Can you help me be a freethinker? [YOU RESPOND]

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Can you help me be a freethinker? [YOU RESPOND]

From: XXXXXXXXXX
Sent: Friday, May 23, 2008 1:33 PM
Subject: [General Question] Can you help me be a freethinker?

Your motto is "Believe in God? We can fix that." So, here's my story:

I grew up in a conservative Christian home, but I am currently having
doubts about my faith, so I've been considering leaving it behind.  My
doubts stem from my knowledge of scientific facts, such as evolution, as
well as finding many contradictions and atrocities in the Bible.  I had
briefly "came out" to family by telling them of my doubts, but later told
them to their relief that it was only temporary.  At least I thought the
doubts were temporary.  They still continue.  But I also fear that I could
be wrong, and that my faith may be true.  I constantly fear hell, and I
consider the slight possibility that the devil may just be decieving me, as
according to the Bible, is the devil's favorite hobby.  Is there any way I
can remove these fears?  Can I be convinced that hell and the devil aren't
real?  My mind has great potential, so the ability to think freely for
myself is imperative.

Thank you!

Andrew

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Hey Andrew,You're in good

Hey Andrew,

You're in good company here. Many of us had similiar if not exact experiences as you. I completely relate, as it's very similiar to my experience. All I can tell you know is keep looking and asking, it'l lead you to the truth. And getting over the fear of hell was  a huge block for me, but eventually it fades. I'm just going to link you to my story, it's easier and hopefully you can relate.

http://freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Loc%27s_deconversion

Psalm 14:1 "the fool hath said in his heart there is a God"-From a 1763 misprinted edition of the bible

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This is getting redudnant. My patience with the unteachable[atheists] is limited.

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To borrow a phrase from our

To borrow a phrase from our preacher 'friends', You must be willing to NOT believe.

Ultimately it comes down to seeing the contradictions. You can't truly believe something out of fear. It's a belief in a belief, but not really a belief. It's lying to yourself enough that the lies become your self delusion. If you 'believe' you will not get cancer this does not mean you won't get cancer. If you 'believe' you have a million dollars in your bank account this does not mean a million dollars will appear there.

You need to see it as a kind of magic trick religion and pastors play on you. All theists basically invent their own god which is why they never agree on everything and why you have so many denominations. How can you decide who is right when there are 3 billion theists in the world and they don't agree? Religion is a drug, so theists all choose the cocktail mix that best suits their needs.

Also, take a close look at the theists in your life. Do they really believe. What if they were faced with death? Would they be in fear of loosing their lives or would they look forward to being in paradise immediately after death as they claim to 'believe'? I think you'll see that theists really don't believe, it's all self delusion.

One thing to consider is that Theists practice censorship. If you go to Churches or Christian web sites, atheist opinions are not discussed or debated. Why? That would be like a magician inviting someone who understands his 'magic' to come and explain the tricks before he does them.

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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Quote:Is there any way Ican

Quote:
Is there any way I
can remove these fears?

Probably not immediately.  Most of us are ex-Christians, and most of us had nagging doubts for a while after leaving Christianity.  One thing that may help you think about it in a healthier way is to do some research into the mental patterns of people who have been abused.  How many times have you heard stories of a wife who was the only person in the world who would defend her asshole husband?  Or, have you ever heard of the syndrome where captives come to empathize with, and even sometimes defend, their kidnappers?

One of the reasons Christianity is so powerful is that it indoctrinates fear into its adherents (victims?).  If you think about the position you're in right now, it should be clear.  All the logic in your head points away from religion, and yet you feel strongly compelled to stay.  If it's not the logic, what is it?  The only thing left over is emotion, and you've admitted that it's fear.  Fear is one of the strongest, and most nagging emotions we experience.  Sometimes, we do what we know is right even though we're afraid.  That's one of the beautiful things about being human.

And, just in case some more logic would help...

