Debunking Religious Experiences

Reading an old post from my friend Matt over at http://www.ragingrev.com got me thinking about my own religious experiences from back in my Christian days. I used to absolutely love Charismatic praise and worship services! I spent hours daily praying and worshiping god. Seeking god was my very favorite thing to do! The emotional highs I experienced were intense and convincing at the time. I really thought that I was experiencing the presence of a very real and good and loving and holy god. But now that I have been out of religious belief for as long as I was in it (15 years), I can look back on it all and see that the incredible emotional highs were driven by the equally incredible power of belief. And now that the belief is gone, so are the emotional experiences. I no longer believe in or experience god, and I am perfectly happy and okay with that, though getting to that place took a while and it took a lot of work. Here is an excerpt from Matt’s blog post:

These experiences, for many many years, solidified my belief in god – they were physical evidences of spiritual truths that my god had gifted me with the ability to experience. I still remember them strongly and I still feel that immense “heart tug” when I hear the sort of worship music that was present during those times…if ever an atmosphere was ripe for manipulation of young minds it was this one and I was it’s victim.

Today I’m not really writing to tell my story – I’m writing to try to explain the dangers of experiences like these pose to young people and how some of these youth will ultimately be let down by these experiences and why they, as great as they may seem, are the result of psychosomatic responses to emotional over-stimulation.

At this point in our understanding of human psychology and development we know that young people are more susceptible to manipulation of all sorts, more often that not those that remain in charismatic churches and uphold charismatic beliefs are those that are either born into the movement or are young when they get into it….it appeals to that lack of emotional maturity that so many young people have as well as the overwhelming lack of critical thinking skill that make them the perfect candidates for this newly emergent version of Christianity.

For me, these experiences eventually turned into a pursuit for more of god…almost like a better fix on your drug of choice, it becomes insatiable. This pursuit consumed me and had me on my face seeking “him” often – this pursuit and the eventual let down it became made me into the the atheist I am today. Yes, seeking god’s presence ultimately brought me to this place the moment I realized just how easily my emotions and emotional ineptitude could have lead up to the experiences I had already had and brought me ultimately to question the weight of experiences in determining truth. I had to reject those experiences, something many can never do because of the crippling fear instilled in them from an early age, in order to reject the god I had. That fear, coupled with this incredibly emotionally subjective experience are a cruel way of gaining converts.

So why do these experiences seem so very real?

The answer is quite simple, but somewhat complex to truly understand – the art of Hypnosis and Suggestion as originally coined by Franz Mesmer, is the ability to suggest to an individual or group under the right conditions as to what will occur and to have that prophecy of sorts come true. It can be complex or simple, intentional and completely accidental, but it is very very possible.

You can read Matt’s full post here:

http://ragingrev.com/2011/08/the-new-charismatics-debunking-experiences-with-god/

One thing he wrote that stands out to me is this:

These experiences, for many many years, solidified my belief in god – they were physical evidences of spiritual truths that my god had gifted me with the ability to experience. I still remember them strongly and I still feel that immense “heart tug” when I hear the sort of worship music that was present during those times…if ever an atmosphere was ripe for manipulation of young minds it was this one and I was it’s victim.

I have been free from religion for 15 years, but I still feel an emotional pull when I hear the old worship music or old Christian Rock music that I loved back in the day, such as Mylon LeFevre & Broken Heart. I understand that the emotional pull is not god or the holy spirit, but simply a reminder of emotional highs from the past and of beliefs once held sacred. I can look back to my days of drinking and using drugs too in the same way. Sometimes I feel an emotional pull to drink or to get high on pot and/or cocaine again, but that doesn’t mean that I go do it. When those thoughts come up, I recognize them as reminders of a past long gone now and of choices that I no longer make. I can’t drink right now because of medications I am on and I choose not to use drugs. I’m a bit old for that lifestyle now, anyway. My almost 49-year old body won’t take the abuse anymore even if I wanted to go there…

Another man I know of who has written similarly on the issues of conversion, brainwashing, and religious indoctrination is Dick Sutphen. He is a popular New Age author and teacher, and a while back he wrote a piece called The Battle for Your Mind. You can read it here:

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Secrets/TR/sutphen.html

I realize now that all those years ago back when I was 19 years old and I experienced a dramatic religious conversion and change of lifestyles (from a typical teenage party animal to a fundamentalist religious believer), I was the victim of religion-based emotional manipulation and abuse and the victim of tried and true religious conversion and brainwashing and indoctrination techniques.

Part of the journey from religious belief back to the real world is realizing what has been done to us and why. And then, we can begin to heal the damage that has been done to our minds and to our emotions.

You can and you should be FREE. You deserve to be FREE and to live this life FREE from the emotional manipulation and abuse of religious belief. Glory!

Our Founding Fathers were not Christians!

Saw this Phil Robertson quote posted to Facebook and had to respond.

robertson christian nation

Um… no. America was founded by men who were primarily Deists and who also understood the dangers of religious tyranny and theocracy. If you take the time to do the research and read what our Founding Fathers actually had to say about the Christian God and the Christian religion, you would find that they had very unfavorable things to say about both. Thomas Jefferson took the time to create his own version of the Bible, which is still available today. He took out all of the supernatural bullshit and left in the stuff that he liked. Needless to say, with the supernatural bullshit gone, Jefferson’s Bible is a much thinner book than most Bibles are.

America is not a Christian nation. America is and always has been a secular constitutional republic.

For more on what our Founding Fathers had to say on religion, see these glorious sites:

http://freethought.mbdojo.com/foundingfathers.html

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/07/04/35-founding-father-quotes-conservative-christians-will-hate/

“The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” – 1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by Founding Father John Adams