Feeling lonely

Hi Every One,

Very interesting site and I have been here quite a few times. It is a relief actually to find it.

I am still caught in the web of Christianity, but am convinced it to be untrue. I just wanted to call out really, to some people that understand. I feel a gulf has opened between me and the people I dearly love and don't want to lose- but I can't connect. It's like they live in a parallell universe.

And yet the "world" doesn't understand either - so here I am popular in both worlds, successful, but alone.

What do I do? Big bang, public announcement, or go along with the flow? Could the "right" thing be to live out my days a lie - to protect the hearts of my dearest friends and relatives? I have learnt to be a good actor in the last ten years after all....

Any way no point to make, no axe to grind, but just wanting some empathy and advice.

From Lonely

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's a hard question, Lonely, and in the end you will have to weigh the pros and cons to decide what is best for you. If you have the social support you need and can play the game, perhaps a gradual withdrawal will work for you. I couldn't do that, myself. In order to stay sane, you will need to be sure of your own mind and feelings and to read widely. Try to find a support group outside of fundie Christianity. Some people do well with Unitarianism (again, not me, but it could work for you, at least in the interim.) Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Lonely, I can tell you that your story is similar to mine in the sense that I spent most of my adult life as a closeted atheist who attempted to maintain the facade of being a christen. It was very easy and somewhat amusing. However, as the years moved past I found it harder and harder to choke back my absolute disdain for all aspects of the christian faith and lifestyle. Talk about a rift! I found that I could no longer live the lie and I finally just walked away without any explanation. This was fine for most but it was a major point of contention between my wife and I. Under the pressure I came clean with her, the church, and my family. Without boring you with the details, it cost me dearly and I lost everything. I can only blame myself because, after all, I was the liar of the situation and I was the one pretending to be something other than what I was. For me the risk was far more acceptable than continuing to live the lie. I had to be my true self. I will admit that I naively believed that my wife's love for me would cross any barrier. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. My story may not be typical but it is one possible outcome. Only you can decide what you can live with. Don’t do or say anything that contradicts your current situation until you have made the hardcore decision that you are willing to loose everything.

After the initial pain of the situation passed and quite surprisingly, I can honestly tell you that I have never been happier in my life! I have no regrets and I’m slowly rebuilding my circle of friends and a viable support system.

Craig Roberts said...

I want to start off by saying that I, as I’m sure most of us here, empathize with your situation completely. I have to agree with the others here. In my case, I was in a position that did not afford the opportunity to “hide-out” because I was in so many leadership positions that put me in front of the church throughout the week. I had to come clean with my new “convictions”. But I spent a lot of intense time researching and confirming these. When the time was right, and I believe we all come to that point, I just did what I felt was the right thing to do, and that was to tell the truth. Oddly enough, the truth really does “set you free”. But, like liberated said, It has cost me as well, I have paid very dearly for my freedom. But I am most certain(for me), that it is worth every drop of blood in me to live by what you know is real and true no matter what the costs are.

You mentioned that life is lonely and I can tell you that in my case, even after coming clean, it is not much different. I have begun to make new friends, but I have found that it is just better to keep that whole part of my life my own secret. Whether this is good advice or not remains to be seen, but it’s true that the world cannot understand what the big deal is, and so cannot relate with you in the least, or at least when they try it seems only more frustrating than if I just wrestle with it on my own. But overall I would say that getting involved with some group that provides a social impact to your life and gives a sense of “mission” helps a lot. I am currently trying out volunteer work for the community and getting ready to do an over seas trip, which has been a great experience in re-defining my desire to “serve” humanity, and applying it to a world with many needs without having to spread the infectious meme of religion in the process.

I want to impress upon you, that you are not alone, and that you have come to the right place. This website has been my life preserver and the people here are extraordinary to say the least. Hang in there, you’ve come this far and that says a lot about you already!

“Our lives improve only when we take chances - and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.”
- Walter Anderson

Anonymous said...

Hi Lonely,

Don't fight the negative feelings. The aversion to harsh or melancholy feelings actually makes them stick around longer. Simply accept that you feel down and then move on to the next emotion or thought.

Actually, if you meet the thought head on...on it's "own" terms you'll become strong and healthy. It's when we run and hide or go into denial, that we postpone our time when we have to face up to facts. If done with honesty, you'll find out that you'll weather this quite well.

BTW, there's no immediate need to make proclaimations to family, friends, etc. Save your strength, for now, for your recovery. You might test the waters with a friend or associate with a subtle hint or question about similar views or feelings that person might have. If you mis-step, just make a graceful exit, but your intuition will likely be right and you may find a friend who understands and will listen to you without judgement.

As you become accustomed to meeting unpleasant emotions head-on and assertively, you might wish to let a family member or friend in on your "secret".

Best wishes,

JJ

Steven Bently said...

Yeah it's really a shame that we live in a society that openly judges you upon your silly childhood beliefs, but like you, I got tired of "pretending that I love jesus" we would invite our kin to eat with us and they have to burst out praying before anyone eats and my wife and I would bow our heads and pretend that we were praying along with them, and under our breath we would be saying to ourselves, How freaking foolish these people are sitting there praying and thanking their imaginary god for their measly meal, when there were children all over the world starving and being raped and molested and being killed at the very momment they were thanking their "do nothing god" for the meal they were about to selfishly cram into their face.

So I told them that I no longer believed in jeezus, it actually made them worse, they now see me a demon possessed and especially now that I am labeled an Atheist, I am bound straight for hell, in their minds and they said that they would pray for me, yeah like I wanted to hear more bullshit, so we no longer have anything to do with the religious loonies, and we live in an area soaked in christianity, needless to say that we have nothing to do with anyone because we are so tired of hearing all those worn-out repeated christian cliche's.

