A visit from LDS Missionaries

Forward

A note to my LDS friends: Please understand that the purpose of this post is not to disprove or discredit your belief system or you personally. I have a deep respect for each one of you and only desire that the lines of communication that exists between myself and you continue to stay open. I only wish that the rest of Christendom were as open to discussion and as kind in doing so as you have always been to me. Even during the times when I made a fool of myself as a self-righteous Christian and if I have done so now as an atheist. Please allow this post to represent my care for mankind and not a hate for god or religious people. If something here is offensive it was not my intent, but I challenge anyone and everyone that does read this to consider the purpose behind it and the logic behind my own doubt.
 
———————–
 

About two months ago I was browsing through my normal routine of atheist sites and blogs when I happened upon an advertisement for Mormon.org’s chat service which allows anyone to log onto the website and chat with a missionary from the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter Day Saints (also known as Mormons or LDS).  I decided to log on and chat with the kind folks there to see why they believed what they did and so on,  being an individual that is not entirely unfamiliar with LDS beliefs I came in with a foreknowledge of the basic LDS doctrine and simply wanted to challenge these kind people to think about the origin of their belief – something I had to do for myself once upon a time.

Missionary One: Initial encounter

The first missionary I talked to was a very kind young man, if I remember correctly he was 19 and in training to go to South America to present their version of the gospel to the people there, you see, the chat center is located in Provo, UT at the Missionary Training Academy where all the LDS missionaries go for a time prior to being sent out. (Most LDS members go on mission at some point in their life usually in their early 20’s, the mission generally lasts two years and is part of being a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood). I explained to him that I was an atheist and that I was at one time a Christian, he spoke to me about  his “relationship with god” and how he knew god was real because he felt him so strongly in his life and because he had seen god’s many blessings on him and his family. I explained to him a little about my past and how I too had a relationship with my own deity and that at one point I came to realize that this deity was merely my own mental and emotional interpretation of the god of the Bible and the god that I most wanted to serve. (aka, an imaginary friend that I molded after my own view of god). Eventually I gave this missionary my phone number and he and I talked about this subject on two different nights, he would also give me some verses from the Book of Mormon to read. I read what he asked each time that he did. During our last conversation he let me know that he was leaving to go on his mission and would therefore be unable to call again and asked permission to give my number to another missionary named Stephen, I agreed and issued one final challenge to him: I simply asked that he ask himself if he would be comfortable with even the idea of there not being a god and that if he could find a way to cope with that if he would then begin to challenge the idea of god that he had. He agreed.

Read more

Any day now…really! (The Rapture)

“The Rapture” is one of the most often used fear tactics used by Christian believers in order to scare unbelievers into repentance. You see, the way some people interpret the Bible there will be a point in time when Jesus calls up all the living and dead believers to heaven, they call this event the Rapture (The term itself does not appear in the Bible). Now, there are many different beliefs as to when this is supposed to happen, there are Pre-tribulation believers that believe that it will occur prior to the 7 year Tribulation prophesied in the Book of Daniel as well as post-trib and mid-trib and even more theories/beliefs that I can’t remember from my Christian days.

The problem with this whole “Rapture” deal is that it has supposed to have been coming soon…2000 years ago. In fact Jesus said that he would come back before some of the disciples died in Matthew 16: 27-28.  Clearly Jesus was either confused or wrong. So why is it, after all these years, people still trust that this man is God and is coming back to earth for them? Some people go so far as to predict the date or time frame of this glorious event:

  • This Site has gone so far as to predict that the actual rapture will occur this Fall of 2009(Just a few days ago they said it would happen today, Wednesday November 11th 2009 but they changed it earlier today). The site includes plenty of warnings to repent, lots of fear mongering here
  • Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins wrote the wildly popular Left Behind series of fiction books to explain how they believed eschatology would play out  in the near future, including the rapture where all the Christians disappear randomly leaving behind their neatly folded clothes – Kirk Cameron even starred in two movies based on the book series a few years ago.
  • Video’s have been passed around among the Tea Party elite (and other groups of fundamentalist/Republican half-wits) that claim to prove that President Barack Obama is the Anti-christ, which means that the rapture must be coming soon. Here’s one such video (don’t laugh too hard, people actually believe this stuff): Click for video.

