Birthday outing...so to speak
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25-08-2015, 10:41 AM
RE: Birthday outing...so to speak
WOW, what a scorching letter TC. Now go take that flame thrower and use to light your birthday candles. Happy birthday.
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25-08-2015, 10:44 AM
RE: Birthday outing...so to speak
Outstanding reply!!!!
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25-08-2015, 10:50 AM
RE: Birthday outing...so to speak
(25-08-2015 09:08 AM)Tonechaser77 Wrote:  I recently found out that my mother outed me to the rest of her side of the family, which I am fairly close to even though we only see each other once a year.

How did I come to find this out? Well surprisingly I received a birthday card a few weeks ago from my aunt and uncle (mom's sister)....this is what it looked like:

[Image: AampB%20letter_zpskoiphn7l.jpg]

Well I was shocked. "Happy birthday but you're going to hell now ya dumb fuck...and worse yet ......eh we don't really care about you...as you can make your own decisions but your poor kids will rot in hell now too." -- yes, I realize this is kind of a straw man but maybe it really isn't.

Needless to say the more I read this card, the more pissed I got. It took me a few days to settle down and I ended up writing a 14 page response and sending it back to them. I'll save you all the trouble of reading the entire response but I will post an excerpt from it. It could get a LITTLE long... Dodgy


Quote:Dear Annette,

I would first like to thank you for the beautiful card and monetary gift. You always seem to exude kindness that is characteristic of your nature, otherwise it would not show. This is one among many honorable traits that has been embedded into the fabric or make-up of your personality; no doubt from years of learning from your parents and others around you.

With that said, I know I can approach the letter that you addressed to me in the card because it comes from a place of kindheartedness. Please know that I love you very much and try to keep that in mind as I press forward with a response. It is not my aim to attack you as a person but to identify some areas of concern with what you wrote.

Your note, although it came from a caring place, is deeply flawed. This is in part because you are assuming many things about me that you are in no place to assume, (I will address these issues in stride point-by-point) and also because many ideas that you asserted are not based on sound logical information. Despite my changing worldviews, which I had no intentions on modifying at the onset of my journey, I make it a point to not proselytize. However, in situations like this when I am approached (by you or others) I willingly make my case. What you do with the information is up to you. Most people continue to stick their head back in the sand because of several reasons:

1) It is much easier to just “believe” then it is to do the hard work to discover why one believes or even how persuasive the arguments really are.

2) As psychological studies have shown with what is called the “back-fire effect”, when people are presented with evidence that a position is unreasonable, they usually dig their heels in deeper, often “doubling down” and bolstering their preexisting views. This usually happens when a certain belief is upheld with much emotion. These studies go a long way to explain the state of rational discourse in our country right now.

There is no way I can summarize in one letter almost 2.5 years of intense study, biblical courses, theological studies, apologetics, countless books (including and most of all, the bible), hours of upon hours of podcasts, debates, prayer, reasoning, & hours of discussions with theologians, atheists, agnostics, believers and non-believers of many religions. By no means does this make me an expert but make no mistake I definitely have skin in the game; I would estimate a minimum of 4,000 hours of time. The study of epistemology is an extremely humbling journey. The more one learns, the less one knows. And as one of my favorite New Testament Professors, Dr. Martin, stated: my motto has become “de omnibus dubitandum” -- which means doubt everything, even everything I mention in this letter. This seems so contrary to what we have been indoctrinated with religious practices but doubt leads to questions which allows us to dig past the top layers of sediment to get as close to truth as possible. Absolute truth can probably never be attained but we can do our best to get there.

Okay, on to your note. You wrote:

“Kyle, since your birthday last year it seems that you have more wholeheartedly embraced an atheistic mindset.”

Let’s stop there. I ‘m not sure you even know the implication that you are making there. I certainly take issue with the word “whole-heartedly”. This adjective is defined as – done, acted, given with total sincerity or commitment. You do not have one iota of knowledge of the cognitive dissonance, turmoil, countless hours of prayerful direction that I have begged god for over the past 2.5 years of my life to help get me through this. To say that I have “whole-heartedly” given in to something exemplifies ignorance since you do not know my journey. If anything I have come to this place kicking and screaming. There’s no whole-heartedness about it. However, I cannot ignore the issues or chalk them up to “mystery” etc. A non-believer does not assert that there is no god. The burden of proof is not on me to prove there isn’t a god. The burden of proof for god’s existence is on the one making the claim. Agnostics / atheists simply reject the claim that there is enough evidence to prove a god exists. At any time if I had evidence that some god existed – we would first have to define WHICH god, as there have been thousands upon thousands since recorded history-- I would sincerely consider the evidence.

