Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Christian apologists are pathetic!

Every once in a while I have a discussion with a theist about beliefs and why I personally do not believe in God. First off using the Bible as a tool to make your case is outright ignorant and useless because I don't consider the Bible to be inspired by its alleged god. In fact, I see the Bible as a record of the ancients Hebrews myths and many superstitions. I take a lot of what the Bible says with a grain of salt and find it incredible and unconvincing. The Bible is a work that was written, collected, edited, and produced enitirely by man and its god is a creation of man himself.

Taking collegiate level courses in apologetics is in my view a waste of time and effort and doesn't change the fact that the Bible is self contradictory and full of fantastical tales that belong in the realm of myths and not reality. Many biblical scholars that have taken the time to put in the work and effort it takes to become experts in the field have actually become agnostic or atheist as a result of their studies. Bart Ehrman is considered to be one of the worlds leading experts in New Testament studies and he is an agnostic. Former Christian apologist and student of William Lane Craig John Loftus is also an atheist as a result of his studies. Roman historian and scholar Richard Carrier also is an atheist who found the biblical arguments for God to be unconvincing.

I find it astounding that theists no matter how learned they may appear don't seem to get it that the lack of evidence for the existence of god particularly the Christian deity is not just lacking it isn't there. Some of the rationalizations that apologists use are outright ridiculous and illogical. They are plagued by confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance which does not allow them to see past the inconsistencies of their faith and beliefs. In their pathetic efforts to defend the faith they violate every single principle of reason and cling to a myriad of logical fallacies.

Christianity as I have said before is a house divided. Every time you have a discussion with a theist you have to find out what branch or sect of Christianity they belong to in order to try and understand what it is that they actually believe. It's incredible that since the rise of Christianity there are around 35-40,000 sects worldwide! They all interpret certain aspects of the scriptures differently and cannot agree on certain things such as the nature of Christ, the doctrine of the trinity, etc. I'm not agnostic about the matter of the biblical gods existence because I have come to the belief that he like the title of my blog suggest is just another myth. If evidence does present itself then I'm all ears but to date there is not empirical or objective evidence for his existence thus no reason for me to wonder if he does exist.

Finally, I find the biblical deity as he is presented in the O.T. to be a tyrant and a morally bankrupt monster. He is painted in the most unflattering light in that he is said to have drowned the entire world in a global flood. Murdered an Egyptian Pharoah and his entire army who couldn't repent because the text states that God hardened his heart so he could prove himself and demonstrate his power to the Hebrews. I think that many of the laws as they are stated in Leviticus appalling. Even if he did exist this is not a deity that I would worship. I find worship itself to be disgusting and self degrading. Hitler, Mao, Papa Doc, Vlad the impaler, and God have a lot in common. They are all blood thirsty animals who deserved to be put down for their cruelty towards their fellow man.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Child suffering is Gods fault!

"See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. Deuteronomy 32:39

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21

Megan Huntsman

In Pleasant Grove, Utah police are still investigating how a woman was able to conceal a total of seven pregnancies unnoticed by neighbors and eventually kill six of the seven children. The last one the woman claimed had been still born, but the amazing thing is that this woman hid the bodies in her garage and this went on for a span of about ten years. You can read about this incredible story right here.

Theists believe that we are all created by God and that we all have some purpose in this life. But I beg to differ. In the first verse cited above God supposedly states that he gives life and takes it away and that only he can wound and heal. The second verse is Job's reaction to the death of his eight children at one time during a house collapse. In this verse Job humbly acknowledges that his god is the giver and source of all that he has and praises him for it despite his circumstances! 

The most heinous aspect of this crime is that by her own admission this woman claimed to have either strangled or suffocated her children at birth! So I ask theists what was the purpose in life for these seven innocent children? What is the purpose behind a woman having a stillborn child? If God is all knowing and loving as you claim him to be, then why was this woman allowed to have six children so that she could murder them?

Some can argue that this is an isolated case, but the truth of the matter is that this is not as rare as you may think. Children are born into this world all the time to suffer starvation, abuse, and even death at the hands of the one who was supposed to take care of them and protect them. The world is full of abusive parents and sexual deviants who harm children every day. What is the purpose behind the suffering and in many cases the subsequent death of those children? 