It’s a sad reality, really, that people are living as if Jesus will show up in the clouds tomorrow especially after 2000 years of fruitless anticipation and preparation.  These types of claims should be met with the same skeptical eye as any other unsubstantiated claim and utterly rejected  in the likely event that they turn out to be just another control mechanism of faith.

One more thing…if the Rapture does happen, can you imagine how wonderful our world would be? All that superstition just floating away with Jesus in the clouds? I can’t wait!

The Faith of a Child

Some time last week I saw someone mention that they had “Just led __ to the Lord”. After noticing the comments of this post I gathered that this was the persons child that had been “led to the Lord” so I decided to inquire as to the age of this child…which got me thinking about faith and children. This man’s daughter was six.

I was “Saved” at the ripe old age of 6. That’s right, at 6 years old someone believed that I was at an appropriate time in my life to decide the fate of my own mortal soul and to ask forgiveness for the plethora of sins I was guilty of. This, of course, was not true…the “gospel” was something I could nary understand at the time and I didn’t really grasp the cardinal doctrines of Christianity until I was around 14, when I became more serious about my faith. Until then I didn’t understand that the God of the Bible required sacrificial scapegoats  to atone for the sin of man or that Jesus was supposed to be the end all be all of sacrificial lambs. I simply knew that the Bible was supposed to be true and that I felt an emotional “tug” at my heart when this whole Jesus thing was presented to me…so I said a prayer and I cried and I spoke in tongues etc.

Read more

Visit from a Pastor

Last Thursday my wife and I were in the midst of an argument. Nothing major of course, she was stressed out and when she is stressed she screams at me for a while until she feels better and then usually everything is all good. During our argument we saw a little head bobbing around through the window on our door…there was the pastor that performed our wedding ceremony standing there.

I’m not sure who sent him or if he had even been sent at all, this was the first time I had seen him in the three years since we were wed so the visit was quite peculiar. When my wife and I were in the process of getting married we both still believed though we had our doubts about Christianity, nonetheless the pastor found himself easily impressed by us and our resolve to remain virgins until our wedding night, so as far as he knew all was well with our faith at that time. I can only assume that he had gotten some wind of my fall from grace, this is a small town and I am very much an Out atheist, but regardless this is how our conversation went:

Read more

False Piety and Prayer

“I’ll pray for you!”

We atheists hear that a lot. Whether it be in public or on the Internet, Christians often feel an overwhelming desire to declare there intention to pray for someone at any given opportunity. More often than not I believe that this is simply a display of piety and an attempt at letting those around know that they are “good god-fearing Christians”.

Let’s look at something the Bible has to say about prayer:

Matthew 6:6  KJV:  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Now, I know that in Acts 20:36 Paul knelt down with the body of believers and prayed quite openly,  but this is in the presence of other like minded believing people – when you are out in a public place I truly believe that the Bible commands you not to make a public show of your prayers – either by announcing your intention to do so or by making flagrant displays of prayer.


Read more

Religion vs Relationship

Recently I put one of my infamous controversial Facebook statuses up that garnered a bit of a response. Some of the responses got me thinking about the subject matter of this post. Here is the status I put up that day:

I rejoice when others doubt the myth and misery of Christianity. I know the pain that pursuing the non-existent can cause a person and it makes me glad when someone escapes it!

I was inspired to put this up when I got to thinking about the rejoicing I would do when I was able to successfully share the “gospel” of Christ with someone and how glad that would make me. I remembered Luke 15:10 which states, “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (KJV) and began thinking about all of the trouble, confusion, and pain that comes with living in the Christian faith.

One of the responses I received was from a local youth pastor of one of the larger Baptist churches in our small town. I’ve met this fellow before, but we really don’t know each other in any way beyond that of a passing acquaintance, he is good at what he does and has always come off as a very nice guy so I am in no way attempting to start beef with him – this is just something I have heard before that I wanted to take the opportunity to address for the edification of my Atheist and Christian friends. Here is what he said:

Read more

The Ethics of Doubt

I have had various people approach me, generally Christians, whom think the idea of doubting god or god’s existence is unethical. Obviously I think the idea is ridiculous, but I would like to give my take on it. We aren’t really talking about morality here, that has been handled in depth more times than I care to count on this blog…what I am referring to is the actual ethical nature of the individual whom doubts. My contention is that a person skeptical of the existence of god is ethical in a more altruistic sense than the individual whom accepts god and dogma without question.

