Brother Jeff Responds to Brother Believer

Brother Believer left me this glorious comment a few days ago, and I would like to respond publicly.

You seem to be mad at God for some reason. It seems as though you had a close family member of wife or something die and you preyed to god but nothing happened. So you dedicated your life to discrediting and mocking the Bible.I just want to say if you don’t believe in the Bible keep it to yourself. Your so mad at God that you just have to offende all who believe in him?. Its either you don’t believe or you do. Don’t worrie I wont waist my breath on a nonbeliever that go to great lengths to bad mouth the Bible. Mostly cause the Bible say (Matthew 7:6 ►
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.) So that’s you but I will say that the way things are made the sun, human bodies, the way tree and humans depend upon eachother oxygen and carbon, stars,galaxys,and pretty much everything.I find it hard to believe that all this was created out of pure coincidence. I mean come on when you choose to believe in science you literally choose to believe (absolutely nothing created everything) ie the big bang if you believe in that. Even scientist say if the sun was to close it would burn up the earth and if it was to far the earth would freez. I’m sorry but me myself find it hard to believe that it’s like that purely by chance. While the Bible is nonsense to you its makes perfect sense to me. So why knock what I believe in? Just keep it too yourself and keep quite. It also seems you have some form of biblical knowledge so why not just wait to see if the Bible is wrong or right. We will all find out sooner or later

You seem to be mad at God for some reason.

I am not mad at your Imaginary Friend. I don’t believe that God exists, so being mad at him would be silly and a complete waste of time and emotional energy.

It seems as though you had a close family member of wife or something die and you preyed to god but nothing happened.

There have been two instances where family members died horribly of cancer, and very religious family members prayed and, predictably, absolutely nothing happened. One was my step-father’s grandson’s wife. She suffered much and died horribly from breast cancer at the age of 34 a few years ago. Her body was eaten up with cancer and she suffocated to death in the hospital emergency room when both of her lungs collapsed. The doctors could do nothing to save her. I’m sure she had several very religious family members praying for her, yet their god did NOTHING to alleviate her suffering or cure her cancer. That is 100% predictable given that fact that their god doesn’t actually exist. The other instance of cancer in the family was my very religious young cousin’s husband. I don’t recall what kind of cancer he had, but he suffered much and died horribly, and if I remember correctly, he was 27-years old. He had several very religious family members praying for him and their god predictably did absolutely nothing to alleviate his suffering or cure his cancer. However, these instances of cancer in the family where god predictably did absolutely nothing have nothing to do with my lack of belief in a god or gods.

So you dedicated your life to discrediting and mocking the Bible.

I have not “dedicated my life” to this work. But, totally and completely discrediting the Bible is amazingly easy to do and mocking it and silly religious beliefs is a lot of fun! Glory!

I just want to say if you don’t believe in the Bible keep it to yourself.

No, I will not, because the Bible is bullshit and the fundamentalist Christian religion is dangerous and harmful to individual believers and to the world as a whole.

Your so mad at God that you just have to offende all who believe in him?.

I am not mad at your Imaginary Friend and I’m not really concerned about who I offend. Hearing the truth about their holy book and their religious beliefs is predictably going to offend Christians, but I don’t really care. The truth must be told.

Don’t worrie I wont waist my breath on a nonbeliever

That assertion is contradicted by the fact that you took the time to leave me a somewhat lengthy comment.

Mostly cause the Bible say (Matthew 7:6 ►
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.)

Thanks for Insulting me for Jesus and for sharing the love of Jesus in such an glorious way! Glory!

So that’s you but I will say that the way things are made the sun, human bodies, the way tree and humans depend upon eachother oxygen and carbon, stars,galaxys,and pretty much everything.I find it hard to believe that all this was created out of pure coincidence. I mean come on when you choose to believe in science you literally choose to believe (absolutely nothing created everything) ie the big bang if you believe in that. Even scientist say if the sun was to close it would burn up the earth and if it was to far the earth would freez. I’m sorry but me myself find it hard to believe that it’s like that purely by chance.

You clearly have no idea what you are talking about and no idea what science is or how it actually works. That is sadly typical for a Christian. Our universe and our world were not created by coincidence or chance, but by purely natural processes which we now have very good explanations for. Modern cosmology beautifully explains how our universe and world came to be and the science of biological evolution beautifully explains the diversity of life on this planet. As far as the orbit of the Earth goes, the natural forces that determine the orbits of the planets in our solar system, including the Earth, have been understood for centuries now, and predictably, it has absolutely nothing to do with your god or with any of the thousands of others gods dreamed up by mankind.

While the Bible is nonsense to you its makes perfect sense to me.

A collection of ancient religious mythology riddled with hundreds of meaningful contradictions, several hilarious absurdities, and many horrific atrocities (see also this link and this link) makes perfect sense to you? You don’t know much about the book you claim to revere as the Word of God, do you? That too is sadly typical of a Christian.

So why knock what I believe in?

Because what you believe in is dangerous, harmful bullshit. And because it needs to be done. And because doing it can be fun! Glory!

Just keep it too yourself and keep quite.

Nope, I will not keep it to myself and I will not keep quiet. The truth about your holy book, your god, and your religion must be publicly made known for the good of everyone who hears it.

It also seems you have some form of biblical knowledge so why not just wait to see if the Bible is wrong or right. We will all find out sooner or later

I know a hell of a lot more about the Bible than you do and a hell of a lot more than most Christians do about their own damn holy book. I don’t have to “wait and see” if the Bible is right or wrong. I already know that it is wrong about just about every claim it makes (predictable for a collection of religious mythology that is thousands of years old), and that is very easy to prove.

Glory!

No Tattoo For You!

For the last few months, I’ve been scrimping away money to restart my tattoo collecting. I currently have three altogether, all from different shops in my area, and out of the three who did the work, I decided to return to one in particular. I liked the artists that worked there, and trusted their professionalism so much so that I’ve unfailingly recommended this tattoo parlor to everyone that would ask me where to go for quality artistry.

That all changed this morning when I received a response to an inquiry I’d sent a week ago. now, I’d already contacted the shop prior to the message I received this morning, and even had a Saturday appointment set. The email said the following about the piece I’d requested to be done:

 

“What on earth did you request to be tattooed?” , you might be wondering. Take a look for yourself, and keep in mind where the turtle is, I was wanting a stack of holy books instead. You know, the Bible, the Qur’an, and probably the Talmud. Essentially a sci fi Alice in Wonderland being depicted as having conquered religious fantasy. I really wanted her as a centerpiece to my science fiction themed sleeve I planned to create.

