My Deconversion Isn’t Sad, and My Atheism Isn’t Bad


cropped-out-and-proud1

I came across this post today, and I thought I would respond: https://everythingelo.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/christian-converts-jesus-help-them/.

The author wonders how anybody could go from being a devout Christian to being an atheist. As someone who has gone through that conversion, I thought I’d share my story.

As I’ve said before, I grew up in a Christian family. I was baptized when I was two weeks old, I went to church every Sunday, I attended Sunday School, summer Bible camp, and I was part of a Christian girl’s group. I even sang in the choir for a short time. I loved going to church and participating in those groups. I thought it was important to be involved. I thought participating in church groups was part of what it meant to be a good person. I believed that God existed, and I believed that Jesus was his son. I believed in the Bible stories I was told. I accepted the miracles as factual. In short, I truly believed. I was a Christian.

My deconversion began when I was about 8. My family stopped going to church every Sunday, so I was no longer surrounded by people telling me that questioning was bad. I wasn’t surrounded by people who kept telling me that I had to believe. Of course, I didn’t stop believing right away, but I think getting away from that environment made my deconversion smoother, because I wasn’t as worried (though I was still quite worried) about the consequences of my deconversion. Around that same time I also became fascinated with astronomy. I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. I could tell you what the different kinds of clouds were, I could point out and name a number of different constellations, and I could tell you the difference between a planet and a star when seen through a telescope. I was constantly going out of my way to learn more. I had books on space, I kept a journal where I wrote down everything I learned, I did a ton of research on the internet, and I even watched documentaries aimed at adults.

It was one such documentary that sent me down the path of deconversion. This particular documentary was way beyond my 8 year old understanding. It talked about black holes. At one point, one of the scientists being interviewed mentioned, but didn’t define, the Big Bang Theory. I had never heard of it before, so I was confused as to what it was. After the documentary was over, I hoped on the computer and did some Google searches. It took a while for me to find a site that I could understand, but I finally found a science website aimed at kids. The explanation of the Big Bang given on the site was overly simplified, but it helped me form an understanding that I was later able to build on. The same sight also talked about Evolution, so I read about that too. I didn’t really question the accuracy of either theory at the time. I had been taught to trust my authorities, and I viewed scientists as the authorities. Today I have a lot better understanding of both theories, and I’m able to say that the website I found wasn’t very accurate, but it did give me the building blocks I needed to understand.

At the time, I held firmly to the assumption that God existed while also accepting the scientific theories that I learned about. I didn’t really think there was any conflict. I had also been taught that belief in God was required for morality, and I honestly thought that everybody believed in God. I didn’t know that not believing was even possible.

But, as I grew older, I thought about God less and less. I didn’t pray very often, I rarely went to any church service, my parents never talked about religion, it just wasn’t a part of my life in any meaningful sense. Given my upbringing, I felt bad about that. Every once in a while I would push my mom to take me to church, and I would challenge myself to pray more. I tried to be a better Christian, but as time went on I cared less and less. Eventually I found myself wondering about God and Christianity. I began thinking about the problem of evil. Around 13 I discovered that child soldiers are a thing. I wondered why God would allow such a thing. I wondered why God would let people use his to justify such a thing. Then I began to wonder about other things. Why would God allow poverty, abuse, and divorce? Why would God allow bad things to happen to good people and good things to happen to bad people? At 13, I was quite troubled by those issues.

But those thoughts soon became “does God exist?” instead of “why would God allow bad things?” I was still fascinated by science. At 13 I no longer wanted to be an astronaut, instead I wanted to be an archaeologist. I still read a lot about science, and I watched documentaries. I loved researching on the internet. And I began to realize that God isn’t necessary. God isn’t necessary for the universe to exist, because we have the Big Bang. The Big Bang is actually supported by evidence that my 13 year old self could find online, but all I had to go on for God’s existence was what I was told. God wasn’t necessary for people to exist either: we had the Theory of Evolution to explain that. Again, I could see the evidence online. I could even see the evidence at the local museum. But there was still no evidence for God. I didn’t even have personal evidence. At that time, I realized that I had been praying to God all my life and had never had a single response back. God had never answered my prayers. That realization scared me. At first I suppressed it. I thought it must be my fault. If God didn’t answer my prayers, then it must because I wasn’t worthy, right? So I clamped down on my questioning. I tried to be a better Christian. I went back to asking my mom to take me to church and I went back to praying. I don’t think I actually believed in God anymore, but I was terrified of the social consequences, and it is hard to get rid of the nagging feeling that you’re going to hell.

But that only lasted a year. At 14 I found it too hard to believe that the lack of response was my fault. So my last prayer was a challenge: answer me and prove you exist or I’ll never pray again. God didn’t answer, so I didn’t pray. I still held on to a lot of the socialization associated with being raised a Christian: I still thought that Christians were morally superior, I still thought that questioning God’s existence was bad, and I still thought that everybody believed in God. I still hadn’t come to terms with my own lack of belief. I didn’t know that it was possible to not believe. I didn’t know what an atheist was. I was willing to admit to myself that God wasn’t necessary for the universe or humans to exist, and I didn’t pray or try to be a Christian, but I thought I still believed in God.

