Is There a Specific Event That Turned me?

Over at blog post https://thei535project.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/truth-is-you-may-not-have-been-saved-after-all/ I have been engaging with the author over the issue of salvation and whether or not one can become ‘unsaved’.

It is obvious from the post title that the author takes the position of ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’, which can only mean that those like me who walk away and reject the very notion of a god could never have been saved in the first place. That’s despite the Bible’s clear position that to be saved one only needs to ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ’. I think this is a patronising position to take and I have precious little respect for the idea. In the world Christian and ex-Christian communication, this is my hot button. If any subject is going to raise my hackles and cause me to lose it and dive headlong into a pool of text based trash talking, this is that subject. In previous such interactions it’s not been unusual for me to leave the literary equivalent of a stinking canine turd and depart for an ice bath to give the limey wrath a chance to dissipate.

What this means, is that James should be congratulated at managing a handful of days of discourse on the subject and both parties are still interacting calmly and thoughtfully. He’s achieved what no Christian before him has. Kudos to the man.

This post isn’t about that though, during the conversation, James asked me this:

Can I ask you a question?

Is there a specific time or event you can point to when your faith began to crumble?

You are mad a God? A perceived injustice? Unsaved loved one dying?

Could be anything and you don’t have to answer if you don’t want.

If you wish to answer and have already written about it, a link would be awesome.

The above deserves it’s own post because it covers a few things which Christians too often assume about their former brethren and these myths need to be squashed. So I’m making that post here rather than replying direct to James. I’ll paste a link there and see what follows.

Is there a specific time or event you can point to when your faith began to crumble?

Good question, thoughtful and genuinely seeking my experience, I wish more Christians would ask this. No there isn’t a specific time or event. It was a gradual process which started with some doubts, sparked by how a literalist interpretation of scripture is contradicted by knowledge gathered through the scientific process. The process from doubt to rejection was a few years. Deconversions tend not to be sudden or tied to a single event, the stories I read of others who have left suggest a slow and traumatic transition is by a long way the norm. This, in my view, damages the idea that these former Christians were not truly saved.

 So what did kill my faith?

 Science killed my faith (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/suddenly-i-realised-that-atheism-was-the-only-choice/).

You are mad a God?

Why would I be? This really is a nonsensical question. How could I possibly be mad at an entity that I don’t even acknowledge exists? I get mad at questions like this and I get mad at Christians (I’m not talking about James here) that tell me what it is they think I believe. The latter happens far too often and really must be a fault in a belief system that assumes it’s correct and can’t recognise its faults and fallacies. Seriously Christians, don’t do this, it’s infuriating; ask people what they believe and listen to their answers, don’t project your own theology onto them. I digress.

No, I don’t hate any god because there are no gods to hate. I hate the stuff the Christians do and say when they misrepresent me or how seriously I took my faith.

I have not ever in my years of these conversations suspected that any atheist has hated god. This is not the right question to ask and I think this question betrays a lack of understanding of why former Christians become vocal against the faith. I hope that this question comes from a desire to understand and not a need to self justify an incorrect assumption.

A perceived injustice? Unsaved loved one dying?

No and No again.

The second question is interesting, why specify an unsaved loved one? I can see how this one could be a difficulty for a Christian but not enough to break their faith surely?

I did struggle when my paternal grandfather died because I didn’t know his faith status and I was a very committed Christian at the time (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/my-wonderful-godly-grandparents/). I struggled with not knowing if I’d see my grandfather again in heaven. That uncertainty caused me some emotional torment. But the experience didn’t shake my faith. I see that torment as a fault with Christianity and I am very pleased that I no longer care about that, rejecting religion has given me the ability to appreciate the memories of a grandparent I loved without the sting of religion influenced eternal punishment. That is a good thing, but it is not a reason why I rejected religion.

Interestingly, James didn’t ask about the death of a saved loved one, but I’ll answer that question too, with a resounding no of course (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/death-of-a-much-loved-mother/).

 

Leaving The Fold -A BBC Documentary 

​If you’re a podcast listener,  i recommend adding The BBC’s The Documentary podcast. One of the most recent episodes, Leaving The Fold, features the stories of leaving faith.  One each from Sikh, Islam and fundamentalist Christianity. 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p046xpcy

It’s an enlightening listen and well produced.

Personally, i identified most with the expressions of freedom they related post exit. This comes in during the final minutes but don’t skip the rest to get there. 

An Argument from Size

The comments in the linked blog post are not new. I see them quite regularly in discussions with Christians. Like the referenced blog post the argument typically hinges on getting things wrong, because if those who made the argument actually made the effort to get their thoughts right, they’d not make the point.

A few quick corrections.