Suppose there is a god.  If he is Jesus, and you believe, then good for you.  On the other hand, if he is Allah, and you believe in Jesus, you're fucked.  Also, what if God requires not just the appearance of belief, but real, unadultered belief.  Well, kiddo, you're screwed, cause you don't have it.  You don't have faith, and if you stay at this point, you're just pretending.  Perhaps you'd be hoping that you could get your faith back, and maybe it would even work, but that's just one possibility.
 

Suppose there is a god, and he's neither Allah nor Jesus.  Maybe this god is a more deist god, who set the world in motion, and rewards people for being true to themselves and to others.  He'd be mad at you for what you're doing now.

Suppose there is a god, and he's a liar.  How would you possibly know anything about what he wants?  Maybe he wants everyone to wear purple hats, and only those who have donned a purple hat once in their life will go to heaven!  (How much more ridiculous is this story than the one where you're supposed to believe a story about talking snakes, global floods, arks carrying every living animal, and apocolyptical horsemen?  Really... in all honesty, is the purple hat story so unbelievable?)
 

Quote:
Can I be convinced that hell and the devil aren't
real?

I hope so...

Here's a good place to start.  What is punishment?  It's negative consequences enforced on someone for behaving poorly, right?  What is its purpose?  If you think about this for a minute, you'll realize that punishment has only two purposes:  First, to help someone behave better in the future.  Second, to protect society from someone.

In other words, if a judge sends you to jail for life, it's presumably because you're such a bad person that you can't be trusted to live in society and not harm anyone.  You're being sent away to protect others.  If you're sent to jail for a year, it's to teach you a lesson.  Hopefully, jail will be unpleasant enough that you won't behave badly in the future.

Now, think about hell.  Which purpose does it serve?  It obviously doesn't allow for you to be better in the future because... well... you're dead, and it's permanent.  It also doesn't protect society in any way.  You're already dead, for crying out loud!  It's not as if you could do any harm to anyone anyway.  There'd be no point in saying that it was for rehabilitation or for protection.

In other words, there's only one thing left for hell to be.  Retribution.

God, by his own admission, will subject you to the most horrible punishment imaginable for a billion billion years, and when you're done with that, you get another trillion trillion.  Long after the universe dies from heat death, you'll be burning away -- all for one little bitty thing.  The only thing that will decide your eternal fate is whether or not you say a magic chant to a god and believe a ridiculous story about talking snakes.

Does that make god good?  In my book, that makes him an asshole.

Here's another way of thinking about this.  You know the science.  You know evolution is true, and that we are descended from an apelike ancestor.  You also know that the earth doesn't rest on pillars and that rabbits don't chew cud.  The bible is clearly wrong about a number of things.  Science, in fact, is continually pushing the bible farther and farther into the cracks.  You know this, too, or so I would assume.  Once you know all of this, do you have a real choice about whether or not to believe in Jesus?  Or, do you really have a choice to act like you believe in Jesus?

The fact is, you only have the choice to act one way or another.  Your belief is dictated by the facts.  Just to prove it to yourself, try this.  Decide to believe that you have no head.  Take a few minutes, and convince yourself, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you have no head.

Can't do it?  Right.  Neither can you choose to decide to believe in Jesus if all the evidence says that the whole thing is made up.

So, what does that say for god?  Either he just wants you to act like you believe, or he's an even bigger asshole, for asking you to believe an impossible story genuinely, or go to hell.

If God just wants you to act like you believe, what do you do with all the bible verses that say, "Believe with your heart," and all that nonsense?  The fact is, the story just doesn't add up.

If hell exists, God is an asshole.

If hell doesn't exist, you're in the clear.

The Bible says God is all good.

So... .either god's not all good, or there is no hell, or there is no god.

Which is the most logical?  That God is all powerful, but couldn't get his one and only book published correctly?  Or, that the whole damn thing was made up?

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote: have you

Hambydammit wrote:

 have you ever heard of the syndrome where captives come to empathize with, and even sometimes defend, their kidnappers?