Let’s keep going:
“This is tragic. Not so much for you (an adult decision you are free to make” or your wife (she’ll love God and you through it) but for your two previous boys, Ashton and Evan”

I am going to call this statement on the carpet for what it is, a dehumanizing, reverse psychological, and passive- aggressive attempt to unsaddle my stance by back-handedly manipulating me through guilt using my children. This is nothing less than an abhorrent appeal to emotion attempting to manipulate an emotional response in place of a valid or compelling argument. It stems from a deep seeded problematic tactic that the church drills into us. Indoctrination – teaching someone to accept a set of beliefs without questioning them.

To you my decision is tragic…and I certainly understand why. Your implication is that my decision will send me to hell and even worse…that somehow the godless virus that has infected me will affect my kids, causing unbelief and essentially sending them to hell as well. Let me ask this:

-How much do you REALLY know about hell?

-How do you KNOW hell is real?

-Because a book says it is?

-Do you know why the people of the bible wrote about hell?

-Did you know that hell didn’t even exist as a concept until the New Testament? -- so the Jewish people that came before the NT that didn’t know about it or how to avoid ending up there…are still there right?

-Did you know the Jewish people (OT) had no concept of Hell, but merely a place called Sheol which was the equivalent to “the grave”? That’s it. From dust we are made to dust we return. That summed up their belief.

-Did you know that hell was developed from the Greek mythological concept of Hades which was prevalent in the pre-christian era?

-Did you know that Hell was further derived from the religion of Zoroastrianism and Babylon think tank that pervaded the culture of late Judaism because of the of the war and exile in 586 BCE? Since the Jewish captives consisted of educated and upper class people that lived in Babylon for 50 years absorbing their culture and picking up their influences, the pervasiveness of these ideas, based on their return to Israel, was easily assimilated into the Jewish framework of polytheistic to monotheistic ideology.

There was no concept of hell before this but yet afterwards we see confirmation of conflating ideas from certain biblical writers as they start to develop this theology among other concepts that I may get to later.
My point is this: Christians in general think they know their bible. They think they understand the teachings and concepts behind it but they know very little. Hell is concept stolen from mythology and conformed to Christianity. Some scholars have even posited that it was a tactic used to control the greater population in the first centuries. There is no evidence for hell. The biblical stories do not serve as evidence. They serve as stories and mythology, which is just what they are.

Now I’d to get back to your comment about my decision being TRAGIC. Is it really tragic? Or is it tragic that over 17,000 kids starve to death every single day? Think of the parents of these children. Think of the fact that most of these men and women believe in god and are praying for their children to be spared. And yet their prayers will not be answered. Any god who would allow children by the thousands to suffer and die this way and their parents to grieve this way, either can do nothing to help them, or simply doesn’t care to. And worse than that, many if not most, of these people (by your beliefs) will be going to hell because they are praying to the wrong god. Think about that…..let it sink in. Through no fault of their own they were born into the WRONG culture, where they received the WRONG theology and missed the revelation.

God by definition is all-powerful, all knowing and all good. If god is all-powerful then he could prevent the suffering that these children face as they stare death in the eyes. So, is god willing to prevent suffering / evil but not able? Then he is not all-powerful. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing?...Then why the suffering and evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god? Or could it be maybe…that this makes more sense that the best explanation is no god?

I know what you’re thinking….it’s the same thought I had for years….suffering exists because of man who sinned and that sin was inherited by the rest of us. Tell me this…Do you honestly believe you could look a child in the eye, dying from hunger, and tell them god allowed this suffering because someone they don’t even know sinned thousands of years ago? Do you honestly believe it is just to put the sin of that person upon the rest of the human race? This is the epitome of absurdity.

Next you wrote:
“They (Ashton and Evan) will be growing up and reaching manhood, experiencing a world full of the greatest economic, political and moral chaos pressing into the very being of their lives.