So it's very lonely not having anyone to talk to, without hearing all the xtian speak, we still hear it in public, many people will raise their voices when talking to others about church so that others will hear them repeat the words, church, or saved or pastor.

What amazes me so much is that all that bullshit is out of a BOOK, that was written sooo long ago, by third or fourth party information that no one knows for sure with any certainity that any of it is real and it's so bizare, it would take a complete imbicile to have wrote it and especially to believe it.

It also amazes me how desparate people really are to believe a LIE, because their parents told them it was true, and to stand up to your parents and tell them, it's all a freaking bullshit lie is like stabbing them in the back, because they too were foolish to have believed the Lie themselves, and were too coward to question the bible and it's teachings, for fear that was instilled in them by their parents, when they were children.

So yes, there are huge consequences to admitting that you no longer believe the bible bullshit LIE, people will immediately judge you and cast you into hell, and you will be scoffed at behind your back, if many people think that you are an Atheist.

There's a preacher on the radio here, that thinks all Atheists and homosexuals and liberals and democrats and Moslims should be killed and he's very popular around here and all his croonies call in and agree with him and praise him, because they are "SAVED" and Atheist's are not and are going straight to hell.

I have one friend that he agrees with me, but is afraid to give up christianity and the insane bible beliefs all together, because his parents and society tells him it is all the truth and pure fact.

The bible has caused nothing, but self-righteous hatred towards others that do not belive the ancient nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Lonely, welcome to the stony path. Might I suggest a very good book called "Leaving the Fold"? It contains a lot of good advice, written by a mental health professional who has walked in your shoes. Those who continue in their faith will probably not appreciate your realisation, but don't lose your humor, compassion, and love of life.

Anonymous said...

Good advice, Sarge.

There are two books around with the name, "Leaving the Fold." They're both good.

I believe Sarge refers to the one written by Marlene Winell. It is very good and it was a life saver to me.

Anonymous said...

Lonely. I guess you're not alone. Lots of folks are where you are in wrestling with issues of faith. I'm one of them. I can't speak of these things to those closest to me because I would be afraid of shattering their security. Especially my children. At least 3 of them need to know their Daddy follows Jesus. My wife would love me no matter what. But it would shatter her and crush her indomitable spirit. I love her too much to see her suffer.

But I am really messed up. I actually don't know if I believe or not. There are lots of goofballs in the big flock—saying and doing some really stupid things. I guess everybody, including yours truly, is pretty goofy in one way or another. But the fact is, for me, most of the finest people I have ever known were and are Christians. Many are sacrificing and extremely loving people—people who's character I certainly want to emulate.

Most of the REALLY messed up people that I know personally and in the public eye and on the streets of my hometown are not professing Christians. So, there is pretty good evidence to support the notion that we are ALL, (Christian and non-), a bunch o' sinners.

There are other things experienced in my walk in the faith which I cannot explain away—supernatural events which would have no other explanation outside the realm of the unseen.

My struggles with belief are almost too much to write about here. They have more to do with Christ being the "son" of the same God who is spoken of in the Old Testament. Did God change? The whole notion of a New Testament or New covenant, or New agreement between God and mankind is what is stuck in my head. I've found no resolution to these issues and it is driving me away from Christianity.

I'll just say I have absolutely no doubt that God exists. In my mind there is too much physical evidence to deny God's existence. But can I really know God, or just perceive God?

Also, I would be absolutely without any hope if there is no God who created all that I can sense. If the material universe and my existence in it is all there is—nothing before and nothing after—then I have no reason for doing anything good or bad with my life. My life is not a gift. It just IS. There remains no purpose for my existence.

What difference would it make if I was happy or sad or that my neighbor is cared for if I have the means to meet his need. If there is no God, then why not be selfish. By sacrificing for the benefit of my hungry neighbor I would bring no glory to anybody but myself—a totally useless pursuit. But if there is a God then at least I bring some glory to Him in that he will have used me to meet the need of another.

Lonely... Let's not totally jump ship. Let's keep looking for the answers to our questions. Don't trash all the goofball Christians out there. I'm sure you've been pretty goofy yourself speaking and acting foolishly. Surely there must be some admirable people in your former circles who at least exemplify a true Christian faith. Tell me when you look out at the world if you see more screwed up people outside the realm of the "faith full". Like I said. I see more rubbish there than I do in the Church. (I've heard the Church referred to as a hospital—a place where you will find all sorts of maladies like hypocrisy, self-righteousness, etc.)

I guess I should leave some room for others. That's the end of my musings in this comment area. Don't be lonely.

Albert said...

Fluterloon,
I must say I struggle with some of the same issues you do. If everything I do is ultimately meaningless well....let's say it's a bit depressing. Now a lot of folks around here probably subscribe to the "enjoy life and make the most of it" philosophy and that's all fine and well as long as your life circumstances are fairly good. But if you're facing some terrible problems in life that train of thought seems kind of vacuous. It's like going to a third world refugee camp and telling people to just "make the most of your life". Or say there is no afterlife; that means everyone who sacrificed their life for another was an idiot and not a hero.

Anonymous said...

ALBERT:
If everything I do is ultimately meaningless well....let's say it's a bit depressing.

LORENA:
Just because there isn't a god watching your every move and micromanaging your existence, life is meaningless?

I respect your opinion, but my life is a lot more meaningful since I realized that it is all up to me. Even if god does exist, she gave you a brain so you can use it to conduct your own life to the best of your abilities.

