Positive Atheism Forum
Another Set of
(all-new stories posted October 24, 2001)
Original De-Conversion Stories
From: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
To: "Positive Atheism List"
Subject: Tell Us Your De-Conversion Story
Date: Monday, June 19, 2000 9:35 PM
TO UNSUBSCRIBE, THROW A DEAD CAT
INTO A GRAVEYARD DURING THE FULL MOON
What we would like is the story of your deconversion from religious faith. Did you become an atheist or skeptic? or were you raised that way? If you deconverted, how has it affected your life -- good and bad? If you were raised this way, how do you think you differ from others in your approach to your atheism
What we will do is fix the grammar and spelling for readability (unless the writer objects) and post them in a special section. If you want to include a portrait, see the specifications below.
Thanks in advance for helping Positive Atheism grow.
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
To: "Positive Atheism"<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: October 16, 2001 11:36 AM
I had my own deconversion process over the last few years.
I was raised a Catholic. I went to a Catholic High School. During college I got away from going to church and practicing my religion but I eventually came back when I had children.
I was on our Parish Council and was the head of Parish council for 3 years. I made a lot of changes which I though were for the better. A new priest came on board and I couldn't stand him so I left that church for another one. But it made me really think about the Catholic Church.
One day, I was praying and suddenly it struck me that I was talking to myself. There was no one on the other end. It was really strange and I was really upset for a long time. My faith had suddenly vanished into thin air. None of the Catholic Dogma made logical sense anymore. I was scared.
Since I had a wife and three kids with whom I'd spent a lot of time indoctrinating them into the Catholic Church, I didn't say anything about my experience. Finally, my wife picked up on it and I told her what happened.I didn't really do much about it for a couple of years. My kids still go to Catholic Schools and my wife takes my kids to church. I am sure my kids have picked up on my changes but we don't talk about it. My kids are 17, 14, and 12. I don't know how they would react if I told them that I don't believe in the Catholic God anymore. Most of our friends are Catholic also because our world revolved around the Catholic Religion.
My wife and I have had many talks on my deconversion and she listens to me but she is too afraid to make any changes. I also do not know how to approach my kids with this. I tell myself that the Catholic Religion won't hurt them. It is like believing in Santa Claus. But the more I delve into Atheism and Agnosticm, the more I want to talk about this. I am starting to see the point of the hurtfulness of religions in general. I am spending a lot of extra money on private schools. I like the smallness of the private schools and their grades are excellent. I wouldn't pull my daughter because she will be a senior next year and is well implanted but I might pull my other two who are in 9th grade and 7th grade. I am not sure how my wife would respond. All her friends are from the Catholic High School and Grade School.
I also work at a privately held company that is supposedly very Christian. I see how they use that Christianianity to do what they want all of the time but if they found out that I have become an atheist, I am sure I would be out the door. Most of my co-workers are fundamentalist Christians. I live in central Pennslyvania which is full of fundamentalists. Amish, Mennonite, etc.
This story was edited when we were considering several stories for our print edition.
From: "Oshansky, Lisa C."
To: "Positive Atheism"<email@example.com>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: October 17, 2001 2:26 PM
I was born into a Roman Catholic family and raised that way until the age of 7. My parents separated in 1972. Of course the nuns in my Catholic school were very interested when I told them my parents were getting a d-i-v-o-r-c-e. (Yes, I spelled it, because my parents only ever spelled the word -- they never said it out loud!) I was immediately labeled as difficult, analyzed by a psychologist, and moved to a public school because I needed to be challenged. I still attended Sunday School (and received "Holy Communion") until I was denied my "Confirmation" because I had gone to visit my father on a Sunday instead of going to Sunday School (so much for family values!) and that was the end of my religious education.
When I was 15, I became a "born again Christian" at the urging of my then best friend. This was my first opportunity to actually read the Bible. (I now think this is the only book that really should be burned!) I went along with the Christianity thing, but I never found any comfort in religion. Praying did not provide solace and also seemed selfish -- people more often prayed for things that they wanted and less often worked for them or the good of humankind. The whole idea just wasn't reasonable to me.
