Need some support in my deconversion process. (Long post.)
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15-08-2017, 04:41 PM
RE: Need some support in my deconversion process. (Long post.)
(15-08-2017 12:46 PM)Anonymous Skeptic Wrote:  
(15-08-2017 12:18 PM)jennybee Wrote:  The whole devil hell fear might linger for a bit. It did for me, but slowly, the more you educate yourself, the more you acclimate your mind to the absurdity of everything, the more it starts to see the ridiculousness of the beliefs--and then you can let it all go. It took me about three years to finally fully lose that hell fear and I did it by educating myself as much as I could on the history of the Bible.

Good to hear you're finally free from the fear of hell. Right now I don't see how that could ever happen to me but I hope it will anyway. At this point I don't know if I'm a Christian with major doubts or if I'm an agnostic atheist who's "just" terrified of hell.

(15-08-2017 12:29 PM)Brian37 Wrote:  Your "sadness" is really coming from an indoctrination, that and the fear of not having your former support. The good thing is that you can still have joy in life. I am not saying you won't have anymore down parts in the future, just that you don't have to worry about a fictional hell for someone to threaten you with.

You can still find happiness. Many of us where where you were at. But believe us, after time and after talking to us for a while that sadness and fear should go away.

I don't doubt that I can still have joy in life. About a year ago when I really started to have major doubts, life lost all its meaning and I got really depressed (it was one of the things that sent me into my latest episode of severe depression). I didn't know how to deal with that until a couple of months ago when I read/heard someone say: "there might not be a meaning to life, but that doesn't mean you can't have meaning in life." That changed everything for me. I realised that I can create my own meaning and, honestly, ever since I started to really doubt God's existence, I've felt more free than I did before. It's like life becomes infinitely more precious and valuable when you realise that this is the only life you'll probably ever get and that this brief period of consciousness is all you get. That makes me want to really do my best to be a good person and help make this world a better place for future generations. That didn't feel as important when this life was just a pit stop on the way to heaven.

You'll free yourself of this fear. It just takes time and patience and allowing yourself the ability to question and continuing to educate yourself. I never thought I'd be free of it either because it was so ingrained at an early age and I was scared shitless of pissing off God. But that fear and the irrational thoughts go away over time, you've just got to flush out all of that toxic brainwashed crap. Because that's what it is--brainwashing.

Have you read The Skeptic's Annotated Bible? Have you read the entire Bible? There is a reason people who actually read the thing in its entirety say that it helped to cure them of Christianity. If you haven't read it--here's a few gems: A talking donkey, zombie saints getting out of their graves and marching around the city, Noah's worldwide flood (of which there is zero geological evidence for), a body-less hand which was writing on a wall, a person being turned into salt, and a winged human flying around with a hot coal. And that's just the tip of the Hobo iceberg. I'm sure you've also heard the story of Adam and Eve--made of dirt and rib (which goes against every scientific understanding of the emergence of humans).

Additionally, even God's own prophets were Hobo Apparently, God asked Isaiah to walk around the city naked for three years to illustrate the terrible troubles He would unleash on Egypt and Ethiopia. Reallllllly? Hobo

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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17-08-2017, 10:52 AM
RE: Need some support in my deconversion process. (Long post.)
(15-08-2017 02:01 PM)Anonymous Skeptic Wrote:  Sometimes I worry that maybe something bad will happen to my family members if I don't pray and that it'll be my fault. Irrational, I know, but do you know what I mean? Is that something you used to experience?

Yep, totally! It was particularly bad before long car trips. The thought process was something along the lines of "Odds are I won't be in a bad car wreck, but if I am, and I didn't pray ahead of time, then maybe it was because I didn't say my trip prayers before I started."

And it's not a conscious thing that I set out to do, really. It's more like an urge, or a craving. It's not so much a prayer as a prayer feeling. I've come to understand it more as a habit more than anything. I've gone on many, many long car trips since I've de-converted, and I haven't been in a single car accident. But it takes some time to shake it, and break the habit.
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17-08-2017, 01:39 PM
RE: Need some support in my deconversion process. (Long post.)
That was not a long post Wink Also welcome to TTA.

Now about being hesitant to call yourself an atheist:
Do you believe that there is a god?
If yes > Theist
If no > Atheist
That's really all there is to that one.

