Article About An Ex-Atheist
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04-04-2013, 05:34 PM
Article About An Ex-Atheist
Article below someone e-mailed me today. Strange that someone who claims to be a skeptic would adopt faith.


http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013...=off#bmb=1

don't know when I first became a skeptic. It must have been around age 4, when my mother found me arguing with another child at a birthday party: "But how do you know what the Bible says is true?" By age 11, my atheism was so widely known in my middle school that a Christian boy threatened to come to my house and "shoot all the atheists." My Christian friends in high school avoided talking to me about religion because they anticipated that I would tear down their poorly constructed arguments. And I did.

As I set off in 2008 to begin my freshman year studying government at Harvard (whose motto is Veritas, "Truth"), I could never have expected the change that awaited me.

It was a brisk November when I met John Joseph Porter. Our conversations initially revolved around conservative politics, but soon gravitated toward religion. He wrote an essay for the Ichthus, Harvard's Christian journal, defending God's existence. I critiqued it. On campus, we'd argue into the wee hours; when apart, we'd take our arguments to e-mail. Never before had I met a Christian who could respond to my most basic philosophical questions: How does one understand the Bible's contradictions? Could an omnipotent God make a stone he could not lift? What about the Euthyphro dilemma: Is something good because God declared it so, or does God merely identify the good? To someone like me, with no Christian background, resorting to an answer like "It takes faith" could only be intellectual cowardice. Joseph didn't do that.

The Cross no longer seemed a grotesque symbol of divine sadism, but a remarkable act of love. Christianity began to look less strangely mythical and more cosmically beautiful.
And he did something else: He prodded me on how inconsistent I was as an atheist who nonetheless believed in right and wrong as objective, universal categories. Defenseless, I decided to take a seminar on meta-ethics. After all, atheists had been developing ethical systems for 200-some years. In what I now see as providential, my atheist professor assigned a paper by C. S. Lewis that resolved the Euthyphro dilemma, declaring, "God is not merely good, but goodness; goodness is not merely divine, but God."

Joseph also pushed me on the origins of the universe. I had always believed in the Big Bang. But I was blissfully unaware that the man who first proposed it, Georges Lemaître, was a Catholic priest. And I'd happily ignored the rabbit trail of a problem of what caused the Big Bang, and what caused that cause, and so on.

By Valentine's Day, I began to believe in God. There was no intellectual shame in being a deist, after all, as I joined the respectable ranks of Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers.

I wouldn't stay a deist for long. A Catholic friend gave me J. Budziszewski's book Ask Me Anything, which included the Christian teaching that "love is a commitment of the will to the true good of the other person." This theme—of love as sacrifice for true good—struck me. The Cross no longer seemed a grotesque symbol of divine sadism, but a remarkable act of love. And Christianity began to look less strangely mythical and more cosmically beautiful.

At the same time, I had begun to read through the Bible and was confronted by my sin. I was painfully arrogant and prone to fits of rage. I was unforgiving and unwaveringly selfish. I passed sexual boundaries that I'd promised I wouldn't. The fact that I had failed to adhere to my own ethical standards filled me with deep regret. Yet I could do nothing to right these wrongs. The Cross no longer looked merely like a symbol of love, but like the answer to an incurable need. When I read the Crucifixion scene in the Book of John for the first time, I wept.

No Walk in the Park

But beauty and need do not make something true. I longed for the Bible to be true, but the intellectual evidence was still insufficient.

So I plunged headlong into apologetics, devouring debates and books from many perspectives. I read the Qur'an and Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion. I went through The Skeptic's Annotated Bible and looked up Christian rebuttals to apparent contradictions. But nothing compared to the rich tradition of Christian intellect. I'd argued with my peers, but I'd never investigated the works of the masters: Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, Pascal, and Lewis. When I finally did, the only reasonable course of action was to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But my head and my heart suddenly switched places. Though I began to know the evidence for the Scriptures, my head full of answers, I began to feel distant from the story that had brought me to tears a month prior. When reading through the Passion narrative on retreat on Cape Cod in the spring, I remained utterly unmoved. I went out to pray.

I walked to a pond surrounded by trees and began praying by the water's edge. I felt disconnected from God, from the friends I'd begun to hold dear, from my body itself. I begged God to make it all click, as a test for me to know that he was there. After an hour with no progress, I started to walk.

