-0509 or send an email to recoveryfromreligion@gmail.com. Register soon as group size is limited.


Dr. Marlene Winell is a psychologist & author of "Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists & Others Leaving their Religion." She has a practice in Berkeley & also counsels individuals by phone. For more info, mailing list, comments about retreats, & Youtube link, visit: www.marlenewinell.net. Or call Dr. Winell for a complimentary discussion about your interest.

8/01/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Christian Credentials

By Calladus

Originally posted April 2007, in the Calladus Blog

I was pretty active in church as a teenager (that was a long time ago now). We had Lock-Ins (where the youth group would spend all night at the church), retreats, summer camp, conferences. It was pretty good being a teen in the church.

I once attended a youth conference at Texas Christian University that was interesting and fun. There were a lot of teens there – it felt like thousands. We would have speakers in the main auditorium with all of us in attendance, and we also had some smaller groups with speakers.

I was in a smaller group that had a speaker who was traveling across the country to tell his story. This speaker was very eloquent, and the message was one of salvation. He was a young-ish man, perhaps late 20's – who exuded “coolness” from his sunglasses, pony-tail and motorcycle to his ripped physique. I don't recall much of the actual message, but I do recall this gentleman relating his past.

His past was sordid, divorced parents, abusive father, ran away from home when he was 14 and lived on the streets until he was 17. Drugs, alcohol. But he became self-sufficient, and by the time he was 18 he had got his GED and a job and started taking night school at the local community college. That didn't make him happy because he started partying. Oh, and he was an Atheist. And then he found God and started his journey of evangelism.

I wasn't sure, back then, what an Atheist was – but I was sure that I didn't want to be anything that caused me so much sin and unhappiness. Mr. Cool made it very clear that Atheism led to despair, and God led to happiness. He wasn't ordained, he didn't have any religious training, he was still in college at the time so he wasn't even degreed. All of his credibility came from his dramatic salvation.

This has become a cliché.

There are a lot of influential, even powerful Christians in today's evangelical groups whose sole credibility comes from a “dramatic transformation” from evil to good, from Godlessness to Godfullness. And the more “dramatic” the salvation, the more credibility that they have.

Speaking as an Atheist now, I call “B.S.” I smell a rat. Something is not right here.

In “More than a Carpenter” Josh McDowell lays out his “credentials” by stating his past non-belief and sinful life. Ron Luce talks about his broken home and drug and alcohol abuse as a young teen. Ray Comfort (of banana fame) saw church as a sort of joke.

This sort of dramatic salvation leads to a common response when I tell believers that I'm an Atheist. “Oh, I used to be Just Like You.”

This has also become a cliché.

There are two things wrong with gaining credibility through personal transformation – the first is that since the transformation is by definition a personal experience it is difficult, no impossible, for an outsider to know just how dramatic that transformation truly was. How can anyone tell how much of each story is exaggerated, overblown or mis-remembered? If an extra detail that never happened means the difference between credibility and obscurity for the speaker, does it get added on in a moment of hubris which is then recorded for posterity? Do the extra details become an albatross around the speaker's neck, or do they become an unearned “badge of honor”?

The second thing wrong with the belief that Godlessness equates to unhappiness and sin is that too frequently it doesn't! I know a couple of Atheist teens and have read the writings of several more. I know quite a few adult Atheists, and read about Atheist families. Many, most even, are happy, well adjusted, and no more prone to drugs and drinking than any other Southern Baptist.
Sometimes it seems to infuriate a few religious people that a non-religious family can grow together in a happy, loving environment.

And lastly, when someone says to me, “Oh, I used to be Just Like You.” I let them know that I used to be Christian, and am now an Atheist. This only momentarily derails a believer – they quickly shore up their faith by deciding that I was either hurt and became angry at God, or that I was never 'really and truly' a Christian, or that “bad” Christians drove me away from the faith.

Christians seem to rejoice in simple, black and white answers.

And that has also become a cliché.

Is Blogger (Google) shutting down Atheist sites?

By DocMike

I started By The Book Comics in March of 2007 because I'd met so many Christians who had absolutely no idea of the injustice, absurdity, cruelty, violence, intolerance, and contradictions the Bible contains. And still, they consider it to be the inerrant word of God.

Since then, I've posted 45 comics (with commentary) that point out (using humor) some of the many weaknesses of the Bible. I've promoted the blog by posting here at ExChristian and by responding to posts on this and other Atheist-related blogs. I have links to other Atheist sites, blogrolls, etc. I'm definitely not running a spam site. I get maybe 50-100 hits per day. Just a law-abiding US citizen exercising my right to express my opinions...

Today, I got this email from Blogger:

Your blog at: http://bythebookcomics.blogspot.com/ has been identified as a potential spam blog. To correct this, please request a review by filling out the form at (removed link)

Your blog will be deleted within 20 days if it isn't reviewed, and you'll be unable to publish posts during this time. After we receive your request, we'll review your blog and unlock it within two business days. If this blog doesn't belong to you, you don't have to do anything, and any other blogs you may have won't be affected.

We find spam by using an automated classifier. Automatic spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and occasionally a blog like yours is flagged incorrectly. We sincerely apologize for this error. By using this kind of system, however, we can dedicate more storage, bandwidth, and engineering resources to bloggers like you instead of to spammers. For more information, please see Blogger Help: http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=42577

Thank you for your understanding and for your help with our spam-fighting efforts.

Sincerely,

The Blogger Team

P.S. Just one more reminder: Unless you request a review, you won't be able to use your blog. Click this link to request the review: (removed link)


I initially thought it was a scam, but when I logged in to my blog to enter a new post, I saw this:

This blog has been locked due to possible Blogger Terms of Service violations. You may not publish new posts until your blog is reviewed and unlocked.

This blog will be deleted within 20 days unless you request a review.
Request Unlock Review


When I clicked on it, I get this:

By The Book Comics

Your blog is locked

Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

You won't be able to publish posts to your blog until one of our humans reviews it and verifies that it is not a spam blog. Please fill out the form below to get a review. We'll take a look at your blog and unlock it in less than two business days.

If we don't hear from you, though, we will remove your blog from Blog*Spot within a few weeks.

Find out more about how Blogger is fighting spam blogs.
Get your blog unlocked

Word Verification:
Type the characters you see in the picture below.
Visual verification
Listen and type the numbers you hear
Email Address:

We'll contact you after we review your blog.

Is this just a coincidence? I'm I just being paranoid here? Or is there something to this?

I'd like to know if there are any other Atheist-themed blogs getting this treatment.