-Again, what pretenses are you basing this statement from?

-Where are you getting your information from?

-Are you getting it from the news which only shows us the worst of what is going on in the world, an easy target for our confirmation bias?

-Are you getting it from the bible (2 Timothy 3:1 and similar verses) which are apocalyptic ideas that stemmed from other religions and didn’t even have a foundation in christianity?

The truth is you have no basis of which to back that statement up. This is a slippery slope logical fallacy that pervades the minds of many Christians that have been indoctrinated to think that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. I would implore you to read the book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” by Steven Pinker. He outlines with vivid detail (statistics from crime etc) how we are living in the LEAST violent time of recorded history and how the moral arc of our world as a whole has evolved to the better, causing the greater of society to advance. We are more tolerant of each other. We are more peaceful. The most evolved societies have succeeded because they don’t succumb to the barbaric driven violence of our ancestors of biblical times. They have realized that to advance we must work together to help one another (the exact opposite of what is stated in the Tower of Babel story in Genesis). The places that are still stuck in the dark ages are those such as the Middle East who use fundamentalist religion to demoralize women and not give credence to others because of differing beliefs. Unfortunately we still see this in America as well with fundamentalist Christianity demoralizing women, minorities, homosexuals, just because “the bible says so.” Thankfully the majority of our society has evolved OUT of this barbaric way of thinking by abolishing these ideals even though the bible condones them!

You continue:
“…And they, along with our 14 grandchildren will need to know and be taught about the true, living, unquestionably SOVEREIGN GOD and faith in his son, Jesus to walk the journey with them”

I certainly understand this viewpoint. I held it for many years myself. I commend your desire to want your family to continue this tradition. But we need to take a closer look at what you are asserting though.

First, you are implying God is sovereign.
What you’ve done is present a statement that is a logical fallacy which is a flaw in reasoning. Logical fallacies are like tricks or illusions of thought and they’re often sneakily used by some or many times used unknowingly by others. I’m assuming that the latter is the case here. In this case you are assuming a god exists and that sovereignty is part of his nature.

I would first ask you: Define which god you are talking about. Is it Zeus? Horus? Attis? Adonis? El? Yahweh? Mithras? Perhaps Apsu, Tiamat, or Marduk?
I don’t want to assume, that’s why I ask the questions. They need to be asked. Too often we tend to spout off words that we have always heard without really knowing the weight of implication behind them.
-Next I would ask how do you know that the god you have defined exists?

-What evidence do you have for this god?

In my 2.5 years of study I have noticed a common thread of arguments that people use for the existence of god…all which can easily be refuted with a little bit of thinking…while I certainly won’t take the time to list all of them I’ll hit the top six or seven that I see.

I go on to list the common responses...

1.) The bible - with a god like that, who needs a devil?
2.) You just gotta have faith...
3.) Intelligent design...
4.) First cause...
5.) No god, no meaning....
6.) Personal experience...
7.) Pascal's Wager...

I ended with this....

Quote:Now you can do with this what you want…most likely you will walk away and do your best not to think of this again. That’s fine. People don’t like to be given evidence that their most sacred held beliefs are most likely based on mythology and falsified information. As I said in the very beginning I am not here to proselytize. It’s not my mission. However, I would like to challenge people to become better critical thinkers. If you examine all the evidence for yourself and decide you still want to believe, then that is wonderful. Many have done that. However, I will be honest in saying that it very much seems like those people started with their belief and then backed into it by making everything fit together. Those people insist on doing anything and everything they can to make sure the bible doesn’t fall off of the pedestal of inerrancy they have placed it on. I, for one, will not be one of those people.

Does it suck that my worldview has been turned upside down? Hell yes, it does. But I cannot deny that there is also a relief. There is no more condemnation of my life being worth nothing and needing a particular god to save me from every wrong / incorrect decision that I make. No longer do I live under the fear of questions like “will I make the rapture” or “am I doing enough to be right with god?”, or “oh crap, I commited a thought crime here and now I have sinned again and need forgiveness”.