Why does God allow unfit parents to bear children? He could easily make these people infertile and unable to have kids. It appears at times that in life the most fertile women tend to be prostitutes and drug abusers. Many describe the birth of a child as a gift from God but here we have many people in this life who don't deserve such a gift. On the flip side of this situation you have nice people who can't have children and are forced to adopt or seek alternative methods due to dads low sperm count or his mates inability to have children due to physical deformities of her uterus etc. 

In the Bible we read about God's actions specifically regarding the fertility of women. He is said to allow or to even shut the wombs of women in the scriptures. I once met a woman who had 12 children who were all taken away from her as soon as they were born by child protective services! This woman was involved in prostitution and was a heavy drinker. She spent her days out in the plaza in Waterbury, CT. looking for Johns and a "good time." Why doesn't God shut the wombs of such people? Why are people such as her so fertile? 

17Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again, 18for the Lord had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah. Genesis 20:17-18 

On this occasion God was able to shut the wombs of all the women of the house of Abimelek as punishment for his having taken Sarah to himself. Of course the Lord kept him from sinning by laying with Sarah, but the point is that in this circumstance and others he was able to keep women from bearing children. This brings to the forefront another question. If God is the giver of life then he is also responsible for all the evil men/women born into the world who later commit horrible acts  against humanity such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Gayce, etc. You can try to remove the blame from God by chalking it up to sin but that argument is not going to fly here. 

The problem is that according to those same scriptures you claim to be the absolute truth your god is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He is supposed to be all knowing and all powerful yet he at times demonstrates in the scriptures that he is neither of these three things. If he is all knowing then he knew that Hitler would try to kill and exterminate the Jewish nation. His so called chosen people. Are we to believe that it was God's plan to have Hitler be responsible for the wholesale slaughter of about six million Jewish men, women, and children? The reason I ask is simply because if he knew what Hitler would do then he is also responsible. 
According to the stories in the Bible about the conquests of Canaan the Hebrews were led by God to kill every man, woman that has known a man, and every male child! Weren't the Canaanites also created by God? So, if we are to believe the stories in the Bible then all those other nations were created with the sole purpose of becoming victims to God's chosen people. Not only that, but so were all the children that were there as well. So much for a good and loving God! 

Without a belief in a loving good god in our lives we can understand that these horrible things just happen. That there are people who are born with mental illnesses that lead them to commit these acts without remorse or consideration for the ones that they cause pain and suffering to. From a naturalistic viewpoint there is really nothing to explain. Some children are born into suffering, misery, starvation, and death. Others are born into a good home with loving parents who raise them with good morals, education, and respect for their fellow man.
Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Jesus contradicts himself!

1Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

Using this simplest of definitions for faith as it has been written and explained by the author of the book of Hebrews I have underlined the three key words of this passage. Oftentimes faith and hope are used by believers synonymously and interchangeably. Hope in my opinion is the best word to define what faith is because Christians have a hope that one day they will be granted eternal life and be able to live in the presence of their god. The scriptures describe this afterlife as a time of bliss and eternal joy where there wont be any pain and sorrow or the many struggles and strife that one endures in this present life.

One of the things I find most irritating is when theists assume that I don't understand the concept of faith. They often forget that I myself was once a theist and quite frankly, when you really think about it it's not so otherworldly that it could not be understood with a little bit of reading comprehension. Faith as used in a Christian context is hope in the promises of God as outlined in the Bible and the confidence and assurance that he will fulfill his promises to those that are faithful. See, now that wasn't so hard. Hope requires that you believe that God exists and that he will fulfill each and every last one of his promises.

6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Faith is believing in the unseen without evidence but rather entirely on a divine promise.

13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.  16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13;16

With this in mind let's move on to two examples from the gospels where Jesus in one instance chastised someone for not believing in the promise of his rising from the dead and in another where he sent someone as proof of God's power.

After the resurrection of Jesus one of his disciples Thomas was told by the others that they had seen him at a time when Thomas himself was not present. Thomas's response is famous for it demonstrates the mentality of a rational person and a skeptic.