 

Now, I found his response to my original design inquiry to be preposterous. Especially as this refusal is on behalf of the entire shop, and not just a particular artist not wanting to do it. Even more frustrating is the fact they’ve already done an anti religious fashioned tattoo for me a few years ago, and Alice is a sweet picnic in a park compared to the previous tattoo I am talking about now. Check it out.

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So, I responded as civilly as I could muster. I mean, I felt my anti religious attitude was being equated to racists or gang behavior. I was angry and confused at the change in standards. I wanted to know why anything anti religious was taboo, and more importantly, why this shop didn’t recognize the hate inspired by crosses, bible verses, and so on. All I got for an answer was a whole lotta avoidance.

At this point, I realized it was hopeless to argue, but I called out his obvious discrimination, and made it clear this kind of supported societal “correctness” flew in the face of the freedom of expression that is intrinsic to tattoo art. And of course I said I’d quit crediting his shop.

Now, in my mind this discussion has ended. And frankly, I am the one ending it, so this is a business owner’s dream scenario when disappointing a customer. He wasn’t going to really explain why he lumps anti religious material in with gang art or racist propaganda. I was wrong about that. In fact, Godwin’s Law came into full display. Yes. He played the Hitler card! Insert the Reductio Ad Hitlerum.

Sci fi Alice in Wonderland conquering dogma? Bad.

Hitler…because…history? Acceptable.

See this big pond full of what looks like excrement? It’s a mile deep, and he went for a dip in it. Hitler, as a historical reference is okay, he claims. Alice stepping lightly on neatly stacked holy books is a no go.

Just…wow.

 

I could understand if she were resting a foot on the executed corpse of Christ, and you have Allah laying on the other side of the ground with his head cut off while she towers over them both with a gun in one hand and her trusty light saber in her other. I just wanted holy books, but you’d think I was asking for the head of John the Baptist.

Even more insulting is he then turns it around like he is doing me a favor for refusing to do the work. He is somehow protecting me from the bad things people do because of images and words they are exposed to. He is saving the entirety of northern Kentucky from my anti religious inspired blood bath by insisting he will not create my requested art. I guess he figured how ridiculous that sounded because he ended the whole poorly thought out philosophized excuse by declaring we all are entitled to our own opinions.

 

So, here is my opinion that I am entitled to. This wasn’t a professional denial of service at all. It was a personal one. I would bet money he started perusing my social media profile and didn’t like it. It has nothing to with being worried about offending the public or going against whatever barely believable social correctness he wants to follow. Look at the tattoos this shop has gladly put to skin over the last eighteen months.

 

I see anti religious content.

I definitely see gang related art.

Oh, and the politics he claims to not like tattooing? Funny. Seems there is that too.

The bottom line here is that I was blatantly discriminated against on a personal level. There’s no other way to ice this cake, but I did manage to sweeten the frosting to something I like. I went to four other equally rated shops in the area, all of them agreed to do Alice, no problem. THEN, I showed them this shop’s bullshit refusal. Now the competition has a nice little edge in competition to show clients who considered this “politically correct” shop.

Now, in the spirit of not trying to create another Memories Pizza incident, I am not naming the parlor that has caused me so much disappointment. I think my sharing with other parlors what has happened will be good enough. And to the tattoo shop owner who believes in opinions over how the world really works?

Yeah, I ‘ve got a right to my opinion, and I hope your business feels its bite, pal.

 

 

 

I Dream Of Mayberry

blog-0460848001427939459“I miss the good old days. You know, when things were simpler and more pure. Like Mayberry.”

This is probably one of the most absolutely ridiculous notions in America today. Seriously. What makes it worse would be the fact that everyone wants things to be like Mayberry. They wish for Mayberry whenever they hear news about legislation that favors quicker immigration is being considered. They cry for Mayberry’s Christian family values whenever they hear yet another state is willing to acknowledge and offer benefits to married gay couples.

Even politicians use the good ole times excuse when passing discriminating legislation. Take Asa Hutchinson, governor of Arkansas for example. He was just about to sign into law one of those Religious Restoration Acts, and after seeing the backlash in Indiana, has become nervous about what he is about to do, deciding to send the legislation back for revision instead. His public statement? “….in ordinary times this bill would not be controversial, but these are not ordinary times.”

Which basically is saying,”Why can’t we be in Mayberry again?”

I hate to break it to you, but the circumstances of Mayberry never existed in America. Never, ever. Never, ever, never, ever, ever, EVER. People see that 1960’s family show and treat it like an honest representation of the all American family. God, common sense, and small government. This governor I was mentioning grew up watching the show, and others with similar themes. He doesn’t understand that Mayberry, while set in the 60’s expanding economy, was based on the simpler times of the 1930’s. There was a desire for nostalgia to be brought into the show, and that is why folk music, church, and focus on family were incorporated.

So, what? Then let’s go back to the 30’s then. They were good times, right?

You tell me.

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The only thing good about the 1930’s was the increased desire for simple living, and that’s mostly because they didn’t have a choice back then. With the desire for simple living came an increased demand for folk music and art. Jobs were scarce thanks to the Depression. Add the agricultural disasters like the Dust Bowl on top of it? Food was scarce too. Tradition became king during that decade before WWII broke out, and so did a tough as nails attitude when faced with desperation to survive. Mayberry never bothered with any of that. It had the lush economy of the 1960’s story setting to keep the ugly struggles of the Depression away.

The Andy Griffith Show was brilliant in its almost seamless meshing of our cultural past with the modern reality of the 1960’s. Writers of the show used the traditions of the past and the modern conveniences of the future to show an ideal situation for us all to admire and look toward for our own lives. But in reality, it was an illusion. It was used to cushion the depressing news of Vietnam’s bloody loss of lives. It was an escape from the torrid television coverage of news coverage of the draft, desegregation, and outright riots in the streets at major university campuses.

Mayberry never truly existed in our history. The good ole days, depending on which generation you look to, never had it as good as Mayberry. The entire purpose of the Andy Griffith Show wasn’t to highlight reality. It hid the ugly racism that demanded blacks sit at the back of the bus. The show didn’t touch on sexual revolution that was occurring in America of the 60’s, preferring to focus on what would be seen as wholesome and Christian like in nature. And that is what a television show is supposed to do. Provide a feel good atmosphere to distract its viewers from the harsh reality of the world around them for a little while.