No longer do I succumb to the battered wife syndrome of Christianity where one gets brutality beaten down on one hand with the disease of sin, guilt and fear of condemnation, only to be given the cure with the other hand. My life still has meaning. In fact, my life has more meaning now than ever because I assign meaning to it. It is not dependent on some abstract form of “meaning” that I am searching. I love more than I have before. I am happier than I have been before. I create joy for myself and other people. I “do” good not because of the morally depressed reasons of trying to escape hell but for goodness itself because I have a desire to minimize the suffering of others. In fact, I would argue that I am more passionate about the fair treatment of others than I ever was under the guise of Christianity. I still share many similarities with you and other believers, I still attend church for the tradition and community but I gladly do it without a belief in god. In essence, you are an atheist just like I am. You do not believe in Horus, Attis, Adonis, Mithras, Tiamut, Zeus, etc., and neither do I….. But I just take it one step further. I do not accept that there has to be another god to explain everything when it can all be explained naturally. And because of this, I believe in one less god than you do simply because there is no sufficient evidence to accept it. The belief in a god, any god, has the illusion of helping people. But it’s the equivalent to a child that can’t let go of a security blanket because she refuses to accept the reality around her. The blanket makes her feel safe, but in the same instance the blanket can be dangerous because it puts her in a state of a drug induced delusion. The opportunity cost of religion is astronomical. Don’t believe me? Check out Garth Zietsman’s article “The Price of Religion” - on just how much religion costs us. Time, money, conflict…could be put to much better use to further society and make our planet more habitable for the generations to come.

For what it’s worth, if you got this far thank you so much for reading, I would strongly encourage you to re-read this over and over. Search out information for yourself. Allow yourself to question.

You may treat me differently now. Many people do. However, I will never treat you differently. I will treat everyone with the same respect and love that I always have, regardless of belief, for that is the true form of love.

All the best,
Kyle

And now the waiting begins.... Big Grin Tongue Cool

You owned them, man





Although I would have settled by just emailing them this



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25-08-2015, 10:51 AM
RE: Birthday outing...so to speak
Excellent letter and very well-articulated in your lack of belief and all the hard work you put into walking this path. If she can't at least respect your journey and your conviction I feel sorry for her.
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25-08-2015, 10:52 AM
RE: Birthday outing...so to speak
I'm sorry you're having to deal with this. I would have major words with my mother for sharing something private so widely.

I hope that over time, your family stops confronting you and attempting to change your mind.
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25-08-2015, 10:56 AM
RE: Birthday outing...so to speak
(25-08-2015 10:50 AM)ELK12695 Wrote:  Although I would have settled by just emailing them this



This cracked me up....all this talk of killing today. I told Jennybee that to solve her rattle snake problem she needed to call some of the christian snake handlers out to her house...she said that she would end up with a dead chrisitan and an uncaptured snake....but then again, maybe that was my point? TongueRolleyes

**Crickets** -- God
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25-08-2015, 11:03 AM
RE: Birthday outing...so to speak
(25-08-2015 10:56 AM)Tonechaser77 Wrote:  
(25-08-2015 10:50 AM)ELK12695 Wrote:  Although I would have settled by just emailing them this



This cracked me up....all this talk of killing today. I told Jennybee that to solve her rattle snake problem she needed to call some of the christian snake handlers out to her house...she said that she would end up with a dead chrisitan and an uncaptured snake....but then again, maybe that was my point? TongueRolleyes

You could always ask Joe Pesci to go deal with your relatives...



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25-08-2015, 11:08 AM
RE: Birthday outing...so to speak
Quote:Dear Annette,

I would first like to thank you for the beautiful card and monetary gift.

Well, as long as they keep sending money...



Seriously, a phenomenal response, to be honest at first I thought it was a bit too long to read, but I just kept going and it was worth it.
I am sorry that you have to go trough this.

. . . ................................ ......................................... . [Image: 2dsmnow.gif] Eat at Joe's
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25-08-2015, 11:10 AM
RE: Birthday outing...so to speak
Soooooo much more dignified than my general choice of response ("Stuff it!"). I admire your literary prowess and your self-control.

Thumbsup

We have enough youth. How about looking for the Fountain of Smart?
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25-08-2015, 11:31 AM
RE: Birthday outing...so to speak
I would actually like to read the whole thing. That was brilliant. She should be honored that you care enough to go to so much trouble.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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