A Reluctant Atheist…

I am an ex-Christian because I know the Bible isn’t actually true and I am an atheist because I see no evidence at all that a god of any kind actually exists. God never says, thinks, or does anything at all except in the minds of believers, and that’s a sure indication to me that he/she/it does not actually exist. But, I spent 15 years of my younger life as a very devout fundamentalist Christian. I also have bipolar disorder, so I spent those years swinging between periods of devout religious belief and periods of doubt and unbelief that usually featured heavy drug and alcohol use. I realize now that both methods were my attempt to self-medicate the bipolar illness that I didn’t know I had at the time. And I have realized recently that religious belief is so tied to my bipolar disorder that, for me, it can never be real. When I am manic, God seem very REAL to me, and I become very spiritual and sometimes I flirt with a return to Christian fundamentalism. But when the mania dies down, the religious beliefs inevitably go away too. My feelings of the presence of God, which have been very intense at times, are just a product of mental illness and nothing more. There is a part of me that misses my religious days and a part of me that wishes that I could share in the faith of my Christian friends. But, I know it’s not real. God doesn’t actually exist, prayer doesn’t actually work, and Jesus Christ, if he indeed lived in history, is long dead. And the Bible? It has been thoroughly debunked online for many years now… so, though I wish on a purely emotional level that it could all be true, I know it isn’t. And I think facing reality as it actually is and living in the REAL WORLD is very important, so that’s what I strive to do. Knowing that this life is it — the only one I will ever have — makes life so much more precious and I value every moment I get to experience here on Earth, and I value every moment I get to spend with those that I love because I know that life is not forever and that it will really and truly end. There isn’t a heaven waiting for believers and there isn’t a hell waiting for nonbelievers. There is just very likely… nothing. But that doesn’t really bother me. If there is no life after death, then I won’t exist to care that I don’t exist. And if there is something after death, there is no evidence that there is anything to be feared. So… I do my best to be a good person and a contributing member of society and I live my life as though God doesn’t exist… because there is no evidence that he does. And I believe that that is the Truth! Glory!

Why I Refuse to Fear Hell

I was forced into a conversation I didn’t want with a Christian friend last night, so I am going to share some thoughts. I am not out to upset my religious friends who may visit this site. But, I cannot and I will not share your fear of Hell. And here’s why…

Hell is… NOT REAL. As is the case for, well, all religious claims. There isn’t even the tiniest shred of evidence to back up the claim that Hell is real, and that holds true for all other religious claims, whether they are pleasant or scary.

Back in my very religious days, I once believed in Hell. I thought it was real because, like most religious people, I engaged in circular reasoning. Hell was real because the Bible said so and the Bible was the Word of God because it said so and I was assured that that was the case by people I trusted at the time. But they too engaged in the same circular reasoning for the same reasons I did. It’s a never-ending cycle, and it’s one of the reasons religion continues to survive despite the fact that the Bible has been thoroughly debunked online now for many years.

I no longer believe in or waste a moment of my life worrying about or fearing Hell, for the following reasons.

1) Hell is a morally reprehensible concept
2) There is exactly ZERO evidence that Hell actually exists
3) I cannot and would not worship a God who would create such a place or who would burn anyone for any reason for even one second, because such a God, by definition, would be EVIL. Such a God would, by definition, be a MONSTER!

According to the Bible, Hell is a flaming torture chamber where human beings are barbecued forever with no hope of reprieve and where human beings are tormented by demons non-stop, forever, with no hope of reprieve.

Does such a terrible place actually exist? NO, of course not.

If a human parent burned their child for even one second for ANY reason, we would quite rightly consider that parent to be a monster, and we would remove that child from their care immediately. But… millions of people enthusiastically worship a God who not only burns his children for seconds, but for all eternity! And this monster of a God gets a free pass, and we are assured that this God is Love and that he has good reasons for barbecuing his children for all of eternity with no hope of reprieve. We are told that this God is holy and that he cannot tolerate sin, and that if we don’t accept Jesus as our savior so God can wash away our sin and see us through the blood of Jesus, we are filthy sinners who deserve to be punished infinitely for finite sins.

But… THINK ABOUT IT. Can a God who burns his children for ANY reason be considered holy or righteous or even good? NO, OF COURSE NOT. Even if we are not his children but children of the devil if we don’t accept Jesus, is it right to burn us? Is it ever acceptable to burn anyone for ANY reason? OF COURSE NOT! When Christians had the political power to do so, was it ever right or acceptable for them to burn people at the stake? NO, OF COURSE NOT!