So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." John 20:25

Later on we read that the apostle Thomas was granted his request, but at the same time he was chastised for his unbelief!

29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29

The portion of that verse that I have underlined is the actual working definition of faith and according to Christianity is absolutely necessary in order for one to obtain salvation through Christ. You must believe without having seen or requiring evidence! On this one occasion Thomas was granted the opportunity to validate his lack of faith with the evidence he asked and required of Christ. 

In Mark chapter 5:1-20 we are told the tale of a man possessed by a legion of demons. He is said to live in the tombs and to be so strong as to be unable to be subdued by any man or other form of restraints such as chains. Once Jesus delivers this man from his demonic possession he then request of the Lord to go with him. But Jesus refuses to let him go and instead gives him the following instructions:

19Jesus did not let him, but said, Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. Mark 5:19-20

Instead Jesus told the man to go and be a living witness to the power of God. He specifically sends him to his own people because they obviously knew of this mans history and his former condition. As in the story of Thomas in this case faith was not gained from not seeing but rather the seeing actually engendered faith. Contrary to believing without seeing faith came in both instances because of what was seen! This is just another one of those biblical contradictions that are not so obvious unless you know the scriptures. Jesus contradicts the biblical definition of faith through his actions in both the former and latter case. 

So my question to theists today is if he could do this back then, then why can't he do this today? If he truly wanted us all to be saved I would hope that he would do everything in his power to help us who don't believe to believe. This was the request of a man whose son was possessed by a demon in Mark chapter 9.

23“ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:23-24

So apparently it's not too much to ask the Lord to help or give me a reason to believe. I too have made a similar request to that of  the apostle Thomas when I left the faith in 94' and the Lord has yet to answer my last prayer request. I guess I just wasn't meant to be saved! The decision to worship god in this life is a life changing decision that in my opinion requires careful thought and evidence. To date no Christian rationalizations in the defense of faith without seeing has satisfied me. This is the main reason why I live under the belief that God does not exist just as I do with similar beliefs such as bigfoot, fairies, elves, unicorns, etc. Theist, the burden of proof is entirely on you to demonstrate to us doubters and unbelievers that your God exists. Otherwise, the rational choice is to assume that he doesn't. 

Note: All biblical texts are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Emotions cloud reason

I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few.  Adolf Hitler

The purpose of this post is to try and clarify one of if not the main reason why fundamentalist Christians don't respond to skepticism or reason. I've seen atheists who have never experienced fundamentalism or even been believers claim that theists who don't respond to reason are either stupid or just plain gullible. As a former fundamentalist Pentecostal believer and evangelist myself I can attest to the power of faith over reason.

From 1990-1994 I believed that the spirit of the Lord resided in me. I felt it's power surge through me in the form of electrical surges in my being. At times I perceived answers to difficult situations and or had them pop up in my mind instantly and unexpectedly. Sometimes it was a verse of scripture as I was reading the Bible that would speak to a particular situation I was dealing with. When I preached at church revivals etc. I watched people pass out with my speaking words or simply looking or pointing at them from a distance! Others claimed that they had been healed of some ailment after I had laid my hands upon them in prayer. Finally, I apparently expelled demons from peoples bodies through prayer and fasting. I spoke in tongues, prophesied, had prophetic dreams, visions, and even at times believed I felt the presence of evil forces ( discernment of spirits).

It was these experiences and not so much reason that led me to believe that my faith was in the right place and that it was true and that it was real. In fact, upon backward reflection I came to my faith in Christ during a time of weakness and emotional instability. The first time I came to Christ  I was a heartbroken 14 year old kid who had just come out of a bad breakup with a girl I was crazy about. I fell into a deep depression and didn't leave my room for three months! When I finally surfaced and resumed attending my first year in high school I met a believer who happened to catch me at just the right time. After attending service at his home church I forgot all about my depression and found hope in Christ. I turned all of my attention to the church and to getting closer to God through Christ and edifying my spirit. That time I only lasted a year and was soon back to my old ways living life as if the church and my former beliefs never existed. I went about my daily living and studies at school without a hitch.

