Monday, December 29, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Hello Believers

Rainbow starImage by Mrs eNil via FlickrA letter from Transman

To all the believers and religious people who come here, I have some small advice for understanding. Quoting Bible verses to us, offering websites and books of apologetics, and trying to bring other arguments or pseudo (or fraud) claims of proof, will not change anything.

As many of us have said before, try comparing it with Santa Claus or other fantasy creatures of our childhood. Once you know that they are really just a fantasy, you cannot go back to believing, even if you tried or really, really wanted to. I can't imagine that anyone on this forum would ever go back.

Also, to help you a little further, look at the big picture. Most people don't want to insult you, hurt your feelings, or be in any way negative to you, as a person. Often however, when someone says something negative about your particular religion, faith, denomination or god-person, you are personally offended, because you identify with this god, you treat the god like a good friend, and feel the need to defend that god. On the other hand, you probably may not have a problem making a joke about other religions, gods, or religious practices, or make critical remarks, sometimes not knowing how deeply THAT can offend someone who is a member of that culture or religion.

Similarly, let's say someone watches a TV show and likes that TV show a lot. The main character might be Superman. You watch the show every day and when you just hear the name "Superman" or the melody that starts the show, you feel elated, happy, you smile, relax, or get excited. You have Superman posters, pictures, magazines, you meet weekly with your Superman club. You collect stickers and can recite lines of the movies. You sleep in superman sheets and wear a Superman shirt, to show everybody who you like. Then, if someone says something negative about Superman, you may feel equally offended and defensive.

It doesn't matter that Superman is a fictive character. After watching and hearing it that many times, the brain treats it like it would react when you met an old friend, a real person. The brain creates the same feeling of recognition, happiness and excitement, or worry that the (real or imaginative) friend might get hurt.

Now, let's take a step away from the closeness of the TV show and the character you like, and from your god, your religion.

I am not trying to convince you of your hero/god not being existent, just keep reading.

Here are some questions I want you to ask yourself, and I am asking you to answer them, just to yourself, in non-religious language, without quotes form religious books or phrases you are used to hear in church.

Think about why you believe in this god (don't say because this god has led you to believe, but think in terms of where you grew up, what your family believes, what churches are in your area etc). Why you believe in this religion or denomination? Where did your faith or belief come from? Is it the culture of your family? When you were a kid, were you always told that god is really real and Jesus really walked on water (just an example, use a different one if you like)? Do you believe that Jesus' mom was a virgin when she gave birth to him? Do you believe another young woman could be pregnant right now and still be a virgin, and maybe give birth to a god-son today? What questions would you ask her?

What if your family had lived in another country with a different culture? Have you seen how different denominations of the same religion sometimes tell or believe in contradicting things? (For example the Catholic religion believes in saints....how can you prove or disprove the existence of Saints?)

What is religion and where did it come from? Read some of the different stories about the beginning of the world, that different societies wrote a long time ago. How do you feel when you read these stories? Do you feel any specific emotions, such as happiness when you read the name of a certain god? Read some other religious books and see what you think about the writings. Look at them very objectively, as I have no plans on trying to convert you to any religion. Why do you go to church? What are some of the things that you like about it, maybe some things you may not like? How about the people there, what connects you with them, besides the belief in the same religion? Learn some things about other cultures and how they are interwoven with their religions. Make a count of gods that have been worshiped.

See, I am not telling you to read Dawkins or any books by atheists, nor do I bring up arguments on how there is no proof of god.

But looking around and seeing that there are many different ways of life, many different people and cultures, and many things to know about the different may help you to not take as much offense when someone does not like your particular one. And maybe, just maybe, you can see how life is diverse and how we all want to be happy. And we, just like you, don't want to constantly hear what we should do in your opinion. I know you mean well and I know that many of you have this really hurting emotion of worry about their loved ones because they are "not saved" or not practicing religion the way you do or believe it is done right.

Try to let go of that worry. It is okay if your daughter does not go to church and does not indoctrinate her children, your precious and beloved grandchildren. Do not worry about the afterlife so much. It is hard not to, because your religion is aimed at the afterlife, but really, your family needs you here and now.

I have a coworker who is very distraught about her daughter not taking the grand babies to church, and I feel her real, consuming, heart-wrenching pain over it. But there isn't much she can do about it, and her life would be easier if she could step back and let go.