Following the pond to a stream, I began climbing through the surrounding thicket to see if I could reach the ocean a little ways down. I kept pausing, thinking, Do I want to go back? I left all my stuff behind. But each time, I renewed my steps, believing that I couldn't quit until I'd made it to the end. I wouldn't forgive myself if I just gave up and went back to where I'd started. I had some sense of direction of where I needed to go, but I didn't know how to get there.

I climbed over branches and under bushes, sometimes going in the opposite direction for a while when the bramble grew too thick. I treaded lightly through marshes only to have the mud swallow my leg up to the knee. After pulling myself out, I started walking through the stream, since I figured I couldn't get any dirtier, and the ground seemed to be most trustworthy along the middle of the river where the water had worn the path. So I followed it until the last light of day was waning.

I quickly realized that my journey through the briar patch was an apt metaphor. I'm trying to get somewhere, but I'm not sure how to get there. There's no clear path, so I must proceed by trusting my instincts. I might even go off in the opposite direction for a little while. In the end, I may arrive right back where I started. But that's okay too, because I'll get there with a clearer head and everything will be waiting for me when I'm done. It won't be easy. Sometimes I'll get mired in the mud, or caught up in thorns. But I'll make it through, though not without a few cuts.

If I wanted to continue forward in this investigation, I couldn't let it be just an intellectual journey. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32). I could know the truth only if I pursued obedience first.

I'd been waiting for my head and my heart to be in agreement. By the end of the church retreat, they weren't completely in sync. Many days they still aren't. But I realized that the unity could come later. If my heart had agreed at one point, and my head agreed now, then my heart would follow. I couldn't let a malfunctioning heart delay the logical course of action, the obedience required by true faith.

I committed my life to Christ by being baptized on Easter Sunday, 2009.

This walk has proved to be quite a journey. I've struggled with depression. I would yell, scream, cry at this God whom I had begun to love but didn't always like. But never once did I have to sacrifice my intellect for my faith, and he blessed me most keenly through my doubt. God revealed himself through Scripture, prayer, friendships, and the Christian tradition whenever I pursued him faithfully. I cannot say for certain where the journey ends, but I have committed to follow the way of Christ wherever it may lead. When confronted with the overwhelming body of evidence I encountered, when facing down the living God, it was the only rational course of action.

I came to Harvard seeking Veritas. Instead, he found me.
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04-04-2013, 05:43 PM (This post was last modified: 05-04-2013 11:35 AM by Atothetheist.)
RE: Article About An Ex-Atheist
Ha! I noticed that her atheism began way early. Earlier than it should, not that there is a set time period. If she really approached this like I would have, she should have fact checked, double fact check, and then looked at the counter-rebuttals from the atheistic side (we have them for almost ALL of the so called Masters she listed.)

I ain't concerned with people re-converting, what I am concerned with is the evidence that is pertinent. Christianity has failed to supply me with evidence. All they give us out-dated, long refuted, ignorance filled, condescending drivel that I have long ceased being impressed with.

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04-04-2013, 05:45 PM (This post was last modified: 04-04-2013 05:49 PM by Momsurroundedbyboys.)
RE: Article About An Ex-Atheist
Toward the end..it seems the writer believes the old Pascal's wager -- it's just safer to believe.

Or they are just full of shit and writing for their own audience who believes self righteously everyone thinks as they do...and if us poor downtrodden atheists would just "open our hearts" and wallets...god too would reveal (expose) himself.


Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines. Breathe; Pink Floyd

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04-04-2013, 05:46 PM (This post was last modified: 04-04-2013 05:55 PM by Tartarus Sauce.)
RE: Article About An Ex-Atheist
Even relatively healthy immune systems are compromised from time to time. And quite frankly, it seems like they held some philosophical positions that they hadn't really thought out at all. The arguments that swooned him in were pathetic, he/she might be retroactively changing some aspects of his/her life to fit what they and the intended audience for the message want to hear. A whole host of reasons could have lead to their "re-conversion," but quite frankly, I don't really give a shit, because an efficient skeptic wouldn't be taken in by such arguments (assuming they weren't under some other emotional duress).

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04-04-2013, 05:50 PM
RE: Article About An Ex-Atheist
(04-04-2013 05:34 PM)onedream Wrote:  If I wanted to continue forward in this investigation, I couldn't let it be just an intellectual journey. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32). I could know the truth only if I pursued obedience first.

But, unfortunately, you are not ἐκ ἀνώ but ἐκ κατώ and thus, according to Jn, doomed.

Yours has been a journey of privileged. With privilege you could delude yourself without risk of consequences others suffer when they live in such. Not all enjoy such privilege.