Before I go into my reasoning I would like to point out that this isn’t intended at an accusation against the believer…I contest that believers (those that believe in god) can just as well be skeptics and doubters not exposed to the same information or unable to get past the religious programming they may have endured. I for one know very well that overcoming all that fear, nervousness, and denying my devotion to god is incredibly difficult. I suggest that the more devoted to your god you are the more likely you are to challenge him, at least that was my own experience. This most certainly qualifies one as a doubter in my book and therefore somewhat more ethical than ones sheepish counterparts.

My standard of ethics is that an ethical person will fight and seek truth no matter what he finds to be true. Despite what I may find to be true I will still attempt to validate that truth and fight for it’s survival, hence you have this  blog in front of your face. In my view, both the pursuit of reality (truth) and  the propagation of it meet the very definition of ethical behavior. Proliferating one’s faith is altruistic as it generally tends to attempt to save wayward souls, but it is only pure when an individual is willing to endure the struggles of his faith….some Atheists lack the experience of faith and therefore an understanding of the difficulty that a person of faith can face in daily life. The doubter loves his non-existent god, his god is real to him, he fights everything natural to him to keep that god happy – my own faith kept me teetering on the border of sanity and insanity almost constantly and it was incredibly difficult- far more than the scapegoat that some Atheists may believe it to be.

Read more

Job: An Assault on Logic and the Character of God

jobs-dreamsI’ve said it before and now I’ll say it again, “The Bible is it’s own worst enemy”. I think this rings true for any former Christian that decided to read it as if it were not a perfect book, thats one of the steps I took  before I got to where I am today.

In my recent plea for someone to ask questions of me for better inspiration one OscarGecko asked me the following:

In your post, “Ex-Timony,” you said, “…alot of the stories, the book of Job in particular, really make g-d look like a huge asshole if you think about it more critically…” can you explain this further? ~OscarGecko

First let me just say thanks to Oscar for being my muse for this round of Ask the Atheist…I appreciate your cooperation very much sir!

Next, I want to clarify my position a little bit and then we will go through the specific example of Job, as the picture it paints of God to the unfaithful. My position is that the Bible and Job in particular are testaments to the character of YHVH, that they exemplify who he is at his very core rather than who he is  when you look at the prettier picture painted by the story of Christian “salvation”. This, not the sacrificial god found in Jesus, is who YHWH truly is, everything else is just what he needs to be to be more acceptable to the masses. I say that the intent of the new testament is like a huge Public Relations campaign to make YWHW more palatable to those that may not be “God’s Chosen People”. Of course this is a rather rudimentary simplification of my view, but it should serve my purpose here.

Read more

Ask The Atheist: Part 1

Hello everyone. Once again I have come to a point my my blogging where I have a difficult time thinking up new things to blog about, so, I need your help!

I want to do a series of Q & A style posts, where someone—anyone really, simply asks a question in as much detail as possible and I attempt to answer that question to the best of my ability. So, all i need you to do is comment below and ask the question you want to ask, if it is chosen it will be featured in a blog post shortly with a link to your own blog or website of your choice if you so choose to have that done…don’t worry though, anonymous questions are fine and i will be honest.

Questions should be at least generally related to religious topics or Atheism, but questions about my personal life that have not been adequately answered on this blog are just fine too.

Tweet this or email it to anyone that you know may want to ask an Atheist Ex-Christian a question!

Gay Marriage: A Cause for All!

GayMarriageflagThe Iowa Supreme Court recently struck down a ban on same sex or gay marriage. I personally could not be happier for the homosexual constituents of Iowa and am glad to see that many are now getting married to their loved ones. Some, however, cannot leave well enough alone… There were already people lined up ready to protest this decision just hours after it was made. Some Christians are currently in outrage, and I really want to know why…What will it harm the “family” to expand it’s definition to same sex couples? Will it in any way affect the way you guide and lead your own family?

I may have been really liberal as a Christian (I wasn’t on any other issue), but this is one of those issues I just couldn’t

Read more