Messing with the Missionary Man

racorfield
racorfield's picture
Posts: 15
Joined: 2010-12-30
User is offlineOffline
Messing with the Missionary Man

Hi

Just joined.  Nonbeliever in gods, ghosts and the like from the UK. 

As a child in primary school, an older kid broke the news to me that we all die eventually; we do not live forever. 

I was quite upset.  My stepmother told me that after all I had a long way to go yet before death which was a little consolation although not quite everything I wanted. 

Later a priest at school was talking about the afterlife and after quizzing him to make sure that I was understanding him right, I had found new hope of eternal life.  Anyway, that was the Dr Jekyll of Christianity. 

I must have then heard about Hell for I remember asking my Dad what is Hell?  He told me it was a place where bad people are supposed to go and get burnt forever in fire. 

£$%@!  I didn't know that.   I was thinking I better watch my step.  Gradually I was learning more about this Jesus character, how he was all about helping the poor.  In school assemblies the headmaster would regularly tell inspirational stories of Christianity, about people helping others such as living in a mud hut in deepest Africa or something like that.  This quite depressed me since it all didn't sound much like fun yet it looked as if I would need to do something like that in order to get my ticket to heaven. 

Being a gullible sort of kid, I was reading about how you could astral travel and that sounded quite fun.  I was reading a book by Lobsang T Rampa.  He said also that hell did not exist as it would not be the sort of place that a good God would condone and belief in hell would be to kind of insult God.  That seemed to make sense and it was  a source of immense relief. 

Then at university I met this girl and invited her back to my place for a coffee hoping for things to go a certain way and she invited me to accept Jesus in my life.  I got the impression that my life would turn round dramatically if I did this and was a bit skeptical, but I thought okay I'll just give it a try, why not, so I prayed to Jesus saying Um hello God if you're out there, I would like you to come into my life.  Then I said to the girl yes well so now I'm on the right side of everything?  This was being a little ironic since I was thinking that it was all too easy.  I had not done years of research establishing the truth of Christianity and what you need to do to get a ticket to heaven even assuming the data necessary was available.  But the girl said in reply yes, isn't it a wonderful feeling? 

Then the girl invited me to a born again Christian sort of student conference at the University.  I went and what I saw made me cringe.  There were songs sang to guitar music with repetitive lyrics just something like I love Jesus and Jesus loves me.  There seemed to be an obsession about Jesus and the implication seemed to be that it was a duty to think about Jesus all the time.  Every aspect of life had to have Jesus involved somehow.  This would do my head in.  It all struck me as terribly uncool and sad (although I was not aware of the colloquialism 'sad' at that time.)  The worst of it was that they said that hell did exist after all and basically you needed to be like them in order to get into heaven and thus avoid being burnt forever in hell.  So it seemed I had to be some kind of sad £$%@ or else I'd be screwed.  I thought would a good God really allow the psychological torment that would put me under?  I thought no.  But then there was no revelation of any God as far as I knew that did not involve hell. So it seemed that religion was just a human delusion which meant all hope of eternal life was gone.  Further evidence that religion was a human delusion was my own wishful thinking on the matter.  I decided then to reject all religion including that espoused by my family since the grounds for it seemed to be equally weak.  It was kind of like believing in Santa Claus.  So I became an atheist but not an especially rational one.  I still believed that the paranormal could exist although I thought that there would be an as yet undiscovered science behind the paranormal. I was however reading up on physics (I wanted to see how to build a TARDIS like in Doctor Who) As I learnt more about physics (including taking an Open University degree course in physics) and having personally investigated the site of a haunting according to a TV program and finding a big nothing, I thought it more likely that ghosts and the like were a bit like religion, fanciful ideas sometimes reinforced by puzzling events with undiscovered natural causes such as hallucinations.  After developing schizophrenia I was later to discover how convincing auditory and visual hallucinations can be.  

 

I was still ignorant about Christian apologetics.  I thought Christians based their beliefs on mere faith or some facile argument such as God exists because the Bible says so , so I thougt that they could be easily refuted.  But then I came across a website supposedly proving the Resurrection of Jesus by eliminating various naturalistic explanations of the New Testament data including the Legend Theory and it did worry me somewhat, although I thought that there was an argument from ignorance fallacy here and I also suspected that some further digging would undermine the Christian claims.  So I've been reading what I could get my hands on and I am still digging at the moment.  In my view there is clearly some stuff which shows that the gospel evangelists are not to be trusted such as Luke and Matthew concocting different stories to get Jesus to be born in Bethlehem to support the claim that he was the Messiah.  I suspect that there is something in the notion that the evangelists drew inspiration for their stories in the NT from the cultural resources of the day, although I'd like to look into this further just to be relatively sure about this.  I'm registered on the CFI two month Examining Christianity Course at the moment with John Shook and Robert Price as tutors.  While trying to find a transcript copy of a debate between Dan Barker and Dr James White, I came across this site and thought I'd join and bore you with my life story.   

 

 


smartypants
Superfan
smartypants's picture
Posts: 598
Joined: 2009-03-20
User is offlineOffline
TL;DR, but cheers on a

TL;DR, but cheers on a Eurythmics-inspired subject heading. Great song. Welcome.

R


cj
atheistRational VIP!
cj's picture
Posts: 3330
Joined: 2007-01-05
User is offlineOffline
Hi, I promise I won't bore

Hi, I promise I won't bore you with my story unless you ask.  I'm in Portland Oregon USA, that is the north west corner of the country.  Very similar to London, I'm told.  I'm going back to school for my second bachelor's degree this coming term.  Here's hoping my brain hasn't gone to mush since the last time.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


mellestad
Moderator
Posts: 2927
Joined: 2009-08-19
User is offlineOffline
cj wrote:Hi, I promise I

cj wrote:

Hi, I promise I won't bore you with my story unless you ask.  I'm in Portland Oregon USA, that is the north west corner of the country.  Very similar to London, I'm told.  I'm going back to school for my second bachelor's degree this coming term.  Here's hoping my brain hasn't gone to mush since the last time.

 

That's awesome cj.

Hey there, what's your major?

---------

Welcome!

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


racorfield
racorfield's picture
Posts: 15
Joined: 2010-12-30
User is offlineOffline
Hi CJ Tell us your story

Christianity seems rather tame in the UK.  In the US my impression is that Christianity is far more potent than in Europe.  Maybe experiences of atheists in the US are thus more dramatic than my run-in with guitar-playing born-again Christians whose lyrics far surpass anything than the Eurythmics could produce?


Thunderios
atheist
Posts: 261
Joined: 2010-12-26
User is offlineOffline
Wow, you went through quite

Wow, you went through quite a lot.

I was also exposed to some New Age stuff, and it still bugs me. First I did an experiment to prove dream telepathy, and it actually worked, so I still wonder how that can be. Of course the two people that did the experiment with me (I didn't do the telepathy myself, I just checked if it worked), could have cheated and told each other what they had to tell each other.
After that I watched what the bleep do we know, and thought it was real (I mean if telepathy is real, why not all the New Age stuff, based in physics).
Short summary of the double slit experiment: people did an experiment to see whether particles are particles or waves, and when they put an observing device at the slits, they would change their form. In what the bleep do we know they said it was because the particles knew our consciousness was watching them.
So I proposed we would have the experiment done again, but then delete half the data, so we could see whether it was really our consciousness. Someone lied to me and said they had done this already, and that it was true that our consciousness influences the experiment.

So now I know for sure New Age isn't real, but I would still like Randi or someone to investigate dream telepathy, because I can't explain how they could have done this for real. Apparently there were also some actualy experiments conducted on the subject.

How did your schizophrenia turn out? Can you control it? It must feel horrible to see things you know aren't real, but which still are real to you at the moment.

I think you should ignore these prostylizers and theologians, because they can make up all sorts of arguments, which don't actually proof all their myths (Thanks for explaining Brian37 Eye-wink).

Anyway, welcome to the site.


racorfield
racorfield's picture
Posts: 15
Joined: 2010-12-30
User is offlineOffline
Hi Thunderios

I've heard skeptics say that paranormal effects tend to disappear as more rigorous controls are applied.  Chances are that if the dream telepathy experiment was repeated but measures were put in place to prevent the participants communicating from each other by normal means the telepathy effect would disappear.  For example, you could make sure the participants were isolated from each other and that the sender is not told of the message to be sent until they are ready to go to sleep, so that they have no chance of communicating to the receiver.  Professional magicians are supposed to be necessary in these kind of experiments to advise on the ways that secret normal communication can take place.  Other controls may be necessary; of course I'm not an expert in this area; I'm just regurgitating what I remember reading from skeptical books and magazines.  To be honest I don't see how such experiments can prove anything positive, since in my view you would need to show that the probability of normal communication taking place is negligibly low which seems to me a tall order since you would need to be superhuman to think of all the possible ways normal communication can take place and eliminate them all. 

I am usually sane and stable.  Just had a couple of dodgy paranoid and hallucinatory episodes in the past.  (You don't necessarily know that the things you hallucinate are not real.)

