A Journey

I’m not sure what more I can do to explain to people that this blog is written by an atheist beyond what I have already done.

I don’t think there is anything vague about this. Reading it, one would assume that I am not religious in the slightest and that I didn’t vote Republican.

But I want to answer Candy’s question.  Let’s start here.

What I have noticed in the last week or two is that you truly despise Christians and Christianity in general.

Broaden that, please. I despise all religion.  Toss them all in a pot.  Stir them up.  Then put them on the compost heap. Christianity gets more of my attention but that’s because it’s the religion I know best.

I despise them all, not just because they are promulgating fiction but because they do so by indoctrinating little children.  I used to be that little child. I know what it’s like.

I despise them because they go to war, not just fighting over ideas, but actually killing people, millions of people, and their entire issue consists of which fictional story is going to be believed.

I despise them because they denigrate women and minorities of all sorts and destroy the lives of many folks just because those people are gay or black or outspoken or intellectually curious.

I despise them because they embrace the idea that somehow certain pieces of writing (the Bible, the Koran) are “holy” and pretty much dictated by “God”, and this designation of sacredness then extends itself to other writings and you get idiots who proclaim that the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights are also holy writ and therefore unchangeable.

I despise them because they often assert that “God” ordained the founding of this country and therefore we are better and greater and more exceptional than anyone else ever, and that leads directly to nationalism, which is a scourge.

What I do not do is “despise Christians.”  I despise Christianity.  I have friends who are Christian.  I don’t despise them. I think it’s sort of sad that they are so credulous that they believe in fairy tales, and I wish they’d figure out the scam, but that’s not the same thing as despising them.

Candy says this.

It breaks my heart for anyone that has not felt the loving Grace from Our Heavenly Father Yaweh, through His Son, Jesus (Yeshuah) The Christ.

Well, it annoys me that people can be so god-damned gullible. It does not break my heart because if they choose to piss away their lives sitting in church and reading a book of mythology over and over again, well, I just can’t care a whole hell of a lot.  (By the way, a bit of a Messianic Christian, are we?)

Frankly, I thought my piece about Billy Graham was sort of mild. I didn’t get into how horrible he was to gay people (he was a total asshole on the subject) or what a loser and jerk his son Franklin is.  I can do that, but I didn’t think it was necessary.

But this is not Candy’s question, so let’s get to the main subject.

. . .what bothers me, is that you assume that it is a fact that there is no afterlife, or eternity. You say it as if you know it for a fact, or as if you have proof, or evidence. I just wonder, how you can believe it 100%, when there are so many things that cannot be explained about this life, or this earth.

Let me list some things that I assume are facts.

I assume that there are no fairies.

I assume that one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater is not going to show up in my back yard tomorrow or any day.

I assume that none of you have a pet platypus in your bathroom tub.

Do I know these things to be the case with 100% certainty?  Well, no. How could I?  I have not searched the entire world over for fairies. A purple people eater might just show up after all. And I’ve never seen all of your bathrooms.

But I’m reasonably certain none of these things is true.  It’s not a real stretch for me to say that they aren’t.

Suppose you were to tell me that you just got a new Labrador Retriever puppy, and you named him Max.  Assume you have not shown me any photos of you with Max.  All I have is your statement.  Do I accept that as true just on your say-so?

Sure I do.

I do for several reasons.  First, it’s not a big deal.  If you’re lying, so what? I have suffered no harm. Society is not damaged. You’re sort of pitiful but lots of people are pitiful.  Second, and probably most important, it’s not an uncommon occurrence. Labs are plentiful, common dogs and plenty of people have them.

You didn’t make a particularly extraordinary claim.

Carl Sagan said this so well, and atheists still quote him for good reason.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

The more outlandish the claim, the more right we have to be skeptical and the more evidence we need to establish the veracity of the claim.

You got a Lab puppy?  Great. I accept that as truth without question.

“God” told  you to blow up an abortion clinic?  Well, that’s a whole different thing.  You’re going to have to convince me of a whole lot of things, starting with the first word, and you’re going to have to do some really high-powered convincing.

Before you say, “Well, duh,” it’s important to point out that the average religious fundigelical does not understand any of this basic stuff.  I did not when I was religious.  I never was taught any of this.  In fact, what I was taught was “God said, I believe it and that settles it.”

It went like this.

Warning: This is gaggy.  They have to smile and look happy because otherwise how would you know that they have Jesus in their hearts?  The guys especially are creepy as hell, but this is the song I was taught.

