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Showing posts from July, 2007

Where it will take me?

This is the first such comment I have made on any website, ever. For a number of months I have read all sorts of comments and debates on all manner of topics. Sadly, I realise that most of the stuff I have been reading has been about God, Jesus, faith, Christianity and so on. All born, I realise now, out of a crisis of faith; a search for meaning. In a sense, I guess I am writing this as a form of therapy (which I have been having formally as I make my way through the mud and mire of my recent confusion and crisis). In many ways, I find myself in a place that I didn't expect to be.

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You think with God you've found peace?

By MG (Monk)

I once had a question and answer session with a devout Church of Christ member. This was a few years ago, and I couldn't possibly tell you how much of this was/is my thought and how much came from other sources as I was deep into my de-conversion studies at the time. I do not wish to steal ideas (or otherwise plagiarize) but to promote independence, inquiry, and rational thought.

With that prelude, the following is derived from a piece I jotted down after our debate:

To Christians:

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Exorcism ends in death

PHOENIX — Officers responding to a report of an exorcism on a young girl found her grandfather choking her and used stun guns to subdue the man, who later died, authorities said Sunday.

The 3-year-old girl and her mother, who was also in the room during the struggle between 49-year-old Ronald Marquez and officers, were hospitalized, police said. Their condition was unavailable.

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Born again religion reporter loses faith

From the LA Times, written by By William Lobdell, Times Staff Writer

When Times editors assigned me to the religion beat, I believed God had answered my prayers.

As a serious Christian, I had cringed at some of the coverage in the mainstream media. Faith frequently was treated like a circus, even a freak show.

I wanted to report objectively and respectfully about how belief shapes people's lives. Along the way, I believed, my own faith would grow deeper and sturdier.

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To all the self-appointed "True Christian™" commentators

Effective immediately, all the stubbornly rude posters who repeatedly sign on as "anonymous" can expect their posts to be erased. Registering is not required to post a comment here. However, those who do not want their posts to suddenly disappear should click the radio button labeled "other" when posting and make up a pseudonym. No email or website is required when posting that way. Anonymity is still preserved, but using a pseudonym greatly facilitates conversation.

Why?

There are simply too many anonymous evangelical posters.

Thank you.

WM

I Didn't Have A Choice

By Telesmith

I cannot believe. This statement is distinctly different than saying that I will not believe. Assenting to the claims of Christianity would mean betraying myself and what I now know. It would be akin to forcing myself to believe that I don’t have two legs. That would simply be impossible. No amount of mental coercion could accomplish such a feat. I know damn well that I have two legs just as I know damn well that Jesus was not God, the bible is not God’s book and he most certainly did not die for my sins.

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Christians don't really think for themselves, despite what they say

By Bill J

The problem with Christians is that they are not taught to look at the Bible critically. They are taught to believe it without doubt, usually from an early age. To most of them, it is inerrant and inspired by the Holy Spirit, so it has to be correct. When I took bible classes in Bible College we always looked at the difficult passages with faith. The kind of faith that believes there is an explanation for why something seemed contrary. The professors always gave some reason for why God had the Israelites kill children or commit genocide. They would explain why God doesn't answer every prayer, even when we follow the Bible literally, like bringing the elders of the church to pray for the sick. Aren't the sick supposed to be healed if the elders pray for them? Only if they are true elders, right, whatever.

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Over the Hedges

by J.C. Samuelson

Chris Hedges comes across as a decent guy. He laments the intolerant demagoguery of some prominent Christians and their Evangelical followers as well as the violence displayed by radical Islamists. He appears concerned about the forces that continue to divide us, and his persona is very nearly that of a journalistic Rodney King saying, "Can't we all just get along?"

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Chess and the Problem of Evil

By John W. Loftus

One of the most popular Christian arguments in defense of the belief in a perfectly good omnipotent God in the face of intense suffering is that the atheist does not have an objective or ultimate moral standard from which to press this argument against the theist. I have tried and tried to explain why these are two separate problems. In my latest attempt I said this:

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Times-Harris Poll: 1/4th of Us Could Be Atheists or Agnostics

Posted by John W. Loftus

Source: The Nation [from the June 25, 2007 issue]

"We commonly hear that only a tiny percentage of Americans don't believe in God and that, as a Newsweek poll claimed this spring, 91 percent do. In fact, this is not true. How many unbelievers are there? The question is difficult to assess accurately because of the challenges of constructing survey questions that do not tap into the prevailing biases about religion."