Try and make a friend next time, who you know does not go to church, whether that person is an atheist or simply someone who has no interest in going to church. Be aware of the way you talk to the person, and try not to constantly mention god or Jesus. Get to know that person a little, and you may find out that this person has the same human traits and characteristics and interests as yourself and your religious friends.

There is not a lot of difference. Your new friend might be as honest, friendly, well-meaning, family oriented, open, accepting, helpful and giving as you would want your best Christian friends to be.

See, if you do these things, you will not lose anything. You won't lose your religion, you won't get any doubts, you don't expose your mind to what you may consider dangerous or frowned upon by your god or Christian friends.

I do think it may open your sight to life in its diversity, and that may help you to take different opinions in a less offended way, and see all the different people out there.

It may be hard for you to understand, that some people do not enjoy the same things you enjoy, or don't believe the same things you believe. Have you ever encountered someone who told you something you know isn't true, such as "feeding gunpowder to your dog makes it a better hunting dog" and you wanted to keep debating with that person to convince him or her that it isn't true. It is hard to understand, even just accept, that there are people who don't believe in the existence of a god, when it plays such a big role in your life. It is hard to resist to say something. And often, we atheists feel that very same way. We want to say something too, want to share what we learned through research, share our stories, help you understand.

I am sure you would not want us to bombard you with quotes from science books or philosophers. You know that would be offensive, unasked for, and unwelcome.

When you deal with people you don't know, be a little careful. You don't have to constantly express your belief and religion in your conversations. You may not even be aware of doing it, so maybe develop some awareness.

I have a neighbor who is very religious, and she knows I am an atheist. Every time she talks to me, she says things like "god only knows" or "thank god" or "thank you Jesus!" She is very aware of her speech, and I never asked her to, neither am I easily offended, nor do I really care all that much about it. I do appreciate her effort though and we are great friends. Often expressions like "thank god" are just cultural and used by non-believers as well. What I ask for is maybe take the edge off a little. Spare the loud exclamations of "thank you Jesus" or to constantly point out how "the lord" healed you, saved you, delivered you or blessed you with a new car. Just use normal language.

And on this forum, it is offensive to most people if you talk religious talk and quote verses of the Bible, such as "god so loved this world" or "Jesus is the way" or other things. They do not have the meaning to us as they have to you, and they do not touch us emotionally anymore than if you read in some other nation's religious and treasured book that "the god Hylpitrumwfs sacrificed his favorite pet to save men from the demons." It might elicit cheers in the members of this religion, but has no meaning to you.

Also, please be a tiny bit critical to yourself as a group (with many different faces, yes), that you represent to us. Check out www.FSTDT.com, specifically this page: http://www.fstdt.com/fundies/top100.aspx?archive1.

These are quotes from Christian/religious people, left on blogs on the Internet. I am sure you will see some you would agree with. And some, where even you will shake your head.

Thank you for your attention, and I hope to have fostered a bit of understanding and acceptance between the general group of Christians (no specific denomination) and us, the atheists. Most of us in both groups are nice, civil, friendly and helpful people, and I think most could do better in commenting to the testimonies than to use the same phrases that we all already know (Bible verses or typical sentiments used by preachers). Just speak normal language and be yourself.

Respectfully,

Trans-man



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Sunday, December 21, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

The Bible is one of the most violent books I have ever read

Description unavailableImage by Rayani Melo via FlickrA letter from Evelyn

Thank you for this website. I was in pain and searching on line for something, and I decided to search for Jesus is a lie, and I found your website. I read the testimonials, and they sounded like my story.

I will write a full story of my experience later but today I would like to share an experience I had Wednesday, December 17.

I had spent the morning praying for all of my friends, family, and God's forgiveness. The illusion did help me feel better for a while. I went to my volunteer job and I do not know what happened. A customer was telling me how she looks on the positive side and how it took her a long time to learn. Then she started giving me advice about a joining a bible study. My response shocked myself. I proceeded to tell that I thought God was a sadistic son of a bitch and that Mary had sex with a man and got pregnant, and I would defend anyone's right to be negative. I said more things. I was angry. I told her I thought roles of women in the church were stupid.

The Bible is one of the most violent books I have ever read. God is supposed to be loving, all powerful, created the whole universe, and the only thing he could think of is sacrificing Jesus Christ. Human sacrifice, what that is crazy.