Before anyone can say, “Oh, it’s not like that today,” here’s an updated version of the same sentiment, this time performed at Tennessee State University ( which is a state college and enough to make me cringe).

They don’t think. They don’t examine anything. They are pressured to never ask questions. Asking questions indicates a lack of faith. Even if they are told it’s okay to ask questions, they grow up knowing it’s not, and that accepting stuff on “faith” is better.

There is a reason why I quote Twain on this blog, prominently displayed on every page.

The Bible verse goes like this.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

The key phrases here are things “hoped for” and “not seen.”

Exactly why should I have faith?

The word has been diluted a lot in common usage. I remember seeing a preacher once who did this super duper (he thought) illustration about faith. He used a chair.  He sat in it, and then he said, “I sit in the chair and I have faith that the chair will hold me.”

Well, yeah. Sort of.

I don’t have faith in my office chair. I have evidence.  Not evidence of “things hoped for” or “things not seen.”  Real, honest evidence.  I’ve used that chair for years and sat in it hundreds of times and I never fall. It’s made of wood. It’s not damaged or splintered or rotten. There is no reason for me to think that it’s not going to hold me up tomorrow and the next day. That’s not faith.

We say things like “I have faith in Susan. She’ll get the job done.”  We don’t really have “faith” in her. We have evidence that supports our belief that she is going to do whatever the job is.  She’s done the job before. She knows how to do the job.  She went to school to do that job. She’s always been reliable.

This is the complete opposite of the faith that is encouraged in the Bible.

Take Job for example.

He’s sitting on his ash heap covered in sores, having lost his entire family, and he says this.

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. Job 13:15

This is asinine, of course, unless Job is saying that he trusts “God” to kill him based on what sort of mayhem has already taken place.  But this sort of blind faith is encouraged, lauded, and in fact considered to be a requirement for “salvation.”

But what about Doubting Thomas?  For those who are fortunate enough not to have been raised on this stuff along with your peanut-butter sandwiches, Thomas was one of Jesus’ disciples who was not present when the risen Jesus appeared to some of them.  He expressed very natural and reasonable incredulity and said that he wanted to see proof and would not believe until he did.  Whereupon Jesus very conveniently walks through a wall and appears to Thomas.

Here’s the whole story.

What is most important here is Jesus’ last sentence.

Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

What the actual fuck?  Seriously, what in the hell?  I remember the first time I read this with the eyes of reason and I felt a jolt.  What kind of stupid remark is that?

Jesus makes it clear that Thomas did something wrong. “Stop doubting and believe,” he says.  He then elevates those who believed with no evidence.

They’re better, smarter, more “blessed.”

This is the sort of thinking that presented us with the Dark Ages, folks.

. . .what bothers me, is that you assume that it is a fact that there is no afterlife, or eternity. You say it as if you know it for a fact, or as if you have proof, or evidence. I just wonder, how you can believe it 100%, when there are so many things that cannot be explained about this life, or this earth.

I promise I’m getting to the main question.

Candy is right, I assume that it is a fact that there is no afterlife, just like I assume that she doesn’t have a platypus in her bathtub. I have pretty much the same certainty about both things.

I just want to know how you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there isn’t a “Destination.”

Just like there is a slight (very slight) possibility that I am totally wrong and Candy does have a platypus named Fred living in her bathtub, I could also be wrong about my assumptions regarding some sort of afterlife.  So, stop with all the “shadow of a doubt” stuff.

. . .do you have proof that the “Destination” does not exist?

Here’s the main question.  Do I have proof?

Let me allow the great Carl Sagan to answer this. He wrote a fabulous book called The Demon-Haunted World.  I cannot recommend it highly enough. He was a genius, a fabulous wonderful man.  It’s not a big long book. It’s not full of stuff that is incomprehensible. It’s super. Get a copy if you don’t have one. You cannot borrow mine. I won’t allow it to leave the house.

Here’s a little tiny excerpt.

Candy, do you have proof that there is an afterlife?

Religion in general, and mainly Christianity in this country, has waltzed in and claimed the head seat at the table in our society. It has become the default position. It has declared itself to be true and demands that anyone with another point of view present “proof.”

But remember the Sagan quote above?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Religion is making the claim, not me. What I claim is observable.  People die and they’re gone.  What religion is claiming is that somehow they don’t really die.  That’s the extraordinary claim and it requires extraordinary evidence.