 

Stockholm Syndrome (the case it was named for was where the victims were held hostage inside a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. )

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Andrew,You've already done

Andrew,

You've already done the important thing: You've excercized your curiousity, and started asking questions. Keep it up! Smiling

The more curious you are and the more questions you start asking, the more you stand to gain. Judging by what you've already said, it seems clear that you don't believe in any sort of literal interpretation of the Bible right now, so I'd say that a really good question to ask yourself is, 'Since God doesn't fit in according to what I've been told, where does God fit in?'

Even if you can't find the answer, keep that question at the forefront of your mind while you're exploring the world. Who knows - maybe one day you'll hit a positive answer with regards to it, and make one of the most important, evidence-based discoveries of modern times. At the very least, you'll be that much more honest for leaving the matter of God to such a question, remaining agnostic and atheistic for the interim of it's asking.

 

Regarding Hell... I really don't know what to add, other than: ask questions about that, too. Why the paranoia that the doctrine insists on? It's odd, isn't it? I mean, how would you regard someone who insisted that you couldn't trust anything other than what they said, because everyone else was a liar? If God were real, in whatever form, and he really is someone who loves you, wants the best for you and is a really, really great being, it only follows that he would allow you to head to whichever afterlife you please upon death.

Don't let your fear be the end of it. Coercion is a malevolent force, and you have my sympathy for being on the recieving end of it.

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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Oh, and Andrew, this blog

Oh, and Andrew, this blog entry by one of the moderators here sprung to mind as something I thougt would be really worth your time to read.

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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scalisti, The easiest way to

scalisti, The easiest way to get past all the baggage left over from your indoctrination is to join the forums, and start chatting it up with all the freethinkers here. Nothing gets a person past fear better than exposure to reality. In this case the reality is: Freethinkers are people like everyone else, there is no work of a non-existent anti-deity at work, and life is much more interesting when persuing 'objective reality'.

Give it a go, you've much to gain and nothing to lose!

 

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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My Doubts

Thanks for the messages.  One thing I'd request, however, is that my email address and name be hidden, in case family members are to stumble across this site.  I don't want them to know I still have doubts.

I have a degree in Zoology, and of course, we were taught evolution.  I know without a reasonable doubt that evolution is true.  For several years, I have been trying to get my foot in the door with a zoo-related job.  I've been praying to get one without any luck.  I finally got a volunteer position (it's best to start as a volunteer to get the experience) at the local zoo.  The funny thing is, I didn't even pray for it.  In addition, I am working with primates (mostly monkeys) and I'm noticing how similar they are to us, giving me additional evidence there is a common ancestor.

I still believe Jesus existed.  Christian apologists have showed some compelling evidence that he existed, and debunked the pagan parallels quite easily.  However, this does not prove the existence of God in any way.  I remember C.S. Lewis' trilemma: Lord, Liar, or Lunatic... But I just thought of a fourth possible 'L': Legend.  I would like to know other people's opinions on the existence of Jesus, the reliability (or lack thereof) of the New Testament, etc.  I would also know if there are any unbiased resources out there regarding Jesus and the N.T. texts.

Thank you!


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Zoology Major wrote:Thanks

Zoology Major wrote:

Thanks for the messages.  One thing I'd request, however, is that my email address and name be hidden, in case family members are to stumble across this site.  I don't want them to know I still have doubts.

Done.

 

 

Also....

I stumbled across another one of your emails and wanted to add it to the discussion in this thread....

 

Andrew sent a message using the contact form at
http://www.rationalresponders.com/contact.

I'm a Theist and I have a question for you. What do you say about the
supernatural? An example is a place called Skinwalker Ranch, where all
kinds of bizarre things take place. People have apparently seen ghosts,
bigfoot, UFO's, etc., and there have even been cattle mutilations. Most
religions would agree that these activities are caused by malignant
spirits. But scientists were trying to study the phenomena unsuccessfully.
I've always believed that the spiritual realm is outside the scope of
scientific study.