Now your questions:

(15-08-2017 10:01 AM)Anonymous Skeptic Wrote:  1. Because I tend to favour books (etc.) by atheists, I'm starting to worry a bit that maybe I've already made up my mind and that I'm somehow falling victim to confirmation bias. I don't know if that makes sense. Guess I'm wondering how to know if I'm favouring books (etc.) by atheists because I've already made up my mind that Christianity is probably man-made or if I'm favouring books by atheists because I, for some reason, want Christianity to be man-made and I'm now just looking for information to support that. Do you know what I mean? I'm aware I'm probably overthinking this but overthinking things is kind of what I do.
People have different reasons why they obsess over some specific material at times.
So you with books written by atheists doesn't mean you made up your mind or anything like that.
All it means at the moment is that you have a vast interest in this topic. Well go ahead and read. Reading is good for you. It is education. And you are even seeking education by yourself which is even better.
Now if, down the road, in a year or two, you feel like you are done reading about atheism and you return to your religion, more power to you. Fair enough, right? What I see from your post is simply that you are questioning your faith. You have been raised with indoctrination. There is probably not much christian reading material that would say anything you haven't heard yet. But as you are questioning your faith, you are reaching out into things that you haven't learned a lot about (other than atheists are of the devil). So why not obsess about it for a while.
I would like to recommend to you The Atheist Experience. That's a call in show based in Austin Texas. They are live once a week but you can find pretty much all their shows on youtube. You will hear people from all walks of faith call in and talk about their faith. You will hear their reasons for believing in different things about their religions. And you will hear what the show hosts have to say. The show hosts are rotating so it is not always the same person. You will hear many different opinions and explanations. Maybe it will help you make up your mind too.

(15-08-2017 10:01 AM)Anonymous Skeptic Wrote:  2. I think the sadness I feel when I think about God is difficult to handle. Like I mentioned earlier, it's like I'm grieving. I look back on my years as a devout Christian and feel nostalgic and sad, which triggers thoughts like "see, you miss Christianity and the comfort you felt back then. This might be God trying to get you to come back to him." Sometimes I really feel like maybe there is such a thing as a "God-shaped vacuum" inside of me and it's difficult to get away from thoughts like that. How do I deal with it? The thoughts and the grief. It's like I'm mourning a real person.
So let's take a step back. When you feel nostalgic, that is absolutely fine. You probably have a lot of good memories connected to your faith. Nostalgia is just that. Looking back and being like "oh those were the good times". That is not a god-shaped anything. It is a very common emotion. Nostalgia never means that you have a anything-shaped hole in you. It is just a memory, usually a positive one.
And it is great. But here is some food for thought.
Why not just take your good memories for what they are. Why were they good memories? (i don't know what they are but let me just assume some things for a moment). So let's say you always enjoyed BBQ after service on Sundays in Summer. So you look back and remember those Sundays. You would get up in the morning, sun shining, getting ready for church, already knowing there will be BBQ and friends after, you go to service and you already see some people that you will be seeing after wards. You waited all week to catch up with them and Sunday is usually the only day you get to meet because everybody is so busy. So service is over, you meet outside the church doors and catch up a bit. You get in the car and say "see you in 20 minutes at my house. I'll warm up the grill". Then your friends arrive, you have BBQ. The kids are playing, the wives are talking, you're enjoying a beer and some music from the radio. You eat and have fun with your friends.
Now what is this nostalgic memory actually about. Why are you feeling this way about your memory? Is it because god or because religion? Or is it maybe because you just found the company of your friends on Sundays enjoyable. Church was a tool to get together and catch up. But how much did you talk about church during BBQ? Probably almost nothing because the week was what you talked about. Work, hobbies, kids, the weather, sports, etc...
So what I am saying is just analyze what you are feeling and why you are feeling it. And attribute your emotions to the correct source. You will find that most of the time, your nostalgic memories of the good old churchy times have little to do with actual church/religion/god. But I will leave that up to you now.

I hope that helps.

Cheers Rob

"Freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2=4" - George Orwell (in 1984)
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18-08-2017, 12:11 AM (This post was last modified: 18-08-2017 12:19 AM by Anonymous Skeptic.)
RE: Need some support in my deconversion process. (Long post.)
(15-08-2017 04:41 PM)jennybee Wrote:  Have you read the entire Bible? There is a reason people who actually read the thing in its entirety say that it helped to cure them of Christianity.