Sterling, Alaska, October 2006

When our son died in 2006, his brain died with him.  I know it did. We could prove it did.  Furthermore, the tissue that formed his brain and his bones and his muscles is no longer in that form. It was reduced to ash and dispersed all over the North American continent and put in two oceans.  His brain is gone.

I have no reason whatever to think that Nathan, as a sentient being, exists today. Apart from stuff like existing via his music and recordings and video that we have of him, and memories that people have, and the love that they feel, he is gone. One day, Dave and I will follow him. We won’t meet him.  We’ll just cease to exist exactly like he did.

We are our brains. We can demonstrate this scientifically.  Our thoughts, our personalities, even our propensity to feel religious euphoria, all originate and are manipulated in our brains.

Without a brain, there is no Nathan.

I don’t have to prove this beyond what evidence science has already provided.  If you think otherwise, you need to prove that. Not me.

It’s quite true that human beings have evolved to the point that thousands of years ago, we figured out we were going to die, and we didn’t like that.  Minnie the Maltese doesn’t fear death. She has no idea what it is. Frances doesn’t fear it, because she’s just as unaware of it.  Cheney the donkey knew that something was really wrong with Georgia when Georgia died, but it’s very doubtful she connected Georgia’s refusal/inability to get up to her own mortality.  We know, though. It’s one of the negative points about having a big brain.

It’s also true that it’s a wee bit disconcerting to go from believing that Grandma is in heaven and we’ll get to be all happily reunited one day to realizing that Grandma is long gone and we will be too, but I’m a big fan of truth. I was fed bullshit for a very long time, and knowing what is real is very important to me now.

I deconverted in the late nineties, and I remember well the kind of weird feeling I had lying in bed at night, in the dark and imagining being dead and not existing. I’m not quite sure how one goes about imagining non-existence, but I tried.

So I understand the discomfort this idea produces. That doesn’t make it not the default position, though.

If you assert something extraordinary, like “Nathan’s brain might be ash, but this phantom thing we have never been able to quantify or measure exists and he’s really that and not his brain and he’s living somewhere forever,” well, you’re going to have to prove it.  And this:

It breaks my heart for anyone that has not felt the loving Grace from Our Heavenly Father Yaweh, through His Son, Jesus (Yeshuah) The Christ.

isn’t proof of anything.  “I feel” won’t cut it.

Candy, thank you for the question. I’m not faulting you in any way at all for asking it.  I was in my mid-forties before I began to really ask the important questions and find answers to them.



26 thoughts on “A Journey”

  1. I’m not quite sure how one goes about imagining non-existence, but I tried.

    I’m an aetheist. I’ve had two surgeries under general anesthesia. I have hours that are gone from my memory (prior to surgery & recovery immediately afterward). I figure death is very similar.



    Not a big deal. I’m not rushing off to die, but I’m not afraid of it either. I’m not a big fan of grinding unrelenting pain though. I hope never to experience that for weeks at a time, or longer.


  2. I’ve never believed in any gods. My siblings and cousins don’t, nor did our parents, grandparents or great grandparents. Beyond that who knows. We find and marry people who don’t believe. Matter of fact it’s a deal breaker in my family. I honestly don’t think it’s hardwired into us. We don’t believe in ghosts, vampires or other supernatural things. We are not superstitious. We don’t believe in the unbelievable or the unprovable. We have no gods. We have no doubt that there are no gods. We don’t believe in an intelligent designer or the need for one. We don’t believe in aliens, although we do think that somewhere out there there should/could be some form of life.

    This is not to say that we don’t believe in things we have not seen with our own eyes. If someone has credibly proven it and can repeat the process so that others can also come to that conclusion or scientific theory we have no problem believing it. It’s a little more complicated than that but this generalization will suffice for the purpose of this comment. We know when to believe something and when to be skeptical. We know when not to believe something at all.

    I’ve tried to understand why people believe, not that I had any intention or ability to believe. I’ve studied various religions over the years looking for some reasonable explanation. I’ve picked the brains of some very intellectual religious folks from Jesuit Preists to Rabbinical scholars, Baptists, Hindus, Muslims, etc. We’ve had some very lively discussions and I respect that they believe, but I just don’t get it. In the end there is some logical fault, fallacy or “leap of faith” that I can’t follow. To me it’s just a lot of delusional and wishful thinking expressed in some lovely, but ultimately, illogical arguments and rhetoric.

