I was just thinking back to some of the things that I noticed which started to tip me off about religion's false premises.
For me, I think that learning magic tricks, sleight of hand, all that kind of stuff, at an early age and continuing with it for a long time helped me be less gullible. Over time the performance of miracles seemed less impressive and more like magic tricks.
I could never look at a "demonstration" of religious miracles as anything other than a cynical attempt to prove a god's existence while using a cheap trick. I even learned about the role of tricks in the rise of Spiritualism, a movement that even managed to capture Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
It was difficult, if not impossible, to look at the extraordinary and believe it at its face value.
That, for me, was one of the greatest things that helped me see through some of the religious "proof" and "demonstrations" that were shown to me. I think that learning magic tricks from such a young age helped to insulate me to religious BS.
What helped you?
I was a Christian Scientist growing up (funny how that concept sounds now). Anyway, it was started when medical theory was in a state of disarray. So real science has now replaced most of the theories that Mary Baker Eddy thought up, so now the church is really on its way out.
So the exposure by the internet to the general public washes away some of the misinformation propagated by that particular church. I expect it to be the first amongst the fallen. Wikipedia says that there are 50,000 people in Christian Science worldwide. As a child I think there were more than 200,000.
So goes the rest of the denominations. Facts triumph over dogma in any case that makes it to the light of day. To me, the internet will slowly eat away at every religious mind, until they become marginalized the way they should be. By 2080, religion will be as relevant as travel by horse is today.
I've never really paid any attention to "christian science," mainly because it just seems like such an oxymoron that I didn't think anyone really devoted their career to doing "christian science research" more than just looking through the bible. It's good to hear that the number of them has shrunk over time.
My father's side of the family was Catholic, while my mother's side was Pentecostal. Each thought the other religion was crazy, but not nearly as crazy as the Jehovah's Witnesses. It seemed to me that if they all believed in the same god - a god that was supposed to have supplied a Holy Spirit to ensure that only truth could be spoken about that god - then there shouldn't be so much disparity between doctrines/dogmas.
That lead to me thinking I should look for the truth in the bible. Reading it straight through really dispelled a lot of my indoctrination-induced delusions, which eventually eroded my belief in all forms of bullshit.
You made it all the way through?! I have never been able to make it past the books of Moses in the OT either out of disgust or boredom.
I read it straight through twice. The first time I got through it out of fear for my mortal soul - I truly believed that the 'correct' path had to be chosen, and the bible seemed to be the only way to find that path since churches conflicted and prayers weren't answered.
The second time I read through it as a rather skeptical deist, still thinking Jesus may have been a great philosopher or something - I read it straight through just to absorb the amazing feeling of reading it as though it were just a book, just words on paper, rather than some holy item handed down by some supernatural, cosmic boogieman.
*stands up and claps*
Twice through is two times more than anyone ever needs to read through it.
On the contrary - I feel the world would be a MUCH better place if every single Christian read it through a couple times; rather than just skimming the parts to which their attention has been drawn to support some part of last Sunday's sermon.
For me it was the extreme claim that I was taught since I was a kid. That claim was that the church I belonged to was the one and only "true" church. I was confused back then how it was possible that it was so true and yet so few people actually liked the mormon church. Mormons acted like it was the most wonderful, awesome thing ever and yet no one wanted it except those that were raised in the church and a few "converts."
I always wondered what was wrong with all of humanity that couldn't see how the great mormon fantasy bullshit story was. Now I know why but I was slow at understanding logic (being raised religious is a huge handicap) and it took me many years to unlock enough of the logical traps and puzzles that religions use to ensnare their prey.
The final straw was my failure to find love with any mormon women and then I realized it was in great part because I found most of them to be stupid as hell so I was not motivated to be around them for very long let alone married to one of them. I know that sounds misogynistic but I'm just not a fan at all of religious women. I love smart and healthy women and don't have to be tolerant of women that intentionally try to hurt me using religious logic and broken, willfully ignorant and intellectually bankrupt minds.
I do have pity for them now but no tolerance of their bullshit anymore. I even told my still mormon sister that I think religion is child abuse. (she was very pissed about that but I stand by the truth even if it offends her.) I have always been deeply committed to the truth and integrity even at the expense of my social life or even financial prosperity sometimes.
So when I realized that god was a figment of my imagination that was brainwashed into me and many others, I was really sad, bitter and angry at first but then over time extremely relieved and overjoyed to reclaim the sovereign control of my mind. There is no way I could ever go back to being religious unless I had severe brain damage inflicted on me.
It feels so wonderful to be a free person and find others that will not pull their punches and just tell the truth without the bullshit and will even admit when they are wrong when they discover that they were sometimes. Being about to admit that I have been wrong about many things is also liberating and beneficial. Honest humility is a virtue that is very rare indeed.
But Mormon Jesus is so damn cool! (video embedded)
You silly ;) hahahaha
As a thinking being it finally occurred to me that it makes absolutely no sense to go about life each day utilizing logic and reasoning to successfully confront the vagaries of life, and then, dropping those tools to the ground I allow myself, for a moment, to consider the implausible world of supernatural beings. Around here the locals have a saying "That dog won't hunt." You must never be satisfied with the premise that everyone around me believes something collectively therefore I am obligated to join the flock.
On a lighter side, when the televangelist Jimmy Swaggart got caught in New Orleans at a motel being serviced by a "lady of the evening" my needle on the religious bullshit meter pegged way over, never to return. lol...
Hahaha. A good scandal is always great for evaluating hypocrisy