I doubt the writers ever intended for its young audience to actually twist their story into an unconscious remembrance of actual time and place though, but that is what has happened. Certainly the producers never intended for their little imagined town of impossibility to become an actual goal for modern society. It just won’t work.

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Yet, that is what many who long for the good ole days want. They want modern convenience, traditions of the past, and all the issues of the world to magically go away and just follow their desired story line. Keep things simple by making everyone follow the same structure of reality. If you don’t want to play along, go away and be quiet so everyone else can be comfortable. If you don’t be quiet, then they’ll legislate you away. These ultra conservatives refuse to accept Mayberry’s perfect store fronts, comical barber, and admired sheriff as the illusion they truly were. Much like their bibles, conservative Christians cling to the idea that simpler times are a panacea for all the sin in the world. That in a Mayberry setting, who can say no to God? After all, there is less temptation, less opportunity wander off the divine path to Heaven.

And if everyone is godly, then society will automatically improve. This is something that Mayberry never ever even remotely insisted upon.

Ironically, Mayberry has several characters that never quite fit in. Even more ironic is that, despite not fitting in, or even truly conforming, one character really did have a positive impact on the town. I think you all know who I am referring to in particular.

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Yes, Ernest T. Bass is who I’m talking about. Deputy Fife saw him as a nut. Myself? Ernest was an innovator. He showed ingenuity, determination, a knack for making people think outside their own interest. He even managed to garner support from Sheriff Taylor himself. All the while he completely clashed with the fundamental principles the town operated on. And he wasn’t the only one that showed doubt about the moral reasoning of his fellow townsfolk. I particularly enjoyed an episode where Barney and Andy get into a bit of a debate about psychic phenomena.

Again, there is wiggle room, and even a willingness to understand where the other is coming from, as you see Andy completely indulge Barney’s agnosticism about Aladdin’s Lamp. While this particular scene is meant to be humorous, it shows a willingness to meet in the middle, and at least discuss why a person feels a certain way. On top of that, you also see it is okay to just agree to disagree. This is how society has to work in order to succeed. How all these truly wonderful examples of functioning society have been blatantly ignored in favor of an impossible one size fits all lifestyle is beyond me.

Many evangelicals are simply banding together because they share a common belief structure, with little care of how crude and divisive their behavior is to the society around them. They are removed from the rest of America’s citizenry. Rather being pit against the entire world than be willing to compromise, this mentality will cost them dearly in the future. Someone needs to effectively demonstrate that strength isn’t necessarily in just numbers anymore, but in that of overall unity. Being contrary simply because of cultural differences is both foolish and costly for our future.

Will they ultimately decide to leave our shores and found their own country like the Pilgrims or Puritans? I hope not. The Pilgrims at first found England too corrupt, so they left to Holland. In Holland, their children were assimilating to Dutch culture, and they found that unacceptable and then left again, this time to America. The Puritans left England and started over in America later. What happened once in America? They started to divide against each other, and formed their own separate churches. You had witch trials. Heresy charges. Adultery? Capital charges that could get you jail time, public whipping and more.

The bottom line here is that Christianity has to quit running away from the world and consider picking up a few lessons from other cultures. This doctrine, and its leaders, obviously can’t handle it out there on their own, constantly running away from problems or insisting everyone else must conform to their standards. It’s time for them to make reasonable accommodation for the world around them, not the other way around.

There isn’t a land large enough or a television show’s interpretation well written enough to give these zealots the perfect Christian theocracy they desire. They are the authors of their own destruction, even when on their own with only the same ilk around them.

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If Jesus is the Word of God…

Christians consider Jesus to be the Word of God, based on at least two verses of scripture.

He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. (Rev. 19:13 ESV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 KJV)

And the Bible is considered to be the Word of God, so when you read the Bible you are reading Jesus! Glory!

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16 KJV)

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If Jesus is the Word of God and the Bible is Jesus in written form, then the Bible must be Perfect, right? And, indeed, Christians do believe the Bible to be inerrant and infallible. Believing that Jesus is the Word of God sounds great…until you consider the contents of the Bible. Let’s take a brief look at just a few troublesome verses.

It doesn’t take long to run into trouble. In fact, the very first verse of the Bible is wrong, and things just go rapidly downhill from there.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 KJV)

The universe was not created by a god, and billions of years separate the beginning of the universe from the formation of our solar system and the earth.

Genesis chapters 1 & 2 contain contradictory creation myths and the account degenerates rapidly into a ridiculous myth involving two obviously mythical people (Adam and Eve), a talking snake, and magic fruit from magic trees.

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If the Bible is the Word of God, shouldn’t it reflect reality as it actually is instead of containing ancient mythology? A real creation account from a real, existing omniscient God would make the fields of cosmology and astronomy and astrophysics superfluous because all of that knowledge would be there for us to simply read, courtesy of God in the Bible.

Christians believe that Isaiah 9:6 refers to Jesus, calling him the prince of peace.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 KJV)

Back in the late 1980’s, Twila Paris had a hit song entitled “Prince of Peace”, which I loved back in my Christian days.

But, if Jesus is the Prince of Peace, shouldn’t the Bible be a book of peace? Shouldn’t it promote love and tolerance and understanding toward all of mankind? What we find instead when we actually read it is a book absolutely loaded with shocking brutality and violence.

Jeremiah 19:9 – “And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.”

Hosea 13:16 – “Samaria will be held guilty, For she has rebelled against her God. They will fall by the sword, Their little ones will be dashed in pieces, And their pregnant women will be ripped open.”

Psalm 137:9 – “Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!”

Leviticus 26:29 – “And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.”

The Bible contains many shocking atrocities, too numerous to list here, many of them depicting God either ordering or directly committing mass murder or genocide. Relevant link:

http://infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/atrocity.html

The brutal beating that Jesus took while supposedly paying for our sins would be considered an act of brutality today, and if it was in any book other than the Bible, most people today would be repulsed by it.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 KJV)

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I wrote about the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, a barbaric idea by today’s standards, not too long ago. Relevant link:

http://religionisbullshit.me/doctrine-substitutionary-atonement/

I could go on, but I think this post is getting long enough, and I think I have made my point. Glory! 🙂

I am a Humanist!

New for 2015, I am dropping the Atheist label in favor of Humanist. It may be basically the same thing, but too many people when they hear the word “atheist” think negative things. And movies such as “God’s Not Dead” don’t help any with the false negative stereotype of atheists being a bunch of heartless assholes.