  • Looking for evidence of aliens does not in any way equate to belief in a deity. Extraordinary claims do require extraordinary evidence and someone who claims that there are actually aliens will come under that category. Places where alien life could exist can be measured because we know life requires water and energy so looking for planets with water that orbit a star is a good place to start. Scientists doing this are not worshiping those aliens and nor are they crediting those aliens (if they exist) with creating this world, the conflating of the search for evidence of aliens with religion is bogus and an utter mischaracterisation of the scientific process.

 

  • Not believing in a god is not the same as believing there are no gods. The state of non-belief is the position between two opposing beliefs. I don’t believe there is a god; that is I neither believe there is a god nor believe there are no gods. I sway strongly towards there being no gods and I will argue that position, but I’m not at the point where I believe it. I don’t believe there are aliens. That is I neither believe they exist nor believe there are none. I sway strongly towards there being aliens somewhere out there and I will argue that it’s likely but I do not have enough information to state with any confidence that they actually do exist.

 

  • Agnosticism is a position of knowledge, atheism is a position of belief. It is possible to be both agnostic (not having the knowledge to determine if there is a god) and atheist (not having any belief in any god). I identify as both.

 

  • The universe does not contain any proof for the existence of god. It does however contain proof to answer the question of the existence of aliens. Let’s go searching!

Lyle Duell

An Argument from Size

Once I had an atheist tell me that extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence.  Now, this may or may not be true, but it does demonstrate something about a number of atheists that I know.  It demonstrates  the inconsistency in their thinking for they say they cannot believe in a God  that they cannot see, for which they point out that there is no scientific evidence. And yet they believe that it is likely that there are alien life forms in the universe, which they have not seen nor do they have any evidence for their existence. I’ll grant that this may change at any time, however, for now it is the truth based on current knowledge.

They say the reasons for their readiness to accept alien life forms are based on the size of the cosmos and probability[1].  However, does not size and probability…

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<b>Did Adam Swat Mosquitoes in Eden?</b>

Did Adam Swat Mosquitoes in Eden?

So if the mosquito didn’t get slapped about before the fall, does that mean Adam, and other animals, willingly gave up their blood to feed them?

Or maybe the lamb willingly gave up a bit of leg for the lion, did it grow a new one afterwards?

Does no death before the fall include no vegetation death? Oh the poor hungry herbivores. Or maybe the fall was so rapid that no animal or plant had the chance to die, such was Adam’s keenness to sin.

Oh the literalist conundrum …

Bible-Science Guy

(4 Minute Read)

20000117-NewFallenWorld

Did bees, wasps, hornets, mosquitoes, scorpions, flies, ticks, and ants sting and bite Adam in the Garden of Eden?
Did dogs and snakes bite him in Eden?
Did Adam smash wasps and hornets in that Garden?
Did he squash ants in the Garden of Eden before sin entered the world through his disobedience?
Did he swat mosquitoes in Eden?

Such questions are often asked rhetorically about Adam with the assumed and expected answer, “Of course he did.”

But you won’t get that answer from me!

These questions are usually posed in order to claim that of course there was death before sin. The aim is to set up the evolutionist argument that the earth’s biosphere developed over long ages of time.

Adam would not have killed insects in the Garden of Eden before sin, because death, including animal death, is a consequence of sin, not…

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The Burden of Proof and Non-Belief

Can anyone else see the logic fail in the following sentence?

“This is why we find very few arguments against the existence of God and numerous arguments against the arguments of the theist, which proves nothing but the strength of the argument.”

Lyle Duell

The Burden of Proof and Non-Belief

 About two years ago I became interested in the new atheist movement and began to spend some time reading and contemplating it.  As I got into it, it struck me how much stress the new atheists puts on the question of who has the burden of truth[1] and on their belief that atheism should be categorized as a non-belief and not a belief.  It seemed that the significance they gave to these beliefs in their blogs diverted the attention away from the question of ‘does God exist’ and on to peripheral subjects[2]. At first this puzzled me and then it dawned on me how crucial these beliefs are to their thought system.

Why are these beliefs so important to new the atheists?  My suspicion is that some of them on the top of their intellectual food chain know that human reason…

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A Skeptics(!) Takes a Look at Science Part II

I read a few blogs whose authors clearly disagree with my worldview. I think it’s good to do that. This isn’t the first time I’ve made a post that’s commenting on the particular blog I’m responding to and I doubt it’ll be the last. It’s a veritable goldmine of potential posts, made all the more easier for the lack of a comments section.
You’ll need to read this to understand all of my comments below.
1) Science is based on observation and experimentation. ‘String theory’ doesn’t have much (any?) supporting evidence and is not widely accepted, or even seriously considered. The sentence “they spend an inordinate amount time and money chasing, trying to convince us  that they are truthful” isn’t true for string theory . Its a bad example. A good example would be the Higgs Boson, theorised, fits the models, generally accepted, expensive experiment built, tested and confirmed. Note ‘confrimed’, shown to be real, cost justified!

Then the author jumps to evolution. Why do theists so often do that? Start with something ‘out there’ and suddenly dive to evolution! Two completely different disciplines. It’s like they’re trying to taint the water or something.

Anyway, the reason why the evolutionary process is still being tested and experimented on is not to look for an elusive proof, but to learn. Each feature, behaviour and mutation has a different selective pressure and some are easier to explain than others. Learning is good. To sit back and think the job is done and we know it all is the utmost arrogance.

2) Scientists accept we all have biases, that’s why peer review exists. Even that isn’t perfect and sometimes fails us. Mistakes happen, but crucially, mistakes also get found out and corrected. It would be better to not have the mistakes and that’s the ideal, but bias means those will happen. No one should claim there is no bias in science. Though the scientific method itself, should be bias free and the process designed to eliminate bias.

To place any god into the science lab would be to introduce deep bias with presupposition. Excluding god isn’t bias, its the null hypothesis at work, it’s not specifically god that is excluded, but ALL presuppositions that should and must be excluded each and every single time, always and forever. When an experiment reliably and predictably indicates a god, then that god can come and play with the Bunsen burner, until then the cosmic waiting room is the best it can hope for.

3) theists regularly confuse lack of religion for another religion and this is an example of the nonsense that follows.

4) still rambling about religion. Oh if only we all lacked bias!

5) I have a dream! I have a dream that there is enough money going round for all the good science to get all that it needs every time it needs it.

Still going on about religion and invoked Bodwin’s Law, tut tut!

and finally

6) Science has discovered and described the easy stuff and is now onto the harder stuff. It’s only to be expected that as technology improves we’ll get to discover stuff that has previously evaded us. That’s why it took 100 years to discover gravitational waves. This is neither a shocking nor a ground-breaking suggestion.

As for physics having got to the end? Poppycock! With each new thing we learn we find more things that we now need to learn about. Any scholar that claims this for physics or biology isn’t well versed in physics or biology!

Censorship by the minority

One of my loves is thespianism, or amateur dramatics, to call it by its more well-known (and less mis-heard) name. The thrill of entertaining, the hard work on many rehearsal nights and the utter terror of fluffing it up in front of a live audience all combine into a hobby that is completely satisfying and jolly good fun. I generally enjoy the rehearsals far more than the performances. Rehearsals are where the cast goof off, laugh, mess up and generally get all the silliness out of the way.

Performance nights are when it all gets deadly serious, the adrenalin levels are high and the focus switches from entertaining ourselves to entertaining a paying audience. I love the rush I get in my chest before my first stage entrance, I stand ready in the wings, my hands sweaty, muttering my lines to myself and listening for my cue. That moment is equivalent to finding yourself alone with the hot girl you’ve fancied for months and you know this is the best (and probably only) chance you’ll get to ask her out for a drink!

My love of the stage goes back to when I was in my twenties and I managed, by accident more than design, to find myself in a couple of high profile local productions as well as various shows done with the church drama group, including a handful of pantomimes. The pantomime is a particularly British thing so any foreign readers may need to look that one up!

Unfortunately, work got in the way and I could no longer guarantee that I would not get called to a client halfway across the country a week before a show started. So I had to give up that hobby.

This changed two years ago and I’ve now found myself with stable work hours and a stable work commute. A very well respected local group, which puts on two shows a year, now gets my time two evenings a week. It’s a lot of hard work, matched by equal amounts of fun. The group performs in a small village hall and has some regular supporters who travel from the nearest city, 40 miles away, to see their shows.

It’s at this point that the issue of censorship comes up. Some of the groups’ supporters come from a church and our latest production, a mere six weeks away, includes profanity that comes under the banner of ‘taking the Lord’s name in vain’.

Someone from a church outside the area has read the script and complained to the chairperson of the committee responsible for the hall we use, who in turn passed on the complaint to the director of the play. The director herself is a Christian, and, with her husband, attends a local church. They aren’t offended by the langue used in the play. When she informed the cast of the conversation she’d had, the unsaid implication was that the route of communication used suggested that non-conformance with the complaint would result in some form of reprimand. Why didn’t the complainer go direct to the director to discuss the concerns? The director, a gentle and respected lady, was clearly bothered, and a little upset, by the conversation that she’d had.

Predictably, the cast are all furious. What has happened, is that some lines have been forced to be changed, by someone unconnected to the production, meaning that the rest of the visiting audiences will not get the performance planned by the team or a script as written by the author. Now, I am more than happy to concede that changing a couple of religious expletives to something less offensive to the minority isn’t a major blow to artistic licence. Amusingly (ironically?), a couple of the replacement phrases are actually funnier and add to the scene, though that is not true of all of them. Some are a loss too. The issue here isn’t so much about what has changed, it is that someone acquired a copy of the script to see what they would be offended by and, instead of choosing to avoid this show, they’ve forced it to be changed to suit their sensibilities. In doing that, they have ensured that everyone else gets their censored version of the show, not the show that was planned. Since when does any audience member get to have that power?

As a former believer, I do get the issue with blasphemy. It would have definitely jarred with me to hear “Christ!” uttered loudly in exasperation when other words could do the job effectively. I know Christians, who will come to see the show, who would feel the same if the phrase had remained unaltered. Does that give them the right to force a change? I don’t think so.

There are other parts of the play that the moralistic Christian could also feel aggrieved about. Here is a list:

  •  Casual racism
  •  Implied infidelity
  •  Blatant sexual innuendo
  •  Assumption of guilt before finding out the facts
  •  Admission of infidelity
  •  Constant verbal abuse of a wife by her husband
  •  Favourable discussion of prostitution

Shouldn’t a Christian be just as concerned about all of those too? If one feels it appropriate to demand lines get changed because they offend your god, why not the scenes that contain the above? Do they not offend?

My attitude towards religion has hardened. It isn’t a passive thing that people do, it’s a scourge that empowers the minority to dictate to the majority what they are allowed to enjoy. The sooner that power is weakened and removed, the better.

 

The Scientism Myth

I spend quite a lot of time engaging in, and often just watching, on-line arguments between believers and non-believers. I say arguments, because it’s rare that they can accurately be described as a discussion.

One of the most regular accusations I see comes in the form of “you are just a believer of scientism, so you have a religion too you know”. That’s not a direct quote, that my paraphrasing of the many different ways in which the accusation is worded.

The video in the post below explains well the thinking behind the scientism accusation. It takes ten minutes if you feel the need.

http://lyleduell.me/2016/02/12/the-limits-of-science-a-critique-of-scientism/

I like the very subtle irony that is best summarised as “you call me wrong because I believe stuff without evidence, but see, my logical argument proves you are the same, so you are just as wrong as me.”

The magic is really at the end 30 seconds of the video, it uses an example of Tyco Brahe’s model universe to show how something that is successful isn’t automatically correct. I agree, see religion. The point the video misses though is that the model was shown to be wrong by observation. The very thing that scientism mocks the love of.

Then in the dying moment, the video goes for its final point, the thing its leading up to. Scientism is apparently self-refuting because the idea that everything we know can be measured or observed is something that itself can’t be measured or observed. Sounds reasonable enough on the surface.

So you’d think that this would be the perfect opportunity to roll out something that we know which hasn’t been measured or observed, you’d think someone wanting to kill the monster of scientism would have the magic dagger waiting there wouldn’t you? Well I did anyway.

Spoiler alert, no such thing is offered.

This argument is also used by that glorious bastion of logical nonsense, reasonable faith (http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-scientism-self-refuting). This linked article goes further and makes the claim that scientism allows evil acts. Huh? Really?

This absurd accusation comes from the religious mind’s favourite non science claim, that in a world of pure science, all sorts of evil acts are accepted. The foundation of this the belief that morals are supernaturally assigned to us and cannot be explained any other way. Errr, wrong (http://www1.umn.edu/ships/evolutionofmorality/text.htm).

Wikipedia has a more balanced description of scientism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism). Which says that is the position that science is the most authoritative way of knowing. This differs from the religious claim that it’s the only way.

Finally, it may be worth noting that descriptions of scientism are littered throughout religious commentary critiquing the scientific method to the point where the question has to be asked, “What are they afraid of?” Commentary of scientism within the science community is almost absent outside of the context of science vs religion.

It’s as though science and scientists don’t even give two hoots about the accusation, I for one agree, it’s practically a worthless accusation because it assumes belief for the accusation to stick and yet those who throw the accusation require belief above all else.

Confused? You should be.

 

who knew

I’m reblogging this because it saddens me and I want to spread the sadness further rather than just pour sympathy into the comments section.

The author of the blog is also a good writer and an intelligent conversationalist.

Random thoughts

that atheists pose a threat to peace, welfare and good order of a nation? I think we have a long way to go in creating an all inclusive society.

The registrar of societies in Kenya, Maria Nyakiri, thinks so. She says so here

refusal to register atheists as a society

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