Perhaps you were raised in an environment in which you were told you had to always please somebody (your parents, your teachers).

Now that you are a grown-up, you need someone to "perform" for in order to feel motivated to function on a day-to-day basis. That doesn't make god real--or the bible truth.

My two cents

Albert said...

Lorena,
I don't really think I'm doing things to "please" any "God", more so because I can't presently even fathom any coherent and believable concept of "God". On the other hand being middle aged I'm not quite so interested in doings things that I see as futile as compared to my more idealistic (?naive) thinking of years ago. Furthermore since my christian religious experience was not even close to the abusive one you obviously had, I don't feel quite as "liberated" as you, but rather more disappointed and angry at those who I believe are perpetuating lies.

Anonymous said...

Sorry if I offended you, Albert.

Your statement was misleading. But even if that isn't the case with you, I believe it is true for many people, such as the christians that lurk around here once in a while.

Albert said...

No offense taken :-)

Anonymous said...

Lorena. Help me out. What keeps you going? If your neighbor is in need and you have the means to meet that need what would be your inspiration for coming to that person's need? Maybe "inspiration" is not the right word. What would be your "reason" for helping?

It really has nothing to do with accountability to a God or heavy-handed diety whom we are trying to please. If there is a God and God holds out grace to all sinners (as Christians believe) then whether or not I help that neighbor God still loves the selfish person. Get beyond this notion of performance for God as a motivation.

But also get beyond yourself. If you say, "I would do it because it makes me feel good", that's too temporal. What is so important about feeling good about one's self for a moment in time. If you are just a living organism on this lonely planet and there is no ultimate purpose for your existence then what's to say you shouldn't act with evil intent towards your neighbor if it makes you feel good?

Existing to satisfy ones self has no meaning, so please explain to me your personal satisfaction in living.

I hope my tone does not sound combative or challenging. I really honestly want to know how somebody outside the faith does it?

Albert said...

I would like to expand on a couple of things I've said. As a preface I would like to make the point that I don't see "God" and the afterlife as necessarily being dependant on one another i.e. I see, at least on initial reflection, four possibilities
1)God exists and there is an afterlife
2)God exists but there is no afterlife
3)God does not exist and there is an afterlife
4)There is no God and no afterlife.
That being said I think most here would agree that if there is no afterlife there is likely no ULTIMATE meaning to life although all of us could certainly create our own short term temporal meaning(s) for our life, be it helping the needy or be it sitting in front of the television watching "trash tv" all day.
The reasons for doing good in the absence of an ultimate purpose for our lives is likely very complex. It may arise from practicality and pragmatism or it might be from our own projections of how we would like to be treated under certain circumstances. Likely lots of other reasons as well. I also believe it's impossible to do good things for entirely selfless reasons. Even if doing it just makes you feel better, you're just massaging your own ego.
Even though I've pretty much abandoned all christian theology I wouldn't mind being a part of "God's team" if I knew there was a "God" that I could respect in the same way I do my best friends.

J. C. Samuelson said...

Fluterloon said...

What keeps you going? If your neighbor is in need and you have the means to meet that need what would be your inspiration for coming to that person's need? Maybe "inspiration" is not the right word. What would be your "reason" for helping?

And I told myself I would stay out of these discussions for awhile...

To restate your question, what motivates a non-believer to help a neighbor in need? Does that capture what you were asking?

We all might answer differently, but here’s my take on this.

First off, the question is flawed. It assumes there is some fundamental difference in the humanity and/or capacity for compassion between the believer and non-believer. Although it’s popular in Christian circles to say so, and it has been propagated by the likes of Ravi Zacharias, Benny Hinn, Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, et. al. ad nauseum, it is a false assumption. Our motivations – to have good relationships, find happiness, prosperity, and so on – are largely the same. If there is a difference, it is in what we attribute our motivations to and possibly what we expect as a result.

A counter-question that might help illustrate would be; do you help your neighbor because you’re a Christian? I’ll wager that most of the time your answer would be close to “not exactly.” Maybe you like the person in question. Maybe you empathize with their situation. Maybe you want to foster goodwill in your society to counteract some of the negativity. And, dare I say it, you feel good doing it. Would you attribute the feelings of compassion you have as coming from your God? Perhaps, but they’re often the same feelings we have. We just don’t say “God is moving on my heart,” or something like that. Such expressions are extraneous and insignificant.

If a non-believer said you only help your neighbor because you were told by God that you have to and/or that you expect a reward from your God, you’d probably take offense wouldn’t you? Why? Because you’re human. You don’t help just because you’re “supposed” to emulate some standard of behavior set down thousands of years ago by long dead authors. You help because you have empathy, compassion, love, or whatever. You ask yourself What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) because according to your tradition he embodies all the best of humanity, right? You acknowledge this much when you say…

”It really has nothing to do with accountability to a God or heavy-handed diety [sic] whom we are trying to please. If there is a God and God holds out grace to all sinners (as Christians believe) then whether or not I help that neighbor God still loves the selfish person. Get beyond this notion of performance for God as a motivation.”

Moving on…

”If you are just a living organism on this lonely planet and there is no ultimate purpose for your existence then what's to say you shouldn't act with evil intent towards your neighbor if it makes you feel good?”

In addition to having empathy, compassion, and love there are societal standards that tend to prevent sadistic activity or punish those who commit “evil” acts against others. Why? Since human beings are mostly social creatures, and our ancestors learned that we survive better in cooperative groups, it makes sense to treat others with the same respect that you expect for yourself. Not doing so is self-destructive.

”Existing to satisfy ones self has no meaning, so please explain to me your personal satisfaction in living.”