I don’t believe in God and I am not a Christian, both for very good reasons. But I am a good person. I am moral and I am ethical, and I am a genuinely nice guy. I care about people and I care about the world. I want what religion promises but it cannot achieve – peace on earth and goodwill toward all of mankind. That is why I am a humanist. Working together for the good of all, there is nothing that we cannot achieve. There is no God and there is no Divine Plan. There is only the natural world, and we are the only ones who can save ourselves from our own destructiveness. We let too many things divide us — politics, religion, nationality, race, ethnicity, etc. If we all work together for the good of all, we can build a beautiful and peaceful world.

I don’t promise to stop being critical of religion in the coming year, but I may change the way I say what I have to say. I’ll start promoting what I believe in rather than bashing what I don’t believe in.
I am no longer angry about the 15 years I invested in the demonstrably false Christian religion or the mythical Jesus of the Bible or anything else. I’m not angry that I once considered a deeply and seriously flawed collection of ancient religious mythology to be the “word” of a god. I am okay with it all now. I wish things could have been different, but I am done with anger. It serves no useful purpose anyway. My Christian experience was not all bad, and I can remember the good times I had with good friends.

I want to spend the rest of my life working to promote the positive philosophy of Humanism and work to make this world a better and more peaceful place.

I just joined the American Humanist Association tonight. Glory! 🙂

It is Not Okay!

I just lost a friend over on Facebook over religion, and I posted this rant:

Just lost another online friend over religion. She couldn’t handle my outspoken atheism, she accused me of hating her god, and then she unfriended me and blocked me. Good riddance, I guess. I don’t apologize for being outspoken about religion. Religion causes tremendous harm in the world to the world as a whole and to individual believers. It’s not something that I can or should be silent about. I don’t really give a shit what people choose to believe privately, until they try to force it on everyone else. And hatred — hatred is NOT OKAY. I don’t give a shit what your ancient holy book says, hating gays is not okay! Oppressing women is not okay. Threatening children with Hell is not okay. Teaching ridiculous ancient myths in our schools in place of real science is not okay. Bombing abortion clinics is not okay. Murdering children is not okay.

If you are offended by my outspoken atheism, tough shit. Accept me and love me as I am, warts and all, or get off of my friends list. I am NOT going to change to make anyone else happy or comfortable. I agree to disagree with plenty of my friends about politics and religion and other things as well, and I expect the same consideration in return.

I will post whatever the hell I want and I’ll be as blunt and “in your face” as I want as well. I am doing my part to make this world a better place, and I will not apologize for doing that. If you decide to no longer be a part of my life, don’t let the door hit you in the ass. Plenty of people love and accept me exactly as I am, and I’ll take them any day over people who want me to change to make them happy or people I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around… Enough said…

I would like to expand on that a bit. Other things that are not okay include faith healing and crediting God with healing instead of hard-working doctors and nurses. And prayer… prayer accomplishes ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I am sick and tired of hearing about the alleged power of prayer. Prayer has no power whatsoever other than making the person doing the praying feel good for accomplishing NOTHING.

It is not okay for faith healers to bilk gullible religious people out of millions of dollars. It is not okay for Pat Robertson or some other religious nut to blame gays for natural disasters. It is not okay to advocate murdering gays so that we can have an AIDS-free Christmas.

It is not okay to condemn all non-Christian people to an eternal flaming Hell where they will be consciously tormented forever.

It is not okay to accuse atheists of “hating God” because we don’t share Christian religious beliefs.

And the list goes on and on and on… Christopher Hitchens was absolutely right when he said that religion poisons everything. Religion is the greatest tragedy ever to afflict mankind.

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!

Sister Lynn Prays for My Conversion

I have a chronic illness (bipolar disorder) that required a short hospital stay recently. I have been battling a bout of severe depression that sent me to the Providence Psych ER four nights in a row and then to an inpatient hospital for a couple days after that. I am much better now, and a couple of days ago or so I published this status update to Facebook:

Feeling well enough to publicly bash religion again. Not everybody will be happy about that, lol… but I am happy to still be here to be able to piss religious people off and, perhaps, get them to THINK too. Glory!

Sister Lynn, who is evidently unaware of my status an ex-Christian anti-theist atheist, replied with the following comment:

Well Jeff I’m keeping the faith & continue praying for your recovery. I will also pray for GOD to open your eyes and all other atheists. Without him the world would be a worse off place! Now that I know your atheist your name will be forever on our church’s pray list for you conversion! God Bless

My response to Sister Lynn was as follows:

I am not just an atheist. I am EX-Christian anti-theist atheist. I got sucked into the fundamentalist Christian cult when I was 19, and I didn’t FREE until I was 34. My suffering from then undiagnosed bipolar disorder was made much worse than it had to be by doctrines such as sin and trying to please an imaginary god who never gave me any feedback. I spent 15 years of my life worrying about pissing Jesus off and worrying that my family and friends might be going to Hell. NO WAY IN HELL will I EVER be returning to that kind of mental slavery to fear-based doctrines and ancient myths and lies.

You are welcome to pray for me and to put me on all of the prayer lists you care to. I can tell you right now that it will not do one bit of good. Prayer has no power whatsoever other than making the person doing the praying feel good.

You can pray for me all you like, but you are not likely to convince me again that the world is the way that it is because a talking snake convinced two obviously mythical people to eat magic fruit from the magic tree that god ordered them not to fuck with. I’m also not likely to believe again that god had to sacrifice himself to himself to save us from himself due to such a ridiculous alleged event.

There is not a shred of credible evidence that a god of any kind actually exists. God never says, thinks, or does anything at all in the real world, except in the minds of believers. To me, that is a huge clue to his actual nonexistence.

Religion is the greatest tragedy to ever afflict mankind. The world would be MUCH better off without it. Without religion, the world would not have the history that it does of Inquisitions, Crusades, religious wars, and religion-based terrorism (such as Christians bombing abortion clinics or Muslims bombing just about everybody). The world also would be much more scientifically and socially progressed if the tragedy of religion had not occurred, because there would not have been the religion-based resistance to social and scientific progress.

Atheists do not need to have their eyes opened. We already accept and deal with the world as it actually is. Religious people DO need their eyes opened, and they need and deserve the opportunity to be FREE from religion and religion-based fear, guilt, shame, and ignorance (the four driving forces behind fundamentalist religion).

Sorry if that’s not the friendly response you were hoping for. It’s nothing personal. I have had a very rough time lately and I’m really not in the mood to discuss religion or the associated ancient myths and legends in a very friendly manner at the moment.

