Fugitives from Fundamentalism

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

Joe Rogan vents on religion…..

Posted by Noraa on August 10, 2011

I haven’t posted on here in forever, but watching this prompted me to……

 

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Posted in Rants, Video | 7 Comments »

An Excellent Video on Morality (and its Absence in the Bible)

Posted by dsc01 on July 31, 2011

Posted in Video | 4 Comments »

Why Do Christians Have Such Shitty Lives?

Posted by dsc01 on July 12, 2011

This hardly qualifies as a proper post–just a rant–but seriously, guys! What is Christians’ problem?

Every day on Facebook, my Christian friends post about their trials and tribulations and how awful everything is.

“Oh, God, give me strength!”

“I’m giving it up to God!”

What the fuck does that even mean? The comments stack up beneath these poor martyrs’ statuses–“Just let go and let God,” “It’s hard, but you’ve just got to surrender.”

Does it just mean that they’re going to quit worrying about petty anxieties? You can do that without invoking God (or bothering your friends with self-indulgent pity parties).

How about you just quit being a drama queen and notice how life greets you with good things and bad things every day? And when something really bad comes along–something that wounds you deeply–why not just feel that sorrow, work through it, and quit it with the sackcloth-and-ashes routine?

For a group that so constantly preaches about “loosing the chains,” I’ve never seen so many people in bondage to their own misery.

Posted in Rants | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

Angel raping

Posted by Ann on June 27, 2011

If you rape angels God will destroy America. So don’t rape angels.

..and then I think he said something completely insane about Sodom and gay marriage, but I didn’t really hear it because I was thinking about angel raping and what that would entail, like how does one hold an angel down what with their wings, flight ability, special powers and all.

Posted in Humor, Religion in the News, Video | 1 Comment »

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

Posted in Books, Quotes | Leave a Comment »

Leaving the MK fold

Posted by Ann on May 14, 2011

There were many times as a child in a boarding school for missionaries’ kids when it felt a moment lasted an eternity…a very dark eternity alone. Other times I remember laying in the complete darkness of my boarding school room, feeling alone. As a child time seemed fluid. A few days felt like months. And I didn’t sense God, although my mind would reach for one. I only felt the darkness. Think Victor Frankl. Maybe why the idea of hell has no power over me now. There is such a thing as hell on earth. I do not think anyone deserves this…why can’t we be a’ight with people dying and becoming dust, their bodies returning to the universe they were born into?

I read a whole lot of books as a child (many many religious, and many many otherwise). Maybe partly how I escaped the indoctrination. When I read religious writing now, it sounds utterly empty to me. It is the spiritual that has more depth to me now, and even there I find “spiritual” writing little consolation for knowledge of my impermanence. After 20 years of my life in boarding school, private Christian school, a private Christian college, then with a dad who was a pastor, it was as a young adult, away from religious indoctrination, I discovered what it means to live. I will never go back. I am fully willing to accept the possible condemnation of people living with my old beliefs, and if hell is anything like boarding school, then a good God (if such a thing existed) wouldn’t send me there anyway–no doubt whatsoever. I am not afraid. And I do not wish hell on another living person, although I think the world is a better place with some people dead.

I was not wounded by fundamentalist beliefs themselves (simply ideas), but by the isolation and abuse in my childhood produced by the people whose behaviors were encouraged by these beliefs. And of course, the horrible cognitive dissonance they produce in me once I was infected by them. To live an authentic life is to live a better life. To do otherwise would mean living untrue to myself. My mental health has never been better, it seems mostly outside factors are the ones I have to buffer. It may be a good analogy for the religious to think of people like me as dead to religion and the idea of God, but alive to life. To just give us up to God and pray for us instead of attempting to bring us back to old ideology. It is not as if I did not study it fully for a very long time. I am rejecting your faith with full knowledge of what you believe. I find these beliefs to be wrong.

It is kind of strange knowing how people view you when you leave the fold. I remember the days of trying to bring people to the fold myself. But when you understand the illogic of the brain, you understand humans. I continue to hold much respect for the human experience.

Posted in Reflections & Memories, thoughts | 2 Comments »

Evidence of a rational mind

Posted by Ann on May 6, 2011

I’m not sure how to put it more succinctly than this. I read a post by John Loftus yesterday titled Osama Bin Laden was probably a good man. It was so rational, I thought I would post it here. It reaffirms the stuff I think and say, but rarely get validated. Maybe why I like reading his blog. Sometimes it feels strange to be criticized for being “too accepting” when deep in your mind you know you are really just “too rational” when it comes to people.

Osama Bin Laden was probably a good man; sincere, devout and God fearing. But all it takes to make good people do evil is religion. Keep that in mind. That is the lesson of his life. He was deluded in the same way as other believers. Some delusions cause more harm than others though, and he caused a great deal of it. The problem is he will never know he was deluded. Neither will any of the rest of them. What a waste of a life.

I would add that not all people who are religious waste their lives, but sometimes the bad people do outweighs any positive they have put into the world. And sometimes the bad can be rhetoric which influences thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of others. This can apply to nonreligious people as well.

Posted in Little Things | Leave a Comment »

Random quote from an article I read today

Posted by Ann on April 27, 2011

To determinists, our perception of personal freedom is a side effect of consciousness that, ironically, developed from a combination of natural laws and prior constraints in the pathway of human evolution. This consciousness gives each of us a sense of personal identity that allows us to perceive that we are somehow separate and independent from the rest of the world. We seem to be free agents, exempt from external constraints. But as Leo Tolstoy observed in War and Peace, we cannot easily consider ourselves free when we recall prior sequences of events that limited our choices and compelled us toward certain courses of action. The military generals in Tolstoy’s epic imagine they are controlling the fates of entire armies and even nations, but countless historical contingencies they are unable or unwilling to consider rigidly determine their every action. What it all comes down to, as philosophers from Friedrich Nietzsche to Galen Strawson have argued, is that we cannot be a causa sui, or the ultimate cause of ourselves. We had no say in the forces that produced us, and so we cannot be free in any ultimate sense of the word.

Free will is simply an illusion conjured by our ignorance of the causes affecting our behavior. This is what Baruch Spinoza meant when he quipped that if a rock possessed consciousness, it would believe that it fell of its own free will. The deeper we look at the various determinants bearing upon our actions, the more free will seems to be an abstraction without meaning in the real world. This seems to be true even if, as philosopher P. F. Strawson argued in a celebrated paper, belief in free will is a deeply ingrained component of human ethical reflection — we believe in free will because denying freedom undercuts the health of our social relationships. Someone who could know the myriad effects impacting our behavior would see that our every action is completely determined and predictable. As the mathematician Laplace famously argued,

“An intellect which at any given moment knew all the forces that animate nature and the mutual positions of the beings that comprise it, if this intellect were vast enough to submit its data to analysis, could condense into a single formula the movement of the greatest bodies of the universe and that of the lightest atom: for such an intellect nothing could be uncertain, and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.”

…How, then, does free will work? We do not completely understand, but we have clues. And just as we needed the mathematical development of calculus to clearly resolve Zeno’s paradox, we may find that the burgeoning mathematics of complexity theory will finally help us dispel our conceptual confusions about free will. Currently, it seems probable that complexity theory, together with our growing understanding of cognitive neuroscience, will throw much light on the process of making willed decisions. We will better understand how the complex arrangement of neurons in our brains leads to emergent states of conscious awareness, and the conscious mind feeds back on its neural networks to place itself in alternate conscious states. With time, we will also better comprehend how the brain converts sensory stimuli and knowledge of our environment into neural impulses and becomes part of the intricate network of causes and effects at work in our conscious minds. Finally, we will realize the conceptual confusions that cause us to see determinism and rational choice as incompatible, and will renounce our error. We will live in a deterministic world without fear, for we will no longer see determinism as a threat to the free will we cherish.

Phil Molé from his recent article: Zeno’s Paradox
and the Problem of Free Will

Posted in Cognitive Science | 2 Comments »

Reality Test 19-How has my thinking gone wrong?

Posted by Ann on April 3, 2011

19) People are generally immune to ideological change and often we don’t realize we are wrong

Resisting paradigm shifts is normal. We know it’s a human issue and have even given it a name– the Planck Problem. As physicist Max Planck observed, scientific innovation rarely occurs by converting opponents—more likely “opponents gradually die out and the growing generation is familiarized with the idea from the beginning”. Immunity to new ideas means even people who are educated and intelligent are unlikely to change deeply held background and core beliefs taken for granted (presuppositions). It’s just the way things are, so a person thinks. As a person gains knowledge and ideas about the world, and these ideas germinate, it becomes habitual to exclude any counterevidence. Confirmation bias occurs. As time passes humans begin to simply ignore information or ideas that don’t fit into their established perspectives. We develop immunities against new ideas. Time inoculates us.

Developments in psychology now indicate the higher the IQ, the greater the likelihood of developing ideological immunities. In other words, the smarter you are, your reasons for defending your points of view become stronger. In science, this human tendency works as a mitigator against the possibility novel ideas will overwhelm current systems and theories, and new theories are typically resisted. Part of this may lie in that, just as with religious believers, scientists may be very invested in their ideas for social, intellectual, or financial reasons. But good science does prevail and, although resisted and slow, change does happen. The geocentric model was displaced by the heliocentric model. The idea of stable continents by continental drift. Creationism by evolution. Sexism and racism by humanism. Change takes evidential support and time.

Humans love debunking the ridiculous ideas of others we know are wrong. We love to criticize the faulty reasoning of others. Yet the true skeptic must see past her emotional responses to have a clearer picture of the way things are, to see how the influence of society and culture frequently subjects science. It helps to look to our history to see how we have evolved in our thinking, to learn from the mistakes of our past to avoid making these mistakes again.

Spinoza’s Dictum: “I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.”

(with credit to Michael Schermer’s, “How thinking goes wrong”)

Posted in Cognitive Science, Reality Test | 1 Comment »

Denying evolution is lying

Posted by Ann on March 12, 2011

My father is a charismatic preacher. He has an ability to convince people to trust him implicitly. Maybe my years of interacting with him contributed to my desire to research the operations of the brain, to study the science of psychology. Much of what he says doesn’t make practical sense. Yet his ideas were pushed on me as truth. I was ordered to follow his rules (and my mother’s) based in these ideas in order to live in his home as a child, as are most children living under the rule of parents. At the same time, something always seemed off, not only about my parent’s fundamentalism, but also their perception of the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cognitive Science, Faith vs. Evidence, Reflections & Memories, Science, Testimonies | Leave a Comment »

Christianity is a delusion (as is all religion)

Posted by Ann on March 7, 2011

This video makes me laugh. It seems so clearly obvious. And the tone of the narrator is spot on (and so polite, sorta). The video outlines why what you believe, if you believe in religion or god, is a delusion. If only it was as easy as emailing this out to all of my faithful family and friends who are living under the delusion of Christian normalcy.  Sometimes it feels as though I should be able to take people by the shoulders, look them in the eyes point blank, and shake them out of the spell woven by their own minds.  Or maybe pry their eyes open and make them watch this video a dozen times (I kid, of course). A deprogramming video from WhyWontGodHealAmputees.com (with credit to Loftus for pointing me there):

“Thinking is the solution. If you will turn on your brain, the depth of your delusion will become obvious to you, and you will be able to start down the path to recovery.”

Posted in Humor, thoughts, Video | Leave a Comment »

National Institute for Civil Discourse

Posted by Ann on March 1, 2011

Caveat to the reader: The following is my opinion. I absolve all other contributors from this site from guilt by association.

I just read a criticism of the newly established National Institute for Civil Discourse on PZ Meyers’ blog, Pharyngula:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/oh_yeah_thats_exactly_what_we.php

I am disturbed by his statement that the development of the National Institute for Civil Discourse with honorary chairmen former Presidents Clinton and Bush made him want to gag. Meyers, you make me want to gag (your opinion anyway). And I don’t agree with the quote by Bierce, “Politeness, n. The most acceptable hypocrisy.” Change does come from civil discourse, civil polite discourse involving honest, straightforward opinions (and communication of facts). I don’t think all opinions are equally valid. And politeness, when everyone knows it is politeness, is not hypocritical.

Posted in Opinion, thoughts | 2 Comments »