Well, it could easily be argued that existing for self-satisfaction is reason enough for some, although there is usually more to it. Self-satisfaction is actually a huge reason why we do what we do, even if that satisfaction comes with long-term effort. Raising a child, helping the needy, discovering a cure for cancer, running a country – our motivation for doing any or all of these things may vary but all contain an element of self-satisfaction. We want to do a good job not only because we may like what we do, but also to feel a sense of accomplishment or contribution. In other words, we want to be satisfied with the results. That’s self-satisfaction. It feels good.

Does a Christian feel any different? A Christian wants to feel satisfied that they’ve lived up to a certain standard, or promoted God’s will as best they could. How is this different?
From the standpoint of determining one’s purpose in life, I think that this evolves with circumstances, age, time, and perception. How many people have happily tooled along thinking their purpose in life was to get a good career, get married, have children, grow old, and be satisfied with their lives, only to encounter extreme poverty along the way? Suddenly, they “realize” their purpose is actually to help bring relief to the impoverished.

My sister once thought her purpose in life was to be the world’s next PelĂ© (the soccer player). She worked really hard at it until one day she met a family in dire need of some social intervention. Today, she’s a social worker and deals with families in crisis on a daily basis. Why? She feels good that she’s helping someone. Guess what? She’s an atheist.

I didn’t expect to be a father. My purpose in life was to – and this is no joke – to become a rock star and donate all my money to worthy causes before I died. I spent all my time practicing guitar and dreaming of platinum albums on my wall. All that changed when my daughter arrived. Now, I’m content with daily victories (which aren’t always visible) as a parent because I love her, I want her to succeed, and someday I hope to look at her and say, “You know, our daughter turned out pretty good,” knowing that I had at least some positive impact on her life. That’s right, self-satisfaction.

There’s much more, but I think you get the idea.

barb said...

Fluter and Geek,

I think I was more selfish when I was a Christian. I would "feel" massive compassion, but was too self-absorbed to do anything about it. I would just feel "really bad" and "pray" for Indonesians, or poor people, or the sick. Pathetic.
Now, I make it a point to give money (small bits) to the family whose house burned down or to the tsunami or Katrina victims, or I write notes to or bake for grieving families. And as I've mentioned, I'm headed into social work once my degree is done (Dec) because I feel, in a very liberal politics kind of way, that we have a responsibility to take care of the most vulnerable among us, and it says volumes about our society that we (and the current administration) do not. (That smacks a little bit of tooting my horn and I loathe that. Please take it in the spirit of fact in which it's meant.)
This is the type of "conviction" christians talk, but do little, about. In my old church, the missionary to Africa got LOTS of praise, while the person who fed the poor in our own community got little.
Someone has to clean the toilets, so to speak, in society. And I would venture to say that the grittier jobs are filled by more non-christians. IMO.

Anonymous said...

What is so intrinsically wrong wrong with "feeling good about yourself" when u "roll a rock away for someone else"?? Why is it so "wrong" or "egotistical" to feel good about yourself when you've helped someone else.Think about it, IF "helping" gives you a "feel good high", will this not inspire "YOU" to do it again & again?? Similar to an addiction.
Yes,it may sound selfish on the surface, but as someone said earlier, we are social creatures, that survive best in a community, so looking at the big picture, is this not the way it should be, a self-perpetuation of people helping people, for the survival of the whole community.
Xtainity has completely messed with our minds on this one. Xtains do good deeds to get their "shares up in heaven", "mansions in gold streets" and some such bullshyte. They tell us that without their xtain god we CANNOT be moral.Well I got news for them, Man became immoral & selfish when they became exposed to the Babbel.I will wager that humans were more "human" in pagan times, can anyone prove me wrong???

webmdave said...

"Existing to satisfy ones self has no meaning..."

So the only "true" purpose in living is to avoid hell in the afterlife? That's a purpose? BTW, avoidance of hell IS satisfying one's self.

The purpose of life is to live. It's really not that complicated.

Now, I'm wondering if it is only the fear of hell that is keeping fluty from killing her children, or sexually abusing them, or torturing them mercilessly. If it is only fear of hell that keeps Christians from all manner of horrorable behavior, then that's scary.

I wonder if it is fear of hell that keeps fluty from robbing stores, or ripping off old people, or rubbing up against every attractive male. I wonder if it is only fear of hell that keeps fluty from being the most heinouse perverse criminal on the planet.

I wonder...

Anonymous said...

OUCH!

Dear Webmaster. What did I say to deserve the bruising? I actually came here to discuss some of my inquiries into this other way of seeing the world. I have questions on both sides of the fence and I am struggling with what I believe or don't believe.

Maybe the tone of your comments feels like a lashing because I am being defensive in my reading. In which case I am sorry. But it really sounds like I struck some nerve in you and you are angry.

I also find it interesting that you interpreted my comments as the voice of a female. In fact, I am a dad and husband. I have been happily and faithfully married to my bride for almost 24 years and I have 4 children ranging in age from 19 to 2.5. (You should have carefully read my first comment from a couple of days ago and you would have caught some of that.) You don't have to worry about me loving them. So you can at least stop wondering about that.

As to my motives for loving and doing the right thing by them or anybody else in my life, including you, has absolutely nothing to do with fear of hellfire. This seems a common thread among people on your side of the fence. You assume that is where I am at. It is hard for all of us to apprehend the concept of grace. So many Christians struggle with it and live under the terrible slavery of trying to please an angry God, never really understanding forgiveness. I can't says as I don't fall into the trap on occasion.

My love for my children is almost supernaturally intense. I think you are a dad too and I am sure you can identify. Which is another proof to me that we must be created, because loving others with the same intensity does not come as naturally. But why do I love others and try to do right and good in this world?