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Griffith University Society for Skeptics and Freethinkers

My name is JaysonCooke and I am a Psych Science student at Griffith University Gold Coast campus in Queensland Australia. I am in the process of starting an on-campus cultural group "Griffith University Society for Skeptics and Freethinkers." I was hoping you may be able to help out in some way, any way really. I really believe we can contribute towards something great here and any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

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Finding a Way Forward

by J.C. Samuelson

Just over two weeks ago, I wrote an article briefly discussing the controversy that exists, even among secularists, concerning the revitalization of atheism in relation to expressions of cultural or political bias against non-believers. The goal of that article was to show that a bias does exist, and that it does manifest itself in the public arena. Yet that article was woefully inadequate to the topic, particularly in terms of examining the public relations aspect of the issue, what relationship that might have to the persistence of bias, or how far secularism has come, where it might be going, and what, if anything remains to be done.

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How I Lived a Lie: My Anti-Testimony

Sent in by Monk

I was raised in the Church of Christ. Both my mom and dad have attended the same church since before I was born, and my dad has actually been an elder (think bishop if elder makes no sense to you) there for over 20 years. It’s a family tradition, going there. Ever since I was a child, I hated going to church…not once in my life can I EVER remember wanting to go.

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The so called "loving and truthful" faith of Christianity

Sent in by Justine S

Since this is my very first testimony (ever!), I just ask that you all please be patient and bear with me.

I guess I should start at the beginning... there's two portions to my Christian life. I'll save the fundamental stuff for later. Growing up, my mother was somewhat involved with the Lutheran Church. She used to drag my sister and I almost every Sunday, although I believe this was more of my grandparents' conviction than God's. I don't remember too much about church services except stand up... say some things... sit down... repeat.

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Hell and the Narrow Road -- A Letter to Kara

By John John Fraysse

This letter was inspired by a comment posted in response to a Testimonial by perianwalsh (Wanting Heaven and Escaping Hell) on July 23, 2007. The comment by Kara, presumably a fundamentalist Christian, suggested that leaving Christianity might help one enjoy life and even help others do the same. However, after these admittedly positive benefits, it was suggested that ultimately Hell was waiting for us all if we don't choose the "Narrow Road".

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Why Atheist?

By Brother Jeff

The following is a glorious update to my original 2002 "extimony."

I grew up in a nominally religious home. I was raised United Methodist, but at home religion was limited to occasionally reading some bible stories, and that's about it. I quit going to church when I was about ten years old, and didn't get involved in religion again until I was 19-years old. At that time, through the influence of my good friend Mike, I became a "sold out to Jesus" fanatic fundie.

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I am a former youth pastor

Sent in by Caleb C

I recently de-converted from Christianity a couple of months ago. I am still very conflicted and am struggling with the idea of telling my friends. I have told one though, and have had several conversations with him about it since. Every time I talk to him, I am ever repeatedly reminded of the fundamentalist way of thinking...

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Money for nothing -- checks for free

Chicago -- The Rev. Mark Sorvillo loved taking his parish's money and spending it on himself. Trips to Rome, Venice, Paris. And $900 meals at New York restaurants.

In 1999, Sorvillo found someone else to lavish his parishioners' collection-plate donations on -- a male stripper.


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Deliver us from evil

If you haven't seen this film already, rent, borrow or buy this movie as soon as you can. This is an absolute MUST SEE -- WM

Deliver Us from Evil (2006) is an Academy Award-nominated documentary film directed by Amy Berg which tells the true story of the pedophile Catholic priest Oliver O'Grady, who sexually abused potentially hundreds of children between the late 1970s and early 1990s. The film won the Best Documentary Award at the 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival. The title refers to a line in the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father."