I was 15 when I first learned about what an atheist was. I found out when one of my classmates came out as an atheist. At  first I was appalled. How could anybody not believe in God? But then I thought about it. It didn’t take me long to realize that I actually agreed with my classmate. By that time I was more spiritual than religious. If the Christian God wasn’t the right God, then I thought I should find out which god was the right one. I never could agree with any of them. But I wasn’t willing to call myself an atheist despite agreeing with my classmate. That took until I was 18.

I first called myself an atheist out loud while at Boston Pizza with two friends. I don’t know why, but one of my friends told us that he was an atheist. My other friend said he didn’t care because he was an atheist too. I said that I was also an atheist. It was the first time I’d had a real discussion with other atheists. This was around the time when The God Delusion, God is Not Great, and a number of other atheist books were released. Since I was now willing to admit my atheism, I thought it was a good time to do some reading on the subject. After all, I had been reading books from every religion, so I might as well read the arguments against religion. I read God is Not Great first. That took me from being an atheist to being an outspoken activist atheist, which is what I still am today.

That is my story about how I went from a Christian to an atheist. It’s not a terribly exciting story, there was no tragedy or hate involved, but it is my story.

The author of the linked to post then related a personal experience that she believes to be a miracle, and then claims that everyone has experienced a miracle. Getting sick and then feeling better the next day is not a miracle. It happens all the time. Yes, sometimes we feel really bad one day, and it appears to be a bad illness, but it seems to go away for no reason. That doesn’t mean a miracle happened. Sometimes we get gas pains. We can feel the gas putting pressure on our intestines as it swirls around through our digestive track. Usually we fart or burp and then move on, but sometimes it seems to move around and get worse, to the point where it can feel like something is seriously wrong, and then it just dissipates. Sometimes we eat something that doesn’t agree with us and it can feel like food poison, but then it gets digested and we feel better. And sometimes we get sick but our bodies fight it off quickly. There are numerous reasons why you could feel sick one day and then be better the next. Miracles are things that can’t be explained by natural causes. Show my the sky raining blood, or a pig grow wings and begin to fly, and I’ll consider that a miracle. But something that commonly occurs and can be explained naturally is not a miracle.

As for the claim that we all experience miracles, how can you know that to be true? Unless you talk to everybody, unless you know every event in every person’s life, you can’t know what they have experienced. You may wish to call ordinary things miracles, but unless you can prove they weren’t caused by natural events you are just offering your opinion.

As someone who was a Christian, I understand the fear that Christians feel at the very thought that someone may doubt God, and I understand the belief that we need to be saved, but personal anecdotes aren’t convincing. Neither are Bible passages. I can read the Bible just fine. I know what it says. I’m just not convinced it’s true, which is why the Bible needs to be proven before I’ll be convinced. If you are right, then you can convince me. But I’m not going to do the job of convincing myself that God exists any more than you’re going to do the job of convincing yourself that God doesn’t exist. After all, why would anybody convince themself of something they don’t believe? That would make no sense. As far as I’m concerned, I know what I believe, and I have evidence to support my beliefs. So, please, if you’re truly worried about my soul, give me an argument that I can actually be convinced by. But if you’re not worried enough about my soul to do that, then don’t worry at all, because I’m fine. I’m not a lost sheep. I don’t feel like I’m missing something. And I’m not afraid that I’ll end up in hell.

Advertisements

33 responses to “My Deconversion Isn’t Sad, and My Atheism Isn’t Bad

  • em5554

    Thanks for the reply, I am not sure why it doesn’t allow me to reply to your reply hehehe, so if you don’t mind, I will input my response in a new comment.

    I was able to follow your logic well, until I read (I hate pulling quotes, but here it is) “So to say “god did it” or to even imply it’s a likely possibility is dishonest because no one knows, not you, not me, not the world smartest physicists.”

    I understand you don’t find any good reason to think “God did it”, or find God as a meaningful reason for it to have happened, but I find it equally dishonest to claim “God didn’t do it” because, like you said, no one knows….

    I don’t mind sharing my beliefs with you. I admit, I could be wrong but as a seeker of truth, I cant just keep these to myself and miss out on an opportunity for an intellectual conversation. When it comes to searching whether God did it or not, I cannot rely on religion. Any of them. Between you and me, hehe, they’re all full of crap. However, I cannot declare that because all religions are b.s., -> God does not exist. Follow my logic? Religions all started by men who “heard” God, “spoke” with God, or “were one with God”. It’s b.s., how can anyone trust what could potentially have been hallucinations?

    I suspect there is a God/Creator/Essence/Engineer/Something-Undefinable/etc. that may have been catalyst to the big bang. This is because out of all the possibilities the explosion could have lead to, it had to be this. What I mean to say is, why is reality what reality is? We can explain how gravity pulled atoms together, formed stars, created more elements, that led to planets and more stars, that led to water combining, etc. etc. But why that way? If hydrogen didn’t fuse with oxygen, there would be no water and possibly no life, but they bond because they can. We can delve deeper and ask why? and a physicist will explain valence electrons and so on. But why? Why go through all the trouble of expending inconceivable amounts of energy that harmoniously came together? Is it so that we are born to live in a shitty world where we argue about God (by argue I mean ISIS, Taliban, al Qaeda vs. the west) and then to die?