The second and last time I gave my life to Christ was again during a low point in my life. But on that occasion I was around 20 years old and as before quite in need of some hope in other words I was entirely open and receptive to Christ in my life once again. It was during this time that I grew in the church by leaps and bounds. I read the Bible often and in its entirety at least three times as a believer and once after I left the church. During those days there was no amount of reasoning that would have gotten through to me since I knew that God was "real" and Christ was alive and well in me! But it wasn't reason that brought me to these beliefs, instead it was my many subjective experiences that led me to these conclusions.

Objective: based on facts rather than feelings or opinions : not influenced by feelings

Subjective: based on feelings or opinions rather than facts

The difference between a fundamentalist theist and a nonbeliever is that we think in two very different modes. For the most part nonbelievers and skeptics think in a more objective manner and demand evidence or proofs for any and all claims. On the other hand theists think for the most part in a subjective manner and take their personal experiences themselves as proof or evidence of what they believe. Even William Lane Craig Christianity's foremost apologist who at times appears to be thinking and reasoning in an objective manner is also a victim to subjective thinking and apparent although fallacious reasoning.

Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa. [William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Revised edition, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), p. 36.]

At times objective and subjective reasoning can work together and aid greatly in helping to clarify some ideas or beliefs, but in my opinion this does not work out so well when it comes to fundamentalist religious beliefs based entirely on experience. The main reason for this is that fundamentalists for the most part are slaves to what is known as confirmation bias. This is the outright rejection of ideas that contradict what one has already believed and has become convinced to be true. 

Confirmation bias: a phenomenon wherein decision makers have been shown to actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis, and ignore or underweigh evidence that could disconfirm their hypothesis.

Based on my experiences as a former believer apparently this is done for the most part unconsciously and without knowledge of the believer that he is doing it. The lines of facts and truth are blurred by emotions based entirely on faith. When I was a believer we were often warned against reading too much secular information because the devil might use it against us and eventually lead us away from Christ and into perdition. The words of WLC as cited above are evidence of this mentality coming from an otherwise learned theologian and apologist in his respective field. As he states, faith surpasses arguments based on evidence. 

It's that simple! Faith for the most part is based on subjective reasoning which is gained through the application of ones own personal feelings and experiences. Faith are reason in reality and in my own opinion are two very different methods of thought that in truth are incompatible and tend to repel one another when applied to religious beliefs. Finally, confirmation bias hinders one from seeking honestly and obtaining the necessary knowledge that can break the chains of subjective superstitious beliefs. This is why even otherwise intellectual individuals like Craig and others are mentally incapable of seeing reason, and because of their own personal bias are not receptive to criticism of their beliefs. No amount of objective evidence or argumentation can convince such a person of the falsity of their beliefs. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Christian demand

The definition of the word 'demand' has been taken from the online Merriam Webster dictionary. The first definition is the one that is most relevant to the topic and theme of this post. I have often stated that in order to be a Christian one had to first be a hypocrite, and I believe that believers have demonstrated this fact over and over again both in their private lives and in the public forum. In their private lives they tend to try to live against their natures in search of so called spiritual oneness with their god. They seek to draw closer to him by trying to alter their lifestyles according to how they interpret the scriptures regarding how they should live in order to please God.

So called "true" Christianity as taught in the New Testament is seldom practiced and rarely seen these days. There are many today that are calling themselves Christians who in their words and deeds often betray the very thing that they proclaim themselves to be! Let's take a look at some of the things that theists do today that are clearly outlined in the scriptures as conduct unbecoming of a believer or so called follower of the teachings of their savior Jesus Christ.

16There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.     Proverbs 6:18-19

Let's start with the first one by defining the word haughty and demonstrating how it relates to theists. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary online haughty is defined as : 'having or showing the insulting attitude of people who think that they are better, smarter, or more important than other people.'

Many believers that I have encountered whether knowingly or unknowingly demonstrate the opposite of humility when they speak about their beliefs with non-believers. Often when their beliefs are challenged they take a combative stance and resort to insults or threats of eternal damnation. The opposite of this and most insulting is the hypocritical display of pity and so called concern for our souls. They will say things like: "I will pray for you that the Lord may reveal his truth to you and that you may be saved before it's too late."Others will associate their beliefs with patriotism by stating that if you don't believe in God then you are not a true American. These are all obvious examples of condescending behavior and give the impression that you think of yourselves better than anyone who is not a believer. 