Well, as I said in an earlier comment I do believe there is a God and I was created by that God. My struggle is with understanding Christ as the son of the God described in the Old Testament. But that is a whole other area of discussion.

Back to my motives. I still conclude there is no reason for my existence outside God. But even if this is all there is. Even if there is no afterlife I still want to fulfill whatever purpose God has for me. Why? Because I am grateful to God for my life and I want to live in a way which brings God the glory. It seems the only worthy pursuit. Because, any glory I bring to myself just winds up ashes in the end. I'm dead. Even if my contributions to the world and humanity live on beyond my existence for thousands of years, they will still come to an end and they are so small considering the loneliness and insignifigance of this planet in this vast universe. They mean nothing unless they bring glory to the creator of all that exists.

I have apprceiated lots of the comments made, especially Albert's. I was actually in the process of writing a reply to his comments before you wrote. So, maybe I'll back up and hit some of his points which may shed more light on what is crashing around in my head.

ubergeek said...

And I told myself I would stay out of these discussions for awhile...

Grateful we are that you should deign to engage us untergeeks in helpful discourse. No kidding. I appreciate your thoughts.

To make sure you understand, I am somewhere between believing and falling from the faith.

I don't think my question is flawed. I think you believe that it is flawed because you have a different view of what humans are naturally capable of. I don't see too much evidence in the world to support the notion that people in general are bent towards what we would call "good". I think the self-preservation mode—the survival mode in a dangerous universe—is what makes it a challenge for us to get along. You believe that compassion and goodness are born of self. Yes, people can muster the impulse to do good, faith or not. But I think compassion, in it's purest form, by necessity born of something that is bigger and external to self. That seems logical to me considering self preservation is what comes naturally to us.

You might say that the intensity of the love we feel for our children is born of self. But if you believe you are a created being you recognize this almost supernatural impulse to love them is not really from within because you know from living with yourself that you can be one selfish prig at times. Maybe preservation of the species drives us to protect and nurture our young. But it seems that impulse originates from something bigger than ourselves.

I agree with you that finding self-satisfaction in what we do is motive for using our talents and resources whether we are believers or not. In fact, it is a blessing when we can find that bit of joy. But still what meaning does that have? So, I was satisfied in what I did with life. Now I'm dust—returned to ashes. So, I found a cure for cancer. Who cares? I prolonged human life for some. To what end if there is nothing beyond us?

I know many believers are enslaved to living up to a standard and feel like failures when they don't. I don't think I am in that slavery. I believe part of my purpose in existing is to bring glory to my Creator. But, the simple fact of my existence accomplishes that end. I have nothing to do with it. There is no glory for me.

Moving on... Albert said:

In addition to having empathy, compassion, and love there are societal standards that tend to prevent sadistic activity or punish those who commit “evil” acts against others. Why? Since human beings are mostly social creatures, and our ancestors learned that we survive better in cooperative groups, it makes sense to treat others with the same respect that you expect for yourself. Not doing so is self-destructive.

I've heard this argument a lot because there is truth and logic in it. Yes, there is self-preservation at stake. Yes, humans are social creatures. But I struggle with that answer because it seems in the evolution of those "societal standards" who is to say my little boy with Down Syndrome won't just be "evolved" right out of this world when society decides he is a burden. Who is to say that his life isn't just as valuable than anybody else. But you know the standard of "the greater good" is taking hold and precious lives are lost. I'd rather the standard of One higher than all of us be held up. The One who created life and values it in whatever form—broken or whole.

But I know and understand the conversation that proceeds from that comment. It can be a messy conversation including topics such as the moral question of euthanizing to alleviate suffering of the infirm, etc.

I know I am taking up far too much space. My thanks to anybody who takes the time to read and reply with a kind heart. I beg pardon for getting these postings off topic.

Albert said...

When it comes to human nature I find views often polarize at two extremes. On one hand you have religious zealots who see humans as "sinful and depraved". Obviously they don't get outside of their bubble very much. On the other hand I think the humanists, some of them anyways, who see people as "basically good" are living in a bit of a fantasy world as well.

webmdave said...

The point I was trying to picturesquely make, MR. Flute, is that all people in all times, in all places, and all cultures, have loved their children intensely. Of course there are documented exceptions to that, event from Jews and Christians, but the vast majority of human beings love their children. Loving our children is a natural feeling, attraction, impulse, what-have-you — it is not supernatural and has nothing to do with Bible-god. Animals protect their children until they can fend for themselves. It's nature, pure and simple — preservation of the species and continuation of species.

The purpose of life is to live, and reproduce and continue our kind. Each individual life prepares the way for the lives that come after.

Now, let me ask you something. Which life has more value, the one that lasts 10 years or the life that lasts 50 years? Asked another way: Does the amount of years lived determine the value of the life lived — yes or no?

I hope to no-god that you would answer that life is valuable regardless of the amount of time lived.

Now, assuming that was your answer, then why in the world would you then reason that a life that lives 1000, 10,000, or forever, is more valuable than a typical human life span?

Why is a life that continues indefinitely valuable and meaningful, while a life that ends is completely worthless?

A life that lasts 100 years has no meaning while a life that lasts a million years has great meaning?

Okay, maybe that's not your point. Maybe you mean that without an outside god of some sort, calling the shots, that you can find no meaning for your life?

My life has great meaning, in my family, in my pursuits, in my giving to others, in my enjoyment of the simple pleasures afforded, in accomplishment, in overcoming adversity, in creating, in exercise, in arguing, in breathing... in essence—living!