What Freedom Means – Christians vs. Atheists

The aim of this glorious post is to contrast what freedom means to Christians vs. what it means to atheists. Of course, I think real freedom comes from being absolutely and totally free of religious beliefs and fears. But, let’s take a look at the different views.

John 8:36 says “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!”

The Christian Rock artist of the 1980’s and early 1990’s turned preacher now, Mylon LeFevre (of Mylon LeFevre & Broken Heart) had this to say at a concert back in the 1980’s:

The Word says that we can be free in Jesus. And we need to be free, man. Everybody wants to be free. There ain’t but one way to do it. You can’t be free in religion and you can’t be free in yourself. You can be free in Jesus. We have something that is real to celebrate. It is new life. New life in Christ. This new life didn’t come from our parents. I just read in the Word today that the life that comes from our parents will fade away someday. But this new life that comes from Christ is real and true and it lasts forever. … God is love, and his love lasts forever. This is freedom. Enjoy yours!

And here is his song titled “Freedom” that celebrates what he considers to be true freedom — the freedom supposedly found in belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and in surrendering your life to him. I still love the music, though I no longer believe the message.

I can’t help but like Mylon as a person, though I know that he is a typical big name Christian preacher and musician who has made a career out of religion, and he has made a ton of money from it. I disagree very strongly with his religious beliefs and with his definition of freedom now, but I saw him in concert a couple of times back in my Christian days, and once when I was backstage seeking counseling and prayer, I actually got to shake the man’s hand. I commented to him about the concert that “that was fun!”, and he said something in return agreeing that it had been. It was awesome actually getting to meet one of my Christian music idols of the time, brief though the encounter was. Glory! 🙂 Mylon came across as a genuinely nice guy, and I’m sure that he probably really is. And to me, he was the definition of a “cool Christian” back in those days. I may still have a bit of hero worship going on with him though I no longer agree with his message, lol…

Mylon’s definition of freedom I can no longer agree with. It’s impossible to be truly free when you are enslaved to a bunch of fear/ignorance-based ancient myths that make no sense to modern, educated minds and it’s impossible to be truly free when you are constantly worried about religious concepts such as sin and about pissing Jesus off. It’s impossible to be truly free when you are worried about Hell and about people you care about and love possibly going there. I didn’t find freedom in religion at all (and Christianity is a religion. This “it’s a relationship, not a religion” nonsense is just that — nonsense).

The truth will set you free, but first it might piss you off. – Anonymous

I didn’t find true freedom until I got totally free from religious belief and totally free from religious fears! TRUE FREEDOM is the ability to live life authentically and honestly without being wrapped up in endless cycles of fear, guilt, and shame caused by religious belief and indoctrination. TRUE FREEDOM is being able to BE YOUR REAL SELF, free of religious programming and religious fears. I am free to be ME now, warts and all! I am FREE to choose a life for myself now that makes ME happy and that hopefully serves others and makes them happy too. I am FREE to ENJOY LIFE, totally free of concerns that what I think, say or do might piss Jesus off. I am FREE to live my life just being ME, with no reference to God or religious or spiritual beliefs at all. I am a much better person now than I was when I was a Christian. I am no longer concerned with the belief or even in the possibility that there might be a God to fear or a Hell to fear. I am no longer concerned that I or anyone else might be headed for an eternity of torment in a flaming Hell. I left that fear-based religious nonsense behind long ago in favor of the real world. Now that I am FREE of religion and religion-based fear, guilt, and shame I am free to live life honestly and authentically as ME! I am free to love everybody, and that certainly includes people who happen to be gay. People that I would have condemned to Hell when I was a Christian I am good friends with now, though I personally am straight as an arrow. One of my most valued friends over at the ex-christian.net forums is bi-sexual with lesbian leanings, and she is in to BDSM. Does that bother me now? Hell no. Not one bit. She is an awesome person, and I really enjoy hanging out with her online. We have visited over Skype once, and it went really well. I don’t have to be into the same things she is or have the same sexual orientation that she does to enjoy an awesome friendship with her. Our differences simply don’t matter, and that’s one of the most awesome things about being free of religion is letting go of unnecessary and harmful and often hateful religion-based judgment. I really don’t give a shit now what sexual orientation people have. I don’t even really care what beliefs they hold, as long as they are not hurting themselves or others and as long as they are good PEOPLE. Now that I am free of religion, I am free to love PEOPLE exactly as they are, warts and all. I truly love just about everybody on the face of this planet as people. I think I can name the people in this world that I truly hate on one hand, and that’s after 48 years of life on this planet. That was certainly not true of me when I was a Christian. I was busy hating myself for being such a sinner and I was busy hating others because of their sexual orientation or because they held religious or political beliefs that were different from my own. Now, the differences don’t really matter. I happen to be a very liberal American Democrat and an atheist. But I am free to be good friends with anybody I choose to be friends with because I find them to be good people, regardless of what their religious or political beliefs might be. I have good friends who are conservative Republicans and Christians. I don’t agree with them on those subjects, but I am FREE to not discuss or really care about our differences, and that is awesome! I think I have made my point. REAL FREEDOM is amazing, and it is awesome, and I wish it for everybody in this world. Glory!

The Journey from Christianity to Atheism

I have tried a number of times over the years to explain to people who have never walked the path from Christian –> ex-Christian –> Atheist what that journey is like and what it means to me and to others like me. It is not an easy path to travel at all. The journey from devout Christian religious belief back to the real world is one filled with doubts and questions and a great deal of strong emotion. As I explained it to my high school band director a couple of years ago or so:

My journey from devout religious belief to atheism has been a long and interesting one. I spent 15 years as a very devout fundamentalist Christian. I was the type who annoyed everybody. I wrote evangelistic letters to my family. I tried to convert my friends and co-workers. I handed out those ridiculous Chick tracts to convenience store clerks and toll booth operators. I was at church every time the doors opened, including early morning prayer meetings. I forced my beliefs on everybody all the time and though I meant well, I made a huge nuisance of myself. Despite all of that religious activity and belief, I still had questions that that seemed to have no good answers from my pastors or from the Christian apologists I read. Those questions finally built up to the point where I could no longer ignore them or write them off as coming from the devil.

In early 2000, I got on the Net as it existed back then and started researching my faith on both sides of the fence. I was absolutely stunned to find that the religious skeptics had far better answers than I had encountered from Christian apologists and I was also very surprised to see how easily they ripped my once cherished beliefs to shreds, not through ridicule but with facts. I started reading the skeptical side at www.infidels.org and went from there.