At 21 I met a wonderful Roman Catholic man, former alter boy. We got married in a Catholic church with a full mass. (The ceremonial part meant a lot to him, the marriage was the important part to me.) I even went so far as to be "confirmed" the next year. All the while that nagging voice inside me told me that I didn't really buy into the whole thing. It turned out that the "former altar boy" was only interested in church on Christmas and Easter, and, of course, weddings and funerals. His parents are very religious, but gave up on the "Did you go to church?" thing long ago.
Enter Chelsea, our daughter, duly baptized and sent to CCD [Confraternity of Christian Doctrine], but we never really went to church except "C&E." ["C&E" is a reference to the "C&E Catholic," a humorous way of suggesting that one has reached the very final stage before becoming an out-and-out atheist; the "C&E," of course, means, "Christmas and Easter," and the "C&E Catholic" still attends church -- on Christmas and Easter!] It was only after Chelsea, at 9, came home spouting intolerable learnings from CCD that I said "enough!" I decided I would not have my child force-fed ideals which I have always doubted. I feel so much freer now that I don't try to pretend to be "Catholic." Church always made me feel so "violated."
My daughter completely understands my position, and even comes up with some wonderful observations about religion, which she expresses freely. She once asked my how we could possibly know that the Ten Commandments were the real and original commandments! I encourage her to evaluate life in a logical manner and to ask questions when things seem unreasonable. I have never used "because I say so" as a reason for anything.
She does occasionally go to church with my in-laws (who are not permitted to "nag" about religious ideals), but Chelsea views this as observing.
My husband teases me about being a "heathen." But since he doesn't oppose what I say (he even agrees with my observations about theism in general and Catholicism in particular), I always reply: "I'd rather go to hell anyway: at least there will be interesting people to meet!!"
Thank you so much for your site -- it is a nice place to go when you feel you are the only non-believer in the world!
Thank you for "hearing" my story.
Senior Business Systems Analyst
From: "The Spam Man"
To: To: "Positive Atheism"<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: October 10, 2001 6:54 AM
My "story" is not particularly unusual or interesting, but it has meaning for me. I am what many would call an atheist, yet that has not always been the case. Once upon a time, I was Christian. I was in a small sect of Christianity called Seventh-Day Adventists. Other Christians called them a cult (this is interesting now that I no longer distinguish sub-units from the larger cult that is the Christian religion itself). They were a particularly puritanical sect of the religion, and taught many things that promote bad mental health.
At some point, when I found it difficult to reconcile with their inconsistencies, I started to accommodate my beliefs. The more that I experienced their stifling agenda, the more I accommodated until I realized that what I understand and believe was no longer anything like what they taught. I became one of those Christians who had to accept overwhelming absurdity or contradiction to hold onto any shred of the former belief.
One day a few years ago, I "woke up" as I like to put it. I simply made the next logical step in the progression. I am not sure how this occurred, but it must have had something to do with the philosphy classes I started to take in college, and with the many atheist friends I was making. I now find it literally amazing that I broke free, because my parents are still Christian (though not that particular sect). Furthermore, so are millions of people on Earth, and most them seem so closed minded and unable to evolve.
I have since progressed even beyond this, and while it is true that I am atheist, this term now does not suffice to describe me. Not only do I no longer believe in a "God",; but neither do I in any superstition that I see many atheists replace this concept with. For me, when it rains it pours, I suppose. Let consistency and evolved thinking reign.
From: "Mark Silgalis"
To: "Positive Atheism"<email@example.com>
Subject: My Deconversion Story
Date: October 08, 2001 5:38 PM
My deconversion story isn't very dramatic, rather I feel writing this is a necessary step for me.
I was raised as a Missouri Synod Lutheran in the Chicago Suburbs. I have always been of a scientific mind and I felt as though everything must be questioned to get down to the essence of its being to fully gain an understanding of it. My mother taught me in Sunday School. My Grandparents, both sets, were very religious. Heck, I even taught Sunday School. I always asked the "tough" questions. I never got any answers. I did the same in my confirmation class, with the same results.
Then I went to college. I met some great friends, from the spectrum of religious and philosophical views. I met one of my best friends, who is also an atheist. He was the first atheist that I had ever met. The guy was certainly commanding and confident but he certainly wasn't evil or confused. Not like I was taught.