The next thing that the Lord hates is a lying tongue. I will state right here and right now from the outset that all apologists are guilty of being blatant and outright liars. In their many efforts to defend their beliefs they twist all manner of learning to suit their conclusions based on their beliefs. The most common examples are Creationism, ID, and apologetics. The first two are the theistic version or interpretation of what they call science and what real scientists and anyone with some knowledge about the scientific method would quickly recognize as not actual science but pseudoscience. The last is an example of the theistic version of philosophy. Theists even set out to reinterpret the common usage of language as well by playing what I like to call the semantics game. They basically take a  word that is in common usage and change its meaning to conform to what they are trying to convey regarding what they believe. All of these so called methods of defending the faith are nothing more than different ways to proselytize through the clever use of lies and deception. 

The next one is obvious so I wont go into that one. This refers to the murder of an innocent which ironically there is plenty of it in the Old Testament often performed by God himself or by his henchmen the ancient Hebrews aka as his chosen and beloved people amongst all the nations. The next one refers to a heart that devises wicked schemes. In defense of their faith theists have often had to rely on many devious means in order to continue propagating their faith. In the past those means have come in the form of forcing people to believe or be tried and executed as seen throughout their history in the various inquisitions. Today at least here in the states they try to manipulate government officials into making laws that support their beliefs such as the ban on stem cell research, abortion, gay marriages, etc. Their only claim to legitimacy for these laws that they so demand is that it is against God's law and thus immoral. 

As individuals we tend to take our beliefs to different extremes. Some theists are fundamentalist (extreme), others are in the middle, and then there are liberals. One of the biggest problems I have with Christianity is that they want to force their beliefs and ideologies on the rest of society. You see them preaching on the street corners as I once did. They are all over the place handing out biblical tracts about salvation,  they knock on doors to propagate their faith. They lobby for the government to support their beliefs and sometimes go as far as protesting events that they feel threatens their faith. The most extreme believers have gone on to bomb abortion clinics and even have gone to the extremes of public book burnings of the Koran. Theists demand that others respect their beliefs but apparently this only works one way; it does not apply to the contrary beliefs of others. This in my opinion is the most blatant display of hypocrisy that they could ever perpetuate. These are the people whose feet are quick "to rush into evil."

The next thing that the Lord hates is a false witness. Today's Christians demonstrate this in two ways in particular. They say one thing with their mouths and even feign piety towards those that they seek to convert. The other thing that they do is that they invent lies about those with opposing views; particularly atheists. From the absurd accusation that we eat babies to the idea that without God we are incapable of being moral human beings or even being happy with our lives. Many theists here in the states have got it in their heads that atheists are waging a war against theism and are out to destroy Christianity and all forms of religious beliefs! Nothing could be further from the truth! As an atheist and I think I speak for many of us we just want the right to live God free without being discriminated against. Why should our children have to be subject to prayer in our public schools or taught that creationism is an alternative theory to evolution (which it isn't)?

The last point about a person who stirs up conflict in the community refers to some of the things I spoke of in the last paragraph. Why should our society be divided along the lines of religious beliefs or the lack of beliefs? Why can't we just respect each others beliefs and opinions and keep religion in the churches or mosques where they belong? If I want to seek God I will go to a church of my choosing. I don't feel the need to have the church and its beliefs forced upon me through means of trickery and deceit. I have a live and let live policy as long as what you believe and what you are doing privately or publicly is within the parameters of the laws of our society and no other parties are being hurt by your actions. 

Christians in this nation demand respect of their beliefs but they themselves give none to those who don't believe as they do. Like the early church during the inquisitions they want to force their beliefs and way of life on the rest of us and expect us to just throw our hands in the air and say nothing! When we do say something in an attempt to defend our rights as citizens of the U.S. to live as we choose free from religion they cry persecution! Religious beliefs are a personal matter between the believer and his/her god or gods. I have no problem with prayer and proselytizing but I don't want it in my public schools nor do I want to be discriminated against for refusing to accept your beliefs as my own. When you cross the line and try to force your beliefs on me utilizing some of the methods I've outlined in this post then know that I will be standing there ready to defend my right to be free from religion!