    So, I know this might not be “ah-ha!” answer you’d like to read, but because I am, when I could not have been, I wonder, why am I? Why are we? I suspect there is Something (God/Creator/Catalyst/etc.) above my level of thinking that could know because we can’t seem to know. Hence my suspicion. But who knows? Maybe we (humans) will evolve into Dr. Manhattans over millions of more years (if we survive that long) and we will know.

    About consciousness, I understand what you mean. Perhaps it was unfair of me because it is in fact an ill-defined term… But, I couldn’t throw in the word “spirit” out there because you’re an atheist hehehe. Now, this merits an essay, but I will try to re-define what I was trying to convey. We don’t know what happens to us when we die. Does part of our human identity that perceives reality right now live on, or is it simply deleted like a program in a computer? This goes back to what you and I agree about the time before the big bang, we just don’t know… But if you wish to learn about my personal thoughts on consciousness, I can point you to one of my long blog posts where I discuss my definition of consciousness in terms of the possibility for self awareness in robots (I am an engineer…) Just let me know.

    And this might seem weird to you, but yes, I did remove the tool we seem to have to deal with a Deity as most modern people think of them in the west. I do this because I don’t know what I don’t know. And if I wish to know, I must start fresh from the beginning. To tell you the truth, I have no idea where to start, but I am trying… Maybe I am crazy, but, hell, considering there are no answers as to why reality just is, why not throw away my life as a philosopher? Like they say, yolo!

    I invite you to take a peek into my blog post: https://em5554.wordpress.com/essays/on-atheists/
    As a former atheist, I was wondering why others chose to become atheist so I went to YouTube and found nothing but mockery from atheists… This prompted me to write a little angry post hehehe… But, I think you will learn where I am coming from. You don’t come off as an arrogant atheist and I enjoyed learning from you. Thanks (:

    p.s. Sorry for writing a lot!

    Like

  • The Brain in the Jar

    Great post. Most atheist posts I’ve read have little reason, and consist of just anger at a religious mom. I understand that it’s a bummer when your mom doesn’t want you to watch porn, but what does that have anything to do with God’s existence? Then again, they were all teenagers.

    I went through a similar process of deconversion. I was raised Jewish, but my parents weren’t very religious themselves. I’m not sure when it happened, but eventually I decided that religion is too flawd to be right. My belief is similar to deists – There’s a God, he started the whole thing and then he sat back. I was never convinced that God should somehow be an active agent, and any attempt to give God human qualities seemed pathetic. God forgives? Why should he? He’s fucking God!

    Then again, I haven’t read much literature on the subject of religion and atheism. Still, I enjoyed this post.

    Like

  • Ros

    Thanks for sharing your story. I found it interesting – particularly the bit about initially feeling afraid of the consequences of not believing. I can relate to that to a certain extent because I think faith and identity are quite firmly tied up together. Conversion inevitably means a change in the way others see you.

    I’ve questioned my faith a number of times and spending the rest of eternity in Hell has always been the least of my concerns. I don’t believe in eternal punishment anyway. In my view, such a God could never be worthy of worship, even if he did exist. But I have been aware of the challenge that a change in my identity might present. It’s not the reason I have kept my faith, but I’m aware that it’s there.

    Like

  • hopingandmunching

    I believe in God, but I understand why the emotional story of my conversion may not mean much to others even though it is so important to me. You are an intellectual and know that there is no way to prove God in the same way you can prove a math formula, but nonetheless I think there is evidence, albeit circumstancial. That is where the faith comes in, I’m sure you’ve heard that a million times. Tell me, what do you think of Bible prophecies? Like the ones in Daniel 2 and 7, about the empires of the world, Rome and such?

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      They’re too vague to be useful. People apply the meaning to the prophecies that they want to see. Plus, there is reason to believe that a number of the “prophecies” were written years after the event they’re said to propheci occured. Unless the prophecy actually names the event and explains it in great detail, and unless it can be shown to have been written years before the event, I don’t think prophecies are useful or reliable.

      Like

  • Joe

    I enjoyed reading your account. But I wonder about this:

    “If you are right, then you can convince me. But I’m not going to do the job of convincing myself that God exists any more than you’re going to do the job of convincing yourself that God doesn’t exist. After all, why would anybody convince themself of something they don’t believe? That would make no sense. As far as I’m concerned, I know what I believe, and I have evidence to support my beliefs. So, please, if you’re truly worried about my soul, give me an argument that I can actually be convinced by”

    Consider your first sentence.
    You might be right about evolution but that doesn’t mean you can convince a creationist. You might be right about God not existing but that doesn’t mean you can convince me.

    I wonder if we get too wrapped up and concerned about whether or not others believe in God. I don’t mean to come off as uncaring. It’s not that I am not worried about your soul. Admittedly I don’t lose sleep over it. I don’t really know you, plus I am not so sure that atheism is going to doom you. But even if I were more concerned I don’t think people should be all about trying to convince others of their religious beliefs. I think its bad form.

