Hi all. First post here. And I'm a Christian. Looking forward to being welcomed with rational politeness...! :) 

Having been reading a number of forum discussions, it's clear many members here were formerly Christians (or at least attended church). For anyone in that category, did you in your time as a Christian/church attender have what would be described as a 'religious experience'? That could be anything from a 'sense' of God's presence in a church meeting (something many Christians would testify to and atheists would reject as deluded group-think resulting from psychological manipulation), to seemingly answered prayer, an experience of God 'speaking' etc. 

Apologies if that doesn't make sense, though I think for those here who have been in churches - especially more charismatic churches - for any length of time will get what I'm asking. 

Basically I'm interested in what you think was the cause of those experiences, and how they helped or hindered your deconversion.

Many thanks


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I find it hard to nuance things in writing when I'm disagreeing with a point made.

As do I.

Abraham acted out of obedience, not fear.

First, a number of reputable biblical scholars, such as William G. Dever (former ministerial student, turned atheist), have maintained that there is no historical evidence that Abe, Ike and Jake ever existed, but playing the same "Let's Pretend" game that you likely play when accepting their historicity, I try to imagine a tent-dwelling nomad, who believd that god and a couple of angels strolled by one afternoon, stopped for lunch, than strolled off again on their way to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and believed he stood on a high point and witnessed "fire and brimstone" rain down on those cities from above, yet who feels no fear should he choose to disobey an order to kill his son - sorry, I just can't picture it.

3. In fact, of course, God had no intention of Isaac being harmed, and provided an alternative sacrifice in the form of a ram with its head caught in a thorn bush. For Christians, this account speaks volumes, because we believe in the Son who actually was given up as a sacrifice, in our place, with his head crowned with thorns. This account is therefore a foreshadowing (technically a 'type') of Jesus, and takes on deeper significance for us when read in that way.

And another Jewish legend states that the ram had stood there since the creation of the world, jus waiting for Abe and Ike to show up. Amazing, isn't it, how hard the NT writers will search for ways to use passages from the OT while concocting their tales, to make it appear there was an involved plan that wound through the centuries, culminating in the cruci-fiction of a man for whom there is no proof of existence.

(Oral transmission of stories and teaching in ANE culture is rather different to our game of Chinese whispers, before that point is made)

I find any difference to be insignificant.

And re Paul not being present, I don't see how that's relevant. The verse I quoted is him making a theological reflection on historical events, not reporting an eyewitness account.

"Historical events?" Not by my history books.

So by 'genetic impulse' I meant this instinct to preserve our own genetic material. How do we get from being 'survival machines' to being machines willing to sacrifice our own survival for the survival of completely unrelated genetic material?

It's good to see you're reading Dawkins - possibly you will learn something. I earlier discussed groups of early humans banding together on the African grasslands to face a common foe, as being beneficial to the group as a whole, which increases the odds for each individual that their genes will be passed on to offspring. But nice touch, using Dawkins.

If you don't have the humility to acknowledge a truly brave and heroic action - even though done by a Christian - then I fear for your vaunted hope that 'compassion for others may well be the next step in Human evolution'.

I'm really not sure how you define bravery. I've known men who were terrified to charge machine gun nests, yet who did it anyway. To me, that's bravery - being afraid of something, yet doing it anyway, because it needs to be done. I'm just not sure how much fear a man would have of death if his delusions, like those of the suicide bombers I mentioned, caused him to believe he was going to be instantly transported to paradise, nor just how much courage it would take to face a death you see more as a reward, than anything to be avoided.

If the writings and attitude of Dawkins, Hitchens et al have made it impossible for you to respect anyone who holds any kind of religious belief at all, then I will understand that and try and find another atheist who's interested in having a conversation.

Unlike theists, I've no need for anyone's writings to form my opinion, and the more you write, the more I'm convinced you may well be Wetched Saint, re-christened (pun intended), so yeah, you're probably right, it really wouldn't benefit you in any way for the two of us to continue a discourse.

