Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

I am totally quoting a Facebook friend

Posted by Ann on November 2, 2011

Here’s a quote by a Facebook friend, who also happens to be an atheist, an MK, and a Master of Divinity. Like the contributors to this site, a majority of his friends and family are fundies. He is writing in response to a fundamentalist “friend” who has a long history of going onto his wall and posting incendiary comments under his status updates. His page is public, so I don’t think he’d mind me putting this up, at all…(shout out). Although he has technically “come out” as a non-believer, this is the first time I’ve seen him write this strongly about his lack of faith. He was attacked by more than one fundamentalist in this same thread:

Everyone has had hardships in their life, but I’ve not been ‘hurt’ in some way that makes me broken and angry toward God. You don’t know me, or my heart. Honestly, it’s completely inappropriate for you to speak like that. You should be ashamed of yourself. And it’s completely arrogant for you to assume that if I don’t believe in God I must be angry. What a cop out. You are just making stuff up, that has no basis in reality.

No, I don’t believe in God or Jesus, because I have no reason to. Where are they? What are they doing in this world? Nowhere. Nothing. If Jesus was ruling on earth, I’d serve him. But he’s not. How convenient, he went up to ‘heaven’ to rule. Ya, JFK is ruling in heaven too, right? Anyone can claim that, and it’s completely irrelevant. Unless God is active in the world, unless Jesus is ruling on earth, he’s irrelevant. And anyone who believes in his ‘rule’ is deluding themselves. Do it if you like, but don’t act surprised when others of us consider it delusional. We don’t ‘hate’ God, or run from Jesus because we’re hurt. We just don’t feel like deceiving ourselves and making things up. If it’s true, let’s see it. If it’s not something that we can know, then we’ll let others have their faith.

I’ll leave the condescending judgement to the religious people like yourself.

While I haven’t been hurt in some way that has broken my ability to think rationally and that has caused me to “run from god”, I have heard the same line from many people and my patience for that tactic is gone. I will not tolerate it. It does however go along with what I’ve consistently witnessed in the Christian community by a minority of people, albeit those in positions of power. I’ve seen it used against others and I’ve had it used against me. I’m speaking of this tendency for Christians to start thinking they have some special insight into the heart or spiritual life of another. And it’s usually masked in “concern” for the wayward brother, but it’s mostly arrogance and manipulation to accomplish some agenda. Very often it’s completely mistaken, like your comment. But these leaders have such spiritual authority in their dominions that few people are able to challenge them for fear of being labeled a rebel and trouble maker so the spiritual abuse continues. This has been rampant in nearly every Christian community I have been a part of, and that is a lot. It’s a way for these leaders to defend themselves by asserting spiritual superiority, and to avoid dealing with issues by projecting weakness in other people, under the guise of the holy spirit’s insight. I makes me so angry to witness that sort of abuse. That’s the background hopefully you can understand why I recoiled at you statements. And hopefully you will think twice before ever doing that to someone again.

I apologize for my inciting words as well. You are right that we have different perspectives. I didn’t post this to start an argument with you. But if enough people poke the dog, don’t be surprised if it bites back. It was a diary of my own thoughts on my wall. I welcome feedback but only if its intelligent and on topic. I do my best to respond to the numerous trails that fork off but I do get frustrated by statements which are patently false, e.g. It violates the laws of thermodynamics.

It really drives me crazy to hear someone say that they are the protectors of true science, contra all the scientists that disagree with them. Especially when that person’s entire world view is based on faith without evidence, and is the opposite of “good science”. It is difficult to hear you attack evolution as bad science, even though it has been rigorously debated and studied and tested for two hundred years by eminent scientists that know their field and the scientific method far better than you or i will ever know, meanwhile your beliefs are the exact opposite of good science. How can you condemn evolution as bad science, which is a very difficult thing to prove, and at the same time embrace a belief that flies in the face of all science. You can’t ride the same horse you are beating. Any claims you make against a closed loop equally apply to creation and God. We talk about physics because these laws govern how our known universe works. But there is much about our universe that we don’t know about. Origins of matter are mysteries we haven’t discovered yet, but that doesn’t mean we won’t learn. Or if they remain mysteries that is okay too, the physics and biology we can observe and test can still be true even if we don’t understand the origin of matter. It may call into question our perception of time, of start and end, and we may learn that to ask where something came from is in fact a silly question if there is no beginning or end but only a time loop where all things simply are. Will we understand, maybe never. But that doesn’t mean that within this reality plane things don’t work the way we observe.