I think that we had a couple of conversations on the subject, but I've never been one to push my opinions on anyone. My sophomore year of college, I took a class that literally changed the course of my life. It didn't change immediately, but like any force that brings about lasting change it started slowly and began eroding my beliefs. Logic 101. I honestly believe that it should be a required course at all liberal arts colleges. It didn't change my beliefs but it did change the way that I thought in all aspects of my life.
Fast forward seven years: I'd been living my life, which no longer included church. I had gone to Christmas and Easter services every year, but that had to do more with familial obligations than any feelings of religious guilt. In fact, I never really went to Easter services, rather I helped my father make and serve the Sunrise Easter Breakfast. I wanted to hang out with my father, which now that I'm on my own, I don't get to do nearly often enough. I was definitely an agnostic at that point. The way that I figured it, I wasn't hurting anyone's feelings and I wasn't trying to win anyone over with my beliefs.
Over the course of the next year I really started to reexamine myself. A whole lot of introspection was going on. I was very unhappy. I tried to pray, sincerely, for guidance. I did start going to church a bit more, but not regularly. I wasn't getting any answers. So, I figured, I better go back to the source. I would read the Bible, again (this would be the third time), cover to cover. I hadn't read the Bible since I had gone to college.
This time, I had the structured methods of logic firmly nestled in my brain (I had become a programmer so logic was a necessity of life for me). I started to find a couple of contradictions, here and there. I am a voracious reader so it only took me about five days to really read through the bible.
When I read a book, I like to do so quickly. That way, I get the big picture and I can clearly see how things fit together. The problem here was, things weren't fitting together. So being the techie that I am I headed to the the web to find some answers to the inconsistencies that I was finding. I came across some Bible errancy pages and they had confirmed what I had been reading. (Note, that being of scientific mind I am inclined to have results verified by an outside party). I knew that I was not alone. It didn't take long for me to find Positive Atheism on the web. What a resource!
Things started to move quickly. I internally debated my position on the matter extensively. My world view was changing rapidly and it wasn't easy. I would liken it to the way that I felt when I quit smoking: I felt empty and depressed thinking about my life without nicotine. Just like quitting smoking, I got through it. But before I would "come out" as it were, I had to make sure that I was comfortable with my new view on life. That didn't take long. I read more and more. I strengthened my arguments. I am an atheist. Furthermore, I can say that my particular brand of atheism fits within the bounds of secular humanism. I'm happy with myself.
My first step, in "outing" myself was to tell my fiancée. Knowing her for as long as I have, I knew that it wouldn't bother her too greatly. I was right. Of course, to her this came from out of nowhere, so I had to give her time to absorb this and properly frame her response. On a one-to-one basis, she had absolutely no problem with me being an atheist. She said that she wouldn't love me any less and that she was not surprised by this "revelation". Her concern, understandably, was on the issue of our future children. She wanted to have them baptized. I initially objected, but like any marriage, compromise is the key. My fiancée is by no means a devout Lutheran. She only does the Christmas-Easter pilgrimage, but her concern was over how others would perceive us. I said that I wouldn't put up too much of a fight with the baptism, but if our children were to ask "why doesn't daddy go to church?", I said that I wasn't going to lie. My fiancée was honestly appalled at the idea that I would ever lie about anything. My concern of course was over splitting or confusing our "children" over this issue. I am comfortable with the compromise that we have reached however. We both plan on raising our children with honesty and fostering inquiry. Both of us being scientists of a fashion (myself a programmer, my fiancée a Physicians Assistant), evolution is a fact, and scientific method a proven practice. I can't say for certain but I think that my fiancee will most likely come around to my way of thinking, eventually.
Having the most important person in my life know was the only real consideration that I had. Letting both of our families know was the next step. My fiancée let her family know, and she said that neither of her parents were surprised. Neither of them have brought it up since. The real fight came from my family.
I called my younger sister, who had just moved to California to start her life after college, to ask her how she thought my parents would react to the news. To be honest, I was surprised at her reaction. She was stunned and said that I was selfish. She started spewing arguments out at me, and I had some logical counter-arguments. There were tears on both ends of the phone.
I had no idea that my sister's devotion ran so deep. Over the next few days I received several e-mails from my sister. I'm fairly certain that she did not compose the content of the notes, rather she copied them from pro-Christian websites. I calmly responded to all of her arguments, which she did respond to personally. Of course, she said that I would always be her brother, but that she would pray for me. I can't say that I'm satisfied with the way that things have been left with her, but we have spoken since, but avoided the topic of religion.
Then the events of September 11, 2001 came to pass. Seeing those events transpire only reinforced my newfound lack of belief and my longstanding problems with organized religion. I still had not told my parents.
Three weeks later, I was having a phone conversation with my Mother. I decided that this was the right time. I told her and she was shocked for all of two minutes. I told her my reasons for this change in my life and how long I had been questioning religion and god-belief. What she then told me was probably one of the most profound things that I have heard throughout my entire journey on this matter: "At least you're honest. I've had some of those same thoughts but I'm afraid to make them known for fear of the consequences. You shouldn't live your life as a lie." I don't think that my mom will ever fully come around to atheism, but at least she respects me for the stand that I have taken.
Since I've completed these essential (to me) prerequisites to a god-free life, I feel as if I've had a great weight lifted from my shoulders. I am more confident in my daily life and I live it with greater zeal. I know that I've only got this one life to live and I want to make the most of it. I'd like to thank Positive Atheism and all of its contributors. You've done me a great service.
From: "Algis Kuliukas"
To: "Positive Atheism"<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: October 01, 2001 10:51 PM
First of all many congratulations on your excellent web site. I only just came across it an hour ago and I'm still buzzing with excitement that so much good stuff has been written in the name of "godlessness."
My deconversion story might be of some interest to someone.
It happened one Sunday when I was eight years old. As usual my Dad (Lithuanian Roman Catholic) sent me to church (although he rarely went himself), to go to Sunday school. At the time I was heavily into the Apollo space program and was fascinated with all aspects of astronomy. James Burke and Partick Moore were my heroes and I was desperate for any more information on the universe and all that black stuff out there.
This particular Sunday we were talking, coincidentally (or probably not -- it was probably deemed to be a topical subject as the Apollo missions were big news) about how God in fact had created the universe. The young teacher -- she must have been all of 14 -- was teaching us from Genesis. I listened really closely, thinking that I might finally find out how the universe had been made. Suddenly there it was. She'd said it and and then it was gone. She'd moved onto the next thing. I'd been waiting all week for this and it was all over already. Now she was talking about creating humans or something. "What did she say? 'God created the universe' -- was that it?"
Confused, I put my hand up and, pleased to have a question, she let me speak. I nervously asked her "If God created the universe, who created God?"
It wasn't a smart-aleck question. I was genuinely interested and really thought that I would now find out the detail I'd been hoping for. I really thought she would know. Then she answered "God has always been there."
You know that let-down feeling you get when you know you've been a naïve fool to trust in someone else's sham authority? Well that was me. It was the first time I can remember feeling cynical and thinking "what a con!"
I went home afterwards and told my dad I never wanted to go to Sunday school again because I don't believe in God any more.
I few weeks later the priest came round to see me at home. Mum or Dad had obviously decided to ask him round to put me straight. The scary thing is I have absolutely no memory of this at all. My sister told me all about it a couple of months ago. She said that the priest took me into my bedroom and I was in there alone with him for half an hour or more. Eventually, he came out shaking his head saying things like "he thinks we come from monkeys!" My sister told me I came out a few moments later crying my eyes out.
I never did go to Sunday school or church for worship ever again and, to my father's credit, he never tried to make me, although I have to admit that -- to try to impress him -- I stupidly went through the farcical debacle of getting myself confirmed as a Catholic at the age of 28 so that I could marry my wife in church. I even had my first two children Christened -- such is the power of Catholic guilt!
The strange thing is the impression I had at the time of that Sunday school class was that everyone who was watching the space programmes like me must have also stopped believing in God. I thought that it was only a matter of time before everyone in the world would be like me. I waited and waited but every year in school the assemblies still sent out the same message. Nothing seemed to change. As an adult I couldn't believe it when I heard about born again Christians. "Eh? people actually starting to believe in God? Are they stupid?" On BBC Radio 4 every day we get "Thought for the Day" -- religious propaganda. There seems to be more god-squads around today than I ever remember before.