My advice would be for you to curl up in a corner with your Bible and a bag of Doritos, and wait for the Rapture - it shouldn't be much longer now!

pax vobiscum,

Hi archaeopteryx, thanks for your reply. I appreciate at least that you've taken the time to answer :)

I don't know who Wetched ('Wretched'?) Saint is, but that's not me, though I do like Doritos. And the Bible, surprisingly enough. No desire to spend my life sitting around waiting for the Rapture, though, especially as that's a pretty tenuous article of faith, only held by some Christians, and based on a loose interpretation of one verse in the Bible. 

It may be futile to try and continue the conversation, but given that you hope for compassion for other humans to be the next evolutionary step, perhaps you can extend some of that?

Re reading Dawkins - I've read The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow and The God Delusion. I enjoy his books (less so the last one, but then I don't imagine many people like being called a child abuser). Also just started 'God is not great'. I don't know if you can understand this, but I am actually interested in other people's worldviews, including those worldviews that are radically different from my own. I take it you wouldn't say that was a bad thing?

Interested by your comment on bravery - is it more brave to face the possibility of a death that you see as the final end to your life (e.g. charging a machine gun nest) than to willingly embrace a certain death, believing that it is not in fact the end? Fair question - though I'm not sure you can claim the element of bravery in Kolbe's actions disappears simply because he believed in an afterlife. 

I suppose my confusion with lumping together Kolbe with suicide bombers is that the latter are giving their lives to take the lives of others in the hope that by doing so they will earn a reward; whereas Kolbe gave his life to save another, believing that his place in heaven was already assured by grace. I appreciate that you consider all faith-heads to be equally deluded, but am curious as to whether you recognise any distinction at all between those whose beliefs lead them to destroy others and those whose beliefs lead them to help - even save - other people?

Finally, you wrote

Unlike theists, I've no need for anyone's writings to form my opinion,

But also said you were glad I was reading Dawkins because I might learn something - presumably you have also read Dawkins, and presumably you learnt something in the process? Just checking...

Yes - out of a half-page post, I omitted a letter. Should I do penance?

I'm not sure you can claim the element of bravery in Kolbe's actions disappears simply because he believed in an afterlife.

If his faith was strong enough, that's exactly what I claim.

lumping together Kolbe with suicide bombers

The goal was irrelevant to the issue that both were of the - imo deluded - belief that upon sacrificing their lives, they could expect to be beamed to heaven, as did your Yeshua.

presumably you have also read Dawkins

Actually, I envisioned you jumping on that, even as I typed it. I once worked with a Special Olympics field event, and learned a great deal from a young Down's Syndrome boy. A wise man once said, "Each man is my master, in that I may learn from him."

(For this, one must read, "teacher," as that was the actual Latin origin of the word, "master," as in maestro, or magister.)

I don't know if you can understand this, but I am actually interested in other people's worldviews, including those worldviews that are radically different from my own. I take it you wouldn't say that was a bad thing?

If you're sincere, then of course not, but in the post I've read, you often state biblical information, such as Paul commenting on historicity, that assumes that what you say is fact, rather than opinion. For any of us to continue with that discussion, means we either have to proceed as though we accept it as fact as well, or call you on it, which, as we've seen, generates animosity, which is rarely conducive to intelligent discussion.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to watch, "House"

FYI - I omitted both a letter AND a period in the above post!:-O surprise

How many "Hail Darwins" do you think I should say for that --?

pax vobiscum,

Nope. I always wondered what people was feeling that I wasn't. Turned out it was just a real good feeling they associate with the holy spirit. Ion know people are weird sometimes

My older brother went missing when I was 7 years old, 12 years later I couldn't live with it his abscence anymore, I just couldn't fight it anymore. For the 1st time in my life I prayed directly to Jesus, the next day my brother came home.

Hi Gabriela - that is a pretty amazing coincidence - presumably that's how you would see it rather than any kind of answer to your prayer? (I'm assuming you're an atheist...!?)

Good idea, Matt - this would probably be an easier discussion --


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