What is the big deal about Jesus being born in a manger. Women have been giving birth to human beings in fields, barns, housing, or anywhere else for a long time and frankly 2000 years ago it was probably cleaner, safer, and smell less in the manger. The way people behaved 2000 years ago I wouldn't want all those unwashed, crude people around me. I am sure Mary didn't either if she were real.

Where is mandated that I have to decorate my house with Santa Claus, elves, reindeer, and spend money I don't have to buy junk that it is basically worthless to give to people who really don't want it. Feel guilty because I can't buy people presents, and I have to help the homeless, poor etc.. (I am not against helping the homeless) Frankly I need to stop begging a God that does not exist and help myself.

Christianity has wiped out every culture and people's across its path. Have any of you read revelations it is a book written out of someone's psychotic nightmare.

I can write more. I am angry. My life has been stolen and built upon lies. The worst thing I have ever down is read the Bible at age 8. I really believed God would save me and there was a purpose in all of this hell. That I was doing it wrong. There was something wrong with me. I didn't pray enough, couldn't forgive, and lustful thoughts. It was like walking with one leg tied up. Well there is nothing wrong with me the religion was crap.


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Monday, December 15, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Filling the void

From B.R.

Christianity is an ethos that penetrates all of life and provides answers that are useful in some cases. For example, answers about how to deal with bitterness that otherwise in a bad case of bitterness would eat someone alive, like a bad cavity that eventually abscesses.

If Christianity is not true, and someone comes to recognize that, they still have the problems that Christianity tried to solve, but they are without a solution any longer. While Christianity may not have been correct, was at least practical and useful at some level (Christianity would not exist were it not useful at some level for solving the problems of the human condition. It transcends the mere critiques of Marx or Nietzsche for example). At the same time, I am not saying that we should follow a system, or indeed, give our lives for something that is not correct.

In fact, the formerly Christian and now agnostic's position in practical terms seems temporarily at least worse, and rather dangerous, because in addition to being, say bitter, about whatever he was trying to deal with through Christianity, he must now overcome his sense of bitterness and betrayal by a God who is not there, and sense of bitterness about having given decades of his life to a set of rules that are not actually required.

And by his doubt, he no longer has access to the ethical and spiritual tools he once used that had at least a practical effect. That had some utility.

So recognizing that utility is what is needed, the agnostic is confronted with a sense of loss, and can go in any direction. Nihilism? Machiavellianism? Nietzscheanism? Materialism? Utilitarianism? Meglomania? Sociopathy (since there is essentially little accountability)? For someone who has taken the idea of ultimate truth seriously, to suddenly find that they are in a world without any accountability beyond law and what it catches and holds accountable is stunning. There are both the internal, soulish (or psyche if you prefer) health problems, and the external behavioral questions.

So if we are condemned to freedom, how do we solve these? What direction are most taking? Is there an area of your forum that relates to these questions? What ethical system shall we adopt now? How do we deal with bitterness and a sense of betrayal? What limits are there or should there be on our new found freedom? Are there any other links you can suggest?

Thank you for your consideration. These questions are in earnest.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Worthless religion

worthlessImage by assbach via FlickrFrom Paul D

I would like to say a big Scottish thank you to all the people whom have written testimonies that have been so helpful and comforting to me.

My own story is rather long and complicated, and I need to think about how to word things before I go ahead. Until then I am writing this as a reply to all the Christians who write comments on this site in order to convince, scare or browbeat us back in to Christianity.

Christians, you are completely missing the point by quoting Bible verses and trying to reason with us, and this is the reason why: You Christians claim to have had a wonderful, life-changing experience, in which the Holy Spirit now lives in you and has given you the very nature of Christ. You say you are full of the Holy Spirit, you are transformed, made anew, born again, etc., and have the love and grace of God in your hearts, and so on. The reason your words fall on deaf ears is not because Satan has deceived us, but because you are all such complete bastards yourselves.

Instead of grace, you are arrogant, bigoted and judgmental. Instead of love, you are shallow, two-faced, and inhumanly cold hearted!

Christians, if you really were "born again," then that would be evident to all simply by the way you conduct yourselves. Everyone who is now an ex-Christian understands that it is unreasonable to look for perfection in anyone in this life, and to use the "free will to co-operate with God" excuse is nothing more than a very weak and desperate cop out.