Indeed, some children and adolescents develop a rather nasty tumor of the brain stem, particularly the metencephalon, or pons. It is infiltrative and not amenable to surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. The latter two therapies merely prolong the ultimate decline.

[Image: 1-s2.0-S1470204506706155-gr2.jpg]

The decline? As with real estate, the watchword for the central nervous system is "location!" The tumor destroys the descending voluntary pathways and centers for the cranial nerves which enervate facial musculature whilst preserving the sensory pathways. The child progressively losses control of her body up to her eye muscles which allows some rudimentary communication. Since the trigger for consciousness is located in the more rostral ventral midbrain or mesencephalon, she remains conscious throughout the months of decline. During this deterioration, she retains sensation and consciousness. She feels every ulcer, every pain; she remains completely aware of her condition and decline.

Eventually, on a tracheostomy, she will succumb usually to an infection.

This is not only a real case, it is all too frequent.

In fact, here is a quote given to me from a parent left on a webpage in which the parent describes the condition:

Quote:"Today, thanks to God's mercy he still with us. He can no longer walk on his own, the weakness on the left side of his body has increased, his speech is slurred and I am watching how the spark of life is slowly but surely dimming. His little body, swollen by the steroids, is slowly giving way to an end. I do not have an idea of how much time I will have with him."

I am not sure “mercy” is a word that applies.

This is a case of Unjustified Suffering unless you or anyone else can find some manner in which to justify it. Notice that I do not attack the death--people die. Perhaps she was destined to be the next Celine Dion. . . . It is the extent and severity of the suffering that renders it Unjustified Suffering. What did the child do to deserve it? Consider then why Josef Mengele passed easily from a stroke while swimming. Why did he apparently deserve a far easier passage?

Perhaps imagine a Heaven and a Hell--dream up a reward and punishment that will somehow magically balance the books, so to write? The problem remains the extent and severity of the suffering. If die she must, far quicker and less-severe methods do end a tyke's existence. Forced listening of country-western music, for example. Children do, unfortunately, ask what the did wrong to be punished by such a condition. What "reward" balances it? Is it greater than that obtained by children who die of leukemia, car accidents, and falling masonry? Why? Furthermore, that one imagines a Mengele horribly tortured throughout eternity--something involving fish hooks and Patsy Cline--does not justify the extensive and severe suffering of the child. Finally, if some grand argumentum ad ignorantiam of a "reward" exists, why do not the children who die of the less-horrible leukemia and steam rollers deserve it?

Since No Alleviation of her Unjustified Suffering occurred, we are left with Five Possible Choices [All Rights Reserved.--Ed.] regarding deities:

1. No Deity Exists
2. A Deity Exists and He is Evil
3. A Deity Exists and He is Incompetent
4. A Deity Exists and He is Irrelevant
5. A Deity Exists and He is Some Combination of 2-4

all are, of course, free to choose from any one of the Five.

--J.D.

Those who administer and moderate in order to exercise personal agenda merely feed into the negative stereotype of Atheism
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04-04-2013, 05:53 PM
RE: Article About An Ex-Atheist
(04-04-2013 05:46 PM)Tartarus Sauce Wrote:  Even relatively healthy immune systems are compromised from time to time.

A young kid away from home for the first time meets a charismatic person who then goes on to completly change their worldview to better match their new mentor. Thats all I got from this. If his new friend had been a communist he would be espousing the ideas of Marx. Or Mom is right and this is just BS to tell his people how "We're right and everyone else is just deluded"

(31-07-2014 04:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  America is full of guns, but they're useless, because nobody has the courage to shoot an IRS agent in self-defense
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04-04-2013, 05:54 PM
RE: Article About An Ex-Atheist
(04-04-2013 05:50 PM)Doctor X Wrote:  
(04-04-2013 05:34 PM)onedream Wrote:  If I wanted to continue forward in this investigation, I couldn't let it be just an intellectual journey. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32). I could know the truth only if I pursued obedience first.

But, unfortunately, you are not ἐκ ἀνώ but ἐκ κατώ and thus, according to Jn, doomed.

Yours has been a journey of privileged. With privilege you could delude yourself without risk of consequences others suffer when they live in such. Not all enjoy such privilege.

Indeed, some children and adolescents develop a rather nasty tumor of the brain stem, particularly the metencephalon, or pons. It is infiltrative and not amenable to surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. The latter two therapies merely prolong the ultimate decline.

