"I contend that we are both atheists.
I just believe in one less god
than you do.
When you understand
why you dismiss all the other gods,
you will understand
why I dismiss yours."
"Every religion can NOT be right
But ALL can be wrong"
Why the goat ?
"Our God was made by men,
sculptured by savages
who did the best they could.
They made our God
somewhat like themselves,
and gave to him their passions,
their ideas of right and wrong.
As man advanced
he slowly changed his God
- took a little ferocity from his heart,
and put a little kindness in his eyes.
As man progressed
he obtained a wider view,
extending his intellectual horizon,
and again he changed his God,
making him as nearly perfect
as he could,
and yet this God was patterned
after those who made him...."
"The average believer
does not reflect
on the ridiculous propositions
s/he has been lured into believing."
Putting all this behind us
is long overdue...
"There are many people ...
who have found themselves
questioning beliefs they inherited
never really examined.
This is nowhere more apt to be
the case than in the
Our religious beliefs come to us in a protective
coating of age and respectability,
like the invisible "force field"
It takes a degree of intellectual courage
to penetrate this
and inspect a belief on its own merits.
people have done so.
They have themselves asking such questions as:
how do I
that this book called the Bible is supernaturally revealed
infallible word of God?
How do I know that there is even
such a being as
begin seriously to raise questions of this sort,
they find that their
their accustomed belief-patterns,
- Thomas S. Vernon,
Professor of Philosophy
Author of "The Complete Secularist"
" Fix Reason firmly to her seat,
and call to her tribunal every fact,
Question with boldness even the existence of a God"
- Thomas Jefferson
They were born
into a Christian culture
and became believers
because of cultural influences
Muslims in Iran,
or Catholics in Mexico,
or Buddhists in Thailand,
or Hindu's in India.
They know this and yet want
to maintain theirs is
the correct religion anyway,
Muslims, Catholics, Buddhists and Hindu's do when faced with this same sociological data.
Christians claim that these other religions are man-made ones.
But let's connect the dots here.
If other people in other parts of the globe
have created man-made religions
and are persuaded to believe in them because they were raised in their respective cultures,
then why is this not also true for their particular sect of Christianity?
- John W. Loftus M.A., M.Div.,
Th.M Trinity Evangelical Divinity School,
"Why I Became An Atheist:
A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity".
and the editor of & a contributor to
"The Christian Delusion:
Why Faith Fails".
"You are an intelligent human being.
Your life is valuable for its own sake.
You are not second-class in the universe, deriving meaning and purpose from some other mind.
You are not inherently evil
- you are inherently human,
possessing the positive rational potential to help make this a world of morality, peace and joy.
[ Dan Barker,
Former minister - now with
Freedom From Religion Foundation
in "Losing Faith in Faith" ]
"I have found that ex-Christians frequently describe an enormous
life affirming nature to the discovery
that their beliefs were false.
Reports from deconverts
are of a life of honesty,
free, and more loving,
and often a passion for knowledge
and interest in the world.
No divine judging,
spiritual separation from others
or easy condemnation of different lifestyles.
Instead the discovery of the
poignancy and vulnerability of life.
The desire to be moral because
we can truly empathise with others
in their messy humanity.
Connection with the world
rather than running against it..."
Leaving Christianity LINK
this page, and
my updates and interesting snippets on Twitter.
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Thoughts on leaving...
I noticed a comment on a forum once to the effect that
"we don't have it as bad as those who leave Islam - just get on with it."
While that's certainly true,
and taking one step after another can get you far,
some exploration of possible future scenarios,
awareness of possible pitfalls ,
& pre-planing can help ensure better emotional security and a brighter future.
Those planning to leave the church should be clear on the reasons why.
These reasons need to satisfy you, NOT anyone else,
and provide your intellectual security when people try to "re-evangelize" you.
Unless you want to immeadiately categorise your intellectual position,
you do not have to "label" yourself, either to yourself or publicly.
Sometimes for psycological & practical comfort, it's better not call yourself by any label,
although for me "freethinker" had great appeal
- even within the church I wanted to think properly.
( It is enough to know that you do not want to be involved with a church any more
and that you will not give them a chance to scare or lure you into subservience again.)