Note: All biblical quotations are taken from the New International version of the scriptures and word definitions are taken from the online Merriam Webster dictionary which I have linked to in the text.

Monday, February 24, 2014

On speaking in tongues (glossolalia)

Glossolalia: profuse and often emotionally charged speech that mimics coherent speech but is usually unintelligible to the listener and that is uttered in some states of religious ecstasy and in some schizophrenic state 

When I was a Christian believer of the Pentecostal church they told me from the beginning that the sign that I have been baptized by the Holy Spirit was that I would be able to speak in tongues. At the time I did not know that this was incorrect. The church had come to believe this based mostly on some verses found in the N.T. oftentimes when someone or a group of people converted to Christianity the text would end with the new converts speaking in tongues. They also like to compare the description of what allegedly occurred in the scriptures on the so called day of Pentecost to what is experienced in the churches today.

1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

As is common with most Pentecostals context means nothing. They take this narrative and its details as similar to what they experience today. The only problem with this is that in this instance they were speaking in tongues but in the languages of men, not gibberish as is heard in the churches today. This is clearly indicated in the following verses.

5Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”  Acts 2:5-12

The reason I bring this up is that when I was visiting a church that belonged to a pastor friend of mine I came across two teenaged sisters crying in the back row. I approached them to ask what was the matter and was told that they both felt as if God did not love them and they felt out of place in the church because they had not yet received the so called gift of speaking in tongues. From the moment that you convert to Pentecostalism you are told that you will be baptized in the Spirit and that tongues would be the sign. Many who come in become committed to receiving this gift and often pray fervently for it. Not knowing that speaking in tongues as outlined in the scriptures was not the same phenomenon.

27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret? 31Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:28-31

This previous verse states that everyone in the church may serve a different function and thus have different gifts of the Spirit. It was this that first made me doubt my own "gift" and what I saw in church regularly during service. It was also interesting to me that Paul also differentiated between tongues as the language of the human spirit to God and tongues as diverse human languages.

13For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 1 Corinthians 14:13-14

22Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 1 Corinthians 22-23

Pentecostals do not follow these rules and this led me to suspect the veracity of the experience. I prayed to God with a heavy heart often asking for knowledge and understanding regarding this matter. I asked for his confirmation that I was on the right track with my studies and research on the subject and it actually came in the form of a book I stumbled upon by chance. That book forever changed my life and was pivotal in my breaking free from the superstitions and practices that held me captive.  The book was 'Charismatic Chaos' by John F. MacArthur Jr.

I have come to the conclusion by experience and by my encounter with those young girls that speaking in tongues is both a psychological and social phenomenon. Unconsciously an adherent can pick it up simply by being exposed to it and desiring it. Once you are indoctrinated to believe it your mind is prepped. Then you hear what it sounds like and your unconscious mind records these sounds and subsequently you end up imitating these sounds in a state of ecstasy and high excitability. Like many so called paranormal phenomenon such as OBE's (out of body experiences), NDE's (near death experiences), etc. this too is in the mind. No God nor Holy Spirit required. Some people just like in hypnosis are more susceptible to it than others thus the reason why some never experience this phenomenon.

When I was an evangelist I was fully open to God and the supernatural experiences that accompanied believers. Contrary to what some atheists who have not experienced religious fanaticism to this level the followers are not all faking it. I know I wasn't, and I believed that everything I did was as a result of the gifts of the Spirit which I believed at the time abided in me. This knowledge was the beginning of my liberation from my beliefs and my fanaticism. The day I realized this and knew it in every fiber of my being I felt like the chains of superstition had fallen off and I had finally understood John 8:32. Except the truth was not the gospel nor the fictitious tales about Jesus the Christ. It was the realization that all those beliefs were founded entirely on foreign ancient superstitions and myths.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

From atheism to theism (a response)

I recently read a blog post on atheist revolution entitled 'How an Atheist Could Become a Christian.' Although I found this post to be interesting I thought I would reply to it by stating as a former fundamentalist Pentecostal believer why in my opinion it would be highly improbable that I would ever return to theism. The author of the post mentions that some atheists miss some aspects of their former lives as believers. This does seem to be the case and I have read about other more well known atheists discuss how they missed the music, the sense of community, etc. The author of the post also compared the switch from atheism to theism like trying to unlearn how to read. I think that my analogy will serve as a better description of the process which I intend to share shortly.