    To me it’s just the luck (for lack of a better word) of circumstances. My parents met, had sex, a particular sperm and egg fused, certain chemical washes effected my mother during pregnancy, etc… and here I am. All can be scientifically explained and all those myriad of circumstances created me. Taken further certain conditions were just right for our universe to form, same with our galaxy, earth and life. We have scientific explanations for some of what we know, but what we know is still so little. There is so much more that we don’t know, but that doesn’t make what we don’t know somehow magical. What it does show me is that life is a gift we have been given through circumstance and the even greater gift is our brains, our curiosity and our ability to learn and to search out that which we don’t know. Which I find very exciting. How boring it must be to think that you know it all already. How horrifying to think that some sky daddy knows it all and therefore you don’t need to know it or shouldn’t even seek out the answers.

    You get one life. That’s it. No immortality other than the tangible things you leave behind (they don’t last think of Ozymandias), the memories of yourself you leave with others and the possible passing of some of your genetic material on to future generations. Live it well. Embrace it. Your life is a precious gift of circumstance.

    As a side note:
    I sort of view religion like this description of magic.

    Arthur C. Clarke once wrote “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I would argue that is a load of crap. I would argue that it only seems like magic to some because they have chosen to limit themselves. To others it is a challenge to learn more until they can explain and reverse engineer that very technology.


  3. Sally, have you ever seen Derren Brown’s TV shows? He’s a magician and former christian. He’s interested in “Why we believe what we believe.”

    Candy’s comment is interesting to me, “It breaks my heart for anyone that has not felt the loving Grace from Our Heavenly Father Yaweh, through His Son, Jesus (Yeshuah) The Christ.” I don’t doubt that her experience was intense and felt real to her. Here is an excerpt from Derren Brown’s show where he converts a group of atheists to christianity with a touch, using his magician skills. It was a sham and yet the participants felt it was real.


    Here is another full length episode. Darren Brown convinces five influential new-age believers that he is the new messiah. It was easy…


  4. Just a detail that makes me insane. There is no letter W, nor anything pronounced W in the Hebrew language, neither ancient nor modern. It’s like pronouncing “tortilla” with an English “L.” It sounds ignorant. Just stop.


  5. Ok…

    So God makes all these cool people…and he loves them.
    But things they choose to do still manage to piss him off.
    The things that piss God off, he decides to call “sin”.
    Then, God decides that his people can’t “be with him” if they “sin” (Do things that piss him off)

    So instead of just snapping his fingers and saying….you guys suck, I’m gonna fix it so you don’t do stupid shit and piss me off all the time….and FIXING US

    He says….No, you MUST have free will and the ability to piss me off because…. hmmmm…. wait. Why?

    Doesn’t matter…it’s what God decides to do. So then he has to figure out a way of getting over being pissed at us so we can “be with him”

    So God goes….I KNOW! I’ll let them torture and kill my child on Earth….because if they do that…I’ll get over being pissed off and they can all be with me:) Because…ya know….nothing says….it’s all good and I still love ya….like watching someone kill your kid.

    But it’s even more complicated than that….because Jesus wasn’t just God’s kid…he was partially God Himself…. And he was immortal the whole time, so he wasn’t exactly in danger and it made the whole “sacrifice” thing pretty empty….and weird…and sadistic….because we can assume God knew this the whole time he cooked up this weird-assed idea.

    So in the end we’ve got…

    God makes us.
    God doesn’t like some behavior.
    God calls shit he doesn’t like “sin”
    God decides we can’t be with him if we do shit he doesn’t like
    But to fix this, God decides to be
    Tortured and symbolically “sacrificed” (remember he’s immortal and not in any danger)
    and this somehow makes everything cool between us again.

    So God sacrificed his son/himself….to himself….to get over shit he didn’t like…that he decided kept us apart….except he was immortal the whole time…so what was the point again?


    Here’s another theory:

    Rich guys says….I want more land. To get more land I need to have a war. To have a war, poor stupid people need to be willing to die for me. How do I do that?

    Rich guy goes….if GOD himself sacrificed his son for a cause, maybe people would willingly sacrifice their sons too?

    What cause would be really cool? What if we promised them forgiveness for all their mistakes? They would OWE a son’s life in return for that kinda payout. If God can ante up a kid to the cause…so can they! Now, we just need to deeply embed this propaganda with rituals and “holy men” and promises, and a way for common men to feel superior to other men.

    And there ya go.

    It’s brilliant really.

    I keep thinking the real money is in starting a religion or a cult.

    What’s the difference between a religion and a cult?

    A: About a hundred years.