    If you want to read reasons why I am a Christian you can read my blog. Will it convince you to be a Christian? No. Will you find what I say or at least some of the topics interesting and rewarding to read? Well I hope so. Will you better understand why I personally believe? Sure.

    I used to think its important that people understand this or that about religion or what not. But I also found that I am not open to the truth myself when I am more interested in convincing others. I am much more open and have an easier time understanding others when I am not concerned with convincing anyone of anything. That’s just me though.

    I will also say I think in general society is better off if people don’t make other people’s religious beliefs their business. I think we can talk our beliefs and where we think the other might be wrong, even though I don’t make your beliefs my business.

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      Not everybody is concerned with convincing others they are right. In fact, I don’t think even the loudest of Evangelicals are truly concerned about my soul. After all, like you said, they don’t know me. I think a lot of the whole trying to convert others thing is peoples way of making themselves feel better.
      But, at the same time, if someone were adamant in their belief that not believing is enough to get me sent to hell, I have to respect the person who would go out of the way to convert me more than the person who would just say “it’s not my job.” After all, the person who is trying to convert me is going out of their way to save me. The other person, however, is willing to let me be tortured for eternity. But that, of course, only applies to those people who believe that atheists go to hell for being atheists.
      I do think that it is important to realize that we may be wrong. Yes, any given person’s argument may not convince me, because they may just be bad at arguing. But, theoretically, if you have the truth, you can convince me. It is not impossible. Though you would have to be able to convince me that it is true, if you have the truth you should also have the evidence to prove that it is the truth

      Like

      • Joe

        I agree with what you say except this part:

        “But, theoretically, if you have the truth, you can convince me. It is not impossible. Though you would have to be able to convince me that it is true, if you have the truth you should also have the evidence to prove that it is the truth”

        Just because something is true that does not mean we will have evidence for it. The universe is not so convenient. You might have back pain yet not be able to prove it with evidence other than your saying you have pain.

        2 people can leave a room and have completely contradictory statements about what was said If there is no recording there may not be any evidence to prove which one is telling the truth. Indeed the evidence that exists might generally favor what is false. People do get falsely convicted even though the burden is beyond reasonable doubt. This shows that there is often evidence supporting a false view.

        This can happen even when the judge whom we are trying to prove something to is impartial.

        Like

        • hessianwithteeth

          If you don’t have evidence for your belief, then you cannot say that you know the truth. You may be right, but you don’t know you are right any more than I do. In that case, you shouldn’t be trying to convince me that you are right, you should be trying to finding out what is right. You cannot say that you have the truth without actually knowing you have the truth, even if your belief is right, because you don’t know. Saying otherwise is dishonest.
          To have knowledge requires evidence, not just true belief. And trying to convince someone that you are right when you don’t know that you are right is dishonest.

          Like

          • Joe

            Traditionally knowledge is understood as justified true belief.

            I might know I have back pain and be justified in this belief because I feel the pain. Yet I may not have evidence of this pain that I can produce to someone else.

            Same is true if I hear someone say one thing and then deny it. I will know what they said even if I can’t produce any evidence to prove what they said.

            So one might be justified in believing something yet not have convincing evidence to present to another.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            Knowledge is justified true belief. If you have back pain, you can produce evidence: if you clutch your back, that is evidence, you can take pills for your back, which would be evidence, you can go to a doctor or a chiropractors, which is evidence, you can even get a brain scan done, which is evidence.
            Being as human memory isn’t great, if you say “you said x,” and the person responds “no, I said y,” you can’t know what they said. There is a very good chance you’re wrong.
            Justified true belief doesn’t mean “I feel vindicated in believing x,” it means “I believe x, because a, b, and c suggest x is the case.” A, b, and c are your evidence for believing x. Evidence is what you’d use to show your claim is accurate, which is also how you’d convince others.

            Like

          • Ros

            ‘If you have back pain, you can produce evidence…’ I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t see ‘clutching your back’ or ‘taking pills’ as objective evidence of back pain. I might choose to believe that someone has back pain despite this lack of objective evidence, but that doesn’t make the evidence that I do have any more reliable. I am basically taking their word for it. Yet they might be faking it. That’s why governments invest huge amounts of time and energy in ensuring that claimants of disability allowance can provide clinical evidence of a medical condition. The controversy over an illness such as ME/CFS demonstrates this only too clearly. All too often, the ‘evidence’ provided by the person actually experiencing the illness has been regarded as highly suspect.

            In the same way, some people claim that they are sometimes able to pick up the thoughts or feelings of somone emotionally close to them, even whilst physically distant from them. If enough people claim this, then I might consider it reasonable to think that there is something in it. If I then experience it myself, several times, then I might consider that I have enough evidence to know that it is real, even without a scientist to show me how it works. Yet I still wouldn’t have objective, scientific evidence that I could present to you and say, ‘Look! The evidence is there.’ If you hadn’t experienced it, you’d probably still say ‘You can’t know that’.

            Pain, at least, is a universal experience. Hence we may be prepared to give the other the benefit of the doubt. ME/CFS is not, so we didn’t. I would suggest, then, that there might be other things that are not universally experienced and for which we still don’t have objective, scientific evidence, but which can be confidently asserted as being real by those who have experienced them.

            Of course, the question remains as to whether God is one of those things. However, for myself, I’m as certain as I can be that there is a whole dimension to life and being that science has yet to touch. Just don’t ask me to prove it to you 😉

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            Degree of evidence required depends on the claim. If you have reason to assume the person is lying (ie. You’re their boss and believe they are trying to get out of doing their job) you can demand that they go to the doctor and have the doctor verify that they aren’t lying. But to assume someone is lying about back pain doesn’t generally make sense.
            But the more unlikely the claim, or the more vital the claim is, the more evidence is necessary. For example, if a doctor tells you you need to under go a dangerous surgery or you’ll die, your doctor better have a lot of strong evidence for saying that. That’s why cancer patients go through so many tests before they begin taking chemotherapy: if the doctor doesn’t know for a fact that they have cancer, and what type of cancer at a particular stage, they could be putting the patient at risk for no reason.
            God claims require a lot of evidence both because, given what we know of our universe, they are unlikely, and because the existence of a god could have vital consequences for us.

            Like

          • Ros

            Yes. I can accept that. It makes more sense to me than ‘But, theoretically, if you have the truth, you can convince me’. It was the latter statement that I was arguing against. It’s like a gay person trying to convince others that being gay is not a choice. They may know what they are saying is the truth, but history attests to the difficulty there has been in convincing others of said truth.

            I think the argument as to whether God claims are unlikely probably depends on precisely what those claims are, but I’ll let that pass for now. I can certainly understand why you might think this (e.g. God not being necessary for origins and God appearing not to do anything).

            Like

          • Joe

            Knowledge is justified true belief.

            “If you have back pain, you can produce evidence: if you clutch your back, that is evidence, you can take pills for your back, which would be evidence, you can go to a doctor or a chiropractors, which is evidence, you can even get a brain scan done, which is evidence.”

            Ok someone might have back pain and if it is not bad enough they may not take pills, clutch their back, or see a doctor. Also I am not sure what brain scan you are referring to but a ct scan and an mri scan of the brain will not help prove or disprove that someone has back pain.

            Now I would agree that I might tell you I have back pain. And my telling you I have back pain may be enough evidence to convince you. It also might not.

            “Being as human memory isn’t great, if you say “you said x,” and the person responds “no, I said y,” you can’t know what they said. There is a very good chance you’re wrong.”

            Yeah not really. Especially not when the conversation was recent. But again my *saying* someone said X would be evidence. But again whether that would be convincing evidence to you or not is a different story.

            “Justified true belief doesn’t mean “I feel vindicated in believing x,” it means “I believe x, because a, b, and c suggest x is the case.” A, b, and c are your evidence for believing x. Evidence is what you’d use to show your claim is accurate, which is also how you’d convince others.”

            I don’t think justified true belief means I feel vindicated in believe x. I agree with that. But you should notice something about both cases I raise. The evidence for you to believe x is different than the reason I have to believe x.

            In the case of back pain I believe I have back pain because I feel back pain. I do not believe I have back pain because I am clutching my back, taking pills, seeing a chiropractor or because I tell you I have back pain. Yet even though those things are your evidence they are not what justifies my belief I have back pain.

            In the case of someone telling me X I believe they told me X because I heard them say it to me. The evidence you would have is different. Your evidence is me telling you I heard x.

            In both cases the justification for my belief is different than the evidence you may or may not find convincing. It’s not like I can just transfer my reasons over to you.

            Let me see if you would agree with the following:

            If we know something then we have justification to believe it.
            Modus tollens:
            If we have no justification to believe something, then we don’t know it.

            If we know something we may or may not be able to produce convincing evidence of our belief to someone else. But we should at least be able to produce some evidence of it, even if it is just our saying it is true.

            Something might be true yet we may or may not have evidence or reasons to believe it is true.

            2 reasonable people can look at the same set of evidence and reach contradictory conclusions.

            One person might be right even though they can not convince some other person.

            We might have evidence that suggests a proposition is true when it is, in fact, false.

            I can have reasons to believe something is true yet still not know it is true.

            Do you believe all these statements? If so then I think we are on the same page.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            Saying someone said something is not evidence, it’s a claim.
            Why does it matter if someone says they have back pain? What reason would you have to be skeptical of that claim? Especially if it’s not bad enough to keep them from doing something? A brain scan can’t tell exactly where the pain is coming from, but certain parts of our brains will show up as more active when we are in pain: http://www.medicaldaily.com/chronic-pain-patients-show-patterns-brain-inflammation-setting-stage-objective-pain-317374.
            You seem to be assuming that all claims are equal. This is not true. I can say “I have back pain,” which is an ordinary claim with little impact on anyone but myself. I can also say “children should have to start working at the age of 12 because it would be better for the country,” which is a controversial claim with an extreme impact on a lot of people. I don’t have to prove to you that I have back pain, because you have no reason to doubt my claim. As such, the evidence I require is limited. But, if I made the other claim, I would require a lot of evidence. I would need to find multiple studies that show that countries fare better when children 12 and older work. I would also have to show that work is better than education for children 12 and over, because they exist within the country and hurting them hurts the country. And my data would have to be significant, because there is a margin of error.
            Back pain and disagreements about who said what aren’t equivalent to god claims. If you are going to say god exists, you need a lot of evidence to back that claim up. If you have evidence, then you can persuade me. If you don’t have evidence, then you should not be claiming that god exists, because you have no reason to believe that god exists.
            Here are some links that you might find helpful:
            http://john.turri.org/research/KJTB.pdf
            http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Epistemology_Main.html

            Like

          • Joe

            “Saying someone said something is not evidence, it’s a claim.”

            I am not sure why you think this. I wonder if you believe anything you read in history books. Anyway, I posted my views on evidence here:
            http://trueandreasonable.co/2014/12/23/no-evidence/

            Thanks for posting about the brain study article. It was interesting. I would point out that it only showed this in chronic pain patients. It’s unclear that there would be any sort of brain change in acute pain patients. Plus this is just in early stages. Even with respect to Chronic pain more research needs to be done.

            ” Now, the findings suggest a new approach, in which doctors can enjoy a solid footing for making complex decisions about pain — all from a helpful batch of brain cells.”

            I agree with this but suggesting a new approach is not the same as having one. But yes this does seem very promising for chronic pain.

            “Why does it matter if someone says they have back pain? What reason would you have to be skeptical of that claim?”

            People can recover money damages for “pain and suffering” if they prove it. There is a money motive in some cases. Other people just want sympathy. Don’t ask me why.

            “If you are going to say god exists, you need a lot of evidence to back that claim up.”

            I actually agree the amount of evidence we need will depend on the relative consequences.
            Rational people in making a choice will weigh the harms/goods associated with making the right or wrong choice. In order to say a rational person would need allot of evidence to back up that claim you would need to weigh the relative options. What if I believe in god and it that is true, or false? What if I believe there is no God and that is true or false.
            Your claim that I need allot of evidence that God exists suggests something along the lines of this:
            1) that the harm of believing in God when God doesn’t exist is greater than the harm of not believing in God when he does exist.
            Or
            2) The good of not believing in God when God doesn’t exist outweighs the good of believing in God when he does exist.
            I offer this as a general analysis. It might be a net good to believe in God even if he doesn’t exist and it might be a net good to believe God doesn’t exist even if he does. But this is the general analysis that a rational person will use when they are deciding how much evidence they will need. (Ie how much probability they need)

            The links you provide are nice. I spent allot of time studying epistemology and enjoy it. However over time I became less interested in whether we define “knowledge” one way or another. I became more interested in when we are rational to believe something. Here is a blog where I talk about some of these issues.
            http://trueandreasonable.co/2014/03/30/137/

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            I’m a historian. If you think historians read what someone has said, assume it’s true, and call it a day, then you don’t understand history.
            Yes, part of a historian’s job is to read what people have written and use that writing to interpret history using that writing. However, one person’s statement is still just a claim. It can be used as evidence, but not in the way you suggested. For example, if I want to say X said Y happened, therefore Y happened, I don’t have any evidence yet to support my claim. Quoting X is a start, but I can’t just use X to prove Y. I also need to show that V, W, and Z agree with X, and artifacts A, B, and C came from the event. And, if anyone disagrees with X, I have to show why they are wrong. X said Y happened, therefore Y happened is my claim. W, V, Z, A, B, and C are my evidence.

            Like

          • Joe

            “If you think historians read what someone has said, assume it’s true, and call it a day, then you don’t understand history.”

            I didn’t say that, and your comment strikes me as so odd, I wonder why you would suggest I said that.

            I think you might think that having evidence = proof. A brick is not a wall. I maintain – as would most historians I have heard – that X saying y occurred (in circumstances where X could have accurate information of regarding y) is evidence that y occurred. I am not saying that is absolute proof that y occurred. There is a difference between something being evidence for Y and something proving Y.

            The example that brought us to this discussion is my saying someone said something in a room and then right after we leave he says something different. So it would be a situation where X said he heard W say Y in a room and we know X and W were actually in the room. Is there even a single historian who would say that is not evidence that the W said Y? Can you please tell me any historian who said anything like that? There, of course, might be historians who will weigh other evidence and conclude that W did not say Y in that room despite what X said. Indeed the contrary evidence might be overwhelming, but that does not mean X saying it isn’t evidence.

            Let’s say you are working as a security guard at a hotel. And someone comes down and tells you there is a person on the third floor attacking people with a knife. Are you saying you have no evidence that someone is attacking people with a knife on the third floor?

            Like

  • clubschadenfreude

    always interesting to see how others came to the conclusion to be atheists. My story is here: http://clubschadenfreude.com/about/ at the bottom.

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      It is. I have a feeling that those of you from small towns, and especially small towns in the US, have the most interesting stories. I’ve always lived in a city, and in Canada, so there wasn’t much excitement surrounding my becoming an atheist. Although, I was staying with family in Indiana when I made my challenge to God.

      Like

  • L Alan Weiss

    I found your post thoughtful. I have wrestled with “God”, the idea of God, and the conundrum of organized religion for years, except from the platform of Judaism rather than Christianity. I find the writings of Spinoza, the concept of Yin and Yang, the idea of dependent origination, and the axiom “Do no harm.” sufficient for any person to hold dear. All the trappings of religion are adornments for the singularity that we are all one with each other and with nature. God is created in man’s image and is a creature of man’s mind, not the other way around.

    L Alan Weiss – Author of “Through a Lens of Emptiness” – soon to be released.

    Like

  • Uniquely Mustered

    Reblogged this on Uniqely Mustered and commented:
    Some thoughts that is perceived for faith generated comments and ideas. What do you feel one should do if such a path is considered by you or by this very person?

    Like

  • Sonali

    Hi. I hear you.

    Reminded me somewhat of my own journey: I come from India (birthplace of many world religions including Buddhism and others), born a Hindu that has 330 million different gods (thats right!), went to a Missionary school, grew up with friends from Muslim, Zoroastrian, Jain, Sikh and most religions there are! I had all the questions and not many who could really address them…

    Not to convince you either way, here are a few things to consider, not necessarily in that order:

    A) All that is endlessly said or written of “God” could be only pointers to a totally different reality.
    Example: any number of words, in all of worlds languages – water, aqua, agua etc – will not quench your thirst or wet a piece of cloth; the experience of drinking will, and that experience has actually nothing to do with how its labeled.
    Also, ‘The One’ (replacing the cliched ‘God’) being at the mercy of any religion doesn’t make sense anyway.

    B) There can be a myriad arguments for or against the existence of God. I have come to this understanding that you could be right and so also the author of the quoted post; if you are right doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong and vice versa. That would be reductionist thinking. (Who knows, they did hear from God!)
    We all have different realities. Our job, I guess, is to find the best foundation to base them on.

    C) If you proclaim to be an atheist, you will find all material justifying it. Keep an open mind and keep discovering. My hypothesis was if there is The One, let me find Him. I think ones lifetime is a good span of time to have this at least as a side project!
    In a strictly lighter vein, consider Pascals Wager- if The One doesn’t exist, then you don’t lose much by not believing in Him, but if He does, you are in serious trouble! 😉

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      It is true that all of the religions could be wrong, or inaccurate, where God or gods are concerned. There could be a reality that is completely different. But that is somewhat irrelevant. With water, the label may not quench our thirst, but the drink will. God concepts don’t do that. It there is a god, it could make itself known very easily (unless this god was deistic or merely a super human type being). Then we could know the truth and we wouldn’t have to keep guessing. With a deistic god, their existence is kind of irrelevant. Yes, they created the universe, but they no longer exist in a useful sense of the word. A super human type god is also fairly irrelevant, because that god likely wouldn’t have created the universe, they just would have come about in much the same way that humans have, and they likely wouldn’t have much control over anything happening in the world.
      While there are a number of arguments for and against the existence of God, not all arguments are created equal. It is important to know what to look for in an argument when deciding whose argument is better. In this case, neither myself nor the author of the other post actually made arguments. She asked some questions, offered an anecdote, and said that it was sad that there are people who don’t accept her reality. I gave my own anecdote, explained why I don’t feel her anecdote is convincing, and made a statement about convincing non-believers. Neither one was an attempt to convert, though I did talk about conversion. They weren’t written to convince anyone of anything. In a sense, I cannot be right if they are right. I don’t think gods exist, but she does. Either gods exist or they don’t. One of us has to be right and the other wrong. We may have different beliefs and different experiences of the world, but there is still a real world. There is an objective reality, we just see it through a subjective lens.
      Proclaiming to believe something does not mean that you have closed your mind to other alternatives. Yes, it is really easy to fall into the trap of seeing your own beliefs reflected in every argument. That is something we all need to watch for. But, don’t forget, I saw the justification for atheism while I was still a Christian. At some point I had to be convinced that I was wrong to go from being a Christian to being an atheist. So long as I’m willing to keep learning, I will be able to change my views as I realize what of my beliefs are wrong. It’s learning that will make it possible for me to hold as many right views as possible, not refusing to adopt labels.
      Pascal’s Wager is a fairly weak argument. It ignores a lot of nuance. For example, if I pretend to believe, which is what Pascal’s Wager would have me do, couldn’t a god figure out that my belief is not a true belief (provided he exists). And what if I pick the wrong god? For example, what if I chose to believe in the Christian God, but it’s the Hindu gods that exist? I’m then no better off than I was as an atheist. So should I believe in every god? But then how do I deal with the issue of the gods who would punish me for worshiping other gods? Should I believe that all gods are really the same god? But then I have the same problem as I did in the last case: if I assume that all gods are the same god, then I’m not, for example, worshiping the Christian God. Then, if the Christian God exists, I get punished for worshiping the wrong god. So Pascal’s Wager isn’t really useful. If I accept it, I have to believe that the god I chose to worship doesn’t know that I’m worshiping them “just in case” as opposed to truly believing in them, and I have to hope that I pick the right god.

      Like

  • My Deconversion Isn't Sad, and My Atheism Isn't Bad | Christians Anonymous

    […] Source: My Deconversion Isn’t Sad, and My Atheism Isn’t Bad […]

    Like

  • Esther Cook

    It always intrigues me when people claim the Big Bang Theory proves you don’t need a Creator. What went Bang?!! You don’t have any size bang without some matter to explode and something to set it off.

    Liked by 3 people

    • hessianwithteeth

      Well the term “big bang” originally was invented as a pejorative for the theory for the universes beginning. What happened was 13.7 billion years ago (from our reference of time as time is relative to speed and gravity a fact we must account for, for gps to work), was that the time and space we are accustomed too came into existence and in the time span it took me to write this part of my response the universe grew from smaller then a sub atomic particle to larger then out planet. And it continues to expand now at an ever quickening pace.

      Nothing went “bang” but a super dense bit of matter came into existence (we don’t know why, as of yet) which was the entirety of our universe. There was no explosion but there was quite the violent expansion of energy.

      Like

      • em5554

        Indulge me with a reply please. When you say “(we don’t know why, as of yet)” what gives you the confidence to dismiss God as the reason why? Wouldn’t you say you are subscribing to the belief that there is no God just like a Christian or Muslim would baselessly subscribe to their beliefs?

        I enjoyed your post, I am like learning why people choose to believe what they believe. I am not going to put words in your mouth, but I believe you are right, many Christians/Muslims/etc. believe blindly out of fear of hell, or some misguided sense of submission, etc. Truth is, not even atheists know what happens to consciousness when we die! And if you do, do tell me! I am sure you would support your claim with evidence.

        I would think that if there is a God, we couldn’t logically grasp the idea of Him/Her/It/etc. What I mean to say is, how can a human think above the “hypothetical would-be” Creator of Thoughts? Its like the number 1 being bigger than the number 2, or 1 plus 1 being equal to “chair”… It doesn’t make sense to me.. hehe So when we wonder why God allowed the terrorists to kill 14 in France, or 2000 in Africa, why do we blame Him? Shouldn’t we blame ourselves (humans)?

        If you ask me, I rather not make any assumptions on God. I cant prove that there is one, or that there isn’t one, but I am brave enough (or foolish enough) to suspect that there is a Creator. This suspicion is what has me seeking for the Creator, hopefully I don’t waste my life searching!!!

        P.S. I am with you. I don’t think that person was talking about miracles. I long to see one. (:

        Like

        • hessianwithteeth

          Certainly,

          There are three parts to awnser your primary question and then an addendum for future endeavors you might have.

          First I don’t dismiss god as a possibility though I’m not going to put it out there like it’s a meaningful answer, though this leads into the second part. Which god, which definition and style of the god. There are millions of gods, and many thousandths if not millions of conceptions of the Abrahamic god, many of which could not exists together, so which one did it? The third part, every other explanation that has been posed as beening explained by god, but has been worked on by science has lead to other non-devise answers.

          There, for example, does not exist a single substantiated miracle claim, but there are many thousands of debunked miracle claims. The god of the gap argument I posed before, and the previous argument, are both inductive, but God isn’t actually an explanation. Replace “God” with “A wizard” and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not so much explanation it’s more like an excuses, avoiding anything useful for a comforting platitude. This is why I largely ignore claims where “God did it.” because it doesn’t actually explain anything at all.

          Finally it’s still important to remember I haven’t said a god didn’t do it, I’ve only said there is no good reason to think a god did it. When it comes to the moments before the big bang (well not moments since time didn’t exist, but what ever existed in the nothing) all we can say honestly right now is that we do not know. there are some hypothesizes but those are not knowledge those are possibilities. So to say “god did it” or to even imply it’s a likely possibility is dishonest because no one knows, not you, not me, not the world smartest physicists.

          Moving on to your part about consciousness, I have a few questions for you. What’s your definition of consciousness? Are you certain that consciousness actually exists, and is not illusory? Is consciousness tied up it the brain and if so wouldn’t that mean it would live and die with the brain? Consciousness is a often ill defined term, even academically, so be for we can talk about consciousness we need to actually disscuss what we mean when we talk about consciousness.

          Well if a god is beyond our thinking so much that we can’t make any sense of it, then why would we think we could understand any of it’s will, and why would we think it would communicate with us, and that we could meaningfully communicate back? If you make god incomprehensible, you take anyway the only tool we would seem to have to deal with a deity as most modern people think of them in the west at least.

          Suspecting there is a god is one thing, thinking it’s is probable is something you’ll have to defend. That is if you want to discuss such thing with other people who don’t share you beliefs.

          Liked by 1 person

  • kinginascendent

    I’ve gone from christian -leaning through to atheist and now I consider myself merely spiritual, in the sense that I find wonder in most things. I find it an interesting projection that some people believe that they need an external authority to possess morality and the justifications that arise as a result of submission to that. I don’t know, but I know that if I am compassionate and loving without being sentimental, if I see wonder in the everyday then that’s as close to being in a state of enlightenment without having to choose an enemy as I can get without formal religion.

    Liked by 2 people

Tell us what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: