Why Can’t You Leave Religion Alone? blog by Seth Andrews

 

 

Why Can’t You Leave Religion Alone?

Seth    Jan 28, 2011 2:00:54 PM | Date Modified: Sep 5, 2012 4:13:14 AM

The protests come every day from the religious, and they go something like this:

* “Why spend your time disproving God?”

* “Why not just let people believe what they want to believe?”

* “Why can’t you leave religion alone?”

As one YouTube commenter said recently, “No one can explain to me why it is so important to convince theists to abandon their beliefs.”

The answer is simple. Pages like this one exist because religion exists.

Religion permeates our culture, shows up on our doorsteps with literature, scriptures and threats of eternal damnation, influences our science books, contaminates our political systems, indoctrinates our children and postulates that its doctrine must be followed, lest we be destroyed in body, in soul, or both.

Non-believers are simply responding to the avalanche of religious messages that bears down upon us daily.

Religion gets carte blanche to be as vocal as it wants, to knock on our doors and accost us in our homes, in our places of work, in our personal and professional lives. Believers are charged with a life mission to preach, teach, disciple, shout it from the mountaintops and to “go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Religion…is everywhere.

Ask yourself. When’s the last time an atheist rang your doorbell with the Good News of Humanism? How often do you find Richard Dawkins books in the dresser drawers of your hotel rooms? When was the last atheist temple erected in your neighborhood? Have you ever attended an atheist revival? Has atheism demanded 10% of your household income? How many dedicated atheist television channels come through your satellite dish? How many atheist verses were you instructed to memorize as a child? When’s the last time someone thanked a FARMER (or even the cook) at the dinner table instead of God?

On a more radical front, what’s the name of the last atheist who sawed the head off of an “infidel?” Or sentenced a shrouded woman to death for displeasing an oppressive husband? Or strapped explosives to his belt in order to kill hundreds in a public square? Or publicly hung a gay person for his lifestyle?

It’s everywhere. Religion is a pounding drum that has gone mostly unanswered for a long, long time. And religion is not satisfied with merely existing quietly in the homes and hearts of the faithful. Its very nature compels the believer to proselytize, preach, promote, convince, convert and prevail. If you play on the team of the religious, your game plan is to stay, always, on offense.

Throughout our history, those who raise a simple hand of protest against these advances have been portrayed as the real problem. Religion has attempted to marginalize and defeat legitimate questions and concerns by indignantly portraying any resistors as misguided, immoral, rudderless, angry, miserable, lost and alone.

And when skepticism challenges wildly improbable (or impossible) stories found in the bible, the Qur’an and other holy books, the religious wail, “Why can’t you just leave us alone?”

The irony is thick.

And religion impedes curiosity and inhibits learning, as the much-maligned Creation Museum proves. It stymies critical thinking. It stretches us to believe the unbelievable. And it poisons the foundational teachings we are using to train up the generations of tomorrow.

Pages like mine exist as a response… a counter-argument to ensure that the cacophony of superstition does not go unchallenged. And if your belief system is so undeniable, so factual, so provable, so real and so true, certainly it can withstand the opposing viewpoints presented here and elsewhere. Certainly, it can survive the acid tests.

Just remember. Religion began the argument. It amplifies itself before the world. And it threatens all mankind with punishment upon its rejection.

We are atheists. We are moral. We are reasonable. We are thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate, happy, fulfilled and well-informed.

And as long as religion insists on fixing human beings who are not broken, we will respond with the evidence that we are not the problem.

-Seth Andrews (The Thinking Atheist, written 01/28/11

The Arrogance of “I Am Right, You Are Wrong” Thinking

Below is an article a church recently posted about former Pastor Jerry Dewitt’s deconversion from Christianity.  I am pasting the article–then inserting my comments in red as it goes:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Former Pentecostal preacher turned atheist Jerry DeWitt: How Could a former minister of God’s Word Change Into a Nonbeliever?    (My thought is, maybe he took his blinders off???)

 

When we read this article, regarding Jerry DeWitt, we feared for his soul, simply because he once knew the way (the typical Christian assumption that the Christian “way” is THE way and no one else’s “way” can possibly be right), but something must have happened in his life to make him think (my guess is what happened in his life is he stopped ignoring that little voice of reason inside that kept telling him belief & devotion to a genocidal child killer didn’t make sense) God does not exist.  Jerry DeWitt was a Pentecostal preacher for more than 25 years (Well, we all make mistakes in judgement, don’t we?), but eventually became a nonbeliever (like so many of us brainwashed who then finally snapped out of it).  He began ministry when he was 17 years old.  This story is very sad (actually I consider it a huge victory and a triumph–inspiring and very moving), because the Bible (a book of myths and magic very much akin to Harry Potter only instead of a childish, tantrum-prone god we have Voldemort–also very bigoted & having chosen people.  Oh, and Harry is rather the Jesus figure–he more or less dies, then comes back to save the day.  The only difference really is Harry throws away the Elderwand–having no desire to rule over others.) speaks about these sort of individuals (individuals?   We can’t call him a person now or a man?) who once knew the way (the way again.  How arrogant, this “way” of thinking!) but made a choice to turn away from God (that free-will thing Christians like to brag about.  Oh, except if you actually practice it, you get punished and thrown into hell forever). Jerry DeWitt reminds us (us?  Do you have multiple personality disorder?) a lot of Bishop Carlton Pearson, the only difference is Bishop Pearson claims to believe in God, but no Devil and no hell. (oh well, at least Bishop Carlton Pearson is on the right track toward using his brain).  Pearson is yet an unbeliever (how is he an unbeliever for just not believing in god’s creation Satan or god’s creation, hell?   I seem to recall when I was a Christian the only necessary criteria for being saved was belief in the divinity of Jesus and asking him into your heart?) and might as well join atheists in our opinion (and we won’t judge him like Christians do, or threaten him with hell forever for not believing exactly as we do, or tell him he’s an abomination for not believing in a book of fairy tales).  However, we must continue to pray (the Christian’s way of saying fuck you!) for not only Bishop Carlton Pearson, but also this man, Jerry DeWitt. (How patronizing can you get?)