After I got over the shock of having my Christian worldview ripped out from under me, I became very very ANGRY! The fact that I was also very mentally ill at the time with not well controlled bipolar disorder didn’t help matters any. I felt foolish, used, and betrayed when I realized I had been intentionally lied to for 15 years and I had bought into it hook, line, and sinker.

Having doubts and questions about religious beliefs is normal if you are a reasonably intelligent thinking person, but in fundamentalist religion, doubting and questioning is strongly discouraged. Just pray about it and have more faith, we are told, and God will take care of it. Sounds nice, except for the fact that it isn’t true. For Christians who want answers to their questions, a whole industry of apologetics has come into being over the past few decades. For some Christians, the answers given by Christian apologists may be enough to keep them in the faith. For others like me, the answers were not satisfying. They did not resolve my doubts or my questions, so inevitably, I went looking elsewhere and found good answers that made sense to me from the place that I least expected it at the time — from the skeptical side of the fence.

I can’t speak for everyone who has made the journey from devout Christian belief to Atheism. But I can share my own personal story and what my journey was like.

I was raised United Methodist until I was ten years old. At that time, I asked my parents if I could stop attending church because I didn’t believe what they were teaching. Since we attended church mostly for social reasons anyway, they agreed. For reasons that I cannot recall now, I was back at that church when I was in my early teens for the Confirmation process. I didn’t think much about religion after that until we moved across town and I got into some interesting religious conversations with my new fundamentalist Christian neighbors. I was a teenager at the time, and Bob and Roxanne were nice people. I discussed religion with them a lot and even attended church with them at least once, but at the time religion just didn’t “take” with me. I became a typical teenage party animal and was totally turned off by religion. A few years later when I was in college, I met a guy named Mike who was a devout Christian. He shared his faith with me and I gradually became more receptive to it. Mike finally got me out to his car to read some Bible verses, and when we read Hebrews 4:12 I felt something stir inside of me, and I thought maybe there really was something to this “Jesus” stuff. Shortly after that, I went to a public showing of the Jesus Film put on by a local Baptist church. I was extremely moved by the movie, and I knew by the time that film was over that I wanted what this Jesus had to offer, and I became a Christian on March 7, 1985. My transformation from a typical teenage party animal to a devout fundamentalist Christian was rapid and dramatic. I stopped drinking and using drugs and threw myself totally and enthusiastically into my new-found faith. I made friends with the music director at the local Baptist church, and I hung out a lot with my friend Mike. We engaged in a whole lot of religious activity and talked about how wonderful and awesome Jesus was all the time. Mike introduced me tho the popular Christian music of the time, and I fell in love with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith and particularly with Keith Green. I loved Keith Green’s music and his strong and uncompromising approach to the Christian faith. I wanted to see him in concert badly, and when Mike informed me that he was dead (plane crash in 1982), I was devastated. Shortly after my conversion, my mother bought me a nice Bible and she arranged for me to attend East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, TX. I arrived there expecting a church-like atmosphere and students who were just as devout as I was. What I found was indeed a religious school, but my fellow students, for the most part, were just typical young adults who happened to have religious beliefs. That was, I suppose, the beginning of my disillusionment and questioning. While I was at ETBU, I began to have serious doubts about my faith. I can remember a friend of mine there using his wallet as an evangelism tool. He tried to assure me that Christianity was for real and that once I was saved that was a done deal that I could never lose.

We did not know it at that time, but I had bipolar disorder that was not diagnosed and so was untreated. What began at ETBU was a cycle of swings between devout religious belief and periods of doubt and unbelief featuring severe substance abuse that I would be trapped in for 15 years of my life. I had a great time at ETBU while I was religious. I was able to put my doubts and questions aside enough that I could keep the faith, at least for a while. I had a great time traveling across the border to Louisiana for Christian concerts featuring the stars of the time. I particularly remember seeing a band called Cruse 2 and Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart. Mylon’s music was awesome and I loved the sincerity with which he delivered his message. I jammed for Jesus to their music for years! Back home near Houston, TX I went with my friend Mike to see Michael W. Smith and Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart. I had some really fun times in my younger Christian days! Here’s just a sample of his music from back in those days. I still love the music, though I no longer believe the message.

I had my first bout of doubt and unbelief while I was at ETBU and I started drinking and using drugs again — at a Christian school! Needless to say, they were not happy with me, and they kicked me out after the first summer semester of 1986. If I remember correctly, it was officially an academic suspension because I was not doing well in my classes.

Back home in the Brazosport area of Texas, I soon found a really fun church — Church on the Rock in Brazoria, TX. It was located several miles out of town on Hwy 521. It was a very fun place as churches go. I made friends with the pastor and other leaders of the church, and loved the Charismatic-style praise and worship services, and for a while I participated in the praise and worship choir. I sang solos frequently, and when I could manage to drag my young body out of bed early enough, I attended the 6:00 am prayer meetings. At that time, I was engaging in a great deal of religious activity. I prayed a lot, I worshiped for hours daily, I read my Bible frequently, and I told everyone who would listen about Jesus. I also frequently handed out those Chick tracts, which I thought were an awesome evangelism tool at the time. But even with all of that religious activity, doubts were creeping in. I suppose I could never see the connection between my cherished religious beliefs and the real world, and I know now of course, that that is because there is no connection between religious belief and the real world. I never read anything in the Bible that made me question my beliefs because at that time I had not been exposed to much of the Old Testament, other than scripture that was supposed to be about Jesus. I remember at one early morning prayer meeting, I was so filled with doubt and unbelief that my friend Mike had to pray me through to belief again so that I could enjoy the rest of the prayer meeting. I guess I found it hard to believe in God at 6:00 am in the morning. 🙂 There was also a time during one particular praise and worship service that I was so filled with doubts about the reality of it all that I couldn’t enjoy the service, but everybody else was experiencing a “powerful move of God”, as if we were getting a small taste of what Heaven would be like. Everyone else was awed by how awesome God was, but I felt nothing. I remember testifying later in that service about how I had missed out on the blessing of the awesome worship service, but that God had blessed me anyway. I don’t remember now how I thought God had blessed me or what I said, though. That church was fun. We had slogans for each year such as “Storm the Gate in ’88” and “Draw the Line in ’89”. A few times, the pastor allowed me to spend the night at the church. I played Christian music through their awesome sound system and prayed and worshiped and sought God all night long. At the time, it was an awesome experience, and I was grateful that the pastor trusted me enough to leave me alone in his church all night.