In seminary Bruce Waltke pointed out the plain fact that there had to be cellular death before the fall. Trees have bark, animals ate plants, overpopulation of bacterial that never died would have killed the host animals that rely on them. Bugs and animals would have overpopulated and destroyed all life like a swarm of locust. It doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. And it only has to if you assume the authors were writing a modern scientific history, which clearly they were not.

The point is that Christianity does not teach science. It is skewed to the cultural knowledge of the writer’s time. And it’s preposterous to try to take the creation story as science because it simply is not written for that purpose. You are fighting a battle that isn’t important. And in the process you are condemning good science because it challenges your view of the bible, and this makes you suspicious of all science do you become an obstacle for responsible environmental stewardship as well. It’s all connected.

The fundamentalist guy comes back with the comment:

Just defending my God as you defend yours.

My friend CM, after deleting the guy W as a friend, responds:

You didn’t act like a friend W…. You never had anything but criticism for me. So I’m sure it’s no surprise that you’ve made yourself unwanted. There are consequences for your behavior. I’m sure it’s no great loss for either of us. You didn’t value anything I said anyway.

Take that! lol!!

P.S. Something he wrote earlier in this thread, in response to the claim evolution does not explain the complexity of life on earth:

You said “evolution” is bad science. Micro evolution is evolution. There is no difference, except scale and time. It’s the same principles. The universe is about 14 billion years old. We can see that in space radiation. We can calculate down the first fractions of a second when the big bang occured. The earth is about 4.5 billion years old. That’s a long time. Like it or not, a lot of micro-evolution has happened over the course of earth history. You and other Christians have way too simplistic a view of evolution. You fail to comprehend the scale of a millions of years and the minute changes that accumulate over time. The fossil record shows these subtle changes. Living species show how fast species can adapt. It’s crazy to think about. It’s mind blowing to comprehend, but then again, so is that scale of time. We can’t comprehend the size of the universe, or the scale of 14 billion years. And yet, it’s real. Just because we can’t comprehend it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible.

Evolution is a theory. Just like Gravity. We don’t know everything about it. Science doesn’t claim to have complete knowledge, only what it knows how to test today. But we can know enough, to have confidence that gravity is real and predictable in most situations. The same is true of evolution. We don’t know with certainty how everything happened, we can’t literally look back in time. We can only study the fossil remains and living biology. And we will continue learning more. But we have learned enough to say that evolution is the best theory about the origin of the species, based on the best science that is available to us. In the future we may have better science and our theory may improve, but it is the best explanation for the facts that we currently have.

You may accept six day creation by faith (many christians hold that it’s a poetic myth told for theological purposes). That’s fine. But it has no scientific evidence to support it. So don’t attack evolution for not being completely provable. At least evolution has way more proof than creation. If you don’t care about science, fine, believe in six day creation and ignore the science of evolution. But don’t pretend that it is ‘bad science’ because it contradicts what the bible says. Just agree to believe the bible regardless of science, because that is what you are doing.

You may not like the science because it makes you ask hard questions about your faith. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that the science is bad. Don’t try to claim science as your defense, while at the same time believing in a faith that has no scientific evidence. You can’t have it both ways.

Bang bang!

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Posted in Quotes, Rants | 3 Comments »

Why I am Godless…

Posted by Ann on June 26, 2011

I recently picked up Dan Barker’s book Godless again. I know some people get really confused by my atheism. Why would someone in their right mind deny the existence of God? Barker does a wonderful job in his book of explaining why people aren’t atheists because they reject God, but because a supernatural being has never been proven to exist. In fact, there has never been a single bit of scientific evidence to support the existence of a supernatural being. All of the proofs used for God’s existence to date have been shown to have perfectly natural explanations. The probability of God’s existence can be placed at zero. This lack of evidence does not prove God does not exist, but clearly it means there is no evidence for a God’s existence or a reason to hypothesize about the existence of God. There is no reason to assume a God MIGHT exist.

The chapter “Why I became an atheist” stood out for me the last time I read Godless, and again this time browsing it, so I thought of sharing it here:

[M]ost non-philosophers do feel that there is a wealth of evidence for a god. Miracles, changed lives, fulfilled prophecies, biblical revelation, the resurrection of Jesus, unsolved scientific questions (which they mistake for evidence), coincidences they say could not have happened by chance, inner experience, selfless acts of kindness and so on all prove to the believer that God exists.

Some offer attempts at rational arguments. Since many of these believers cannot imagine themselves as nonbelievers, they try to detect some ulterior motive for atheism. Rather than accept the straightforward statement that there is no evidence for a god, which allows the implication that their worldview might be wrong, many Christians have claimed to guess the “true” cause of unbelief.

Here are some of the ad hominem arguments I have heard:

“You resent moral guidelines and want to be free to live a life of sin and selfishness.”

“You dislike authority.”

“You want to be different and stir up trouble.”

“You are arrogant and hate God and want to be higher than God, like Lucifer (Satan).”

“Your heart is in the wrong place.”

“You have been hurt by Christians, or offended by certain nonrepresentative immoralities and crimes in the Church.”

“You are impatient and disappointed that not all your prayers are answered.”

“You feel let down by God, who didn’t answer your prayers the way you wanted.”

“You are cold, empty and pessimistic.”

“You are an angry person.”

“You are too stupid, blind, limited or afraid to see what is obvious to everyone else.”

“You have been seduced by scientists into refusing to accept the possibility of miracles.”

“You are an atheist because you don’t know the true meaning of love.”

None of these accusations is true. None is relevant. A strong clue that a person is arguing from a position of weakness is when they attack character rather than arguments and facts.

Bertrand Russell pointed out that ad hominem is a last-ditch defense of the losing side. My atheism has nothing to do with any of this. Even if it did, how would it add to the evidence for a god?

By the way, an ad hominem argument is not the same as a character attack. Ad hominem is when you use the character of your opponent to dismiss his or her argument. It would not be ad hominem to say that “My opponent is a thief,” but it would be to say that “My opponent’s conclusion is wrong because my opponent is a thief.” My opponent might be a horrible person with ulterior motives, but that would not make his or her reasoning or conclusion wrong.

The only times the opponent’s character is relevant in a debate are when the specific topic is morality, when it is fair to examine possible hypocrisy, or when eye-witness evidence is being offered and a history of dishonesty might weaken credibility. In those cases attacking character is not ad hominem.

The Catholic Church, for example, claims that believing in Christ makes you a better person, then it is not unfair to point to the clergy sexual abuse scandal as evidence against that claim. (Who should be more representative of the religion than the priests?) It would be ad hominem and inappropriate, however, if I were to say, “Don’t believe anything the Church teaches because their leaders are pedophiles.”

When Peter (if the story is true) told his friends that he saw the resurrected Jesus, the fact that he had recently lied by denying that he knew Jesus lowers the credibility of his testimony. It is not ad hominem to point this out because it is not part of a logical argument; it is an assessment of the reliability of a witness.

The claim that I am an atheist because I don’t understand “love” is particularly ironic. I do understand what love is, and that is one of the reasons I can never again be a Christian.

Love is not self-denial. Love is not blood and suffering. Love is not murdering your son to appease your own vanity. Love is not hatred or wrath, consigning billions of people to eternal torture because they have offended your fragile ego or disobeyed your rules. Love is not obedience, conformity or submission.

It is a counterfeit love that is contingent upon authority, punishment or reward. True love is respect and admiration, compassion and kindness, freely given by a healthy, unafraid human being.

The argument about “anger” is equally intriguing. There is nothing wrong with anger if it is not expressed destructively. Paul said believers should get angry (Ephesians 4:26). Jesus got angry (Mark 3:5).

Christians get angry often. I am rarely angry, certainly never when I am discussing atheism with believers, but many Christians project their own feelings back toward me and claim that I am angry when I quote horrible bible verses or level criticisms of Christianity that make them angry.

What if I were to say, “The reason you are a Christian is because you are an angry person”? Many atheists, as well as believers, are often justifiably angry at the way religion clouds judgment and leads to dangerous behavior, but that is a result of reason and ethics, not a cause of it.

The word “atheist” is not a label; it is merely a description. (Although, of course, any word can be made into a label for PR reasons.) Since I do not believe in a god, I am by default described as an atheist. If there is evidence for a hypothesis, then I will gladly look at the data. If the claim itself is illogical, however, or if it is based on something other than honest investigation, it can be dismissed as wishful thinking, misunderstanding or a lie.

Theists do not have a god: they have a belief. Atheism is the lack of theism, the lack of belief in god(s). I am an atheist because there is no reason to believe.

To read more of this chapter click here: http://www.thescavenger.net/feminism-a-pop-culture/why-an-evangelical-preacher-rejected-god-615.html

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Review of “Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior”

Posted by Ann on February 20, 2011

Read a book review yesterday by John Loftus. It made a lot of sense to me, this idea that people are constantly falling into the mind traps of irrational thought…a hidden world of “sways” or pulls” trapping us into irrational thinking. People seem to be drawn to the irrational. I don’t find it surprising how much irrationality goes into faith. Sadly, this faulty decision making based in irrational values, fears, and biases more often than not results in the suffering and deaths of so many in our world. Until we are free of religious superstition, how can we possibly expect freedom from irrationality? Seems like our irrational selves can only be dealt with when we free our minds of the arrogant belief we are not irrational.

Here’s a little excerpt from his review:

The authors focus on three currents and hidden forces that cause us to act irrationally, “value attrition,” which is our inclination to attribute to a person or thing a certain value based on our initial perceptions, “loss aversion,” which is the tendency to go to great lengths to avoid possible losses, and “diagnosis bias,” which describes our blindness to all evidence that contradicts our initial assessment of a person or situation. In the midst of this they show other ways we’re influenced by the sway of irrational behavior.

About value attrition the authors say: “Once we attribute a value to a person or thing, it dramatically alters our perceptions of subsequent information.” (p. 55) And then “it’s very difficult to view it in any other light.” (p. 56). It is such “a strong force that it has the power to derail our objective and professional judgment.” (p. 63).

About loss aversion the authors say: “The more there is on the line, the easier it is to get swept into an irrational decision.” (p. 22). A closely linked sway is called “commitment.” The more that a person has a commitment to an idea then the more it is virtually impossible for him or her to take a different path. Independently these two forces have a powerful effect on us, “but when the two forces combine; it becomes that much harder to break free and do something else.” (p. 30).

About diagnosis bias the authors say that it “causes us to distort or even ignore objective data.” (p. 75). As such, “we often ignore all evidence that contradicts what we want to believe.” (p. 88)

The authors give us plenty of interesting examples and psychological studies proving that this is what human beings do in ordinary decision making, some of which cost the lives of many people. My argument is that if this is what takes place in our ordinary decision-making, then how much more does this apply when it comes to faith!

For some reason this is reminding me of Nietzsche when he wrote on how one becomes what one is:

Seeing that before long I must confront humanity with the most difficult demand ever made of it, it seems indispensable to me to say who I am. Really, one should know it, for I have not left myself “without testimony.” But the disproportion between the greatness of my task and the smallness of my contemporaries has found expression in the fact that one has neither heard nor even seen me. I live on my own credit; is it perhaps a mere prejudice that I live? … Under these circumstances I have a duty against which my habits, even more the pride of my instincts, revolt at bottom, namely, to say: Hear me! For I am such and such a person. Above all, do not mistake me for someone else!

At the end of their book, the Brafman brothers make a good summarizing statement. What if people accepted this idea of irrationality and began to actively identify the difference between their opinions and the facts?

“It is only by recognizing and understanding the hidden world of sways that we can hope to weaken their influence and curb their power over our thinking and our lives.” (p. 181).

Posted in Books, Links, Quotes, thoughts | 2 Comments »

Belief or Inquiry

Posted by Ann on July 26, 2009

I’m reading Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist by Walter Kaufmann. Nowadays I enjoy reading stuff that makes me think and question.  As an MK whose parents belonged to an ultra conservative, evangelical Christian mission, New Tribes Mission, it is a freeing experience to read authors whose ideas are so very non-fundamentalist.   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Books, Faith vs. Evidence, Opinion, Philosophy/Theology, Quotes | 5 Comments »

The Youth

Posted by Ann on May 7, 2009

millerYouth ends where manhood begins, it is said. A phrase without meaning, since from the beginning of history man has never enjoyed the full measure of youth nor known the limitless possibilities of adulthood. How can one know the splendor and fullness of youth if one’s energies are consumed in combating the errors and falsities of parents and ancestors? Is youth’s only mission on earth to rebel, to destroy, to assassinate? Read the rest of this entry »

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Tyranny

Posted by Paulo on May 6, 2009

t_paine“Of all the tyrannies that afflict mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst. Every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in, but this attempts a stride beyond the grave and seeks to pursue us into eternity.”
– Thomas Paine

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Church bells ringing

Posted by Paulo on March 5, 2009

nietzsche1When on a Sunday morning we hear the bells ringing, we ask ourselves: is it possible? This is going on because of a Jew crucified 2,000 years ago who said he was the son of God. The proof of such an assertion is lacking. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why I Am Not A Christian

Posted by Paulo on July 7, 2008

This is, of course, the title of Bertrand Russell’s essay. I wanted to post the following excerpt, as it is well worth reading:

b_russellWe want to stand upon our own feet and look fair and square at the world — its good facts, its bad facts, its beauties, and its ugliness; see the world as it is and be not afraid of it. Read the rest of this entry »

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