We question any person whom once believed in God, but now is an atheist (I would question too.  I would ask myself, why so many people are starting to actually read the bible and see all those verses you try very hard to steer people away from reading.  Perhaps you should change your approach during your sermons or…rewrite the bible so as to remove all those nasty embarrassing verses about god ordering rape and slavery and the butchery of pregnant women that keep tripping people up?).  If something very bad should happen in Jerry DeWitt’s life, our question is, would he call on God?  (In extreme moments people don’t think rationally so it’s entirely possible he might revert to deeply ingrained supernatural thinking–and then feel embarrassed later that he did.)   We understand there are some backsliders whom once knew God who walked away, because they became bitter (no, that’s not it.  That’s only your assumption of what it is and your assumption is wrong) and felt God did not love them (no, it has more to do with the belief that there is no god and there never was a god and all this bullshit was only contrived to brainwash and rule over people and get their money and not having to pay property taxes) or because maybe God did not give them an answer (it’s really hard for imaginary beings to answer questions.  Santa has tried it, but he hasn’t had much luck either) to their problem or they did not receive a blessing they fasted and prayed for (very hard to receive blessings from Unicorns too, I’ve heard).   However, to not believe in God, after serving him for so long is very scary. (No, it’s called being born again–more born again than the Christian notion of that phrase.  It’s called being liberated from superstition-instilled fear of death, fear of never being good enough, fear of an eye in the sky judging your every mood and policing even your thoughts.)   Then, to invite others to follow your movement (Jerry Dewitt has not invited anyone to become an atheist–that’s what Christians do.  Only Christians go door to door and preach on street corners and try to shove their “way” down other people’s throats) as an atheist is even more scary and also dangerous (dangerous, how?  Oh, you mean that invisible make-believe supernatural being in the sky again?), because people are souls and they have some place to go at the end of their lives (and your proof or evidence of this is where, exactly?)   Here is another interesting question, how would Jerry DeWitt or any other former believer of Christ feel, if they should die and discover their mistake of becoming an atheists?  ( Implying a self-serving reason to be a Christian and love god–so you can go to heaven when you die!   Now that is a kind of love a supernatural being can really respect.  But then that’s what he commands, doesn’t he?  Love me or else burn in hell for ever!   Just what I want to do–love a tyrant and a bully who needs to threaten people to get them to love him.  Personally I would rather go to hell than spend one more minute worshipping a god that did what this monster did as described in the much-ignored (by Christians) Old Testament.)  there would be nothing they can do to save their souls, because God gave them a chance to believe (and this loving god punishes them with an infinite punishment for committing a finite crime!).   Saints, this is a very serious issue, (saints?   LOL!!!!) because after the various testimonies we shared with you on our videos page that revealed people who actually been to heaven and hell (isn’t it funny how, when Catholics die they see Mary, and when Muslims die they see Muhammad and when Christians die they see Jesus?  We never hear about a Muslim who sees Jesus or a Christian who sees Muhammad, no.  It’s always a vision exactly matching that person’s earthly beliefs, no matter what those beliefs are.  Hmmmm…)  , we know God is real.   Although, we cannot see Him, we as true followers of Jesus Christ can feel Him (speaking as a born again Christian for over 30 years I can say I “felt him” too and I can reproduce that feeling right now.  It’s a placebo effect.  Same thing happens to large crowds at rock concerts or football games), and also we know He is real, because of the blessings of being alive (that’s right.  Nature has nothing to do with it!).   Our hearts cannot pump alone (Lol!  Oh, really?  I’m starting to wonder if the author of this article even graduated from High School.)  We cannot wake up without God waking us up (LOL!   And you cannot think without god thinking for you or feel without god feeling for you or move your legs without god moving your legs for you!).   We cannot see, hear or feel things without God.  We cannot walk or move our limbs without God (you actually go on to say this yourselves?  LOL!  Puppets–actually bragging about having strings and a puppeteer controlling them!).   We cannot use our minds and think without God (well, this much IS true for many Christians, unfortunately.)  Those of us whom are born again Christians would not have never been blessed with the free gift of salvation, if Jesus Christ had not of died on the cross (actually I think it happened when Mithras, god’s only son, came into the world and was crucified, dying for our sins and was then resurrected.  Jesus was only a faded copy of Mithras) and took the ridicule.  God gave us a choice to serve His Son (which one again?), if we give up sin (what Christians call doing wrong as opposed to doing right, only “sin” implies consequences that happen in the imaginary world that you live in after this one.   Therefore, God is very real (hmm, maybe if you say it over and over enough it will be true?) and there ought to be nothing negative that happens in our lives to change our belief in Him.   (That’s right.  You want to only surround yourself with happy brainwashed Christians who never challenge your beliefs or pressure you to think on your own!) Yes, we go through pain and cannot understand why there maybe some people that have more than us and  many of us have faithfully been serving the Lord for a longtime, but we cannot risk losing our souls (and um, if you were born in Iran to Iranian parents, for example, would you be saying/believing these same things about Islam?) by making a choice to stop believing in Him.