By the time the early 1990’s rolled around, I was working for my mother at her travel agency in Lake Jackson, TX and I had found a new church that I also enjoyed — Brazosport Christian Center. I made friends with the pastor there too, and I sang solos there as well, though not as frequently as I had at Church on the Rock. I made many good friends at both churches, and we all had a great time hanging out together. In 1992, I had the opportunity to perform one of my favorite songs at the time, Dallas Holm’s “Rise Again” at the Brazosport College Follies. I still have the video of that performance:

The next several years I was still a believer, but I was not nearly as religious as I had been when I was a bit younger. But I still believed in God and I still believed that the Bible was His Word. But by early 2000, my doubts and questions had built up to the point that I could no longer write them off to tricks of the devil, and I was not getting good answers from Christian apologists. As I related earlier, I got on the Net as it existed in early 2000, and went looking for information that was critical of the Bible and the Christian religion. I honestly was not expecting to find much. After all, the Bible was the inerrant, infallible Word of God, so what could really be said against it that was valid? I stumbled across http://www.infidels.org and I quickly began to get an education. I found my cherished Christian religious beliefs brought into serious question and basically debunked not with ridicule or derision but with solid evidence and facts. I soon also discovered http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net and my education continued. The author of that site unemotionally but thoroughly debunked the Bible and showed it for what it really is — a collection of ancient religious mythology, most of which was written anonymously. I became aware for the first time that Adam and Eve were not real historical people but rather they were part of an ancient creation myth that makes no sense to modern minds when taken literally. I learned that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are pure mythology. I was exposed to parts of the Old Testament that I had never laid eyes on before, and I learned that on numerous occasions that God had either ordered or directly committed mass murder and genocide. I began to learn that the character of the God of the Bible is not loving as I had been taught. I learned about failed prophecy in the Bible, and that was a shocker at the time because I had been told that fulfilled prophecy was a proof that God had inspired the Bible and that Jesus was the Messiah. I learned many things that brought the beliefs that I had held as Christian into very serious doubt. When I looked into what Jews had to say about Jesus, I was shocked again at how easily they proved from their own scriptures and religious beliefs and traditions that Jesus was not their long-awaited Messiah. I learned also that the two contradictory creation myths found in the book of Genesis have no scientific basis, that the Noah’s Ark story was borrowed from the much earlier Epic of Gilgamesh, the Exodus event never happened, that the events depicted in the Tower of Babel story is not how different languages came into being, and much more. I learned about the hundreds of meaningful contradictions contained in the Bible, which are graphically illustrated here. I learned about the atrocities in the Bible and also about the absurdities in the Bible, many of which I now find hilarious. For example, the book of Leviticus makes the claim that insects have four legs (Leviticus 11:20) and Psalms makes the claim that snails melt (Psalm 58:8). The Bible also clearly teaches a flat earth (see Isaiah 40:22 and Daniel 4:11 and Matthew 4:8), and the first chapter of the book of Genesis depicts a solid dome firmament (Genesis 1:7) with the stars stuck in it covering our flat world, which is supported by pillars (I Sam. 2:8).

While I was discovering all of these things and processing this new knowledge, I had some strong emotions to deal with. I became very, very angry that I had been sold a pack of ancient myths and lies for 15 years of my life and that I had mistook them for Divine Truth. I was rapidly losing my belief in God and I was realizing that Jesus was not and could not have been God in the flesh. He did not rise from the dead and he was not alive forevermore in heaven. Losing religious faith is a very painful and very emotional process. I didn’t just wake up and decide one day that I no longer believed in God and that I was no longer a Christian. It was a process that took months, and once I was no longer a believer, processing the anger and rage and betrayal that I felt for having years of my younger life stolen from me by a cult took several years to process, and it was not helped by the fact that I was dealing with serious mental illness at the time. It took a lot of research and a lot of time and a lot of thought for me to make the journey from devout Christian religious belief to atheism and the real world.

Leaving the Christian faith and becoming an ex-Christian does not automatically mean becoming an atheist, though that’s what it meant for me. Many former Christians find other faiths that they are happy with. I no longer find the Bible believable as the “word” of a God and my beliefs about Jesus have changed from “He was and is God in the flesh” to the much more realistic and mainstream among serious Bible scholars “he was an ancient Jewish apocalyptic preacher” who was the historical person behind the myths we find about him in the Bible.

There are five stages of grief that are generally recognized as valid, and I had to go through every single one of them as a part of losing my religious faith. I wrote about it recently on the http://www.ex-christian.net forums and I’ll re-post it here for your consideration. I apologize for the overlap and repeat of some of what I have already had to say.

The first stage of loss/grief is Denial and Isolation. I can’t really say I was in denial for very long about there being serious problems with my faith, but when I first started looking for information that was critical of the Bible, I honestly didn’t expect to find much! After all, the Bible was the Word of God, so what could unbelievers really have to say about it that would mean anything? I seriously roll my eyes now that I was once so uneducated and so naive, but I guess we all have to start somewhere. I believed that the Bible was the “inerrant, infallible Word of God” for many years because I was told that it was by people that I trusted at the time to tell me the truth. I had never actually read the vast majority of the Bible for myself, but the inerrancy of scripture was a major doctrine and for a long time I accepted it with little, if any, questioning. I was even quite impressed at the time with apologists such as Grant Jeffrey, whom I thought did a glorious job of defending the Bible as God’s Word. Anyway, when I came across sites such as www.infidels.org and www.rejectionofpascalswager.net I was shocked to discover how easily the Bible and my once-cherished Christian beliefs were ripped to shreds, and it was done not through ridicule, but with good evidence, the latest biblical scholarship, and verifiable facts. I can’t say that I was in much denial about what I was discovering because what I was discovering about the Bible I was also discovering that Christians couldn’t logically or rationally or factually refute, but I did isolate myself a lot. I spent hours on the internet with my glorious 56k modem connection, reading and researching and learning everything I could that was true and factual about the Bible and the Christian religion.

The second stage of loss/grief is Anger. After I got over the initial shock of discovering that the Bible was absolutely not inerrant or infallible, that it contained many ancient myths, and that it was definitely not authored by God, I became very, very ANGRY. All I could feel for quite a while when I thought about religion was ANGER and BLISTERING RAGE!!! Back around 2002, I put my first “Religion is Bullshit” website online, and with webmaster Dave’s glorious suggestion to turn it into a blog (those were new at the time), it ended up becoming quite popular. I ran that site until August of 2004, and much of what I posted reflected the DEEP RAGE that I felt for being lied to, brainwashed, indoctrinated, and severely psychologically damaged for 15 years of my life. I was ANGRY that I had wasted so many of my younger years trying to please a nonexistent god who never gave me any feedback, and that I had wasted so much time and emotional energy worrying about sin and worrying about whether I was really saved or not, and about my family and friends going to hell. And, once I realized the morally reprehensible nature of the concept of Hell, I was shocked with myself that I had ever bought in to such a demented and evil concept as being for real and that I had thought my loving God would send anyone there, much less my family and friends, all of whom were and are good people. The flip side of my anger about Hell was anger and deep disappointment that Heaven was not for real. I was so mentally ill at the time and I was so looking forward to that wonderful place where God would wipe away all of my suffering and tears, and I would live forever with Him in eternal joy, happiness, and total bliss. And then… I realized that it was all just an ancient myth. That realization was extremely difficult to accept, and I stayed angry about it for a long time. And, of course, letting go of belief in God was extremely difficult too. I was very ANGRY that God was not actually real and that I had spent so many years of my life loving and worshiping a nonexistent being. Then, once I became aware of the many atrocities in the Old Testament that portray God repeatedly ordering or directly committing mass murder and genocide, I was ANGRY that I had been taught that God was Love, and that I had believed it so strongly for so long. There is no way now that I can accept the God of the Bible as loving, given what I know about the Old Testament, and even how he is portrayed in the New Testament. In Acts 5, God murders two people simply for lying to him about their finances, and if the book of Revelation were to come true in our modern world, billions of non-Christian people would die horribly and then be sent to an eternal hell to be tormented endlessly without any hope of reprieve, forever. This is a loving God? I don’t think so… And what about Jesus? I trusted him as my loving Lord and Savior for years! I never once thought about the fact that it was him who introduced the morally reprehensible concept of Hell to scripture, and I never once heard in church about how Jesus said we had to literally hate our families to truly be his disciples (Luke 14:26), and I certainly never heard that he ordered those who refused to follow him to be killed in front of him (Luke 19:27). And what about hacking off body parts that cause you to sin (Matthew 5)? Sure, I read that many times, but with my Jesus Goggles firmly in place, and I never gave it much, if any, critical thought.

The third stage of loss/grief is Bargaining. I can’t really say that I did a lot of bargaining, but I did still desperately want God to real and for Jesus to really be real and Alive in Heaven forevermore. I am sure that I did some bargaining in the form of prayer, asking God to prove Himself to me in a way that would be undeniable. Of course, he never did…

The fourth stage of loss/grief is Depression. I did indeed experience a great deal of depression when I realized that the Bible was mostly ancient myth and legend, that there is no God and that the God depicted within the pages of the Bible was not good or loving, and that there was no heaven wonderful beyond description waiting for me after I died. Depression and anger, at least for me, were two sides of the same coin, and I spent years flipping between them. Some of that, of course, was due to my bipolar illness, but a lot of it was a normal part of working through the loss of my God and my once-cherished religious beliefs.

The fifth and final stage of loss/grief is Acceptance. This is largely where I am now, and I bless the Lard mightily for it! Glory! When I write about religion here or on my glorious website or on Facebook, I do still often write with great passion and emotion, and sometimes I take trips back to the Anger phase of loss/grief, but I always end up coming back pretty quickly to Acceptance once I had done my writing and had my say. I have come to accept the fact that there very likely is no God and that there very likely is no afterlife waiting for us after we die. We just simply cease to exist, in all likelihood, and I am at peace with that probable reality now. Knowing that life is incredible and amazing and fun — but TEMPORARY — has given me reason to wring every last bit of happiness and joy and fun out of it that I can in the HERE and NOW! It has given me reason to show my loved ones how much I care about them NOW! I enjoy my life IMMENSELY with no religious or spiritual beliefs and no reference to God. It took me many years to work through the stages of loss/grief to finally arrive at Acceptance. I stayed ANGRY for years. But now, I am completely and gloriously FREE of religion! I am absolutely FREE of all religious fears! I am free to be ME and to enjoy the one life I have on this earth FULLY, with nothing held back and with no worries about pissing Jesus off or angering his father (who is also somehow magically Him). I don’t have much money and right now I am just beginning to work on building my health coaching career, but I am HAPPY, and I feel extremely grateful to webmaster Dave for creating this glorious site (his blog and these glorious forums), and I feel extremely grateful to have so many online friends here who share the bond of having left religious belief behind in favor of the REAL WORLD and who love me and accept me exactly as I am!

I am not really that angry about the years that I spent as a Christian believer now. Yes, I wish that things could have been different, but I think we all have some regrets in life once we have lived long enough. I am quite happy now as an ex-Christian atheist, and I firmly believe that the best approach to life is facing the real world exactly as it is — as brutal as that can be at times — instead of hiding from it through religious belief. Even the hardest blows in life, such as the deaths of loved ones — should be faced head on. There very likely is no afterlife waiting on us after we die. When people die, they really die and are gone forever. That’s why it is so important to spend as much time as we can with those we love and to grab every moment of life where we are here to enjoy it!

I apologize if this post has seemed rambling and somewhat disjointed. That’s a natural result of trying to cover thirty years of life and changing beliefs and thought and research in one post that is reasonable in length. But I hope I have conveyed at least to some extent what it is like to travel the road from Christianity –> ex-Christian –> Atheist, and to some extent why I am no longer a Christian believer..

For those who may be interested, I wrote a book in 2013 on my experiences with religion and bipolar disorder. I am happy to make it freely available to my readers.

Bipolar Religiosity – Bipolar Disorder and My Religious Experience

http://alaskanatheist.me/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Bipolar-Religiosity-Bipolar-Disorder-and-My-Religious-Experience.pdf

I hope this post has been helpful to those who have not been in our shoes to make the journey from Christianity to Atheism. It can be hard to understand the life experiences of people who have lived through things that you have never had to experience. Trying to explain mental illness is difficult to relate to someone who has never had experience with it. In the same way, explaining the journey from religious belief to the lack of it can be difficult to relate, but I hope I have succeeded here at least to some degree.

I am extremely happy now and I enjoy life immensely with no reference to God or to any religious or spiritual beliefs whatsoever. I find the real world exactly as it really is interesting, exciting, and enthralling. Life is amazing and fun and very enjoyable indeed, but it is not permanent. It is a very precious thing because it is temporary and impermanent. Enjoy this life while you have it. There is no good evidence that there is another one waiting for us on the other side of the grave.