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19-02-2012, 06:37 AM
Hi all!
I was going to lurk for a while, but I just can't keep my trap shut. So I'm introducing myself. Smile

I'm here because over the past few months I've become a Thinking Atheist addict. I come from an evangelical (I guess some might say fundamentalist) background and upbringing and have been recovering for the past two or three years. Before I found the vast atheist community on YouTube, discovered Seth's videos via related links from Thunderf00t (I think) and listened to every single podcast he ever did, I thought my situation was isolated and, well, unique. I was wrong. I'd tell the story of my journey here if I hadn't already heard it several times over from others on the podcasts. Suffice it to say I felt tremendous sympathy for Seth's situation, though I am thankful I suffered it for a shorter time than he did.

The funny thing about the podcast is it's the first one I ever really listened to religiously (hah!). Again, not unique--one of the callers this week said the same thing. But what strikes me, having stopped going to church not so long ago, is how much more excited I am for his podcasts than I ever was for my pastor's sermons. In a twisted way, this place has replaced church in my life. (Plus, I gave a donation, which is pretty much like church offering only probably put to better use.) Which gets me back to the point of why I'm here--you all are like my new church friends!

--

Okay, to try to make you like me I am going to tell (what I hope is) an interesting story. This happened a few months ago. It's turned out quite long, so I provided a reddit-y TL;DR at the bottom.

A coworker of mine (who happens to be christian) got a Facebook group together to take social dance lessons downtown, and since I like dancing and had a groupon I decided to join up. Our little group ended up being me, him, and a his church friend from the local mini-megachurch. (I don't think it numbers in the tens of thousands like Saddleback or something, but it is really popular with young adult christians around here.) After the lesson, we all decided to head down and get ice cream around the corner. A guy we didn't know, one of the other people from the lesson, managed to awkwardly attach himself to our group and followed with us, exploiting our begrudging friendliness.

As you may know--and if you don't, you can trust me because I do--evangelical mini-megachurch folks tend to be unabashed about bringing up their churchgoing habits in public in order to prove to themselves and their friends that they are not "ashamed of the gospel." So naturally when our awkward attachment (whose name, I think, was Steve) asked how we all knew each other, my coworker said he and his friend went to church together. This piqued Steve's interest and so he asked what kind of church. They said Christian, of course, to which Steve replied "Oh, I believe in the Bible, too." You former church-goers know that this raises red flags immediately. For god's sake, even MORMONS, even CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS say that.

Now here's where the story gets weird. As my coworker starts asking about Steve's beliefs, it becomes clear that they are not, shall we say, mainstream. Steve has seen some....things. (He said that explicitly, actually. "I have seen things.") One of the first things he mentions having seen is an *invisible spaceship*. How one sees an invisible spaceship is beyond me. As Steve talks, we also find out that he believes that the Bible is the inspired word of...aliens...and that he, their mortal conduit for spreading the alien gospel, believes that the government is on a mission to silence him. My position on this is quite simple: he's a loony. But to avoid bringing up my own new-found disbelief, I decide to let it play out.

Take a step back and try to appreciate the dilemma my christian friends faced when presented with someone who is quite clearly a whackjob. They cannot outright dismiss what he says--he has himself SEEN the invisible spaceships and heard the alien voices, and he believes that the truth of his words is evidenced by the text of the holy Book. Rationally, to dismiss his beliefs outright, they would also have to outright dismiss the claims of miraculous healing about which their church leaders have told them--the ones for which those leaders were physically present, during which they saw a dead person come back to life, proving the efficacy of faith and scripture; they would have to dismiss their fellow Christians who have heard the voice of the holy spirit and seen the face of Jesus. For the very first time I got to be an abstracted, external observer of the strange phenomenon that occurs when two belief systems based on the same holy text collide. Neither side challenges the authority of the text, shaky logical ground though it may be. Instead, they retreat into details.

Out came the apologetics. They started bringing up specific Bible passages. The pocket Bibles were unpocketed. Steve, it turns out, knew quite a few things by heart, himself. He was a well-prepared crazy person. For another half an hour they talked and delved into the scriptures trying as hard as they could to explain to Steve why, in the context of the Bible, he was a nutter. Or at least *wrong*. All the while I thought to myself, what I am seeing here is a man who may very well be schizophrenic. He's exhibiting paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations. He probably could use some competent psychiatric care. But, absurdly, we are trying to counter these delusions by putting them in the context of scripture, rather than attacking them on their factual basis. (YOU SEE INVISIBLE SPACESHIPS??) Eventually, we all got tired of talking and got up to go.