And now this:
A belief in God so strong that it drives men to commit acts like the ones that are now fixed in all of our nightmares. Before 11th September nobody had witnessed such a mass murder, now everybody has. Our naïveté has been raped. How can anybody believe in God now? But they will. One set of people jump for joy, thinking that they have struck a blow at The Great Satan and that their heroes are in heaven, meanwhile thousands of friends and relatives of victims are praying to the same God asking him for guidance. What kind of foolishness is this? Can't they see that it was religion that was to blame? that it was the logical consequence of a true confidence that there is a heaven? What could devalue real life more than a passionate belief that this sinful life is only a testing ground for the eternal wonderful life to come?
As I got older I successively grew out of fairy stories, God, Father Christmas and belief in ghosts -- in that order. I had always assumed that people would be clever enough to work out for themselves that the whole religion thing was pure, man-made lunacy -- but now I have to finally accept that that is also a fantasy I must grow out of.
I now think that it is up to atheists, the minority of level-headed, sensible people in the world, to stop turning the other cheek, thinking "well if they want to believe all that stuff, that's up to them" and start showing a bit of courage. It's up to us to try to encourage them to think about what they're saying and what it means. To analyse it. To question it. To doubt it. We have to encourage people to read the brilliant books of Dawkins and others, to teach them the concepts of natural selection, evolution, and memes. Religion, after all, is nothing but a complex meme. A self-replicating idea that, like DNA is neither good nor evil, it just is. We have to become the agents of a better, stronger more virulent meme -- the scientific truth.
Of course we might not be able to persuade the most fundamentalist believers but we can start with our local friends and relatives -- the ones who are wavering that way a little. "Positive Atheism" is a good name. I think we really have to start getting "active." Passive atheism will not stop the growth of religious lunacy in the world. We have to try to shake people out of this mass delusion, encourage them to grow up, teach them that the same science they accept and use every day has also unequivocally shown their origin myths to be flawed. We have to do this otherwise I really fear for what kind of a world future generations will have to suffer.
From: "Blair Sanderson "
To: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
Subject: Really enjoying your site!
Date: Tuesday, July 24, 2001 6:00 PM
Since this is just a personal message, it's really not important to post it (though you may, if it's worthwhile to the general readership). I want to thank you for hosting such an essential forum, which is inspirational for Atheists like me, and chock-full of big things to think about. (Even the theists sometimes raise interesting points, if not just peculiarly bizarre abuses of language or glossolalia, which are only interesting from a sociological standpoint).
I started out reading your amazing quotations pages, and was surprised by the number of free-thinkers and defenders of First Amendment freedoms you present. (Hey, wasn't Matilda Joslyn Gage the suffragist aunt of L. Frank Baum, creator of the Oz books? I think she was fondly parodied as "General Ginger," in Baum's Land of Oz). Anyway, I really find the quotations to be healthy antidotes to all the Christian blather on the right, and the nuage fluff on the left. And what's wrong with an Atheist being "inspired" by the profound words of great minds? I'm all for it!
As you might have surmised from my last message, I'm doing what amounts to "theological archaeology," by trying to put the Jesus puzzle together, from what obscure and fragmentary evidence exists: Anything pointing towards the notion that Jesus was a fiction created by Hellenized-Jews and Greek converts, from the late first century BCE to well into the fourth century CE. I'm an amateur at this, so I don't have any scholarly credentials to back my arguments up. Even so, I've been studiously cross-referencing things which strike me as a salient points, and have been learning bits of ancient Hebrew and Greek along the way -- not too bad for a hobby! All the same, my theory is coming together, and I think I will soon be satisfied with my "re-construction" of what might have happened. I'll share it with you sometime, when it's ready.
I was raised in a strict Roman Catholic family, and attended Catholic school for twelve years. I started having serious misgivings about Christianity around the age of thirteen, and stopped going to confession and communion then. Despite my dabbling with philosophy and Atheistic Taoism, I was still under a "suggestive state," that something was wrong with me. Jesus was improbable to me, but I had no way to disprove or dispel his "presence." He just lurked at the boundaries of insanity, like some Lovecraftian entity. My family had serious issues with me, so I continued to go to church to save face and to keep peace in the family, even as an unbeliever. Eventually, I found the situation intolerable.
By freshman year in college, I'd finally had enough of it. I walked out of Mass one Sunday, thoroughly nauseated by the incessant references to "Jesus' flesh and blood." I swear, it turned me off from cannibalism forever!
Of course, as a wanderer, I was regularly targeted by itinerant Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Mormons and Orthodox Christians over the years, until I finally said, "Enough!" My fragile peace and pieces of mind became so important to me that I refused to let bible-thumpers interrupt me on the street. Now I dismiss them curtly, yet politely. I don't hurl blasphemies or insults at them. I simply cut them off, by telling them I'm not interested. Period. Oh, there are arguments aplenty I could give them, to refute their noodle-headed positions, but it's a losing battle against minds corrupted and closed by faith. My talk would go in one ear and out the other, just like theirs does with me -- only I take mental notes, so that last bit isn't always true!
My last visit to a church was in 1995, for my father's funeral, in the church of my Catholic up-bringing. That was unavoidable, but I did not compromise myself or my family's beliefs. In fact, it was the Atheist in the family (yours truly), who reminded the Catholic members about finding a rosary, to put in his hands! I was the one who observed sacred protocol, and felt I was right about insisting on a crucifix in my dad's coffin lid, instead of the tacky "American Flag Motif," which my brother thought was more appropriate. At least I scored points with my mom! (Atheists can afford to be considerate, especially because we take the human condition at face value, and recognize what other people need, whether or not we need it for ourselves).
Instead of praying the "Hail, Mary," or the "Our Father," over the body, I hummed the tune from the finale of Beethoven's 6th Symphony, which my dad always equated with his notion of "Heaven." Well, Atheists can be sincere, too, and since the beauty and depth of Beethoven's music moves me (and moved him), in such a human way, how can I say that sending my dad off to the great nothingness, with a tune he loved, was in any way inappropriate? To some extent, even my devout mother understood the significance of this, so she left me alone.
After all this time of struggling to become a free Atheist, and solidifying my position, I still have to deal with the weird, innate, unbidden "voice of Jesus." It's like he's just a creepier version of Santa Claus, insofar as he knows when I've "been bad or good," but he never leaves presents. It's absolutely the same as the horror of having unwelcome, unchaste thoughts. Catholics always lecture about how Satan gives you unsolicited material to ponder -- but when Jesus does it, it's okay! He can crawl into your brain-stem anytime. At least the Easter Bunny leaves chocolate without any guilt trips! And Dracula doesn't gain entry, unless you open the window.
Even so, an old friend (who is now a Russian Orthodox priest-monk), told me never to trust those voices, whether they seem to come from the Devil, angels or from Christ. According to his way of viewing things, this is just a guilt-reflex from my childhood up-bringing as a Catholic, not a real, face-to-face communication with God. All things taken together, I was amazed at his "fairly enlightened" view. (Theists, even the most conservative, can be coherent sometimes, and they don't always favor madness, for good reasons). Of course, the downside is that he recommended, instead, that I heed only the balanced, reasoned teaching of his original, "correct-teaching" Church. D'oh! The classic pretence that faith can be rational!
It is hard to eliminate Catholicism from my system, because it was injected into my mind at such an early age that it tainted everything which came later, even against my will. It's especially hard, since it's the by-product of a devout Irish-Catholic mother (still living), and a formerly Protestant, converted father, who also dabbled with astrology, speaking in tongues, superstitions and psycho-cybernetics.
But, in the words of the old guy in, "Monty Python's Holy Grail," I'm getting better. Atheism is a great restorative, and I know it is a positive force.
By the way, Cliff, you've got a great page on the kitties! As a cat loyalist myself, friend and staff-member (never an owner), I can appreciate your "cat heaven," in the here and now, filled with fur and fun. Even feline felons would make it into my "es-cat-ology." My own brown tabby, Paczki (pronounced "poonsch-key," as in the Polish Mardi Gras donuts), is an Atheist, as far as I can tell. My wife thinks we ought to get her a statue of the Egyptian goddess, Bastet, but I don't think we should mess with our little girl's head. Knowing her, she'll just sniff it, and move on. But if it will ensure an afterlife for her, why not? Doesn't Pascal's notorious bet apply to her?
Keep up the good work, Cliff, and feel better soon!
The "Jesuitical" Atheist, and dogmatic (er, "catmatic") cat fancier,
Blair L. Sanderson
From: "Chris Basten"
To: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: August 17, 2001 6:13 AM
Subject: A safe place to vent
I am glad that there is a website like Positive Atheism for people like me who are coming out of the belief system of Christianity and realizing that it isn't the nirvana that it claims to be. In fact, before I found Positive Atheism, I didn't know where to go with my nagging doubts and revulsion about some of the things that were taught in churches or the Bible itself. I was always taught that atheists were "those weird people who were going to hell because they didn't believe in God." But as I scoured this site for the first time, I found nothing but very sensible people with a lot of common sense (something I ached for when in the trenches of Christianity). I feel that Positive Atheism is a very safe place for me to vent about my frustrations with the deceptiveness and irrationality of Christianity (or any other religion for that matter). So, Cliff, bear with me as I vent.
I am very young in my deconversion process. For the first time in my life, I have carefully studied the Bible and now know how contradictory and revolting it is. I am very open to the idea that there might be a God but I have no evidence to believe that there actually is one, especially that sadist, juvenile God of the Bible.
I get a kick out of Christians who sing or tell me that "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." Really!? I couldn't find any recorded passage in the Bible where Jesus actually said this (unless I missed it). They expect me to believe that God works for the good of all people but I find a lot of random and needless suffering in the world that can't be explained away with zippy platitudes about God having it all under control. It just doesn't make sense.
Christians claim that the point of life is to know and be in a relationship with God. How can that be for a child who is only born with a brain stem and only lives a cold, blue, unfeeling existence for a mere few days in the sterile recesses of a hospital ward? What was the point of that child's existence? "It's all part of God's plan" doesn't feed the bulldog. It is just irrational for a supposed all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God.
How can the Bible be inerrant when it has so many glaring errors? "You must not be of God, otherwise you would see the Truth" is a poor argument to pose. To ignore the facts does not change the facts. It has errors. That is a fact. This secret "Truth" of Jesus-followers is about as sound a concept as "the force" used by the Jedis in Star Wars. It is pure fiction and is downright childish in my mind. There is no evidence to support that "the Truth" exists. Life is too complex and full of dilemmas to posit such silliness.
Once I am a parent, I want my child to have every opportunity to learn about religions and atheism and decide on their own what they believe. I don't want to force them into anything. I just want them to be safe and happy. Deep down, I believe most parents feel this way as well and yet most people are very uneducated about anything other than Christianity. Most Christians don't even know the Bible that well; they just know how to act like a Christian. It's really not that hard to do. I pulled it off very well. How does one go about asking Jesus into your heart for salvation of sins and eternal life!? This is the weirdest concept I have ever encountered. There is nothing tangible about it. Christianity claims that good works don't impress God, only one's relationship to Jesus. How can you have a relationship with a dead guy who may not have even existed? I can have a relationship with things that exist: that being living, breathing humans. God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus (one God!?) don't exist. I can't talk to them, touch them, or listen to them. They are mere imaginary friends worshipped by children who don't know any better and full-grown adults who do know better. What are we doing!? This irrational thinking and this "us vs. them" attitude is separating us further apart in an already anti-social society.
The Bible does have some good passages about moral behavior. This I acknowledge. Nonetheless, it is nothing that I could not have figured out on my own with the help of my relationships with fellow human beings. These few moral excerpts are not earth-shattering in nature and these behaviors are not exclusive to Bible-reading Christians. I have many Christian friends who I adore and cherish but I do not respect their strange beliefs. However, I do respect them as kind, loving human beings who enrich my life. Therefore, my venting is far safer here in an anonymous world of people who think more like I do. Thanks for allowing this website to fulfill its purpose for me.
Positive Atheism is a safe service for those with no reason to believe. Thanks for allowing it to be that way for me. I need it in a most unsure and vulnerable time in my life.
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