In the meantime, we will pray that God gives Jerry DeWitt (so magnanimous of you–wow!) and others like him to turn around from atheism (you mean to turn off our brains and blindly believe and follow a god that approves slavery, genocide, infanticide, abortion, etc., etc., )before it is everlasting too late.   We have faith God will reveal to Him, He is real (again!  You keep saying this like you think saying this makes it fact) and loves him very much.   



There was once a true story about an atheist whom went out camping by himself and he fell asleep out in the wilderness and he told the Lord (why would an atheist talk to god?), He said, ‘God if you are real, when I wake up, if that rock is gone, I will believe in you.’  When the man woke up that rock was gone.  (Can you please provide the reference to this “true” story?  Or did it come from Reader’s Digest?) This should reveal to anyone, God exist and has always proved himself to be real (really?  When?  Oh, that’s right.  Before we started actually recording our history in written form).  Therefore, we will have faith for Jerry DeWitt to be proven wrong (yes, when you die and experience the permanent black out that happens after you die I’m sure you’ll have some way of knowing Jerry Dewitt was proven wrong) and return back into the family of God.  (of which I believe Satan belongs to too, doesn’t he?  After all, god made Satan and Satan has carried out all God’s wishes to the letter!)

Note: Since CNN.com did not have a video of Jerry DeWitt explaining why he is no longer a Pentecostal minister and now an atheist, we felt led by God not to post the various videos we found on You Tube.   


If you need God to come into your life, we invite you to go directly to our Salvation page (I have that in my bucket–it’s right up there with stabbing myself in the eye with a knitting needle).  God is real and proved His existence when He created each and every last one of us (actually I think there’s this little fact called evolution…  You know, science?   That thing that requires fact and reproduceable evidence to back it up before it can even call itself a theory).  When He formed the earth, He already had shown us, He is real (did you ever actually take grammar classes in school?).  The sun, moon and the stars cannot hold up in the sky (brilliant display of your knowledge of science here!) without the Lord who created them.   Day cannot turned to night and night cannot change to daytime without God (yes, the creator of all the universe with its billions of galaxies actually hovers above this planet and nudges the planets stars and cosmos to revolve around the earth all just for OUR benefit while he worries about gay people getting married and whether or not so and so will have an abortion.)   We would not have different seasons (this is so incredibly beyond absurd it’s making my brain lock up) and they cannot change without the Lord (says who again?  Oh, yes, the bible.  Written by anonymous men who claimed to have been inspired by god.  Sure, I’ll believe that…)  So, we invite you to make a choice to not only believe in Him, but make a wise (?????) decision and serve Him (and stop thinking for yourself and believe everything we say hook line and sinker and give us your tithe!) before it is everlasting too late.   If after you make a choice for Jesus to come into your life, you are going to have trials (very much like you had before you accepted Jesus, and in fact nothing really changes except that placebo effect I mentioned earlier.  That and the fact that you start thinking that little voice you hear in your head is GOD rather than your own inner dialogue that we all are simply born with!)  God never said our walk as His children would be easy (that’s true, and in fact, God never said anything really because he doesn’t exist), but it does not mean He is not real (actually it does) and it does not mean He does not love you (that’s why he’ll roast you slowly and eternally in hell if you aren’t convinced by us saying he is real over and over and over and over).   Many times, you will go through bad situations, but they happen to make you strong (because god didn’t make you strong enough to begin with, apparently) and so you will have a testimony when you come out.   If you want to be saved (saved from what–oh yes, saved from dying because human beings are so special that they should get to live forever!), you must (absolutely MUST!!!) visit our Salvation page and follow the steps there.  God bless you dear brothers and sisters and welcome to the family of God.

Unbelieving preachers get help to ‘come out’ as open atheists

By Dan Merica, CNN
 

(CNN) – Jerry DeWitt entered the ministry when he was 17, launching a 25-year career as a Pentecostal preacher. He traveled all around his home state of Louisiana, preaching and ministering wherever he could.

All these years later, DeWitt, 42, is still on the road, and now takes his message all over the United States. But the nature of that message, along with his audience, has changed dramatically.

DeWitt is now an avowed atheist, and his audiences are made up of religious “nones,” the growing number of Americans who are atheist, agnostic, humanist or just plain disinterested in identifying with a religion. Today, DeWitt preaches a gospel of disbelief.

During his speeches, he talks about the process of leaving his…Read full article, here.