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Observations about Christianity

By Tuskin R

It could be simply stated that I have a brain, and a heart. Each of these organs are much more valuable than a soul, in my opinion.

I was raised in a strict pentecostal household for twenty years, terrified and spiritually repressed into believing that some "guy in the sky" was going to burn my six-year-old body to cinders if I didn't sacrifice my happiness for him.

My father told me once that he loved me, but that he loved GOD more...

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You're bloody lucky to be alive

Sent in by MothandRust

Has the universe always been here in some form, or did something create it at some point?

Consider the Andromeda Galaxy - it looks a lot like our own, I'm told - not that I've ever stepped back far enough to check out the similarities - but there are many many more like it to show that our galaxy is just one collection of spinning matter in what is an immeasurable expanse of space and 'stuff'. The interesting thing about our Milky Way galaxy...

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If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed

By George D

I sat yesterday in traffic in front of the Third Baptist Church waiting for the interminably omniscient red light to grant mercy by letting me free from yet another delay. I was running way behind schedule. Seemed like every "Sunday driver" was out in force, conspiring with slow moving construction vehicles and endless red lights to make my day typical of one in hell -- if such a place exists.

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Christian Crazy Thinking

By Bill J

In my opinion, many Christians do not feel free to be themselves. Christians have a need to present to the world a belief that because they know God, they know peace, joy and the meaning of life and so on. Usually they explain short comings as a result of some personal un-dealt with sin, not being baptized in the Spirit, not reading the Word enough, not praying enough, not going to church enough, not seeing a real Christian counselor, not tithing, not being under spiritual authority and so on.

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THE LORD'S PRAYER LAID BARE

By Bored Again

To me, one of the clearest evidences of the mindlessness of Christianity is the so-called "Lord's Prayer" spoken by Jesus in the gospels, and repeated endlessly around the world. During my pilgrim's progress through the Roman Catholic Church (yes, I was an altar boy, though undefiled) and through fundamental Christianity (yes, I was a Deacon, Elder, Sunday School Superintendent, etc.), I found myself uttering this "prayer" many times, both by myself and in unison with entire congregations. Yet, until now, I never stopped to think about what I was saying.

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The Kingdom of God and Confronting Our Beliefs

By Bill J

Some Christians believe the church should resort to the old ways of the New Testament. They believe the church needs apostles, prophets, teachers, missionaries, pastors all working together in some spiritually accountable system. They fail to see outside of their own belief system. Belief is truth and if they just believed or established the true church everything would fall into place. They put their belief before evidence.

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Ellen meets Paula -- tonight!

ELLEN JOHNSON, President of American Atheists will be interviewed on the
popular CNN program "The Paula Zahn Show" this Thursday, July 19, 2007.

The program will examine the role of religion in presidential campaigns,
including the growing use of faith-based sloganeering by most of the
candidates. "The Paula Zahn Show" begins at 8:00 PM ET, check local
listings. For further information, visit
http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/paula.zahn.now/

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God is Dead

An interview with Ron Currie Jr., author of "God is Dead"

Just because someone's an atheist, doesn't mean they're not spiritual in some sense of the word. That's important to keep in mind when hearing the title of the new novel by Ron Currie Jr., "God Is Dead."

The book is about what happens when God dies, and the world continues on basically the same as before. It does not end, but for a lot of people, it is turned upside down.

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An Evolution-Related Challenge

Sent in by Bob K

How many young Earth creationists believe that methods used to date fossils and rock strata that rely on the decay of radioactive isotopes do not give reliable results.

In my limited understanding creationist thought, this would seem to pose some very serious problems for modern technology. If the physics on which the use of radio-isotopes to date fossils and geological strata is "wrong," to use common parlance, then how do the myriads of devices that rely on this erroneous theory work?