  6. I have faith. Why? Because I want to have faith. I want to be with my love ones for all eternity. I know it is not rational, but I want to believe, so I have faith. I, We, are all made of energy. Energy doesn’t die. It changes, but it doesn’t not exist. I also believe there are other places in many different universes, yet unseen, that support life. I don’t know what shape or form of life, but I have faith life is out there. I wasn’t raised religious. I was raise somewhat Catholic. I probably went to church in my youth less than 100 times. It wasn’t until I was older and really looking at my life and those around me that I wanted something different. Something deeper. Maybe if I had had money I would have traveled or done great things. I didn’t have money and I wanted a different life. My parents died while I was in my teens. I was thrown into adulthood. Everyone around me was using drugs. Hard drugs. So many of my friends and family became heroin addicts, acholics, speed freaks, etc. I had kids young. And all of their aunts & uncles were messed up. My 1st husband (ok we were never married, I was a rebel and had two kids out of wedlock back in the mid 70’s) came back from Nam a heroin addict (he is now 66 and still is, only he is on methadone and lives in a nursing home, but would sell anything to shoot up again). I was young enough I thought I could save him. Hell, I thought I could save everyone. Since I was not a druggie and didn’t even drink, kids showed up at my home. Parents never came back. I was discouraged. I wanted something better, so I reached for something better that I could afford. For me, that was becoming a Mormon in the 80’s. Heaven. I didn’t (still don’t) believe everything, but that’s ok. I’m not seeking anyone’s else’s truth, just my own. I’m happy, except when I’m not. I’m content, except when I’m not. I’m just me. My normal. I can live with that. I do hope that when I die my energy meets up with the energy of those I love. I really do. If it doesn’t , I don’t guess it won’t matter. But I do so hope and have faith. There is a hymn in the LDS faith that sums it up for me “if you could hie to kolob”. And it’s ok if anyone laughs at me or points at me or whatever, heck I do that to myself all the time. I’m content. I’m happy. Except when I’m not. I’m just so very, very thankful and grateful to be here, to be given this chance, this gift, this life, to love, learn, wander, and to return to dust and soar with the angels.
    I love your writing.


  7. I would like to start by , “Thank You”, for sharing your blog with the rest of us. From reading for while now, I am fairly sure that you will publish my comment, because it would be unlike you to shy away from people that don’t agree with you on any topic.

    I am not going to be producing any hard evidence of God’s existence for you tonight. The fact of the matter is, there is not much I can give to you that you can’t explain differently than I can. I can only explain why I believe so strongly in what I believe.

    I believe that there is a “Creator”. I cannot prove it. I have not seen him. It is hard for me to believe that this world, in all it’s greatness, just “happened”. I know it is possible that everything collided in just the right way at just the right time. Maybe, we are all just that lucky, but I can’t buy it. Do I believe that Science is all crap and the proven facts about Creation are wrong? No, I don’t. I believe Science just goes to prove that God knew what he was doing.

    Pretty much the only other thing I have for you is the following. It is purely my belief and you don’t know me from Adam, so what I think probably doesn’t carry too much weight with you. When I feel the love of my children and grandchildren, when I get to look at a really beautiful sunset, there is something truly divine about that. There are just too many wonderful things in this world that have that special something.

    One thing that I think we can agree on is that religion is a truly horrible thing. People have twisted it over the years for their own uses. They have used it to make themselves feel better, to make other people to feel worse, and that is just the beginning of it. It has been used to justify all kinds of atrocities.

    I could go on forever, but I won’t (I am sure you are thankful). You and I will never agree on this, I am sure of that. This blog is like your house and I appreciate you letting me come into your house and express my opinion (even if you are laughing). I enjoy reading and love your style. It is important to seek out information and you never post something as fact unless you are sure it is a fact. It is truly refreshing and I will absolutely continue to come to you for all things Naugler as long as you will have me.


  8. It is hard for me to believe that this world, in all it’s greatness, just “happened”.

    That is called the argument from ignorance. It’s a logical fallacy. It’s saying “I don’t know or understand how this happened, so God did it.” The world is “great” from your point of view because you evolved to live in it. It wasn’t designed for you. It was, and you and I evolved within this bubble, so of course we “fit.” If you had evolved to breathe carbon monoxide, you’d think this was a horrible toxic place.

    Everything did not “collide” at just the right time in just the right way. Everything was, and this is what developed. If things had been slightly different, you’d be completely different, the world might be vastly different and you’d still think it was perfect because you “fit.”