I read most of the Bible when I grew up but I'm not sure I read it in its entirety. I started reading the Bible a few weeks ago though. I'm still on Genesis but my goal is to all of it.

(17-08-2017 01:39 PM)Leerob Wrote:  Now about being hesitant to call yourself an atheist:
Do you believe that there is a god?
If yes > Theist
If no > Atheist
That's really all there is to that one.

What if my answer is "I don't know"? I'm certainly not convinced of God's existence but I don't know whether or not I believe there is a God. I'm stuck in some kind of limbo.

(17-08-2017 01:39 PM)Leerob Wrote:  I would like to recommend to you The Atheist Experience. That's a call in show based in Austin Texas. They are live once a week but you can find pretty much all their shows on youtube. You will hear people from all walks of faith call in and talk about their faith. You will hear their reasons for believing in different things about their religions. And you will hear what the show hosts have to say. The show hosts are rotating so it is not always the same person. You will hear many different opinions and explanations. Maybe it will help you make up your mind too.

Ah, I found The Atheist Experience on Youtube a while back and have probably watched over a hundred of their videos at this point. Still haven't heard a convincing argument made by theists.

(17-08-2017 01:39 PM)Leerob Wrote:  So what I am saying is just analyze what you are feeling and why you are feeling it. And attribute your emotions to the correct source. You will find that most of the time, your nostalgic memories of the good old churchy times have little to do with actual church/religion/god. But I will leave that up to you now.

I think the main thing that makes me nostalgic is remembering how safe I felt knowing that God was with me. I felt like I could always talk to him if I wanted to. I felt like he protected me and like he was someone who always loved me and cared about me. Do you know what I mean?

What made me think about that "God-shaped vacuum" I mentioned was the following excerpt from a book I'm currently reading (The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis Collins):

“Finally, in simple logical terms, if one allows the possibility that God is something humans might wish for, does that rule out the possibility that God is real? Absolutely not. The fact that I have wished for a loving wife does not now make her imaginary. The fact that the farmer wished for rain does not make him question the reality of the subsequent downpour.

In fact, one can turn this wishful-thinking argument on its head. Why would such a universal and uniquely human hunger exist, if it were not connected to some opportunity for fulfilment? Again, Lewis says it well: ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exist. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another planet.’

Could it be that this longing for the sacred, a universal and puzzling aspect of human experience, may not be wish fulfilment but rather a pointer toward something beyond us? Why do we have a ‘God-shaped vacuum’ in our hearts and minds unless it is meant to be filled?”
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18-08-2017, 12:22 AM
RE: Need some support in my deconversion process. (Long post.)
(18-08-2017 12:11 AM)Anonymous Skeptic Wrote:  Could it be that this longing for the sacred, a universal and puzzling aspect of human experience, may not be wish fulfilment but rather a pointer toward something beyond us? Why do we have a ‘God-shaped vacuum’ in our hearts and minds unless it is meant to be filled?”

Is there really such a God shaped vacuum though? Is it not rather a desire for love and community, which the religious then say "You know that feeling? That's your desire for God!" Many people who're otherwise successful can be somewhat depressed and lonely. I think that's all the "God-shaped vacuum" is. The religious cheerfully exploit that loneliness to entrap you in a confidence scheme. What a pleasant bunch they are, to be sure.

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If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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18-08-2017, 03:58 AM
RE: Need some support in my deconversion process. (Long post.)
(18-08-2017 12:11 AM)Anonymous Skeptic Wrote:  Could it be that this longing for the sacred, a universal and puzzling aspect of human experience, may not be wish fulfilment but rather a pointer toward something beyond us? Why do we have a ‘God-shaped vacuum’ in our hearts and minds unless it is meant to be filled?”

People love to believe because belief promises so much -- community, guidance, truth, healing, everlasting life. They also like playing the lottery.
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18-08-2017, 05:58 AM
RE: Need some support in my deconversion process. (Long post.)
(18-08-2017 12:11 AM)Anonymous Skeptic Wrote:  What if my answer is "I don't know"? I'm certainly not convinced of God's existence but I don't know whether or not I believe there is a God. I'm stuck in some kind of limbo.
If your answer is "I don't know" then you are agnostic.
The problem with being brought up religiously is the idea that "you have to know". But you actually don't have to know. "I don't know" is a perfectly fine and reasonable answer. It is honest. And obviously you are trying to seek the truth.
Just give yourself time.