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Atheist ‘Metaphysics’ and Religious Equivocation

By Sean Prophet of "Black Sun"The diagram represents the "Knowledge Paradigm" of science. Click here to see the full size image. It says simply and visually:We have a very limited scope of knowledge. Everything we know about our universe, we have learned through the scientific method. That which is outside our circle of knowledge, we seek to discover. We do not accept any new information about our universe into this circle of knowledge without sufficient evidence, and we only accept that evidence when instrumentation or multiple observers thoroughly corroborate it. In this manner, we seek to carefully and prudently expand the boundaries of our circle of understanding further into the great unknown. We accept that no matter how far we expand that boundary, there will always be much more to learn. Therefore we accept and make peace with the unknown, for it will always be with us.

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Boggles the Mind

By DagoodS

As I drive to work I see dozens of cars with Christian bumper stickers and fish symbols, and at times it strikes me how amazing that is. A man lived 2000 years ago and died. Some other people wrote stories about that man and a religion grew. And here we are, 2000 years later, and for $6.99 I can buy a gold plastic fish to honor this man. Who is dead.

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Methuselah and tooth decay

Sent in by The Atheist Tooth Fairy

Before I state my question, first some basic history about myself.

My wife is a very devout Christian woman, while I'm now a complete atheist, one who not only doesn't believe in God and the bible, but also sees zero evidence for anything supernatural on this earth as well.

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Seeking an answer to a question

Sent in by Jim

Before I ask my question, I want to provide a brief overview of my religious background--a mini-testimonial. My Mother was a very religious person (Southern Baptist) who dedicated me to God at birth, bred me for the ministry, read to me from the Bible every evening, required me to say my prayers with her every evening, and she took me to our church for every single event which occurred there: weekly prayer meetings; Sunday morning and evening Bible study and services; Bible Study classes during special weeks during the year; revival services; Vacation Bible School; etc.

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How Can Pastors Believe?

By Lorena

Jannah’s post reminded me of something I knew well when I was a Christian: Pastors know pretty much everything dark that goes on with the flock.They are usually aware of women who are regularly beaten by their husbands, children who are ,or have been, sexually abused by a caregiver, and extra-marital affairs church members are involved in. The good shepherds are also quite aware of which members are addicted to drugs and alcohol, who struggles with gambling and pornography, and even of people with obscure business endeavors.

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Christian terrorism?

Three Burleson men who belong to a "radical Christian activist group" were in the Johnson County Jail on Friday night after a church deacon caught two of them attempting to ignite an explosive device on Independence Day at a church under construction in north Burleson, authorities said Friday.

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Nothing ever came of the promises

Sent in by Jannah

Growing up in a Christian home has been an adventure. My parents were pot smoking hippies until the year before I was born. They had friends who were Christians, and they became "born-again" Christians into the Foursquare/ pentecostal/ non-denominational church. They thrived in the environment, and so did I and my 5 sisters.

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School Board to hear mother's request to ban books on homosexuality, abortion

Laura Lopez wants dozens of books removed from two Palm Beach County high school libraries because the contents address homosexuality, abortion and atheism.

"Those books should never be in the schools for kids to see," Lopez, a mother of three from west of West Palm Beach, said Monday.

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Christianity and Atheism: A Conversation

Written by Paotie

I grew up in a religious family. As a child, my mother dragged me to faith healers who showed up once a month in Albuquerque and tried to “cure” my deafness. The faith healers themselves, while varied in the way they delivered their healing sessions, almost always shared the same routine. They would prop me up on stage in front of the church, and begin yelling something to the effect that I had somehow been wronged. By whom exactly was never answered, though I once asked a pastor, “If God made me deaf, why do we need faith healers to fix what God has done? That doesn’t make sense.” (My pastor immediately started praying, though I never got an answer).

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Proof that god is nonexistant: a short version

By Bob P

While it isn't logically possible to prove the nonexistence of anything, it is possible to show how unlikely it might be. The title of this, while illogical and inaccurate, is based on getting your attention by using an old religious concept called misrepresentation (lying). Lying is unethical, but if it works for them (religionists), it should work here. I apologize for lying, which is something religion refuses to do.