- Brian Sapient


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Is it possible

Sapient wrote:

Zoology Major wrote:

Thanks for the messages.  One thing I'd request, however, is that my email address and name be hidden, in case family members are to stumble across this site.  I don't want them to know I still have doubts.

Done.

 

 

Also....

I stumbled across another one of your emails and wanted to add it to the discussion in this thread....

 

Andrew sent a message using the contact form at
http://www.rationalresponders.com/contact.

I'm a Theist and I have a question for you. What do you say about the
supernatural? An example is a place called Skinwalker Ranch, where all
kinds of bizarre things take place. People have apparently seen ghosts,
bigfoot, UFO's, etc., and there have even been cattle mutilations. Most
religions would agree that these activities are caused by malignant
spirits. But scientists were trying to study the phenomena unsuccessfully.
I've always believed that the spiritual realm is outside the scope of
scientific study.

  Brian  can  you e mail back the members response to Andrew, just to make sure he gets them?

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Rook is the expert on Jesus'

Rook is the expert on Jesus' historicity in these parts, and I can vouch for his thorough and devoted study of original sources.  He takes a slightly stronger stance on Jesus than I do, but both of us agree that the burden of proof has not been met for the statement that there was a historical Jesus.  In other words, people have been doing it ass-backwards the whole time.  Everyone has assumed that Jesus existed, and have used whatever evidence they could find to back that position up.  However, when you start from scratch... a position of neither affirming nor denying his existence, and use the standard historical criteria for determining historicity, the evidence is not just lacking... it's startlingly lacking.

Consider giving this essay a look:  A Silence That Screams - (No contemporary historical accounts for "jesus)

Now, your point is a solid one.  Regardless of whether or not there was a historical Jesus, there is no connection with this man and God, in the same way that IF there was a historical King Arthur, Merlin was not able to perform "real" magic, and there was no magic sword, and no Lady of the Lake.

Quote:
I remember C.S. Lewis' trilemma: Lord, Liar, or Lunatic... But I just thought of a fourth possible 'L': Legend.

I hope you hang around here for a while.  I think you'd be startled to learn that every apologist argument suffers from some kind of logical flaw.  I'm not kidding.  Every single one.  This is a pretty easy one to spot, and you did a good job admitting it when you found it.  Trust me, if you hang around for a while, you're going to be surprised how easily all God arguments are defeated.

Quote:
In addition, I am working with primates (mostly monkeys) and I'm noticing how similar they are to us, giving me additional evidence there is a common ancestor.

If you haven't read it, there's simply no excuse for a zoologist not to be completely familiar with this book:

 A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution  

The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins (Paperback - Sep 2, 2005)

 

While you're at it, I highly recommend this one, too:

 Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature  

The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley (Paperback - April 29, 2003)

 

These two books give remarkably lucid accounts of exactly how we really are animals, just like our cousins.  If you're interested in the question of how we became so much more intelligent, how morality developed, or anything like that, give these books a read:

 Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation  

The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation by Matt Ridley (Paperback - April 1, 1998)

and

 How Nature Turns on Nurture  

The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture by Matt Ridley (Paperback - Jul 6, 2004)

 

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Jeffrick wrote: Brian 

Jeffrick wrote:
Brian  can  you e mail back the members response to Andrew, just to make sure he gets them?

He's actually the only one to confirm receipt of all the people who have their emails posted in the last few days.  He posted in this thread as "zoology major."

- Brian Sapient


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Can you be convinced that

Can you be convinced that hell and the devil aren't real?  No.  Are you willing to live your life in fear of a boogeyman, or do you want to see what life has to offer?  Your doubts are not going to vanish.  The people who love and have cared for you taught you that god and the devil are real.  They are wrong.  All parents are wrong sometimes.  This doesn't take away from the love and care they have given you

Since this isn't religion no one can actually help you be a freethinker.  You have take responsibility for your thoughts and simply think yourself.  This is difficult and requires work.  That's why so many people prefer the ease of religion. 