If you can find no meaning to your life without an angry god, one that has promised to condemn the bulk of humanity to an eternity of horrific suffering for the terrible sin of not accepting the right version of the correct religion... Well, I find that an interesting position to take on meaning, that's all.

Without a god, our meaning for existence is not lined out, it is not clear, and perhaps nature has none for us. However, we have the capability to create our own purpose and meaning. And, as our history so far has demonstrated, we can develop great, building, uplifting and future thinking purpose and meaning, terrible destructive "meaning," or we can just sit around on our laurels waiting for the rapture, death, or some medieval last judgment from a pissed-off god.

Meaning, or lack of it, is entirely up to us.

Believing that Santa brings presents to all the good little boys and girls is fun, comforting, and exciting, but adults know the world really doesn't work that way. People make holidays, giving, and love happen. Magical entities simply don't exist.

Anonymous said...

Lonely,

I can certainly relate. I was surrounded by christian fundimentalists.

You are a brave and amazing person. You are being honest with yourself, which is something that is VERY rare in today's society.

You're at a point where you won't be able to go back. I know, just by hearing what you've said. It's OK. It will be a little painful and awkward, but you can do it. You will be SO much happier as time goes by. Time heals all wounds, and there's nothing as healing as being honest with yourself.

Sometimes it's better not to say anything. Feel free to check out my testimony if you want. Hang in there, and above all - BE TRUE TO YOURSELF.

http://www.exchristian.net/testimonies/2006/01/religion-free-zone.html

Kindred

Anonymous said...

Albert. I don't think you have to be a religious zealot to concluded that the GENERAL tendency among humans is towards SELF-preservation which GENERALLY pulls us towards looking out for "#1". The result of which is all kinds of depravity and wrong doings or "sin". I don't think I am a religious zealot (in fact, I might be an anti-religion zealot) and I see plainly, by observation of the world the truth of humankind's condition. When humans act with nobility and sacrifice it is interesting to examine or search for the motives.

Dear Webmaster. Some questions...

You said:
"The point I was trying to picturesquely make, MR. Flute, is that all people in all times, in all places, and all cultures, have loved their children intensely. Of course there are documented exceptions to that, event from Jews and Christians, but the vast majority of human beings love their children. Loving our children is a natural feeling, attraction, impulse, what-have-you — it is not supernatural and has nothing to do with Bible-god. Animals protect their children until they can fend for themselves. It's nature, pure and simple — preservation of the species and continuation of species."

Where in your previous posting were you trying to make that "picturesque" point?

You said:
"Now, let me ask you something. Which life has more value, the one that lasts 10 years or the life that lasts 50 years? Asked another way: Does the amount of years lived determine the value of the life lived — yes or no?

"I hope to no-god that you would answer that live is valuable regardless of the amount of time lived.

"Now why in the world would then reason that a life that lives 1000, 10,000, or forever, as more valuable than a typical human life span?"


I am not sure what I said had anything to do with this subject. Can you tell me to what you are referring in my previous comments? FYI... I think there is meaning to a life that has been lived for even a few minutes, as happens frequently. We may not know that meaning or understand it. But anyway, I am not sure how that snuck into the discussion.

You said:
"Why is a life that continues indefinitely valuable, while a life that ends worthless?"

Did I say that? You might be misunderstanding something. Help me out here.

You also said:
"Maybe you mean that without an outside god of some sort, you can find no meaning for your life?"

Yes. Thank you. In more words than I needed to, perhaps, that is what I said. I don't think any life is worthless if there is a God. I am just struggling with understanding the worth if there is no God.

Your answer to that question in your first comment is:
"The purpose of life is to live. It's really not that complicated."

This is the stumbling block for me, as you know. I'm sure you must see it clearly. But it isn't clicking in my head. Maybe somebody else can help me with this one.

You said:
"If you can find no meaning to your life without an angry god calling the shots, one that has promised to condemn the bulk of humanity to an eternity of horrific suffering for the terrible sin of not accepting the right version of the correct religion... Well, I find that an interesting position to take on meaning, that's all."

Where did I say any of that? Please quote me. In fact, I think I was explicitly trying to say that being motivated by fear of an angry God is slavery. Sorry if you didn't catch that. Also, I am not making any statements about "the correct religion." Did you hear me push a religion or do anything other than express a point of view?

On the subject of loving our children....
I call it "supernatural" because our nature is bent towards self-preservation. But who among us, at least in this conversation, would not willingly lay down his or her life that OUR child would live. I will admit it becomes a little harder (but obviously not impossible) when it is not our own child. That is all I mean by "supernatural". You don't HAVE to assign deity to my meaning. I think I acknowledged the truth of the instinctual impulse to protect our young. And I see that is what you mean by "natural". In that sense it is. Although I do believe that the instinct is part of our "design" which gets me back to the notion of creation and a creator. So, I think we can accept eachother's uses of the words "natural" and "supernatural".

You said:
"Believing that Santa brings presents to all the good little boys and girls is fun, comforting, and exciting, but adults know the world really doesn't work that way. People make holidays, giving, and love happen. Magical entities simply don't exist."

Parsing that statement I read that God is a "magical entity" and adults don't believe in such things. Therefore, one who believes in God is not an adult or at least immature. Is that correct?

If parsed correctly, here is my gut response. I have read your anti-testimony—how you became an ex-christian. (At least I think it was yours.) And one thread I picked up was that in your moments of inquiry when you went to people to try and resolve questions and doubts, you were sometimes met with rather negative responses by people who should have loved you better and listened well. But they didn't in some cases. I feel treated in a similar way by you. Maybe in my confusion I am a little too sensitive and maybe a bit daft. But I don't feel I am finding any more compassion in this camp than you found in the camp you left.