Discussing the encounter with my coworker and his friend after, I think they understood that Steve was crazy, but they couldn't bring themselves to say so. Maybe it's just because they are nice and they try to be "open-minded" (as if). If you ask me, though, it's because if they recognized Steve's crazy, not as a legitimate religious belief, but for the raving it is, they would have to step back and seriously consider their own religious positions. It is an interesting double standard Christians have. I became acutely aware of it inside my own mind those few years ago when I finally came to my senses. If other people believe things but have no concrete proof whatsoever, then they are deluded. But if Christians believe things based solely on the authority of the Bible and the interpretation of the Church, they are strong, courageous, and faithful. This incident brought that right back to the front of my mind. It reminded me how dangerous--or at least how ludicrous--that double standard is. It is why we all ought to make a serious effort to think for ourselves. And should we discover that we do not actually believe what we say we do, we ought to stop, go back, and try to be honest with ourselves and each other.


TL;DR: I got to watch my christian friends "debate" a raelian (crazy person), who believes aliens wrote the bible, on the merits of apologetic argument. Since their own beliefs hold just about as much water as his, they had to try and carefully frame the debate around scripture and in a way that their own beliefs could still be valid but his could be invalidated. They did not out-argue the crazy person. I was amused, but I was reminded of an important lesson.


So anyway, hi everyone!
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[+] 1 user Likes rook2004's post
19-02-2012, 06:43 AM
RE: Hi all!
Hi and welcome to TTA
Have an insightful stay

Observer

Agnostic atheist
Secular humanist
Emotional rationalist
Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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19-02-2012, 07:23 AM
RE: Hi all!
(19-02-2012 06:43 AM)Observer Wrote:  Hi and welcome to TTA
Have an insightful stay

Welcome to
TTA
Have an insight, fool
Stay




Sorry I've been waiting to nail Observer with that for a while Tongue

Really interesting post, Rook2004 Smile Lots of us are interested in the tricks our minds can play and the rules of thumb we develop to understand the world.
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19-02-2012, 07:31 AM (This post was last modified: 19-02-2012 07:32 AM by rook2004.)
RE: Hi all!
(19-02-2012 07:23 AM)morondog Wrote:  Really interesting post, Rook2004 Smile Lots of us are interested in the tricks our minds can play and the rules of thumb we develop to understand the world.

Then I count myself among you. Smile

I'm restraining myself from getting into it here because a) it's probably being gotten into somewhere else I haven't explored yet, and b) it's 5:30am where I live so productive thought is bzzzzzzzzzzzp. Basically, I have experienced that weird mental rubber band snap of realization, "all the things I am trying to make myself think are bullshit."
(19-02-2012 07:23 AM)morondog Wrote:  
(19-02-2012 06:43 AM)Observer Wrote:  Hi and welcome to TTA
Have an insightful stay

Welcome to
TTA
Have an insight, fool
Stay

Also your poem made me smile. Smile
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19-02-2012, 07:44 AM
RE: Hi all!
I liked your tale.
How did you stop from pissing yourself?
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19-02-2012, 08:09 AM
RE: Hi all!
(19-02-2012 07:44 AM)DLJ Wrote:  I liked your tale.
How did you stop from pissing yourself?

Shock. I had just never seen the juxtaposition of a christian whom I considered sane and normal with a crazy person who believed in invisible alien government coverups. Experiencing it in the flesh was surreal, and realizing that the strength of their positions was roughly matched was....elucidating.
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19-02-2012, 10:09 AM
RE: Hi all!
Sup Rook? Glad you made your way here. I've been in many an awkward discussion, all the while thinking myself very sane for talking to The Voice in my head while accusing the Steve's of the world for being bat-shit crazy. Eventually, like many of us, you'll get the Evangelical stink washed off ya. But then there's morondog's stench you'll have to watch out for. Big Grin

It was just a fucking apple man, we're sorry okay? Please stop the madness Laugh out load
~Izel
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19-02-2012, 10:13 AM
RE: Hi all!
Welcome to here!

I`ve often wondered (being obsesses with sanity as I am) how the religious can scoff at other religions and call them crazy. Glad to see I'm not alone.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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19-02-2012, 10:14 AM
RE: Hi all!
(19-02-2012 10:13 AM)lucradis Wrote:  Welcome to here!

I`ve often wondered (being obsesses with sanity as I am) how the religious can scoff at other religions and call them crazy. Glad to see I'm not alone.

If you were alone, would that mean you were crazy in your thinking?

It was just a fucking apple man, we're sorry okay? Please stop the madness Laugh out load
~Izel
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19-02-2012, 10:20 AM
RE: Hi all!
Dude I believe we're all crazy remember.
Evolution made us so. The fucker.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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