In religion, you get that pseudo-family that supports one's delusional faith.  Realizing that religion is bunk often means a split from those people who you thought were friends but were really more like drinking buddies.  Now, before I come off as completely callus, there are plenty of people who have been through this before you and can help you, such as here.   Personally, I enjoy Dangerous Talk on myspace.  Staks posts good blogs that make me think about why I disagree with religion and just what that means to me.  The comments that people leave tend to be both well thought out and informative.

(http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=59994949&MyToken=dc49e19a-fa47-4a58-8adf-f182c47d9062)

When you have a doubt, try to pinpoint what exact issue is causing the doubt.  Since the devil seems to be an issue for you right now, why do you think the devil is real?  What logical basis is there to believe that people do bad things because of an evil sprite?  I think it more rational to assume that people do bad things due to mental illness (Canadian bus beheading), the stress of life, not realizing that they are doing harm, being to lazy to do what they know is right, and other such explanations.


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Devil

I had thought of something.  There is a fallacy evangelists make that is often overlooked, and it is based on circular reasoning.  They say since the Bible says Satan is a liar, anything that goes against the Bible is just a lie from Satan. 

This being a circular argument, it might actually help me stop believing Satan/devil exists.

 


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Where did the idea come from

Where did the idea come from that life is a gift, and born into sin come from ? I reject them both.

God = was is

Devil = what isn't

All Gods of religion are the devil, as is idol worship.

Atheism rejects all gods of all known religions. Zero idol worship.

Anti-theism  = Atheism

God , the force, the thingy , made us , and will punish us ?

I simply don't believe that.

Pain is my only bitch ....

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Andrew, you are among

Andrew, you are among friends.

The other posters have given you wonderful advice and I don't have much to add to what they have already said. What I do want to restate what others have said: you may not be truly "free" for awhile. This is so normal.

Just remember to trust yourself. Relying in an invisible being who does not answer the questions asked of it will not help you. I'm not saying being egotistical, but trust yourself  to take yourself in the right direction. If you rely on the intelligence and common sense you have (something that religion requires you to ignore and supress), you will make the choice that is best for your life. Decide for yourself what will become of your life, not a random person who knows next to nothing about you.


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RationalResponseSquad

RationalResponseSquad wrote:

From: XXXXXXXXXX
Sent: Friday, May 23, 2008 1:33 PM
Subject: [General Question] Can you help me be a freethinker?

Your motto is "Believe in God? We can fix that." So, here's my story:

I grew up in a conservative Christian home, but I am currently having
doubts about my faith, so I've been considering leaving it behind.  My
doubts stem from my knowledge of scientific facts, such as evolution, as
well as finding many contradictions and atrocities in the Bible.  I had
briefly "came out" to family by telling them of my doubts, but later told
them to their relief that it was only temporary.  At least I thought the
doubts were temporary.  They still continue.  But I also fear that I could
be wrong, and that my faith may be true.  I constantly fear hell, and I
consider the slight possibility that the devil may just be decieving me, as
according to the Bible, is the devil's favorite hobby.  Is there any way I
can remove these fears?  Can I be convinced that hell and the devil aren't
real?  My mind has great potential, so the ability to think freely for
myself is imperative.

Thank you!

Andrew

Emotions are something we are all subject to, yes, even atheists. Don't let fear or popularity guide you. Don't take our word for it, but don't take "tradition" either.

I am not the most scientifically inclined person. But, if a disembodied being could knock up a girl, considering that we know what a proton is, by now, if such a claim were possible, the evidence would have been printed in peer reviewed journals and not in sectarian apologetics material.

If you can understand why you reject the claim that Thor made lighting, it should not be a stretch that dead human flesh cannot survive rigor mortis after 3 days.

Which makes more sense to you?

Thor makes lighting? Or someone made up that claim?

Jesus rose from the dead? Or humans like the idea of inmortality?

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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