Oh well. I won't give up. But now I am feeling rather lonely which is how these postings began back with Lonely's comments.

I must also say I observe the tone of SOME others in this string of postings to be a bit on the angry side and quite antagonistic towards people of faith and the things they believe in. They sound strangely like a lot of the people they are perhaps justifiably critical of on the other side of the fence.

webmdave said...

Fluty, this site is visited quite frequently by fundamentalists who post various versions of shallow apologetics supporting their belief in Christianity. Quite often those posters are disingenuous with their intentions, asking questions quite similar to the ones you've broached, and from there it quickly progresses to a preach-fest.

Apparently I've misinterpreted your foundational intention with your questions. For that, I apologize. What you consider a stumbling block is a typical Christian apologetic, or should I say a typical Christian worldview, that life has no meaning apart from a supernatural deity. This is a trained worldview, one I am quite familiar with, one that I once struggled with myself.

I no longer struggle with this idea, because I now realize that it is a learned worldview. Children, un-tainted by such hopelessness, find life a great joy, even without any god-sense. It is only after being told over and over how meaningless life is without a god that people begin to believe such things. Propaganda comes in many forms.

Angry? Absolutely. Christianity, while promising freedom, enslaves the mind and emotions. Rather than producing free thinking humans, it trains people to think they are unable to find meaning without a god. It makes people think they are dependent on a god, for value.

Once the eyes are open to the deception, anger can be a natural response. No one likes to be lied to. No one is happy once they discover they've been duped.

Are all duped people angry, and will the deceived be angry forever? No, of course not. Everyone is different. However, many are resentful, and when someone comes along posting in the same pattern as other amateur apologists... Well, it's like pushing a button.

Again, I apologize. Perhaps it was unintentional, but it appeared you were pushing buttons.

Please continue.

Anonymous said...

you are seriously asking for help in getting out of "the web of christianity"? instead of asking for help in quiting god ask god for help in quiting doubt. trust me, you dont want to just give it up. as liberated said, you have to be ready to lose everything. now does that make sense? losing everything for a belief in nothing? you should go to someone you trust and ask them for prayer, know i am praying for you and pray for yourself. there is no "christian web" if you feel caught up in religion go to your father, he unerstands your doubt. and know that its not about the religion, its about jesus, one man, one cross, the sins of the world. god made everything you see and yet he cares about a very small part of all this splendor and glory: us. to ben, the bible has not caused self-rightous hatred of each other, sinful man has done such. there are christians that are jerks and openly condemm people to hell and this is not up to them, it is god and the person's choice. and before you to tell me that the bible " ...by third or fourth party information that no one knows for sure with any certainity that any of it is real and it's so bizare, it would take a complete imbicile to have wrote it and especially to believe it." then it is obvious you know little to nothing about the bible. first of all, all the books in the new testament for example were written by the appostles who (better than that of anyone else) were direct eyewitnesses. second did you know there is more historical doccumentation that jesus christ not only lived but did the things he said he did and was who he said he was than there is historical evidence that abraham lincoln was our 16th president. how does one know to trust the bible? same way one knows to trust a history book, trust in the hisorical accurate-nees. the bible has stood strong under the strongest of scrutiny. so you my good sir, know very little and i doubt you have actually read and understood the bible.

still refusing to be silent, back down, shut up, sit down, for i can do all things through christ who strengthens me!

-JESUS FREAK!

Anonymous said...

you better do some serious research, the books of the new testament were not written by the apostles. They were written many, many years after the supposed time of jesus.

Anonymous said...

Wow you guys are great. It only takes one or two comments before you are completely off of the subject mater of the original comment.I plan to make a more consertive effort to try and resolve whaT ISSUES I CAN in the future. For instance in this issuue you have a simple choice of believing reality or ancieant religious theology.If you want to join the modern world of knowlege and science we welcome you; but, if you are teeter totering between Christian Folklore and the reality of existance in a real world with real problems and real sulutions you have a choice to make first.Christian doctrine or reality.
The Rev Nathon Dees

Anonymous said...

Lonely,

I had the same problem as you when I left christianity. I couldn't talk about it to my christian relatives because they would just tell me to come back to church, and my non-christian friends wouldn't understand because they had never been christians. I carried the fallout by myself for many years. I had even still believed in hell, and that really did mess up my thinking for a long time.

I'm glad you found this site. Keep reading testimonies, that really helped me feel that I wasn't alone--there were so many others like me. There will be christians from time to time who will post, trying to bring us back into the fold. They can be annoying, but they are good reminders of why we left in the first place. You appear to be on the road to freedom a lot faster that I had been, which is a good thing.



Michelle

Anonymous said...

fluterloon wrote:
"Back to my motives. I still conclude there is no reason for my existence outside God. But even if this is all there is. Even if there is no afterlife I still want to fulfill whatever purpose God has for me. Why? Because I am grateful to God for my life and I want to live in a way which brings God the glory. It seems the only worthy pursuit. Because, any glory I bring to myself just winds up ashes in the end. I'm dead. Even if my contributions to the world and humanity live on beyond my existence for thousands of years, they will still come to an end and they are so small considering the loneliness and insignificance of this planet in this vast universe. They mean nothing unless they bring glory to the creator of all that exists"

Dan says:
fluterloon! If God wanted glory from us he could have excelerated the evolutionary process over the last 4 billion years and made us truly intelligent beings by now instead of just "smart monkeys"

He could have speeded up the natural selection process whereas the smart Neanderthals reproduced even faster and better, and by now could have a species that doesn't go around blowing themselves up because they think their God is better than someone else's God.