Source and Photo Courtesy: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com

 

Religion in the Workplace

A recent blogcast put out by The Thinking Atheist.  It’s over an hour, but very good stuff.  For those of you who would like to have some understanding how it feels to be an atheist.  The host describes very well his process of going from a believer to unbelief.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FElstT-s_YM&feature=g-all-u

Actually, after listening about 50 minutes the topic does get into the fact there is no archeological evidence or evidence at all of any of the stories in the bible.  And this podcast was recorded last weeks so…fairly new.

Another great link to learning more about Evolution.  This link provides some of the best vids out there on the subject:

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/the-mother-lode-of-pro-evolution-and-anti-creationist-videos/

 

Why Are Atheists “The Enemy?”

I was just reading/listening to Teresa Macbain’s story–

http://www.npr.org/2012/04/30/151681248/from-minister-to-atheist-a-story-of-losing-faith

Religion so often does the opposite of what believers think.  It makes people intolerant.  Why does Teresa’s community that she gave guidance and counseling and encouragement and support to, turn on her this way and treat her like an enemy?  Do Christians view Jews as the enemy?  Or Buddhists?  Or anyone who happens to have faith in something else?   Then why are atheists the enemy?  And especially atheists who were previously Christians?

Tell you what, listening to Teresa’s story…struck a chord with me.  I haven’t become an enemy like she has.  I am not seen as a betrayer of the faith as she is.  But I have lost friends since I made it clear I can’t believe anymore.   I also find myself suddenly having to walk on eggshells worrying how much should I exult in this new feeling of freedom?  How much singing out and speaking out and shouting out with joy can I do before I am admonished for offending someone?

Really, all it takes to offend a Christian is to say the words “there’s no such thing as god.”  Say those words and they are offended, personally and deeply offended.

It’s not meant to be an offense.  If I went 40 years of my life thinking I have a horrible singing voice and always being ashamed to sing, afraid to sing…and then one day I’m told by a voice teacher I have a really great range and wonderful potential as a singer, I’m going to want to tell people.    The same is true if I go my whole life believing in something that makes me feel I can’t ever be good enough, that I was born corrupt and I need to do this and this and this to be good or to be loved…and then one day I find out it’s all a lie and I was born into this world exactly right and exactly as nature meant me to be–I would want to sing that news from the rooftops!  I’d want to  tell my friends, my family, people I care about whom I still see struggling in the dark.   And yet…it offends people.

No Christian, especially not the ones who live for Jesus and give their whole life’s work to serving Jesus like Ms. Macbain, want or ask to lose their faith.   It’s not a road believers take intentionally.  It’s a path they stumble on.

We’re not supposed to ask questions.  I know a friend who was kicked out of her church for asking too many questions.  Why is that?  If Christianity is true–if any religion is true–it should be able to withstand any questions put to it.  It should  not shy away from the new discoveries of science either, but rather welcome those discoveries as further proof of its unshakable truth.

Instead when I asked questions, the kind of questions that put parts of the bible or god’s actions or Jesus’ actions, into doubt, I was given the same pat answers: “we are finite beings; how can we possibly understand god?”  Or, “god works in mysterious ways.”  Or, “have faith.  God will reveal this to you in time.”

And then that time never comes.

I look at the bible and I wonder, how can this loving god that the Christians believe in order little children dashed to pieces or pregnant mother’s bellies cut open with swords?   How can this just and merciful god order a man stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath or…allow his followers to teach that women are worth only half as much as men and should be silent, should not wear jewelry or braided hair or… speak aloud in church, and daughters can be sold into slavery.

These are the questions that catch us unaware.  We are like everyone else, Christians going along with what we’re told, assuming someone bothered to do the research and confirm it’s all true.  We nod our heads and sing our songs and high-light the appropriate verses in the bible.   But then one day someone points out something in the bible we didn’t know was there.  Or maybe one day it suddenly dawns on us that it makes no sense that Satan would hate the people who deny god, his enemy, and would want to punish them.    Or that god would punish Adam and Eve so severely for simply being ignorant, for making a mistake, and not just them but all of humanity.

Atheists are not the enemy of anyone.  Atheists simply do not believe in the supernatural–and have lately been brought to the point that we aren’t so silent about it anymore after having to hear politicians who should know better declare our country a “Christian nation” when it’s not, or for that matter have  Christianity shoved in our face wherever we turn.  How does this make us bad people worthy of hate?  How does this make someone like Teresa Macbain worthy of being shunned by the very community she served and helped for years?

Once upon a time God created himself an enemy.  I’m not sure why.  A lot of pain and suffering would have been avoided if he hadn’t.   But he made Satan and then punished Satan for being made.  Sometimes I feel like Christians want to have an enemy too.  So they hunt down people who dare to not agree, and attack them, call them ignorant or evil–arrogantly tell them they’re going to hell–basically punish them for daring to be, just like gays, true to who and what they are.

Speaking Out…Too Much?

When a religious person feels a calling, feels passionate and incensed by what he or she sees as fundamental wrongs in the world, and wants to make of themselves an adversary against that wrong, they become a church leader, or a pastor or a priest, or a reverend, and evangelist or missionary.  Do these people sit idly by and tolerate their views challenged, or maligned, or misrepresented, or contradicted, or blasphemed?  Or do they speak out loudly in defense of their truth and what they think of as morally right, sometimes with anger, sometimes calling themselves one with god’s army like they are at war?

What about when an atheist feels passionate and incensed by what he or she sees as a fundamental wrong in the world?   What about when an atheist has to hear his views on what is good and right in the world dragged through the mud and compared with Hitler or Stalin or called Satanism or worse?  Should the atheist sit idly by?  Or should the atheist likewise take up arms (verbally) and fight, even risking personal loss of family, friends and reputation (does the religious person risk losing these things?), for what he or she believes is reason, truth, liberating, and morally right?

A little while ago someone read the Richard Dawkins transcripts I posted on my blog from the 2012 Reason Rally.  This person criticizes Dawkins for his declaring proudly:

“Mock them! Ridicule them! In public! Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off-limits.  Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.”

Why is it wrong for Dawkins to encourage this?  If a person truly believes that his friends or family or society is being misled by a lie, a fraud, a scam, and not just a lie but what they see as an immoral and harmful one, shouldn’t he or she speak out?  Aren’t they in all good conscience obligated to speak out because to not would be tantamount to agreeing with or approving of that which they do not? 

If the atheist is wrong and the theist is right, surely what is true should have the stuff to stand all on its own!  Why would it require its challengers to be silent, or apologists defending or clarifying or explaining what it should have already made clear?  Truth is truth.  No amount of atheist arguments should be any threat; no amount of science, exploration or discovery should be a threat either–if in fact it is truth.

Should atheists be cowards before the religious who have no problem expressing themselves and speaking out?  Should we be silent and let what we see as a delusion continue unchallenged?   Or should we speak of what we know or think, add to the discussion what we have read, facts or questions that so often have been ignored or drowned out or swept under rugs, or worse, twisted to further some very human agendas?

Do atheists have an agenda?   Do we ask for money or seek to build mansions in the sky by pounding our beliefs into other people, finding fault in other people for not thinking the way we do?

I don’t particularly care, and I don’t think atheists do,  if there are more atheists in the world or less theists.  I try to be live and let live. But at the same time I am not going to be silent just because what I see as the truth is not what the majority in my society wants to see.  The truth is the truth, be it popular with the masses or not.   No amount of denial can blot it out.  No amount of speaking in the contrary can change it.

As for lies, they eventually fall to pieces under close scrutiny.  Don’t they?

Hitler & Nazism. Not Atheist.

I have heard it argued–not exactly sure what it has to do with anything but nevertheless…that Hitler was an atheist and Nazism was an atheist movement.

I have also seen websites highlighting Hitler’s speeches that indicate he considered himself to be doing god’s work.

The below link was made in tribute of the brilliant, passionate warrior against the oppressions and delusions (and harm to society and self-esteem) of religion, the late Christopher Hitchens.   Anyone who thinks Hitler was an atheist or his Nazi movement was atheist, should go 15 minutes into this and take a listen the reasons Hitchens disagrees. 

http://youtu.be/KR1uorQWNDg

 

 

Bold Enough to ASK QUESTIONS!

How much do you know about the origins of the faith you have latched your loyalties to?   How much research have you done?     Have you read about other faiths–studied other faiths?  Sometimes that’s all it takes to unravel everything.

Questions I never asked–

What happened to Jesus family, his mother, his father, after his death?  The bible never mentions them again.  They drop off the face of the earth.  Wouldn’t they have been revered by the early Christians?  Wouldn’t they be an object of interest to any historians during that time?
What is the problem with Bethlehem?  At the time of Jesus’ birth, was there a Bethlehem?   Did it exist?   Was there such a thing as a Nazareth during Jesus’ time?

What about the Roman laws back then?  Why did the Romans not care or react to what was going on?  Why was nothing written down?

I have found two long radio programs (and one short one called To Xmas And Beyond) that really pointed out stuff I didn’t know, and really made me think.   I’m posting their links below.  I would dare any Christian to listen all the way through.   It’s hard I know.  When I was a Christian I never wanted to hear anything else but what I wanted to hear.   Because I knew deep down the moment I did, it would all unravel.  And it did.

Cyndal’s Road To Freedom

I have posted on Facebook a request for former Christians or religious folk to share (anonymously if they wish) their stories re. what impact Christianity had in their life and what led them to give up this path and find another.

Cyndal is a  real person.  I got to know her on Facebook.  Her husband David is a real person.  Nice normal people, who just happen to be in rock/live music culture.  These people live in a very small red-neck town in Tennessee, and going to church and hungering after the Lord wasn’t enough apparently for them to fit in.  Asking questions, wanting to understand, requesting that a pastor do his job…between that and daring to dress differently and wear their hair perhaps, differently…

Well, I have my own story, and it’s nothing so bad as this.  But mine also has something to do with what happens when mental illness and religion comes together.  So do I believe this happened to Cyndal?  You bet.   This is not the first time I have heard a story like this.

Small sidenote.  This is a real person’s story, unedited by myself, and I will not post any replies I get to this that are offensive to Cyndal in any way.

Cyndal’s hard road to become a PROUD Atheist

When I was a small child I went to church with my family every Sunday. It was very scary to me because I was so young I just saw a man up there yelling and other people crying. I was very confused because no one explained what was going on but I was comforted as long as my parents were there. Then when I was about 5 years old we just stopped going. I don’t know why. It was just not a routine any more.

We moved around a lot and never went to church anywhere we lived until we moved to this very small, very religious, red neck town. It’s so small it has a small Walmart and about 5 gas stations but a church every quarter of a mile. Unfortunately I still live here with my husband (David) , my two babies (2&4), and my 17year old brother I adopted due to terrible family situations.

When I was 13 my parents all of a sudden started demanding we go to church again. It was a very small, very laid back church where the preacher wore his pjs and cut church off early when his favorite football team was to play that Sunday! At 13 I thought that was awesome! I was very into church and learning everything I possibly could. At one point I even got to teach Sunday school to the smaller children when their teacher was not there! I love kids so I loved that! As I got older I started wanting more. The things I didn’t understand I would question. I just wanted help understanding what was being taught. After a couple of weeks of constant questioning things and begging the preacher for answers he would simply tell me ” i shouldn’t question because that was doubt and as a Christian I should just have faith!” that just wasn’t enough for me! I would TRY to ask more questions but I would be ignored and dodged by the preacher so he wouldn’t have to bother with me. I was 15 then and that’s when the wheels started turning in my head. About the preacher but I still continued being a Christian. I even got the “teen bible” to help me try to learn. At 16 the preacher talked with my parents and all of a sudden I was the “trouble child”. That turned into a lot of arguing with my parents, me pleading my case as why I’m bad, then mental and emotional abuse started to try to “control” me, to prove they were over me. That ultimately ended with me getting kicked out but my grandmother took me in. (for the record I didn’t do drugs, drink, curse, I did smoke cigarettes behind my parents back but that was the only thing I could figure out as to what made me bad) Believe it or not I continued to go to that church. Drive myself and all!

I have always had the punk/rock/goth look even though that made me stick out in this town which labeled me as a “freak”. I didn’t care though, and don’t care to this day. At 17 I met my now husband. He also is a “freak”. Long red hair, lots of black band shirts, big earrings… He was a Christian too then and started coming to church with me when he didn’t have to work. You could feel the tension in the air but we held our heads high and ignored it. It happened quick but about 6 months of dating (after I turned 18) I moved in with him. That’s when the shit started. They didn’t like that at all. I told them even though we were living together we had bible study on our couch some nights in our pjs and he was finally answering my questions! But they labeled him as a devil worshipper!

One Sunday he had to work so I went to church by myself. I was sick that Sunday so of course I was called up for prayer. Everyone came up, laid their hands on me and started pray out loud. As they were doing that the preacher put his hands on my cheeks and whispered into my ear ” you are living with the devil! He is brain washing you! If you don’t move out you will be damned to hell!” Prayer was done so he let go and smiled at me. I was shocked! that night when David got home I told him what happened. He was shocked and mad! We discussed it and decided it was probably our looks and the way he could answer the questions I had that the preacher couldn’t.

The next Sunday after service we confronted the preacher. I think he was really shocked we had the guts to actually bring that to him! You could tell he was nervous because he was stumbling over his words and quickly ended the conversation with “oh..church needs to start!” and ran off. I skipped the next Sunday because I was still hurt. Then I had planned on going the next service but I was really sick. That’s when we had a knock at the door. It was the preacher and my parents! I’m assuming the preacher talked with my parents and told them what had happened and that David was the devil. We talked with them at first but when it became an argument that made me cry, David said that’s enough and closed and locked the door. They became so mad they were beating on the door demanding to get out and they were saving me! We had to actually call the cops to get them off our property! That’s when the doubt on Christianity really started!

I stopped going for a few weeks until I got a call from my 10 year old brother saying our mother and her new boyfriend had whipped him with a belt and made marks! That infuriated me! It was mid day wednesday so I knew exactly where to find our mother! Church! So I drove down to the church parking lot and waited for them to pull in. No one was there yet and they got there first. I got out demanding my mother to get out and talk with me! She wouldn’t do anything but crack her window but her boyfriend got out and came to my car very angry! I got out not backing down! He was getting up in my face yelling, screaming and telling me I wasn’t nothing but shit for a daughter causing pain in my mothers heart. He pissed me off so bad I grabbed a tire iron out of my car and yelled back “do something…let’s go!” Then they jumped into their van and took off! So…I took off chasing them! I wasn’t done! I guess they called the preacher from their cell because after a minute of round and round they pulled over and the preacher and his wife blocked their car between mine and my mothers. They calmly told them to go back to the church, go in, and lock the doors. Then the attention was turned to me! Yelling and screaming! How dare I go on church grounds acting that way, it didn’t matter what the situation was! I could barely get any words out between their screaming! Well, it ended with the PREACHER, exact words, yelling ” You have been nothing but FUCKING trouble for the past 3 years! I have never been able to stand your ASS! You and the devil (David) are never to step foot in my GOD DAMN church ever again! FUCK YOU YOU LITTLE BITCH!!!” I had to drive by there to get home and as I passed by about 15 church members were outside all of them holding up their middle finger at me and someone yelled something but I couldn’t hear what! And did anyone notice that none of me getting kicked out of the church and why I did this had nothing to do with the whipping of my brother? That was what started it but that act I did was like the preachers perfect opportunity to get me and David out of his church…which was his plan all along!

Now, I know this sounds unbelievable but honest it all true!

That was the beginning of my search. If knew I definitely not a Christian but what was I? I went years just in a non existent daze, half the time not thinking about it until church was brought up then the wondering came back. Around 22 I had enough! I went started the googling, then I went to Books A Million. I sat in the floor for about an hour and came home with 5 books. Not all Atheist books. Agnostic, Atheist, even Wiccan! The Wiccan one was just because I had no clue what Wiccan was! I read and read. I thought and thought. I kept it all secret from everyone. Even David. (Oh I forgot to mention he’s my husband now for 6 years! ) After a while it hit me! I AM ATHEIST! I know I am! No doubt! And I felt free!

Now that I was 100% positive I was Atheist there was the next part….tell David and explain what made me decide this and why… I was soo nervous. He’s my husband. What would he think? What if he got mad? What if it cause arguments? Well, one night we pulled into our drive way. The babies were sound asleep so we took the chance to sit and enjoy a quiet moment talking. Some how religion was the topic that quiet moment. So I took this chance. Basically said ” hunny I have to tell you something about how I feel about religion and if you have any questions or …” then he stopped me. (I have a problem when I’m nervous to talk too much before I just get to the point) He gives me the “come on spit it out look” so I took a deep breathe.” ok well, remember I’ll explain everything…” he says “come on Cyndal” and I just blurt out “I’m atheist and I know that 100%and it feels so good! I have peace now, I feel free, I don’t have near as much anxiety about every move I make any more!” I cringed waiting for shock, questions, maybe even frustrating talking. But to my surprise he just grinned and started laughing! “umm ok…what’s going on ” is all I could say! He said ” stop talking and it’s ok..I’m not mad..I’m happy you found yourself by yourself and you are now happy and not secretly stressing!” He smiled, leaned over and hugged me tight, kissed me and said ” Cyndal I have been Atheist for over a year now, I just never told you so you could figure it out yourself! And even if it were different other than Atheist it would still be ok! I love you!” I can’t explain the relief that was lifted off of my chest! Then we sat there for quite a while talking about how and when he became Atheist and how. And the same for me! He kept telling me how proud he was of me for finding myself by myself! All me! No influences at all! And we talked about that a lot for days! Then he started showing me different things on the Internet to help me further research and his books he had and the wonderful “The Thinking Atheist” site and Seth’s pod casts. That is now one of our pass time things to do is pod casts and “hey look at this video..look at this joke..” I’ve also figured out how to (with his help) teach our children better as far as science and things. I truly feel like as both of us being Atheist has benefited me, benefited David, benefited our family life style…just a lot of things.

This is my story of all my struggles through life but in the end I finally feel my life is the best it’s ever been. And it continues to be better and better. Me and David are on the same page so that helps the whole family in many ways! I feel like my whole life until I became Atheist was a dark blur and now I feel it’s free and happy. Like I’ve finally seen the light! (not in a Christian way though…lol) All of this combined, my whole journey to become myself now, being able to speak out and tell my story has helped me to become out of my shell.

That is why I can honestly say ….

I AM A PROUD ATHEIST!!!

( I really from my heart hope that my story can help hundreds of the quiet Atheist out there that feel like they should stay quiet! Learn from my story that you can uplift yourself and be a free thinker and most of all …a PROUD Atheist!!!)

And Yes, Who We Pick As Mates = Natural Selection

As far as I know (and I’m going by my layman’s (or woman’s) understanding of things) three things cause / contribute to the process of evolution.  Natural selection, climate change and TIME.

Interracial marriage is not an example of evolution, it is an example of natural selection which, over time, contributes to changes to a species, and that process of change over time is called evolution.

A hundred years ago the percentage of people who had to wear corrective lenses was less.  The further back in time you go, very likely the less people you find with impaired vision.  Why?    Because visually impaired humans living more closely with nature are a lot more likely to become bear fodder and never reproduce.   Because before we invented our way to the top of the food-chain, we needed our senses a lot more to survive; our ability to hear, and see, and RUN.  So, just like it is still in nature, survival of the fittest.

Of course this doesn’t apply today.  People like myself who get laughed out of the building when we try to enlist in the Navy (for being too blind) still manage to cope quite well thanks to corrective lenses.  We hold down jobs, we raise children–who likely will also inherit our weak vision.  Over time we have more and more people needing corrective lenses because it no longer happens that the weak sighted humans are killed off by bears, or by accidentally falling off cliffs or, whatever perils our ancestors had to face who didn’t have the benefit of corrective lenses, seeing eye dogs or white canes.

This is an example of natural selection working against a species.  Because those of us with weak vision are able to live and procreate we are creating more visually impaired people.  Usually the opposite effect comes from natural selection.   Weaker traits do not get passed on because the individual with that weaker trait doesn’t get to survive.  Not in the natural world.  Anyone who knows anything about wolves or lions or any of the big predators knows–it is the sick or the aged or the weak that predators target and go after.  Why?  Because predators naturally do not want to have their rib cages kicked in or their skulls crushed, and the bigger stronger younger prey are more likely to cause serious harm–assuming they can catch them at all.

So natural selection, over time, does change a species.  If you go to Europe and check out the doorways of those cool old castles, I hear the doorways are very short.  Like….people over 5 feet tall have to stoop over to walk through them.  Why?   Because people were shorter back then.

Even in my lifetime…I was the tallest girl in my school growing up.  That was back in the day when there weren’t any professional women sports teams and girls were just beginning to have the same kind of physical education/fitness programs in schools as boys.   in the 30 years since I graduated I have seen more and more taller young women.  Girls that make me look short.   My guess is because women are finally “allowed” and even encouraged to use their bodies more–push themselves like boys to discover what they can do–they are getting stronger.   Or maybe it’s just that the human race is still just getting a little bigger with each passing generation.  This is evolution.  Environmental changes or natural selection over time causes species to adapt physically.  That changing process is evolution.  If human beings survived another million years (highly doubtful) or more, those humans of the future might look a lot different than we do now.   Especially as we replace what we used to do physically to survive, with machines to do it for us.

Another thing that creates change–diet.  In the horse example I gave in my previous blog, what I copied for that from Wikipedia describes how horses teeth changed as the horse’s diet changed.

If only brown haired, brown eyed people were allowed to have children, eventually blue or green eyed people would disappear–with maybe the occasional throw back now and then.  If interracial marriage became more and more accepted and popular, over time it is very possible the races now existing on this planet might be effected.  There might not be white people one day.  Because the more interracial couplings that happen, the more mixing of the races occurs, over a short amount of time, like 50 years or 100 years or 200 years, the face of humanity will change.  If all tall people were forbidden to procreate and only short people had children, the human race would likely start to get shorter again.

If the climate changes and the sun becomes more intense, again, white people might find it harder to survive than people with more pigment in their skin.  This would be a case where environment change is reshaping a species.   If the gravity on this planet were to change and become stronger…very likely many species would die out altogether, while other species might have a few individuals with stronger thicker bones, survive.  Those individuals with the stockier bone structure would mate with other individuals with stockier bone structure and that species would slowly adapt more and more to the new gravity, producing stockier offspring–and any offspring born without the thicker bone structure would die and not pro-create, until one day a stockier thicker boned version would exist, completely replacing the lighter framed earlier version of that same species that could not survive.

This is evolution or what causes evolution, as I understand it.  When you have the conditions of survival change and the life in that environment must adapt to the changes or die.

Another example–river dolphins.  Copied from Wikipedia:

Differences between marine and river dolphins

Both river dolphins and marine dolphins belong to a group of mammals called cetaceans, but they differ somewhat in appearance. For example, the snout of a river dolphin measures about 58 centimeters (2 ft) long, approximately four times as long as that of most marine dolphins. River dolphins have smaller eyes than marine dolphins, and their vision is poorly developed because they live in dark, muddy water. This environment also makes river dolphins less active than marine dolphins. River dolphins feed primarily on fish.[1

 
So….dolphins who do not use their vision very much because their environment doesn’t let them see, develop smaller eyes and weaker eye sight than dolphins in clear water who need and use their vision to survive.   Two examples of marine mammals very different from each other because of their environment.  And yet, both are dolphins.

Another example of animals who have adapted to suit their environment–Siberian tigers.  Gorgeous cats.  The largest of the big cats.  He has feet the size of platters–great big huge feet, why?  Because he travels on snow–needs to be able to run on snow.  So his feet have adapted.  Where humans have to wear snow shoes to walk on snow, the Siberian Tiger has his larger paws to achieve the same result.

An interesting animal to watch is the polar bear.  Either he will become extinct in the next 50 years, or he will adapt to his radically changing environment.  If he adapts he will physically change.   His diet will have to change.  How he gets fresh water to survive will have to change.  How well he can endure warmer temperatures will have to change.  If he can’t adapt fast enough, he will die and there will no longer be polar bears.

But there will be other bears.

Just like once upon a time there were Neanderthals and now there are not, while other species of humans who lived alongside Neanderthals did not die but endured.  Neanderthals didn’t become us…but they did leave their genetic signature behind and contributed to what has made humans what we are today.

I don’t know how to end this.  I hope this makes some kind of point. I guess what I’m trying to describe is, the ingredient Creationists don’t want to take into account is time.  Creationists are used to thinking a deity said “let there be–” and there it suddenly was.  They apply that same kind of thinking to evolution.  They think one species just suddenly becomes something else. That’s not how it happens.  It takes time–millions of years.   Over time creatures that looked rather like wolves started hunting more and more in the water, started feeding more on fish than prey animals on land.  Over time these animals adapted to hunting in water, and came out onto dry land less and less.  Over time these animals developed limbs more like paddles instead of legs, and longer leaner bodies to make them cut through the water more swiftly.   And over a really long period of time these animals became cetaceans–dolphins, Orcas, whales.  Warm blooded mammals that live like fish in the sea.

Given enough time, a species will adapt itself to its changing environment.   Because if it doesn’t, or if the change happens too soon, it goes the other route.  It becomes extinct.  Or changes to the point that it hits a roadblock and cannot change or adapt anymore, which is what they guess happened to the Neanderthal.