(18-08-2017 12:11 AM)Anonymous Skeptic Wrote:  I think the main thing that makes me nostalgic is remembering how safe I felt knowing that God was with me. I felt like I could always talk to him if I wanted to. I felt like he protected me and like he was someone who always loved me and cared about me. Do you know what I mean?
Tracy Harris and Matt Dillahunty made a great point about what you are saying here. I would like to link you the video and time stamp.
You are looking for caller Alex.
Start Time: 00:59:05
End Time: 01:11:15
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NZcEy-C...e=youtu.be

I hope this helps a bit.

"Freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2=4" - George Orwell (in 1984)
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18-08-2017, 08:23 AM
RE: Need some support in my deconversion process. (Long post.)
(18-08-2017 05:58 AM)Leerob Wrote:  If your answer is "I don't know" then you are agnostic.
The problem with being brought up religiously is the idea that "you have to know". But you actually don't have to know. "I don't know" is a perfectly fine and reasonable answer. It is honest. And obviously you are trying to seek the truth.
Just give yourself time.

I thought agnosticism and atheism answered two different questions, namely what you know and what you believe, so would it really make sense to say I'm an agnostic? I know for certain that I'm an agnostic, but I don't know if I'm an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist. I'm not in a hurry to label myself but I do think about it anyway.

Watched the video you mentioned. Thank you! It's weird because I realise what Tracy says makes sense, but I'm still having a hard time accepting it.

Morondog and Thoreauvian, you may be right. Perhaps I've just been taught that there is such a thing as a "God-shaped vacuum", when in reality, it doesn't exist.
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18-08-2017, 08:40 AM
RE: Need some support in my deconversion process. (Long post.)
(18-08-2017 08:23 AM)Anonymous Skeptic Wrote:  I thought agnosticism and atheism answered two different questions, namely what you know and what you believe, so would it really make sense to say I'm an agnostic? I know for certain that I'm an agnostic, but I don't know if I'm an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist. I'm not in a hurry to label myself but I do think about it anyway.

A-theist: one who doesn't buy theism.
A-gnostic: one who doesn't "know". Gnosis = knowledge (in Greek).

So yeah. You can be an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist. They're pretty much the "reasonable" positions you can have on a religious topic. At the other end of the spectrum are the *gnostic* theist/atheist crowd. They're only really a thing because theists can't logic worth spit. But basically, a gnostic theist would claim that they *do* know that God exists while a gnostic atheist would claim that they do know that God doesn't exist.

It's really a bit of an academic difference anyway. Although I identify as an agnostic atheist you can be damn sure I don't have the remotest conception that something like the Jewish/Christian God actually exists. The "agnostic" is simply an acknowledgement that I could be wrong, and an undertaking to let the evidence guide me rather than adopting a dogmatic position which cannot be challenged. Gnostic people don't admit of the possibility that they could be wrong.

Historically the term "agnostic" had a slightly different definition to that which I've presented here. In the past the terms were understood to be:
  • theist: God exists
  • atheist: God does not exist
  • agnostic: the "halfway" position where both theism and atheism are understood to equally possibly be right or wrong.
I think this still causes significant confusion to a lot of people.

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If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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18-08-2017, 09:46 AM
RE: Need some support in my deconversion process. (Long post.)
(18-08-2017 08:23 AM)Anonymous Skeptic Wrote:  I thought agnosticism and atheism answered two different questions, namely what you know and what you believe, so would it really make sense to say I'm an agnostic? I know for certain that I'm an agnostic, but I don't know if I'm an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist. I'm not in a hurry to label myself but I do think about it anyway.
Agnosticism is a statement about knowledge, yes.
So when we talk about theism vs atheism, and you say you are agnostic, means you don't know. That can mean that you believe in god but you don't know for sure that he exists and it can mean you don't believe in god but you don't know for sure.
Or, like in your case, you simply don't claim knowledge about the matter at all.
As you say yourself, you aren't in a hurry to label yourself and that is good. People do think in boxes and labels but sometimes there is just not a label that really fits and that's okay. So why worry about it at all? Because society might be confused about what is going on inside your head? Well then fuck society, they got no business inside your head.
Just keep seeking the truth until you make up your mind. Thumbsup

"Freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2=4" - George Orwell (in 1984)
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