He could have a species by now that is smart enough to figure out that some goofy old man in Rome wearing funny clothes, and telling people that it is wrong to use birth control, in a world that is so over populated that we are polluting it to the point of no recovery, should be relegated to history.

He could have a species by now that is smart enough to realize that a creator who can create a billion universes in an instant, doesn't NEED our worship or any glory that our "Lame Ass" primate brains can come up with.

He could have a species by now that is smart enough to realize that our time here is limited, and we don't know what tomorrow will bring, and "that mystery" is what life is all about.

He could have a species by now that is smart enough to realize that all religions are death cults, trying to trade this life for some never ending, other life some where better than here on earth. How could we possibly be happier in a place forever that is any different from the one where we evolved into what we are?

Whatever created us didn't give us any imperative to create and believe in any pagan mythology. The only imperative we have is to "Live well, live here, live now" Enjoy the wonder of it. We don't know what tomorrow will bring.

You may be a little smarter than me. A lot of people are smarter than me, (I see them every day on "Jeopardy"), but belief in a supreme being, that is watching us, and judging us doesn't come from "Smart," it comes from fear.

At 70, even though I don't know what will happen to me after I die, I still am not scared enough to start talking to an imaginary God again, who never talks back. I will just have to trust that if "IT" wanted me to get on my knees 5 times a day and glorify him, and say "It is gods will," every time someone dies a horrible death, "IT," would have made me to be born in a Muslim country.

You see, I believe that what ever the force created us, is, "IT" must be omnipotent by reason of definition, and can do anything, anytime, anywhere, to anyone, it wants!

IT may very well want smarter, more spiritual, less animalistic creatures, better folks than us, and may have already invented them somewhere else, on another planet somewhere in another galaxy.

We are just primates, who recently climbed down out of the trees, and are here for a very limited time. and it doesn't make any sense that we should spend that time pretending to second guess our creator!

Dan (Who can live quite well outside of the CULT. Thank you!)

webmdave said...

"i can do all things through christ who strengthens me"

In that case, use that god-power of yours to start properly using capitalization, grammer, punctuation and paragraphs.

On second thought, never mind.

Anonymous said...

Hey! Jebuzeezus Freak, try and come up with something clever, fool. All u have done so far is to prove yr no different from the brainwashed masses.Get an education first,then come back here. In the meantime, GET LOST LOSER

Anonymous said...

Webmaster. Apology accepted. Re-reading my own comments I must admit there is antagonism in my voice as well. I guess I am feeling a little shakey with the feeling of my foundations cracking a little. Thanks to Ubergeek and Albert for some good stuff to chew on. My best to Lonely who got me going.

Anonymous said...

Jesus Freak: "still refusing to be silent, back down, shut up, sit down, for i can do all things through christ who strengthens me!"

...but, not refusing to roll over or play dead, but, perhaps you get a treat for that :-) Here, fetch!

Anonymous said...

JESUS FREAK said:
“trust me, you don't want to just give it up. as liberated said, you have to be ready to lose everything. now does that make sense? losing everything for a belief in nothing?”

I forgive you for your youth, ignorance and lack of life experience. You base your simple minded comment of the belief that you have something to lose in your irrational belief in god. As you will one day learn, god does not exist. (you’ve already started doubting, otherwise you would not be here) Referring to god, you can’t lose something you don’t have. The true loss is in the supposed love from the brainwashed, close-minded wife, family, and friends who continue to believe the absurd lies and judge you. It could be said that the only real loss is those of you who insist on clinging to your mindless fears, judgment, and hatred. No matter how much you pray, you can’t find help for or from something that simply does not exist. Which will give first, the wall or your head? My only hope for you is that you soon open your eyes, read the bible, and regain your individuality that you so willingly give up to..................the equivalent of a a pink polka-dotted flying Unicorn.

muttmutt1978 said...

do what you feel is right, if other people criticize you or try to give you a guilt trip remeber it was your decision to make in the first place and not thiers.

Anonymous said...

Dear "Feeling lonely"

Know just how you feel. I feel like I have been between two worlds - not being able to go forward and not being able to go backwards.

Most of my friends are christians - I was raised in a church basically, up until about 5 or 6 years ago when I just got fed up with people never saying what they really mean - and always giving some spiritual cliche instead. I just wanted to have a good honest conversation with someone and be myself. I was desperate to have a normal conversation - about anything that didn't mean something spiritual.

Now though I have joined with a group of people who are rather a mixed lot - some are christians and some aren't and no-one is trying to put their religion onto anyone - we are just a group of people who talk to each other about how we really feel - and we don't mention god at all - we just talk about anything and everything that is tangible. So, this is good.

I still get my christians friends phoning me up and asking me have I found a 'church home' yet - but I now tell them I am not ready to do that - if at all.

I just don't ever want to be brainwashed on a sunday morning any more - which is basically what it comes down to - its just someone else spruking their own views in a pulpit and expecting that all the 'sheep' should be inspired by it or believe it - and to me that seems wrong. I have a mind and I am going to use it my way.

I also don't want to feel guilt any more just because I happen to think differently from everyone else.

It is hard though to be in two worlds - but you know basically you just need to find your own way - one that is right for you. I know I will never be a sheep again and it hasn't been easy to break away - but I am finding myself and thinking for myself more and more - and that is something that I value more than anything - in fact its the first prize - and it makes the loneliness and the lostness worthwhile. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/did-jesus-die-interview.shtml

Anonymous said...

Read my story and see how I got into and got out of after 25 years of indoctrination...
You will survive this!

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