It literally took me six years to be completely free from my religious beliefs and indoctrination. The last thing to go was my fear of the Lord and my very real fear of death regarding what would happen to me if I died in my condition of unbelief. One of the things that turned me off the most as a believer is that when I sought help from the church elders or my fellow believers I was often told not to question matters so much and to trust God. I was warned against reading books that questioned the validity of the scriptures etc. When I first left the church some (very few) of the members and elders of the church visited me with the intent of getting me to repent and return to the ways of the Lord.

Once the church members and elders realized that they could not convince me to return they stopped visiting with me and started spreading rumors about me. About five years after leaving the church I ran into an old friend and he froze for a moment with his mouth open staring at me. He then ran at me and gave me a hug and said he could not believe that I was still around. I asked what he meant and he replied that they had said in the church that I had died from a drug overdose a while back! Another former friend I ran into once told me that he heard that I was seen on the street by someone from the church half bent over like a junkie! The funny thing is that I have never used drugs in my life!

My deconversion was very difficult for me and those six years were very trying times. I remember that I had addressed God in my very last prayer with a proposition. I basically told Jesus that if he would reveal himself to me as he did with Thomas in John 20:25 that I would be his faithful servant for the rest of my life.

So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." John 20:25

In the subsequent verses Jesus grants Thomas his request although he chastises him for not believing what he had heard from the other disciples about his resurrection and return from the dead.

26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:26-27

After all these years (19 to be exact) I have yet to have this one wish fulfilled. I haven't given up hope in it but I think that the probability of it ever happening is highly improbable. Faith wasn't good enough for Thomas and it is not good enough for me either. As an atheist I demand empirical and objective evidence before I commit myself to a belief system. I have come to the conclusion that I could never be a theist again. There are several reasons for this. The first is that after much study I don't find the Bible to be a credible source of information, faith without evidence is irrational to me, and my studies into the mind helped explain all of what I once thought were supernatural experiences.

I compare my conversion to watching an amazing magic trick for the first time and my deconversion to having that same amazing trick and its secrets revealed to me. As a kid I was fascinated with magic and I even had a magic set that I once used in a school talent show. When I had my first daughter I bought books on sleight of hand and card tricks to use later to amaze my child. I learned and practiced may tricks and got quite good at the sleight of hand. But one thing I learned from my little foray in magic was that once you know the trick it loses its mystique.

Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, in fact, all religions are in my opinion nothing more than beliefs based entirely on ancient myths and superstitions that dominated the minds of men before science had dispelled many of those erroneous beliefs. I consider myself to be a modern day Thomas: there's not an argument in the world that any apologists could make to convince me about the truth of Christianity nor the reality of their god. The term "God did it" is not in my mind an answer to the many questions that science has yet to solve such as the exact process of the origins of the universe or the origins of life itself. In fact, this so called answer does nothing more than raise more questions than it answers them. 

The return to Christianity is in my mind only available to those who have never really left the faith. They might call themselves atheist but deep inside they still had questions about their faith and were more agnostic than they were atheist. I don't miss the music, the community, nor anything I experienced as a believer. Christian music and worship disgusts me to no end. In order to be a believer you have to first degrade yourself and accept that without Christ you are nothing. You must worship him and tell him how great he is all the time and live forever in gratitude for saving you from your disgusting sinful condition and ultimately eternal damnation. 

Christianity in my current view is not that different from slavery. There is the master (God), the subservient believer, the laws that you must live by (commandments), the idea that you must obey the Lord, the idea that he knows your thoughts and the very intents of your heart! Christianity is dominated by fear and subservience. Like a slave who has obtained a taste of freedom I could never go back!

Note: All biblical passages are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures.