Time to introduce myself. I've been prowling around this site for a few months and have finally added a pic. He is Colonel Thomas Blood, a supposedly distant relative of mine and 1st class scoundrel. I use his name, as mine is sufficiently unusual to show up on a Google search. I am a nurse, and health care is rampant with xians. I am also an ordained clergy person and - well things are just a bit complicated right now. Folks who I don't want in the know, will not come snooping here on their own.

Enough intro: Here is the morsel for you to chew on. I have heard it expressed explicitly at least once, and implied by several of you that if one is an atheist, the is NO WAY that you could ever become sufficiently delusional to believe in a god. Well I was. Or did.

I grew up with a believing mother and an atheist father. We never went to church and my religious training was minimal (one year of a generic protestant Sunday school). I was atheist by age 15. I was always fascinated by xians however, especially the really confident kind. Long story short; over several years I developed and pursued the hypothesis that the only way I could be sure that there was no god was to diligently seek him. This led me on multiple pathways until I wound up in a fundamentalist country church one night where I was invited to "come to Jesus" Multiple threads in my life had brought me to the place where I was able to suspend my skepticism enough to accept the possibility of this being real. When I stood up, the world changed. The event and my theories about would take another blog.

The result of this "encounter " was that I became a fundamentalist xian .  My lack of religious upbringing actually worked against me as I had no framework for my new life, only that "reason" had failed as method for finding the TRUTH.  Over the course of decades my inquiring mind kept pushing me into ever more "liberal" understandings of God until I finally realized that my theology had become "Jesus as metaphor" and that I no longer needed the metaphor.

So here I am, full circle again. The experience has not been a complete waste of my life (Thank GOD!!!). I have a very full, hands on type of understanding of religious faith and have first hand knowledge of many of the different flavors of belief. I find many of you off-putting. You can be so bloody sanctimonious sometimes, as if all people of faith were idiots. I am sure I actually had more IQ points when I was religious than I do how. But I DO understand how you feel. I sometimes have to stop myself from thinking "How can anyone BELIEVE that crap?" when it was not so long ago that I did in fact believe it myself.

I've rattled on long enough. Have at it!

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Interesting path you took. The sanctimony you detect here may have more to do with the rarity of having more than two atheists gathered together (even if only "virtually") than anything else. Let's face it, your statement:

Folks who I don't want in the know, will not come snooping here on their own.

reflects the reality of my situation too. Not many people of faith have to concern themselves with hiding from atheists.

" I am sure I actually had more IQ points when I was religious than I do how (sp)."  That statement in itself explains much.  I do not intend this as an insult but when one is ignorant, anything is possible.  Having been born to atheism, perhaps you lacked the background of research and analysis most of us went through to get here, which you have just begun to explore.

"You can be so bloody sanctimonious sometimes, as if all people of faith were idiots. I am sure I actually had more IQ points when I was religious than I do how."

I would just like to clear up one thing.

All people of faith ARE idiots, but only in respect to being ignorant to the answer to this one single question, and claiming to have one that we can be reasonably and practicably sure is entirely made up. That is where the apparent sanctimony comes from.

Atheists who utilise meanness and anger to try and get their point across are just dickheads.

Atheists who utilise meanness and anger to try and get their point across are just dickheads.

Matthew, I would have concluded that atheists who utilise meanness and anger to try and get their point across are using meanness and anger to try and get their point across.

But then, they weren't directing their meanness and anger at me. What do I know?

True, they could be dickheads, but they could just be frucking god damned fed up with living under the onus of the STUPIDITY of religion.

I say give them what they want - an eye for an eye.

I say you can't respect anyone that is insane.  Religious people believe in imaginary beings, so they are insane, so they don't need to be respected.  If logic and science won't get them to give up their delusions, maybe shame will.  Maybe it won't, but at least they'll be SHAMED and hopefully someone on the cusp of dipping into ignorance will be too ashamed to do so and instead embrace truth instead of insanity.

Shame has its place, and believe me - the people who've burned people at the stake believe to be shamed.  The people who deny gays their civil rights because of a book of rules that they themselves REFUSE to follow.  The people who claim they're Christian and then vote to defund food stamp programs and deny people access to affordable healthcare.  The people who work with the deluded Christian nutwhack rulers in third world countries to deny their people contraception, insuring that their children will be born just to die of malnutrition.  The people who only want ABSTINENCE ONLY taught in schools.  The idiots who think that dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time as man and want YOUR children to be taught that, as well.

HOW DARE YOU DEFEND THESE RETARDED MORONS?

Worse, they are extremely immoral and dishonest.  They are a mob of psychopathic bullies who would like very much to tear us atheists limb from limb.  I have no duty to be tolerant of people who are totally intolerant and demonstrably, dangerously insane.  And, frankly, after all the things they have done to me over the decades, there is nothing I could possibly say or do to them that would not be deserved. 

That being said, I don't usually say anything to them--because they are dangerously insane.  I avoid them and don't try to argue with them for the same reason that I avoid members of the mafia and violent criminal gangs. 

Atheists who utilise meanness and anger to try and get their point across are just dickheads.

I'm with you, Matthew, and welcome to this (internet) town. There's room for all of us, so don't let any distraught or boisterous comments keep you away. It may help to imagine flatulence (or farts, if you will) wafting in their general direction.

Define dickhead.

I'm proud of my dick, even if at 82 years of age it no longer does all it once did.

However, if you hate yours....

I shared a house with other students once. One house mate had his room right behind mine shareing a wall. He would bring gal friends over rather often....;p)

I couldn't go back simply for what I know now. Without parts of that knowledge, I would still be open to believing based solely on experience, but know I know the mechanics of those experiences and how they can be found in more than one religious practice or none at all. So I hardly fault you for joining up with the other ~70% of Americans. I still remember those religious experiences, and they are emotionally intoxicating. It's an incredible feeling, but that's all it is. Many people never realize it and always see it as evidence of something more rather than to try to understand it. My mother had a NDE at a younger age where she that she saw heaven. She'll never not believe because of her experience. My father had a very strong positive emotional experience following the death of my sister he attributed to God. He'll never not believe now because of his experience. Humans are very emotional creatures and those emotions tend to define our perceptions of the world. It becomes very hard to overcome them especially when we factor in people's tendency to see agency in common occurrences.

Now that I understand more about human history, archaeology, anthropology, neuroscience, psychology and sociology, (essentially all the sciences that inform the "nature of humanity") there's very little room left for a deity to fit into. I don't need a supernatural explanation of "sin" for why people do bad things. I don't need to understand "karma" to know why tragedy befalls decent human beings. For myself if I had some weird unexplainable divine revelation, I might go back to being a deist of sorts, but that would be the limit. Barring that, there's no way I could go back. Well, short of losing most of my memories by suffering some sort of brain damage, but I could hardly be faulted then.

I hardly think I know everything, but I do know enough to know the many reasons why different theologies just don't describe reality and any ideas built off of those fallacious descriptions are obviously still wrong and without foundation.

I'm glad you've come out of hiding! But I am sorry to hear that you are still clergy simply because I can't imagine that being an easy situation to deal with. I hope that is not too hard on you.

"Humans are very emotional creatures and those emotions tend to define our perceptions of the world. It becomes very hard to overcome them especially when we factor in people's tendency to see agency in common occurrences."

So true, unfortunately. While emotion has it's place as a part of the human condition, it should never be allowed to control or influence our ability to discern the physical world we live in. 

You should not go back, @Sagacious.  Most of us theists would encourage you to go forward.  If there is a real God, you will find him through building more knowledge and experience in history, anthropology, neuroscience and all the rest, not by retreating to ignorance and a shallow, childish notion of deity.

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