Hello!

Pyrismaragdos
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Hello!

Hi, everyone!

I've been reading threads on this forum for a couple of months now and find that there's a lot to gain from so many open-minded and well-informed people here, so I thought I'd ask to be part of it and maybe write a few posts myself.

I'm a 57-year-old atheist, I'm Greek and live in Greece. I'm a high school teacher of English (as a foreing language - EFL) in Xanthi, a town with a population of about 50,000, situated in the north-eastern part of the country. I'm married and have a daughter. My wife (49, also an atheist) is also a high school teacher with a degree in electrical engineering and my daughter (28, probably an atheist, or at least non-religious so far) is a primary school teacher.

I started 'flirting' with atheism when I was about 16, but had to go through a long and painful process becoming a full-fledged atheist (at about 24), after spending the first 13 years of my life as a Greek Orthodox christian, then the rest of my adolescence plus a few more years as an on-and-off (but in a steadily and progressively diminishing manner) Jehovah witnesses 'sympathizer'. The change from GOC to JW symp happened when my mother was approached by JWs, naively accepting their evangelism and consequently speaking to me, her first child, about the 'good news' and the 'truth'. My father became furious when he found out and forbade my mother and me to have anything to do with JWs. I'd say that my father was atheist in a way, though he never really expressed his views to me or my three brothers, except only once, when he said to me, "There's no god, only a greater force." I was around 10 at the time.

My folks were no church-goers, though my mother was always religious, both as a GOC and, later, as a JW until her death. They didn't make us kids go to church either, except at Easter; they didn't even ask us to. Only my mother would sometimes, while she was still a GOC, say it would be best if I and my brothers went to church and/or Sunday school from time to time. Neither did she insist on me going to JW meetings after she became a JW. As a result, I'd only go when I felt like it, which was not very often, especially because I had serious doubts who the real god was and could not accept the fact that there was so much evil and death and misery in the world. I still thought there was a god, but I was enraged at his failure or unwillingness to intervene and put an end to all that.

Meanwhile, I was frantically reading JW books and periodicals. I mostly believed what I read there and found myself wanting to be worthy of Jehovah and Jesus, imagining I was going around people's homes spreading the word! But those feelings never lasted long. I'd go from ardent believer to harsh doubter in a matter of days, or a couple of weeks at most, and that, metaphorically speaking, put a heavy burden on my shoulders and made me miserable. It was a slow, exhausting, torturing process.

One of the worst parts was their eschatological insanity. At that time, they thought that the Armageddon, i.e. Christ's final battle with the forces of evil and, consequently, the end of the world as we knew it, was to happen in 1975. I remember sitting with a seemingly well-informed Jehovah's witness on the balcony of his apartment one hot summer night while he, fervently thumbing through the pages of his bible, was citing biblical verses to me that supposedly proved the year 1975 was the time when 6,000 years would have passed since the beginning of creation. One verse said that one day for god was 1,000 years, another that it was one year (as the guy saw fit for his calculations, of course). Then it was from Adam to I don't remember who so many years, or from Noah or from Abraham to I don't know who else to Jesus to some important historical event etc. etc. another number of years. To cut a long story short, the final sum total of his additions pointed unambiguously to 1975 and that was the year when Jesus would begin his reign on earth for a thousand years and when the righteous would be rid of the devil and his angels, but all those bearing the mark of the beast would be annihilated for all eternity (at least there was no hell, that was some consolation!)

We were already past 1970 by that time and those years until 1975 saw me progressively estranging myself from the witnesses and their grim predictions, though deep inside me fear lurked. Then the critical year arrived bringing with it a final nightmare that materialized on my brain synapses while I was asleep one night in late fall. I dreamed that the end of the world was coming lightning fast and found myself somewhere high up in the sky. I started falling into a bottomless abyss with nothing around me to hold on to. Other people, but not too many, were falling too. The most impressive thing, however, was that there were thousands of large, white flowers around me, rather slowly descending along with me. I said to myself that I had been a fool not to have believed and now I was getting what I deserved. It was not a very fearful scene while I was still speeding down through the air, but I felt that great fear and agony were in store for me far below. Thankfully the nightmare didn't last long, nor did I ever reach the level where the greatest fears were supposed to be waiting for me. I don't remember very well what happened next, I don't think I woke up, most probably I ...changed dreams.

So, the end of the world didn't come in 1975. Unfortunately, my father's end did come that same year, when he succumbed to cancer at age 52. Eleven years later, another misfortune befell my family, when my 27-year-old brother (the second born) died in a road accident. My mother followed three years and three days later, a victim to breast cancer, in 1989. She was 61. It seems that Charon, luckily, decided then to give the rest of us a long break, as my other two brothers and I still live to this day, my brothers now in Germany and Belgium, happy(?) Jehovah's witnesses, having fled before they were 20 (they're twins) to avoid doing their compulsory military service, as JWs won't touch guns.

My traumatic passage through religion, combined with the shocks of the deaths in the family, especially the death of my brother, kindled in me an underlying depression, which has made my life unbearable for long, though intermittent, periods of time. I've always had a fear of death (and not only) ever since I remember myself. When I was getting closer and closer to the age that my father died, I was afraid I would get cancer too, seeing also that this disease seemed to run in my father's family as his two brothers also died of cancer at about the same age. Thankfully, I have - so far at least - escaped it, by some five years now. I was diagnosed with depression in 1988 and have been seeing a psychiatrist on and off since then, and have been on medication (fluoxetine), also on and off, since - if memory serves - 1993 (fluoxetine wasn't widely available in Greece before approximately that time).

Well, it's not all grey and cloudy, however. I've had some really good times in my life, long ones too, especially since I sought medical help. I also took up a hobby (picking, photographing and studying wild mushrooms), which has generally worked wonders with me and won me recognition and respect among mushroomers, as I have become quite knowledgeable in the field. Another fine development in my life is that I've found on the internet people like you who can think rationally and have respect for science and logic, so I don't feel (relatively) alone in my life choice to reject the supernatural and be spared its harmful repercussions. I still have a few left-over fears to deal with, since they're unfortunately deeply rooted from a very early age and come back to me when I feel weaker or in my dreams, but I'm optimistic seeing that I already feel more secure just by reading some of the enlightening posts from you people on this forum.

I've come to this site, and have also been visiting some other, similar ones (but I haven't registered with any of those others, at least not yet), in order to feel at home with people who share the same or similar views, at least as regards religion and existential matters, and be helped, and help others myself if somehow I can. I hope we have something to give one another. I can't make any promises, if I'm made welcome, about posting regularly or being a very active member etc., as people like me unfortunately tend to be somewhat unpredictable in their moods, but I'd really love it if I could stick with you people. It remains to be seen.

Please accept my apologies for this rather long first post. I'm happy that I can and will say that it's so nice meeting you and, after what seemed like a long lurking, finally speaking to you.

Spare the rod and spoil the god!


Ktulu
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Very good and heart felt

Very good and heart felt introduction, welcome.  If you don't fit in usually, you will fit right in here Smiling.  

 

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


Ktulu
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Duplicate

oops


ex-minister
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Welcome.Interesting

Welcome.

Interesting background. Enjoyed reading it. Feel free to post/reply anytime. 

 

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


Misty
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It sounds as if you've been

It sounds as if you've been through quite a bit! I am new here as well, so..welcome from a newbie.

 

"Religion has ever been anti-human, anti-woman, anti-life, anti-peace, anti-reason and anti-science. The god idea has been detrimental not only to humankind but to the earth. It is time now for reason, education and science to take over."
– Madalyn Murray O’Hair


Zeepheus
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Welcome

Looks like a long but ultimately fruitful journey. You will fit in well here and you will find this is a good place to find others that feel as you do and have gone though alot of the same process you went though.

 

 

I can explain it to you but I can't understand it for you.

You see that evil will always triumph, because good is dumb.


cj
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No need to apologize for a

No need to apologize for a very well written post.  Enjoy, be welcome.

 


Atheistextremist
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Welcome Pyris

 

Nice to meet you. 
 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


Vastet
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A compelling tale. Welcome!

A compelling tale. Welcome!

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


harleysportster
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Welcome to the forum.

Welcome aboard. Glad to have you here.


Wonderist
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Hi Pyrismaragdos! (Wow,

Hi Pyrismaragdos! (Wow, that's tough to type.) Welcome!

Very good read, and a well-written personal story. I read the whole thing straight through. Didn't even notice the length of it until you mentioned it. Smiling

You don't need to put any pressure on yourself to be 'very active'. If a topic is interesting and you feel like chiming in, go for it. Personally, I find that if I put too much pressure on myself, it totally demotivates me. These days, I have to pick and choose which topics I'm willing to spend so much time pursuing. I find it more enjoyable to just put in my two cents when I feel the motivation, rather than trying to force myself. Strangely, this actually ends up making me more consistent, because when I do post something, it's because I really have a strong interest in contributing something, and so I get more personal reward from it when I do. I'm not just posting for posting's sake.

You've got an interesting history there, I'd love to hear more about the JWs. I always get them mixed up with the other sects like the Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, or whatever. I hear the JWs are one of the hardest ones to break away from.

Looking forward to hearing more from you. Cheers!

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Pyrismaragdos
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Thanks for the welcome!

Many thanks to everyone for a very warm welcome. Feels good to be with you!

Regarding the JWs, natural, I can only tell you what I remember from those days many years back, when I was still researching what they believed, plus a few more things I've heard from my brothers during their visits over the last few years.

One of their main differences from mainstream Christianity is non-belief in a trinity, i.e. Jesus is not (a) god and not part of the godhead, just the son of Jehovah, and he is also Jehovah's first creation - they believe he was created archangel Michael, who was later incarnated in Jesus. The holy ghost is understood to be the power of god by means of which he interacts with his creation.

Another difference is that they don't believe there is, was, or will ever be, a hell. When people die they just cease to exist. However, with Christ's second coming and after the Armageddon, all the dead (if I remember well) will be brought back to life in the flesh in order to be judged. Those who had never heard of Jehovah and Jesus will then have their chance to learn about them and make their choice whether to take their side or not. It goes without saying that, if they don't accept Jehovah as their god, they will perish for ever, as will all those who had heard while alive the first time and not believed. Those who are spared - thanks to their faith - will live on earth in bodily form for at least a thousand years, during which time Jesus King will cure their bodies and minds of all ailments, diseases, anxieties etc., until everybody is restored to a state of perfect health and youth. Actually, it is supposed that every dead person will be revived exactly as they were when they died and will progressively become healthier and (if they were old) younger. People who are alive at the time of Jesus' second coming will, if they're spared, continue to live and most of them will never ever die (see below).

This transformative period will last a thousand years. When the millenium has passed, supposedly everyone will have reached perfection in all respects. But then there will be one last temptation and judgment: the devil and his demons (fallen angels), who had been imprisoned somewhere, unable to do anything to anyone for the whole of that thousand-year period, will be released for a short time and try to deceive the people again. It is said that some will actually be deceived and abandon Jehovah and Jesus. These will be then destroyed along with the devil and other demons when the aforementioned short temptation time is over. Everybody else will live for ever in bodily form on earth.

Nevertheless, it will not only be millions of 'righteous' people who will get to live for ever on earth. Another 144,000 will live in exclusively spiritual form in heaven. These will be some kind of heavenly government that will rule over everybody and everything under the supreme guidance of Christ, superior to whom will only be Jehovah. The apostles are supposedly among them, as well as many others, the so-called "chosen ones". Those of the 144,000 chosen ones who have died to this day all died after Jesus' resurrection and were immediately resurrected as spirits into heaven. According to JWs, none of the people who happened to die before Jesus, not even the holiest ones, e.g. Isaiah, John the Baptist, and others, have been or will be resurrected as spirits. Jesus was (had to be) the first to be spiritually resurrected. Unfortunately for John the Baptist and others like him who were holy but so unlucky that they died before Jesus, the best they can get is coming back to life and living eternally on earth - no ministries in heavenly government for them! JWs say there is yet a small number of the chosen ones still living as humans right now. These are called "the remnant". You may not believe it, but I ...had the honor of seeing one of the remnant some time back in the seventies! I was with JWs on some excursion of theirs and I was shown an old man sitting in a chair and was told that he was of the remnant. He seemed like a rather naive elderly man, speechless all the time, gazing somewhere far in the horizon as if looking but not seeing. How did they know he was of the remnant, you might ask. Well, JWs have only one festival (sort of) once a year, some time in April, which they call "the Remembrance". It is then that holy communion is offered at their meetings. Only if one is of the remnant is he (not sure if it can also be a she) allowed to partake of the holy communion. Apparently, the deluded old man believed himself to be one of the chosen and took the communion, whereupon the rest of the deluded JWs attending were overjoyed to be in the presence of one of the 144,000! It is said that when the 144,000th of them dies, then will the Armageddon begin. One might also ask: "Why 144,000?". Well, it has something to do with Solomon's temple in Jerusalem. I vaguely remember the explanation, but somewhere in the bible it says something like that one side of the temple was 1200 something (some unit of measurement), another was 120 of the same(?) (again, it's all blurred in my memory), so 1200 x 120 = 144,000 or something. Maybe some bible-knowledgable person could help here.

Oh, and I shouldn't forget that in this new blissful life on the new earth every human and every animal, including lions, tigers, etc., will be strictly herbivorous, as they were back then when Adam and Eve were roaming the garden of Eden! And animals, unlike humans, will continue to die in the new world...

JWs were also young-earthists back in the seventies at least. This, however, seems to have somehow changed now as I recently heard from my brother that the earth may even be some million years old, but man was definitely created only about 6,000 years ago. They're also anti-evolutionists, though they now accept some small-scale environmental adaptation, e.g. that polar bears may have acquired their white fur to fit their environment, but they will not accept that there was ever something else from which bears in general have evolved.

Another strange thing is that they think Jesus' cross was not a cross as we know it but was only a single upright pale, so he was "crossed" with his hands nailed together with one single nail over his head, in similar manner to his feet. Another thing, which however they had already abandoned when I first became involved with them, was that they thought Jesus had a hairless face! And you know why? Because he was the perfect man and, in their understanding, a perfect human, such as Adam also was initially, couldn't have a hairy face (I don't know about other parts of his body...)! So, in their older publications, I was told, they depicted him without a beard.

I also learned, not by the JWs themselves though, that, in harmony with their eschatological tradition, they had formerly predicted another Armageddon, which was to take place in 1914. They are said to have dressed in white and taken to the mountains, where they were supposed to be safe and easy to spot- and consequently be saved - by the forces of Good! When they had tired of waiting they reluctantly moved to lower ground and started trying to understand what they had gotten wrong. Their conclusion was that 1914 was the time when god banished the devil and his kin from heaven and exiled them to earth. That's why, they said, earth became so afflicted with scourges never seen before, such as WWI and WWII, violence, famines, earthquakes, etc. etc.

That's about all I remember from or about them. I don't know what else they may have changed as regards their beliefs since then, apart from the couple of things I mentioned above. I also don't know how hard they are to break away from, as I was never a JW myself, only a doubting sympathizer for several years, so my leaving does not count as breaking away, nor do I know of anyone who left their organization after being a full JW for some time. The sad thing is that I wasted over ten years of my life in fear and ambivalence over them.

Spare the rod and spoil the god!


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Wow! Thanks! That fills in a

Wow! Thanks! That fills in a lot of the blanks and fuzzy parts I had in my understanding.