 


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5810
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Hey, welcome, from another

Hey, welcome, from another subject of dear old Queen Liz, in Australia.

Your comments made me think of at least one clear experience where I seemed to clearly remember some ordinary sequence of events, which more careful investigation strongly suggested could not have happened as and when I 'remembered'.

I think the best explanation was that it was part of a dream, where my brain was visualizing, or rehearsing, some anticipated or possible actions, and due to the timing of when I actually woke up, or some other little brain glitch, it became stuck in memory as real.

Heh, even that could be an unconsciously created memory, based on reading about how dreams can get mixed up with 'real' memories.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


cj
atheistRational VIP!
cj's picture
Posts: 3330
Joined: 2007-01-05
User is offlineOffline
mellestad wrote:cj wrote:Hi,

mellestad wrote:

cj wrote:

Hi, I promise I won't bore you with my story unless you ask.  I'm in Portland Oregon USA, that is the north west corner of the country.  Very similar to London, I'm told.  I'm going back to school for my second bachelor's degree this coming term.  Here's hoping my brain hasn't gone to mush since the last time.

That's awesome cj.

Hey there, what's your major?

 

I'm assuming you are asking me.  Computer science - why not?  Possibly on to a Masters concentration in software engineering + security.  The local university has a great security curriculum.  And if I go for a PhD, I should graduate in time to retire. 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


Nikolaj
Superfan
Nikolaj's picture
Posts: 503
Joined: 2008-04-27
User is offlineOffline
smartypants wrote:TL;DR, but

smartypants wrote:

TL;DR, but cheers on a Eurythmics-inspired subject heading. Great song. Welcome.

R

 

I don't think I need to say Erythmics rocks, considering my sig, but anyway:

 

Eurythmics rocks!!!

Well I was born an original sinner
I was spawned from original sin
And if I had a dollar bill for all the things I've done
There'd be a mountain of money piled up to my chin


cj
atheistRational VIP!
cj's picture
Posts: 3330
Joined: 2007-01-05
User is offlineOffline
racorfield

racorfield wrote:

Christianity seems rather tame in the UK.  In the US my impression is that Christianity is far more potent than in Europe.  Maybe experiences of atheists in the US are thus more dramatic than my run-in with guitar-playing born-again Christians whose lyrics far surpass anything than the Eurythmics could produce?

 

Okay ---

While growing up, my family was believers without being religious.  That is, they all professed belief without attending church.  My mom started taking us to a Methodist church when I was about 5-6.  I'm oldest, so I don't know what she thought the younger siblings would get out of it.  She gave up in about a year, and I kept going by myself for a few weeks.  I was in the children's choir and I enjoyed it.  I have very little recollection of what I learned about the Methodist religion beyond the usual sappy bible stories considered suitable for children.

When I was in Junior High School - about 11-13 years old - my very best friend was a preacher's kid.  Her dad preached at a Foursquare Gospel church only a few blocks from my home.  Talk about nuts.  And I pretty much went along with the program as I wanted to be with my friend.  But I could never quite turn my brain off.  I deliberately tried talking in tongues - it was a great way to get extra attention.  And I noticed - the old lady who was the usual blabberer was watching me and she started up in competition for the attention.  And everyone went over to her when she started.  And then I knew it was all an act.  People worked themselves up to get the attention.  And I knew it was easy - just blabber nonsense syllables and wave your arms in the air - if you can get yourself to cry even better. 

My friend's family had to move on to a larger church.  They were literally eating plain boiled rice three times a day as the congregation was so small.  The new pastor and his wife were old enough for social security, so they had enough money to eat while he preached.  When the new pastor told me that playing Solitaire at home was evil and the devil would leap out of the cards and steal my soul, I left the church.  That was just too lame.

It was about this time I started to question the bible stories as I started to learn about science.  Evolution has always fascinated me and I enjoy reading about it.  I was still willing to believe in the christian god, but I believed the bible was a bunch of stories put together by bronze/iron age goat herders. 

In my mid twenties, I was a military wife.  The ex-husband was in the Marines.  A friend and I were bored staying at home with little children, so we decided to start going to base chapel.  Military base chapels in the US are universalist in nature.  There were three chaplins - Baptist, Lutheran and Catholic.  The jewish, islamic and buddhist followers all had to find services in town - if they could.  I was interested in the Lutheran faith and convinced the chaplin to baptize me and my children.  He was reluctant as he thought I could not really surrender myself to christ.  Happens he was right.

We moved and the new base chapel had no appeal for me.  I was upset.  How could I not feel right in any church if I was a true believer?  It seems really silly now - people go to church for the social activities, and so they pick the church that they feel most comfortable in.  Absolutely no one expects anyone to feel comfortable in just any church, temple, synagogue.  But I got so hung up on it, I quit going altogether.

And that allowed me to question everything.  And I went back to university, kept reading in science topics, decided to be agnostic in the sense of throwing up my hands and claiming to know nothing.  Then my youngest son was diagnosed with learning disabilities.  He knew he was different from the other children.  He knew they could do homework quickly and easily.  And he was 6 years old, it was 9 pm, he had been working on his homework since he got home from school, his homework still wasn't done and he was crying he was so tired.  That was it for me.  God/s/dess could give me, an adult, nothing I couldn't handle, but why did they have to pick on a child who could not handle the troubles and did not even understand why they had troubles.  Fuck god/s/dess and fuck their stupid mealy mouthed followers.

That was more than 30 years ago - I just turned 60 and my youngest son is 33 - and I am still pissed at people who go on about "god's plan".

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


racorfield
racorfield's picture
Posts: 15
Joined: 2010-12-30
User is offlineOffline
Speaking in tongues

Interesting insider view into speaking in tongues.  I recently had a fundamentalist Christian manager and she regarded speaking in tongues at her Pentecostalist church as evidence of the workings of the Holy Spirit.  I suspect that other things boil down to acting such as possession, hypnosis and multiple personality disorder. 

I guess I worry about impressionable children being made to feel afraid of hell and thus afraid to step out of any kind of line. 


harleysportster
atheist
harleysportster's picture
Posts: 3312
Joined: 2010-10-17
User is offlineOffline
racorfield wrote:Interesting

racorfield wrote:

Interesting insider view into speaking in tongues.  I recently had a fundamentalist Christian manager and she regarded speaking in tongues at her Pentecostalist church as evidence of the workings of the Holy Spirit.  I suspect that other things boil down to acting such as possession, hypnosis and multiple personality disorder. 

I guess I worry about impressionable children being made to feel afraid of hell and thus afraid to step out of any kind of line. 

Not to mention the huge presence of "Snake Handler" Pentecostal churches that take place in parts of the South where I live. There have been rumors that some of the more visible preachers of these faiths actually milk out all of the poison before handling them. However, enough deaths have occurred as a result of snake handling that you would have to admit that blind faith and pressure in that practice could be deadly. Also, if the snakes bite them and they become poisoned, most of the faithful will not seek medical help due to the fact that they feel that they have 'fallen" short of the glory of god.

There is  a debate  as to whether or not the practice should be banned because of the pressure upon children in those settings. But that is a bit of a local issue in most places and remains largely ignored.

However the state in which I reside and a couple of neighboring states, have already outlawed the practice of snake-handling in religious ceremonies but the practice continues and is mostly ignored by the law.  These people, after all, feel as though they are breaking the law in the name of God and see themselves as answering to an authority higher than man, so they have no problem with openly practicing their religion with no fear of involvement.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


harleysportster
atheist
harleysportster's picture
Posts: 3312
Joined: 2010-10-17
User is offlineOffline
racorfield wrote: Maybe

racorfield wrote:
 

Maybe experiences of atheists in the US are thus more dramatic than my run-in with guitar-playing born-again Christians whose lyrics far surpass anything than the Eurythmics could produce?

In my case yes. On a general rule ? I would venture a guess that it depends largely upon where you live in the states.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


cj
atheistRational VIP!
cj's picture
Posts: 3330
Joined: 2007-01-05
User is offlineOffline
racorfield wrote:Interesting

racorfield wrote:

Interesting insider view into speaking in tongues.  I recently had a fundamentalist Christian manager and she regarded speaking in tongues at her Pentecostalist church as evidence of the workings of the Holy Spirit.  I suspect that other things boil down to acting such as possession, hypnosis and multiple personality disorder. 

I guess I worry about impressionable children being made to feel afraid of hell and thus afraid to step out of any kind of line. 

 

I was pretty hard headed as a child.  But yeah, I have met young people who are totally sucked into the fire and brimstone story. 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali talks about it in her book, Infidel.  The first time she went without a head covering, the first time she wore pants, the first time she rode a bicycle.  Each time she was sure this time Allah would finally strike her down.  And not once did lightening strike. 

Religion is about controlling other people.

 

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


butterbattle
ModeratorSuperfan
butterbattle's picture
Posts: 3707
Joined: 2008-09-12
User is offlineOffline
Great first post.Welcome to

Great first post.

Welcome to the forum.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare