Friday, November 30, 2012

They're not all faking

This is sort of an extension to my last post on my personal experiences in a charismatic church and the beliefs that led me to behave as I did. It has been my experience that most churches that put great emphasis on the so called gifts of the Spirit and the miraculous, do so from a position of faith. Their faith is derived from a literal interpretation of the scriptures. My excuse for all the inconsistencies in the bible were based entirely on 1 Corinthians 13:12 " Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known."

Christians believe that God is ineffable (indefinable) in that we as mere mortals clothed in imperfection cannot fully know or comprehend him. Once one is fully committed in their beliefs about God, especially hardcore fundamentalists there is literally nothing that can shake their faith. The bible literally has answers or shall I say nonsensical rebuttals to logic and reason. Whether this was done knowingly by its authors it's hard to say. As a former fundamentalist myself, I can say that the above cited verse of scripture was my defense against non-believers who sought to shake my faith. I could easily chalk up all of the bibles inconsistencies to human error and blame it on the varied authors imperfect state. It's never Gods' fault it's always our fault when we interpret a text incorrectly, or come to wrong beliefs due to our lack of properly comprehending the scriptures.

It is because of this, that many atheists who have never experienced charismatic Christianity find it mind boggling and hard to comprehend why theists are so adamant about their beliefs. Couple this deep indoctrination with the subjective experiences that accompany it and you will easily see why theists are so sure that they are right to believe as they do. They speak in tongues, believe that the Spirit of their deity resides in their body, prophesy, are slain in the Spirit regularly, etc. Just like a witness to an accident states "I know what I saw" the theists states "I know what I feel."

While I was a believer I had many visions, dreams, and even on one occasion a visitation by Jesus himself! I never faked being overcome by the Holy Spirit or spoke in tongues just to assert my position in the congregation. I am sure that there are plenty of people in the church who actually do those things. I myself can say that I was 100% deluded and got caught up in a web of lies and deceptions.

I had people come up to me during and sometimes weeks after a service I had led with testimonies about how they were healed from this or that ailment. When things went right for me about something I had prayed about I would take it as confirmation that I was within Gods divine will at that time. The best way to describe what I felt when I was speaking in tongues or sensing the Spirit coursing through me as I fell to the floor in ecstasy is that it was like being in a trance like state. A popular slogan in our church as it is in many churches was to "let go and let God."

To get to the levels of spirituality that I experienced it was necessary to surrender completely to my beliefs. I had to surrender mind and body alike to get closer to God; that was my quest as a believer. I had to be one with God. When I became a believer I was going through some things and I now believe that it was those things that served as a catalyst and made me susceptible to Christianity. It's similar to a boy or man who catches a girl or woman who has just had a bad break up. If you catch them in their moment of weakness and say the right things at the right time you might get laid and become that woman's rebound boy.

Christians prey on the down trodden and those of us in society that may be going through a rough patch in our lives. They offer them hope beyond all hope, and make promises that they obviously can't keep. But most of them are not even aware that they are doing it. They are so deluded that they are not faking when it comes to what they believe and their own personal religious practices. Unlike us, they don't acknowledge this as the real world. Their world is up in the clouds somewhere where they believe that they will spend eternity with their imaginary guy in the sky. They're not faking it; they're deluded!

Note: Bible quote is taken from the New Jerusalem Bible
Delusion: An erroneous belief that is held in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Sage English Dictionary and Thesaurus

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The dangers of extreme fundamentalism

In this post I would like to make the case that extreme fundamentalism is dangerous and can eventually lead to poor mental health. I will be using some examples from my own experiences as a former extreme fundamentalist. I feel that there are many mental disorders that can account for a lot of  the subjective experiences Christians claim to have such as glossolalia (speaking in tongues), having apparent supernatural experiences, visions, dreams. etc.

When I was a believer I used to experience what at the time I believed to have been visitations and attacks from demonic entities. I would wake up in the middle of the night sweating and speaking in tongues oftentimes with my heart pounding in my chest at an accelerated rate. I had nightmares or night terrors where I awoke feeling the presence of evil around me and at times even hearing demonic voices whispering in my ear. Sometimes I was even able to see the entities I believed were attacking me on some occasions. These experiences were one of the many reasons why leaving the faith was so hard for me to do.

When I finally mustered up the courage to leave the faith once and for all, I decided to research mental conditions that would help me to understand and explain away these experiences. After some searching I found exactly what I was looking for and was satisfied with the information I had obtained about my condition. I came across a condition called hallucinatory sleep paralysis (night terrors) you can read more about this here. This condition accounted for the visual and audio experiences that accompanied the various episodes I experienced. Till this day I still suffer from this condition where when I am caught in an episode my mind cannot distinguish reality from what is actually happening at the moment.