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It wasn't easy for me to face the reality that I'd been lied to

Sent in by Mary R

I was raised a Catholic, and later during my teen years converted to Christianity. After many years of being a devout Christian, I started to suspect that something was wrong with many of the teachings that Christian leaders had been teaching in their churches and Sunday schools for so many years. For the first time in my Christian life a feeling of mistrust and doubt arose within me when I started to question the virginal birth of Jesus or Jesus himself being God—to me, that formula didn't make sense anymore—after I learned that the concept of Gods impregnating humans to have physical sons is pure mythology. The belief in earth-born gods or "demi-gods" (called Sons of the Gods) and their coming into the world by human birth (gods impregnating humans) was prevalent among the heathen long prior to the era of Christianity.

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My Journey Through Christianity

Sent in by George R. Davis

On April 27, 1971, I skipped my last class of the day and followed an old railroad bed behind the school into town to the neighborhood pharmacy. After some surreptitious searching among potions and hot water bottles, I found the bottle of Sominex (“Take Sominex tonight and sleep, Safe and restful, sleep...sleep...sleep.”). I guiltily handed the clerk a crumpled five dollar bill, studiously avoiding her eyes, feeling like I was buying a Playboy magazine. At home later that afternoon I stuffed the bottle under my pillow, full well planning to swallow the entire contents that evening and end my miserable, despairing existence.

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Explaining the unexplainable

Sent in by Michael F

I myself am an ex-Christian of the pentecostal/evangelical type. I joined the church after I had an experience reading and understanding parts of the Bible. I felt as though God himself was speaking to me and giving me wisdom. Coming from a rather "spiritual" lifestyle, the scriptures appeared to have the real spiritual meat I was searching for.

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I have never been happier

Sent in by Kylee

I always believed in a God but basically I did my thing and he did his. Four years ago I had a very real 'divine' experience. There was simply no denying that God was calling me. This was the only way I could explain such spiritual and strange happenings that were taking place in my life. At first I approached it with an open mind and with a sincere desire to respond I followed what I believed to be God's direction for my life.

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Public Atheism: A Question of Image or Discrimination?

by J.C. Samuelson

I don't know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

- George Bush, August 27th, 1987

In a world in which faith and supernaturalism have always ruled, being an atheist (in the broadest possible sense and including naturalists of many stripes) has never been easy. Classically, the individual claiming that title (or one like it) risked alienating his/her entire social circle and, depending on prominence, society at large. In other words, choosing atheism seemed to be - and perhaps still is in some places - a choice to be alone.

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From the Internet Infidels:

On Sunday, July 1st, Internet Infidels released the first installment of a series of debates called The Great Debate: God or Blind Nature? Philosophers Debate the Evidence. It aims to bring together nine distinguished philosophers in a series of four debates, each with a different focus on evidence for and against naturalism and theism.

You can view the first installment, a series of exchanges between physicalist Andrew Melnyk and dualists Stuart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro on "Mind and Will," here: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/debates/great-debate.html

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Faith: is it red, white and blue?

Patriotism and religion each hold a prominent place in the American story. That’s as it should be. To wed the two, however, is a disservice to patriots and to the faithful. The Fourth of July is a time for Americans to honor our country and, for the many religious people among us, to honor God. But as the fireworks explode on Independence Day, let's resist an all-too-common tendency these days to drape the American flag around the Christian cross. Let's remember that religion is not patriotism, that patriotism is not religion — and that when we combine them both with a glorification of American military might, something has gone disturbingly askew.

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Is there free will in Christianity?

Posted by aspirin99

The other day, I was trying to recall what it was that started me down the path of free thinking (which ultimately resulted in my leaving Christianity). One thing that did it was my realization that hell could not be real. This video summarizes how I came to this conclusion. It compares the doctrines of free will and eternal punishment, and concludes that they cannot coexist.

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How to Make the "Neo-Atheist Cabal" Move On

Posted by Valerie Tarico

Can we find a way to move beyond tribalism and superstition in our quest for meaning? Can we build spiritual communities that are morally and intellectually accountable, rooted in what we know about ourselves and the world around us? Even moderate people of faith seem to defend their religious texts and traditions as packages. And interfaith work that seeks to transcend tribal boundaries says blythely that "it's all good." Nick, a commenter at Radio Open Source suggests a first step toward something truly different. It's definitely what I want!

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