And, of course, it is not right or acceptable for a God to burn anyone for even one second for ANY reason… such an idea is monstrously evil, and such a God would be monstrously evil…

I reject belief in God primarily because there is not a shred of credible evidence that the Christian God or any other god actually exists. But if the Christian God did exist and Hell was real, I would reject that God on moral grounds and I would quite rightly consider him to be monstrously evil…

If you would not burn your child for any reason, no matter what they did, then why are you worshiping a God who supposedly burns human beings forever with no hope of reprieve?

And I’ll say this too… some Christians recognize the morally reprehensible nature of the doctrine of Hell, and they try to soften the concept by saying that it just means separation from God… as if that was something awful. But I will say this. I have had more peace, more joy, more happiness, and more contentment since I walked away from belief in God than I ever did when I was religious. And, I value myself and my life far more now than I ever did when I was religious. If separation from God is Hell, then I have to say that I am not suffering for it at all. Not one bit…

My 2 cents… which I hope will break the cycle of circular reasoning in my religious friends and get them to THINK about what they profess to believe… Carry on… 🙂

When Your God Dies

Posted this to Facebook and thought I would share it here too. Glory! 🙂

Those of you who have been friends with me on Facebook for a while know that I used to bash religion – a lot, and usually I wasn’t nice about it at all. But back then I was still stuck in the “anger” phase of de-conversion. Walking away from 15 years of devout religious belief was not just a matter of me shrugging my shoulders and thinking, “Oh, well, that sounded nice but it’s not actually true” and moving on unscathed by the experience.

There are phases to religious de-conversion that closely correspond to the stages of grief. They are essentially the same. The five stages of grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Most of the time now I find myself in the acceptance stage of grief, but for a long time I was stuck in anger and also in depression.

God

When your God dies, that is an event of major importance! We all grieve when a human or animal loved one dies. But when your God dies? That’s far worse, and it’s just as painful as a human death is, if not more so. Because when your God dies, so does the hopes you had for an awesome and eternal afterlife and your hopes of being reunited with lost loved ones at some future date. And what also dies is your hope that at some future date your God will dispense righteous judgment, right all wrongs and wipe away all of the suffering associated with this life.

When your God dies, so does everything supernatural associated with that belief. What dies too is belief in angels, demons, heaven, hell, and activities such as prayer that require a supernatural component to actually work. When your God dies, what you are left with is what is actually real and that we know actually exists — the natural world in all of its grandeur and beauty — the vast cosmos consisting of billions of galaxies, of which our solar system and our beautiful planet are but a very small part.

When your God dies, what dies too is the belief that you were specially created to serve and worship this God. What dies too is your belief that you are special to this God and that He loves you and cares about what happens to you. When your God dies, you realize that you are not the special creation of a God, but rather the product of millions of years of biological evolution, and you realize how amazing it is that you are here at this moment in time and you realize how precious and incredible and amazing this life is.

My God died almost 17 years ago, in early 2000. It was a death brought about by doubts and questions that had plagued me for years that I never found satisfactory Christian answers for. It was a death brought about by a great deal of thinking, reading, and research. It was a death brought about by seeing just how easily people on the skeptical side of the fence dismantled my cherished Christian beliefs not with ridicule and derision, but with solid, credible evidence and verifiable facts.

My God died a long time ago, and I have lived quite happily free from the fear, guilt, shame, and ignorance that so defined and drove the fundamentalist religion that I was once so deeply involved in.

So… when your God dies, that is a life-changing, life-defining event of major importance. When your God dies and everything that you believed was real dies along with him, it takes a long time to process and to come to terms with. It takes a long time to rebuild the framework that defines your reality. But it is possible to come out on the other side of the grief and all of the processing of it through its various phases complete and whole and happy and grateful to be alive.

If you want to know more, I wrote an article describing what it’s like to make the journey from Christianity to Atheism a few years ago. You can read it here:

http://smokeyinthebox.com/journey-christianity-atheism/

I can only speak for myself and my experience, but I hope this gives you a better understanding of me and what it was like for me to experience the death of my God all of those years ago.

Sister Kate Speaks on Cults

What is a cult? A cult can be defined as “a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.” It can also be defined as “a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.” Or, a cult can also be defined as “a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.”

In this glorious video, my friend Sister Kate Ashcraft, aka the Bluegrass Skeptic, discusses several different cults and different aspects of them. I could tell that Sister Kate was prayed up, and the Holy Spook was magically moving! As the Lard magically used Sister Kate to educate me, I felt moved of the Lard to pray in tongues! I pray that the Lard will use this glorious video to bring glory to His magical Sky Work. Thank you, Jesus! Glory!