The problem is that you Christians are so contemptible as people and so unlike the Jesus you claim to know, that is evident that you have never had a re-birth and the Holy Spirit does not live in you, otherwise there WOULD be a positive change about you -- even if just a little bit. As it is, you are dead in the heart and dead in your emotions, and without a natural sense of decency.

You condemn us, but if you really do believe your Bible, then what you have to look forward to is standing before your God and hearing him say, "I NEVER KNEW YOU -- DEPART FROM ME."

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Leaving the Bible Belt?

The approximate extent of the Bible Belt, indi...Image via WikipediaA letter from DJ

I am coming to feel less and less at home here in the Bible Belt, and I wondered if anyone could make a suggestion as to a good place to raise my kids religion-neutral, without being harassed and looked down upon.

The more specific the better.

Thanks.



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Thursday, December 11, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Listen to Your Mind

August 6th 2008 - Leave a Little Room In Your ...Image by Stephen Poff via FlickrFrom Emily

Listen to your mind, and not your heart;
The pumping of blood is not an art.
Not by design or purpose, intent,
Were the systems of your body meant.

By natural cause they came to be,
Just as you are, and all you see.
As by nature we are discerned,
From nature can our place be learned.

A cousin to all that lives today,
We are unique...
In one percent of our DNA!

I hope everyone enjoyed this off-the-cuff poetry, inspired by the "Listen to Your Heart" post. This is my first of hopefully many submissions here on ExChristian.net. Though I post only once in a blue moon, I check the site every day for everyone's very insightful comments. You folks have encouraged me to stop being the timid, credulous girl I once was, and become the independent-minded woman I am today. I'm looking forward to posting my ex-timony after finals. :D

-Emily

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Listen to your hearts

From Jackie

i pity those who do not listen to their hearts, but furthermore, who do not listen to Christ.

Most of you have been Christians or at least "believers" for most of your lives. How is it, that NOW you decide to turn away from God? Has He not been there for you since He came to you? Have you not any wisdom when Satan is deceiving you? God has shown you the truth, yet you still deny Him.

Listen to your hearts. Put all the worldly things aside, and truly listen from within.

...then what do you hear?

God Bless

Sunday, December 07, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Don't give up! Keep searching, your life is worth something

A letter from Jesse

I found this site through a search i did on google. I started reading through some of the testimonies and was really interested so i kept on reading. I actually am a Christian, but i'd like to share my testimony as well as long as its alright. I grew up going to church a couple times but by family wasnt really the church going type. My family ended up leaving the church because the pastor was stealing from it and doing other corrupt things. It wasn't until i was a Softmore in high school that i ever went back to a church and i only went there because i was invited by a girl i liked at the time. I ended up staying, very skeptical but at the same time i had met some great people so i kept coming back. My softmore summer i went to a camp and asked Jesus if he was real to show me, and if he did i would follow him. I began crying as i felt an extreme happiness. Come over me, it felt so right. So I took a leap and gave my life to Jesus. Later during that camp i would tell my self that if i could only spend the rest of my life here, at this camp. My life would be the happiest life ever. Later on i would come to know that dark and corrupt side of the church, the part of the church that was fake and the part that disfunctional. Because of it i found myself questioning God, saying God do you even exist? I held on to him though, i wasn't about to let some silly offense i had taken pull me away from God. And i'm still here, holding on to God. He's done so much in my life, my life had become one big adventure and i love it. I understand how much we want to view the church or Christians as God, but the truth is their not obviously not God. Why would we let go of him because of them? Their just messed up people like anyone else. I really do like this site, you guys are being real and i love that. But heres the thing, were all gonna die someday weather your a drug dealer or a CEO, A Christian or an Athiest, homeless or wealthy. You'll die, no amount of medication, money or belief can save you from that. So if there's no God, if thats how it is, well i guess i've wasted my whole life. Not that it matters, not that i'm gonna remember anything. Its not like theres any eternal record book to record my life or anything i do or anyone else does. Were just an accident, and the end of the story is we die and thats it. But i don't believe that, because i choose to hope in life over death. Choose faith over doubt. And live my life for a very real God. See because what if God is real? What if there is hope? What if he does love you? What if he's like the trillions of cells in your body that are constently working in your life but your completely unaware of? Don't give up! Keep searching, your life is worth something.