[Image: 1-s2.0-S1470204506706155-gr2.jpg]

The decline? As with real estate, the watchword for the central nervous system is "location!" The tumor destroys the descending voluntary pathways and centers for the cranial nerves which enervate facial musculature whilst preserving the sensory pathways. The child progressively losses control of her body up to her eye muscles which allows some rudimentary communication. Since the trigger for consciousness is located in the more rostral ventral midbrain or mesencephalon, she remains conscious throughout the months of decline. During this deterioration, she retains sensation and consciousness. She feels every ulcer, every pain; she remains completely aware of her condition and decline.

Eventually, on a tracheostomy, she will succumb usually to an infection.

This is not only a real case, it is all too frequent.

In fact, here is a quote given to me from a parent left on a webpage in which the parent describes the condition:

Quote:"Today, thanks to God's mercy he still with us. He can no longer walk on his own, the weakness on the left side of his body has increased, his speech is slurred and I am watching how the spark of life is slowly but surely dimming. His little body, swollen by the steroids, is slowly giving way to an end. I do not have an idea of how much time I will have with him."

I am not sure “mercy” is a word that applies.

This is a case of Unjustified Suffering unless you or anyone else can find some manner in which to justify it. Notice that I do not attack the death--people die. Perhaps she was destined to be the next Celine Dion. . . . It is the extent and severity of the suffering that renders it Unjustified Suffering. What did the child do to deserve it? Consider then why Josef Mengele passed easily from a stroke while swimming. Why did he apparently deserve a far easier passage?

Perhaps imagine a Heaven and a Hell--dream up a reward and punishment that will somehow magically balance the books, so to write? The problem remains the extent and severity of the suffering. If die she must, far quicker and less-severe methods do end a tyke's existence. Forced listening of country-western music, for example. Children do, unfortunately, ask what the did wrong to be punished by such a condition. What "reward" balances it? Is it greater than that obtained by children who die of leukemia, car accidents, and falling masonry? Why? Furthermore, that one imagines a Mengele horribly tortured throughout eternity--something involving fish hooks and Patsy Cline--does not justify the extensive and severe suffering of the child. Finally, if some grand argumentum ad ignorantiam of a "reward" exists, why do not the children who die of the less-horrible leukemia and steam rollers deserve it?

Since No Alleviation of her Unjustified Suffering occurred, we are left with Five Possible Choices [All Rights Reserved.--Ed.] regarding deities:

1. No Deity Exists
2. A Deity Exists and He is Evil
3. A Deity Exists and He is Incompetent
4. A Deity Exists and He is Irrelevant
5. A Deity Exists and He is Some Combination of 2-4

all are, of course, free to choose from any one of the Five.

--J.D.[/font][/size]


You have posted this enough times. No more.
I will consider it spam and will delete it.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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04-04-2013, 05:57 PM
RE: Article About An Ex-Atheist
(04-04-2013 05:53 PM)Revenant77x Wrote:  
(04-04-2013 05:46 PM)Tartarus Sauce Wrote:  Even relatively healthy immune systems are compromised from time to time.

A young kid away from home for the first time meets a charismatic person who then goes on to completly change their worldview to better match their new mentor. Thats all I got from this. If his new friend had been a communist he would be espousing the ideas of Marx. Or Mom is right and this is just BS to tell his people how "We're right and everyone else is just deluded"

That too. As I said, a whole bunch of perspectives could be taken from the anecdote, but the one that isn't jumping out at me is PRAISE JEEBUS THY SAVIOR.

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04-04-2013, 06:02 PM
RE: Article About An Ex-Atheist
She was missing something anyway. Any compassionate, reasoned woo-peddler would have got to her.

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04-04-2013, 06:06 PM
RE: Article About An Ex-Atheist
I don't like coming across as condescending when someone takes the time to make a post this long, and articulate, (and if I offend, believe it or not, I apologize) but I still believe that all the positive sensations you've encountered, from feeling the concept of love to experiencing the act of laughter, from feeling the concept of inner peace to experiencing the physical release of tension (like when you shed your fears), were ALL inside you to begin with!! Whether a person completes you, a place frees you, a thing sustains you, or a combination of all 3 gets wrapped up in a conceptualized name for what defines you, recognize that all of them are just tools with which you used to enlighten yourself. If you wish to label the universe as "god" and use that label to encompass all the wonderful things in the world, fine. But the christian god, santa, the boogey man, zues, the kraken, shiva, odin, and the tooth fairy will not ever be more than fictional characters to me, or the psychologically unhealthy manifestation of a need for an imaginary friend in others!
But I still luv ya Smile

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