You don't need to get into arguements with those who can never be persuaded.
You do need to know that you are on safe ground in your disbelief,
intellectually surounded by many generations of clear free-thinkers,
even if, at a particular moment in a busy life, you can't recall immediately many aspects of your reasons.
Plan where & with whom you will socialize, it is important to replace the church social life.
Especially ensure you are doing something rewarding, even if on your own, during the times you would have been at church.
Only you know if your family will most likely be a cause for concern, starting re-conversion attempts, or will be supportive.
Don't be suprised if there are vehement personal hostilities from some people.
Wait till you feel secure before telling people.
You do NOT have to make it obvious.
Carefully anticipate possible problems at work and prepare yourself thoroughly.
My denomination was very evangelical, with constant appeals to "get saved" & "claim the gift of the Holy Spirit".
Some people were sort of "on the fringes", perhaps the spouse or child of a dedicated member, attending an occasional concert perhaps or a social event, or just driving someone to the church.
I noticed that some never succumbed, no matter what persuasion successive ministers and lay leaders tried.
Others were not so lucky.
They'd respond, give it a try and then drop out;
only to repeat the cycle again.
( The "permanently dedicated, Holy Spirit filled", could get quite impatient privately at these relapses.)
This "YoYo experience" should NOT be dismissed as "just weak-willed".
Probably it shows an internal conflict between expected, habitually instilled, constantly reinforced group norms of thought & behaviour
and the individual's inborn drives for freedom, personal autonomy & self development.
We all have heard "habits die hard".
Many rituals, much church music, preaching styles and sequences have lasting impact on the subconscious.
A group hysteria can be induced and not just by extremist old-time revivalists, "holy roller" pentecostalists or snake handling churches.
The effects may be weak in "mainsteam" groups, but it can still be very effective, particularly on children & people who are succeptible.
( Even some Christians get alarmed when these techniques are perfected, intensified & used by "cults").
Succeptibility has nothing to do with strength.
We all vary to some extent. One person will tan easily, another will get severe sunburn, some get Melonoma. Similarly mental & emotional factors vary widely.
The capacity of religion to instill guilt and psycological triggers & "hooks" should not be underestimated.
Religious memories & feelings may be triggered sometimes
- remind yourself that you have good reasons for not believing your indoctrination
- these residual effects will fade with time and new life experiences.
You had spent a lot of time having religion re-inforced,
maybe make learning about freethinkers, and non-religious ideas a hobby.
( see links page )
There are a lot of humanist & atheist , rationalist websites - some will suit your personality.
Consider joining new groups, including specificly non-relgious ones.
Soon after I left, I was able to buy a good sound system
and built up a good collection of varied secular music.
I used to play it as I went to sleep - there was an automatic off switch.
One line in a four record collection has remained with me for over 30 years.
With a voice that would have done credit to the best of church soloists,
the singer refered to ( WW1 ??) wartime trench warfare in a letter home:
"... Mamma, Mamma, I am so cold, and the Good Book has not helped me as you told...."
Having a religious mother ( my father had died earlier ) trying to get me back into a church,
I could relate to that sentiment.
( When you look at it with open eyes - NOT such a "good book" either.)
I found an article on "Psychological issues of former believers", and have it here.
If you are having difficulty in recovering from harmful religious experiences
http://journeyfree.org has some resources.
If you find you can't cope - get professional help.
( NOT from clergy or church-orientated counselors.)
Ministers have special issues when planning to leave, particularly if there is a family.
Church teaching lures people into the ministry, so churches have a responsibility to them.
A very private forum is available where these issues can be discussed with other like-minded clergy and ex-clergy.
If you are a current or former religious leader,
for example, pastor, minister, priest, nun, rabbi, imam or theologian,
you can contact The Clergy Project after reviewing the information at http://clergyproject.org/join .
You may be interested in http://expreacher.com/new_reformation.htm
Quote from new_reformation.htm :
" For most ex-believers, leaving the faith's belief system means leaving the old faith community
& it's social networks, finding new friends, massively re-organising one's social life.
There are some intriguing precedents where this was not neccessary........"
Before I'd fully grown & developed an intellectual basis for unbelief that I considered reliable,
I "left" a few times.
The first "leaving" was when I was 6 or 7.
I had "experiential proof" that at least one very big part of religion was NOT always true... :>)
My parents were Baptists. They survived World War 2,
I later realized that they'd been badly affected by those war years.
We lived on a farm that my father carved out of virgin bush, personally building our dirt floor shack & chicken sheds, tending chickens, collecting, washing & packing eggs & looking after me during the day.
( Later he did all the work building our house.)
Until the chicken numbers & money built up my mother worked to earn a wage, walking up a hilly dirt road, travelling by bus & 2 trams to & from work daily and leaving early enough to sell eggs door to door before work.
On the way back she would do the shopping & cook on a wood stove when she came home.
There was no fidge, electricity was connected much later.
They couldn't afford a car & were long way from their church, so they took turns to go
& I would generally stay home with the parent who tended the chickens.
Only later did I realize how tired & stressed they must have been.
I knew about church, God, Bible etc but the details didn't start being filled in until Baptist religious instruction at school.
One day the minister replaced the nice old lady who usually came.
Instead of the usual Bible stories, he gave out cardboard copies of the Lord's Prayer
and told us about God answering prayers.
On the way home in the bus I thought more seriously & deeply than I'd ever done about anything.
Could this really be true ?
Things taught at school were true, that is why we had to learn them.
Still it wouldn't hurt to double check -
I asked the kid who lived next door: "have you heard about this?"
"Yes", he said, "We learnt about it in Sunday school".
( They were Anglicans, too similar to the Catholics, according to my father, so I didn't get sent to their Sunday school.)
Convinced I was on to a life changing God-given fact, excitement rising,
I went looking for my father on the farm.
"Do you know about prayer ?,
We need a water pump, electricity, and a ute ( light truck ) would make things easier!"
" It doesn't work that way, you can't get things."
Enthusiasim going down, but a 7 year old doesn't give up !
"Well what about the way you & mum get angry with each other so often
and are unhappy so much.
The man at school said that God certainly answers prayer,
why don't you pray for Him to make you happy ?"
"We do pray, it doesn't seem to help".
Enthusiasim gone, I walked back to the shack......
I had living proof that the church did NOT tell the absolute truth...
but, of course, I was too young to assimulate it.
My parents continued in their faith,
even re-dedicated themselves publicly during one of the Billy Graham crusades,
had hymn singing & Bible readings at home,
went to church, prayed...
and had a turbullent, often unhappy Christian marriage. *
I was the only child.
At 13, I fell victim to an evangelistic Salvation Army officer.
He had a daughter my age, a friendly wife;
in many ways they became a supplementary family, I was so sad when they were transfered.......
Talk about manipulation of a child's emotions......
By leaving now you are freeing the next generation
from timewasting, misleading indoctrination...
You are giving them freedom.
Compare and contrast my experience with:
"I was born an Atheist.
All humans are born Atheists.
No baby born into the world arrives with specific religious beliefs or knowledge.
Such beliefs and knowledge must be acquired,
which means that they must first exist before and apart from the new life
and that they must be presented to and impressed on the new suggestible mind
-- one that has no critical apparatus and no alternative views of its own.
Human infants are like sponges,
soaking up (not completely uncritically, but eagerly and effectively)
whatever is there to be soaked up from their social environment.
Small children in particular instinctively imitate the models that they observe in their childhood,
but I was not compelled to attend or practice any particular religion,
and as I grew I never saw any reason to 'convert' to any particular religion.
I have thus been an Atheist all my life.
I am a natural Atheist."
From the Introduction in "Natural Atheism" by David Eller Ph.D
* My parents had experienced two World Wars.
It didn't occur to them, or to me until much later,
that hundreds of millions of very sincere prayers would have been prayed
for "the God of love" to prevent and stop all those injuries and deaths.
It is easy to sing "Prayer changes things...."
but only if you don't think it through........
"El Credo falso"
"The Beliefs are false"
Rich Lyons was a United Pentecostal Church minister for 20 years :
this page, and
my updates and interesting snippets on Twitter.
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