    There’s also one called the argument from incredulity and you’re flirting with that one as well.

    Regarding the sunset, I couldn’t help but think about the aurora borealis (the Northern Lights). We saw them pretty often during our years in Alaska, and we had not only the common green ones, but occasionally got a terrific red aurora as well. One night my neighbor called us and said, “Come out in the road. There’s a red aurora.” We ran outside in the bitter cold and all the neighbors were out there in the street looking up at the sky which was glimmering and shimmering red.

    We loved it. It was beautiful. But then we got talking about how the natives used to fear the aurora. They found terrifying what we thought beautiful. They had no idea what it was, and so they thought it was evil and ominous. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.

    I’m not laughing at you at all. I used to be you. I have nothing but empathy.


  9. I know it is not rational, but I want to believe, so I have faith.

    This made me laugh. Not at you, but because it reminds of a dear friend of mine. He struggled with this for a long, long time and once told me the exact same thing. He wanted to believe in an afterlife, so he did. He and I both laughed about it at the time. It took him years to finally discard it.

    And truth is not something that you have personally and I have personally and our “truths” can differ. I hear this expressed a lot and find it sort of annoying. LOL What you’re talking about is your opinion, not truth. Truth is what it is regardless of what I think or what you think or what I believe or what you believe. It’s fine for me to have opinions and you to differ with them. I have no problem at all with that.

    But truth is something else again.

    What you can say with accuracy is that it’s true that right now, at this point in your life, you want to believe in stuff for which you have no evidence, so you choose to do that. And it’s true right now, at this point in my life, that I cannot do that.

    There is either an afterlife or there is not. Neither of our opinions on the subject will change that reality.

    I do want to say that I greatly appreciate you guys and that appreciation holds regardless of whether or not you agree with my every word. I’m just happy that you all want to read my scribbling.


  10. he was immortal the whole time…so what was the point again?

    This. This is something that bugged me the whole time I was a believer. I just couldn’t see what the sacrifice was. I mean, Jesus “suffered” but lots of people have suffered way more than he supposedly did. He knew he was going to “rise” so who cares? One bad day and he “saves” the whole world.

    When I expressed something like this, it was explained that his suffering involved taking all our “sin” on his shoulders. I really couldn’t fathom that one either.

    I accepted all of it because I was told that I had to. I couldn’t imagine it not being true. I just assumed I was too stupid to understand it, and pretty much that I was female and so I couldn’t possibly grasp it.

    But it always bothered me.

    That and the first part of Revelation.

    The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.

    That’s how it opens. And that is bullshit. None of it happened “soon.” It simply did not, and it doesn’t matter how you interpret it because I’ve tried lots of different ways to make it work. It’s misleading.

    This was explained away by saying that in God’s view, it was “soon” because he sees eternity and we don’t. And my answer to that is why couldn’t he be more clear? Why be so cryptic and why mislead people on purpose?

    Those were two biggies for me. Funny how a little thing like that one word “shortly” (King James version) can just stare at you for years.


  11. Sally, you really don’t like us do you? Posting those two videos should be considered criminal. I’m just hoping I don’t get an ear worm from one!


  12. Wow, religion being discussed without ugliness. Now that is truly a miracle.
    I am not asking this question to be critical, I am just genuinely interested in the answer. It is something that has always bothered me and I am really looking for something I will understand, so for the Christians….

    It is assumed from the Bible that god is omnipotent. He is capable of absolutely anything.
    In the instances where new born babies or young children get a non-curable disease like cancer, could God, by his omnipotence, just cure them? If the answer is no, then why not?

    Like I said, I really am interested in what the answer is and would really appreciate anything other than “God’s plan”.


  13. Thanks for creating this space, Sally.

    I believe in God.
    I believe in the need for a Savior, Jesus.

    I tell myself that I can believe in God and leave a huge, healthy amount of space for uncertainty. I don’t think it has to be black and white. Some of us only learn by questioning and questioning some more. I don’t think there’s a need for uniformity of thought.

    That said, I feel like I have always been a believer. Almost as if I was born a believer? No one knelt down to pray with me before bed every night, but even as a young child I searched for a quiet spot to connect with God. I have felt God’s love for me for as long as I can remember. I feel His/Her love for the human family too.

    So my question is: what do we do with “feelings”? They are most definitely there, yet “feelings” can’t be proven. I can’t measure the love I have for my husband or children. Or what of a mother’s intuition? That’s a feeling, no? Or what of those times that we feel a loved one’s presence that died many years ago?

    Feelings can’t be seen or measured by scientist. Is it my brain “feeling”? Is my brain my “soul”? I’m always thinking, what is that thought going on and on Inside my brain? Why do I “feel”? Have you seen the movie “The Island”? The participants could remember. In my view, I “remember” some. I don’t think this life is the beginning of “me” and neither is it the end.

    Awesome writing!


  14. There either is or isn’t some sort of afterlife. It is either true or it isn’t. It is illogical that, if it is indeed a fact and true that we somehow end up in some kind of ether with all our dead loved ones’ energy, we need a god to get us there. It is illogical to believe that, if this afterlife truly exists, only some of us – the believers in an invisible, petulant being – will end up there. If it is true, then it would be a scientific, though unprovable, fact. It exists, therefore we go. No?

    I also don’t think you can ‘choose’ to ‘have faith’. You either believe something or you don’t. It’s not really a choice then, but an effort to convince oneself of something for which there is no evidence.

    It has been clear to me since I was old enough to grasp the concept. There is no god. There should be no need for all this mystery and deception. If this altruistic and loving god exists, why is he so reluctant to prove it the non-believers, like he did with Thomas? Why must we just have faith in him? What is the most logical answer to this age-old problem? Because he can’t. Because he isn’t.


  15. Feelings can’t be seen or measured by scientist.

    Actually, to some extent, they can. They can literally stimulate a portion of your brain and create religious euphoria. They certainly can see it and measure it.

    What all of this is, this stuff about feelings, is that you’re saying you don’t understand it, therefore God did it. This explains nothing, of course. What is “God”?

    I can’t go into specifics, but not long before I began deconverting, I experienced a series of events, total coincidences, that I interpreted as “God.” X happened, and then Y happened, and I was convinced they were linked, and then Z happened, and that “proved” to me that “God” did it. So, I know how this feels. I get it.

    However, X, Y, and Z were not connected at all. There was nothing whatever supernatural about any of it. There was only my brain trying to see a pattern where none existed. We have evolved to see patterns. We don’t smell very well, so we can’t find our way using scent the way a dog can. We don’t see well either, certainly not in the dark. Our senses are relatively limited compared to other animals. So we see patterns. We see a mountain in the distance and call it “Tabletop” because it’s flattish and then we can find our way home. This sort of thing is not only something we are prone to do, it’s something we pretty much cannot help doing.

    The “soul” is a religious invention. There is no evidence at all that it exists. I don’t have one. Nathan didn’t have one. Thoughts are just brain waves, and they absorb massive amounts of energy. The brain consumes 20% of the calories you eat. I tell myself this as I sit in front of my computer. I am working out here. (Joke)

    I’ve thought a bit (using some of that energy) about the whole idea of reincarnation, and came to the conclusion that it’s sort of useless. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that it exists. I’ve never heard of anyone who has claimed reincarnation who says they have total recall of their prior life/lives. They just have impressions, or snippets. What point is there to it if you don’t remember it all? Even if it were true, it serves no purpose at all if I can’t remember this life.

    Or what of those times that we feel a loved one’s presence that died many years ago?

    That’s more of the brain. Did you know that it’s not unusual for a wife whose husband of many years has died to either “see” or “hear” him in the house? There are credible accounts of bereaved spouses who come into a room and literally see their dead spouse sitting his favorite chair. He quickly vanishes. They’ve heard him call their name. Hell, that happened to me several weeks ago and Dave is very much alive. I woke from sleep because I heard him calling my name loudly. It was Dave calling. No doubt about it. The problem was that he was quite seriously sound asleep at the time. He uses a BiPap machine and there is no way for him to call loudly with that thing on. It muffles his voice.

    What is happening to these people (and to me) is that the brain invents stuff. We think that what we see and hear is totally accurate, and usually it is. However, in times of great stress (loss is stress) or in a state of semi-sleep, the brain can simply fill it the blank spaces. It can quite literally create bits of “video” or “audio” for us. That’s how false memories are created.

    The brain is fascinating. We are fascinating. We are our brains.


  16. I don’t understand the concept that we can CHOOSE to believe in God…or anything else, for that matter. We all make decisions based on the evidence we have. I can’t CHOOSE to believe in the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny or Tinker Bell or Jesus or Allah. I either do or I don’t.

    And even if I pretend to believe (this is an actual argument I’ve been confronted with several times, that I should cover my bases just in case it turns out I’m wrong) wouldn’t an all-knowing god figure that out?