Before I had obtained this knowledge, I saw demons everywhere. I was a firm believer at the time that the devil had his hand in every bad thing that ever happened to me. Bad thoughts, negative emotions, depression, and many other common emotions and thoughts that we experience everyday in the real world were all to me nothing more than the devil and his hordes tempting me and waging a spiritual battle against me. I now firmly believe that if left unchecked extreme fundamentalism can lead to mental instability. I took the bible in its entiretly literally and it was because of this that I was slowly drifting down a slippery slope and I felt that my sanity was also at stake.

One of the things that led me to believe that Satans' minions were everywhere at all times was Ephesians 6:11,12 which says: "Put on the full armour of God so as to be able to resist the devil's tactics.For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the principalities and the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world, the spirits of evil in the heavens." I took this scripture literally, and since I was into exorcisms and demonology I believed the devil and demons to be quite real. My ministry was mainly what one would call a deliverance ministry and most of the time I dealt with the so called "demon possessed."

The easiest explanation for some cases of demon possession for me is schizophrenia or some other sort of multiple personality disorder. Another explanation which I have been theorizing for years about is that the person is mentally preconditioned to believe that they are possessed because of indoctrination. This is similar to how a hypnotist utilizes auto-suggestion in his subjects to make them say or behave in a particular way. Hypnosis is very real and I believe it plays a huge role in fundamentalist Christianity and the many so called spiritual experiences that accompany those beliefs. This is true whether the believer accepts it or not.

I personally have been fully immersed on the deep end of the fundamentalist pool. I have spoken in tongues, been slain by the spirit, etc. That is why when I left the faith I had to find explanations for the many experiences I believed I had while serving the Lord. This is probably why it took me so long to make a clean break from believing in God. Anything taken to the extreme can be bad for you and in some cases deadly. I believe religious beliefs that emphasize on "supernatural" experiences is one of those things that could lead its adherents to suffer from mental imbalance or have thier idea of the world we live in badly distorted.

There have been many professional studies done on this topic but it takes some searching online to find reputable articles by qualified psychiatrists and therapists. Some of these studies are hard to obtain unless you are a professional in the field or have acces to some of these forums as a college student. You might even be able to find some of them made available in your local public library if your really want to research the matter further. Also, browse the subject matter on amazon or and you might find some titles that deal with this subject as well. Thank you for reading and I will see you next time. Good luck in your research if you are so inclined to do so.

Note: Biblical citation is from the New Jerusalem Bible

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More on my journey towards atheism

Eighteen years ago I was known as what we call today a fundie or fundamentalist Christian believer. I was a fully committed Spanish Pentecostal evangelist with a street ministry that spanned for four years from 1990 to 1994. In those days being a Christian to me meant not only being a follower of Christ but also imitating his life by displaying humility and boldness when required as I went on my quest to spread the so called good news gospel to as many people as I possibly could.

Every experience that I ever had in those days I attributed to one of three sources. Either God allowed some adversity in my life to test my faith, the devil was attacking me for winning souls, or God was blessing me in some special way. Practically every waking moment I was talking with the Lord in my mind for that is what I believed was the true meaning of prayer. I believed that in those days I walked with the Lord and talked with the Lord and was in complete fellowship with him. Anytime I was given a preaching engagement with enough time for preparation I fasted for three complete days in my basement. I read the bible seeking God's guidance for the message of the evening and prayed often and isolated myself from friends and family members.

Anytime I was ministering to the church or the unconverted who were drawn to my message I gave God 100 percent credit and glory for any apparent "miracle" that might have occurred. I dealt mostly with the demon possessed and I believed fervently that many were either demon possessed or oppressed and were thus hindered from coming to the foot of the cross and repenting of their sins and committing their lives to Jesus. I had personally read over 60 books on demonology by the likes of R.W. Schambach, Smith Wigglesworth, Morris Cerullo, and many many more.

I believed in those days that I had all the gifts of the Holy Spirit as they are outlined in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. People claimed to have been healed during my services and others manifested "demonic" spirits which I through ministering in Jesus name would cast out. I thought in those days that I was changing lives and making a difference, but most importantly helping save souls and bring them to Christ.

In those days I would be challenged by nonbelievers but I did not let any of their arguments sway me. I was a rock; an untouchable! I did not read secular books nor watch secular programing on the television. My whole life was Christ centered; I literally had tunnel vision when it came to the things of God and the bible. I was a fanatics fanatic and saw the world in black and white. To me there was no grey area: either you were with the Lord or against him, and if you were against him then you were by default a child of Satan.

Anytime I had a perverse thought run through my head or believed I had done something wrong which might not have been pleasing before the eyes of the Lord I repented right away and prayed for the Lord's forgiveness. I protected my so called salvation as if it was the universes greatest treasure. This was the way I was until the day I read the bible in its entirety for the first time. I was so blown away at how silly it was that I ended up reading it 3 more times just to make sure I was not missing something. It turns out the more I read it the more I despised the God of Abraham. Of course I did so with genuine fear in my heart because in those days I was still held captive by the power of my beliefs or rather my superstitions.

The bible constantly tells you to fear the Lord and the church drills it into your mind till it becomes a reality. The authors of the bible seemed to have been well versed in the powerful hold that fear has to capture a persons mind and subject them to your will. Even after declaring myself an atheist it took me six years to overcome this fear completely.

Finally, I think that it is sometimes pointless to argue with theists, especially fundamentalist ones. They have already made up their mind and are completely blinded by their faith there is no grey area for them. I have never met a fundie that was convinced to leave the faith because someone talked him or her out of it. We can plant the seed of doubt but this freedom from superstition is a journey that you have to choose to make on your own. That has been my experience, and to date if you were to discuss this with any former fundie they will tell you that it is not an easy journey. This road is filled with fear, doubt, etc.

In conclusion, I feel that by sharing my experiences on this blog I can help others who have also chosen to embark on this journey. It's not easy but you have the support of a whole atheist community behind you and a mountain of knowledge thanks to the world wide web. Good luck with your journey and if you ever need some advice or just want to talk feel free to contact me anytime through my blog and I will be glad to help you find the resources you need.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

About modern Christian arguments

For those of you that have been following my blog for some time you will surely know about how much I abhor Christian apologetics and the nonsensical idiotic arguments that they make. Since its beginnings it has been used as a means to defend the faith and its many moronic and improbable tenets through the use of philosophical arguments. Apologists believe that they are using logic and reason to formulate these arguments, but I believe that their idea of logic and reason is twisted by reason of their faith.

In order for believers to even begin to formulate arguments in defense of the absurdities that they believe; they have to begin from their conclusion. This in my opinion is like most Christian beliefs ass backward reasoning. The scientific method for instance begins with a question, does background research, constructs an hypothesis, tests its hypothesis by experimentation, analyzes data and draws a conclusion, and finally you communicate your results. It's not always that neat and as more data is discovered the conclusions are always subject to change. This is a more logical way to come to a reasonable conclusion. Basing ones conclusions on faith is in my opinion absurd beyond reason.

In fact, faith in my opinion is an abandonment of reason and I find that the study of apologetics is absolutely boring. I feel that theists misuse the philosophical method in order to try and find some kind of reason to their insanity. I have argued many times that Christianity like the many religions that preceded it were simply not true. I like to state that yesterday's religions are today's myths and in my view Christianity is no exception.

Here is an example of what I mean when I say that Christianity isn't true and I have written an article  on this very subject before. Jesus was speaking to his followers in Mark 9:1 regarding his return and said to them that there were some standing there that will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God. He later states in Luke 9:30 as he spoke to this crowd that " In truth I tell you, before this generation has passed away all these things will have taken place." In those days a generation was estimated to be between at least 35 to 40 years. Now who was Jesus talking to when he allegedly made these statements? I don't think he was talking to us 2,000 plus years later, because if he was then taking him at his word that would make the first century one hell of a long generation!

Apologist's like to circumvent this little inconsistency by using the argument found in Matthew 24:36 that no one knows the day nor the hour of his return. Or that he was referring to his little meeting on a mount with Elijah and Moses also know as the transfiguration. But any bone head could see that the transfiguration and Jesus descending on a cloud in great power and glory are two entirely different things.

I have stopped reading books and articles on Christian apologetics because I feel that all of the arguments presented are nothing more than backward and nonsensical reasoning or as I like to call it justifying the absurdity of their beliefs. They haven't changed much since the beginning of apologetics, although every once in awhile they are modified like church doctrines to keep up with the times. I have come to the conclusion that if you have read the gamut of arguments for the existence of God or the resurrection of Christ you would have already read them all.

It sickens me how Christians are so blinded by their faith that they can't see beyond their own noses how silly and illogical those beliefs are. The idea that some man who is God incarnate was resurrected and is coming back "soon" lmfao to the earth outside of Christianity is absurd! But believers don't see this. Their beliefs are are exempt from those of all other religions on the face of the earth and therefore true. This is known in philosophy as special pleading and it is the only way that they could even sustain any argument from their beliefs at all.