Easter and the Power of the Christian Message

Christian messageThis Easter Sunday morning, I woke up early and watched… the Jesus Film. This post contains my thoughts on the love of Jesus and the power of the Christian message. It’s not typical fare for this site, but my atheist friends, please bear with me… 🙂 The last time I saw the Jesus Film was in 1985 when I was 19 years old. My good friend Mike had just won me over to the Christian faith, and watching this film sealed the deal. I was extremely moved back then by the love of Jesus, and I still am today.

I invite my Christian friends to consider my thoughts. I invite my ex-Christian friends as well to consider my thoughts. I’m not asking either group of folks to agree with me. All I ask is your time and your thoughtful consideration. 🙂

I urge my Christian friends to consider the power of the message that they possess by faith. The story of Jesus is the story of LOVE. It’s the story of forgiveness. It’s the story of redemption. It doesn’t matter to me whether the stories we find in the Gospels are literally true or not. What matters to me is the power they have to change lives. These ancient stories that come down to us from a different time and a different place in history still have tremendous meaning and power today. Like many things in life, they can be used for good or they can be used for evil.

The Christian faith has motivated good people to accomplish great things in this world. But unfortunately, it has also been used to justify hatred. The first thing that comes to mind is Christians using their faith to vilify the Jewish people as the murderers of their Lord. Antisemitism is still a problem in the world today. Hitler used his Catholic faith to justify murdering six million Jews, and he made it clear that he believed that he was doing the Lord’s work. All of that was decades and centuries ago. But sadly, many Christians still use their faith as a vehicle for hatred. Jesus never said a single word about homosexuality, yet many prominent Christian preachers use their pulpits and their media outlets to preach hate against the gay community. A couple of the more extreme examples that comes to mind is a pastor in Arizona, I believe, who is openly calling for gays to be murdered. Another vocal pastor has called for gays to be rounded up and penned like animals so they can’t reproduce… but though most Christians don’t wish physical harm to come to gays, they make it clear that gays and lesbians are not welcome in their churches.

How incredibly, tragically sad is that? My understanding of the love of Jesus is that it is unconditional and that it is extended with open arms to EVERYBODY. That includes gays, lesbians, transgender folks, prostitutes, drug addicts, alcoholics, the homeless, the mentally ill, and the list goes on and on… isn’t LOVE the most powerful force in the universe? How can it possibly be limited to a select few when EVERYBODY is in need of it?

Luke 10:27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Consider those words of Jesus. Has anything more powerful ever been spoken? Imagine what our world would be like if we as a species lived those words. What if we all believed in a God of Love and we dedicated our lives to living out that love towards others? And what about loving our neighbors as ourselves? Who is my neighbor? Sure, it’s the folks who live in my neighborhood, most of whom I’ve never even met. But my neighbors are also the citizens of my city and my state. And the circle grows wider to include the citizens of my country. And then it grows ever wider to include the citizens of all other countries on this planet. And it grows wider still to include every single human being currently living on this planet. My neighbor isn’t just the folks next door. My neighbor is EVERYBODY, and they are all equally deserving of my respect and my love.

If I had a church and I was publicly representing the Love of Jesus, guess who would be welcomed in my church with open arms? Yes indeed… ABSOLUTELY EVERYBODY! And, in my opinion, that is how churches today should operate. Their doors should be open to EVERYBODY.

My Christian friends, do you realize what those of us on the outside of your faith looking in see when we look at your faith? We see it being used to spread hatred and bigotry. We see it being used to bilk those who can least afford it out of their money. We see it being used to build giant cathedrals and to buy jet airplanes for rich televangelists. Does Jesus need a jet plane? Do any of his followers need a jet airplane? No, of course not. In my opinion, those who claim the name of Christ need to wake up and realize that they have the most incredible message on earth. They have the potential to do tremendous good in the world. It is tragic beyond words that the greatest message the world has ever known is being used to spread hatred.

My message to Christian pastors is this: STOP USING YOUR PULPITS TO SPREAD HATE. USE THEM INSTEAD TO SPREAD LOVE! People in this world need LOVE. It is LOVE that they are looking for and it is LOVE that will win them over.
I am not currently a Christian, but I love the message of Jesus. This life is a battle that we have no choice but to engage in. Every moment of every day we are faced with the choice to do good or the choice to do evil. We can choose to reject those who are different than us, or we can choose to welcome them with open arms. We can choose to help others who are in need or we can choose to look the other way. The Love of Jesus as I understand it compels me to look at this world through the eyes of LOVE. The Love of Jesus compels me to do good and to help anyone I can in any way that I am capable of. It inspires and compels me to love everyone, regardless of their faith or their beliefs.

My Christian friends, you have an incredible gift to share. You have faith in a loving God and you have been shown incredible love. My suggestion to you, offered in love, is to get busy sharing it! Show God’s Love to EVERYBODY, not just people you are comfortable with. Your message, the Christian message, has the power to change lives and to change the world. Think about that reality and use it wisely and with love…

My 2 cents… if you’ve read this to this point, you are amazing and thank you. I don’t ask you to agree with me. I just ask that you consider my thoughts. Thank you, and I hope you have an awesome Easter Sunday.

Fundamentalist Religion – A HUGE Worldwide Problem

fundamentalist religionI posted my thoughts on fundamentalist religion to Facebook and decided to share it here too… Glory!

I’m depressed. There is so much hatred in the world, and sadly, much of it stems from the fact that in the 21st Century, people are still killing each other over mythological religious bullshit that ignorant men dreamed up thousands of years ago. We are still killing each other over whose Imaginary Friend is better or more powerful! Here and now in the 21st Century! I would like to think that most of us know better than that now.

fundamentalist religionFundamentalist religion is a HUGE problem here in the US and throughout the world. Fundamentalist Christians routinely use their religion to hate on gays, transgender folks, and women. It is particularly nauseating to hear hatred against gays regularly preached from the pulpits, yet these hateful, bigoted religious assholes never say a word against eating shellfish or wearing clothes made of mixed fabrics, both of which are condemned by their ancient holy book.

fundamentalist religionChristianity has been anti-woman from the word “go”. According to the ridiculous creation myths in Genesis, it was the woman, Eve, who convinced Adam to eat the magic fruit from the magic tree after the talking snake convinced her to eat it. Eve was the bad gal! Women have been getting the short end of the stick ever since, though obviously, the ridiculous mythical story never actually happened. According to the same silly ancient myth, God in his infinite love, made childbirth extremely painful for all women because Eve made the mistake of listening to a lying talking snake and she ate the magic fruit from the magic tree that God had told them not to fuck with. Religion has been used for centuries to subjugate women and relegate women to the status of second-class citizens. For a very long time, women were little more than property. And according to the Apostle Paul, they should be silent in church and they should not have positions of authority. And in the here and now of the 21st Century, religious Republican politicians are continually trying to deny women the right to decide what they can do with their own bodies! In the minds of these women-hating religious assholes, it would be better for a woman who has a legitimate need for an abortion to get it in a dark alley with a coat hanger than in a much safer modern hospital setting. I’m a guy and I don’t have a vagina, but I am 100% with the women shouting at these assholes to stay out of their vaginas! Oh, and according to many of these religious assholes, rape is consensual or the woman asked for it by the way they dressed! Holy shit!

fundamentalist religionThe Christian religion has a very long and very sad history of suppressing social progress and scientific discovery. The Bible is a flat-earth, geocentric book from cover to cover, and for centuries people believed that the earth was flat and supported by pillars because the Bible says so. And it was believed that the flat earth was covered by a solid dome firmament with the stars stuck in it because the Bible says so! It took Copernicus and Galileo to move us away from this ridiculous primitive cosmology, and the Church resisted every step of the way!

Scientific discovery was flourishing in ancient Greece and in other places in the ancient world, but then Christianity came along and snuffed it out for centuries. The Christian religion is directly responsible for that awful time in history that we know today as the Dark Ages. The Church had tremendous political power, and religious ignorance reigned supreme for centuries. The only place that science had a chance is in the Islamic world, and we owe a debt to Islam today for preserving what scientific knowledge had been gained before the Christian Dark Ages snuffed out the proverbial candle.

The Bible quite clearly teaches that mental illness is caused by demons, and that belief was used to, well, demonize the mentally ill. We know today that mental illness has genetic and environmental causes, and obviously it has nothing to do with mythological evil spirits. But, of course, this same Book claims that the cure for leprosy is a magical incantation and the blood of a slain bird…

In the Islamic world today, fundamentalist religion is still used to marginalize women and to deny them even the most basic human rights. Women have to cover themselves completely, and they can’t vote and they can’t drive a car. I’m pretty sure that in countries such as Saudi Arabia, women are still little more than property… if they do enjoy status better than that, it’s not much…

And fundamentalist religion is being used right now to justify mass murder in the form of suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism.

Isn’t it time for the RELIGIOUS MADNESS TO STOP??

Isn’t it time for the voices of REASON and SANITY to be heard above the din of religious INSANITY and HATRED??

I realize that this post will be ignored by my religious friends and it’s gotten way beyond TL;DR status anyway for most folks… but that’s my 2 cents…

I am tired of the religious hatred and insanity that is tearing this world apart! It is PAST TIME for us to throw off the chains of fundamentalist religion and this ancient mythological religious bullshit that has NO DISCERNIBLE BASIS IN REALITY, and it is time now for us to work together to build a much better and much more peaceful world!!

Again, my 2 cents… Glory!

New Atheism, Meet Existential Risk Studies

This is very important reading, whether you are religious or not. But it’s especially important if you are religious.

From http://thehumanist.com/magazine/march-april-2016/features/new-atheism-meet-existential-risk-studies:

While the New Atheist movement isn’t, and has never been, a monolithic phenomenon, its primary motivating idea can be reduced to a single statement, namely that religion is not merely wrong, but dangerous. In fact, religion is dangerous precisely because it’s wrong: it commands believers to act according to “moral” precepts and guidelines that are ultimately based on private revelations had by ancient prophets claiming special access to the supernatural. Put differently, religion is our very best instance of institutionalized bad epistemology, and this is what makes it unreasonable to accept. And when its doctrinal systems are put into practice, they often compromise our well-being and prosperity.

Copious evidence substantiates this contention. On the one hand, history is overflowing with bloody conflicts driven by antagonistic religious dogmas held by fanatics who cared more about the otherworldly than the worldly. And, as the 2014 Global Terrorism Index affirms, religious extremism constitutes the primary driver of terrorism around the world today. Even more, numerous empirical studies have shown that, to quote the sociologist Phil Zuckerman, secular people are “markedly less nationalistic, less prejudiced, less anti-Semitic, less racist, less dogmatic, less ethnocentric, less close-minded, and less authoritarian” than religious people. And the most secularized countries tend to be the happiest, the most peaceable (according to the Global Peace Index), and, as reported by the Economist’s think tank several years ago, the “best places to be born.” While Christopher Hitchens’ declaration that “religion poisons everything” might be somewhat exaggerated, religious belief is consistently associated with diminished levels of human flourishing.

I’m an ex-Christian, an Atheist, and a Humanist. I believe that we could build a beautiful world right here and right now if we just were willing to put aside our differences and work together. But the most important thing we can do right now is to fight the religious extremism that is threatening our very survival as a species. I’m certainly not one of the biggest atheist names on the Net right now. But even so, the realities in this article are why I speak out against religious belief and why I feel it is so important for us to leave religious belief in the dustbin of history as the bad idea it was and is and move on to much healthier ways of believing and living in this world.

A part of me just doesn’t understand why so many people still cling to religious belief when it is so manifestly ridiculous. I mean, come on, Christianity is based on the belief that the world is as it is because a talking snake convinced two obviously mythical people to eat magic fruit from a magic tree. And the mission of Jesus? He came to earth to magically undo the magical damage that the magic fruit caused (1 John 3:8). And after Jesus magically undoes the damage that the magic fruit from the magic tree caused, He’s gonna kick the Talking Snake’s ass once and for all.

How much more ridiculous can religious belief get? Christianity is absurd and it’s very easy to refute, yet millions of otherwise intelligent people cling to it and believe in it very strongly. In a way, I understand that because I was there too for fifteen years of my younger life. But I realized it was bullshit and I walked away and, of course, I’m much better off for it. I wish for everyone to be FREE! That’s why I speak out, so that hopefully I can leave the world a better place than I found it.

Glory!

Featured Posts

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Why I Refuse to Fear Hell

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The Journey from Christianity to Atheism

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When Your God Dies

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Fundamentalist Religion - A HUGE Worldwide Problem

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My Books

These are books that I have authored that I hope will be helpful to others.

This is my story of my struggles with bipolar disorder and bouts of extreme religious belief.

This is the story of my journey from devout Christian religious belief to atheism.

This is my tribute to my cat Tasha. I had her for 16 wonderful years, and I held her in my arms as she passed away at the vet’s office on February 5, 2015. Worst day of my life, and the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Your Inner Fish

This three-part series, Your Inner Fish, by evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin is very interesting! He traces our evolutionary history from ancient fish up through ancient primates such as Lucy. Enjoy! Glory!