  17. The “cover your bases” thing is called Pascal’s Wager. Named for it’s inventor, Blaise Pascal, it was debunked within seconds after being pronounced. That was back in the seventeenth century, but Christians keep dragging it out like it’s something new and brilliant.

    When I deconverted, I was the choir director at our little church in Alaska. I felt badly about leaving, but I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. I also felt that I had to tell the church’s pastor first, so I asked him to come to the house one Sunday afternoon. I was pretty nervous about it, just sure that he’d have some great rebuttals for my position, but to my absolute astonishment the best he could come up with was Pascal’s Wager.

    He didn’t call it that, of course. But I did. And when I did (I said something like “Oh, that’s Pascal’s Wager. Blaise Pascal, sixteen hundred and something”), he deflated like a balloon and that ended the conversation. We parted as friends of course.

    About six months later, his wife called me one day. She was almost in hysterics. They had some problem with the church and she wanted to talk with me, because, as she put it, I was “the most honest person in town.” She asked my opinion about the controversy and I told what I thought. I was kind, but it wasn’t really what she wanted to hear. She wanted me to tell her that everyone was at fault but her, however, she was partly to blame and I said so. We parted as friends, though.

    I am so glad to be out of all that drama.


  18. Feelings can’t be seen or measured by scientists.

    fMRI’s are our friends.




    Cute. This is your brain on god.


    I didn’t read them because I’m busy today but I had a chance to pull them up. Others may enjoy reading through them.


  19. I often hear Christians say that Jesus died for our sins.

    They get pretty emotional about it. He DIED to cleanse me. To save me.

    But here’s what confuses me. He came back 3 days later right?

    That whole resurrection thing?

    Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that Jesus took a long weekend for my sins?

    I might have a t-shirt made.


  20. Pareidolia
    Something I enjoy doing while staring at the ceramic tiles in my house.
    There are so many pictures I can put together from random markings…
    I can entertain myself waiting at the airport.
    Some times I wonder if, maybe, the pictures I see were actually drawn in and scuffed up to make the pattern in the ceramic tiles. They are so perfect.
    Yeh, what the hell am I talking about…
    It’s the minds ability to see faces, or in my case, all kinds of things, in random patterns like floorboards pieces of toast, potato chips … dirty windows.
    I can see tree branches turn into faces and figures…
    One of my favorites, and I took a picture, was in an old hotel.
    As I was sitting on the toilet one of the tiles had the perfect image of a screening ghost staring at me as I sat there.
    My roommate had not noticed it until I pointed it out. She was spooked after that.
    I have old pareidolia friends that I look for in the floors of friends houses.
    Am I crazy?
    Not as crazy as the kooks who turn stains on walls, and waffles that resemble Jesus into sacred objects, and then open their homes to the masses of believers.


  21. A quote attributed to Epicurius :

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

    And just as an FYI, if anyone is actually intending to have a platypus in their bathtub, please ensure it is not a male during the mating season. He may get you with his heel spurs, which contain a very nasty, excruciatingly painful, but non-fatal venom.


  22. Interesting comments and discussion.

    I’ve questioned faith, religion, God, and beliefs for a long time. I’ve had life events where I’ve searched for explanations. Surviving near death experiences and wondering why I am here, why did I survive? Having visions, during really down trodden times, where a hand appeared and was pulling me up out of the storm.

    I’ve challenged the stories in the Bible. For example, Noah building an Ark and assembling all the animals two by two. Realistically, how could there be an Ark large enough to hold a pair of all of the creatures in the world? How can Earth only be mere thousands of years old? Of all the millions of people who have died, how can Heaven house all of the millions and billions of souls? And how remarkable, the stories and history told in the Bible, have survived over hundreds and thousands of years.

    We are the only beings on Earth that realize our mortality. The only beings that can fear our death. I believe God is resourced in our brain. A source of strength we create, to help us manage fear and other trials in life. A coping mechanism, if you will. A source of comfort too, in realizing our pending mortality. To feel a sense of purpose in life, and hope, as we navigate life.

    Well spoken BLB, “The brain is fascinating. We are fascinating. We are our brains.”

    I certainly regard another’s resourcing in their brain, a coping mechanism. Forming a God, faith, beliefs. Or not. Judgement free, here.


  23. BLB commented, “Or what of those times that we feel a loved one’s presence that died many years ago?”. And talking about reincarnation.

    I chuckled a bit. I’ve often accused our dog of being an old soul from my past. ha!


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